The University of Chicago Law School's Federalist Society Student Chapter will host the 34th National Federalist Society Student Symposium on February 20-21, 2015. The theme for the Symposium is "Law and Innovation." Additional details are forthcoming. Registration is now open!
In December 2011 the last American soldier left Iraq. “We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq,” boasted President Obama. He was proved devastatingly wrong less than three years later as jihadists seized the Iraqi city of Mosul. The event cast another dark shadow over the future of global order—a shadow, which, Bret Stephens, Deputy Editorial Page Editor and Foreign Affairs Columnist for The Wall Street Journal, argues, we ignore at our peril.
America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder identifies a profound crisis on the global horizon. As Americans seek to withdraw from the world to tend to domestic problems, America’s adversaries spy opportunity. Vladimir Putin’s ambitions to restore the glory of the czarist empire go effectively unchecked, as do China’s attempts to expand its maritime claims in the South China Sea, as do Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear capabilities. Civil war in Syria displaces millions throughout the Middle East while turbocharging the forces of radical Islam. Long-time allies such as Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, doubting the credibility of American security guarantees, are tempted to freelance their foreign policy, irrespective of U.S. interests.
Mr. Stephens argues for American reengagement abroad. He explains how military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan was the right course of action, foolishly executed. He traces the intellectual continuity between anti-interventionist statesmen such as Henry Wallace and Robert Taft in the late 1940s and Barack Obama and Rand Paul today. And he makes an unapologetic case for Pax Americana, “a world in which English is the default language of business, diplomacy, tourism, and technology; in which markets are global, capital is mobile, and trade is increasingly free; in which values of openness and tolerance are, when not the norm, often the aspiration.”
In a chapter imagining the world of 2019, Mr. Stephens shows what could lie in store if Americans continue on their current course. Yet we are not doomed to this future. Mr. Stephens makes a passionate rejoinder to those who argue that America is in decline, a process that is often beyond the reach of political cures. Instead, we are in retreat—the result of faulty, but reversible, policy choices. By embracing its historic responsibility as the world’s policeman, America can safeguard not only greater peace in the world but also greater prosperity at home.
In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled that indigent persons accused of crimes must be provided with an attorney. The Court, however, did not specify how those attorneys should be financed. The public defender model is, of course, the most familiar model that has arisen. Texas is about to start something new--a pilot program involving defense vouchers. Like the school voucher concept, the idea is to replicate, so far as possible, a free market for defense services. By giving the person with the most at stake more say in choosing the attorney who will defend his reputation and liberty, will vouchers produce gains for both the defendant and the public at large?
On December 8, 2014, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in three cases challenging the HHS contraceptive mandate, including Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell. The Little Sisters case has already been to the Supreme Court once when Justice Sotomayor gave the nuns an emergency injunction on December 31, 2013, and the full court gave them an injunction in January 2014. The Little Sisters returned to court on December 8 to challenge whether the government can force them to sign forms that would let the government and third parties use their plan to provide contraceptives.
Mark Rienzi is Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and an Associate Professor of Constitutional Law at the Catholic University of America. He argued on behalf of the Little Sisters and several other parties before the 10th Circuit, and he gave a report on the argument and the status of the challenges to the contraceptive mandate.
Immigration law and enforcement have been on the front pages for the last several years, and that shows no signs of changing. One aspect to our national debate on immigration that hasn't received as much attention as it should is the effect that the several states can have on the issue. Through its policing powers and criminal sentencing guidelines, a state can influence who the federal immigration authorities can remove from the country. Our experts discussed the important constitutional issues that these trends present.
On December 8, 2014, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk. This case concerned whether time employees spend undergoing mandatory security screenings after work is compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), as amended by the Portal-to-Portal Act, which clarifies that certain activities are generally not compensable working time under the FLSA.
Justice Thomas delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court, which held that the time that employees spent waiting to undergo (and undergoing) security screenings is not compensable under the FLSA. Justice Sotomayor filed a concurring opinion, which Justice Kagan joined. The judgment of the Ninth Circuit was reversed.
To discuss the case, we have Karen Harned, who is the Executive Director of the National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center.
On December 9, 2014, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Alabama Department of Revenue v. CSX Transportation. The question presented in the case is twofold: (1) whether a state violates the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976 (4-R Act) by “discriminating against a rail carrier” when it requires rail carriers to pay a sales-and-use tax but exempts railroads’ competitors from paying the same tax; and (2) whether, in resolving a claim of unlawful tax discrimination under the 4-R Act, a court should consider the state's broader tax system rather than focusing only on the challenged tax provision.
To discuss the case, we have Andy Grewal, who is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Iowa College of Law.