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?
James D. Bethke, Executive Director, Texas Indigent Defense Commission
Prof. Stephen J. Schulhofer, Robert B. McKay Professor of Law, New York University Law School
Moderator: Tim Lynch, Director, Project on Criminal Justice, Cato Institute
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.
Prof. Mark L. Rienzi, Columbus School of Law, The Catholic University of America, Senior Counsel, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
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.
Peter K. Nunez, Chairman, Center for Immigration Studies Board of Directors
Margaret D. Stock, Counsel to the Firm, Cascadia Cross-Border Law
Moderator: Brian M. Fish, Member, Federalist Society Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group Executive Committee
Congress adopted the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) to protect consumers from aggressive telemarketing and to bolster the “right to be left alone.” But more than 20 years after its adoption, the statute has given rise to an explosion of class action lawsuits, raising questions about whether the law is continuing to serve its intended purpose. Defendants have sought relief from the implementing agency, the Federal Communications Commission, and some relief has been forthcoming. However, the rate at which lawsuits have proliferated has far outstripped the pace of regulatory relief. Our experts discussed whether fundamental TCPA reform is needed and, if so, how it might be achieved.
Scott D. Delacourt, Partner, Wiley Rein LLP
Jason D. Goldman, Senior Telecommunications Policy Counsel, Managing Director, Environment, Technology & Regulatory Affairs Division, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The Akaka Bill, originally proposed by former U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka, was designed to establish a process for Native Hawaiians to gain federal recognition similar to that of some Native American tribes. Based on this status, members can then receive preferential treatment. Critics argue that such treatment would violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Supporters argue that such preferences would be authorized because they would be on the political relationship that existed between the U.S. government and its native peoples, and based on the pre-existing sovereignty of those native peoples. Will the Akaka Bill, or some version of it, resurface? If so, is it good law? Good policy?
Hans A. von Spakovsky, Manager, Election Law Reform Initiative and Senior Legal Fellow, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, The Heritage Foundation