2004 Annual Student Symposium - "Private Law: The New Frontier for Limited Government"

Vanderbilt Law School

Private law is defined by Black's Law as "The portion of law which defines, regulates, enforces, and administers relationships among individuals, associations, and corporations."

A central thrust of the debate pertaining to private law concerns the appropriation of private law, in one form or another, to assume a role in the regulation of society for which government intervention was sought in decades past. This general phenomenon takes many guises and has many different nuances, which form the focus for symposium discussion.

It is not surprising that we see the turning of attention to private law as the natural outgrowth of the success that organizations like the Federalist Society have had in altering the terms of debate over the Constitution, public law as a whole, and the institutional role of the courts in particular. In the face of this success and in an era of skepticism about the efficacy of government-centered solutions to social problems, attention should turn to private law. We believe that the time is ripe for thoughtful debate as to whether there is either a need or a coherent intellectual framework for concepts of limited government and judicial restraint in private law matters. 

–Symposium Committee, Vanderbilt Law School Federalist Society


Friday, February 20 

6:30 p.m.
Opening Remarks

7:00 p.m.
Panel: Should Tort Law be a Form of Public Regulatory Laws?

  • Prof. Carl Bogus, Roger Williams University
  • Prof. John Goldberg, Vanderbilt University
  • Prof. George Priest, Yale University
  • Moderator: Judge Edith Jones, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Saturday, February 21

9:00 a.m.
Debate: Is Civil Litigation a Threat to Democracy?

  • Mr. Philip Howard, Covington & Burling
  • Prof. Charles Silver, University of Texas
  • Moderator: Judge Danny Boggs, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

10:15 a.m.
Panel: The WTO and the Governance of International Trade

  • Prof. Robert Howse, University of Michigan
  • Prof. David Kennedy, Harvard University
  • Prof. John McGinnis, Northwestern University
  • Prof. Jide Nzelibe, Bigelow fellow at Chicago Law School
  • Moderator: Prof. Allison Danner, Vanderbilt University

2:00 p.m.
Panel: The Regulation of Corporate Responsibility and the Private Character of Corporate Law?

  • Judge J. Frank Easterbrook, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • Prof. Jill Fisch, Fordham University
  • Prof. Jonathan Macey, Cornell University
  • Moderator: Hon. Alex Acosta, U.S. Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division

4:00 p.m.
Panel: Private Property & Environmentalism: Allies or Enemies?

  • Prof. Peter Byrne, Georgetown University
  • Prof. James Ely, Vanderbilt University
  • Prof. James Huffman, Lewis & Clark Law School
  • Prof. Tom Merrill, Columbia University
  • Moderator: Prof. Marcus Cole, Stanford University

7:00 p.m.