by Liz Rademacher, Class of 2016
I’ve always been interested in constitutional law, so one of the things that drew me to William & Mary Law was the law school’s Institute of Bill of Rights Law (IBRL). IBRL is devoted to educating the public about the Bill of Rights and constitutional law issues through various publications, programs, and events. One of IBRL’s biggest events is its annual Supreme Court Preview, which took place from September 27 -28 and which I attended for the first time this year.
The Supreme Court Preview brings together a diverse group of renowned speakers and panelists to discuss the upcoming Supreme Court term, which begins the first Monday of October. This year’s event featured prominent attorneys, scholars, judges, journalists, and government officials from across the country, including the Solicitor General of New York, lecturers from Stanford, and Yale, and writers from SCOTUSblog, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.
The Preview began on Friday afternoon in the law school’s McGlothlin Courtroom with the Moot Court. Traditionally, the Moot Court is an opportunity for experienced Supreme Court advocates to argue one of the upcoming term’s most controversial cases before a group of mock Supreme Court Justices. This year, Marci Hamilton of Cardozo Law School and Erwin Chemerinsky, the Dean of University of California Irvine School of Law, were the advocates in City of Greece v. Galloway, a case about the establishment clause of the First Amendment that the Supreme Court will hear this term. As a member of the audience, I was amazed by the advocates’ deftness and skill as the Justices peppered them with challenging legal questions. After an hour of heated debate, the Justices deliberated and returned a verdict in the case, followed by a discussion of the case with the audience.
On Saturday, there were several large sessions on civil rights, business, crime, and reproductive rights, as well as smaller breakout sessions during lunch about the Defense of Marriage Act, the War on Terrorism, and the future of the Court. I attended the first breakout session. Over pizza and salad, I sat in on a panel about the future of same-sex marriage and the implications of the Court’s recent decision in United States v. Windsor, which overturned DOMA. Members of the audience (including myself!) were able to ask the panelists questions about the outcome of the case, and the group grappled with complex legal issues about federalism and equal protection together.
Overall, I thought the Supreme Court Preview was an incredible opportunity to hear from some of the most influential constitutional scholars and advocates in the country. As a 1L, I appreciate being exposed to such a rich discussion of the importance of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in everyday life. I learned a lot, met some amazing legal celebrities, and, most importantly, had a ton of fun doing it. The Preview reminded me of the reasons why I chose to attend William & Mary: the unique opportunities that it has given and will continue to give me during my legal education.
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