Feature Stories Campus Events All Stories

W&L Law Professors to Preview 2013 Supreme Court Term

Each year, Washington and Lee law school faculty take a look at some of the most important cases on the docket before the U.S. Supreme Court. This year, six members of the faculty will preview cases on topics ranging from recess appointments to ineffective counsel.

The 2013 Supreme Court Preview will be held Wednesday, Oct. 2 beginning at 4:30 p.m. in the Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons on the campus of Washington and Lee University. The event is free and open to the public.

Below are the faculty presenters along with information about the cases they will discuss.

Prof. David Bruck will discuss Burt v. Titlow, an Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) case dealing with ineffective assistance of counsel. The Court will examine such issues as whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit failed to give appropriate deference to a Michigan state court under the AEDPA in holding that defense counsel was constitutionally ineffective for allowing the respondent to maintain his claim of innocence.

Prof. Mark Drumbl will discuss Bond v. U.S., a case that relates to Congressional enforcement of treaties. The Court will determine whether the Constitution’s structural limits on federal authority impose any constraints on the scope of Congress’ authority to enact legislation to implement a valid treaty, at least in circumstances where the federal statute, as applied, goes far beyond the scope of the treaty, intrudes on traditional state prerogatives, and is concededly unnecessary to satisfy the government’s treaty obligations.

Prof. Ann Massie will discuss Town of Greece v. Galloway, a case about legislative prayer and the Establishment Clause. The Court must decide whether the court of appeals erred in holding that a legislative prayer practice violates the Establishment Clause notwithstanding the absence of discrimination in the selection of prayer-givers or forbidden exploitation of the prayer opportunity.

Prof. Russ Miller will discuss American Lung Assoc. V. EME Homer City Generation, a case involving an administrative law issue concerning EPA regulations. The Court will decide whether the statutory challenges to the EPA’s methodology for defining upwind states’ “significant contributions” were properly before the court, given the failure of anyone to raise these objections at all and also whether the court’s imposition of its own detailed methodology for implementing the Good Neighbor provision violated foundational principles governing judicial review of administrative decision-making.

Prof. Brian Murchison will discuss NLRB v. Noel Canning, a case concerning President Obama’s controversial recess appointments. The Court will decide such issues as whether the President’s recess-appointment power may be exercised during a recess that occurs within a session of the Senate, or is instead limited to recesses that occur between enumerated sessions of the Senate; and whether the President’s recess-appointment power may be exercised to fill vacancies that exist during a recess, or is instead limited to vacancies that first arose during that recess.

Prof. Chris Seaman will discuss McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which involves contribution limits. In this case, the Court must decide, among other related issues, whether the biennial limit on contributions to non-candidate committees is unconstitutional for lacking a constitutionally cognizable interest as applied to contributions to national party committees.

Case summaries courtesy of scotusblog.com, available by license.