Supreme Court Preview: Part Two

February 6, 2013 — Just when you thought nothing could top last year for blockbuster Supreme Court cases, the remainder of the October 2012 term promises — in the words of Professor Neal Katyal — “to be historic.” So on January 30, Georgetown Law presented Part Two of its annual Supreme Court Preview, with the country’s top appellate litigators discussing what’s new in the Court this spring.

Amy Howe (G’94, L’98) led the discussion with Shelby County v. Holder, the challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The Court will consider the continued constitutionality of that provision, which prohibits certain jurisdictions from making any changes to their voting procedures without first demonstrating that the change will not deny or abridge the right to vote based on race. 

Adjunct Professor and former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement (F’88) helped to explore the two cases on the docket involving same-sex marriage. United States v. Windsor challenges the federal Defense of Marriage Act; Clement is representing the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives. “The Supreme Court went out of its way to add a jurisdictional issue to the questions that the parties had presented the court. … ,” Clement noted. “There is an off-ramp, if the court wants to, to decide these cases on purely jurisdictional grounds.”

Thomas C. Goldstein of Goldstein & Russell discussed Hollingsworth v. Perry, looking at the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, which legally defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Clement and Katyal, former acting solicitor general, weighed in on whether and how the Office of the Solicitor General might decide to file a brief as amicus curiae in Hollingsworth, and what such a brief might say.

“It’s actually relatively rare that the Supreme Court comes along and decides something of such monumental importance that your grandchildren … will be thinking about [it],” Goldstein said of the Proposition 8 matter. “This is that kind of case.”

The event, introduced by Institute Executive Director Irv Gornstein, was co-sponsored by Bloomberg Law and the Law Center’s chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Federalist Society. 

Journalists in attendance included NPR's Nina Totenberg, David Savage of the Los Angeles Times, Mark Sherman of the Associated Press and The New York Times's Adam Liptak, who quoted the panel in a recent article. A webcast may be viewed here.