2012 ACS National Convention CLE Materials

The 2012 ACS National Convention will host seven programs offering CLE credits.  The CLE materials for each of these programs are listed below, along with a brief description of the program itself.  For further questions on obtaining CLE credit for attendance at the ACS National Convention, please e-mail nalexiou@acslaw.org


(In)equality in the 21st Century: What's Law Got to Do With It?

This plenary will examine the forms and consequences of economic inequality today and consider how government and law should work to restore stability and opportunity to the many families who are a paycheck, health crisis, or missed mortgage payment away from ruin.  Beyond the extremes of rich and poor, economic stratification has emerged as a defining feature of American life.  The economic insecurity facing American households has changed the political conversation and raised the question of the adequacy of our current laws. This panel will discuss how government measures in key areas – including tax, labor, health care, welfare, criminal justice and education – can respond to the economic and social challenges faced by those in the middle class and those living at the margins of our society.  What kinds of policies are needed to close the economic divide? What specific policies could be enacted at the local, state and national levels to move us toward a more just society? Panelists will provide insight on the meaning of equality in the 21st Century.


Are Individuals Losing the Right to Trial by Jury?

Despite our founders’ great affection for the jury and the role that jurors play in administering justice, the right to a jury trial guaranteed by the Sixth and Seventh Amendments has been characterized as an endangered species. In various civil contexts, ranging from securities to civil rights, the jury trial is becoming extinct.  Investors, consumers, employees, and others are denied their day in court because of mandatory arbitration agreements. In criminal cases, mandatory minimums and other sentencing laws force white collar and other defendants to take plea deals; the risk of going to trial and losing too great.  What does the vanishing jury trial mean for our justice system?  Can attempts be made to save it?


Collective Action at a Crossroads:  A Critical Moment for Workers

Over the past decade, workers’ collective action rights have been under constant attack.  In the past two years, states like Wisconsin and Ohio have passed legislation stripping the collective bargaining rights of public employees, and similar legislation is being considered in numerous states.  In addition, so-called “right to work” laws have been passed in numerous states, including most recently, Indiana.  At the same time, the Supreme Court has severely limited the rights of workers and consumers to take collective action to vindicate their statutory rights.  Recently, however, the National Labor Relations Board in D.R. Horton said that class actions for workers are protected under the National Labor Relations Act.  What interaction, if any, does the D.R. Horton decision have with the Supreme Court’s decision in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion upholding class action waivers in consumer mandatory arbitration agreements? What lies ahead for the collective rights of workers?


Citizens United Two Years Later: Money, Politics and Democracy at Stake

Two years ago in Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, easing decades-old limits on their participation in federal campaigns. Mid-way through a critical election year, what has been the impact of that decision? Have Super PACs changed the electoral landscape?  What should be made of the Montana Supreme Court’s decision to uphold that state’s Corrupt Practices Act, which limits corporate political spending, despite Citizens United? What is the future of campaign finance reform?  Leading thinkers and advocates will discuss the role money is playing in the 2012 campaign, the potential impact on our democracy, and what might be done about it.


What’s at Stake: Examining Voting Rights in the 21st Century

As we head toward the 2012 presidential election, the ability of citizens to participate in the political process could have enormous consequences.  This panel will consider challenges to the right to vote posed by newly enacted obstacles, including new voter ID and residency requirements, constitutional attacks on the Voting Rights Act, the continued problem of felon disenfranchisement, and efforts by state legislatures in the reapportionment process to minimize the voting strength of growing minority communities.  What impact will these developments have on voter participation during the next election cycle? What is at stake for American law and policy in the upcoming election?  What proactive steps can be taken to eliminate barriers and expand voter access to the ballot box? Panelists will discuss these and other questions that lay at the foundation of our democracy.


The View from the Bench:  Judicial Campaigns and Public Confidence in the Courts

Thirty-nine states elect their judges in some fashion, whether as an initial selection process or through retention voting.  These elections have the propensity to turn judges into politicians, at the potential cost of public skepticism regarding judicial impartiality.  What can be done to address the perception that justice can be bought?  This panel of state court judges will share their experiences and recommendations about how to enhance public confidence in the courts.


The Resegregation of America: Race and the Roberts Court

Justice Harry Blackmun wrote: "in order to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race. There is no other way."  In sharp contrast, Chief Justice John Roberts advocates a "colorblindness" framework: "the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."  The Supreme Court's recent decision to review Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, so soon after upholding the constitutionality of the University of Michigan Law School's affirmative action program, signals its intent to reexamine the circumstances under which race consciousness is permissible and provides a timely opportunity to examine race and the Roberts Court more broadly.  From Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District v. Holder and Bartlett v. Strickland (voting) to Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District (education) and Ricci v. DeStefano (employment), the Court has steadily diminished the tools available to address racial inequalities.  Panelists will discuss areas where the Court's equal protection jurisprudence is making a difference, and for whom. They will also examine the implications of varying approaches to race, both by the Court and in other policy arenas.