Administrative agencies in the Executive Branch are a primary source of our nation’s public policy, creating regulatory frameworks under the guidance of congressionally enacted statutes. These expert institutions’ primary purpose is to protect the safety and well-being of all Americans by ensuring that our air and water are clean, our food safe, and financial institutions do not run amok, among many other things. However, the deference traditionally afforded to agencies is currently under attack in the courts and elsewhere. The assault on the administrative state comes not only in the form of doctrinal attacks on Chevron deference, but through regulatory capture by regulated industries, budget cuts that prevent agencies from fulfilling their mandates, and technical hurdles to administrative rulemaking. What responses to these attacks are possible, and can we identify new paths forward to provide for democratic inclusion in the regulatory process and ensure accountability of agencies in pursuing the public good?
Kate Shaw, Assistant Professor of Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (moderator)
Boris Bershteyn, Partner, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
K. Sabeel Rahman, Assistant Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School; Fellow, New American Foundation; Four Freedoms Fellow, Roosevelt Institute
Christopher Walker, Assistant Professor of Law, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
Allison Zieve, General Counsel and Director of the Public Citizen Litigation Group, Public Citizen
Recently, ACS released a one-of-a-kind dataset on the state judiciary, making available to scholars, policymakers and the public for the first time data on the biographical characteristics (including age, race and gender) of the judges on every general jurisdiction court in the United States. This panel, which includes one of the lead researchers for the study, will provide a special preview of the data and explore what reforms can be made to achieve a more diverse and effective judiciary. Are certain states doing a better job of selecting a judiciary that reflects the demographics of their residents than others? If so, what can we learn from these states? The panel will also consider the implications for the justice system of courts that do not reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.
Kate Berry, Counsel, Brennan Center for Justice (moderator)
Hon. Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, District of Columbia Court of Appeals
Tracey George, Charles B. Cox III and Lucy D. Cox Family Chair in Law and Liberty; Professor of Political Science; Director, Cecil D. Branstetter Litigation & Dispute Resolution Program, Vanderbilt Law School
Michele Jawando, Vice President, Legal Progress, Center for American Progress
Hon. Peter Reyes, Jr., Minnesota Court of Appeals
White House Counsel Neil Eggleston addresses the 2016 ACS National Convention.
An increasing number of federal judges are publicly expressing dismay with federal sentencing policy. Critics express concern that mandatory minimums take much needed discretion away from judges. Reform advocates have also cited mandatory minimum sentences, particularly those for non-violent drug offenses—along with the sentencing guidelines—as contributing to the country’s mass incarceration crisis. Have the guidelines and mandatory minimums contributed to the explosive growth in the federal prison population over the past few decades? Do they achieve the goal of fairer, race-neutral sentencing, or exacerbate existing racial disparities? This panel will examine how judges engage these issues.
Kevin Ring, Vice President, Families Against Mandatory Minimums (moderator)
Hon. Lynn Adelman, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin
Hon. P. Kevin Castel, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
Hon. George J. Hazel, U.S. District Court, District of Maryland
Hon. Beryl Howell, Chief Judge, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards addresses the 2016 ACS National Convention.
President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama entered office with radically different conceptions of executive power, particularly with regard to war powers and national security, and the coming year will see the election of a new president. The Bush Administration claimed sweeping unilateral executive power to act contrary to federal laws that regulated surveillance and banned torture, and issued hundreds of signing statements asserting the right to disregard statutory requirements. President Obama entered office rejecting this overreach and pledging to restore the rule of law. But in the face of congressional obstruction, President Obama also has been accused of abusing presidential power in the contexts of immigration, health care, climate change, and recess appointments. When the next president takes office in January 2017, what view of executive power will and should prevail, and what is at stake for the nation?
Charlie Savage (moderator), Washington Correspondent, The New York Times
Walter Dellinger, Partner, O’Melveny & Myers Martin Lederman, Associate Professor of Law,
Georgetown University Law Center
Saikrishna Prakash, James Monroe Distinguished Professor of Law and Horace W. Goldsmith Research Professor, University of Virginia School of Law
Neomi Rao, Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Center for the Study of the Administrative State, George Mason University School of Law
Hina Shamsi, Director, ACLU National Security Project