Thursday, November 27, 2008

DC--NYC Trip Day 4

Last day of the National Lawyers Convention started with a panel on second look doctrines enabling people and legislatures to overturn judicial decisions. Then on to an administrative law presentation on Chevron. Lunch afforded the best discussion an infinitely fascinating discussion between Michael McConnell (my legal hero) and Richard Posner about judicial decision making. McConnell is an originalist, while Posner is a judicial pragmatist who believes judges should make decisions based on their best policy estimations. The back and forth was lively yet restrained (both have great respect for each other). I learned Posner believes the Bill of Rights is "fluff." (An audible gasp echoed through the crowd with that statement.) Wonderful, wonderful stuff.

The rest of the day consisted of a debate on congressional regulation of judicial education trips authored by Russ Feinstein (D-Minnesota). Feinstein sent his aide Robert Schiff to defend the proposal. Poor Schiff, he was sorely outmatched by DC Appeals Court judge Raymond Randolph and UCLA professor Eugene Volokh. They pointed out the obvious problems with Feinstein's proposal, and exposed the fact Schiff didn't actually know what his bill meant. It was like watching two cats bat around a mouse before they dismember and devour it.

Final address was Antonin Scalia's. He spoke for approximately thirty minutes about originalism before taking five or six questions. Turns out his favorite operas are La Traviata and Madama Butterfly. Good stuff. And with that, the Convention was over. Three intellectually stimulating days that will keep me going for another year.

After the Convention, we all picked up dinner at an indian restaurant in Pentagon City.

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