Live from the law school: SCOTUS Preview
St. Louis Public Radio brought their studio to SLU LAW this morning, broadcasting the St. Louis on the Air Legal Roundtable segment from the John K. Pruellage Courtroom on the 12th floor of Scott Hall. The program was a preview of this year’s U.S. Supreme Court term, and a panel of experts that included SLU LAW Prof. Joel Goldstein weighed in on a variety of issues that are expected to come before the court. The program’s moderator was veteran St. Louis journalist Don Marsh, and Prof. Goldstein was joined on the panel by Bill Freivogel, a St. Louis Beacon legal columnist and journalism director at SIU-Carbondale, and Mark Smith, assistant provost at Washington University.
The panel discussed a wide variety of topics and addressed questions from the audience. Among the cases that were discussed were:
- McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission: Are aggregate limits on contributions to federal candidates, political action committees, and party committees constitutional?
- Town of Greece v. Galloway: Does a town violate the Establishment Clause by opening its board meetings with a prayer?
- Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action: May states limit the use of racial preferences by amending their constitutions?
- National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning: Who decides when Congress is in “recess” for the purpose of making presidential appointments: the President or the Senate?
In general, the panelists agreed that this term is likely to be less newsworthy than the past few years. “We probably won’t have a landmark case this term,” Prof. Freivogel said. Prof. Goldstein agreed, noting that on big constitutional issues, the court has tended to split more narrowly, but on smaller day-to-day issues, the court has had more consensus, and in his opinion we’ll likely see more of the latter this term.
The panel discussed Chief Justice John Roberts’ approach to the law at length, agreeing that though he has a conservative outlook, his approach is to err on the side of more incremental changes than sudden, sweeping ones. “The Chief Justice’s name is on the court,” Prof. Goldstein said. “He has a lot at stake. But he’s a good, experienced lawyer.” Goldstein said Roberts’ experience as an attorney might be behind the court’s simplifying of their opinions.
In addition to the cases listed above, the panel touched on the court’s opinion last year in the Affordable Care Act decision, the recently vetoed Missouri gun law, the proposal for a gun court in St. Louis city, and the civil war in Syria before the end of the hour-long program.
Audio from the event will be posted on the St. Louis on the Air website.