Featured Speaker: Judge Gray H. Miller, United States District Judge, Southern District of Texas
Preview: The University of Houston Law Center's very own Judge Gray H. Miller shares his personal experiences and reflections on his unique path to becoming a federal judge. From attending the University as both an undergradute and law student (1970 - 1978) to serving on the Houston Police force for nine years (1969 - 1978), to climbing the ladder at Fulbright & Jaworski from associate to senior partner (1978 - 2004), to assuming the federal bench under President George W. Bush's nomination, Judge Miller's story offers an inspirational tale of both hardship and success and illustrates the importance of taking advantage of opportunities that one encounters in life.
Organized by: The Federalist Society
Featured Speaker: Ms. Becky Dunlop, Vice President of External Relations, The Heritage Foundation
Contributing Speaker: Prof. Tracy Hester, University of Houston Law Center
Preview: Environmental policy has been the exclusive domain of the party of government, statists and advocates of centralized government command and control for forty years. Now, a new environmental paradigm is gaining traction in the debate as those who favor constitutional government, federalism, liberty and free enterprise make the case that their principles can benefit the resources and people too. Becky Norton Dunlop, a former federal natural resources official and former state natural resources Cabinet secretary presents these principles with compelling examples and policy recommendations. She argues that a growing economy and an improving environment go hand in hand. Energy policy is in the cross-hairs of this important debate.
Featured Speaker: Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies, Editor-in-Chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review, Cato Institute
Contributing Speaker: Prof. Aaron Bruhl, University of Houston Law Center
Preview: Mr. Shapiro argues the following: the oft-repeated claim that the Roberts Court is “pro-business” is both false and beside the point. It's false because the Court’s rulings go every which way: pro- and anti-business, unanimous to 5-4 (and everything in between), majority opinions written by everyone from Justice Ginsburg to Justice Thomas. Yes, certain rulings favoring business interests acquire a high profile (Ledbetter v. Goodyear, Citizens United, Walmart v. Dukes), but others go the other way (Wyeth v. Levine), and still others feature businesses on both sides. Even the “evil triumvirate” of Ledbetter, Citizens United, and Walmart is less than it seems: the first was a narrow ruling on a poorly drafted statute of limitations—which Congress subsequently changed, as the process is supposed to work—and indeed employment discrimination claims have fared exceedingly well of late; the second helps political advocacy groups, small business associations, and unions much more than Fortune 500 companies; and the third actually went 7-2 on the key point regarding class action procedure. If this is a pro-business Court, or if the conservative majority is hell-bent on serving corporate masters, it has an odd way of showing it. But the falsity of the claim is beside the point, for three basic reasons: (1) the small and selective nature of the Court’s docket makes statistical analysis impossible; (2) whatever it’s doing, it’s possible that the Court is getting the law right; and, most fundamentally, (3) it’s completely unclear what being “pro-business” even means (pro-investor? pro-management? pro-market? pro-defense bar?). In short, we need to set aside this tired debate and refocus on whether the Court “got it right” in any particular case.
Featured Speaker: Dr. Willie Soon, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Contributing Speaker: Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, Regents Professor and Texas State Climatologist, Dept. of Atmospheric Science, Texas A&M University
Preview: A dual presentation and debate on the latest scientific evidence that supports and/or challenges the theory of anthropogenic global warming. Dr. Soon addresses the current confusions about the role of CO2 in the Earth’s weather-climate system, while Dr. Nielsen-Gammon sheds light on humanity’s contribution to the problem.
Organized by: The Federalist Society and Environmental & Energy Law Society
Featured Speaker: Mr. Trevor Burrus, Cato Institute
Contributing Speaker: Prof. Melissa Hamilton, University of Houston Law Center
Preview: With over 300 million guns in the United States, gun abuse is an ever increasing problem. What steps can Congress take to most efficiently mitigate this growing concern? Prof. Hamilton sheds light on the issue by suggesting that stricter gun control laws should be part of a broader public health model to reducing gun violence. Mr. Burrus contributes his viewpoint, arguing that stricter policing is bound to be ineffective and that the focus should rather be on contributing factors like moribund public schools and the drug war, both of which have decimated communities of the inner cities.
Organized by: The Federalist Society and the Black Law Students Association
Featured Speaker: Honorable Edith H. Jones, 5th Circuit Court of Appeals
Preview: Long before this election season, it seemed that the idea of protecting people's right to acquire and hold property was under unprecedented attack. Honorable Edith H. Jones, the former Chief Judge and current Judge on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, argues that the freedom to earn and grow property is part of man's nature and an inalienable right that can't be separated from self-government and democracy.
Featured Speaker: Prof. Gregory McNeal, Pepperdine School of Law
Contributing Speaker: Prof. Sandra Thompson, University of Houston Law Center
Preview: Over-criminalization is a systemic concern which often manifests itself in wrongful convictions, resulting in adverse fiscal as well as social consequences. Prof. McNeal, a former advisor to the Chief Prosecutor of the Department of Defense Office of Military Commissions addresses this concern by inquiring into the true root and scope of the problem which he argues is often times oversimplified by complete attribution to prosecutorial misconduct. Prof. Thompson, the director of the Criminal Justice Institute sheds light on the impact of wrongful convictions, suggesting that the prominence of fiscal conservatism on criminal justice reform is a major contributing factor.
Organized by: The Federalist Society
Featured Speaker: Prof. Teresa Collett, University of St. Thomas
Contributing Speaker: Prof. Seth Chandler, University of Houston Law Center
Preview: In February 2012, the US District court ruled in accordance with a 5th Circuit order overturning an injunction on Texas' Mandatory Ultrasound Law. This law requires doctors to perform a sonogram on a pregnant woman before she undergoes an abortion. The woman must hear a description of the sonogram 24hrs in advance of the procedure, but does not have to see any images or hear the fetus' heartbeat. Proponents of the law cite the thousands of lives it will save and say it helps the woman make a better informed decision before undergoing the abortion. Opponents say that the law oversteps constitutional limits by forcing women to have an invasive procedure without their consent, and forces doctors to promote a state-sponsored policy against abortion.
Organized by: The Federalist Society & Advocates for Life
Featured Speaker: Robert Bradley
Contributing Speaker: Prof. Darren Bush, University of Houston Law Center
Preview: In the wake of the Enron debacle, leading local academics weighted in on the rise and stunning fall of what had been Houston's favorite company--and according to Fortune magazine, America's most innovative company. Capitalism took the fall. Rice University business-ethicist Duane Windsor lambasted "the Enron value set" of "an extreme laissez-faire ideology of absolutely 'free' (i.e., absolutely unregulated) markets." Several University of Houston law professors damned Enron in a capitalist context as well. However, Enron was an anti-capitalistic enterprise. Virtually all of its profit centers were closely tied to special government favor, existing and desired. Ken Lay et al. were not capitalist cronies but political-capitalist engineers, validating the worldview of leading thinkers such as Adam Smith, Samuel Smiles, and Ayn Rand. Bradley will reinterpret Enron as a 16-year veteran at the company, a Ken Lay confidant, and author of a trilogy on political capitalism inspired by the rise and fall of Enron. The Great Misinterpretation about Enron's lessons for business, government, and society, made initially and again made at the ten-year anniversary of the bankruptcy, reflected more than bad facts, Bradley will explain. It resulted from a flawed worldview of "politically correct" notions such as "green" energy policy and corporate social responsibility (Enron championed both). The flawed view also ignored the peril of the mixed economy where micro-regulation creates unintended consequences to allow the worst to get on top.