AALS Annual Meeting

Reassessing Our roles as scholars and educators in light of change

Hot Topics

Time has been reserved during the Annual Meeting schedule for programs devoted to late-breaking legal issues or topics.

The purpose of this special "hot topics" slot is to provide a forum for a panel presentation on a timely and important issue of general interest that arises after the deadline for section and other programs.

Proposals were evaluated by the immediate Past President of the AALS in consultation with the Executive Committee.


Friday, January 4, 2008

10:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Hot Topic Program - Reproductive Justice After Carhart
Petit Trianon, 3 rd floor, New York Hilton

Moderators: Pamela S. Karlan, Stanford Law School
Jack M. Balkin, Yale Law School
Panelists: Michael C. Dorf, Columbia University School of Law
Reva B. Siegel, Yale Law School
Kenji Yoshino, Yale Law School
Angela P. Harris, University of California, Berkeley School of Law

 This roundtable will discuss Gonzales v. Carhart, the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision upholding the federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act.  Panelists will focus on the ways that Carhart has emerged from and is reshaping debate over questions of reproductive justice in popular movements, the academy, state legislatures, and the courts.

 Carhart suggests a new understanding of the state' s interest in regulating abortion, as well as a new understanding of the abortion right itself.  Discussion will explore how the abortion right might be grounded in principles of sexual freedom and gender equality. Drawing on examples of abortion regulation now in state legislatures, the roundtable will examine the constituent elements of the government's interest in regulating abortion, including the government's asserted interest in protecting women from psychological harms associated with the abortion decision and  the equities of imposing more extensive and value-laden informed consent requirements, as many states are now contemplating. The group will also discuss changes in the structure of abortion-related litigation, such as the distinction between as-applied and facial attacks on abortion regulations, especially as this bears on the requirement of a health exception.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

8:30-10:15 a.m.
Hot Topic Program - Of Guns And Militias: Just What Does The Second Amendment Guarantee?  Reflections on the Supreme Court’s Grant Of Certiorari In District Of Columbia V. Heller
Trianon Ballroom, 3 rd floor, New York Hilton

Moderator: Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Speakers: Katherine Darmer, Chapman University School of Law
Michael C. Dorf, Columbia University School of Law
John C. Eastman, Chapman University School of Law
Eugene Volokh, University of California at Los Angeles School of Law

Not since 1939 has the Supreme Court directly addressed the meaning of the Second Amendment. Following more than two decades of renewed scholarly attention, the lower courts have been grappling with whether the Amendment secures a collective or an individual right, and if the latter, to what extent the right is subject to reasonable restrictions. On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court granted the petition for a writ of certiorari in District of Columbia v. Heller, agreeing to review the D.C. Circuit’s holding that the Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, thus invaliding the District’s ban on hand-gun ownership and in-home possession of operational shotguns and rifles.

10:30a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Hot Topic Program - The New Federal Student Loan Repayment and Forgiveness Law: How it Will Affect Law Graduates and Law Schools
-View Video-

Panelists: Philip G. Schrag, Georgetown University Law Center
Dorothy Andrea Brown, Washington and Lee University School of Law
Heather Jarvis, Program Manager - Law School Advocacy, Equal Justice Works, Washington, DC

In September, 2007, Congress passed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (P.L. 110-84). Section 203 allows much lower monthly “income-based” repayments (IBR) than was previously permitted. Section 401, enacted with strong support from the ABA and the AALS over a seven year period, provides a large measure of loan forgiveness for graduates who spend ten years working in government agencies and non-profit (Sec. 501(c)(3)) organizations. The IBR system will significantly alleviate the loan repayment burden on law graduates in their first years after graduation, making it possible for many more graduates to consider working for smaller law firms that do not pay salaries as high as those paid by large corporate firms. The loan forgiveness provision will enable thousands of law graduates to choose the careers that they desire in lower-paying public service jobs.

Through a powerpoint exposition of the law, demonstration of a web-based IBR calculator, discussion by panelists, and audience participation, this panel will explain the new law and its implications for law graduates and law schools (including law schools that have their own loan repayment assistance programs). The panel will also examine ways in which Congress could improve on what it has already done.

1:30-3:15 p.m.
Hot Topic Program - Accountability for Military Contractors
Rendevous Trianon, 3 rd floor, New York Hilton

On September 16, 2007, security contractors in Iraq employed by Blackwater International opened fire on civilians, and media outlets immediately began reporting that the shootings may have been unprovoked.  The firestorm of controversy surrounding the incident has raised increased awareness of the thousands of private military contractors employed in Iraq.  Indeed, there are now as many contractors employed by the US government in Iraq as there are uniformed military personnel deployed there.  In response to the Blackwater shooting incident, the Iraq government has sought to repeal the purported immunity given by the Coalition Provisional Authority to U.S. contractors in Iraq.  Meanwhile, Congress is now pursuing legislation that would explicitly make contractors subject to U.S. law even when operating abroad.  And Congressional hearings are in progress seeking increased oversight of contractors within the State Department and the Department of Defense.  International law specialists and scholars of government contract law have also weighed in, proposing other initiatives that might make contractors more accountable for the abuses they may commit.  This panel will assess various possible avenues of accountability over contractors, as well as the implications of privatization in the foreign affairs arena more generally.  

Moderator: Laura Dickinson, University of Connecticut School of Law
Speakers: Martha L. Minow, Harvard Law School
Steven L. Schooner, The George Washington University Law School
Paul R. Verkuil, Yeshiva University Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law


AALS logo