Hot Topics

2015 AALS Annual Meeting Hot Topic Programs Selected

Hot topic programs at the AALS Annual Meeting highlight important and timely topics on some of society’s most pressing legal issues. These programs were selected by the Program Committee for the AALS 2016 Annual Meeting from proposals submitted by law school faculty.
What Will and Should Happen to Affirmative Action after Fisher v. Texas
Thursday, January 7, 1:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
The Supreme Court will revisit affirmative action this term in Fisher v. Texas. The argument will likely center around whether The University of Texas at Austin explored race‐neutral alternatives seriously enough to satisfy the Supreme Court’s strict scrutiny standard of review.
This program will discuss the case and whether the Supreme Court should revisit its standard of review.
Let’s Talk About Trigger Warnings: Best Practices in Teaching Tough Topics
Friday, January 8, 8:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
The controversial December 2014 New Yorker article addressing trigger warnings, “The Trouble with Teaching Rape Law” by Jeannie Suk (Harvard Law School), immediately sparked blog posts and informal discussions across the legal academy. This program seeks to broaden the debate on whether trigger warnings, designed to protect students from disturbing content, are warranted in the law school classroom. The panel will distinguish best practices in teaching sensitive topics in different pedagogical contexts.
Grappling with Campus Rape
Friday, January 8, 10:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Universities are struggling at every level—to define sexual assault, to figure out how to balance the rights of the victim with those of the accused, to decide whether they are equipped to adjudicate such cases, and to prevent sexual assault in the first place. The goal of this program is not just to provide a critical overview of what is happening on campuses, but also to offer guidance on what universities should be doing.
Beyond Cellphone Evidence: Video Advocacy in Criminal Proceedings
Saturday, January 9, 8:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
Video has become a hot topic in the area of criminal justice as a result of the increasing use of cellphones to capture interactions between police and black citizens who wind up losing their lives during and after such encounters.
The program will explore the art of, and legal limitations on, capturing and interpreting candid police cellphone videos, as well as strategies for producing effective sentencing mitigation, clemency, and social justice videos. Actual examples of such works will be screened and discussed.
Immigration & The 2016 Presidential Election: Campaign Rhetoric, Minority Voting, and Policy Possibilities
Saturday, January 9, 10:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
The public has recently witnessed a myriad of immigration proposals from U.S. presidential candidates including revoking birthright citizenship, increasing border fencing, legalization, guest worker programs, mass deportations, and even using a “FedEx”‐style tracking system to monitor noncitizens.
This program’s goal is to explore the legal and political ramifications of these immigration platforms, considering both the way electoral politics and voting restrictions will affect the outcome of the election, and the potential for candidates to institute their immigration policy preferences once in office. In addition, panelists will consider what effect election politics are having on the national conversation surrounding immigration.
Responding to the Money Bail Crisis
Saturday, January 9, 1:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
National attention to America’s system of money bail has exploded in the last four months. This attention is due, in large part, to the nationwide publicity surrounding the June 2015 suicide of Kalief Browder (after three years of pretrial detention at Riker’s Island) and Sandra Bland’s death at the Waller County jail in July 2015. Both Browder and Bland were in pretrial detention because they could not pay their bail.
The panel will address a number of important pretrial detention trends including legislative developments and the recent rise in successful litigation against money bail.

AALS returns to the Big Apple for the 110th Annual Meeting