Skip to main content

20th Annual Supreme Court Review: October 2017 Term


Speaker(s): Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, Janai S. Nelson, Joan Biskupic, Martin A. Schwartz, Miguel A. Estrada, Professor Burt Neuborne, Professor Cristina Rodriguez, Professor Leon Friedman, Professor Michael C. Dorf, Professor Sherry F. Colb, Professor Theodore M. Shaw
Recorded on: Aug. 2, 2018
PLI Program #: 220594

Erwin Chemerinsky became the 13th Dean of Berkeley Law on July 1, 2017, when he joined the faculty as the Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law.

Prior to assuming this position, from 2008-2017, he was the founding Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law, and Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law, at University of California, Irvine School of Law, with a joint appointment in Political Science.  Before that he was the Alston and Bird Professor of Law and Political Science at Duke University from 2004-2008, and from 1983-2004 was a professor at the University of Southern California Law School, including as the Sydney M. Irmas Professor of Public Interest Law, Legal Ethics, and Political Science. He also has taught at DePaul College of Law and UCLA Law School.  He teaches Constitutional Law, First Amendment Law, Federal Courts, Criminal Procedure, and Appellate Litigation.

He is the author of ten books, including The Case Against the Supreme Court, published by Viking in 2014, and two books published by Yale University Press in 2017, Closing the Courthouse Doors: How Your Constitutional Rights Became Unenforceable and Free Speech on Campus (with Howard Gillman). He also is the author of more than 200 law review articles. He writes a weekly column for the Sacramento Bee, monthly columns for the ABA Journal and the Daily Journal, and frequent op-eds in newspapers across the country. He frequently argues appellate cases, including in the United States Supreme Court. 

In 2016, he was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  In January 2017, National Jurist magazine again named Dean Chemerinsky as the most influential person in legal education in the United States.

Education

B.S., Northwestern University (1975)

J.D., Harvard Law School (1978)


Janai Nelson is the seventh Associate Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., the country’s first civil and human rights law organization. As an organizational thought-leader at LDF, Ms. Nelson works with the President and Director-Counsel to determine and execute LDF’s strategic vision and oversee the operation of its programs.  She is also one of the lead counsel in Veasey v. Abbott, a federal challenge to Texas’s voter ID law.   Prior to joining LDF in June 2014, Ms. Nelson was Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship and Associate Director of the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development at St. John’s University School of Law where she is also a full professor of law.

Ms. Nelson received the 2013 Derrick A. Bell Award from the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) Section on Minority Groups and was named one of Lawyers of Color’s 50 Under 50 minority professors making an impact in legal education.  Prior to joining St. John's faculty, Ms. Nelson was a Fulbright Scholar at the Legal Resources Center in Accra, Ghana.  She began practicing law as the 1998 recipient of the NAACP LDF/Fried Frank Fellowship, following federal district and appellate court clerkships.  Ms. Nelson later became Director of LDF’s Political Participation Group, overseeing all voting related litigation and matters, litigating voting rights and redistricting cases, and working on criminal justice issues. Ms. Nelson has appeared in various media as an expert on race, civil rights, constitutional law and election law, and regularly speaks at conferences and symposia nationwide.


Joan Biskupic, a full-time CNN legal analyst, has covered the Supreme Court for twenty-five years and is the author of several books on the judiciary.

Before joining CNN in 2017, Biskupic spent a year as a visiting professor at the University of California, Irvine School of Law. She previously was an editor-in-charge for Legal Affairs at Reuters and, before that position, the Supreme Court correspondent for the Washington Post and for USA Today.

She is the author of a biography of Chief Justice John Roberts (The Chief, spring 2019). Her previous books include Sandra Day O'Connor (2005), American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (2009) and Breaking In: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor and the Politics of Justice (2014).

A graduate of Georgetown University law school, Biskupic was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in explanatory journalism in 2015.


Leon Friedman is the Joseph Kushner Special Professor of Civil Liberties Law professor at Hofstra Law School, teaching constitutional law and copyright. He is also a practicing lawyer, specializing in civil rights, First Amendment and intellectual property. He is a graduate of Harvard College and of the Harvard Law School. He served for a time a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union.

He has written or edited over a dozen books and has published over 100 articles in various law journals, newspapers and magazines. Among his works are The Justices of the United States Supreme Court: Their Lives and Major Decisions, 4th edition (Facts on File, 2013). The original edition of this work won the Scribes Award in 1970 as the best book on a legal subject published that year. Other books include The Supreme Court Confronts Abortion,  Southern Justice, The Civil Rights Reader, Brown v. Board of Education, Obscenity, The Wise Minority,  Unquestioning Obedience to the President (with Burt Neuborne) and Disorder in the Court (with Norman Dorsen)

He has written or worked on briefs for the United States Supreme Court in many important cases dealing with the First Amendment (Simon & Schuster v. Members of the New York State Crime Victims Board, Gentile v. State Bar of Nevada, Grove Press v. Maryland Board of Censors, Carroll v. Princess Anne County) copyright (Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enterprises, Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music ) civil rights, employment discrimination, Criminal Procedure, and abuse of government power.

He also practices in the area of copyright, employment discrimination and civil rights. He has represented a number of publishers, including Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Arcade Publishers, Chelsea House Publishers, as well as many authors including I. B. Singer, Susan Sontag, John McPhee, Stephen Spender, Hunter Thompson, Oscar Hijuelos, as well as the estates of Edith Wharton, T.S. Eliot. C.S. Forester and Daphne du Murier. Among his other clients have been James Brown, the Isley Brothers and Kathleen Turner. He is the general counsel for PEN American Center and is a former member of the Board of Directors of the New York Civil Liberties Union.


Professor Emeritus of Law Martin A. Schwartz is one of the nation's leading authorities on Section 1983 civil rights litigation and is the author of a multi-volume treatise on that subject.  He has argued three Section 1983 cases in the United States Supreme Court. He is the author of Essential Trial Evidence, Brought to Life by Famous Trials, Film, and Fiction (2017).  He has been a columnist for the New York Law Journal for over 40 years.  He also chaired the Practising Law Institute’s program on Trial Evidence, and co-chairs the Supreme Court Review program.


Theodore M. Shaw is the Julius L. Chambers Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill. Professor Shaw teaches Civil Procedure and Advanced Constitutional Law/Fourteenth Amendment. Before joining the faculty of UNC Law School, from 2008-2014 Professor Shaw taught at Columbia University Law School, where he was Professor of Professional Practice. During that time he was also “Of Counsel” to the law firm of Norton Rose Fulbright (formerly Fulbright & Jaworski, LLP). His practice involved civil litigation and representation of institutional clients on matters concerning diversity and civil rights.

Professor Shaw was the fifth Director-Counsel and President of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., for which he worked in various capacities over the span of twenty-six years. He has litigated education, employment, voting rights, housing, police misconduct, capital punishment and other civil rights cases in trial and appellate courts, and in the United States Supreme Court. From 1982 until 1987, he litigated education, housing, and capital punishment cases and directed LDF’s education litigation docket. In 1987, under the direction of LDF's third Director-Counsel, Julius Chambers, Mr. Shaw relocated to Los Angeles to establish LDF’s Western Regional Office. In 1990, Mr. Shaw left LDF to join the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School, where he taught Constitutional Law, Civil Procedure and Civil Rights. While at Michigan, he played a key role in initiating a review of the law school’s admissions practices and policies, and served on the faculty committee that promulgated the admissions program that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 in Grutter v. Bollinger.

In 1993, Mr. Shaw returned to LDF as Associate Director-Counsel, and in 2004, he became LDF’s fifth Director-Counsel. Mr. Shaw’s legal career began as a Trial Attorney in the Honors Program of the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., where he worked from 1979 until 1982.

Mr. Shaw has testified on numerous occasions before Congress and before state and local legislatures. His human rights work has taken him to Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America. In addition to teaching at Columbia and at Michigan Law School, Professor Shaw held the 1997-1998 Haywood Burns Chair at CUNY School of Law at Queens College and the 2003 Phyllis Beck Chair at Temple Law School. He was a visiting scholar at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia in 2008-2009. He is a member of the faculty of the Practicing Law Institute (PLI).

Mr. Shaw served on the Obama Transition Team after the 2008 presidential election, as team leader for the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. 


Michael C. Dorf, the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell Law School, has been teaching law since 1992. He has authored or co-authored six books and over one hundred scholarly articles and essays for law journals and peer-reviewed science and social science journals. He also frequently writes for non-lawyers. In addition to occasional contributions to The New York TimesUSA Today, CNN.com, The Los Angeles Times, and other wide-circulation publications, Professor Dorf has been writing a bi-weekly column since 2000 and publishes a popular blog, Dorf on Law. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard. After law school, Dorf served as a law clerk for the Hon. Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and then for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court. He has worked with several law firms and maintains an active pro bono practice mostly consisting of writing Supreme Court briefs. Before joining the Cornell faculty, Professor Dorf taught at Rutgers-Camden Law School for three years and at Columbia Law School for thirteen years. 


Burt Neuborne, the Norman Dorsen Professor in Civil Liberties at NYU School of Law, is one of the nation’s foremost civil liberties lawyers, teachers, and scholars. He served as  founding legal director of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law from 1996-2008. Neuborne has served as national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, special counsel to the National Organization for Women Legal Defense and Education Fund, and member of the New York City Human Rights Commission. He challenged the constitutionality of the Vietnam War, worked on the Pentagon Papers case, worked with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg when she headed the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, and anchored the ACLU’s legal program during the Reagan years. At the Brennan Center, he concentrated on campaign finance reform and efforts to reform the democratic process. In recent years, Neuborne has served as principal counsel in cases that have resulted in the payment of $7.5 billion to Holocaust victims. He has received the University-wide Distinguished Teaching Award and been elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among his best-known scholarly works is the two-volume Political and Civil Rights in the United States, which he co-authored with NYU colleagues Norman Dorsen and Sylvia Law, and Paul Bender. In 1996, Neuborne appeared as Jerry Falwell’s lawyer in the Milos Forman movie The People vs. Larry Flynt. His most recent book, “Madison’s Music:” On Reading the First Amendment, was published in 2015 by The New Press.


Cristina Rodríguez is the Leighton Homer Surbeck Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Her research interests include constitutional law and theory; immigration law and policy; administrative law; and citizenship theory. She is currently completing a book manuscript, with Adam Cox of NYU, entitled The President and Immigration Law, which will be published by Oxford University Press. The book considers how the President has used his enforcement power in immigration and beyond to shape regulatory and social policy. From 2004-2012, Rodriguez was on the faculty at NYU School of Law, and she has been a Visiting Professor at Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia Law Schools. From 2011-2013, she served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice, where she advised the White House, Attorney General, and executive branch agencies on the scope of their legal authority to act. She is a non-resident fellow at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., and has been a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She earned her B.A. and J.D. from Yale and attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, where she received a Master of Letters in Modern History. After law school, Rodríguez clerked for Judge David S. Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court.


Miguel A. Estrada is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.  Mr. Estrada has represented clients before federal and state courts throughout the country in a broad range of matters.  He has argued 23 cases before the United States Supreme Court and dozens of cases before lower state and federal appellate courts.  From 1992 until 1997, Mr. Estrada served as Assistant to the Solicitor General of the United States.  He previously served as Assistant U.S. Attorney and Deputy Chief of the Appellate Section, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York.  In those capacities, Mr. Estrada represented the government in numerous jury trials and in many appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. Estrada practiced corporate law in New York with Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.


Sherry F. Colb is the C.S. Wong Professor of Law at Cornell Law School. She earned an A.B. from Columbia College (Valedictorian) and a J.D. from Harvard Law School (magna cum laude).  After graduation, Colb clerked for Judge Wilfred Feinberg of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for Associate Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the United States Supreme Court. She was a member of the Rutgers University School of Law faculty in Newark when she joined the Cornell faculty in 2008 and has held the position of Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law and Columbia Law School. Her research and teaching interests center on issues of constitutional criminal procedure (especially the Fourth Amendment), animal rights, sexual equality, and evidence. Colb’s scholarship has appeared in the Stanford Law Review, the New York University Law Review, the Columbia Law Review, the Michigan Law Review, and elsewhere. She has published a book about the modern challenges of sex equality, When Sex Counts: Making Babies and Making Law (Rowman & Littlefield 2007), and she authored a book about veganism and animal rights, “Mind If I Order the Cheeseburger?” and Other Questions People Ask Vegans (Lantern 2013).  Most recently, she has co-authored a book about animal rights and abortion, Beating Hearts:  Abortion and Animal Rights (Columbia University Press 2016).  She composes a bi-weekly column on Verdict.Justia.com as well as regular posts on the blog, Dorf on Law. She is admitted to the New York Bar and the U.S. Supreme Court Bar.