March 27 Institute for the Study of the Judiciary, Politics, and the Media event focuses on decision making, influences in lower courts
March 27 Institute for the Study of the Judiciary, Politics, and the Media event focuses on decision making, influences in lower courtsMarch 21, 2007Sara Millersemortim@syr.edu
Although the U.S. Supreme Court attracts the lion’s share of public attention and political criticism, the fact is, only a tiny fraction of federal cases make it onto the high court’s docket each year. On a large number of pressing disputes, it is the lower federal courts that have the final word. What role does politics play in determining who sits on the lower federal courts and how decisions on these courts are made? Should citizens be more concerned about the partisan preferences that shape those legal issues the U.S. Supreme Court does not consider?
On Tuesday, March 27, at 4 p.m., Judge Carolyn Dineen King, the first female chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit; Nancy Scherer, professor at Wellesley College and author of “Scoring Points: Politicians, Political Activists and the Lower Federal Court Appointment Process” (Stanford University Press, 2005); and Charlotte Grimes, Knight Chair at the S.I Newhouse School of Public Communications, will discuss these issues at an event sponsored by the Institute for the Study of the Judiciary, Politics, and the Media at Syracuse University (IJPM). IJPM Director Keith J. Bybee will moderate this discussion, which will be held in Room 100 of the SU College of Law’s MacNaughton Hall. The event is co-sponsored by the SU College of Law and is free to the public. Parking is available in SU’s pay lots.
The discussion, “Are Federal Judges Political? Views from the Academy, the Bench, and the Press,” will be webcast live via IJPM’s website: http://jpm.syr.edu.
A native of Syracuse, King has authored more than 4,400 opinions in her 26 years on the bench. She had a distinguished career in legal practice before being nominated to the Fifth Circuit by President Jimmy Carter in 1979; she was the first woman to serve on that court.
She soon became chief judge of the Fifth Circuit, serving from 1999-2006, and was the first woman to hold that position. King also served as a member of the executive committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States from 2000-05, after being appointed by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and chaired the committee from 2002-05 — a position of enormous importance in running the federal courts in the United States.
A strong advocate for women in the legal profession, King was in 2005 awarded the Margaret Brent Award, presented by the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession. The Federal Judicial Conference honored her in September 2005 in a resolution delivered to her by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens. Since 2004, she has served as an honorary member of the Syracuse University College of Law Board of Advisors. In 2006, she received an honorary degree from SU.
Scherer, assistant professor of political science at Wellesley, has research and teaching interests in American politics with a primary emphasis on judicial politics and law. She has published in Political Science Quarterly, Law and Society Review and Judicature on topics such as judicial decision-making behavior and judicial appointment politics. Currently, her research is focused on diversifying the racial and gender makeup of the federal judiciary and its potential impact on citizens’ views of the justice system. She was the 2002 recipient of the Edwin S. Corwin Award, given by the American Political Science Association, for best dissertation on public law.
Prior to joining the Newhouse School, Grimes was a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for 20 years, including 12 in its Washington bureau. Her work included covering local and national campaigns and elections, and the politics and policy of health care and international trade. Since 1996, she has been a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University; a visiting professor at the Newhouse School; a fellow at the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University; director of the Washington internship program for the Scripps Howard Foundation; and head of the journalism program at Hampton University, a member of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Virginia, laying the groundwork for the new Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.
Launched in September 2006, IJPM is an academic institute devoted to the interdisciplinary study of issues at the intersection of law, politics and the media. A collaborative effort of SU’s College of Law, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, the institute sponsors lectures, conferences and symposia designed to foster discussion and debate among legal scholars, sitting judges and working journalists.
For more information, visit the IJPM website: http://jpm.syr.edu.