Clarence Thomas, left, and Samuel Alito, right. (Photos: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)
Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito Jr. are headliners next month at the Federalist Society’s annual national convention, which will focus on the legacy of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
The agenda marks the return of the appearance of at least one conservative justice—a seven-year streak that ended last year when no justice spoke at the event in Washington. The convention theme last year was the role of Congress.
Alito will give the convention’s opening address 9 a.m. Nov. 17 at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel, where most of the events will take place. Thomas will be the featured speaker that evening at the annual dinner, a ticketed event at the Gaylord National Maryland ballroom at National Harbor. The convention runs through Nov. 19.
The convention’s breakout sessions cover Scalia’s jurisprudence, including his work in such areas as antitrust, administrative law, property rights, federalism and telecommunications. The participants, who include judges, law professors and private practitioners, span the political spectrum.
Confirmed speakers include Floyd Abrams of Cahill Gordon & Reindel; Kirkland & Ellis’ Paul Clement; Jones Day’s Noel Francisco; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Eugene Scalia and Helgi Walker; Williams & Connolly’s Kannon Shanmugam; Covington & Burling’s Deborah Garza; Gupta Wessler’s Deepak Gupta; Dentons’ Seth Harris; and Cravath, Swaine & Moore’s David Kappos.
Judges will moderate many of the sessions. The list of judges who are set to speak include Carlos Bea, Sandra Ikuta and Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Steven Colloton of the Eighth Circuit, Douglas Ginsburg of the D.C. Circuit, Thomas Hardiman of the Third Circuit, Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit, Jeffrey Sutton of the Sixth Circuit and Diane Sykes and Frank Easterbrook of the Seventh Circuit.
GOP presidential contender Donald Trump in May named Colloton, Hardiman and Sykes to a list of potential Supreme Court picks under his would-be presidency.
Among the legal academics offering insights into Scalia’s legacy will be: Thomas Merrill of Columbia Law School, Ilya Somin of Antonin Scalia Law School, Eugene Volokh and Adam Winkler of UCLA School of Law, Akhil Amar and William Eskridge Jr. of Yale Law School, Stephanos Bibas of University of Pennsylvania Law School, James Ely Jr. of Vanderbilt Law School, Richard Epstein of New York University School of Law, Lisa Heinzerling of Georgetown University Law Center, Orin Kerr of George Washington University Law School and Stephen Vladeck of University of Texas School of Law.
Scalia’s adherence to textualism and originalism are among the many topics of discussion. Originalism became an election topic Monday when 29 scholars who support that theory of constitutional interpretation signed a statement opposing Trump’s election bid.
The scholars’ statement, whose signatures include convention participants Epstein and Somin, said: “Trump’s long record of statements and conduct have shown him indifferent or hostile to the Constitution’s basic features—including a government of limited powers, an independent judiciary, religious liberty, freedom of speech, and due process of law.”
While acknowledging that Trump has promised to nominate qualified judicial candidates committed to the Constitution and the rule of law, the signers say: “Notwithstanding those he has already named, we do not trust him to do so. More importantly, we do not trust him to respect constitutional limits in the rest of his conduct in office, of which judicial nominations are only one part.”