Law @ Princeton this weekend

It appears that Lady Justice is not blind afterall, but sees only in black and white. Perhaps like me you were hanging on to what feels like the last shred of hope in an intensely partisan midterm election cycle. That is with two Obama hand-selected appointees to the Supreme Court, we now could look to the US Judicial System as the one arm of government that can rise above the political fray exercising judicial review. But that hope quickly dissipated tonight after hearing a keynote address “Studying Law at Princeton,” given by Princeton University Provost, Christopher L. Eisgruber. The former director’s Program in Law and Public Affairs LAPA address to a stellar audience of former Fellows, distinguished faculty, students and guests kicked off a three-day 10th Anniversary celebration of LAPA. Eisgruber described the highest court, not out of step, but in “lockstep” with the country’s political currents; that is, even though the courst is practically evenly split with 4 Conservatives, 4 Liberals and a Moderate, it can be counted on to vote along the same party lines—Democratic and Republican—just like the Legislature. He also brought to the audience’s attention two societies that further undermine the judicial system: the longer established Federalist Society, a conservative student organization and the more recent kid-on-the-block, The American Constitutionalist Society for liberal law students. Both organizations provide students looking for clerking and permanent positions platforms for members to connect with judges and attorneys and government agencies who are members of their respective parties. Eisgruber sees definite conflict of interest issues here and called on the academic community to set the example with students by modeling ethical behavior as well as speaking out about the truth on such issues. For this and other reasons, Eisgruber, sees LAPA as an institution of great value that can mount well-rounded debates that center not just on the law but that are also transdisciplinary with input from many disciplines such as social studies and the humanities. There will be several Bowl Discussions over the next two days that will explore the role of law in constituting politics, society, the economy and culture both locally and globally.

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