On Monday, April 15th, the Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor, Associate Justice for the United States Supreme Court (ret.) introduced the 5th Annual Law & Society Symposium presented by the Charleston Law Review and The Riley Institute at Furman University.
Planned by Professor Sheila B. Scheuerman , the students of the Charleston Law Review, and the faculty and staff of The Riley Institute, the symposium was a tribute to Justice O’Connor’s jurisprudence, a debate about the role of religion within law and society, and an opportunity for Charleston School of Law students to plan, organize, research, and cosponsor a vigorous discussion about the role of religion in American society. Charleston Law Review Editor-in-Chief, V. Morgan Peterson, opened the proceedings, welcoming the audience to the symposium.
Justice O’Connor opened the symposium by wishing the participants “luck” with locating the “grand unified theory” that would satisfy the endorsement test that she articulated in her concurrence written in 1984 in Lynch v. Donnelly. Professor William Janssen followed her opening remarks by reviewing the Court’s 1971 holding regarding the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses in Lemon v. Kurtzman that paved the way for Justice O’Connor’s Establishment Test in Lynch.
Professor Janssen’s prelude was followed by four panels which addressed religious symbols, public prayer, and funding. A final panel offered predictions about future judicial developments in the area.
Panelists included Professor Lisa Shaw Roy, Professor Patrick M. Garry, Allyson Ho, Professor Andrew Koppelman, Professor Rodney Smolla, Dr. Leslie C. Griffin, Professor Marci Hamilton, Professor Christopher Lund, Professor Carl H. Esbeck, Professor Edward McGlynn Gaffney, Professor Steven K. Green, and Daniel Mach. Their panels were moderated by Professor William Janssen, Professor Jorge Roig, the Honorable Richard M. Gergel and the Honorable P. Michael Duffy. The group debated and sometimes disagreed about the tests, the theories, and Justice O’Connor’s jurisprudence.
Justice O’Connor then gave the keynote address, offering unusual insights into the judicial perspective while demonstrating a sense of humor. As she contemplated the discussion about religious pluralism and the issues it created, she noted that the Charleston School of Law had done a very impressive job, given the institution’s youth, with gathering together a group of scholars to debate the always difficult issue of separation of church and state in America. Dean Andrew L. Abrams closed the program, presenting Justice O’Connor with a plaque. Publication of the symposium speakers’ remarks will appear in a later issue of the Charleston Law Review.