Supreme Court building.
Left to right: Steve Wermiel, Sarah Harrington, Angela J. Davis, Adam Liptak, and Beth Brinkmann.

Program on Law and Government Hosts ‘On the Docket: Looking Ahead at the New Supreme Court Term’

Sept. 25, 2018

On Tuesday, Sept. 25, American University Washington College of Law’s Program on Law and Government and the American Bar Association Division for Public Education welcomed to the AUWCL campus a panel of U.S. Supreme Court experts for a discussion on the future of the Court and its upcoming cases.

AUWCL Professor and constitutional law expert Steve Wermiel moderated “On the Docket: Looking Ahead at the New Supreme Court Term.” The panel included AUWCL Professor Angela Davis, expert in criminal law and procedure with expertise on prosecutorial power and racism in the criminal justice system; Adam Liptak, New York Times Supreme Court correspondent; and two experienced Supreme Court litigators: Beth Brinkmann of Covington & Burling LLP, who has previously served in the Department of Justice, most recently as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Division, and Sarah Harrington of Goldstein and Russell, P.C., a former assistant to the Solicitor General at the United States Department of Justice.

Supreme Court panel
New York Times correspondent Adam Liptak discusses an upcoming case that will appear before the Supreme Court.

The panel aimed to "look ahead at some of the most important cases of the new term, cases in which we will begin to see right away what impact the departure of Justice Kennedy and the arrival of Justice Kavanaugh will have on the Court’s decisions," according to Wermiel.

The event followed a panel on Sept. 5 hosted by the Program on Law and Government, “The Kavanaugh Nomination: A Panel Discussion," which promoted a dialogue on various issues concerning Kavanaugh, including areas of opposition to his nomination.

“On the Docket: Looking Ahead at the New Supreme Court Term” discussed eight of the upcoming 37 cases the court has already decided it will hear, including Gundy v. United States, Gamble vs. United States, and Apple Inc. v. Pepper.

Davis spoke specifically of two upcoming death penalty cases that will appear before the court, Madison v. Alabama and Bucklew v. Precythe.

Bucklew is not challenging his death sentence, Davis explained, but rather the manner of his execution.

Supreme Court panel
"On the Docket: Looking Ahead at the New Supreme Court Term" panelists.

"Missouri executes by way of lethal injection. He's arguing that lethal injection is unconstitutional and cruel and unusual...because of this very severe and unusual medical condition (cavernous hemangioma) that he has, lethal injection would be cruel and unusual in his case," Davis said.  "He's proposing that he be executed by means of a lethal gas administered by using a gas mask."

The experts also discussed what additional upcoming cases the court may hear that have not yet been chosen.

Liptak said an establishment clause case regarding a cross-shaped WWI memorial in Maryland  may make the docket, along with the topic of partisan gerrymandering.

"The question of partisan gerrymandering in which the Court managed to duck in two different cases, Wisconsin and Maryland will probably return to the Court on appeal," he said.

Watch a video of the panel here.