On the Road

ABA Annual Meeting 2016: The Current State of the Supreme Court

This time On the Road at the 2016 ABA Annual Meeting, host Joe Patrice talks with Rachel Moran, Dean Emerita and Michael J. Connell Distinguished Professor of Law, and Nicole Austin-Hillery, Director and Counsel of The Brennan Center’s Washington, D.C. office, about the current state of the Supreme Court. Rachel reviews the gap left by Justice Scalia’s passing and states that she’s not sure if there is a clear heir to his seat but there are several justices who are aligned with him philosophically and jurisprudentially. Nicole notes that there seems to be a “lightness” to the current court without Scalia and that the justices appear to now share more of the decision making and influence in terms of the cases. The persistence of this climate, Nicole continues, really depends on who fills the vacant seat since the justices’ personalities have a huge bearing on the Court’s tenor and operation. Both guests contemplate Chief Judge Merrick Garland’s presumptive confirmation to the Supreme Court and the potential larger implications of Justice Sotomayor’s written dissent in the Utah v. Strieff case. They close the interview with a discussion of Justice Kennedy’s recent, uncharacteristic vote on affirmative action and upcoming court cases that attorneys should be on the lookout for.

Rachel F. Moran is Dean Emerita and Michael J. Connell Distinguished Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law. She received her A.B. in psychology with honors and with distinction from Stanford University and her J.D. from Yale Law School. Following law school, she clerked for Chief Judge Wilfred Feinberg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and worked for the San Francisco firm of Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe. Prior to her appointment at UCLA, Professor Moran was the Robert D. and Leslie-Kay Raven Professor of Law at UC Berkeley School of Law.

Nicole Austin-Hillery is the first director and counsel of The Brennan Center’s Washington, D.C. office and serves as the organization’s chief liaison to Congress and the Administration. She practiced with the law firm of Mehri & Skalet, PLLC as part of the firm’s civil rights employment class action practice and as the George N. Lindsay Civil Rights Law Fellow at the national office of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, D.C. Nicole is a graduate of the Howard University School of Law and Carnegie Mellon University.