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A Conversation on the Constitution

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I'm Ugene Mia president of the Federal Society and on behalf of the Federal Society and the American Constitution Society which both groups are co-sponsoring this event. I want to welcome all of you here, this discussion, conversation on the Constitution with Justice Bryer, and Justice Scalia All of you should of gotten at one stage or another cards when you came in here. If you want to ask a question, write it out and pass it to the isle. On occasion there will be people coming up and down the isle who will take those cards, if your on the seat on the isle, if cards are passed to you, if you could hold them until at some stage, somebody comes by and gets them we'd appreciate that very much. Now to introduce are moderator, I'd like to turn it over Alicia Brown, of the executive director of American Constitution Society Thanks Gen, I just would like to add my welcome to all of you ACS is really privileged to be co-sponsoring this event this evening and Justice Scalia, Justice Breyer we are extremely honored by your presence this evening clearly constitutional issues are the subject of much live debate today. and in both legal discourse and much broader public discussion and were really lucky to have with us who everyone recognizes to be the biggest experts in the country on Constitutional interpertations and were very much looking forward to hearing from you and were very pleased to have Jan Crowford Greenburg with us this evening to help guide discussion, not that i think we will need any guiding Jan is ABC corespondent who covers the Supreme Court and provides legal analysis for ABC news. She has a wealth of experience covering the supreme court and national legal issues for both print and broadcast media from the Chicago Tribune to PBS, to CBS and now at ABC, Jans actually working on a book on the supreme court right now which will come out early next year, so were in very capable hands this evening, Jan Well its my honor to be here and I thought that we would just start by kinda looking very far back. I wanted to bring up this famous story between two long ago legal titans who had lunch Judge Han and Justice Holmes and as Justice Holmes left the lunch, Judge Hans said do justice sir, do justice and justice holmes stopped his carriage and said its not my job to do justice my job is to apply the law justice Bryer, are you Holmes or Hans? I'd be very happy to be either one. and the short answer is when we have cases we try to apply the law and get the right answer in the case and of course we both I think I believe that ultimately the point of law is to satisfy the human desire thats probably 10 or 20 thousand years old The people of course want justice, justice justice shall you pursue and they want it and they expect ultimately that the law will help them achieve that very basic and noble end and we understand what the basic end is. But we also think, or at least I do and I'm sure Justice Scalia does that you dont necessarily get to that end simply by trying to look for what is intuitive nicer result in each case So where there to apply the law but we dont forget what the ultimate objective is. Justice Scalia what do you think, Justice Holmes ment by that? let me describe the probably the cases I've had over the last 20 years, that i felt produced, Im afraid we've lost you... The thing is not on? (the Mic), Not my fault, Did you do this Justice Breyer? Its really coming on and off and i dont know what to do about it.... Let me describe the cases that I've had over the last 20 years in which I most felt really justice was not being served. If I was to be the arbiter of justice there was a piece of legislation designed to preserve the integrity of american Indian tribes which prescribed that no child of members of the tribe could be, of any tribe adopted by persons outside the tribe without the permission of the tribal council and there was a young Indian man, and a young Indian girl who had a child, they were not married and they had given the child up for adoption by a very well to do rancher and as i recall the child had been with these people for 2-3 years and the issue was whether the child had to go back to the tribe if the tribal council said so and we decided the case yes the child had to do it because that was very clearly what the statue provided, now I dont think that , that was the way things should of come out I think if the childs parents wanted the child to be with someone they thought would best take care of their child that it should be up to them and not up to some tribal council non the less, it is not my job to say whats justice and isn't justice, my job is to interrupt the law adopted by the peoples representatives as fairly as possible and the only fair interpretation of that law produced that result. I will say, I might fell differently if i sat on a trial court. A trial court is much more interested in getting results in the particular case by the time you get up to an appellate court and lawyers awt to learn this, I dont much care about your particular case. I am not about produce a better result in your case at the expense of creating terrible results in 100 other cases because thats what appellate courts do, they set for principle that govern amense other cases, so what I'm concern about as an appellate judge is a legal principle that will produce justice in the sense of giving the fairest interpretation of the statue over a large number of cases, as I say if I were a district judge you know a district judge can, you know, there are alot of non review able ways in which he could make the case come out right Justice Bryer, When have you had a case that the conclusion, that the law took you to a conclusion that you found personally repugnant? Quite alot..... I wont go into specifics Well Justice Scalia gave us an example I think those dont come up very often, I think normally the case where I have agree with them very much. and people dont understand it But were in a court particularly, what we decide and i just emphasized what he said, but what we decide effects 300 million people and if you try to worry about equities just before the two individuals before the court, you could really get it wrong in respect to 299 million others so that is important, now what I think normally happens, in are court and alot of the pellet courts is the issue in front of us is actually not clear what the answer is particularly when we divide 5 to 4, 7 to 2, or 8 to 1 or something else and were unanimous 40% of the time you start getting to those other questions and were 5 - 4 maybe 20% of the time and its not always the same 5, 4 and the reason is normally because those words in the statue to the application of the Constitution is really open So they look to the presidence, if the presidence decided it whats it doing in are court? and if in language decided it and in any of obvious tools that we have

Video Details

Duration: 9 minutes and 17 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 84
Posted by: atrctech on Sep 22, 2011

A Conversation on the Constitution

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