Society of Fellows Residential Conference Keynote Lecture with MU Law Professor Erin Hawley


The Kinder Institute’s annual Society of Fellows residential conference kicked off on Thursday, August 13, 2015, with a keynote dinner lecture delivered by University of Missouri Associate Professor of Law Erin Hawley. Prof. Hawley, who clerked for Chief Justice John Roberts prior to joining the Law School faculty at MU, gave this year’s class of Fellows a scholarly, insider’s view of the historical evolution of the U.S. Supreme Court, from its early years as what Alexander Hamilton referred to in “Federalist 78” as “the least dangerous” branch of government, due to its having “no influence over either the sword or the purse,” to its current status as an institution that, in ensuring uniformity as to federal law, often finds itself at the very center of public and political life in the United States. Included among the many topics that Prof. Hawley touched on during her talk were: the significance of the 1891 Judiciary Act as an instance of legislation that empowered the high court by limiting the scope of its jurisdiction; the importance of the confirmation process as a form of check on the Court; and the interpretational philosophies of the current Justices. Prof. Hawley also offered students a practical overview of the process by which cases are argued before and decided upon by the Court, and concluded by remarking on the magnitude of the recent King v. Burwell and Obergefell v. Hodges decisions. A brief Q&A followed the lecture, which was held in the Black & Gold Room at the Tiger Hotel in downtown Columbia.

The residential conference re-convened Friday morning, with Professor of Political Science Marvin Overby lecturing on Alexis de Tocqueville and Kinder Postdoctoral Fellow Ben Park following with a talk entitled, “‘The Greatest Problem of Our Time’: The Perils of Religious Disestablishment in the Nineteenth Century.” The conference runs through Sunday morning, and a full schedule of events can be found here.