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Symposium Sessions to Focus on Constitutional Law Issues

Sept. 16, 2010

by Brittany Hardy

For the last 223 years, Constitution Day has been a day to remember. On Friday, Sept. 17, Baylor University will hold a President's Constitution Day Symposium, in conjunction with the inauguration of Judge Ken Starr, Baylor University's 14th President. A panel discussion on The Role of the Supreme Court in American Society will begin at 9 a.m. in Waco Hall. Two breakout sessions that feature Baylor Law faculty will follow at 11:30 a.m. A panel discussion on The Role of the Supreme Court in American Society will begin at 9 a.m. in Waco Hall. Two breakout sessions that feature Baylor Law faculty will follow at 11:30 a.m.

Professor David Guinn, The Lyndon L. Olson and William A. Olson Professor of Local Government and Constitutional Law and Master Teacher, will speak on "Packing the Heat the Second Amendment" in the Kronzer Appellate Courtroom at Baylor Law School. Baylor Law Adjunct Professor Michelle Saenz Rodriguez will tackle Immigration in America - Who's Really in Charge" a the SBC Theater in the Mayborn Museum.

Guinn will discuss two recent opinions the Court has addressed questions concerning the nature of the Second Amendment as a limitation to federal or state power. The biggest question, however, may now be whether any articulated right of a citizen to bear arms has practical bearing, given the pervasive regulation of firearms throughout the nation's history.

Guinn said he will be discussing the evolution of Due Process as found in the Fourteenth amendment. "There are certain rights found in the Bill of Rights not currently being guaranteed to the states," he said.

The topic is culturally relevant due to the Supreme Court's recent decision in McDonald v. Chicago, holding that the Second Amendment applies to the states through the Due Process of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Students should attend the symposium not simply because of the prominent case at hand, but because of what it means for the court system, as a whole. McDonald v. Chicago aptly illustrates how the Supreme Court operates and how Due Process is interpreted concerning state rights.

The issue is pressing because of its weight in the lives of Americans on a daily basis. "The right to bear arms is a very, very sensitive issue to many Americans," Guinn said.

Saenz-Rodriguez'presentation will follow Arizona Senate Bill 1070 on its bumpy ride through the legal system. Professor Saenz-Rodriguez will present the state's point of view, the government's point of view and give a constitutional analysis of the rising contention.

The bill and its corresponding debate raise critical questions about the role and meaning of the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution. Specifically, the question is being raised whether the States or the federal government have authority over certain policies, such as immigration.

Outside her work at the Baylor Law School, Saenz-Rodriguez works as an immigrations advocate where she has conducted extensive research on the topic and is bothered by the sharp contrast between the often politically-based, feuding sides of the immigration issue. According to Saenz Rodriguez, one side claims that immigration will exchange job opportunities for criminals and the other wants zero restrictions - neither have it right. The country needs a balanced, orderly structure for immigration.

Saenz-Rodriguez has encouraged students to become educated about the issues related to immigration and this symposium is a good place to start.

"I think it's extremely important because there is so much of this [issue] that is political, but when you sit down and look at the actual legal point of view it's very, very different," Saenz-Rodriguez said.

All symposium sessions are free and open to the public. There is limited seating for the breakout sessions.

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