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Last Evening’s Federalist Society Debate

Well, it was — to say the least — an interesting occasion.  In all honesty, I had believed that there was going to be a deep, analytical discussion/debate regarding the Commerce Clause, especially in the context of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) and its health care mandate.

Instead, it developed into a much more generalized discussion on the scope of the Commerce Clause with my opponent, a gentleman who has written some type of book advocating for a return to Lochner-Era corporate hegemony, adopting a decidedly political position, and waging his battle on a slew of topics outside of even the Commerce Clause.  He even adopted the surprising position that the Commerce Clause did not provide Congress with the authority to pass civil rights legislation, including the CRA of 1964, and thus that private discrimination (a la the Jim Crow South, segregated lunch counters, etc.), could not be prohibited by Congress.

I attempted to keep the debate squarely in the realm of the Commerce Clause — while, at least, momentarily departing to address the more egregious misstatements from my opponent.  I believe that I acquitted myself admirably on this plain, as well as the philosophy advocated by the American Constitution Society (ACS – www.acslaw.org), of which I am a proud and longstanding member.

I do acknowledge, once again, the courtesy demonstrated by the local Federalist Society leadership, particularly its long-standing President, Robert Sirianni.  I also wish to acknowledge the presence of about twenty of my students from UCF, as well as two former students who are now … gulp … practicing young attorneys.

Supposedly, the entire debate/discussion was filmed and it will eventually be placed up on the national Federalist Society website, I am guessing that the following link:  http://www.fed-soc.org/publications/page/multimedia-from-past-federalist-society-events-2011.  In the meantime, during last night’s comments, I referenced John Bingham, one of the Founding Fathers of the Fourteenth Amendment. Coincidentally, Gerard Magliocca today posted another piece on Bingham, and his perspectives on the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment:  http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2011/04/john-bingham-and-african-american-rights.html

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