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Congress and the Supreme Court

Senator Charles Schumer and Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson Examine the Tensions Between Congress and the Supreme Court

Thursday, March 21st, 4:00 p.m.

Mumford Room, Madison Building
Library of Congress
Washington, D.C.

In light of the increasing tension between the judiciary and legislative branches of government, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has launched a new project on "Congress and The Court" that will examine the issues causing this tension and their impact on democratic institutions. Academy Fellows Jesse Choper, Robert C. Post and Nelson W. Polsby of the University of California, Berkeley, Abner Mikva of the University of Chicago Law School and a former member of Congress, and Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times are the chief organizers of the study. On March 21, 2002, Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) and Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, will discuss the changing relationship between Congress and the Court at a special meeting of the American Academy in Washington, D.C. Members of the press are welcome to both the event and the reception following the meeting.

In recent years, the United States Supreme Court has developed a body of law influencing two of the fundamental principles of American government - the separation of powers and federalism. In doing so, the Court's relationship with Congress has become increasingly tense and uneasy. The Court's new jurisprudence of federalism has begun to reduce congressional power, a cause for bipartisan concern in both the House and Senate. The Senate's judicial confirmation process, which has become increasingly politicized, also faces an uncertain future. In addition, controversies have arisen regarding the Court's understanding of the proper principles of statutory interpretation by the Congress.

The American Academy was founded in 1780 by John Adams "to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people." Drawing on the wide-ranging expertise of its 3,700 Fellows and 600 Foreign Honorary Members, the Academy conducts innovative non-partisan studies on American institutions, security, social policy, the humanities and education.


Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-New York) In 1988, Schumer was elected to his first term in the Senate representing New York State. Before his election to the Senate, he represented the New York's Ninth Congressional District for eighteen years. He currently serves as a member on the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; the Judiciary Committee; the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and the Rules Committee. As Chair of the Administrative Oversight and the Courts subcommittee, he plays a major role in judicial nominations and held hearings in June 2001 to examine the role of judicial ideology in the confirmation process.

Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Charlottesville, Virginia Wilkinson was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to serve as Judge on the United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit in 1983 and in 1996 became Chief Judge. From 1982-1982, he was Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. He has also taught at the University of Virginia Law School. His major publications include From Brown to Bakke: The Supreme Court and School Integration 1954-1978, One Nation Indivisible: How Ethnic Separatism Threatens America, and Serving Justice: A Supreme Court Clerk's View. He has ruled in a number of cases involving the legality of congressional enactments and state statutes.

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