Login | February 21, 2020

Akron Law to host Constitutional Law Conference

Legal News Reporter

Published: September 13, 2018

It’s been 80 years since the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins.

Tracy Thomas, Seiberling chair of Constitutional Law at The University of Akron School of Law, said the case stripped federal courts of the ability to establish common law or unwritten law precedents when hearing cases involving parties from different states, limiting federal lawmaking ability.

“What began as a negligence case against the railroad overturned a century of previous decisions and permanently changed the way the U.S. handles ‘diversity jurisdiction’ cases,” said Thomas, director of the Center for Constitutional Law.

Now the April 25, 1938 decision is the subject of the sixth annual Constitutional Law Conference at Akron Law.

Sponsored by Akron Law’s Center for Constitutional Law, the Akron Law Review and the Northern District of Ohio Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, “Erie At Eighty: Choice of Law Across the Disciplines,” takes place at Akron Law on Sept. 14.

“Our Center for Constitutional Law was established by Congress in 1986 and is one of four national resource centers dedicated to legal research on constitutional issues,” said Thomas. “In the past we’ve hosted visiting U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and the late Justice Arthur Goldberg.”

The conference will feature speakers from 13 universities, who will discuss the origins of the case and the way it continues to impact civil procedure, evidence and intellectual property matters.

“I think the case is of particular importance today as many question the federal court’s reach into state law,” said Thomas.

The keynote speaker is Ernest Young, Alston & Bird Professor of Law at Duke University School of Law.

“Professor Young is a former law clerk for the U.S. Supreme Court and a leading expert on the division between national and state authority,” Thomas said.

Thomas and Akron Law Dean Christopher J. Peters will serve as moderators, along with Akron Law Professor Bernadette Bollas Genetin and Assistant Professor of Law Camilla Hrdy.

The daylong conference gets underway at 8 a.m. in the Brennan Courtroom at Akron Law.

“I’m thrilled that so many distinguished scholars from around the country will be here in person to enjoy our state-of-the-art facilities in the recently renovated C. Blake McDowell Law Center,” said Peters.

The conference is free unless a participant is seeking CLE credit.

Seven hours of CLE credit are available at a cost of $50. Pre-registration is preferred (https://www.uakron.edu/law/ccl/registration/), but not required.