LAWRENCE — The Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas and KU School of Law will welcome guest speakers Tom Fisher and Roberta Kaplan, and moderator Stephen McAllister, for the 2014 Constitution Day program “Same-sex Marriage – Constitutional Right or the State’s Decision.” This program will explore U.S. Supreme Court cases surrounding the issue of same-sex marriage.
The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21. The event is free and open to the public.
The panelists will discuss the state of constitutional law regarding same-sex marriage, the arguments in favor of and against the recognition of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear several recent decisions on this issue, and the likely future direction of litigation and the law.
Recent refusal to rule by the Supreme Court on cases in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin seeking to keep same-sex marriage bans in place has cleared the way for same-sex unions in those states. This development has increased the current number of states allowing same-sex marriage to 19.
“The topic is obviously very timely,” said Barbara Ballard, Dole Institute associate director. “Additionally, the representation of both sides highlights the process of constitutional law that we celebrate with this program each year.”
The annual Dole Institute Constitution Day program features attorneys or practitioners on opposite sides of timely constitutional issues who will discuss specific cases, as well as the constitutional law more generally. Stephen McAllister, E.S. & Tom W. Hampton Distinguished Professor of Law, will moderate this year’s discussion between Fisher and Kaplan.
“I am pleased we will be able to host speakers who have both been involved in the recent litigation at the highest level,” McAllister said.
Thomas Fisher is the solicitor general for Indiana, acting as the chief litigation policy adviser to the attorney general and providing oversight of state and federal litigation. A two-time recipient of the National Association of Attorneys General Best Brief Award for excellence in U.S. Supreme Court brief writing, Fisher has argued three times before the court, most recently in 2008 when he successfully defended Indiana's voter ID law in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board and persuaded the court to permit states to require mentally ill criminal defendants to have trial counsel in Indiana v. Edwards. He has also argued significant Indiana constitutional law cases involving abortion regulations, same-sex marriage, toll road leasing, educational funding and attorney general authority over charitable trusts.
Fisher has taught as an adjunct professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law and is a frequent speaker at a variety of continuing legal education forums. Prior to joining the Attorney General’s Office, Fisher worked in private practice in Indianapolis and Washington, D.C., and clerked for Judge Michael S. Kanne of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Roberta Kaplan is a partner in the litigation department of law firm Paul Weiss, New York office, with extensive experience representing a diverse group of clients on high-profile matters ranging from stock recommendations, mutual funds, credit regulations, data confidentiality and constitutional rights. She has been selected as one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers” and one of the top “40 Under 40” lawyers in the United States, as well as a 2013 “Litigator of the Year” by The American Lawyer and 2013 "Lawyer of the Year" by Above the Law. She was ranked as number 5 in this year's "Politico 50." Kaplan has also been profiled in a documentary produced by the PBS MAKERS series.
Kaplan successfully argued before the United States Supreme Court on behalf of her client Edith Windsor in United States v. Windsor, the landmark Supreme Court case. In Windsor, the nation's highest court ruled that a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act violated the U.S. Constitution by barring legally married same-sex couples from enjoying the wide-ranging benefits of marriage conferred under federal law.
The Dole Institute of Politics is dedicated to promoting public service, civic engagement and politics. It is located on KU’s west campus and, in addition to the Robert J. Dole Archive & Special Collections, offers free public programming with world-renowned guest speakers on a variety of topics that intersect politics, as well as opportunities for students of all ages.
For more information on this or any Dole Institute events, visit www.doleinstitute.org or call (785) 864-4900. The Dole Institute of Politics is dedicated to promoting public service, civic engagement and politics. It is located on KU’s west campus next to the Lied Center.