Office of the Attorney General
2021 Constitutional Law
Tuesday, August 10, 2021
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
AT&T Hotel and Conference Center
1900 University Avenue
Austin, Texas 78705
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(REVISED 08-10-2021, 2:30 p.m.)
8 a.m. - Conference Sign-in
9 a.m. - Welcome, Introductions and Message from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton
9:15 a.m. - Appellate Litigation - This panel will discuss recent opinions from the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Fifth Circuit on constitutional law.
10:30 a.m. - Break (15 minutes)
10:45 a.m. - Legislative Update - The panel will discuss the key legal topics facing government attorneys in 2021. The topics will include First Amendment issues, natural disaster responses, employment, healthcare, and legislative reforms. The participants will hear from leading government attorneys on how to handle ethical dilemma representing the State on complex litigation and agency management. This discussion will include strategies and techniques for effectively managing problems.
11:45 p.m. - Lunch on your own
12:50 p.m. Please be in your seat and ready to start at 1:p.m.
1 p.m. - Criminal Justice - Throughout the past year law enforcement and the criminal justice system have become some of the most important issues in our country. The interest in these issues and the specific circumstances that have caused these discussions to arise have been exponentially heightened in our discourse by the push of activist groups and effective use of social media and news media to share information and push the narratives on all sides that are driving the debate. This panel will examine the state of criminal justice reform and policy in Texas and the country with a special focus on events that have happened over the past year, the media attention that followed such events, and the directions that public policy has taken as a direct or indirect result. More broadly, the panel will discuss how the public and media involvement is becoming an increasingly relevant aspect
of policy development, and what areas of agreement, if any, exist in policy reform.
2:15 p.m. - Break (15 minutes)
2:30 p.m. - Litigating a Pandemic: Where COVID Met the Constitution - Over the past year and a half, courts across the country grappled with scant precedent in deciding how the Constitution balances personal freedom against public safety during a pandemic. What did we learn? This panel of Texas judges will explore the state of “pandemic law” prior to COVID-19 and survey the diverse cases—some highly publicized, others not—that shaped the judiciary’s application of our foundational governing document during a national crisis.
3:30 p.m. - Break (15 minutes)
3:45 p.m. - A Critical Look at Critical Race Theory - Our Framers considered the Declaration’s assertion of human equality to be the self-evident truth upon which our republic is built. The Constitution reflects that fundamental equality: “Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens,” said Justice Harlan, dissenting from the infamous 1896 decision Plessy v. Ferguson. Later, Justice Scalia noted that “[i]n the eyes of government, we are just one race here. It is American.” But the recent rise of so-called Critical Race Theory (and CRT’s corollary, “antiracism”) has posed a direct challenge to these core American values. And that challenge isn’t merely academic; CRT is now the de facto worldview of virtually every major American institution, from primary schools to corporate board rooms. Is the adoption of CRT by public institutions legal? Is it constitutional? And in any case, does it comport with American ideals? This panel will explore these questions.
5 p.m. Conference Adjourns