Hamline Events

CLE: Who has the ‘Last Word’? Interbranch Interactions in American Politics presented by Dr. Seth Greenfest, College of Saint Benedict and St. John's University

Date: October 15, 2013
Time: 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Cost: Free 1 standard CLE has been requested
Contact: Deb Lange, dlange@hamline.edu, 651-523-2122 Please contact Deb to register for CLE
Location: Law School Room 100 (Moot Court Room)
Sponsor: Public Law Interest Community and the American Constitution Society
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When by a 5-4 majority, the Supreme Court decided in 2007 that Lilly Ledbetter’s gender discrimination claim was time-bound, it set in motion a visible and accessible example of Congress-Court interactions.  Ledbetter v. Goodyear (550 U.S. 618) involved the Supreme Court’s interpretation of relevant statutes and precedents and, as noted by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her dissent, Congress has the power to pass new legislation overriding cases of statutory interpretation.  In 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act became the first piece of legislation signed into law by President Obama, thereby replacing the Court’s interpretation with that of Congress.    Contrary to popular visions of how the Supreme Court works, the Court thus did not have the last word on what is, in this example, allowed regard by law.  Indeed, no one institution of the American system of government ever has the “last word,” although areas of law may be stable for years at a time.  Rather, public policy is often the result of interactions between the three branches of government. 

Focusing on the Lilly Ledbetter case and its aftermath, this presentation will examine the nature of interactions between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the U.S. government.  It will highlight a number of ways in which the branches are connected, and the manner in which decisions of judges and justices are affected by decisions made by actors in other branches of government.   

Speaker Biography
Dr. Seth W. Greenfest  is a Professor at the College of St. Benedict and  St. John’s University. Prof. Seth W. Greenfest recently moved to Minnesota from Seattle, Washington where he completed his Ph.D. in political science at the University of Washington.  Focusing on the study of the U.S. federal judiciary, Dr. Greenfest’s scholarship examines how federal courts set their agendas and access to the federal courts, and the ability of individuals and groups to sue to advance their claims.  His work links congressional action that expands the jurisdiction of the federal courts to the issues that courts then consider.  His article, “Explaining Congressional Grants of Jurisdiction to the Federal District Courts,” is forthcoming in Justice System Journal.  Prior to graduate school, Dr. Greenfest served as a Legislative Aide in the Ohio Senate.