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State Constitutional Law (Zoom Program)

Monday, June 13, 2022|4:00 pm - 6:00 pm EDT

This is an online bench/bar program, co-sponsored with the Social Law Library.

Protecting Your Client’s Constitutional Rights – Why, When and How to Argue that a Decision Should Be Based on the Massachusetts State Constitution.

“For our federalist system to function as it was designed, or our American constitutional rights to be fully protected, for those rights to continue to thrive and survive the tests of changing times, state courts must step up and out of the shadow of the U.S. Supreme Court when interpreting their own constitutions. They must declare and define their independence.”

— SJC Justice Scott Kafker, State Constitutional Law Declares Its Independence: Double Protecting Rights During a Time of Federal Constitutional Upheaval, Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly (forthcoming)

Adapted for the trial and appellate bar, this “how to” program was first presented to members of the Massachusetts judiciary by the Flaschner Judicial Institute.

There is state as well as federal constitutional protection for most fundamental rights in this country, including those safeguarding the rights of criminal defendants, property owners, the free-exercise and anti-establishment of religion, anti-discrimination, voting rights, reproductive rights, gun rights, and separation of powers. State constitutional protection can be greater than federal constitutional protection. In a time of federal constitutional upheaval, state constitutions become especially important.

This program will explore why, when and how to ground arguments exclusively on the Massachusetts Constitution.



Welcome and Introduction

Hon. Peter W. Agnes, Jr. (ret.) CEO, Flaschner Judicial Institute

Historical Note, Massachusetts Constitution of 1780

Robert Brink, Executive Director, Social Law Library

The New Supreme Court Majority and the Increasing Importance of State Constitutional Law

Hon. Scott L. Kafker, Associate Justice, Supreme Judicial Court

Comments and Observations

Hon. Mark S. Coven, District Court, author of “The Common Law as a Guide to State Constitutional Interpretation,” Suffolk Law Review

Ground Rules for Litigating State Constitutional Law Questions

Hon. Peter W. Agnes, Jr. (ret.) CEO, Flaschner Judicial Institute

Insights from Seasoned State Constitutional Law Litigators

Elizabeth “Bessie” Dewar, Massachusetts State Solicitor, Office of the A.G.

Rebecca Kiley, Chief Appellate Attorney, CPCS




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Monday, June 13, 2022
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm EDT
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