I. Gideon v. Wainwright after 50 years: Do Low Income Individuals Have Access to Justice?
In the Ninth Circuit, 35% of civil cases are initiated by pro se litigants. In addition, Government lawyers initiate civil proceedings against litigants who lack the resources to hire counsel. For example, the United States is seeking to remove children--some as young as three years old--who fled violence in Central America, and those litigants must represent themselves pro se. These cases place enormous strain on litigants and courts, as tribunals strive to provide a full and fair a resolution of the factual and legal issues presented. Our panel will focus on these challenges and will explore how courts and policy makers can and should respond. Our panelists will discuss pending and prior litigation in which vulnerable groups have sought (and sometimes received) recognition of a right to counsel. It also will explore other means for vindicating low-income individuals' legal rights, such as actions by state Attorneys General to protect consumers and robust pro bono programs.
Bob Ferguson, Washington State Attorney General
Hon. James P. Donohue, United States Magistrate Judge
and Chair of the Ninth Circuit Pro Se Committee
Kathleen ("Katie") O'Sullivan, Co-Chair Appellate Practice,
Perkins Coie LLP
Matthew Adams, Legal Director, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
II. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 on its 50th Anniversary: Reflections and Unfinished Business (2:15-3:30 p.m.)
Our Civil Rights panelists will offer reflections based on their own extensive, personal involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, and they will discuss the unfinished business of the Civil Rights Act, with a focus on the federal protections for equal educational opportunities. The panel will also discuss how--in light of the inadequacies of federal protections--state law has assumed a more prominent role in ensuring equal access to education. Thomas Ahearne, who is lead plaintiffs' counsel in McCleary v. Washington
, 173 Wn.2d 477 (2012), will discuss that litigation and the role that these "funding" cases are playing in ensuring a quality education for all children.
Monique Malson (invited), Office for Civil Rights,
U.S. Department of Education
Rita L. Bender, Principal, Skellenger Bender P.S.
William J. Bender, Principal, Skellenger Bender P.S.
Thomas F. Ahearne, Foster Pepper, PLLC
III. Executive Power in the Age of Gridlock (3:45-5:00)
Over the past fifteen years--as Congress and the Executive have battled to stalemate (and as the Executive Branch has focused much of its attention on national security threats)--the Executive Branch increasingly has relied on its own authority to achieve policy goals. For example, the White House has made clear that it will pursue immigration policy through executive orders, and it will fight climate change through EPA rules and international agreements. The White House also delayed certain deadlines in the Affordable Care Act. These actions have generated threats of a lawsuit from the U.S. House of Representatives and, most recently, threats of impeachment or government shut down. On issues of national security, the White House has relied on authority granted in the wake of the attacks of September 11, and neither the White House nor Congress seems eager to revisit that authority and clarify what authorization the President has to engage in additional actions, such as the United States' combat operations against ISIL. Our panelists will explore the scope and limits of executive authority. They will address the legal and political constraints on executive authority, and they will talk about the role that Congressional gridlock plays in encouraging executive action and whether such gridlock justifies actions that might be impermissible or inadvisable in other circumstances.
Kathryn Ruemmler, Partner, Lathan & Watkins
and former White House Counsel
Andrew Siegel, Associate Dean, Seattle University School of Law