The Role of the Courts in a Democratic Society
Thursday, November 12th, 8pm, Edmunds Ballroom
As this summer’s confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor showed, the country remains deeply divided on questions of judicial temperament and the role of the judiciary. As the Supreme Court prepares to debate and rule on issues ranging from national security policy to campaign finance law, these fundamental questions will continue to define the terms of the debate.
With that in mind, the Pomona Student Union proudly presents a discussion between Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Stephen Reinhardt ’51, Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Visiting Assistant Professor of Politics Michael Teter ’99 will moderate the discussion. As the title suggests, the discussion will revolve around the proper role of judges and courts in a democratic society. The discussion will address some of the following questions: Are judges merely calling “balls and strikes” when they decide cases or is the interpretation of the law a more complicated, potentially subjective, process? Is there a place for empathy in the interpretation of the law? Does the Senate confirmation for judicial nominees provide a meaningful check on the executive branch?
Alex Kozinski is currently Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and an essayist and judicial commentator. Kozinski graduated from University of California, Los Angeles, receiving an A.B. degree in 1972, and from UCLA School of Law, receiving a J.D. degree in 1975. He went on to clerk for then-Ninth Circuit Judge Anthony Kennedy and Chief Justice Warren Burger.
Kozinski’s first judicial appointment was as chief judge at the newly formed United States Court of Federal Claims in 1982. Then, at the age of 35, Reagan appointed him to the Ninth Circuit, making him the youngest federal appeals court judge in the country.
Kozinski’s writings have appeared in mainstream publications such as Forbes and Slate.
Stephen Reinhardt ’51 is a circuit judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, with chambers in Los Angeles. He graduated from Pomona College with an A.B. in Government in 1951. In 1954, he received an LL.B. from Yale Law School. After law school, Reinhardt worked at the legal counsel’s office in Washington, D.C. for the United States Air Force as a lieutenant. Two years later, he clerked for district judge Luther Youngdahl, a former governor of Minnesota, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
Reinhardt served as a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, California Advisory Committee from 1962 to 1974 and was its Vice Chairman from 1969 to 1974. He also served as member of the Democratic National Committee and as an unpaid advisor to former Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley and former California governor Jerry Brown. In 1975 he was appointed to the Los Angeles Police Commission, which he chaired from 1978 until his judicial confirmation in 1980.