U.S. Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch shares his views on preserving the rule of law at Des Moines conference

By: Rox Laird on August 20th, 2018

Neil Gorsuch, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, made a case for defending the rule of law in a conversation a Q-and-A-format conversation with Lavenski Smith, Chief Judge of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, at the Eighth Circuit conference in Des Moines Friday.

Justice Gorsuch said he worries about preserving the roles of independent judges and juries.

“The rule of law here is really one of the wonders of the world,” he said, and it “separates this country from almost any other on Earth. Go to some other countries and see the judges and the pressures they face, and the challenges the face – their safety, their security, their ability to make independent decisions.”

“I think the right to have an independent judge tell you what the law is, no matter who you are, is one of the great liberties and the genius of the Constitution.”

Gorsuch said the rule of law in this country means that a defendant who is unpopular, a member of a minority group or a person holding a minority religious belief “can go before a judge who is not going to defer, delegate, or lower the law to someone else, who is going to enforce your rights as equally as anyone else’s. That’s a powerful guarantee. And I hope we never lose that.”


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and U.S. Attorney General Sessions on the program for Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference in Des Moines

By: Rox Laird on May 2nd, 2018

Iowa lawyers and judges attending the Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference in Des Moines Aug. 15-17 will have an opportunity to hear from three major newsmakers in the legal world.

  • U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was assigned by Chief Justice John Roberts as the circuit justice for the Eighth Circuit, will speak to the conference Aug. 17.
  • U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will speak Aug. 17. 
  • Former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson will appear on a panel discussion on legal issues surrounding sports gambling Aug. 16.

Other speakers will include former Iowan Stephen Rapp, visiting fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and former Assistant Iowa Attorney General Theresa O’Connell Weeg. They will appear on a panel on the prosecution of international war crimes.

U.S. Senators Charles Grassley of Iowa and U.S. Representative Robert Goodlatte of Virginia, chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees have been invited.

The Eighth Circuit Conference rotates among the seven states in the circuit. This year’s conference is the first to be in Des Moines since 1995. It will be held at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center and the new Hilton hotel, which recently opened adjacent to the convention center.

Go to the Eighth Circuit website for more details on the conference and registration.


Des Moines will host 2018 Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference

By: Rox Laird on August 1st, 2017

Federal court practitioners and court observers may want to keep their schedules flexible next summer: The 2018 Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference is scheduled to be held in Des Moines Aug. 15-17.

The conference could feature an appearance by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was assigned last month by Chief Justice John Roberts to be the circuit justice for the Eighth Circuit, which is made up of Iowa, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri and Arkansas.

Gorsuch replaces Justice Samuel Alito Jr., who was assigned to the Third Circuit. Previously, Justice Clarence Thomas was the circuit justice for the Eighth Circuit. For many years, Justice Harry Blackmun, a Minnesota native, had that assignment.

Among other duties, the circuit justice typically attends the judicial conference held in one of the states in the circuit. It’s too early to say for certain whether Gorsuch will attend the Des Moines conference, however.

While attendance at judicial conferences is limited to judges in odd-numbered years, it is open to members of the bar in even-numbered years. Those sessions typically include speeches and panel discussions on court-related topics that regularly draw lawyers who practice in the federal courts.

The 2016 circuit conference, held in Rogers, Arkansas, in May included a speech by Chief Justice Roberts. The circuit conference was last held in Des Moines in July 1995.

The 2018 event will be held at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center. The Hilton Hotel, which is under construction adjacent to the convention center, is expected to open next spring.


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