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The Last Arbiter: U.S. Supreme Court
May 29 @ 1:30 pm - 2:45 pm
Moderator: Keith Whittington, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics
Henry Kennedy ’70, United States District Judge for the District of Columbia
Denny Chin ’75, U.S. Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Michael Vatis ’85, Partner, Steptoe & Johnson LLP
Sara Mayeux ’05, Associate Professor of Law and History, Vanderbilt University
William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics
Keith Whittington is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University. He writes about American constitutional law, politics and history and American political thought. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Texas School of Law, is a member of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences and is currently a fellow with the National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Texas at Austin and completed his Ph.D. in political science at Yale University. His most recent books include “Speak Freely: Why Universities Must Defend Free Speech” and “Repugnant Laws: Judicial Review of Acts of Congress from the Founding to the Present.” He is currently completing two books, “Constitutional Crises, Real and Imagined” and “The Idea of Democracy in America, from the American Revolution to the Gilded Age.”
Henry Kennedy ’70
United States District Judge for the District of Columbia 1997-2011, appointed by President Bill Clinton
Judge, Superior Court for the District of Columbia, 1979-1997, appointed by President Jimmy Carter
United States Magistrate of the United States District Court, 1976-1979
Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, 1973-1976
Associate, Jones, Day, Reavis and Pogue, 1976
Denny Chin ’75
U.S. Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Denny Chin ’75 is a United States Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. From 1994 to 2010, he served as a United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York. In the District Court, Judge Chin presided over a number of notable matters, including cases involving Megan’s Law, the Million Youth March, the Naked Cowboy and the Google Books project. He also presided over criminal trials involving the United Nations Oil for Food Program and an Afghan warlord charged with conspiring to import heroin, as well as the guilty plea and sentencing of financier Bernard L. Madoff. In the Circuit Court, Judge Chin has authored opinions or dissents in cases involving the enforceability of arbitration clauses in on-line agreements, the General Motors bankruptcy, environmental regulations governing the discharge of ballast water from ships, the constitutionality of the government’s seizure and retention of computer hard drives, barriers to access for voters with disabilities and the streaming of copyrighted television broadcasts over the Internet. Judge Chin graduated from Princeton University and received his law degree from Fordham Law School. He clerked for the Honorable Henry F. Werker, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York. He served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, and was in private practice at Davis Polk & Wardwell, Campbell, Patrick & Chin, and Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, P.C. Judge Chin has previously served as a member of the University’s Board of Trustees.
Michael Vatis ’85
Partner, Steptoe & Johnson LLP
Michael Vatis ’85 is a partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP in New York, where he is the Chair of the Privacy & Cybersecurity practice and a senior member of the appellate litigation group. At the start of his legal career, Michael served as a law clerk to both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Thurgood Marshall, who were historic figures in the law even before being appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In private practice, Michael frequently represents clients before the Supreme Court and U.S. Courts of Appeals. Previously, Michael served as Associate Deputy Attorney General for national security matters at the Department of Justice and founded and led the FBI’s cybercrime program.
Sara Mayeux ’05
Associate Professor of Law and History, Vanderbilt University
Sara Mayeux ’05 teaches legal history and constitutional law at Vanderbilt Law School. Her newly published book is entitled “Free Justice: A History of the Public Defender in Twentieth-Century America” (University of North Carolina Press, 2020). The book examines the intertwined histories of constitutional doctrine, big philanthropy, professional in-fighting and Cold War culture that made public defenders ubiquitous but embattled figures in American courtrooms. After graduating from Princeton, Mayeux headed west to pursue graduate studies at Stanford University, where she earned both a law degree and a Ph.D. in United States history. In 2017, her Columbia Law Review article, “What Gideon Did,” received the Cromwell Article Prize, awarded annually for the best article in American legal history published by an early career scholar. Before entering the legal academy, Mayeux clerked for Judge Marsha S. Berzon of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.