Debate on Citizens United V. Federal Election Commission

By Abrams, Floyd; Morrison, Alan B. et al. | Albany Law Review, Fall 2012 | Go to article overview

Debate on Citizens United V. Federal Election Commission


Abrams, Floyd, Morrison, Alan B., Collins, Ronald K. L., Albany Law Review


MR. RONALD COLLINS: One of the joys of getting older is the experiencing of the gracious words of the young, however exaggerated.

That said, Benjamin, I very sincerely appreciate those kind words, and I only wish my mother were here to hear them.

It is a great pleasure, indeed it is an honor, to be at Robert Jackson's Law School, and I want to especially thank Dean Andrews, the faculty here, and most of all, I see the Editor-in-Chief over there in the corner, of the Albany Law Review, for making this event possible. And it's really quite a program, and I'm delighted and honored to be a part of it.

I have already had the pleasure of meeting some of the faculty, and I look forward to meeting more, including people outside of my field. Just yesterday I had the opportunity to chat with some people from Tax--from Tax Law and Trust and Estates, and I welcome the opportunity to meet people who work outside of my field. Who knows, I may actually learn something. I'm always looking forward to doing that.

Before I begin, at least say a few things about the exchange that will take place today.

I have a noted nod of recognition to at least three members of this faculty, whose works over the years I have been the beneficiary of. Of course, there'd be more, but three came to mind.

Paul Finkelman, who I gather is not here today, for his incredible work in legal history and Constitutional Law. I have read, and continue to read his works.

Vince Bonventre, vehemently an expert on State Constitutional Law, and many years ago, we tilled those fields together, and it's so wonderful to be back at this law school, here with Vince, who I haven't seen in a long time.

And Professor Stephen Gottlieb, whose works in Constitutional Law and jurisprudence I have learned much from over the years.

So I'd like to just recognize that, and say it's just an honor to be here with them today.

And, of course, Benjamin, what this young man has done is remarkable. I did not plan to come to this conference, I just had too much to do, but he wowed me in more ways than one. And if a genuine passion for the law, combined with a divining commitment to excellence is the measure, then he is the man, and I know I speak for all of us in extending a sincere---our sincere appreciation for all the work that Benjamin has done, so Benjamin...

(Applause)

MR. COLLINS: I am honored and humbled to be the middleman, literally and figuratively, between two legal giants in our profession: Floyd Abrams and Alan Morrison, both of whom I have known for many years.

One of them is the leading authority on First Amendment law. If you ask anyone in our profession to name a First Amendment lawyer, they would name Floyd Abrams. Without a doubt. If you asked them to name two, they're hard pressed. Such has life come to be, Floyd.

In the area of Public Interest Law, there are few names, if any, to rival the achievements of Alan Morrison. Just last night I discovered that on the D.C. Court of Appeals Historical Society's website, there was this incredible profile, replete with interviews of the work that Alan Morrison has done over the years, and I'll tell you, anybody who remembers the name Louis Brandeis, it is without exaggeration to say that he is the embodiment of that man in our own time. So it's a great pleasure to be here with Floyd and everyone today.

The occasion for this exchange between these two distinguished lawyers is, of course, the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. (1) With that case, the First Amendment once again became the center of controversy in the cultural wars that define this nation.

Not since the flag desecration cases of the late 1980s and early 1990s (2) and the proposed constitutional amendments following them, have we seen anything in the First Amendment area quite as divisive as the Court's 2010 campaign finance ruling. …

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