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CNN Legal Analyst, Author Jeffrey Toobin at Lewis & Clark Law School

November 15, 2018

  • CNN Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin with Professor Bob Klonoff at the 2018 Kennedy Lecture.
    Nina Johnson

November 14, 2018. CNN legal analyst, best-selling author and staff writer for The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin, shared his insights on Supreme Court opinions and Justices to a rapt and appreciative audience at Lewis & Clark Law School.

Toobin was the featured speaker for the school’s annual Justice Kennedy Lecture Series, now in its tenth year, which promotes the discussion of cutting-edge issues affecting the U.S. Supreme Court and the Constitution. The program was established with the approval of Justice Anthony Kennedy when he visited the law school in 2008.

Law professor Robert Klonoff joined Toobin on stage, asking questions regarding the Kavanaugh appointment and Justice Kennedy’s legacy, as well Toobin’s views on the greatest justices and opinions in history.

Toobin was engaging and open with his opinions and interpretations.

In one of his many predictions, bench, Toobin stated his belief that Roe v. Wade would be overruled. He said that states sympathetic to outlawing abortion would likely pass statutes that would serve as the basis for test cases. He also indicated that Kavanaugh’s appointment could push the Court to restrict the deference given to administrative agencies.

With a nod to the lecture’s namesake, Klonoff asked Toobin about the legacy of Justice Kennedy. “Justice Kennedy was not a moderate,” said Toobin. “He was the author of Citizens United, and also the author of the same-sex marriage opinion – neither of which are moderate opinions. He has enormous concern for the government treating people as individuals worthy of respect and he had the viewpoint of an internationalist. His opinions were heartfelt.”

Toobin also remarked on Planned Parenthood v. Casey as one of the most dramatic behind the scenes moments of the Supreme Court. He explained how three justices, all Republicans, came together to reaffirm Roe v. Wade for different reasons. “Justice Kennedy saw this as an individual rights matter.”

Speaking to campaign finance, Toobin believes the most important issue is the idea that money is speech. “People are concerned with the idea that corporations have first amendment rights, but corporations don’t give that much to political campaigns. However, asserting that giving money to a cause is equivalent to holding a sign is problematic.”

Changing the pace, Klonoff asked Toobin some rapid fire questions:

K: What was the finest opinion of the Supreme Court? T: “West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, written by Justice Robert Jackson.”

K: What Justice had the most impact? T: “Chief Justice John Marshall, for his opinions structuring government and the relationship between the branches. In the modern era, Chief Justice Warren, who understood civil rights and realized we couldn’t have apartheid in the U.S.”

K: Most liberal Justice? T: “Justice Brennan, who had a vision of what American society should look like.”

K: Which current Justice do you admire most? T: “Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is the only member of the Court who would be a major figure in American law even if she never served in the Supreme Court.”

In closing, Toobin offered his prediction regarding the outcome of the Mueller investigation: “There will probably be a few more indictments and maybe two reports, though Mueller is likely to put this back into Congress’ lap.” Toobin thought it highly unlikely that anything arising out of the Mueller investigation would cause President Trump to resign or be removed from office. Toobin’s next book will be about the Mueller investigation.

About Jeffrey Toobin:

Jeffrey Toobin is one of the country’s most esteemed experts on politics, media and the law. With unparalleled journalistic skill, Toobin has provided analysis on some of the most provocative and important events of our time as CNN legal analyst, author and staff writer for The New Yorker. Among his critically acclaimed best sellers are The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court and The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court.

Previously, Toobin served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Brooklyn. He also served as an associate counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh, an experience that provided the basis for his first book, Opening Arguments: A Young Lawyer’s First Case—United States v. Oliver North.

Toobin received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.

About the Justice Kennedy Lecture series

The lecture series, now in its tenth year, is designed to promote discussion of cutting-edge issues affecting the U.S. Supreme Court and the Constitution. The program was established with the approval of Justice Anthony Kennedy when he visited the law school in the fall of 2008.

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