GREENVILLE, SC - Furman University president Rod Smolla, one of the nation’s top constitutional scholars, will deliver a series of free lectures at the Furman/Upcountry History Museum that will look at landmark decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court that arose from cases in South Carolina.
Smolla’s three lectures in the “Carolina and the Constitution” series will take place Oct. 11, Nov. 28 and April 16, 2013. All are free and open to the public, and begin at 7 p.m. in the Resource Room of the Furman/Upcountry History Museum.
The first in the series, “War, Peace, the President, and the Congress,” will take place Thursday, Oct. 11. Smolla will look at the Prize Cases that came out of the Civil War conflict in South Carolina and examine the ongoing debate over the power to declare and make war under the U.S. Constitution.
Smolla will look at how from the earliest days of the nation U.S. Presidents have sparred with Congress, and at times the Supreme Court, over who has the power to send American forces into hostilities. Does the power reside exclusively in Congress, or does the President, as Commander-in-Chief, have inherent power to order American troops into combat?
The first and still perhaps most influential Supreme Court decision to address these issues came from South Carolina. In the Prize Cases, the Supreme Court opined on the great constitutional issues of war and peace, responding to claims that Abraham Lincoln’s blockade of Charleston in the aftermath of the seizure of Fort Sumter by the secessionist forces violated the Constitution since Lincoln acted without a congressional Declaration of War.
The series will continue on Wednesday, Nov. 28, when Smolla speaks on “The Religion Clauses” (Sherbert v. Verner and the Free Exercise of Religion in America). On Tuesday, April 16, 2013, he will speak on “The Indians and the Land” (South Carolina v. Catawba Indian Tribe and the Uneasy History of Indians and the Constitution).
Smolla is nationally recognized as a scholar, teacher, advocate and writer, and is one of America’s foremost experts on issues relating to freedom of speech, academic freedom and freedom of the press. He holds degrees from Yale University and Duke University Law School.
Prior to coming to Furman, Smolla served as dean of the law schools at Washington and Lee and the University of Richmond. He has also been Director of the Institute of Bill of Rights Law at the College of William & Mary.
During his legal career, Smolla has presented arguments in state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. He is the author of several books, including Free Speech in an Open Society and Jerry Falwell v. Larry Flynt: The First Amendment on Trial. His most recent book, The Constitution Goes to College, describes the constitutional principles and ideas that have shaped American higher education.