First Pizza with the Professors Previews Current U.S. Supreme Court Term
Web Editor - Published: October 24, 2011
On Thursday, October 20th, the first event in the new Pizza with the Professors series –which examined some of the interesting cases before the United States Supreme Court in the current term – took place at lunchtime in the student lounge just off Main Street in the Main Law Building on the Delaware campus.

Associate Professor Jules Epstein offered a brief introduction in which he spoke about the origins of the Pizza with the Professors series, and then he introduced the first presenter, Distinguished Professor Alan E. Garfield. Garfield spoke about FCC v. Fox Television Stations, a case that raises questions about whether or not the government’s current TV indecency enforcement policies regarding profanity and sexual content violate the free speech and due process rights of broadcasters.

Referencing comedian George Carlin’s famous stand-up comedy routine “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television”, Garfield articulated the conflict between free speech and Federal Communications Commission regulations and the previous history of U.S. Supreme Court Cases dealing with that conflict, most specifically Federal Communications Commission v. Pacifica Foundation.

Noting that the lack of consistency regarding regulation, he concluded, “If you don’t know what you can say and what you can’t, you’re going to have a chilling effect.”

Associate Professor Stephen E. Friedman spoke next, addressing CompuCredit Corporation v. Greenwood, a case involving whether or not consumers could waive their right to sue a credit repair agency by agreeing to binding arbitration when they signed the agreement. He noted that Congress has generally strongly advocated arbitration as means to resolve disputes, but also observed that some people claim, “By its nature arbitration is biased against the little guy.”

Ultimately, the case will look at whether the Credit Repair Organizations Act makes any effort to waive the right to sue void, or whether CompuCredit’s claim that the complainant cannot sue after signing an agreement that contained an arbitration provision.

Professor Epstein followed with a look at Perry v. New Hampshire. He noted that the case raises questions about when eyewitness identification testimony may be suppressed as unreliable. The case marks the first time in over thirty years that the Court might revisit the issue.

Assistant Dean for Business and Administration Verne R. Smith looked at National Meat Association v. Harris, and the question of whether or not the Federal Meat Inspection Act trumps a California law that mandates animals too sick or infirm to walk into a slaughterhouse be euthanized.

Calling the case “a classic animal law” case, he noted that the 9th circuit found no conflict between the federal law and the state law, failing to prove that the California law infringes on the Federal Meat Inspection Act.

Professor Leonard N. Sosnov spoke last, covering two criminal law cases, Florence v. County of Burlington and U.S. v. Jones. Florence v. County of Burlington concerns whether or not it is constitutional to subject an individual to invasive strip searches when arrested for minor offenses. U.S. v. Jones concerns whether the prolonged use of a GPS tracking device on an individual’s car should require a warrant.

The next event in the Pizza with the Professors series will occur on Thursday, November 3rd in the student lounge off Main Street at noon. Visiting Distinguished Professor Steven H. Steinglass will present “What Every Law Student Should Know About Section 1983 Litigation”. The presentation will examine the most important general-purpose civil remedy for suing state and local defendants for violations of the US Constitution, including violations of the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 8th, and 14th amendments.