Celebrating 150 Years of Nine Justices While Wondering About the Supreme Court in Contemporary America

A Symposium to Assess Judicial Independence in 2019

September 27, 2019
Elon University School of Law
201 N. Greene Street
Greensboro, NC 27401

Program: 8:45 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (Includes Lunch)


No Cost to Registered Attendees
Approved for 5.0 Hours of CLE Credit from the North Carolina State Bar


Despite periodic efforts to alter the number of Justices on the United States Supreme Court, nine seems to have taken on constitutional stature despite the absence of constitutional dictate as to size. This number has withstood much of the Reconstruction era, FDR’s court-packing plan, and proposals for a 10th administrative justice. Today’s hyper-partisan environment creates fresh calls for changes in the institutional organization of the Court that could well impact its substantive decision making.

To commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Judiciary Act of 1869 that established nine as the number of Justices to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, this one-day symposium will review the history of partisan influence on the Supreme Court as well as consider contemporary challenges to the Court’s independence together with prospective effects that current changes could evoke. It is intended to cover the broad area of judicial independence utilizing both historical analysis and commentary on contemporary issues involving the judiciary, federalism, and separation of powers. Topics will include previous attempts and modern calls for altering the number of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, concerns of national security and their effect on the judicial process, current changes the judiciary by state legislators, and developments regarding constitutional restraints in Administrative law.



  • Akhil Reed Amar (Yale Law School)
  • Alicia Bannon (Brennan Center’s Democracy Program)
  • David Gergen (former presidential advisor and founding director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School) 
  • Melanie Kalmanson (Akerman LLP)
  • Josh Kastenberg (University of New Mexico School of Law)
  • Bruce Ledewitz (Duquesne University School of Law)
  • Brian Leonard (B.K. Leonard Law Firm)
  • Ron Nelson (University of South Alabama)
  • Penny J. White (University of Tennessee College of Law)
  • The Hon. James Wynn (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit)

The symposium has been approved for 5.0 hours of CLE through the North Carolina State Bar. Anyone with questions should contact Elon Law Review symposium editors Kathryn Magoon (kmagoon@elon.edu) or Zachary Green (zgreen2@elon.edu.)