Bowen Law Review symposium celebrates anniversary of landmark case

The Law Review of the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law and Butler Center for Arkansas Studies will host a symposium on Friday, Sept. 28, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Cooper v. Aaron

In the landmark case, John and Thelma Aaron and others filed suit in federal court in Arkansas for the purpose of integrating Arkansas schools. The resulting U.S. Supreme Court case, Cooper v. Aaron, established the supremacy of the federal constitution and also established the notion of the supremacy of the Supreme Court in interpreting the constitution.

The 2018 Altheimer Symposium will take place 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Friday Courtroom at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, 1201 McMath Ave. in Little Rock. The event is open to the public, and admission is free.

The issues raised by Cooper are still the subject of vibrant debate. Increasingly, state and local officials seek to avoid enforcing or following federal mandates ranging from the same-sex marriage decision in Obergefell v. Hodges to the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate in NFIB v. Sebelius. This symposium will discuss the history and impact of Cooper v. Aaron, the local significance of the case, and its continuing vitality in an age of political and legal polarization.

In the morning, national constitutional scholars will speak about the impact that Cooper v. Aaron has had on the balance between constitutional supremacy and states’ rights. In the afternoon, local speakers will discuss the events in Little Rock that led to the decision as well as the impact that Cooper v. Aaron has had on the community. Local speakers include Judge Wiley Branton, Jr.; attorney John Walker; Dr. Sybil Hampton, who was among the early students to integrate Central High School; and Dr. LaVerne Bell-Tolliver, assistant professor in UA Little Rock’s School of Social Work and editor of “The First Twenty-Five: An Oral History of the Desegregation of Little Rock’s Public Junior High Schools.”

More information and a registration form can be found online.

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