Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor will speak at a Charleston School of Law symposium on the separation between church and state.
The daylong event on April 15 is open to the public for an admission fee of $25. O’Connor will speak at 3:30 p.m.
The event is co-sponsored by the Charleston Law Review and the Riley Institute at Furman University.
O’Connor became the first woman to serve as an associate justice on the United States Supreme Court, in 1981. She served for 24 years before retiring in 2006. In 2009 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.
“The Charleston School of Law is tremendously honored to have Justice Sandra Day O’Connor lead our fifth annual Law and Society Symposium,” said law school Dean Andy Abrams.
“In addition to being a true pioneer in the legal profession, Justice O’Connor is also one of the leading jurists of this or any era. Her career mirrors the mission of our law school — using the law to make a positive impact on the lives of individuals and communities.”
The symposium will focus on a constitutional test proposed by O’Connor in a 1984 ruling in Lynch v. Donnelly. In that case, she proposed that a government action can violate the First Amendment’s separation of church and state if a reasonable observer perceives the action endorses or disapproves of religion.
“Justice Sandra Day O’Connor proposed the endorsement test in 1984 to determine whether government action, such as school prayer, violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,” said law professor Sheila B. Scheuerman, who is coordinating the symposium. “This year’s symposium brings together leading scholars and practitioners to discuss the current state of the endorsement test as well as its future.
Speakers and panelists from around the country will participate in the symposium, including Furman President Rod Smolla and U.S. District judges Richard M. Gergel and Michael Duffy, both of the District of South Carolina.