WI Law Review Symposium “Rationing the Constitution: How Judicial Capacity Shapes Supreme Decision-Making”

The Wisconsin Law Review presents the 2019 Symposium: “Rationing the Constitution: How Judicial Capacity Shapes Supreme Decision-Making” on Oct. 24-25.


This two-day symposium, chaired by Professor Andrew Coan (University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law) and co-sponsored by Professor David Schwartz (University of Wisconsin Law School), is entitled, “Rationing the Constitution: How Judicial Capacity Shapes Supreme Decision-Making.” The Symposium will explore the structural organization of the judiciary, the constraints of the Supreme Court, and the implications on U.S. Constitutional Law. Compared with the vast machinery surrounding Congress and the president, the Supreme Court is a tiny institution that can resolve only a small fraction of the constitutional issues that arise in any given year. Due to the structural organization of the judiciary and certain widely shared professional norms, the capacity of the Supreme Court to review lower-court decisions is severely limited. In deciding cases, the Court must therefore not invite more litigation than it can handle. On many of the most important constitutional questions—touching on federalism, the separation of powers, and individual rights—this constraint creates a strong pressure to adopt hard-edged categorical rules, or defer to the political process, or both. The implications for U.S. constitutional law are profound. Lawyers, academics, and social activists pursuing social reform through the courts must consider whether their goals can be accomplished within the constraints of judicial capacity.


The Symposium will be a public event consisting of 5 panels. It will begin at 4:00pm on Thursday, October 24th and conclude at 5:00pm on Friday, October 25th.

For more information including an agenda and presenter information, see the WLR Symposium website