SPRING 2015 ◆19
validity of such state laws. Despite the Court’s grant of review in
these cases, it has refused to stay judgments in lower courts
ordering state officials to grant marriage licenses to same-gender
Professor Bruce Miller, a panelist at this Conference from its
beginning in 1996, analyzed the recent racial discrimination cases
involving affirmative action. In Schuette v. Coalition to Defend
Affirmative Action, 2014, the Court upheld a Michigan ballot
proposition, which amended the state’s constitution to make affirmative action illegal in public employment, public education, and
Earlier precedents would seem to indicate, Professor Miller
noted, that such singling out of racial minorities for special and
disadvantageous treatment would violate the Equal Protection
Clause of the 14th Amendment. The Court, however deferred in
this decision to the Michigan electorate, which adopted the restriction through a voter initiative petition.
The Conference concluded with the audience and the panelists
discussing a variety of topics relating to the work of the Court.
This included the important decisions of its 2013-2014 term, and
the cases it might decide in the current term (2014-2015), including the same-gender marriage controversy.
Naturalization Ceremony For the past several years, the
Legislative Institute has worked with the immigration authorities in
the Department of Homeland Security to arrange naturalization
ceremonies in the Pellegrini Moot Court Room. On October 24, the
Institute once again had the honor of conducting a swearing-in of
new citizens here at the Blake Law Center. The School of Law was
honored to have Judge Mark Mastroianni ’89, the newly installed
Federal jurist in Springfield, to preside over the ceremony; it was
his first. The swearing-in is held in formal session before the
Court. The intimacy of the moot court room gives the event a spe-
cial meaning for the new members of the nation.
This year’s ceremony had several poignant speeches, including
Judge Mastroianni and Dean Gouvin’s comments about citizenship
and its importance for the survival and advancement of our democratic values. Senator Gale Candaras ’83 served as the keynote
speaker, recalling her childhood as a first generation
American. Her father had come to the United States from Greece,
where he was not allowed to board the ship in Athens to the U.S.
until he bought a pair of shoes. Practically every day of her life,
Senator Candaras recalled, her father, who had been naturalized,
reminded her what a privilege it is to be an American citizen.
State Senate Debate The Institute rounded out its fall program
with a debate, in the week preceding the election, between Democrat Eric Lesser (Longmeadow) and Republican Debra Boronski
(East Longmeadow), candidates for the State Senate. The Senate seat for the First Hampden and Hampshire District was open
because of the retirement of Senator Gale Candaras, who served
for 18 years in the State Legislature, the last eight in the
Senate. The University will honor Senator Candaras for her
outstanding and dedicated public service by awarding her an
honorary degree at the commencement on May 17, 2015.
Attorney Lesser won the election on November 4. ◆
We were very pleased to welcome as a new citizen Mrs. Silvia Pickrell (center), an employee of the University, pictured here with Senator Gale Candaras ’83,
and Professor Art Wolf.
Read more about the Institute
at www.law.wne.edu/ilga. *