Truth? Memory? Morals? Ethics? Justice? These philosophical topics inspire lively Spirit of the Senses conversations about the Courts, law, and the Constitution. These discussions often take place in Biltmore area living rooms. Judges and justices from the state and federal courts, law scholars from the universities, historians, and philosophers, each add their voices to the evolving conversation.
One evening after the recent presidential election members of Spirit of the Senses gathered to have a salon conversation with Paul Bender about the future of the U.S. Supreme Court. There were many questions to be asked. What impact did the Election have on the Court? Was the Court motivated by politics? Would the Justices change their philosophies with time? Who were the influential thinkers on the Court? Which Justices wanted to change past Court rulings? How do we interpret the Constitution? And what is the Court’s history?
Professor Bender, a former ASU law dean, was Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States from 1993-1997. He had responsibility for Supreme Court and federal appellate litigation in the areas of civil rights, race and sex discrimination, freedom of speech and religion, and tort claims against the federal government. Paul gives a great insider’s view of the Court. His personal insights into the personalities of the Court, the history of past Court decisions, and his understanding of the Constitution, paint clarity on the unfolding process of the Justices decisions. Not to mention Paul’s wit and humor that adds color to these conversations.
Spirit of the Senses is a Phoenix area arts, science, and cultural salon group that for almost thirty years has developed intellectual parties for meaningful conversations. The vast diversity of topics the salons group explores include the arts, architecture, science, medicine, law, food, philosophy, psychology, cultural geography, history, popular culture, and more.
Several times each year members of the group enjoy conversations with Professor Bender about the US Supreme Court. Among the other salon topics this past year, Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch, Justice Scott Bales, and Justice Ann Timmer, who serve at the Arizona Supreme Court, have discussed the process of judicial decisions and efforts to be fair.
Through a selection of diverse topics the group explores what the future issues of the Courts may be. There have been salon conversations about the use of new scientific understandings and technological tools for investigating the truth. In recent years new research in neuroscience has raised additional questions regarding memory in court cases. This puts into question the role of Eye Witness Testimony, which has been debated at the salons with judges, attorneys and psychologists.