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Professors of law to debate federalism at Sterling College

A multi-departmental effort at Sterling College has culminated in a unique event for the campus and the community. On Thursday, Nov. 12, Sterling College will host two professors of law who will debate the concept of federalism in American society. The debate, which will take place at 7 p.m. in Culbertson Auditorium in Spencer Hall, is free and open to the public.

“A number of campus departments have really come together to make the debate a success; we hope that it will be entertaining and thought-provoking for all who attend. This event is different than anything we have done before, and we hope that the community and the students will be eager to participate,” said Dr. Mark Tremaine, assistant professor of criminal justice.

William Rich, professor of law at Washburn University School of Law, will be arguing in support of expanded involvement of the federal government. In opposition, Stephen McAllister, professor of certified public accounting at the University of Kansas School of Law, will be arguing for preserving states’ rights and limiting the reach of the federal government in the affairs of the individual states.

The debate will be divided into three parts. During the first segment, the professors will address questions that they have had the opportunity to review in advance. Next, they will respond to questions that they have not seen, with each question being directed to a specific individual. Following each response, the other participant will be permitted a brief rebuttal. Throughout the event, audience members will be able to submit questions via a number of social media outlets. In the third segment, the professors will field the questions that were selected from social media submissions. 

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Before joining the Washburn Law faculty, William Rich was a law clerk for Chief Justice Donald Wright of the California Supreme Court, and he served as a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Wichita. He obtained a B.A. at Oberlin College and a J.D. at University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law. He is currently the James R. Ahrens Chair in Torts and Constitutional Law at Washburn University School of Law.

Stephen McAllister, E.S. and Tom W. Hampton Distinguished Professor of Law, clerked for Justices Byron White and Clarence Thomas at the Supreme Court of the United States and Judge Richard Posner at the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. He currently serves as the Solicitor General of Kansas, assisting the attorney general's office with constitutional litigation.