Fall 2021 Newsletter - National Policy Conference Recap

The Republican National Lawyers Association celebrated its 35th Anniversary at the 2021 National Policy Conference in Arlington, Virginia on September 24, 2021. C-SPAN covered the Conference, which examined numerous, pertinent policy topics relevant to Republican lawyers and hosted many notable speakers, including Representatives Jim Banks (R-IN) and Rodney Davis (R-IL), Former Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, Former White House Counsels C. Boyden Gray and Peter Wallison, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, prominent RNLA leaders, and many others.

Executive Director Michael Thielen kicked off the Conference by showcasing RNLA’s 35-year history, providing a roadmap of the organization’s success and reminiscing on both the RNLA’s greatest challenges and finest accomplishments.

Rep. Jim Banks, Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, then discussed the House Republican Conference and all that Conservatives in the House are doing to push back on the ludicrous legislation being pushed by those on the Left.

Rep. Rodney Davis, Ranking Member on the Committee on House Administration, discussed Democrats’ efforts to federalize elections and how rural election bodies would suffer the most under such legislation. Rep. Davis presented on the Faith in Elections Project and how it aims to restore voter confidence in election administration. Rep. Davis encouraged Republicans to stay in the fight, “You know what is going to stop Republicans from winning elections? Republicans not thinking their votes count!”

An environmental regulation panel featured Daren Bakst with the Heritage Foundation and Christopher Horner with Government Accountability and Oversight. Both spoke on the Biden Administration’s intent to implement the Green New Deal and radical environmental policy through a backdoor – regulation. The panelists exposed the Biden Administration’s efforts to use federal agencies to implement environmental regulations that they are unable to do through legislation.

A  panel titled, “Advising a Federal Agency: Legal Issues Encountered by Past General Counsels,” featured former EPA General Counsel Matthew Leopold and former Department of Education General Counsel Reed Rubinstein. The panel explored the many issues agency general counsels must resolve and included illustrative anecdotes only lawyers could appreciate.

Former Acting United States Attorney General Matthew Whitaker gave a powerful speech on the current immigration crisis in the United States, the root of its causes, and the missteps and misrepresentations of the Biden Administration. Attorney General Whitaker debunked the messages of the Left and exposed the Left’s willful ignorance of the true state of affairs at the southern border.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita spoke on the role of states in combating regulatory overreach by the Federal Government. Attorney General Rokita dove headfirst into the steps Indiana and other Republican states have taken and are taking to push back against the federal government, including the federal elections takeover, federal vaccine mandate, critical race theory in public schools, and government overreach.

General Counsel to the Southeastern Legal Foundation Kimberly Hermann was joined by Max Eden, Research Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and Ian Rowe, Fellow at the Woodson Center to discuss the ensuing legal battle to stop schools from implementing critical race theory in curriculum. They exposed the divisive and discriminatory effect of critical race theory and explained what lawyers can do to take back our schools.

The RNLA hosted a panel on the First Amendment featuring Casey Mattox with Americans for Prosperity, Ryan Morrison with the Institute for Free Speech, and RNLA Vice President for Programming Tom Wheeler. The panel discussed campus free speech developments, political speech regulation, and recent Supreme Court decisions affecting free speech.

Jamil Jaffer, the founder of the Nation Security Institute, and Sujit Raman, a partner at Sidley Austin LLP, tag-teamed a panel discussing cybersecurity, namely discussing laws regarding cyber-attacks, digital privacy, and data breaches. The panel was highly informative on the technical issues facing cyber security law.

A panel featuring Chief Counsel to Republican Leader Mitch McConnell Michael Fragoso, Vice President of The Heritage Foundation’s Institute for Constitutional Government John Malcolm, and Ethics and Public Policy Center’s Ed Whelan discussed Congressional regulation of the courts, judicial decisionmaking, and the upcoming Supreme Court term.

The RNLA concluded its National Policy Conference with substantive remarks by former White House Counsels C. Boyden Gray and Peter Wallison. C. Boyden Gray discussed the many legal issues he had to address as the second-longest serving White House Counsel, serving George H. W. Bush during his time as Vice President and as President. Peter Wallison discussed his time serving as President Ronald Reagan’s White House Counsel and navigating the legal issues of the Iran Contra affair.

Overall, the 2021 National Policy Conference was a great success, equipping leading Republican lawyers on the most pressing topics of the day.