Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Legal highlights of LDS General Conference

This weekend is the LDS Annual General Conference, and there will be various events for just about everyone to participate in. The J. Reuben Clark Law Society is hosting a reception in between the morning and afternoon sessions of conference on Saturday, April 4, in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. All JRCLS members are invited to attend, and you can register here.

If you aren't a JRCLS member or can't attend, you can still see some exciting legal events throughout the weekend on the sidewalks surrounding Temple Square. Every year dozens of protesters turn out to condemn Mormons as they attend the conference, so you'll have a front row seat to the clash of prescient legal issues like free speech, property law, defamation, and separation of church and state.

However, if you're like most of us, you won't be anywhere near Salt Lake City this weekend. I'll be watching General Conference online, and maybe on TV if I can find it on satellite somewhere. The Mormon blogging scene (sometimes known as the "Bloggernacle," a term I dislike) always goes into overdrive over Conference Weekend. Some of the well-known Mormon blogs like Times & Seasons and By Common Consent usually carry open comment threads for communal live-blogging. They've been pretty entertaining in years past, so check them out.

As far as the actual conference itself, the lawyer-types can look forward to addresses by Elders Dallin Oaks, Todd Christopherson, and Quentin Cook. Their addresses are always interesting to me because of the occasional use of legal language or metaphors that add an additional subtext. And if you've ever seen a transcript of one of Elder Oaks' talks, you know that they almost resemble law journal articles, complete with Roman numeral headings and extensive footnotes. One of the highlights of this conference will inevitably be the announcement of a new Mormon Apostle to replace Joseph B. Wirthlin who died late last year. Last time there were vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve they were replaced by two attorneys. That probably won't happen again, however. Some might say that there aren't any good attorneys left.

Photo credit: Geoff Belknap