As policy and legal battles over key issues put the federal government and states in opposing camps, Suffolk University Law School will present a speaking program on Flashpoints in Federalism: The Clash of Federal and State Sovereignty in Health Care, Immigration and Gay Marriage from noon to 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, in Sargent Hall, 120 Tremont St., Boston.

In a politically charged era, federalism has become more than abstract constitutional doctrine; it is now a source of tension between the federal government and the states.

Keynote speaker Adam Liptak, an attorney who covers the Supreme Court for the New York Times, has written that the federal health care law “has provoked an unprecedented clash between the federal government and 26 states, dividing them on fundamental questions about the very structure of the federal system.”

Liptak’s keynote topic is The Roberts Court in the Obama Era.

Issues before the Supreme Court

A panel discussion will analyze upcoming Supreme Court action on the Affordable Care Act, the Defense of Marriage Act and the Arizona immigration legislation.

“The underlying issue in all the areas we will be discussing is the role of the federal government in relation to the states,” said Suffolk Law Professor Robert H. Smith, who will discuss Federal Preemption Challenges to State Regulation of Undocumented Immigrants. In the Arizona immigration case, “the issue before the court is whether the Arizona law regulating undocumented aliens is preempted by federal immigration law.”

If the court were to follow precedent it would find the entire health care statute constitutional, according to Law Professor Renée M. Landers, director of Suffolk Law’s Health & Biomedical Law Concentration, who will speak on Challenges to the 2010 federal health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act.

“However, some of the members don’t adhere to the precedents that give Congress a lot of power; they tend to defer to the states,” said Landers. “Other members have ideological viewpoints that might lead them not to honor precedent in these cases.”

The Hon. Nancy Gertner, a professor at Harvard Law School, will handle the panel’s analysis of Same Sex Marriage and Federalism.

The moderator will be the Hon. John M. Greaney, director of the Macaronis Institute for Trial and Appellate Advocacy at Suffolk Law School.

Flashpoints in Federalism is an Advanced Legal Studies program.