Stanford legal scholar is featured Constitution Day speaker at IU Bloomington

Pamela Karlan, a law professor at Stanford University and part of the legal team that overturned the federal ban on recognizing same-sex marriage in Windsor v. United States, will present a Constitution Day lecture Sept. 19 at the IU Maurer School of Law in Bloomington.

Karlan, the Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law at the Stanford Law School, will speak on “The Hydraulic Election of 2016: Vote Denial, Political Parties, the Rise of Donald Trump, and the Courts” at noon Monday in the Baier Hall Moot Court Room.

Pamela Karlan

Pamela Karlan

The lecture will challenge the “romantic” vision of American democracy, which views elections as a process by which citizens pick leaders and determine future public policy. In reality, Karlan says, elections are constrained to certain paths by past politics and constitutional structures.

She will apply the “hydraulic” view to three features of the 2016 elections; new restrictions on voting, the rise of Donald Trump and the decline of organized political parties, and the continued vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Karlan is co-director of Stanford’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. She has been a commissioner on the California Fair Political Practices Commission, an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and a deputy assistant U.S. attorney in the Justice Department Civil Rights Division.

“Pam Karlan is one of our generation’s leading civil rights advocates and scholars on the great issues of our day: voting rights, our democratic processes, racial equality, LGBTQ equality and women’s reproductive rights,” said Dawn Johnson, the Walter W. Foskett Professor of Law in the Maurer School. “She has been a personal inspiration to me since we attended law school together.”

The lecture is free and open to the public. Other Constitution Day events at IU Bloomington include:

  • “Voting Rights and Wrongs: Minority Voting Rights and (Dis)Enfranchisement,” a discussion from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, in Room 125 of the Maurer School of Law. Panelists will be state Sen. Greg Taylor and Maurer School of Law professors David Williams and Luis Fuentes-Rohwer. School of Public and Environmental Affairs faculty member Beth Cate will moderate.
  • “Designing Constitutions to Work and Last,” a discussion from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, in SPEA Room 169. Panelists will be state Rep. Ed Delaney; David F. Hamilton, judge of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Susan Williams, law professor and director of the Center for Constitutional Democracy in the Maurer School of Law.

Constitution Day is an annual observance that commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787, in Philadelphia. Under a 2004 law, schools, colleges and universities that receive federal funds are expected to provide programming related to the Constitution on or around Sept. 17.

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