2013 Constitutional Law Center Symposium
"The U.S. Constitution and Political Dysfunction: Is There a Connection?"
Saturday, April 6, 2013
Drake Law School
8:30 am - 12:45 p.m.
Cartwright Hall, Room 213
(3.5 hours Iowa and federal CLE credit approved)
Please click here
to download a registration form. Registration forms are due by Monday, April 1. The symposium is made possible by support from the law firm of Belin McCormick, PC
Many Americans believe that the national political system is broken. Public opinion polls show Congressional approval hovering around 10%. National problems have become increasingly intractable as Republicans and Democrats fight over the so called fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling crisis, the judicial confirmation process, a filibuster proof Senate, and an epidemic of partisan gerrymandering among other issues. The number of moderate Republicans has dwindled, and compromise seems to be a dirty word in both parties. Another crisis always seems to be around the corner. Some experts argue these problems are rooted in an old and outmoded U.S. Constitution. They even advocate the exploration of a parliamentary alternative. Others argue there is no serious dysfunction, and that any problems are caused by ordinary politics rather than the Constitution. This symposium will examine the connection between the U.S. Constitution and possible dysfunction, as well as potential solutions to the situation.
Norman Ornstein, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
Norman Ornstein is a long-time observer of Congress and politics. He writes a weekly column for Roll Call
called "Congress Inside Out" and has been an election eve analyst for BBC News
. He served as codirector of the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project and participates in AEI's Election Watch series. Mr. Ornstein led a working group of scholars and practitioners that helped shape the law, known as McCain-Feingold, that reformed the campaign financing system. He was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004. His many books include The Permanent Campaign and Its Future
(AEI Press, 2000); The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track
, with Thomas E. Mann (Oxford University Press, 2006, named by The Washington Post
one of the best books of 2006 and called by The Economist
"a classic"); and, most recently, the New York Times
bestseller, It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism
, also with Thomas Mann, published in May by Basic Books. This was named Book of the Year by Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog
, one of the ten best books on politics in 2012 by The New Yorker
, and one of the best books of 2012 by The Washington Post
. Ornstein was also cited as one of 2012’s 100 top global thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine.
Sanford V. Levinson, W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood, Jr. Centennial Chair in Law, University of Texas School of Law
Sanford Levinson teaches law and government at the University of Texas at Austin. He has also been a frequent visitor at the Harvard and Yale law schools, as well as a variety of law schools abroad. He is the author of many articles and books on various facets of American constitutional law, including Constitutional Faith
(2d ed. 2011), Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (and How We the People Can Correct It)(
2006) and, most recently, Framed: America’s 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Governance
(2012). He is also a regular contributor to the popular blog Balkinization
. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001 and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association in 2010.
Richard Hasen, Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science, University of California – Irvine School of Law
Richard Hasen is a nationally-recognized expert in election law and campaign finance regulation, and is co-author of a leading casebook on election law. From 2001-2010, he served (with Dan Lowenstein) as founding co-editor of the quarterly peer-reviewed publication, Election Law Journal
. He is the author of more than 80 articles on election law issues, published in numerous journals including the Harvard Law Review
, Stanford Law Review
and Supreme Court Review
. He was elected to the American Law Institute in 2009. His op-eds and commentaries have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times
, The Washington Post
, and Slate
. Hasen also writes the often-quoted Election Law Blog
. His newest book, The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown
, was published in 2012 by Yale University Press.>Professor Hasen holds a B.A. from UC Berkeley, and a J.D., M.A., and Ph.D. (Political Science) from UCLA. After law school, he clerked for the Honorable David R. Thompson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and then worked as a civil appellate lawyer at the Encino firm of Horvitz and Levy.
John McGinnis, George C. Dix Professor in Constitutional Law, Northwestern University School of Law; Visiting Legal Scholar, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
John McGinnis is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review
. He also has an MA degree from Balliol College, Oxford, in philosophy and theology. Professor McGinnis clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. From 1987 to 1991, he was deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice. Professor McGinnis is a scholar in both the areas of constitutional and international law. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has added him to the roster of Americans who can be appointed as panelists to resolve World Trade Organization disputes. He is a past winner of Paul Bator award given by the Federalist Society to an outstanding academic under 40. Professor McGinnis’ publications include Accelerating Democracy: Transforming Governance Through Technology
(Princeton University Press, forthcoming 2013) and Originalism and the Good Constitution
(Harvard University Press, forthcoming 2013) (with M. Rappaport).
Lori Ringhand, J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law at the University of Georgia School of Law
Lori Ringhand is a nationally recognized expert on the Supreme Court confirmation process and judicial behavior. She has published numerous law review articles exploring the ways in which the confirmation process influences constitutional change, and is the coauthor of a book (forthcoming with Cambridge University Press) that uses an original dataset to further explore that question. Professor Ringhand also is the coauthor of a constitutional law casebook published by Carolina Academic Press.
Ringhand teaches courses on constitutional law, election law, and state and local government. She is the recipient of the 2010 Ronald Ellington Award for Excellence in Teaching at UGA Law. Before coming to UGA, Ringhand served on the faculty of the University of Kentucky College of Law, and as a visiting scholar at the Oxford Institute of European and Comparative Law. She currently is the Director of the UGA Law Semester at Oxford Program.
Brenna Findley, Legal Counsel to Iowa Governor Terry Branstad
Brenna Findley has served in the executive and legislative branches of government at the state and federal level. Her campaign experience includes local, state and federal races, including her own run for Attorney General in 2010. Findley has a passion for public service, ideas and solving problems.
Findley is a graduate of Drake University, with B.A. in Political Science and History, and a minor in Russian. From there, she went on to earn her law degree at the University of Chicago Law School, where she served as symposium editor of a law journal. Additionally, she helped entrepreneurs on Chicago’s south side start their own businesses.
Upon graduation, she worked as an attorney in private practice at a large, national law firm in Silicon Valley. She later served as Chief of Staff and Counsel to Congressman Steve King, R-Kiron. She returned to private practice with Whitaker Hagenow GBMG in Des Moines. She is now gov. Branstad's chief legal counsel.