PLSI's "Symposium on Political Law" | Videos, Podcasts, Media Coverage, and Photos

"Law and Democracy: A Symposium on Political Law"

November 16, 2012

This symposium, held ten days after the 2012 presidential election, was perhaps the nation's most significant gathering of political scholars and policymakers. The nation's first African-American president had just been re-elected, the U.S. Supreme Court had just agreed to hear a case challenging parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the 2012 cycle had been the first presidential election to feature SuperPACs, as well as new laws in several states such as photo identification and proof of citizenship requirements, restrictions on early vote periods, and enhanced restrictions on former offender voting rights.

The symposium attracted thirty-five leaders in political law as panelists, such as coauthors from all four election law casebooks and the general counsels of the Barack Obama 2012 and John McCain 2008 presidential campaigns. Two top regulators and policymakers of different political persuasions provided keynote addresses—the FEC former Chair and Commissioner Donald McGahn and Justice Department Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Tom Perez. Most of the symposium attendees were leaders in political law and contributed a great deal to the conversation—FEC commissioners and staffers, Election Assistance Commission leadership, congressional staffers, DOJ lawyers, foundation officers, leaders from advocacy groups, and leading political law practitioners.

The symposium was organized by the George Washington University Law Review, GW Political Law Studies Initiative, and Director and Professor Spencer Overton. Professor Overton described GW's unique theoretical and practical contributions to the field of political law in the GWU Law Review Symposium Foreword entitled "Political Law."


Opening Remarks and Ken Goldstein (President, Campaign Media Analysis Group, Kantar Media) presentation on releasing media spending data by presidential campaigns, super PACs, and other entities in the 2012 election cycle (37:13)

Primary Issues of 2012 Election:  Bob Bauer (General Counsel, Obama for America); Sean Cairncross (Chief Counsel, Nat'l Republican Senatorial Committee); Ken Goldstein (Kantar Media); Prof. Rick Hasen (UC Irvine, ElectionLawBlog); Prof. William Marshall (UNC); Myrna Pérez (Brennan Center) (72:44)

Campaign Finance in 2012 Election:  Allison Hayward (formerly of Center for Competitive Politics); Prof. Sam Issacharoff (NYU); Lawrence Noble (Americans for Campaign Reform); Prof. Nathaniel Persily (Columbia); Monica Youn (Brennan Center) (74:11)

Election Administration:  Prof. Adam Cox (NYU);  Prof. Josh Douglas (Univ. of KY); John Fortier (Bipartisan Policy Center); Prof. Heather Gerken (Yale); Prof. Sherrilyn Ifill (U of MD); Prof. Daniel Tokaji (Ohio State) (82:19)

Keynote by Tom Perez, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Dept. of Justice (40:17)

Future of Campaign Finance:   Prof. Richard Briffault (Columbia); Eliza Newlin Carney (Roll Call); Prof. Michael Kang  (Emory); Trevor Potter (Campaign Legal Center); Prof. Brad Smith (Capital University) (71:08)

Voting Rights Act and Redistricting:  Michael Carvin (Jones Day); Prof. Kareem Crayton (UNC); Prof. Gilda Daniels (U. of Balt.); Prof. Ellen Katz (Michigan);  Prof. Justin Levitt (Loyola); Prof. Michael J. Pitts (Indiana) (71:38)

Election Law in the Roberts Court: Prof. Guy-Uriel Charles (Duke);  Prof. Edward Foley (Ohio State);  Prof. Lani Guinier (Harvard); Prof. Pamela Karlan (Stanford); Prof. Alan Morrison (GW); Prof. Richard Pildes (NYU) (78:36)


Download the event's podcasts on iTunes.

Media Coverage

Associated Press  .  Nov. 19, 2012
Justice Official Wants Voter Registration to be Automatic
Justice Official: Register Voters Automatically

ProPublica  .  Nov. 20, 2012
Why Is Arizona Still Counting Votes?

Please visit this link to view a complete agenda and more information about the symposium.

Spotlight Item:

"A Symposium on the Law Governing Our Democratic Process"

View photos of the 2012 GW Law Review hosted by the GW Political Law Studies Initiative at GW Law Photography.

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