Elections in America

Date & Time

June 2, 2017 @ 2:30 pm - 3:45 pm


Alumni Hall Ballroom



For centuries Americans have fought and died for the right to vote. Today the violence has ebbed, but legal conflicts continue—over voter identification laws, proof of citizenship requirements, long lines at polling stations, and the Voting Rights Act, which the Supreme Court recently cut back.  Meanwhile, wealthy donors and outside groups are pouring more money into politics than ever.  Proponents argue that the First Amendment protects their spending, which is a form of political speech, and that the money buys ads that inform voters. Opponents argue that the money corrupts and undermines our democracy.  This panel will discuss these developments and offer a picture of elections in America.


Michael Gilbert (moderator)

Sullivan & Cromwell Professor, School of Law

Michael Gilbert joined the faculty in 2009. He teaches courses on legislation, election law, direct democracy, and judicial decision-making for the School of Law. His recent papers examine judicial independence, campaign finance disclosure, and the interpretation of ballot initiatives. Prior to joining the faculty Gilbert clerked for Judge William A. Fletcher on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco. He received his Ph.D. from the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his J.D. from Berkeley Law School, where he served as articles editor of the California Law Review. At Berkeley, he was an Olin Fellow in Law and Economics and the recipient of a grant from the National Science Foundation.

John Harrison

James Madison Distinguished Professor, School of Law

John C. Harrison joined the faculty in 1993 as an associate professor for the School of Law after a distinguished career with the U.S. Department of Justice. His teaching subjects include constitutional history, federal courts, remedies, corporations, civil procedure, legislation and property. In 2008 he was on leave from the Law School to serve as counselor on international law in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State.  A 1977 graduate of the University of Virginia, Harrison earned his law degree in 1980 at Yale, where he served as editor of the Yale Law Journal and editor and articles editor of the Yale Studies in World Public Order. He was an associate at Patton Boggs & Blow in Washington, D.C., and clerked for Judge Robert Bork on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He worked with the Department of Justice from 1983-93, serving in numerous capacities, including deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel (1990-93).

Nicole Hemmer

Assistant Professor, Miller Center

Nicole Hemmer is an assistant professor in presidential studies at the Miller Center, working with the Presidential Recordings Program. She is a contributing editor to U.S. News & World Report, where she writes a weekly column about politics and history, and a syndicated columnist for The Age in Melbourne, Australia. Her writing has also appeared in a number of national and international publications, including the New York Times, Atlantic, New Republic, Politico, Vox, and the Los Angeles Times. Her book, Messengers of the Right, a history of conservative media in the United States, was published in Penn Press’s Politics and Culture in Modern America series in September 2016. She also co-hosts and produces Past Present, a history podcast that launched in October 2015.