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College of Law

Florida State University


2015 Voting Rights Symposium

The Law of Democracy at a Crossroads: Reflecting on Fifty Years of Voting Rights and the Judicial Regulation of the Political Thicket

Friday, March 27 - Saturday, March 28, 2015

2015 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, presenting a perfect opportunity to reflect on the changes that have occurred since the Supreme Court entered the “political thicket” over five decades ago. Since the 1960s, the Court has changed the landscape and the regulation of our system of politics, and its decisions continue to significantly impact this area. In 2013, the Court decided two major election law cases. Shelby County v. Holder invalidated section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act and raised important questions about the future of a super statute that had eliminated much of the racial discrimination in our political system.Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council reaffirmed the broad scope of congressional authority over elections. Last term, the Court decided an important campaign finance case, McCutcheon v. FEC, which struck down aggregate contribution limits and opened the door for more campaign finance deregulation. This symposium will allow leading legal scholars and political scientists to gather at a critical juncture in election law to debate and shape the future of the field.


Debo Adegbile (keynote speaker)
, Partner, WilmerHale; Former Senior Counsel – United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary; Former Acting President and Director Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense Fund

From March 2012 to January 2013, Debo Adegbile served as the Acting President and Director Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. In this role, Adegbile argued Shelby County v. Holderbefore the U.S. Supreme Court, which is one of the most important voting rights cases of this generation. Adegbile has also worked as senior counsel on the staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, and in 2014, he was nominated to serve as Assistant U.S. Attorney General in the U.S. Department of Justice - Civil Division.

Kareem U. Crayton, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill School of Law

Professor Crayton is an innovative scholar whose work integrates law, politics and race. He is one of the very few academics with formal skills in law and political science whose work addresses the relationship between race and politics in representative institutions.

Joshua A. DouglasAssociate Professor, University of Kentucky College of Law

Professor Joshua A. Douglas is a leading election law expert. His research focuses on the constitutional right to vote, election administration, judicial interaction with the election process, and post-election disputes.

Michael D. Gilbert, Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law

Professor Gilbert teaches courses on legislation, election law, direct democracy, and judicial decision-making. His recent papers examine judicial independence, campaign finance disclosure, and the interpretation of ballot initiatives.

Richard L. HasenChancellor's Professor of Law and Political Science, University of California - Irvine School of Law

Hasen is a nationally recognized expert in election law and campaign finance regulation, and is co-author of a leading casebook on election law.

Samuel IssacharoffBonnie and Richard Reiss Professor of Constitutional Law, New York University School of Law

Samuel Issacharoff’s wide-ranging research deals with issues in civil procedure, law and economics, American and comparative constitutional law, and employment law. He is one of the pioneers in the law of the political process; his Law of Democracy casebook and dozens of articles have helped create this vibrant new area of constitutional law.

Michael S. KangProfessor of Law, Emory Law School

Michael S. Kang's research focuses on issues of election law, voting and race, shareholder voting, and political science. His work has been published by the Yale Law Journal, NYU Law Review, and Michigan Law Review, among others.

Ellen D. KatzRalph W. Aigler Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School

Professor Katz writes and teaches about election law, civil rights and remedies, and equal protection. Her scholarship addresses questions of minority representation, political equality, and the role of institutions on crafting and implementing anti-discrimination laws. Professor Katz has published numerous articles including an influential empirical study of litigation under the Voting Rights Act.

Eugene Mazo, Visiting Assistant Professor, Wake Forest University School of Law

Professor Mazo is an expert in the law of democracy. He teaches and writes in the area of election law and his research focuses on the regulation of the political process, democratic development, and constitutional design. He is the co-editor of Election Law Stories, which is being published by Foundation Press in 2015.

Michael MorleyAssistant Professor, Barry University School of Law

Professor Morley was a Climenko Fellow and Lecturer in Law at Harvard Law School, where he taught Legal Research and Writing and a seminar on Election Litigation and Civil Procedure. Professor Morley's work has been published in numerous academic journals, including theCardozo Law Review and University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, and while a student he published several pieces in the Yale Law Journal and Yale Law & Policy Review.

Derek MullerAssociate Professor, Pepperdine University School of Law

Professor Muller's research and writing focus on election law, particularly federalism and the role of states in the administration of elections. His work has been selected for publication in theIndiana Law Journal, the Arizona State Law Journal, and the Election Law Journal.

Michael J. PittsProfessor of Law and Dean’s Fellow, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Professor Pitts’ scholarly work focuses on the law of democracy, particularly voting rights and election administration. He has been named a John S. Grimes fellow three times and a Dean’s Fellow in recognition of scholarly excellence five times.

Garrick PursleyAssistant Professor, Florida State University College of Law

Professor Pursley’s research is on issues in constitutional and legal theory and their application to open questions in constitutional law, federal courts, administrative law, energy law and other contexts.

Bertrall L. RossAssistant Professor, University of California - Berkeley School of Law

Bertrall Ross's research interests are driven by a normative concern about democratic responsiveness and a methodological approach that integrates political theory and empirical social science into discussions of legal doctrine, the institutional role of courts, and democratic design.

Daniel A. SmithUF Research Foundation Professor, University of Florida Department of Political Science

Professor Smith's research is motivated understanding how political institutions affect political behavior across and within the American states. He has published more than sixty scholarly articles and book chapters on politics and elections in the American states in the leading political science journals. A seasoned observer of ballot initiative and candidate campaigns around the country, as well as elections, voting rights, and redistricting in Florida, Professor Smith’s commentary has appeared in or has been heard on numerous news media.

Nicholas StephanopoulosAssistant Professor of Law, The University of Chicago Law School

Nicholas Stephanopoulos’s research and teaching interests include election law, constitutional law, legislation, administrative law, comparative law, and local government law.

Daniel P. TokajiCharles W. Ebersold and Florence Whitcomb Ebersold Professor of Law, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

Professor Daniel P. Tokaji is an authority on election law and voting rights. He specializes in election reform, including such topics as voting technology, voter ID, provisional voting, and other subjects addressed by the Help America Vote Act of 2002.

Franita TolsonBetty T. Ferguson Professor of Voting Rights, Florida State University College of Law

Professor Tolson’s scholarship and teaching focus on the areas of election law, constitutional law, legal history and employment discrimination. Recently, she has written on the federalism implications of partisan gerrymandering and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Ciara Torres-SpelliscyAssociate Professor of Law, Stetson University College of Law

Torres-Spelliscy was counsel in the Democracy Program of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law where she provided guidance on the issues of money in politics and the judiciary to state and federal lawmakers.

Papers will be published in the Florida State University Law Review
10 general CLE credits approved - Florida Bar reference number 1408945N
For more information, contact Derinda Kirkland. Telephone: 850.644.5799 or e-mail: