HUNTINGTON -– Five lectures featuring scholars and opinion leaders who will talk about the Constitution and important matters in the nation's political process will be delivered during the 2012-2013 school year at Marshall University.
Each lecture is part of a series on the Constitution of the United States of America titled Amicus Curiae, or Friend of the Court.
The Amicus Curiae Lecture Series on Constitutional Democracy, which debuted a year ago, is sponsored by Marshall's Simon Perry Center for Constitutional Democracy and the College of Liberal Arts, with financial support from the West Virginia Humanities Council.
All five lectures will take place at the Marshall University Foundation Hall, Home of the Erickson Alumni Center, on the Huntington campus.
"We are extremely fortunate to have the support of the West Virginia Humanities Council and Simon D. Perry Center for Constitutional Democracy for this lecture series," said Dr. David J. Pittenger, dean of Marshall's College of Liberal Arts. "The Amicus Curiae Lecture Series is a classroom to the greater Huntington community. We hope that all people who want to learn more about this great nation and its Constitution will join us for these informative and provocative lectures."
Patricia Proctor, director of the Simon Perry Center for Constitutional Democracy, said the excellent attendance during the first year of the Amicus Curiae Lecture Series "demonstrated that both the Marshall community and the community at large are passionately interested in issues related to our democracy.
"This year, we are thrilled with both the caliber of the lecturers and the relevance of the topics they will address," Proctor said. "We have an acknowledged expert on Congress coming to discuss the dysfunction plaguing our national politics and to offer solutions. We have the director of the Center for Jacksonian America coming to talk about the election Jackson alleged was stolen from him. In November, an internationally-known expert on the presidency will discuss the failures of the electoral college – a particularly relevant issue in an election year.
"In the spring, the co-author of The Great Decision – a Supreme Court litigator and former White House counsel to President Clinton – is coming to discuss Marbury v. Madison and the political context surrounding John Marshall's most important decision during the week of its 210th anniversary. Finally, in April, we have a Marshall alumnus, who graduated from Harvard Law School and has spent his career in the Department of Justice, coming to discuss civil rights."
Here is a look at each speaker and topic:
7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26 – Dr. Thomas E. Mann, the W. Averell Harriman chair and senior fellow in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution, will speak on Congress's role in governance and its current performance in fulfilling its mandate as outlined in the Constitution. He posits that there have been worse times for Congress, but comparable periods include the run-up to the Civil War and to the War of 1812. Mann is the co-author, with Dr. Norman Ornstein, of The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track (2006) and It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism (2012). Mann lectures frequently in the United States and abroad on American politics and public policy and is also a regular contributor to newspaper stories and television and radio programs on politics and governance.
7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16 – Dr. Daniel Feller, the Betty Lynn Hendrickson Professor of History and director of the Center for Jacksonian America at the University of Tennessee, will discuss the presidential election of 1824, which was decided in the U.S. House of Representatives, where John Quincy Adams was elected President, despite not having won the popular vote. His discussion will focus on issues relevant to the current political environment while applying lessons learned from that contested election. Feller, who has received University Honors for faculty excellence while at the University of Tennessee, also is the Director of the Center for Jacksonian America and the Editor and Director of The Papers of Andrew Jackson.
7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29 – Dr. George C. Edwards III, Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Texas A&M University, will discuss the electoral college and its impact on American elections. One of his latest books, Why the Electoral College Is Bad for America, evaluates the consequences of our method of electing the president. Edwards, a leading scholar of the presidency, has served as the Olin Professor of American Government at Oxford and the John Adams Fellow at the University of London, and has held senior visiting appointments at Peking University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25 – On the week of Marbury v. Madison's 210th anniversary, Cliff Sloan, a partner with the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, who has served in all three branches of government and litigated cases at all levels of the state and federal courts including five U.S. Supreme Court arguments, will discuss the case and the legal and political context in which Chief Justice John Marshall's most famous decision occurred. He is co-author with David McKean of The Great Decision, a book about the historic Supreme Court case Marbury v. Madison, which established the principle of judicial review and the authority of the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution.
7 p.m. Tuesday, April 2 – Gregory B. Friel, a Marshall University graduate and a deputy attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice where he has worked for more than two decades, will discuss the role and the impact of the various federal statutes protecting civil rights for minorities, women, the elderly and the disabled in fulfilling the Constitutional mandate of equal protection for the rights of all citizens. He has represented the United States in cases before all 13 of the United States Circuit Courts of Appeals.
"We are delighted that the Simon Perry Center will be able to offer this series to the community, and grateful for the financial support of the West Virginia Humanities Council that enables us to do so," Proctor said.