William and Mary Law School

March 29 Symposium to Focus on State Judicial Elections in Post-Citizens United Landscape

The Election Law Society and the Election Law Program at William & Mary Law School announce the Fifth Annual Election Law Symposium to take place on Thursday, March 29. Featuring prominent state supreme court judges, political consultants, and scholars, the symposium centers on the topic "Money in Judicial Elections," and evaluates the changing dynamics of state judicial elections in the post-Citizens United landscape. The event, which is free and open to the public,  begins at 3:15PM and will be held in Room 124. 

Panelists scheduled to participate include the Hon. Brent Benjamin, Justice on the West Virginia Supreme Court since 2005; James Bopp, Jr., General Counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech, former speech writer for presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and chief architect of the controversial Supreme Court case Citizens United, as well as more than 60 election-related cases; the Hon. Thomas Phillips, retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas, current partner of the law firm Baker Botts, past President of the Conference of Chief Justices, and a member of the Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform; Bradley Smith, former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission, the Josiah H. Blackmore/Shirley M. Nault Professor of Law at Capital University Law School, and the Chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics; the Hon. Marsha Ternus, retired Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court whose term expired after seventeen years of service after voters failed to retain her in the controversial 2010 retention election; and the Hon. Penny White, retired Tennessee Supreme Court Justice, and current Director of the Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution at the University of Tennessee College of Law. Lyle Denniston, renowned legal journalist and blogger who has reported on the Supreme Court of the United States for more than fifty years, will serve as moderator. He currently writes for the SCOTUSblog, which provides coverage and analysis of the Supreme Court. Denniston has also written for the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and The American Lawyer.

"In the last decade, the massive influx of contributions by large donors, especially special interest groups, has changed the face of state judicial elections," explained Election Law Society Co-President Anisa Somani '13. "Our symposium draws together a panel of experts to discuss whether this radical evolution in judicial election expenditures should be regulated and whether money actually corrupts judicial independence," noted Election Law Society Co-President Vladislava Soshkina '13.

This annual event is possible with generous assistance from the William & Mary Institute of Bill of Rights Law and the National Center for State Courts.

Created in 2005 as a joint venture of the National Center for State Courts and the Law School, the Election Law Program seeks to provide practical assistance to state court judges in the United States who are called upon to resolve difficult election law disputes (see Program materials available at www.electionlawissues.org). The Election Law Society is the student organization created to generate interest in and educate students about this rapidly expanding and extremely important area of practice.

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