Mercer Law Review Symposium on ‘Contemporary Issues in Election Law’ Set for Sept. 27

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MACON – The 2019 Mercer Law Review Symposium, which will be held Friday, Sept. 27, will concentrate on “Contemporary Issues in Election Law.” The symposium is free and open to the public and will take place from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. in the Bell-Jones Courtroom at the School of Law.

The symposium is sponsored by Mercer Law School and the Southeastern Association of Law Schools and is approved for six CLE hours, including one ethics hours and one trial hour. Attendees seeking CLE credit can pre-register online prior to Sept. 25 for $150; registration after Sept. 25 is $225. Coffee and lunch are provided for CLE attendees, and participants are encouraged to arrive promptly and park in the upper lot.

This year, the symposium will connect several experts, including election law scholars, to talk about important issues that have created controversy in recent years. The symposium will include a series of four different panels based on the current state of the American electoral system and will cover topics such as the criminalization of voter mistakes, partisan gerrymandering and campaign finance reform.

Gary Simson, the Law School’s Macon Chair in Law and the faculty liaison for the event, observes that: “For the third year in a row, the Mercer Law Review is co-hosting its annual symposium with the Southeastern Association of Law Schools, and it again promises to be a great success. With elections for the U.S. presidency and both of Georgia’s seats in the U.S. Senate only a year away, and with controversy continuing over the fairness of voting procedures in Georgia’s 2018 gubernatorial election, it is difficult to imagine a more timely topic for a symposium held at Mercer.  The principal speakers, noted scholars in the field from across the country, will address a wide array of election law topics, and the commentators, who include Macon’s former representative in Congress, Jim Marshall, will ensure that the presentations generate lively debate.”

The symposium will open with introductions and a program overview by Mercer Law Dean Cathy Cox, Law Review editors and Macon Chair in Law Gary Simson.

The first panel discussion, from 9:10-10:30 a.m., features Anthony J. Gaughan on “Chester Arthur’s Ghost: The Cautionary Tale of the First Major Campaign Finance Reform Law” and Lori Ringhand on “First Amendment (Un)Exceptionalism: US and UK Responses to Online Electioneering.” Gaughan is a professor of law at Duke University, and Ringhand is a professor of law at the University of Georgia School of Law.

The second panel, from 10:40 a.m.-noon, will include discussions from  Jacob Eisler on “From Equal Protection to Association: The Collectivist Turn in the Federal Oversight of State Primaries”and Seth Golden on “Are At-Large Elections Responsible for The Under-representation of Minorities on Local Governments.”  Eisler is a professor of law at Southhampton Law School in the United Kingdom, and Golden is a first-year student at Mercer Law School.

Following a break for lunch, the third session, from 1:30 p.m.-2:50 p.m., features Atiba Ellis “On Memes, Election Integrity, and the Recalibration of the Right to Vote” and Simson on “Voting Requirements Disproportionately Disadvantaging Racial Minorities: A Case study in the Inadequacy of the Supreme Court’s Approach under the Equal Protection Clause to Disproportionate Racial Impact.” Ellis is a professor of law at Marquette University Law School.

The fourth and final panel, from 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m., includes discussions by Michael Dimino on “You’ve Got (Political) Questions? We Don’t Have Answers” and Benjamin Cover on “Rucho for Minimalists.”  Dimino is a professor of law at Widener University School of Law, and Cover is a professor of law at the University of Idaho College of Law.

This year’s commentators will include Mercer University College of Liberal Arts professor Dr. Lori A. Johnson, Mercer Law professors James Fleissner and David Oedel. Additionally, former Macon mayor, former Mercer Law professor and former U.S. Representative Jim Marshall will serve as a commentator.

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Billie Frys