Law and Democracy

The College’s Law and Democracy Series, now in its second year, invites a wide range of speakers to address the degradation of democracy, the deep polarization in our political culture, and the role of lawyers in preserving and thinking about democracy and the rule of law. This series is provided through generous support from Ron and the late Barb Shaefer and in partnership with the Nebraska Law chapters of the American Constitution Society and the Federalist Society.

Discussions include such topics as election law, the possibility of a constitutional convention, and roundups of recent Supreme Court cases.

Past Events

Professors Berger, Hurwitz and Langvardt

Supreme Court Roundup: A Constitution Day Discussion

September 19, 2022

Professors Eric Berger, Kyle Langvardt, and Gus Hurwitz discussed several cases from the recent Supreme Court term, with a focus on some of the lesser discussed cases. Topics included administrative law and national power, as well as individual rights.

Greg Stejskal

The FBI Search of Mar-a-Largo - The 4th Amendement, FBI Procedure and Politics

October 3, 2022

Greg Stejskal, '74, special agent of the FBI for 31 years, discussed FBI search warrant procedures and protocols and what happens when a search and its aftermath are critiqued on the world stage.

Hans von Spakovsky

A Discussion on Election Integrity

October 5, 2022

Hans von Spakovsky, former member of the Federal Election Comission and manager of the Heritage Foundation's Election Law Reform Initiative discussed election integrity.

Anthony Michael Kreis

Constitutional Rot and the Third Reconstruction

October 13, 2022

Anthony Michael Kreis, assistant professor of law at Georgia State University College of Law, discussed the current condition of the constitutional order and whether the United States is on the verge of a shift in jurisprudential thought.

farm photo with words Purple: presented by Resetting the Table. America we need to talk.

Film Screening and Discussion: PURPLE

November 1, 2022

Moderators from Civic Nebraska led a series of discussions following a viewing of the documentary film PURPLE. The short film tells the story of Americans with opposing viewpoints confronting their disagreements head-on and discovering the concerns and experiences that lie behind each other's positions.

Watch the Film on YouTube

Max Stearns

Parlimentary America: The Least Radical Means of Radically Repairing Our Broken Democracy

February 10, 2023

Max Stearns, Venable, Baetjer & Howard Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Francis Cary School of Law, discussed how our constitutional system is in crisis, and a new approach that argues how repairing our constitutional democracy requires changing our electoral system to embrace carefully selected features of parlimentary design.

Richard Hasen

Safeguarding American Democracy

February 14, 2023

Rick Hasen, professor of law and director of the Safeguarding Democracy project at UCLA Law, discussed the 2020 election and how it still reverberates in American politics, raising the risk that U.S. election results could be subverted by illegal action.

Russ Feingold

A Constitution In Jeopardy: An Unprecedented Effort to Rewrite Our Fundamental Law and What We can Do About It

February 21, 2023

American Consitution Society president, Senator Russ Feingold, explored a dangerous effort by factions of the Right to radically rewrite the U.S. Constitution through an Article V constitutional convention and examined the grave risks inherent in this effort.

Jessica Ring Amunson

Election Law in the Supreme Court

February 28, 2023

Jessica Ring Amunson discussed the Supreme Court's election law jurisprudence, including how that jurisprudence has changed as the Court has changed in recent years, and how the Court has treated claims that some voting laws or practices impose disparate burdens on racial or political minorities.

Atiba Ellis

How Colorblindness Distorts American Democracy

March 21, 2023

Atiba Ellis, professor of law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, discussed the ideological conflict between colorblindness and race-consciousness as frames for advancing or distorting democracy and the risks posed by absolutist colorblindness in an increasingly diverse American democractic polity.

Tim Borstelmann

Is the United States a Democractic Influence on the World?

April 5, 2023

Professor Thomas (Tim) Borstelmann discussed whether the United States is a democractic influence on the world, highlighting issues throughout American history like settler colonialism, the American Revolution, the Civil War, U.S. imperialism overseas, the Cold War, and human rights.

Eric Berger, Kyle Langvardt, Paul Weitzel

Supreme Court Roundup

February 10, 2023

Professors Eric Berger, Kyle Langvardt and Paul Weitzel discussed current trends in Supreme Court jurisprudence, including recent SCOTUS decisions and their impact on American law.

Hon. Chad readler and Mr. Matt whitaker headshots

Inside the Department of Justice

October 2, 2023

The Honorable Judge Chad Readler and former acting U.S. Attorney General Matt Whitaker discussed their experiences, including the highs and lows, of working at the Department of Justice.

Gutman, Hayes, Wood headshots

Banned Books

October 5, 2023

Professors Daniel Gutman and Sydney Hayes discussed book bans and the First Amendment, and Vicki Wood of the Nebraska Library Association shared insights about libraries, book bans and book removals. 

Professors Briffault headshot

What Do We Mean by "Corruption?"

October 6, 2023

Richard Briffault, Joseph P. Chamberlain Professor of Legislation at Columbia Law School, focused on the contested meaning of corruption in the laws governing the electoral system and official decision-making more broadly. 

Preeta Bansal headshot

The Inner and Outer Work of Democracy

November 6, 2023

Former Solicitor General of New York, Preeta Bansal, led a conversation and interactive exercise about the "inward work" of democracy - the conscience that shaped the American constitutional experiment.

Amy Chan, Colleen Connor and Lisa Marra headshots

Arizona Election Panel Discussion

November 13, 2023

General Counsel to the Arizona Secretary of State's Office Amy B. Chan, Arizona State Elections Director Colleen Connor, and Deputy Director of Elections for the Arizona Secretary of State Lisa Marra, discussed their perspective as attorneys in the elections field.

Jennifer Carter, Mike Hilgers, Anthony Schutz, Danielle Conrad headshots

Separation of Powers Panel Discussion

November 20, 2023

Professor Eric Berger moderated a discussion on separation of powers issues under the Nebraska Constitution. Attorney General Mike Hilgers, State Senator Danielle Conrad, Inspector General for Child Welfare Jennifer Carter and Professor Anthony Schutz addressed separation of powers, legislative oversight, and matters related to the Offices of Inspector General for Child Welfare and Correction, specifically as they relate to Attorney General Opinion 23-008.

Keith Whittington headshot

Diversity Statements and the First Amendment

February 26, 2024

Keith Whittington, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University discussed diversity statements and their emergence as a common component of applications for faculty positions and student admission at universities across the country. 

Professor Ledewitz headshot

Planting Law and Democracy in Sustainable Soil

March 5, 2024

Bruce Ledewitz, Adrian Van Kaam Endowed Chair in Scholarly Excellence and Professor Law at Duquesne University discussed how a lack of hope and disparagement of truth are endangering American public life.

Diane Amdor, Lizzie Turner, and Nicholas Grandgenett headshots

Nebraska Legislature 101

March 21, 2024

Diane Amdor, Lizzie Turner, and Nicholas Grandgenett of Nebraska Appleseed explained the steps to legislation in the Nebraska Unicameral (bill introduction, committee hearings, committee votes, and the various stages of debate in the legislature) and talked about the best ways to advocate and communicate with representatives at the various steps.