Amicus Curiae Lecture Series on Constitutional Democracy

Community outreach – both on-campus and to the community – has been an important part of the Perry Center’s work.  The Amicus Curiae Lecture Series on Constitutional Democracy, sponsored by the Perry Center and supported in part by a grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council, brings scholars from throughout the United States to Marshall to speak to various historical and contemporary issues related to the Constitution and to United States politics and government. The lectures are free and open to the public.


POSTPONED – new date TBA: WIL HAYGOOD:  SHOWDOWN: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination that Changed America 

 The 50th anniversary of Thurgood Marshall’s nomination to the United States Supreme Court will occur in 2017 and Wil Haygood will tell us the story of the events surrounding President Lyndon B. Johnson’s nomination fo the first African-American Supreme Court Justice and the controversial hearing process during which anti-civil rights Senators attempted to block the appointment of the greatest civil rights lawyer in modern American history.  In its review of Haygood’s acclaimed book on the subject, ShowdownThurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination that Changed America, The New York Times wrote that “Haygood is passionate and eloquent [and] has done a great service by reminding us of an extraordinary man at an extraordinary moment.”  Kirkus Reviews described Showdown as “an intensely readable, fully explored account of . . . an `ordeal by committee,’ an important hinge in American history,” and Publishers Weekly declared it “the definitive account of the life of a major American hero who deserves wider recognition.”

Wil Haygood is an award-winning and internationally-known biographer and journalist. During nearly 30 years as a journalist, he was national and foreign correspondent for the Boston Globe and national writer for The Washington Post. His story “A Butler Well Served by this Election” was basis for the award-winning motion 2013 picture “The Butler” and for his book, The Butler: A Witness to History (Atria 2013), which book has been translated into more than a dozen languages. During his years as a reporter, Mr. Haygood witnessed Nelson Mandela’s release from prison after 27 years, was himself taken hostage by Somalian rebels, covered the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina for 33 straight days, and traveled with President Obama, among many other notable adventures.  He was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize while at the Boston Globe. Mr. Haygood is also the author of the books Two on the River (1988); King of the Cats: the Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (1993) (a New York Times Notable Book); The Haygoods of Columbus: A Family Memoir (1997) (winner of the Great Lakes Book Award); In Black and White: the Life of Sammy Davis Jr. (Knopf 2003) (winner of the ASCAP Deems-Taylor Music Biography Award; the Zora Neale Hurston-Richard Wright Legacy Award; and the Nonfiction Book of the Year Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association); and Sweet Thunder: the Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson (Knopf 2009) (finalist for the PEN-ESPN Literary Sports Writing Award).  He is Distinguished Visiting Professor at his alma mater, Miami University.  He was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, the Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship and the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, and has been honored with a host of other awards.

April 13, 2017:  THOMAS HEALY:   The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind and Changed the History of Free Speech in America

Thomas Healy is the author of The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind – and Changed the History of Free Speech in America, which won the 2014 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities Book Award.  It was also selected as a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice and named one of the 15 best non-fiction books of 2013 by the Christian Science Monitor. In 2015, Professor Healy was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.  He earned his B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and worked as a journalist, including as the Supreme Court correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, before attending law school at Columbia, from which he earned his J.D.  While at Columbia Law School, he was a James Kent Scholar, a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and Book Review and Essay Editor of the Columbia Law Review.  After law school, he clerked for Judge Michael Daly Hawkins on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and then practiced law at Sidley Austin Brown and Wood in Washington, D.C., before accepting his teaching position at Seton Hall University School of Law, where he teaches Constitutional and First Amendment law.

 All Lectures Begin at 7 p.m. in the Foundation Hall of the Erickson Alumni Center

We would love for you to attend in person, but if you cannot, you can still see and hear the lectures via live-streaming at


November 9, 2016:  Jean Edward Smith


Jean Edward Smith served as the John Marshall Professor of Political Science at Marshall from 1999 to 2012, and is Professor emeritus at the University of Toronto, where he served on the faculty for more than 30 years.  In addition to BUSH, he is the author of Eisenhower in War and Peace; FDR, winner of the Francis Parkman Prize of the Society of American Historians; Grant, a Pulitzer Prize finalist; John Marshall:  Definer of a Nation; and Lucius D. Clay:  An American Life.  George Will has called him “America’s greatest living biographer.”  Professor Smith earned his A.B. magna cum laude from Princeton University and his Ph.D. from Columbia University.

October 18, 2016:  James C. Cobb

From Truman to Trump: The South and America since World War II

James C. Cobb is the Spalding Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Georgia and an award-winning author of several books focused on Southern culture and history.  He is the former president of the Southern Historical Association.  He has published extensively in both scholarly journals and in national popular media, including The New York Times, The New Republic, the Los Angeles Times,  and The Wall Street Journal. He has been awarded fellowships by the Fulbright Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He earned his A.B., his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Georgia.

September 29, 2016:  ALAN I. ABRAMOWITZ

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and the Polarized American Electorate: What to Expect in November

Alan Abramowitz is the Alben W. Barkley Chair and Professor of Political Science at Emory University. He is an expert on national politics, polling and elections. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including The Polarized Public: Why American Government is So Dysfunctional (2013); The Disappearing Center: Engaged Citizens, Polarization and American Democracy (2010); and Voice of the People: Elections and Voting in the United States (2004).  He also publishes extensively in scholarly journals and national popular media, including The Washington Post and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He earned his B.A. with High Honors from the University of Rochester and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University.

April 7, 2016:  FREDERICK E. HOXIE

  This Indian Country:  American Indian Activists and the Place They Made

Frederick Hoxie the Swanlund Professor of History and Law at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he teaches courses on American social and political history, race and ethnicity, Native American history, American Indian law, and U.S. politics. He is the author of books including This Indian Country: American Indian Activists and the Place They Made (Penguin USA, 2012); Talking Back to Civilization: Indian Voices From the Progressive Era (2001); The Encyclopedia of North American Indians (1996); Parading Through History: The Making of the Crow Nation in America, 1805-1935 (1995); The Crows (1989); and A Final Promise: The Campaign to Assimilate the American Indians, 1880-1920 (1984).  He is general editor of The American Indians, a 23-volume series of books published by Time-Life, and series editor (with Neal Salisbury) for Cambridge Studies in American Indian History, published by Cambridge University Press. He earned his B.A. from Amherst College and his Ph.D. from Brandeis University.  He has served on the boards of Amherst College and the Illinois Humanities Council and was a founding trustee of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian.  In 2013, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

February 25, 2016:  JONATHAN W. WHITE

 Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties during the Civil War

Jonathan White is an historian of the American Civil War with a particular interest in Abraham Lincoln, American politics and the U.S. Constitution.  He is an assistant professor of American Studies and a Fellow in the Center for American Studies at Christopher Newport University.  He is also the author of several books and articles about Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War.  His book, Emancipation, the Union Army and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln (Louisiana State University Press, 2014), was selected by the Civil War Monitor as one of the best books of 2014.  He is the author of two additional books, including Lincoln on Law, Leadership and Life (Cumberland House, March, 2015) and Abraham Lincoln and Treason in the Civil War: The Trials of John Merryman (Louisiana State University Press, 2011).He is a frequent contributor to blogs including the New York Times Civil War “Disunion” and the Civil War Monitor.He earned his B.A. from Pennsylvania State University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland.

October 15, 2015:  CHARLES R. DISALVO

Gandhi Returns

Professor DiSalvo is the Woodrow A. Potesta Professor of Law at West Virginia University College of Law, where he has taught since 1979. He teaches one of the few law school courses in the United States on civil disobedience, and has represented litigants in cases involving civil disobedience in state and federal trial and appellate courts. Professor DiSalvo earned his B.A. in History from St. John Fisher College; his M.A. in East Asian studies from Claremont Graduate School, and his law degree from the University of Southern California, where he was an editor of the law review.  He is the author of M.K. Gandhi, Attorney at Law: The Man Before the Mahatma, the only book focusing solely on Gandhi’s career as a lawyer and how it led him to his invention and practice of nonviolent civil disobedience to achieve justice that the legal system had failed to provide.

September 10, 2015:  HEATHER GERKEN

The Real Problem with Citizens United: Campaign Finance, Dark Money and Shadow Parties

Professor Gerken is the J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law at Yale Law School, where she teaches election law and constitutional law. She clerked for Justice David Souter of the United States Supreme Court.  She has won teaching awards at both Yale and Harvard and has been named one of the nation’s “twenty-six best law teachers” by a book published by the Harvard University Press. She earned her B.A. in History, summa cum laude, from Princeton University, and her law degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Michigan.

April 16, 2015:  LUCAS MOREL

War and Remembrance in Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

Lucas Morel is the Class of 1960 Professor of Ethics and Politics and Chair of the Politics Department, Washington & Lee University, where he has taught since 1999.  Dr. Morel earned his B.A. in Government from Claremont McKenna College, and his M.A. in Politics and Ph.D. in Political Science from The Claremont Graduate School.  His teaching and research focuses on American government, political theory, Abraham Lincoln and black American politics. In 2008-09, he was the Garwood Visiting Research Fellow at the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He is the author of the book Lincoln’s Sacred Effort: Defining Religion’s Role in American Self-Government (Lexington Books 2000); and editor of Lincoln and Liberty: Wisdom for the Ages (University Press of Kentucky, 2015) and Ralph Ellison and the Raft of Hope: A Political Companion to “Invisible Man” (University Press of Kentucky, 2004).



November 20, 2014, SAMUEL ISSACHAROFF

Ballot Bedlam

Samuel Issacharoff  is the Bonnie and Richard Reiss Professor of Constitutional Law at New York University School of Law. He has taught law for more than 25 years and has been recognized for excellence in teaching at NYU, Columbia and the University of Texas.  As a practicing lawyer, he focused on voting rights litigation and other civil rights cases. He served as Senior Counsel to the Obama for America campaign in 2008 and 2012.  He earned his B.A. in History from the State University of New York at Binghamton and his J.D. from Yale Law School.

October 7, 2014,  DAVID O. STEWART

American Emperor:  Aaron Burr’s Challenge to Jefferson’s America

David O. Stewart is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School and a former law clerk to Supreme Court Associate Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. As a lawyer practicing in Washington, D.C., he has handled high-profile criminal and constitutional matters and his appellate work includes arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court. He is the award-winning author of The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution; Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln’s Legacy; American Emperor: Aaron Burr’s Challenge to Jefferson’s America; and The Lincoln Deception.

September 11, 2014,  LAURA K. DONOHUE

The Future of Privacy, Uncertain

Laura K. Donohue is a Professor of Law and the Director of the Center on National Security and the Law at Georgetown University Law Center. She has been a project director for the U.S. Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security on projects related to mass-terror incidents. Professor Donohue earned her A.B. in Philosophy (with Honors) from Dartmouth College, her M.A. in Peace Studies (with Distinction) from the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, her J.D. (with Distinction) from Stanford Law School, and her Ph.D. in History from the University of Cambridge. She is a Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

April 1, 2014, STEPHEN G. HARVEY

Creationism on Trial:  Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District:  The 20th Century Monkey Trial

Steve Harvey served as co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, the first case in the nation to test whether “intelligent design” can be introduced into the curriculum of public high school science classes. After a 40-day trial, the court struck down intelligent design as a violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion.  Mr. Harvey is a former federal appellate law clerk and started his career in the Honors Program of the U.S. Department of Justice as a trial lawyer in the Federal Programs Branch of the Civil Division.  He was a partner at Pepper Hamilton LLP in Philadelphia before founding Steve Harvey Law, a litigation boutique firm in Philadelphia.  He is a member of the Legal Advisory Committee of the National Center for Science Education.

March 11, 2014, DAVID RUDOVSKY  

Breaking the Cycle of Mass Incarceration and Racial Injustice in America 

David Rudovsky is Senior Fellow and Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  He is also one of the nation’s leading civil rights and criminal defense attorneys as a founding partner of the civil rights law firm Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg.  He is the co-author of the books Police Misconduct: Law and Litigation (West, 2012, 3rd ed.) and The Law of Arrest, Search, and Seizure in Pennsylvania (6th ed. 2011, PBI Press).  He was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and Award for Accomplishments in Civil Rights Law and Criminal Justice; the ACLU Civil Liberties Award; and the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Cesare Beccaria Award for Criminal Justice Accomplishments. He is a five-time recipient of the Harvey Levin Award for Excellence in Teaching at Penn Law and a past winner of the University of Pennsylvania Lindback Award for Teaching Excellence.  He earned his B.A. from Queen’s College and his LL.B. from New York University Law School.

February 4, 2014, BRIAN DIRCK

Abraham Lincoln and Constitutional Optimism

Brian Dirck is a Professor of History at Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana, where he teaches courses in History and Political Science.  He is the author of four well-regarded books about Abraham Lincoln, including Lincoln the Lawyer, an overview of Lincoln’s legal career and winner of the Benjamin Barondess Award from the New York Civil War Roundtable for the best book published on Lincoln in 2007.  Dr. Dirck earned his Ph.D. in History from the University of Kansas, where he studied under preeminent Civil War and Lincoln scholar Philip S. Paludan.  He earned his M.A. from Rice University and his B.A. from the University of Central Arkansas.


On Constitutional Disobedience

Louis Michael Seidman is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Constitutional Law at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he has taught since 1976.  He is the author of four books about various issues related to the Constitution, including one on the subject of his lecture, On Constitutional Disobedience (Oxford, 2012), and the co-author of five textbooks on Constitutional Law.  He earned his A.B. from the University of Chicago and his J.D. from Harvard.  He served as a law clerk for Judge J. Skelly Wright of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and subsequently as a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

October 8, 2013, JAMES F. SIMON 

FDR and Chief Justice Hughes: The President, The Supreme Court and the Epic Battle over the New Deal

 James F. Simon is Dean Emeritus and Martin Professor of Law Emeritus of New York Law School.  Mr. Simon has written eight books on American history, law and politics, including FDR and Chief Justice Hughes:  The President, The Supreme Court and the Epic Battle Over the New Deal (Simon & Schuster, 2012).  He was a commentator in the PBS series The Supreme Court.  He earned both his B.A. and his law degree from Yale University.

April 18, 2013, GREGORY FRIEL

Gay Rights in America: From Death, Oppression, and Stigma to Marriage Equality

Greg Friel, a graduate of Marshall University and Harvard Law School, has worked in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice for more than two decades.  He has spent his career fighting discrimination.

April 8, 2013, CLIFF SLOAN

The Great Decision: Jefferson, Adams, Marshall, and the Battle for the Supreme Court

Cliff Sloan, a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, clerked in the U.S. Supreme Court, and has served as Associate Counsel to the President and as Assistant to the Solicitor General.  He is a partner in the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Washington, D.C.  He is the co-author of The Great Decision: Jefferson, Adams, Marshall and the Battle for the Supreme Court.

November 29, 2012, GEORGE C. EDWARDS

Evaluating the Electoral College  

George C. Edwards III, Ph.D., is a leading scholar of the presidency and Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Texas A&M University.  He is the founder and, from 1991-2001, was the director of The Center for Presidential Studies.

October 16, 2012, DANIEL FELLER

The People’s Will Denied?  Backroom Politics and the Election of 1824

Daniel Feller, Ph.D., is the Betty Lynn Hendrickson Professor of History at the University of Tennessee, the Director of the Center for Jacksonian America, and the Editor and Director of The Papers of Andrew Jackson.

September 26, 2012, THOMAS E. MANN

It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism

Thomas Mann, Ph.D., is the W. Averell Harriman Chair and senior fellow in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution.  He is the co-author, with Norm Ornstein, of It’s Even Worse Than It Looks:  How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism

March 6, 2012, JOYCE E. McCONNELL

Remember the Ladies: The History of Women and the Constitution

Joyce E. McConnell is the William J. Maier, Jr., Dean of the West Virginia University College of Law and the Thomas R. Goodwin Professor of Law.  Dean McConnell is the author of articles on women’s rights, teaches Gender and Law, and has served as the Chair of the Section on Women in Legal Education for the Association of American Law Schools.  Her current work focuses on women and leadership.

February 23, 2012, STEPHEN MIDDLETON

Four Elements of Progressive Constitutional Change, the Expansion of Civil Rights, and the Popular and Legal Assault on Reform, 1865-1883

Stephen Middleton is Professor of History and Director of African American Studies at Mississippi State University. He is the author of The Black Laws: Race and the Legal Process in Early Ohio. He has written extensively on race and the law.  He earned the doctoral degree at Miami University (Ohio) and, as a Samuel I. Golieb Fellow in Legal History, completed the first year curriculum in law at the New York University School of Law.

February 10, 2012, FREDERICK SCHAUER

Does the Constitution Matter?

Frederick Schauer is the David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law, where he teaches Constitutional Law, Evidence, and Jurisprudence.   A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and former holder of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Schauer has written extensively on freedom of speech and press, constitutional law and theory, evidence, legal reasoning, and the philosophy of law.  He is a graduate of Dartmouth College, the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth, and the Harvard Law School.

November 17, 2011, JOHN FRIEDL

Through the Looking Glass: The Constitution Means What Five Justices Want it to Mean

John Friedl holds a joint appointment as Professor of Political Science and Professor of Accounting at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He teaches Constitutional Law, Civil Liberties, First Amendment, Mass Communication Law, and Business Law. He earned a B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley and a M.P.H. and J.D. from the University of Michigan. He has published widely in the fields of law, anthropology, public health, and public policy in higher education.


October 11, 2011, JOHNATHAN O’NEILL 

Originalism and the Rule of Law

 Johnathan O’Neill is Chairman of the History Department at Georgia Southern University where he teaches courses on U.S. Constitutional History and Legal History.  He earned his B.A. from Colgate University and his Master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland.  He is the author of the book Originalism in American Law and Politics: A Constitutional History.

September 1, 2011, JEAN EDWARD SMITH

John Marshall  and the Legalization of the Constitution

Jean Edward Smith is the author of John Marshall: Definer of a Nation, and 14 other books.  His biography of Ulysses S. Grant was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize and his biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt won the prestigious Francis Parkman Prize in 2008.  He received his A.B. magna cum laude from Princeton University and his Ph.D. from Columbia University.  He holds an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from Marshall University, where he was the John Marshall Professor of Political Science for 12 years after serving for more than 30 years on the faculty of the University of Toronto.