Yale Law School professor featured speaker as fall 2015 Amicus Curiae series begins


HeatherGerkenHeather Gerken, the J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law at Yale Law School, will be the featured speaker Thursday Sept. 10, as the fall 2015 Amicus Curiae Lecture Series opens at Marshall University.

The Amicus Curiae or “Friend of the Court” Lecture Series on Constitutional Democracy focuses on issues of law, history, politics and governance in the United States. Sponsored by the Simon Perry Center for Constitutional Democracy, with support from the West Virginia Humanities Council, the series brings scholars from throughout the U.S. to Marshall to speak on important historical and contemporary Constitutional and governmental issues.

Gerken’s lecture, “The Real Problem with Citizens United: Campaign Finance, Dark Money and Shadow Parties,” will take place at 7 p.m. in the Marshall University Foundation Hall, Home of the Erickson Alumni Center, on the Huntington campus. All Amicus Curiae lectures are free to the public.

Her lecture will focus on the Supreme Court’s 2010 landmark ruling in the Citizens’ United case involving campaign financing, and its ultimate influence on the political landscape.
Gerken says there is a bigger story to be told about the relationship between Citizens United and American politics. She will argue that the “dark money” trend is a symptom of a deeper shift taking place in American politics as we move from the political parties we know toward what she calls “shadow parties.”

Gerken is a former law clerk to Supreme Court Associate Justice David Souter. She has won teaching awards at both Yale and Harvard and has been named one of the nation’s “twenty-six best law teachers” in a book published by Harvard University Press. She served as a senior legal adviser to the Obama for America campaign in 2008 and 2012.

Gerken graduated with a degree in history summa cum laude from Princeton University and received her law degree summa cum laude from the University of Michigan.

Following Gerken, the next lecture will feature West Virginia University law professor and author Charles R. DiSalvo, who will discuss how M.K. Gandhi’s experience as a lawyer fighting injustice in the South African legal system led to his invention and philosophy of nonviolence as a means of achieving social justice.

His lecture will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, in the Marshall University Foundation Hall.

DiSalvo’s book on this topic is the only one of thousands written about Gandhi to focus solely on his legal career and has been internationally recognized as making a special and important contribution to the literature and scholarship surrounding Gandhi.