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Electoral College reform focus of Northwestern Law lecture

Yale scholar Akhil Reed Amar is the inaugural Abraham Lincoln lecturer

CHICAGO - Akhil Reed Amar, the Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, will visit the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law as the inaugural Abraham Lincoln Lecturer on Constitutional Law.

Amar’s newest book, “The Constitution Today: Timeless Lessons for the Issues of Our Era,” was published in September 2016 and was named one of the top 10 nonfiction books of the year by Time magazine. In February 2017, he received the American Bar Foundation’s annual Outstanding Scholar Award. 

The lecture, established by Steven G. Calabresi, the Clayton J. & Henry R. Barber Professor of Law at Northwestern, will focus on Electoral College reform. It will be held at noon Thursday, April 6 in Lincoln Hall, 357 E. Chicago Ave., on the Law School’s Chicago campus. Register here.

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln lost his bid for the U.S. Senate even though more voters supported him than opposed him. In 1860, Lincoln won his bid for the presidency even though more voters opposed him than supported him. Born in the Land of Lincoln, Hillary Clinton last year lost her bid for the presidency even though more voters supported her than opposed her.

In his keynote address, Amar will address why our Constitution at first rejected direct election of senators and later embraced direct election. Why did the founding generation create and preserve the Electoral College? Should America today move toward a system of direct popular election of presidents, similar to the well-established move to direct popular election of senators? Could a system of direct presidential election be improvised and implemented without a formal constitutional amendment?

Amar teaches constitutional law at both Yale College and Yale Law School. After graduating from Yale College, summa cum laude, in 1980 and from Yale Law School in 1984 and clerking for Stephen Breyer, now a U.S. Supreme Court justice, Amar joined the Yale faculty in 1985 at the age of 26. His work has won awards from both the American Bar Association and the Federalist Society, and he has been favorably cited by Supreme Court justices across the spectrum in more than 30 cases.

He has regularly testified before Congress at the invitation of both parties. In various comprehensive surveys of judicial citations and/or scholarly citations, he invariably ranks among America’s five most-cited legal scholars under age 60. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2008, he received the DeVane Medal,  Yale’s highest award for teaching excellence. He has written widely for popular publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic and Slate.

He is also the author of dozens of law review articles and several books, including “The Constitution and Criminal Procedure: First Principles” (Yale University Press, 1997), “The Bill of Rights: Creation and Reconstruction” (Yale University Press, 1998), winner of the YUP Governors’ Award and  “America’s Constitution: A Biography” (Random House, 2005), winner of the ABA Silver Gavel Award, among other honors.

This course has been approved for 1 CLE credit hour in the state of Illinois.

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