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Minow Debate Series explores whether Electoral College has outlived its usefulness

May 20 event will be presented virtually

Five American presidents — two in the last 20 years — have assumed office without winning the popular vote. As the nation gears up for another contentious presidential election, some are calling for an end to the Electoral College. They argue that the college subverts the will of the American people by unfairly prioritizing rural and swing states over the nation’s majority. But others say the Electoral College, which the founders established in the Constitution, is necessary to ensure voters in less populous states have a voice in picking our president. 

The debate, “The Electoral College Has Outlived its Usefulness,” will be presented virtually at 6 p.m. Eastern Time/5 p.m. Central Time on Wednesday, May 20. It is the third debate of the Newt and Jo Minow Debate Series, presented in partnership with Intelligence Squared U.S. and hosted by Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

It is free to view the debate. Please register here. Video connection information will be distributed before the debate.

Debating in favor of the motion 
Jamelle Bouie is a columnist for The New York Times and political analyst for CBS News. He covers campaigns, elections, national affairs and culture. Previously, Bouie was chief political correspondent for Slate magazine. And before that, he was a staff writer at The Daily Beast and held fellowships at The American Prospect and The Nation magazine. 

Kate Shaw (JD ’06) is a law professor at the Cardozo School of Law and co-director of the Floersheimer Center for Constitutional Democracy. She is a Supreme Court contributor for ABC News and co-host of the Strict Scrutiny podcast. Shaw is a graduate of Northwestern Law and served as an associate counsel in the Obama White House.

Debating against the motion
Tara Ross is nationally recognized for her expertise on the Electoral College. She is the author of several books on the Electoral College, including “Why We Need the Electoral College,” “The Indispensable Electoral College” and “We Elect a President.” A retired lawyer, Ross served as editor-in-chief of the Texas Review of Law and Politics.

Bradley A. Smith is one of the nation’s leading authorities on election law and campaign finance. Under President George W. Bush, he served as commissioner, vice chairman and chairman of the Federal Election Commission. He is a professor at Capital University Law School and co-author of “Voting Rights and Election Law,” a leading casebook in the field.

The Newt and Jo Minow Debate Series at Northwestern Law is made possible by friends and colleagues of Newton N. Minow, a 1950 graduate of Northwestern Law. Together they honored Minow’s numerous contributions to public and civic life by generously establishing an endowment to support a series of debates that engage outside experts, law school faculty and students on important and timely legal topics.

Appointed by President John F. Kennedy to the Federal Communications Commission in the early 1960s, Minow drafted legislation that expanded the broadcast spectrum and promoted the implementation of communication satellite technology in an effort to foster communication, democracy and innovation.

Minow also served as law clerk to the Honorable Fred M. Vinson, chief justice of the United States; assistant counsel to Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson; and chairman and director of the Public Broadcasting Service. He also co-chaired the 1976 and 1980 U.S. presidential debates. He was a partner at Sidley Austin from 1965 to 1991. 

Currently the Walter Annenberg Professor Emeritus at Northwestern, Minow earned both his bachelor’s degree (1949) and his J.D. (1950) from the University. He joined the Northwestern University Board of Trustees in 1975 and became a Life Trustee in 1987. 

This program is pending 1 general CLE credit in the state of Illinois.

A non-partisan, non-profit organization, Intelligence Squared U.S. was founded in 2006 to address a fundamental problem in America: the extreme polarization of our nation and our politics. Their mission is to restore critical thinking, facts, reason and civility to American public discourse. The award-winning debate series reaches over 30 million American households through multi-platform distribution, including radio, television, live streaming, podcasts, interactive digital content and on-demand apps on Roku and Apple TV. With over 170 debates and counting, Intelligence Squared U.S. has encouraged the public to “think twice” on a wide range of provocative topics. Author and ABC News correspondent John Donvan has moderated IQ2US since 2008.

For Journalists: view the news release for media contacts