President’s Programs - Annual Meeting

The majority of the programming at the Annual Meeting is organized by the 104 AALS Sections, with the rest organized by the Annual Meeting Program Committee, the Arc of Career Committee, and the AALS President. This year’s conference has sessions on a wide variety of topics. We are sure you will find something of interest.

Friday, January 3 at 10:30 am

Opening Plenary

The Role of Universities and Law Schools in Constitutional Democracy
Hosted by AALS President Vicki C. Jackson, Harvard Law School

George Washington was so convinced of the importance of higher education for the success of the new Republic that he repeatedly advocated for creating a national university to build an informed citizenry. Washington’s vision never came to fruition in the way he intended, but institutions of higher learning became engrained in our national landscape over the past two centuries. Yet today, questions are being raised from the right, the left, and the middle about the value of higher education–including legal education–for constitutional democracy. Do institutions of higher learning reinforce or deconstruct existing social inequalities? Do they foster polarization or promote tolerance? Do they–should they–help prepare young people for participation in a representative democracy? How do institutions of higher learning, including law schools, increase knowledge and promote critical thinking, while modeling respect for divergent reasonable views? How are law schools distinctive in university communities? Do we have special responsibilities to prepare our students for roles as active citizens and participants in government? How could we do better? 

Ronald J. Daniels
Photo Courtesy of Johns Hopkins University

Ronald J. Daniels (President of Johns Hopkins University, former Dean of the Law Faculty at University of Toronto, and former Provost at the University of Pennsylvania) will address these questions in a short plenary talk based on his forthcoming book on the role of colleges and universities in liberal democracies. He will then be joined for discussion by a panel of legal educators:

Risa L. Goluboff
Photo courtesy of University of Virginia School of Law

Risa Goluboff is Dean of the University of Virginia School of Law. Dean Goluboff has authored several works, including The Lost Promise of Civil Rights (Harvard, 2007) and Vagrant Nation: Police Power, Constitutional Change, and the Making of the 1960s (Oxford, 2016).

Larry Kramer
Photo courtesy of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Larry Kramer is President of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Previously, he was a law professor and Dean of Stanford School of Law. His lectures and writing frequently focus on topics from climate change to maintaining democratic government in the modern era.

Vincent D. Rougeau
Photo courtesy of Boston College Law School

Vincent D. Rougeau has been the Dean of Boston College Law School since 2011. Dean Rougeau’s research centers around the connections between religious identity and democratic citizenship, particularly in multicultural societies.

Sunday, January 5 at 1:30 pm

Representation, Voting, and Sustainable Constitutional Democracy

Moderated by Thomas Ginsburg, University of Chicago, The Law School

The United States has held national elections for representatives and the president on schedule since 1789. Such elections provide the base of legitimacy for our democratic, representative self-government. This panel will consider whether recent developments–including changing jurisprudence and enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, the system of campaign finance regulation, increasingly sophisticated gerrymandering, the impact of the Senate’s structure on the Electoral College, and changes in how Congress works–put this legitimacy base at risk. Threats to the integrity of election results from alleged voter suppression, fraud, or foreign interference are of increasing concern. Political parties are moving towards realignment, but are they working as filters for leadership and organizers of effective coalitions for action or are they, in Kim Scheppele’s words, “failing the people”? What changes, if any, should be considered in response to these phenomena? Is democratic legitimacy at risk? If so, what steps can be taken to better secure its foundation?


Guy-Uriel Charles
Photo courtesy of Duke Law School

Guy-Uriel Charles is the Edward and Ellen Schwarzman Professor of Law at Duke Law School. He is co-director of the Duke Law Center on Law, Race, and Politics. His primary areas of study and teaching include topics such as constitutional law, election law, redistricting, and race.

Pamela S. Karlan
Photo Courtesy of Stanford Law School

Pamela S. Karlan is the Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law and the Co-director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford Law School. She has co-authored several casebooks on topics such as constitutional law, constitutional litigation, and the law of democracy, and is an expert on voting and the political process.

Michael T. Morley
Photo courtesy of the Florida State University College of Law

Michael T. Morley is an assistant professor at Florida State University College of Law, writing and teaching election law and constitutional law. In the past, he has worked in both private practice and government.

Kim Lane Scheppele
Photo courtesy of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Kim Lane Scheppele is the Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School and the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. Her work centers on the crossover between international and constitutional law, with extensive research on constitutional law in countries such as Hungary and Russia.