Leading voting rights and elections expert to speak Feb. 20 in Herring Hall

PLST to host a lecture and Q&A with Pamela Karlan, Stanford law professor and Supreme Court advocate

One of the nation’s most prominent constitutional law experts is scheduled to speak at Rice University in a lecture that’s free and open to the public.

Pamela Karlan of Stanford Law. Photo: Jason Doiy/ ALM

Professor Pamela Karlan of Stanford Law will speak Feb. 20 in Herring Hall. (Photo by Jason Doiy/ALM)

Legal scholar and Supreme Court advocate Pamela Karlan will appear Feb. 20 from 4 to 6 p.m. in an event hosted by Rice’s program in Politics, Law and Social Thought (PLST), a collaboration between the schools of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Karlan is a longtime professor of law at Stanford University and co-director of the school’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. She served as deputy assistant attorney general under President Barack Obama and has served as legal counsel for the NAACP. Karlan has also argued before the Supreme Court, most recently in October 2019 when she argued employees should not be fired over sexual orientation.

“Professor Karlan is, simply put, one of the most important commentators and teachers of constitutional law in the United States,” said Carl Caldwell, Rice history professor and PLST program director. “She is, in short, someone who can give us an informed and also practical perspective on the current controversies over voting rights and electoral laws in the United States.”

Karlan’s Feb. 20 lecture, “Election Laws and American Democracy,” will cover issues directly related to the upcoming 2020 elections, including voting rights, redistricting and concerns about fraud. A Q&A session with the audience will follow.

“We are at a difficult moment in the history of American democracy — a moment when all kinds of technical means are being used to shape the outcomes of elections, from census questions designed to lower responses and thereby the apportionment of representatives, to gerrymandering using the most advanced computer technologies, to huge infusions of private funds to shape opinions, to outright attempts to undermine the legitimacy of electoral outcomes themselves,” Caldwell said.

“These are the issues that Professor Karlan will address,” he added. “They affect all of us.”

About Katharine Shilcutt

Katharine Shilcutt is a media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.