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Minnesota Law Review Symposium to Focus on Direct Democracy

October 18, 2012

The University of Minnesota Law School's Minnesota Law Review will host its annual symposium, entitled A More Perfect Union? Democracy in the Age of Ballot Initiatives, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26, in Room 25 of Mondale Hall, 229 19th Ave. S., Minneapolis. The symposium will be followed by a reception in Auerbach Commons.

This November, Minnesotans will have a chance to vote on two ballot measures that would amend the state constitution. This symposium will address the role that ballot initiatives play in a modern democracy, but not the policy merits of either amendment. Panelists with diverse backgrounds, expertise and points of view will come from across the nation to address the complex legal, political and practical issues associated with legislating through the ballot.

The first panel will feature legal scholars Ethan Leib and Michael Gilbert, plus noted political scientist Mathew McCubbins. They will discuss the obligations of citizens voting on ballot measures, whether voters are capable of fulfilling those obligations and how judges should interpret the product of citizens voting regarding ballot measures. 

The second panel will explore the distinctions between ballot campaigns and candidate campaigns. University of California Provost Elizabeth Garrett and Emory Law Professor Michael Kang will analyze the unique challenge that direct democracy campaigns pose to campaign finance laws, and Professor Todd Donovan will discuss empirical findings on the impacts that ballot initiative campaigns have on minority groups.

In the final panel, Professor Shaun Bowler, University of California, Riverside, will join federal judges Timothy Tymkovich of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit. They will draw larger conclusions about direct democracy and whether, as a legal and practical matter, it is consistent with the limitations and purposes of our constitutional system of government.

This event is free and has been approved for 5.5 CLE credits. A recording of the event will be made available on the Minnesota Law Review's website, and scholarly articles authored by the panelists will be published in Vol. 97, Issue 5, of the Minnesota Law Review

Members of the press are welcome to attend this event. Questions about media logistics and other general inquires can be sent to Further details are also available at

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