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U of M Law School hosts "Citizens United: Democracy Realized or Defeated?" symposium Oct. 21

October 18, 2011

The University of Minnesota Law School’s Minnesota Law Review will host its annual symposium, “Citizens United: Democracy Realized―or Defeated?,” from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, in Room 25 of Mondale Hall, 229 19th Ave. S., Minneapolis.

Leading academics, political scientists and practicing attorneys from across the country will discuss the Supreme Court’s landmark campaign finance decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

The symposium will examine the state of political processes and the legal landscape after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that the First Amendment does not permit limits on corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in elections. The 5-4 decision has caused considerable controversy in the already-hot debate over political contributions. Ideally poised to reflect on the decision and its effects on upcoming elections, the symposium will address diverse issues via panels of experts and legal scholars representing perspectives from all sides of the debate—from a needed victory for free speech to a devastating nod to corporate interests.

The first panel, “Citizens United: Right or Wrong,” is composed of professor Richard Briffault of Columbia Law School, professor Guy-Uriel Charles of Duke University School of Law and Cleta Mitchell, a campaign finance attorney at Foley & Lardner L.L.P. and author of an amicus curiae brief in support of Citizens United. Examination of the merits of the decision, with a focus on substantial legal questions in the sea of public policy arguments presented in the media, will be moderated by U of M Law School professor Heidi Kitrosser.

The second panel, “Don’t Look Now! Citizens United: An Empirical Analysis,” moderated by Lawrence Jacobs, chair of political studies at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, will analyze the political impact of the Citizens United decision with a focus on the numbers—money raised, television bought and races won. The panel features professor Kenneth Goldstein of the political science department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Mike Wittenwyler, an administrative and regulatory attorney at Godfrey & Kahn S.C. and an adjunct professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School.

The final panel, “After Citizens United is Campaign Finance Reform a Phoenix—or the Titanic?,” will address the decision’s effects and the future of campaign financing. Panelist James Bopp Jr., a campaign finance attorney at Bopp, Coleson & Bostrom and lead counsel for Citizens United in the lower courts, generally holds that judicial elections preserve judicial independence and enhance judicial accountability. Panelist Spencer Overton, a professor at George Washington University Law School, has spoken on the importance of an effective public financing system, and will point out the flaws of past systems in light of the Court’s Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett. U of M Law School professor William McGeveran will moderate the discussion.

The symposium is open to the public free of charge, but registration is required due to space limitations. Walk-in registration will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. A reception will follow the event. Attendance has been approved for 5.5 standard CLE credits.

For details and registration information, go to

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