2009-10 Jorde Symposium: Richard H. Pildes, NYU School of Law

Ungovernable America? The Causes and Consequences of Polarized Politics

Wed, 04/14/2010
4:30 PM, Dodds Auditorium, Robertson Hall
Event Category: 
Co-sponsored Event

Please join us for a lecture by Professor Richard H. Pildes of New York University School of Law, titled "Ungovernable America?  The Causes and Consequences of Polarized Politics."  This lecture is Part II of the Jorde Symposium Series, "Populism, Participation, and the Extremes of Democracy." 

Professor Pildes writes:American party politics is more polarized now, and has been over the last generation, than in more than a century.  This lecture examines the causes of this polarization to ask whether it is likely to be enduring, because it is a reflection of large structural transformations, or whether it might conceivably change.  In particular, the lecture explores three potential causes of this hyperpolarized state of contemporary politics:  individual personalities, historical forces, and specific features of the way our democratic institutions are designed.  The lecture concludes by anticipating some of the likely effects of this hyperpolarization for how American institutions function, and suggests some possible responses to those consequences.

Richard H. Pildes is the Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law at New York University School of Law.  One of the nation's leading legal scholars and public commentators, his work addresses issues such as the design of democratic institutions, the powers of the presidency and Congress, election law, and constitutional law.   Frequently cited by the United States Supreme Court, Professor Pildes is an author of the casebook, The Law of Democracy (3rd. ed. 2007), an editor of  The Future of the Voting Rights Act (2006), and the author of more than fifty academic articles, including The Constitutionalization of Democratic Politics;  Separation of Parties, Not Powers; Democracy and Disorder; and Reinventing the Regulatory State.  He was nominated for an Emmy Award, as part of the nomination of an NBC team for Outstanding Coverage of a Breaking News Story for his legal analysis during the 2000 Presidential election litigation.  A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he has received Guggenheim and Carnegie fellowships.  After graduating summa cum laude from Princeton in 1979 and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1983, he clerked for Judge Abner J. Mikva, of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and Justice Thurgood Marshall, of the United States Supreme Court. 

Part II commentators:

Paul Frymer, Associate Professor of Politics, Princeton University, and Acting Director of the Law and Public Affairs Program

Nolan McCarty, Susan Dod Brown Professor of Politics and Public Affairs and Associate Dean, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Sean Wilentz, Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Professor in the American Revolutionary Era, Professor of History, Princeton University

About the Jorde Symposium
The Brennan Center Jorde Symposium, an annual event, was created in 1996 to sponsor top scholarly discourse and writing from a variety of perspectives on issues that were central to the legacy of William J. Brennan, Jr.   The Brennan Center named the Symposium in honor of its major benefactor Thomas M. Jorde, former Brennan clerk and Professor of Law at the University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall. A unique feature of the Symposium is that, each year, the honored lecturer presents the same lecture at two different sites, one in the fall, and another in the spring, with a different pair of prominent commentators at each site. The fall lecture is typically held at the University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall, where Tom Jorde taught for many years. The spring lecture is at a different law school every year. Both lectures and the four commentaries are published annually in the California Law Review.