April 14th Symposium on “The Future of the U.S. Constitution”

April 14th Symposium on “The Future of the U.S. Constitution”

By Dawn Johnsen

Over the next week, the ACS blog will feature posts from some of the nation’s leading constitutional law experts as they prepare to gather on Friday, April 14th at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law to examine “The Future of the U.S. Constitution.” ACS and the Indiana Law Journal (ILJ) join Maurer School of Law as cosponsors for this symposium in Bloomington, Indiana, and a live stream will make the day available to all, at youtube.com/iumaurerlaw. The symposium participants have been active in academia and public life, including in government, nonprofit advocacy, and as members of the ACS Board of Academic Advisors. They will address the great constitutional challenges of our time: presidential power, judicial review, congressional dysfunction, political polarization and mobilization, economic inequality, plutocracy, immigration, race, religion, refugees, abortion, guns, voting, disenfranchisement, presidential conflicts of interest, anti-intellectualism, disdain for facts, discrimination, exclusion, nativism, and justice. A special ILJ symposium issue is forthcoming in September 2017, with essays from participants and several others. In the meantime, we hope you will enjoy this special ACS blog series on “The Future of the U.S. Constitution.”

“The Future of the U.S. Constitution”

Friday, April 14, 2017

IU Maurer School of Law, Moot Court Room, 211 S. Indiana Ave., Bloomington

live stream: youtube.com/iumaurerlaw

symposium blog: ilj.law.indiana.edu/symposium

contact: Dawn Johnsen, djohnsen@indiana.edu

(5 hours CLE pending)


Sponsored by Indiana University Maurer School of Law,

Indiana Law Journal & American Constitution Society for Law and Policy


Welcome and Opening Remarks (9:00-9:15)
IU Maurer School of Law Dean Austen Parrish
Indiana Law Journal Editor-in-Chief Stephanie Goldkopf
ACS President Ashley Lenderman
IU Maurer School of Law Professor Dawn Johnsen

Panel One (9:15 – 10:45)
The Nativist Turn: Immigrants, Communities of Color, and Courts in the Era of Trump
Moderator: Stephen Vladeck


Since Donald Trump’s election, the U.S. has experienced increased anti-immigrant and anti-minority hate crimes, threats, discrimination, and exclusion, as well as remarkable responses by some cities, universities, and other communities with messages of inclusion, support, and resistance. The first hundred days of the Trump administration also brought extraordinary action aimed at restricting immigration from particular countries, dramatically curtailing refugee admissions, and increasing deportations of undocumented immigrants—all following candidate Trump’s promises to bar Muslims from entering the U.S. and to build a wall at the Mexican border. The federal courts engaged quickly, and the Supreme Court is set to resolve important questions about how the Constitution protects different classes of non-citizens, from those lawfully present who are detained pending their removal to undocumented immigrants within the United States to non-citizens shot by U.S. border patrol agents while standing mere feet across the U.S.-Mexico border. This panel will attempt to situate these related but distinct topics against the broader question of how the Constitution does—and should—protect against various species of nativism. The panel will consider the roles not only of the courts but also of other actors, including the U.S. Department of Justice and the contrast between what is expected of the Trump Administration and the Obama Administration’s enforcement initiatives on issues of discrimination and justice in areas including immigration, policing, incarceration, and education.


  • Chiraag Bains, Visiting Senior Fellow Harvard; Leadership in Government Fellow Open Society Foundations; former Senior Counsel to Assistant Attorney General, US Dep’t of Justice Office of Civil Rights
  • Anurima Bhargava, Fellow Harvard Institute of Politics; Leadership in Government Fellow Open Society Foundations; former Chief of Educational Opportunities Section, US Dep’t of Justice Office of Civil Rights; former Director of the Education Practice, NAACP LDEF
  • Shirin Sinnar, Associate Professor, Stanford; former Equal Justice Works Fellow Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of San Francisco, Staff Attorney Asian Law Caucus
  • Stephen I. Vladeck, Professor, U. Texas, Austin; Senior Editor Journal of National Security Law and Policy, co-editor-in-chief Just Securityblog


Panel Two (11:00-12:30)
Fault Lines in Our Constitutional Structure
Moderator: Jamal Greene


Opposition to the Trump Presidency is robust and varied, but at least one common theme emerges:  feelings of frustration, sometimes bordering on helplessness. Frustration that they and their fellow citizens could not prevent Trump’s election. Frustration that neither Congress nor the judiciary seems equipped to check problems with Trump’s substantive policies or the myriad conflicts of interest embedded within his presidency. Frustration about the future of American democracy amid persistent polarization and disrespect for facts. This panel will examine the roots of this sense of frustration and helplessness and considers the degree to which it is justified. Panelists will discuss the constitutional pathologies that may have presaged Trump’s election, the enforceability of conflict of interest norms affecting the president, the limits on the power of Congress and the courts to constrain the president, and the countermajoritarian nature of current American political arrangements.


  • Nancy Gertner, Senior Lecturer on Law, Harvard; retired federal judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
  • Jamal Greene, Dwight Professor of Law, Columbia
  • William P. Marshall, Kenan Professor of Law, U. North Carolina; former Deputy Counsel to President Clinton; former Solicitor General for Ohio
  • Neil S. Siegel, David W. Ichel Professor of Law, Duke; former Special Counsel to Senator Joseph Biden for confirmation hearings for John Roberts and Samuel Alito

Lunch Break (12:30-1:30)
Panel Three (1:45-3:30)
The Utopian Constitution, Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor, Harvard; author of The Constitution of the United States of America: A Contextual Analysis
Economic Inequality and Plutocracy
Moderator: Ganesh Sitaraman


Economic inequality is one of the most important issues of our time. Economic power in the United States increasingly is concentrated in the hands of a shrinking number of Americans, and is turning into political power as well. This panel will discuss how economic inequality threatens the future of the U.S. constitutional system – and how the Constitution can help alleviate economic inequality. It also will present cutting edge ideas about how constitutional law and constitutional politics can help rebuild America’s middle class.


  • Kate Andrias, Assistant Professor, Michigan; former Associate Counsel to President Obama
  • Joseph R. Fishkin, Professor, U Texas, Austin; currently visiting at Yale; author of Bottlenecks: A New Theory of Equal Opportunity, The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution (forthcoming with Willy Forbath)
  • Ganesh Sitaraman, Assistant Professor, Vanderbilt; former Senior Counsel, Speechwriter, Policy Director for Senator Elizabeth Warren; author of The Crisis of the Middle Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic



Panel Four (3:45-5:15)
The Hot-Button Constitution: Examining the Issues That Divide Us in Both Law and Politics
Moderator: Dawn Johnsen

Constitutional controversies involving abortion, sexuality, guns, voting rights, and economic redistribution are fiercely debated not only in the courts, but also in America’s legislatures and on its streets. This panel will examine two aspects of some of the country’s hottest ongoing disputes. First, it will address some of the key substantive legal questions at the center of these disputes and suggest how those issues might be resolved going forward. Second, it will explore how the powerful intersecting and reinforcing forces of law, politics and social movements influence our constitutional understandings and realities.


  • Dawn Johnsen, Walter W. Foskett Professor of Law, Indiana Maurer; former Acting Assistant Attorney General, US Dep’t of Justice Office of Legal Counsel; Legal Director NARAL Pro-Choice America; Staff Counsel Fellow ACLU
  • Pam Karlan, Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law, Stanford; former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, US Dep’t of Justice Office of Civil Rights
  • Reva Siegel, Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Professor of Law, Yale; author of Before Roe v. Wade: Voices That Shaped the Abortion Debate Before the Supreme Court’s Ruling (with Linda Greenhouse), The Constitution in 2020 (edited with Jack Balkin)
  • Adam Winkler, Professor, UCLA; author of Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America