“In Defense of Voting Rights”
November 10, 2017 (Fri.)
Friday, Nov. 10
3:00-3:15 Welcome and Introduction
Austin Sarat, Amherst College
3:15-4:15 “Obstruction or Opportunity: Voting Rights Since 1965”
Catherine Lhamon, Chair, United States Commission on Civil Rights
Moderator: Andrew Poe, Amherst College
4:30-5:30 “A Republic, If You Can Keep It: Construction and Maintenance of the Franchise.”
Justin Levitt, Professor, Loyola Law School and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice
Moderator: Ellen Boucher, Amherst College
6:00pm Dinner – please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by Oct. 30
Lewis Sebring Commons, Valentine Dining Hall
Remarks: Jonathan Obert, Amherst College
Catherine E. Lhamon’93 is the Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. President Obama appointed Lhamon to a six-year term on the Commission on December 15, 2016 and the Commission unanimously confirmed the President’s designation of Lhamon to chair the Commission on December 28, 2016. Before coming to the Commission, Lhamon served as the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education until January 2017. President Obama nominated her to the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights position on June 10, 2013, and she was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 1, 2013. Immediately prior to joining the Department of Education, Lhamon was director of impact litigation at Public Counsel, the nation’s largest pro bono law firm. Before that, she practiced for a decade at the ACLU of Southern California, ultimately as assistant legal director. Earlier in her career, Lhamon was a teaching fellow and supervising attorney in the Appellate Litigation Program at Georgetown University Law Center, after clerking for The Honorable William A. Norris on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In 2016, Politico Magazine named Lhamon one of Politico 50 Thinkers Transforming Politics and the National Action Network honored Lhamon with their Action & Authority Award. In 2015, Yale Law School named Lhamon their Gruber Distinguished Lecturer and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities awarded Lhamon their Special Recognition Award. Chronicle of Higher Education named Lhamon to their 2014 Influence List as the Enforcer. The Daily Journal listed her as one of California’s Top Women Litigators in 2010 and 2007, and as one of the Top 20 California Lawyers Under 40 in 2007. In 2004, California Lawyer magazine named Lhamon Attorney of the Year for Civil Rights. Lhamon received her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was the Outstanding Woman Law Graduate, and she graduated summa cum laude from Amherst College.
Justin Levitt is a nationally recognized scholar of constitutional law and the law of democracy, Professor Justin Levitt recently returned to Loyola after serving as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. At DOJ, he primarily supported the Civil Rights Division’s work on voting rights and protections against employment discrimination (including LGBT rights in the workplace).
Levitt has published in the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law and Policy Review, the Georgetown Law Journal, the William & Mary Law Review, and the peer-reviewed Election Law Journal, among others. He has served as a visiting faculty member at the Yale Law School, at USC's Gould School of Law, and at Caltech. He was honored to receive Loyola's Excellence in Teaching Award for 2013-14.
Levitt has been invited to testify before committees of the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, several state legislative bodies, and both federal and state courts. His research has been cited extensively in the media and the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. He maintains the website All About Redistricting, tracking the process of state and federal redistricting around the country, including litigation.
Levitt served in various capacities for several presidential campaigns, including as the National Voter Protection Counsel in 2008, helping to run an effort ensuring that tens of millions of citizens could vote and have those votes counted. Before joining the faculty of Loyola Law School, he was counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, for five years. He also worked as in-house counsel to the country's largest independent voter registration and engagement operation, and at several nonprofit civil rights and civil liberties organizations.
At Loyola, Levitt established the Practitioner Moot Program, a complimentary service to the community allowing attorneys with pending appellate matters to practice their arguments before faculty experts and experienced advocates. Under the program, Loyola has hosted recent moots for cases later argued in the Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit, the California Supreme Court, and the California Courts of Appeal, among others.
Levitt served as a law clerk to the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He holds a law degree and a masters degree in public administration from Harvard University, and was an articles editor for the Harvard Law Review. He is admitted to the bar in California, New Jersey, New York, and the District of Columbia, and to the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Fourth Circuit, Ninth Circuit, and Eleventh Circuit, and the U.S. District Courts in the Central District of California and Northern District of Florida.