Journal of Law in Society Symposium on Gerrymandering and the Power of Boundaries

In 1812, cartoonist Elkanah Tisdale altered the political vocabulary of the United States forever when he rendered the voting districts of the state of Massachusetts, then under the leadership of Governor Elbridge Gerry, in the image of the "Gerry-mander," an animal somewhere between a vulture and a salamander.  Gerrymandering has figured heavily in the history of U.S. elections and has recently made headlines again as communities around the nation face questions about the constitutionality of using independent commissions to redraw district lines, the effects of counting prison inmates as constituents in the counties in which the prisons reside, and how partisan gerrymandering disproportionately affects communities of color and voters who have been "packed, stacked, and cracked" in order to provide an advantage for one political party or the other.

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Symposium Overview

On Friday, March 22, 2019, the Levin Center at Wayne Law, together with The Journal of Law in Society, held a symposium entitled "Gerrymandering: The Power of Boundaries" with the intention of fostering civil discourse on this matter of rapidly evolving public policy.  Leading scholars from around the U.S. and joined experts from Wayne State University to discuss partisan gerrymandering and race-based redistricting in a full-day event.  Michigan's newly elected Secretary of State and former Wayne Law Dean Jocelyn Benson provided keynote remarks.

Learn about the conference speakers



8:30 a.m. Breakfast in atrium 
8:45 a.m.

Opening remarks

  • Former U.S. Sen. Carl Levinchair, Levin Center at Wayne Law; distinguished legislator in residence, Wayne Law
  • Emad Hamadeh, editor-in-chief, The Journal of Law in Society
9:00 a.m.

Keynote speaker

9:45 a.m.

Gerrymandering: Past, Present, and Future

  • Jowei Chen, associate professor and faculty associate at the Center for Political Studies, University of Michigan
  • James Lancaster, chief counsel, Voters Not Politicians
  • Eric Lupher, president, Citizens Research Council of Michigan
  • Moderator: Justin Long, associate professor, Wayne Law
11:00 a.m. Refreshment Break
11:15 a.m.

Race-Based Redistricting

  • Guy-Uriel Charles, Edward and Ellen Schwarzman professor of law and director, Duke Law Center on Law, Race, and Politics, Duke University School of Law
  • Aleks Kajstura, attorney and legal director, Prison Policy Initiative
  • G. Michael Parsons, assistant professor, New York University School of Law
  • Moderator: Rhonda Haidar, symposium editor, Journal of Law in Society
12:30 p.m. Lunch in the atrium
1:30 p.m.

Political Gerrymandering and the U.S. Constitution

  • Edward B. "Ned" Foley, Charles W. Ebersold and Florence Whitcomb Ebersold chair in constitutional law and director of Election Law @ Moritz, Moritz College of Law at Ohio State
  • Nicholas Stephanopoulos, professor and Herbert and Marjorie Fried research scholar, University of Chicago Law School
  • Daniel P. Tokaji, Charles W. Ebersold and Florence Whitcomb Ebersold professor of constitutional law, Moritz College of Law at Ohio State
  • Steven Winter, Walter S. Gibbs distinguished professor of constitutional law, Wayne Law
  • Moderator: Jonathan Weinberg, associate dean for research and faculty development, Wayne Law
3:00 p.m.

Closing Remarks

  • Rhonda Haidar, symposium editor, The Journal of Law in Society
3:15 p.m. Networking reception


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