Thursday, March 2, 2000

WRITER: Kathy R. Pharr, (706) 542-5172, pharr@arches.uga.edu

CONTACT: Assoc. Dean Paul M. Kurtz, (706) 542-7140


ATHENS, Ga. -- An onslaught of negative advertisements, vicious mudslinging in stump speeches, increasingly aggressive tactics -- as the nation's presidential primaries move into full swing, our TVs are bombarded with such daily examples of modern American politics. But is this what the framers of the U.S. Constitution envisioned when they established elections in order to hold public officials accountable to the people? Or is it the antithesis?

Samuel Issacharoff, a constitutional and voting law expert from Columbia University, will examine that timely topic in the University of Georgia School of Law's 91st Sibley Lecture, to be held Thursday, March 16 at 4 p.m. in the law school's Hatton Lovejoy Courtroom. Issacharoff's lecture, "Political Parties, the Constitution and Democratic Competition," and the reception which follows are open to the public without an admission charge.

"The American Constitution presumes accountability for public officials through democratic elections, but oddly says nothing about how those shall occur," says Issacharoff. "The original constitutional framework also presumed that political parties were an evil to be avoided at all cost. By contrast, 20th century constitutions give extraordinary attention both to how elections will be conducted and to the role of parties as integral actors in the democratic process. Much of the 20th century constitutional jurisprudence governing the political process may be seen as an effort to fill in these major gaps in the original constitutional design."

Issacharoff will present his theory that the constitution must be understood as carrying a guarantee of effective competition in the political system. He will address the issue in the context of the challenge to the California blanket primary requirement currently before the U.S. Supreme Court in Jones v. California Democratic Party.

Issacharoff teaches constitutional law, voting rights and redistricting law, complex litigation, legal process, civil procedure and employment law at Columbia. He currently is teaching a course called "Civil Procedure and Advanced Constitutional Law: The Political Process," and in November 1999 organized a symposium on "The Law Governing Political Parties."

Issacharoff earned his law degree from Yale University, where he served as editor of the Yale Law Journal. After completion of a federal judicial clerkship, he practiced federal court litigation until 1989 (also teaching as a visiting lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania from 1986-89). He joined the faculty of the University of Texas School of Law in 1989 and held the Joseph D. Jamail Centennial Chair in Law before joining the Columbia Law School faculty in 1999. "We are excited about the prospect of such a well-recognized legal expert joining us to present his views on this extraordinarily important and timely topic, " said Paul Kurtz, associate dean of the UGA law school. "Sam Issacharoff continues in the proud tradition of the Sibley Lecture series."

The Sibley Lecture Series, established in 1964 by the Charles Loridans Foundation of Atlanta, is designed to attract outstanding legal scholars of national prominence to the law school. It honors the late John A. Sibley, a 1911 law school graduate who served for many years as chair of the board of the Trust Company of Georgia.


A photograph of Samuel Issacharoff is available electronically via UGA Communications' Photographic Services Web Site at http://photo.alumni.uga.edu/photohome.htm

You will need to search for Issacharoff by name.