A Conversation with Sanford Levinson
March 29, 2016
NYU Washington, DC welcomed author and renowned legal scholar Sanford Levinson for a discussion on his new book, An Argument Open to All: Reading the Federalist in the 21st Century. This program was made possible through collaboration with the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, and included Gene Healy, Vice President, CATO Institute and Stephen Vladeck, professor of law, American University Washington College of Law. It was moderated by Victoria Bassetti, author of Electoral Dysfunction: A Survival Manual for American Voters.
Victoria Bassetti, Author, "Electoral Dysfunction: A Survival Manual for American Voters"
Victoria Bassetti is a Brennan Center contributor. She is the author of “Electoral Dysfunction: A Survival Manual for American Voters,” published by The New Press in 2012. Bassetti has worked with legislative and judicial bodies of the U.S. government, including serving as chief counsel/staff director to a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. She has been active in numerous political campaigns and participates regularly in Election Day voter-protection efforts. Her writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Chicago, and Harper’s Magazine. She writes regularly for NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice and on her Tumblr blog. She lives in Brooklyn.
Gene Healy, Vice President, Cato Institute
Gene Healy is a Vice President at the Cato Institute. His research interests include executive power and the role of the presidency as well as federalism and overcriminalization. He is the author of False Idol: Barack Obama and the Continuing Cult of the Presidency and The Cult of the Presidency: America’s Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power; and is editor of Go Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything.
Healy has appeared on PBS’s Newshour with Jim Lehrer and NPR’s Talk of the Nation, and his work has been published in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Legal Times, and elsewhere.
Healy holds a BA from Georgetown University and a JD from the University of Chicago Law School.
Sanford Levinson, W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood, Jr. Centennial Chair in Law, University of Texas Law School
Sanford Levinson, who holds the W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood, Jr. Centennial Chair in Law, joined the University of Texas Law School in 1980. Previously a member of the Department of Politics at Princeton University, he is also a Professor in the Department of Government at the University of Texas. The author of over 350 articles and book reviews in professional and popular journals--and a regular contributor to the popular blog Balkinization--Levinson is also the author of four books: Constitutional Faith (1988, winner of the Scribes Award); Written in Stone: Public Monuments in Changing Societies (1998); Wrestling With Diversity (2003); and, most recently, Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (and How We the People Can Correct It)(2006); and, most recently, Framed: America's 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Governance (2012). Edited or co-edited books include a leading constitutional law casebook, Processes of Constitutional Decisionmaking (5th ed. 2006, with Paul Brest, Jack Balkin, Akhil Amar, and Reva Siegel); Reading Law and Literature: A Hermeneutic Reader (1988, with Steven Mallioux); Responding to Imperfection: The Theory and Practice of Constitutional Amendment (1995); Constitutional Stupidities, Constitutional Tragedies (1998, with William Eskridge); Legal Canons (2000, with Jack Balkin); The Louisiana Purchase and American Expansion (2005, with Batholomew Sparrow); and Torture: A Collection (2004, revised paperback edition, 2006), which includes reflections on the morality, law, and politics of torture from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association in 2010. He has been a visiting faculty member of the Boston University, Georgetown, Harvard, New York University, and Yale law schools in the United States and has taught abroad in programs of law in London; Paris; Jerusalem; Auckland, New Zealand; and Melbourne, Australia. He was a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 1985-86 and a Member of the Ethics in the Professions Program at Harvard in 1991-92. He is also affiliated with the Shalom Hartman Institute of Jewish Philosophy in Jerusalem. A member of the American Law Institute, Levinson was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001. He is married to Cynthia Y. Levinson, a writer of children's literature, and has two children, Meira, a member of the faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (after teaching in the Atlanta and Boston public school systems), and Rachel, a lawyer with the Brennan Center in Washington, D.C.
Stephen Vladeck, Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law
Stephen I. Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) is a Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law. His teaching and research focus on federal jurisdiction, constitutional law, and national security law. A nationally recognized expert on the role of the federal courts in the war on terrorism, Vladeck’s prolific and widely cited scholarship has appeared in an array of legal publications—including the Harvard Law Review and the Yale Law Journal — and his popular writing has been published in forums ranging from the New York Times to BuzzFeed. Vladeck, who is a co-editor of Aspen Publishers’ leading national security law and counterterrorism law casebooks, frequently represents parties or amici in litigation challenging government counterterrorism policies, and has authored reports on related topics for a wide range of organizations—including the First Amendment Center, the Constitution Project, and the ABA’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security.
Professor Vladeck has won numerous awards for his teaching, his scholarship, and his service to the law school. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute, a senior editor of the peer-reviewed Journal of National Security Law and Policy, co-editor in-chief of the Just Security blog, a senior contributor to the Lawfare blog, the Supreme Court Fellow at the Constitution Project, and a fellow at the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law.
A 2004 graduate of Yale Law School, Vladeck clerked for the Honorable Marsha S. Berzon on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the Honorable Rosemary Barkett on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. While a law student, he was Executive Editor of the Yale Law Journal and the Student Director of the Balancing Civil Liberties & National Security Post-9/11 Litigation Project, and he was awarded the Potter Stewart Prize for Best Team Performance in Moot Court and the Harlan Fiske Stone Prize for Outstanding Moot Court Oralist. He earned a B.A. summa cum laude with Highest Distinction in History and Mathematics from Amherst College in 2001, where he wrote his senior thesis on "Leipzig's Shadow: The War Crimes Trials of the First World War and Their Implications from Nuremberg to the Present." Vladeck’s wife, Karen, is a litigation associate at Arent Fox LLP.
In An Argument Open to All, Sanford Levinson takes a novel approach to what is perhaps America’s most famous political tract. Rather than concern himself with the authors as historical figures, or how The Federalist helps us understand the original intent of the framers of the Constitution, Levinson examines each essay for the political wisdom it can offer us today. In eighty-five short essays, each keyed to a different essay in The Federalist, he considers such questions as whether present generations can rethink their constitutional arrangements; how much effort we should exert to preserve America’s traditional culture; and whether The Federalist’s arguments even suggest the desirability of world government.