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Constitutional Law and Democracy Scholar Nathaniel Persily Joins the Stanford Law School Faculty

Photo of Professor Nathaniel Persily

Professor Nathaniel Persily

STANFORD, Calif., March 5, 2013—Stanford Law School today announced that Nathaniel Persily, currently the Charles Keller Beekman Professor of Law and Political Science at Columbia Law School, will join the Stanford faculty as professor of law, effective in the summer of 2013.  He will also hold courtesy appointments in the departments of communication and political science.

Professor Persily’s scholarship, teaching, and outside work have been focused on two principal areas: the “law of democracy,” which addresses issues such as voting rights, political parties, campaign finance, and redistricting; and public opinion concerning courts and constitutional controversies.

“We are thrilled to welcome Nate to the SLS faculty,” said Stanford Law School Dean Elizabeth Magill. “Nate is a prolific and influential scholar, and he is a fantastic teacher and mentor to students. He is also a key player in the field who has been called upon repeatedly to help resolve tough redistricting issues. Our faculty is already exceptionally strong in public law, and in the law of democracy in particular, and Nate will make us even stronger.”

In the field of election law, Professor Persily has published dozens of articles (six of which have been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court) on the legal regulation of political parties, on issues surrounding the census and redistricting process, on voting rights, and on campaign finance reform. His most notable recent publications in this area include “Race, Region and Vote Choice in the 2008 Election: Implications for the Future of the Voting Rights Act,” 123 Harvard Law Review 1385 (2010); “Fig Leaves and Tea Leaves in the Supreme Court’s Recent Election Law Decisions,” 2008 Supreme Court Review 89 (2009); “Vote Fraud in the Eye of the Beholder: The Role of Public Opinion in the Challenge to Voter Identification Requirements,” 121 Harvard Law Review 1737 (2008); and “The Promise and Pitfalls of the New Voting Rights Act,” 117 Yale Law Journal 174 (2007).

Frequently testifying before Congress on election-related issues, Professor Persily is also an active practitioner in this field, having served as a court-appointed expert to draw up legislative districting plans for Georgia, Maryland, and New York, and as Special Master for the redistricting of Connecticut’s Congressional Districts. Professor Persily also created DrawCongress.org, a website that serves as a repository for nonpartisan congressional redistricting plans for all 50 states. The maps on the site were drawn by students in his course, “Redistricting and Gerrymandering.” The website is the first ever to present a nonpartisan redistricting plan for the entire U.S. House of Representatives.

In the field of public opinion, his coedited book, Public Opinion and Constitutional Controversy (Oxford Press, 2008), examines the effects of court decisions on American public opinion. The first of its kind, the book gathers together and analyzes all available survey data on issues such as desegregation, criminal rights, abortion, gay rights, federalism, school prayer, and the death penalty. In addition, along with Stephen Ansolabehere of Harvard, he designed the “Constitutional Attitudes Survey,” a national public opinion survey executed in both 2009 and 2010, which includes an array of questions concerning attitudes toward the Supreme Court, constitutional interpretation, and specific constitutional controversies. This May, Oxford will publish a second book coedited by Persily on the Supreme Court’s recent health care decision: The Health Care Case: The Supreme Court’s Decision and Its Implications (2013).

“Nate Persily’s work on the law of democracy and on popular reactions to judicial decisions is the very best kind of interdisciplinary work, informed by both techniques developed in other disciplines—in Nate’s case, political science and communication—and a real lawyer’s sensibility,” said Pamela S. Karlan, the Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law and co-director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. “Plus, Nate is the very best colleague there is. Working with Nate when he was a second-year student was one of the delights that convinced me to come to Stanford, and I’m now equally delighted we’ve convinced him to return.”

“It is an honor and a thrill to return to Stanford,” said Persily. “After years in the wilderness of the East Coast, I am excited to come home.”

More on Nathaniel Persily

Prior to his faculty appointment at Stanford, Professor Persily was the Charles Keller Beekman Professor of Law and Political Science at Columbia Law School, with a secondary appointment in the department of political science. He began his academic career as an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2001, becoming a full professor 2005.  He has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Stanford, NYU, and Princeton.

He holds a joint BA/MA (1992) from Yale College, a JD (1998) from Stanford Law School where he was president of the Stanford Law Review, and a PhD (2002) from the University of California, Berkeley (Political Science). Following law school, he clerked for the Honorable David S. Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Professor Persily is admitted to the New York and U.S. Supreme Court Bar.

About Stanford Law School

Stanford Law School (www.law.stanford.edu) is one of the nation’s leading institutions for legal scholarship and education. Its alumni are among the most influential decision makers in law, politics, business, and high technology. Faculty members argue before the Supreme Court, testify before Congress, produce outstanding legal scholarship and empirical analysis, and contribute regularly to the nation’s press as legal and policy experts.

For more information, please contact:

Judith Romero
Public Information Officer
Stanford Law School
judith.romero@stanford.edu

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