Category Archives: election law biz

Has the Federalist Society Booted Insurrectionist John Eastman from His Leadership Role in the Organization, Or Just Hidden His Role?

This weekend I tangled with some folks on Twitter because I had the temerity to tweet “Read this @Slate” with a link to Nicholas Wallace’s piece urging a boycott of the Federalist Society because it has not taken any actions to remove those in leadership positions who supporting Trump’s attempt to steal the election in 2020 or the violent insurrection in the Capitol.

I asked why the Federalist Society in particular did not disavow John Eastman, the former Chapman professor who represented Trump in his legally and factually frivolous and dangerous lawsuits to try to overturn the results of the election and who appeared at the Jan. 6 rally just before the insurrection. When the response I got was the the Federalist Society cannot police its members for orthodoxy, I wrote, “So what? There are some things beyond the pale and deserving condemnation. If @fedsoc had in leadership a Nazi sympathizer, you would rightly demand condemnation or quit.”

After writing this, someone sent me a direct message asking if I confirmed that John Eastman was still in a leadership position at FedSoc. (He was chair of the Federalism and Separation of Powers Practice Group—some apologists responding on Twitter tried to say this is not “really” a leadership position but it seems pretty prominent to me.) I had not heard that there had been a change in Eastman’s status, but there’s been an interesting change to his profile. Here’s how his profile read as recently as this March:

And here is how his profile reads now:

Was he removed, following controversy over how to treat people like him within FedSoc? Or are they just trying to hide his involvement in a leadership role, while still listing him as a contributor?

I understand from the person who contacted me that FedSoc used to list the leaders of these practice groups on the website, but I can find no such list now.

If FedSoc did the right thing, one would hope they would take credit for it, rather than making the change in the middle of the night. Inquiring minds want to know.

Share this:

Over to You, Ned

Thanks to Rick for inviting me to blog for the past two weeks. There’s never a dull moment in the world of election law, and it’s helped me catch up on the many things I missed during my first year as Dean of University of Wisconsin Law School. My friend and colleague Ned Foley at Ohio State will be taking over for the next two weeks, from July 19 through August 1. You can send links and suggestions to him.

Share this:

Networking Event for AALS Election Law Section Members

From Section Chair Michael Morley:

Dear Colleagues of the Section on Election Law,

I hope you have been doing well this summer! Especially since so many professors still must restrict their travel due to COVID, we thought it would be nice to hold a virtual Election Law Section social event.  We can take some time to unwind, talk about the recent Supreme Court cases and pending federal and state legislation concerning elections, discuss the projects we’ve been working on, and most importantly just catch up and re-connect with each other.  If you think any of your colleagues might be interested in participating, as well, please encourage them to join the Election Law Section.

Date & Time: Thursday, August 5, 2021, 3:00 PM EST

Registration Link:

I hope you’re able to join us for a causal summer chat, and am looking forward to seeing you all, if only virtually!

Thank you,

Michael T. Morley
Assistant Professor of Law
Florida State University College of Law
Chair, AALS Section on Election Law

Share this:

Monday’s Congressional Hearing on the Elections Clause

On Monday at 1:00 ET, the House Administration Committee will hold a hearing on “The Elections Clause: Constitutional Interpretation and Congressional Exercise.” It will conducted virtually. You can find a witness list and view the livestream at this link. I’ll be testifying along with Jack Rakove, Franita Tolson, and Kentucky Secretary of State Michael G. Adams.

Share this:

Letter in Support of Nomination of Myrna Perez for United States Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit

I rarely write such letters but felt compelled to write this one. A snippet:

From all of my observations, I can say that Ms. Pérez’s skills as a lawyer, advocate, and thinker are consistently excellent. She possesses a keen legal mind, understanding nuanced points of law and crafting fine-tuned legal arguments responsive to applicable legal standards and judicial precedent. She has deep respect for the rule of law and shows great appreciation for the role of the federal courts in both safeguarding rights and assuring fair procedures. She is an effective advocate for her clients’ positions, and a champion of justice.

Ms. Pérez also has the right judicial temperament. Her work is measured and careful, always avoiding hyperbole and rancor that often infects discussions of voting issues. She will be a fair judge, considering all arguments and offering rulings consistent with constitutional and statutory imperatives. She will be committed to justice for all litigants before her, regardless of their backgrounds. And she will be a collegial judge, committed to working on appellate panels to achieve consensus where possible, and respectful disagreement when not.

In short, Ms. Pérez is an inspired choice for a Second Circuit judgeship. I urge her swift confirmation with broad bipartisan support.

Share this:

“5th Circuit keeps sanctions against Marc Elias in voting case”


The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Wednesday that it will not drop sanctions it levied in March against famed Democrat lawyer Marc Elias, but it will vacate sanctions against three other Perkins Coie lawyers who were on his team.

The court had sanctioned Elias, who became a hero of sorts to Democrats in 2020 battling lawsuits filed by Republicans seeking to overturn the results of the U.S. presidential election, and five other Perkins Coie lawyers for lack of candor.

The sanctions stem from a case over straight-ticket voting in Texas, in which Elias and his team represent Democrats fighting in favor of the practice against the state’s top election official. The team had filed a supplemental motion in February that was nearly identical to one filed in September that was denied, without disclosing the previous denial….

The Perkins Coie lawyers asked the court to reconsider the sanctions in March. Represented by Paul Clement, a Kirkland & Ellis partner who served as U.S. Solicitor General under Republican former President George W. Bush, they argued their February motion was “not intended to conceal the denial of the initial motion to supplement the record, but reflected good faith misunderstandings.”

But the 5th Circuit panel ruled Wednesday that it is “not required to find bad faith when imposing sanctions for violations of local rules.”

“Our court’s local rules permit us to discipline ‘any member of the bar of this Court for failure to comply with the rules of this Court, or for conduct unbecoming a member of the bar,'” the order said….

One judge on the panel – Judge Catharina Haynes – dissented and said she “would grant reconsideration in full rather than only to the junior attorneys.”

Judges Edith Brown Clement and Jennifer Walker Elrod were also on the panel.

Share this:

Pam Fessler, the Dean of Journalists Covering Voting Rights, is Retiring from NPR

I share the bittersweet news that Pam Fessler, who has been covering voting-related issues for NPR, is retiring July 9.

Pam has covered voting rights longer and better than anyone else on this beat. Her reporting is always deep, careful, and absent of hyperbole or rumor. It’s a politically fraught area but she manages to speak to everyone who matters and to get to the heart of these difficult issues. She’s the consummate professional, and her reporting on these issues is going to be important decades from now for understanding the historical record of our difficult times.

Pam has been with NPR for 28 years and a reporter for 47, so she’s certainly earned a rest. But the field is going to suffer without her voice. I hope she finds a way to stay involved in voting and democracy issues as she enjoys her retirement.

In addition to covering voting, Pam has also covered poverty and philanthropy at NPR. And she’s author of the award-winning book, Carville’s Curse: Leprosy, Stigma, and the Fight for Justice.

It’s truly the end of an era, and I will miss our frequent conversations about the state of, and how to improve, American elections and democracy.

Here’s to a long and healthy retirement, Pam!

Share this:

Election Law Academics Update

Here’s my yearly roundup of election law academic hires, promotions moves, visits, accolades:

Guy Charles will join the Harvard Law faculty as the inaugural Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. Professor of Law, effective July 1. He will also serve as faculty director of HLS’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice.

Guy Charles, Heather Gerken, Michael Kang, Rick Pildes, and Bertrall Ross were named to President Biden’s Commission on the Supreme Court (headed by Bob Bauer and Cristina Rodriguez)

Josh Douglas was named the Ashland, Inc.-Spears Distinguished Research Professor of Law, which is one of UK Law’s most distinguished professorships.

Chris Elmendorf was elected to the American Law Institute.

Joey Fishkin is moving from UT to UCLA.

Ruth Greenwood was named Director of Harvard’s new election law clinic.

David Lublin is completing his first year as chair of the Department of Government at American University after starting last July. He also was elected to a three-yearn term as Treasurer of the American Political Science Association.

At the Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College, Associate Director Kenneth Miller is moving up from Associate Director to Director, as Director Andrew Busch rotates on the College’s usual Institute Director rotation schedule.

Michael Morley received tenure and was promoted to Associate Professor at FSU College of Law. 

Derek Muller has been named the Bouma Faculty Fellow in Law at the University of Iowa College of Law (effective July 1).

Teddy Rave moved to University of Texas.

Bertrall Ross moved to Virginia Law School.

Chris Seaman has been promoted to full professor (effective July 1) at Washington and Lee.

Doug Spencer will join the University of Colorado law faculty as of Aug 2021. 

Nick Stephanopoulos was named the Kirkland & Ellis Professor at Harvard (effective July 1).

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy will be visiting at American University in 2022.

Abby Wood was promoted to Professor of Law, Political Science, and Public Policy at the USC Gould School of Law.  She was also appointed to the Fair Political Practices Commission of California, where she already served as a member of the Digital Transparency Task Force.

Congratulations all!

Share this:

“Leading money-in-politics data nonprofits merge to form OpenSecrets, a state-of-the-art democratic accountability organization “

Huge news about two amazing organizations whose work I rely upon regularly:

The nation’s two leading money-in-politics data organizations have joined forces to help Americans hold their leaders accountable at the federal and state levels, they said today.

The combined organization, OpenSecrets, merges the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) and the National Institute on Money in Politics (NIMP), each leading entities for three decades. The merger will provide a new one-stop shop for integrated federal, state and local data on campaign finance, lobbying and more, that is both unprecedented and easy to use.

“This merger brings together decades of expertise, massive data sets, and the kind of analysis that researchers, journalists, advocates and individuals rely on to understand the influence of spending on politics,” said OpenSecrets Executive Director Sheila Krumholz, who previously led CRP.  “At a time when our country is being tested, this is a good day for democracy.” 

For nearly 40 years, CRP has made best-in-class data and analysis about spending in federal races available to those seeking to unveil and analyze political influence. NIMP has provided similar gold-standard data and analysis for state politics. Now their work will be combined to provide an unparalleled window on money in American politics.  

“Transparency fuels the accountability that’s necessary to ensure the healthy evolution of our fragile democracy,” said OpenSecrets Executive Advisor Edwin Bender, who previously led NIMP. “Combining our work into a singularly robust and comprehensive tool will be invaluable for helping all of us take the measure of who our elected officials truly represent.”

The new OpenSecrets tools and analysis are expected to be especially beneficial to reporters covering statehouse politics, as media consolidation and declining news revenues have cut resources to cover state offices.

The new OpenSecrets website will debut later in 2021. The current URL for CRP ( will be retained and the NIMP website at will continue to be updated until the new site is launched.

The array of benefits for journalists, researchers, activists and engaged members of the public includes:

  • New tools that will let users track and analyze how donors, lobbyists and other forces work to wield influence across federal and state lines.
  • A concise integrated data-set that encompasses wide-ranging information in one, easily accessible location.
  • Resources for anyone looking to present a broader perspective on the wide-ranging career of a politician, lobbyist or revolver.
  • Databases that incorporate racial and gender information, putting analyses of these important aspects of democratic representation just a mouse-click away.
  • A continuation of CRP’s stellar reporting section, now incorporating stories focused on state-level and local data.
  • A combined response team, ready to answer any question a user may have on federal, state and local data.

In the months ahead, OpenSecrets will provide CRP and NIMP users with previews of the new data and capabilities, as well as trainings on how to make the most of the new tools and analysis. 

Critical support for the merger review and organizational integration process was provided by the Hewlett Foundation.

Share this: