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Winter 2024 Course

Presidential Campaign Lawyering

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: None. Students will be evaluated on in-class participation and a course paper.

Presidential campaigns play a central role in the democratic process. At their best, they bring important domestic and foreign matters to the fore, facilitate the exchange of ideas between candidates and communities, and inspire Americans to exercise their right to vote in the electoral process. But at the same time, presidential campaigns have come under increasing scrutiny for becoming protracted and expensive. They have accelerated the polarization of the country’s politics and, through negative campaigning and opponent attacks, have arguably harmed public discourse generally. For candidates, the road to the White House and to a successful Administration thereafter is paved by a successful campaign, which depends on navigating the complex legal and ethical landscape governing its activities. Presidential Campaign Lawyering focuses on this important work through the lens of the individual tasked with this responsibility: the General Counsel.

Students will receive an introduction to the substantive legal and ethical issues relevant to presidential campaign lawyering, including voting and election laws, federal campaign finance law, constitutional law, contract law, and more. We will explore these areas of law through the arc of the campaign cycle, ranging from the startup, the primaries and general election, the post-election certification of votes, and the meeting of the Electoral College. The course will involve readings and media from a wide range of sources, including case studies, statutes and regulations, and case law. Readings and classroom discussions will be supplemented by a number of guest speakers who will offer insights and experiences with respect to presidential campaign lawyering.

Note: This course will meet for the first two weeks of the winter term from January 2-12, 2024.

This course is not available for cross-registration.