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American University Experts Available to Comment on Supreme Court Nomination

WHO:  American University experts

WHAT: Political and legal ramifications surrounding nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court

WHEN:  March 16 - ongoing

WHERE: In–studio, on campus, via email or via telephone

Background: AU legal and political experts are available to discuss this morning’s nomination by President Barack Obama of Merrick Garland, chief judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court of the United States that was created when Associate Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly in February.

Allan Lichtman, distinguished professor of history, is an expert on presidential and congressional campaigns and can discuss voting behavior, public opinion, party conventions, politics, and American political history. Lichtman is well known for his "13 Keys" system, which enables him to predict the outcome of the popular vote solely on historical factors. He has correctly predicted the outcomes of all U.S. presidential elections since 1984.

Jessica Waters is an associate dean, School of Public Affairs, and is also a faculty member in the Department of Justice, Law and Criminology and an adjunct faculty member at AU’s Washington College of Law. Her research focuses primarily on reproductive rights law.

James Thurber, director, Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies and Distinguished University Professor at American University, is an expert on campaigns and conduct. He is also an expert in congressional-presidential relations, interest groups and lobbying, and campaigns and elections. Thurber is a co-editor and author of the new book "American Gridlock."

Stephen Wermiel, professor of practice in constitutional law at American University Washington College of Law, holds expertise in the U.S. Supreme Court, having covered the court for the Wall Street Journal from 1979 until 1991. He is the author of a biweekly column on SCOTUSblog aimed at explaining the Supreme Court to law students and co-author of Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion, the definitive biography of the late Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr. Wermiel teaches constitutional law, First Amendment, and a seminar on the workings of the Supreme Court.

Wermiel says: “Obama has a right and a duty to make an appointment. It is not desirable by any measure to have the Supreme Court go an entire year with only eight justices instead of nine and have to resolve things by 4-4 ties and by other methods."

Stephen Vladeck is a professor of law at American University Washington College of Law whose teaching and research focus on federal jurisdiction, constitutional law, and national security law. He is a nationally recognized expert on the role of the federal courts in the war on terrorism who frequently represents parties or amici in litigation challenging government counterterrorism policies.

Vladeck says: “The entire tenor of this term has now changed. The court can try to go ahead, but on cases where they are split 4-4, their only options are to leave the lower court decision intact or to hold the case over until Justice Scalia's replacement is confirmed.”


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American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 140 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.