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Experts Available to Discuss Impact of Justice Scalia Passing

WHO:    American University experts

WHAT:  Political and legal ramifications surrounding Supreme Court nomination and Election 2016

WHEN:   Feb. 18 - ongoing

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

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. "Scalia's passing points the focus of the 2016 presidential campaign upon the Supreme Court. Two issues are posed: What type of Justice should be selected to replace Scalia, and what is the constitutional right and responsibility of the president to make an appointment during his term and the responsibility of the Senate to ‘advise and consent’ regarding a presidential appointee?"

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. “Justice Scalia's death will have a monumental impact on the Court. In the immediate future, several of the blockbuster cases before the Court--including the most significant abortion case in decades, Whole Women's Health--now hang in the balance. The long term impact is also tremendous; Justice Scalia's replacement has the potential to shift the direction of the entire Roberts' Court."

Todd Eisenstadt, professor of government, focuses his research on the intersection of formal institutions and laws with informal institutions and practices, mostly in democratizing countries in Latin America. Eisenstadt can discuss ramifications related to the fulfillment of President Obama's climate change pledges and the leadership of the U.S. in “getting to yes” on the Paris Climate accord. “On Feb. 10 the Supreme Court temporarily blocked the president's efforts to start regulating U.S. power plants using the 1970 Clean Air Act. Many view this early decision by the Supreme Court, before the legality of Obama's executive action has even been adjudicated, as partisan meddling, and indeed the vote was 5-4 with the Republican-nominated judges creating the narrow majority, before Justice Scalia's untimely death. The balance of the Court has been thrown open on this and a range of other issues, giving extra urgency to the 2016 election as a harbinger of U.S. climate change policy for decades to come."

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 AU’s 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. Wermiel teaches constitutional law, First Amendment, and a seminar on the workings of the Supreme Court. “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. The Constitution says the president shall appoint, it doesn't say only when it's politically convenient."

Stephen Vladeck is a professor of law at AU’s 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. “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.”