The real problem with Citizens United: Campaign finance, dark money, and shadow parties

Date & time

Feb 3, 2014, 4:00-5:30 pm EST


Weill Hall, Annenberg Auditorium
735 South State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Free and open to the public. Reception to follow. Join the conversation on Twitter: #policytalks

About the topic Few cases have generated as much controversy as Citizens United. The story told by reformers and reporters is that Citizens United ushered in a new era of dark money, with wealthy corporations spending wildly, saturating the airwaves, and taking over American politics. Most of that story is wrong, and some of it is nonsense. There is a bigger story about the relationship between Citizens United and American politics; it's just not the one we've been told. Professor Gerken will argue that the "dark money" trend is a symptom of a deeper shift taking place in American politics as we move from the political parties we know toward what she calls "shadow parties." And for all the brouhaha over dark money, we may one day think that the bigger and more important problem to emerge from the 2012 election is the shadow party.

About Heather Gerken Heather Gerken is the J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Professor Gerken specializes in election law and constitutional law. She has published in a variety of journals, including the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, the Stanford Law Review, Political Theory, and Political Science Quarterly. Her most recent scholarship explores questions of election reform, federalism, diversity, and dissent. Her work was the subject of a festschrift and has been featured in The Atlantic's "Ideas of the Year" and the Ideas Section of the Boston Globe. Professor Gerken clerked for Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th Circuit and Justice David Souter of the United States Supreme Court. After practicing for several years, she joined the Harvard faculty in September 2000 and was awarded tenure in 2005. In 2006, she joined the Yale faculty. She has won teaching awards at both Yale and Harvard and was recently featured in a book published by Harvard University Press on the nation's twenty-six "best law teachers." She was in the "Boiler Room" as a senior legal advisor to the Obama for America campaign in 2008 and 2012. Her proposal for creating a "Democracy Index" was incorporated into separate bills by then-Senator Hillary Clinton, then-Senator Barack Obama, and Congressman Israel. In February 2013, the idea was made into a reality by the Pew Foundations, which created the nation's first Election Performance Index.