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Summer Lecture Series 2019:
Critical Thinking For The Preservation of Our Democracy

Thursday, July 11 – August 15, 2019
9:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Spaulding Auditorium
12 Lebanon Street
Hanover, NH

Member Series Ticket: $95
Non-Member Series Ticket: $120
Single Session Ticket: $25
(Click on the specific date below to register or pay at the door)
Dartmouth College Students, Staff, Faculty: Present your Dartmouth College ID on the day of a lecture for free admission.

Recently there has been a sharp decline in critical thinking – listening thoughtfully and evaluating different points of view objectively on an issue. Rather, partisan and often uncivil tribal loyalty is dominating the discourse, and Americans are more and more getting their information and opinions from media vehicles that already agree and reinforce their going-in opinions. Other points of view are ignored.

We are planning to structure the sessions as debates where both sides of each issue are covered, thus demonstrating critical thinking in action. For each debate there will be a moderator and two speakers representing different points of view on the issue.


Owen Fiss, Akhil Reed Amar, David BisnoSpeaker: Owen Fiss
Professor of Law, Yale Law School
Speaker: Akhil Reed Amar
Professor of Law, Yale College and Yale Law School
Moderator: David Bisno
Constitutional law scholar

Freedom of speech, enshrined in the First Amendment, grants all Americans the liberty to speak their minds without the fear of being censored or persecuted. But there are limitations, and lawmakers and judges continue to struggle with balancing free speech protections with the necessity of maintaining a civil and peaceful society. Should inflammatory hate speech be allowed? Should an invited guest at a college be shouted down, threatened, or even physically abused because of radically opposing views? Confrontations are escalating.


Joseph Blocher, Erin Murphy, John GarveySpeaker: Joseph Blocher
Professor, Duke Law School
Speaker: Erin Murphy
Partner and Litigator, Kirkland & Ellis law firm
Moderator: John Garvey
Professor, UNH School of Law

The Second Amendment to the Constitution established that "a well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed". Nowhere does it define "arms", and it neither permits nor denies gun ownership for private purposes. In 2008, the Supreme Court decided that individuals have an inherent right to own handguns for lawful purposes. But does "handguns" include assault rifles? And Sandy Hook and other tragedies have raised the profile of the gun rights issue to our schools and churches. Is it legal to monitor everyone who has been treated for mental illness?


Linda Chavez, Neal Katyal, Dan BenjaminSpeaker: Linda Chavez
Chairman/CEO of the Center for Equal Opportunity
Speaker: Neal Katyal
Partner, Hogan Lavells Law Firm; Professor of Law, Georgetown University
Moderator: Dan Benjamin
Director, John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, Dartmouth College

Most U.S. colleges are implementing special Affirmative Action admission policies where academic achievement is only one factor, designed to generate a student body with more economic, racial, sexual, and global diversity. They claim their broader student diversity pool results in enhanced multicultural understanding and critical thinking. Opponents of these policies claim they unfairly discriminate against applicants with better academic qualifications, and thus are a violation of civil rights laws. Several Asian-American students among this group have just sued Harvard, alleging racial discrimination. What are the legal merits of each position?


RonNell Anderson Jones, Andy Phillips, Richard TofelSpeaker: RonNell Andersen Jones
Professor of Law, University of Utah Quinney College of Law
Speaker: Andy Phillips
Partner and Litigator, Clare Locke law firm (DC)
Moderator: Richard Tofel
President of ProPublica, a non-profit investigative journalism organization in NYC

Freedom of the press has been regarded as an essential right in a democracy in which the government is accountable to the people. A free media can be a watchdog that reports government wrongdoing, and it can be free to promote different and sometimes radical opinions on issues. Recently, as the media have proliferated and we have entered the digital world, many of them have reported blatantly inaccurate and "fake news". Some dark websites have become a forum for bigots, spewing hate rhetoric and inciting unlawful violence. Should some limitations be imposed?


Jennifer Daskal, Neil Richards, Peter TeachoutSpeaker: Jennifer Daskal
Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law (DC)
Speaker: Neil Richards
Professor of Law, Washington University in St. Louis Law School
Moderator: Peter Teachout
Professor of Law, Vermont Law School

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution restricts actions of the government to intrude into the privacy of its citizens, ensuring their security in their persons, houses, and property, and their protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Law enforcement officers in today's digital world, however, have found new ways to track individuals and get possible incriminating data without a warrant. Authorities and social media can pervasively use an individual's personal data to track that person's behavior and communications. Should limits be placed on these actions?


Debo Adegbile, Bradley Smith, John GreabeSpeaker: Debo Adegbile
Partner, Wilmer Hale Law Firm
Speaker: Bradley Smith
Professor of Law, Capital University Law School
Moderator: John Greabe
Professor of Law, UNH Law School

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed all discriminatory voting practices that denied people the right to vote. But some states have enacted practices that can suppress voter rights – literacy tests, ID cards, residency requirements, purges of voter rolls, and gerrymandering. Are these suppressions legal? And, in 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations and special interest groups have a free speech right to spend unlimited amounts of money in elections. This can drown out other voices and diminish the ability of many voters to hear other views and thus make reasoned decisions.

YouTube Videos

All clips provided courtesy of CATV. Visit our YouTube channel for a look at our past Summer Lecture Series.


7 Lebanon Street, Suite 107, Hanover, NH 03755-2112
Monday – Thursday: 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM • Fridays: 8:30 AM – 1:00 PM • (603) 646-0154


Last Updated: 4/11/19