The Quinlan Lecture 2008: Heather Gerken – “Getting From Here To There In Election Reform”


Heather Gerken, a professor of law at Yale Law School and a nationally-recognized expert on election law, will deliver the 2008 Quinlan Lecture in the Homsey Family Moot Courtroom at OCU LAW at 5 p.m. on April 3. The lecture, titled Getting from Here to There in Election Reform, is free and open to the public.

“What we need is a new approach, one that turns the system’s biggest flaws into a crucial asset,” said Gerken. “Any reform should seek to harness the power of partisan competition rather than try to circumvent it. To fix elections, we must realign the interests of politicians with those of the voters.”

“Heather Gerken is a first-rate scholar and teacher, and her discussion of election reform could not be more important or timely,” said OCU LAW Professor Art LeFrancois, who chairs the law school’s speakers committee.

Gerken specializes in election law at Yale Law School, as well as constitutional law and civil procedure. She is considered one of the country’s leading experts on voting rights and election law, the role of groups in the democratic process, and the relationship between diversity and democracy.

A native of Massachusetts, Professor Gerken graduated from Princeton University, where she received her A.B. degree summa cum laude in 1991, and from the University of Michigan Law School, where she received her J.D. summa cum laude in 1994. She then served as a law clerk for Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and for Justice David H. Souter of the United States Supreme Court, before entering private practice in Washington, D.C.

In 2000 Professor Gerken became an assistant professor at Harvard Law School, where she was granted tenure and won the Sachs-Freund teaching award. She joined the Yale faculty in 2006. She is currently working on a book on the trans-substantive concept of “second-order diversity” in American public law.

Yale Law School Dean Harold Hongiu Koh has said, “Gerken speaks with one of the most exciting and powerful new scholarly voices in the legal academy. A gifted teacher and energizing colleague, she has already changed the way we think about democracy.”