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23rd Annual Clifford Symposium Shines the Light on “Dark Money and Judicial Elections”

DePaul College of Law has been home to the longest running civil justice symposium in the country, sparking conversations each year among top legal scholars and influencing policy in cutting-edge topics. Each year, papers reflecting this high-level exchange of ideas are published in the DePaul Law Review, which continues to elevate the journal’s and law school’s reputations. 

In April 2017, DePaul College of Law continues this tradition of excellence with the 23rd Annual Clifford Symposium on Tort Law and Social Policy, which will focus on “Dark Money and Judicial Elections.” 
This year's symposium will examine the changes in funding for judicial elections brought about by the Supreme Court rulings in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010) and Caperton v. A. T. Massey Coal Co., 556 U.S. 868 (2009). These decisions have inspired a renewed tension between a desire to allow the political process to be unimpeded, and the dangers of the judicial process being influenced by money. Of particular concern is maintaining the integrity of the judicial system in localities that allow for elected judges in an era of virtually unrestricted campaign contributions. 

Throughout the two days of the Symposium, this subject will be explored from empirical, remedial, and experiential perspectives. Some of the most renowned thinkers in the areas of social science and law -- including Tom Tyler (Yale Law School), Herbert Kritzer (University of Minnesota Law School), and Alicia Bannon (Brennan Center for Justice). These thought leaders will share their perspectives and research on this issue, along with judges who have been affected by the changes in election funding. 

Professor Emeritus Stephan Landsman, who has organized this event for over 20 years, recognizes the importance and relevance of this topic in today's climate. The symposium, in his view, will reveal how the “system encourages subterfuge” by allowing people to donate to third parties, which can then fund campaigns. But the symposium will not stop there – it also will identify potential solutions, such as enforcing disclosure of where money came from and went to. 

Landsman credits the long-running success of the Clifford Symposium to “being anchored in the world as it exists.” The symposium gets the best people “not simply for erudite discussion … but to look at the challenges of the real world in a scholarly manner.” He also recognizes that this symposium would not exist without the boundless generosity of Robert Clifford, a DePaul Law alumnus who personally underwrites the event every year. Dean Rosato Perea agrees: “Through Bob Clifford’s support and vision, and Professor Landsman’s expertise and commitment, year after year the Clifford Symposium facilitates important conversations among participants who are the leaders in their fields.” 

The 2017 Clifford Symposium will continue its distinctive and valuable tradition of focusing on real world legal issues and presenting real world solutions. Registration is open and free to the public until April 14, 2017.