Dean's Lecture - Jesse Merriam

Start Date
Monday, November 2, 2020 - 4:00 pm
End Date
Monday, November 2, 2020 - 5:00 pm
Event Audience
Event Description

The Evolution of Affirmative Action in Theory and Practice

Over the last several decades, affirmative action has become one of the most controversial areas of constitutional law and public policy. Often overlooked in debates on the subject, however, is the extent to which affirmative action has changed, in theory and practice, since it first appeared in federal law in 1961. This talk will examine the three main changes: (1) how affirmative action has expanded in scope, (2) how affirmative action has strengthened in force, and (3) how the legal justifications for affirmative action have broadened. The talk will conclude by considering what these changes can teach us about the ongoing Harvard litigation and the future of race relations in the United States.



Jesse Merriam

Associate Professor of Government; Pre-Law Advisor

Educational Background:

Juris Doctorate, The George Washington University Law School, Washington, D.C.

Ph.D., Political Science, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, M.D.

Dr. Merriam teaches courses in constitutional law, legal theory, and legal reasoning. Before coming to Patrick Henry College, he served for six years as an assistant professor of political science and the pre-law advisor at Loyola University Maryland.  He also worked as an appellate litigator at a D.C. constitutional law firm and as a research associate at the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life.    

He has published over a dozen academic articles in top law-review and peer-reviewed journals, covering such diverse topics as legal conservatism, the meaning of the rule of law, church-state relations, and the theory and practice of originalist constitutional interpretation. Dr. Merriam has also published over 20 online articles, appearing in such places as Law and Liberty, National Review Online, The American Conservative, American Greatness, and Claremont Review of Books. In 2019-2020, Dr. Merriam was selected to be the Visiting Fellow in American Political Thought at the Heritage Foundation's B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics. He is in the process of being nominated by President Trump to serve on the National Council on the Humanities. 

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