Federalism on Trial: Lessons from COVID-19


Speakers will take questions from viewers' at the end of each session. Viewers can submit questions throughout the session in the comments section for the YouTube feed or via email at constitution@uvu.edu.


October 21, 2020

9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. | Understanding Federalism

  • John Kincaid, "American Federalism’s Responses to COVID-19: Hits and Misses"
  • John Dinan, "Federalism Scholarship and the U.S. response to COVID19: Insights and Future Directions"
  • Jennifer Selin, "Federalism in the Time of Corona: A Cautionary Tale"

11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. | COVID-19 and the U.S. Constitution

  • John Vile, "Continuing Lessons on federalism from the COVID-19 pandemic"
  • Robert Nagal, "Ideology, the Pandemic, and the Future of Federalism"
  • Alan Tarr, "Covid-19 and the Generation of Constitutional Conflict"
  • Grace Mallon,  "Negotiating Quarantine Federalism: A Case Study from the Founding Era"

  • Moderator: Scott Paul, Center for Constitutional Studies

1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. | Federalism, COVID-19, and Political Culture

  • Carl Scott, "Township Federalism in the 21st Century"
  • Moderator: Sam Hill, Center for Constitutional Studies

3:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. | Federalism, Liberty, and Public Health

  • Ilya Somin, "Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom"

October 22, 2020

9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. | The Economics of Re-opening

  • Lauren Heller, "Covid-19 and Government Failure"
  • Daniel J. Mallinson, "The Politics of Re-opening"

11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. | State and Local Leadership During COVID-19

  • J. Edwin Benton, Challenges to Federalism and Lessons from the COVID-19 Experience

1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. | American Federalism Looking Forward

  • Troy Smith, "Framing the Debate Around COVID-19"
  • Moderator: Scott Paul, Center for Constitutional Studies

Speaker biographies

J. Edwin Benton

Policy Analyst, Political Reform Program
New America

J. Edwin Benton is a Professor of Political Science and Public Administration, having received his Ph. D. from Florida State University in 1978. He was previously at the University of Northern Iowa (1978-79) before coming to USF. Professor Benton has written extensively about county government, state-local relations, urban government and politics, intergovernmental fiscal behavior, and city-county consolidation.

Professionally, Dr. Benton has served on the editorial board of State and Local Government Review, American Review of Public Administration, and Florida Political Chronicle, and as an advisory board member of the National Center for the Study of Counties and as a Senior Fellow in the Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government at the University of Central Florida. Since 2011, he has been the Managing Editor of the academic journal, State and Local Government Review. Most recently, Dr. Benton was given the Manning J. Dauer Award by the Florida Political Science Association.

Since his arrival at USF, he has been appointed to a number of civic boards in Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa and testified before county, city, and state commissions (including committees in the Florida Legislature). In addition, Dr. Benton has been a frequent commentator for local, state, national, and international news media outlets and most recently was quoted in articles appearing in USA Today, New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal.

Alexandra G. Cockerham

Assistant Teaching Professor,
Florida State University

Alexandra's research interests center on executive power, with an eye toward the limitations that institutions impose on directly elected executives. Elected by either national or state-wide constituencies, public expectations of presidents and governors often exceed what formal powers would alone permit, and the formal separation of legislative power often frustrates executives policy agendas. Though most extant research focuses on a single national-level context, limiting our understanding of how variable institutional arrangements shape executive power, [her] research is explicitly comparative in nature, focusing on both the US states and presidential democracies.

John Dinan

Professor of Politics,
Wake Forest University

John Dinan is a professor of politics and international affairs at Wake Forest University. He is the author of several books, including State Constitutional Politics: Governing by Amendment in the American States and The American State Constitutional Tradition. He also writes an annual review of state constitutional developments in the 50 states and has published numerous articles analyzing various aspects of the U.S. federal system. He is the current editor of Publius: The Journal of Federalism and a past chair of the Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations Section of the American Political Science Association. He received his PhD from the University of Virginia.

Gary Gerstle

Paul Mellon Professor of American History
Cambridge University

Gary Gerstle arrived in Cambridge in 2014 after a three-decade career in the United States, most recently at Vanderbilt University where he was the James G. Stahlman Professor of American History. He is currently the Paul Mellon Professor of American History and Fellow of Sidney Sussex College. He is a social and political historian of the twentieth century, with substantial interests in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He received his BA from Brown University and his MA and PhD from Harvard University. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Historical Society.

Gerstle has received many fellowships, and has lectured throughout North America and Europe, and in Brazil, Israel, Mexico, Japan, South Africa, and South Korea. He was elected to the Society of American Historians in 2006 and named a Distinguished Lecturer of the Organization of American Historians in 2007. He has testified before the US Congress on immigration matters and served as an advisor and on-screen commentator for the 2013 Public Broadcasting Service documentary, Latino Americans. He is the creator and presenter of a four-part radio programme, America: Laboratory of Democracy, broadcast on BBC World Service in October-November 2017, and rebroadcast on multiple National Public Radio stations in the US in early 2018. His writings have been translated into Arabic, Dutch, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Greg Goelzhauser

Associate Professor,
Utah State University

Greg Goelzhauser is a professor in the political science department at Utah State University. Professor Goelzhauser has published two books on judicial selection—Choosing State Supreme Court Justices: Merit Selection and the Consequences of Institutional Reform and Judicial Merit Selection: Institutional Design and Performance for State Courts. He also served as co-editor of the Annual Review of American Federalism, published by Publius: The Journal of Federalism.

Alan Greenblatt

Senior Staff Writer,

Alan Greenblatt covers politics as well as policy issues for Governing. He is the coauthor of a standard textbook on state and local governments. He previously worked as a reporter for NPR and CQ and has written about politics and culture for many other outlets, including Politico, the Washington Post and the New York Times. He won the National Press Club’s Sandy Hume award for political journalism while reporting for Congressional Quarterly.

Lauren Heller

Associate Professor of Economics
Director of the Berry College Honors Program

Lauren Heller is an associate professor of economics in the Campbell School of Business and a Director of the Berry College Honors Program. Her research interests include international health and development economics, as well as a wide variety of policy questions and topics in applied microeconomics. She received her bachelor’s degree from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, and her Ph.D. in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has published scholarly articles in a wide range of outlets, including the Eastern Economic Journal, Contemporary Economic Policy, Defence and Peace Economics, the Journal of Developing Areas, and Social Science & Medicine. In addition to her research fields, she also enjoys working with students in Berry’s honors program and using discussion and multimedia clips to illustrate economic concepts in her classes.

Aziz Huq

Frank and Bernice J. Greenberg Professor of Law and
Mark Claster Mamolen Teaching Scholar
University of Chicago Law School

Aziz Huq’s teaching and research interests include constitutional law, criminal procedure, federal courts, and legislation. His scholarship concerns the interaction of constitutional design with individual rights and liberties. His pieces have garnered the AALS Junior Scholars Paper Competition Award in Criminal Law and been selected for the Harvard/Stanford/Yale Junior Faculty Forum. Before joining the Law School faculty, Prof. Huq worked as Associate Counsel and then Director of the Liberty and National Security Project of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, litigating cases in both the US Courts of Appeals and the Supreme Court. He was also a Senior Consultant Analyst for the International Crisis Group, researching constitutional design and implementation in Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka. He clerked for Judge Robert D. Sack of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Robert Nagal

Rothgerber Professor of Constitutional Law
University of Colorado Law School

Robert Nagel joined the faculty of Colorado Law School in 1975, leaving a position as a deputy attorney general in Pennsylvania. Since that time, he has focused on constitutional law and theory. For an audience of legal scholars, Professor Nagel has written prolifically, including four books and over 50 law review articles. He has also contributed to the popular debate on constitutional issues, including free speech, hate codes, and federalism, by addressing his ideas to the general citizenry in articles and opinion pieces in publications such as The New Republic, the Wall Street Journal, First Things, and the Weekly Standard. Much of his work has focused on the relationship between the judiciary (and its interpretation of the Constitution) and the wider context of American political culture. Professor Nagel has testified before several congressional committees. He was formerly the director of the Law School's Byron R. White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law. In 2003, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Don Kettl

Sid Richardson Professor at the LBJ School
Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Volcker Alliance

Donald F. Kettl is the Sid Richardson Professor at the LBJ School, specializing in public management and public policy. He previously served as dean in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Volcker Alliance, the Brookings Institution and the Partnership for Public Service.

Dr. Kettl has authored or edited numerous books, the most recent being The Divided States of America: Why Federalism Doesn't Work (2020). He has received three lifetime achievement awards: the American Political Science Association's John Gaus Award, the Warner W. Stockberger Achievement Award of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources, and the Donald C. Stone Award of the American Society for Public Administration. Dr. Kettl has consulted for government organizations at all levels, including most recently the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He has appeared frequently in national and international media. He has chaired two gubernatorial blue-ribbon commissions for the Wisconsin state government — one on campaign finance reform and the other on government structure and finance. Use code UVU-FG for 30% off The Divided States of America and free shipping through 11/30/20. 

John Kincaid

Robert B. & Helen S. Meyner Professor of Government & Public Service
Director of the Meyner Center

John Kincaid is the Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Professor of Government and Public Service and Director of the Meyner Center for the Study of State and Local Government at Lafayette College. He also is Senior Editor of the Global Dialogue on Federalism, a joint project of the Forum of Federations and International Association of Centers for Federal Studies, and an elected fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. He is the recipient of the Daniel J. Elazar Distinguished Scholar Award from the Section on Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations of the American Political Science Association and of the Donald Stone Distinguished Scholar Award from the Section on Intergovernmental Administration and Management of the American Society of Public Administration. He is the author of various works on federalism and intergovernmental relations; editor of Political Culture, Public Policy and the American States (1981); and co-editor of Competition among States and Local Governments: Efficiency and Equity in American Federalism (1991), The Covenant Connection: From Federal Theology to Modern Federalism (2000), and Constitutional Origins, Structure, and Change in Federal Countries (2005). He has also lectured and consulted on issues of federalism, intergovernmental relations, state and local government, and decentralization throughout the United States and the world.

Nancy J. Knauer

Director of the Law and Public Policy Program
Sheller Professor of Public Interest Law

Nancy J. Knauer, J.D., is the Sheller Professor of Public Interest Law and Director of the Law & Public Policy Program at Temple University, Beasley School of Law. Professor Knauer’s scholarship explores the impact of law and public policy on the lives of LGBT people. She is the author of Gay and Lesbian Elders: History, Law and Identity Politics in the US and more than fifty academic articles, books, and book chapters. Professor Knauer has received numerous awards for teaching, service, and scholarship. She is the co-founder of the Aging, Law & Society Collaborative Research Network of the Law & Society Association and served on the Executive Committee of the Family Law Institute of the National LGBT Association. Professor Knauer is profiled in the book What the Best Law Teachers Do, published by Harvard University Press in 2013.

Daniel J. Mallinson

Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Administration
Pennsylvania State University

Daniel Mallinson received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the Pennsylvania State University. His expertise lies in state and local politics and policy, with his main research focus examining the mechanics of policy diffusion among the U.S. states. Additional interests include public administration and public policy as well as statistical methodology. He is particularly interested in Pennsylvania State politics and has experience as an Information Specialist for the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and a Program Analyst for the Office of Inspector General in Philadelphia (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). He has published in a variety of journals, including Policy Studies Journal, State Politics & Policy Quarterly, State & Local Government Review, and Statistics, Policy, & Politics. He received the Robert S. Friedman Award for Excellence in Teaching from Penn State University and has published about pedagogy in political science in PS: Political Science & Politics.

Grace Mallon

DPhil candidate in History at the University of Oxford

 Grace Mallon is a Ph.D. candidate in History at the University of Oxford. Her doctoral project asks how the governments of the American states responded to the implementation of the U.S. Constitution after 1789, how they interacted with the federal government, and how the creation of the new federal system changed how they governed. Herbroader research interests include the history of the U.S. Constitution and of law, politics, and government between the American Revolution and the American Civil War. She is also keenly interested in the history of nationalism; in modern European history, especially Germany; and in the evolution of historical theories and methodologies across time. She was born and brought up in London and is a British citizen. Before embarking on her doctoral research, she gained a BA in History and a MSt in U.S. History from the University of Oxford, where she is a member of University College. After graduating, she was closely involved with the creation of a digital model of the 1787 Constitutional Convention at the Quill Project at Pembroke College. As a graduate student, she co-founded the Oxford Early American Republic Seminar, which is based at the Rothermere American Institute.

Walter Olson

Senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Robert A. Levy
Center for Constitutional Studies

Walter Olson is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies and is known for his writing on the American legal system. He has published several books, his most recent being Schools for Misrule, on the state of the law schools. His first book, The Litigation Explosion, was one of the most widely discussed general-audience books on law of its time. It led the Washington Post to dub him “intellectual guru of tort reform.” Active on social media, he is known as the founder and principal writer of what is generally considered the oldest blog on law as well as one of the most popular, Overlawyered​.com. He has advised many public officials from the White House to town councils and in 2015 was named by Gov. Larry Hogan to be co‐​chair of the Maryland Redistricting Reform Commission, which issued its report recommendations later that year to acclaim across the state.

Jennifer Selin

Kinder Institute Assistant Professor of Constitutional Democracy in the University of Missouri’s Department of Political Science.

Jennifer L. Selin is a Kinder Institute Assistant Professor of Constitutional Democracy at the University of Missouri. She is the co-author of the Sourcebook of United States Executive Agencies (2012, 2018) and her research explores how the federal bureaucracy functions in the American separation of powers system. Selin’s scholarship has been published in political science, public administration, and law journals and has been utilized by the Obama and Trump Administrations, Congress, the Supreme Court, and the media. A proud graduate of Lebanon Valley College, Selin holds a J.D. from Wake Forest University and a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. Prior to joining academia, she practiced administrative law and specialized in federal electricity market regulation and alternative energy development, licensing, and regulation.

Carmel Shachar

Executive Director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics, Harvard Law School.

Carmel Shachar, JD, MPH, is the Executive Director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School. She is responsible for oversight of the Center’s sponsored research portfolio, event programming, fellowships, student engagement, development, and a range of other projects and collaborations. In addition, she is also the Co-Editor of the Center’s collaborative health policy blog, Bill of Health.

Carmel’s scholarship focuses on law and health policy, in particular the regulation of access to care for vulnerable individuals, health care anti-discrimination law and policy, and the use of all-payer claims databases in health care research.

Troy E. Smith

Professor, Brigham Young University-Hawai'i
Fellow at the Center for the Study of Federalism

Troy E. Smith is professor of Political Science at Brigham Young University-Hawai’i. He is also a fellow at the Center for the Study of Federalism where he is the editor of the online version of Federalism in America: An Encyclopedia. His primary interest is in states lobbying Congress and the philosophy and history of federalism. His academic work has appeared in Publius: The Journal of Federalism; Congress & the Presidency; The Review of Politics, and others.

Ilya Somin

Professor of Law
George Mason University

Ilya Somin is Professor of Law at George Mason University. His research focuses on constitutional law, property law, and the study of popular political participation and its implications for constitutional democracy. He is the author of Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter (Stanford University Press, revised and expanded second edition, 2016), The Grasping Hand: Kelo v. City of New London and the Limits of Eminent Domain (University of Chicago Press, 2015, rev. paperback ed., 2016), and Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration and Political Freedom (Oxford University Press, 2020), coauthor of A Conspiracy Against Obamacare: The Volokh Conspiracy and the Health Care Case (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), and co-editor of Eminent Domain: A Comparative Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2017). Somin’s work has appeared in numerous scholarly journals, including the Yale Law Journal, Stanford Law Review, Northwestern University Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, Critical Review, and others. Somin has also published articles in a variety of popular press outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, CNN, USA Today, US News and World Report, South China Morning Post, Legal Times, National Law Journal and Reason. Somin writes regularly for the popular Volokh Conspiracy law and politics blog, now affiliated with Reason magazine.

Lance Sorenson

Olin-Darling Fellow in Constitutional Law
Stanford Law School

Lance Sorenson is an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Utah practicing constitutional law. He has a doctorate in Legal History from UNLV and has taught law and history at Stanford, BYU, and UNLV. He is the author of Tribal Sovereignty and the Recognition Power, 42 American Indian Law Rev. 69 (2017) and The Hybrid Nature of the Property Clause: Implications for Judicial Review of National Monument Reductions, 21 University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law (2019). The views expressed herein are his alone and do not reflect the views of the Office of the Attorney General.

G. Alan Tarr

Board of Governors Professor Emeritus
Director, Center for State Constitutional Studies

G. Alan Tarr was founder and director of the Center for State Constitutional Studies and is now Board of Governors Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Rutgers University-Camden. He served as editor of State Constitutions of the United States, a 50-volume reference series (Oxford University Press) and as co-editor of the three-volume State Constitutions for the Twenty-first Century (State University of New York Press), of Constitutional Origins, Structure, and Change in Federal Countries (McGill-Queen's University Press), and of Federalism, Subnational Constitutions, and Minority Rights (Praeger). He is the author of Without Fear or Favor (Stanford University Press), Understanding State Constitutions (Princeton University Press) and Judicial Process and Judicial Policymaking (Rutledge); co-author of State Supreme Courts in State and Nation (Yale University Press) and of American Constitutional Law (Rutledge). Three times the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and more recently a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Ottawa, he has lectured on federalism and constitutionalism throughout the United States and in Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America.

John Vile

Professor of Political Science
Dean of the University Honors College at Middle Tennessee State University

John R. Vile is a professor of political science and dean of the University Honors College at Middle Tennessee State University. He has written extensively on the drafting and ratification of the U.S. Constitution, the constitutional amending process, proposed alternatives to the U.S. Constitution, and Supreme Court decisions and other contemporary understandings of the document. Vile is the author of numerous books on the U.S. Constitution and the constitutional amending process and of The Wisest Council in the World: Restoring the Character Sketches by William Pierce of Georgia of the Delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 (Georgia). His latest book is The Bible in American Law and Politics: A Reference Guide.

Keith E. Whittington

William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics
Princeton University

Keith E. Whittington is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics in the Department of Politics at Princeton University. He is the author of Repugnant Laws: Judicial Review of Acts of Congress from the Founding to the Present (which won the Thomas M. Cooley Book Prize) and Speak Freely: Why Universities Must Defend Free Speech (which won the PROSE Award for best book in education and the Heterodox Academy Award for Exceptional Scholarship), as well as Constitutional Construction: Divided Powers and Constitutional Meaning, and Constitutional Interpretation: Textual Meaning, Original Intent, and Judicial Review, and Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy: The Presidency, the Supreme Court, and Constitutional Leadership in U.S. History (which won the C. Herman Pritchett Award for best book in law and courts and the J. David Greenstone Award for best book in politics and history), and Judicial Review and Constitutional Politics, and American Political Thought: Readings and Materials.

He is the editor (with Neal Devins) of Congress and the Constitution and editor (with R. Daniel Kelemen and Gregory A. Caldeira) of The Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics and editor of Law and Politics: Critical Concepts in Political Science. He is also the author (with Howard Gillman and Mark A. Graber) of American Constitutionalism, vol. 1: Structures of Government and American Constitutionalism, vol. 2: Rights and Liberties (which together won the Teaching and Mentoring Award for innovative instructional materials in law and courts), and American Constitutionalism: Powers, Rights and Liberties (a one-volume abridgement). He has published widely on American constitutional theory and development, federalism, judicial politics, and the presidency.

Ernest A. Young

Alston & Bird Professor of Law
Duke University

Professor Young teaches constitutional law, federal courts, and foreign relations law. He is one of the nation's leading authorities on the constitutional law of federalism, having written extensively on the Rehnquist Court's "Federalist Revival" and the difficulties confronting courts as they seek to draw lines between national and state authority. He also is an active commentator on foreign relations law, where he focuses on the interaction between domestic and supranational courts and the application of international law by domestic courts. Professor Young also writes on constitutional interpretation and constitutional theory. He has been known to dabble in maritime law and comparative constitutional law.

A native of Abilene, Texas, Professor Young joined the Duke Law faculty in 2008, after serving as the Charles Alan Wright Chair in Federal Courts at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, where he had taught since 1999. He has also been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School (2004-05) and Villanova University School of Law (1998-99), as well as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center (1997).

Elected to the American Law Institute in 2006, Professor Young is an active participant in both public and private litigation in his areas of interest. He has been the principal author of amicus briefs on behalf of leading constitutional scholars in several recent Supreme Court cases, including Medellin v. Texas (concerning presidential power and the authority of the International Court of Justice over domestic courts) and Gonzales v. Raich (concerning federal power to regulate medical marijuana).