HLS GOP Event Focuses on Political Campaigns and the Law

BY TORY JACKSON

On Wednesday, September 14, the HLS Republicans hosted a talk by Benjamin Ginsberg, former National Counsel to the Bush-Cheney Campaign. Ginsberg spoke about his unique career as one of the GOP’s most prominent election lawyers, and encouraged the 50 students in attendance to put their legal education to work in the political process.

Ginsberg, who is currently a Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government’s Institute of Politics, provided insight about the role of law in politics. From fights over redistricting to the historic 2000 election, Ginsberg spoke of his experiences over the last two decades.

While there are not many election lawyers nationwide, there are various ways in which lawyers can get involved in politics. In particular, Ginsberg recommended that students look for opportunities to work in presidential campaigns, especially for challengers.

For his part, Ginsberg played a central role in both the 2000 and 2004 elections as National Counsel to the Bush-Cheney Campaign. He provided fascinating details about the Florida recount, as he and his colleagues found themselves “walking into the pages of history.”

Ginsberg recalled the initial confusion when the Supreme Court first handed down its opinion in Bush v. Gore. The major news networks, who were the first to receive copies of the opinion, varied in their interpretations and left both campaigns on edge. As the opinion began coming over the fax machines at the GOP’s headquarters in Florida, staffers were given five pages each in order to determine what the court had ruled. Finally, one staffer exclaimed, “we must have won, here’s [Justice] Breyer’s dissent.”

Ginsberg will spend this semester at the Institute of Politics, where he will teach a class on election law and work on a forthcoming book. He is also a partner at Patton Boggs, LLP, in Washington, D.C. He received an A.B. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1974 and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1982.

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