The Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Distinguished Panel: On the State of the Presidency

Event Details

Thursday, January 30, 2020
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM 
45 East 53rd Street
New York, NY
Event type
Lecture / Panel  

Event Description


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This year’s Arthur Schlesinger panel will convene four renowned presidential scholars to discuss the reshaping of the executive branch in recent years. Watch as Akhil Reed Amar, Philip Bobbitt, Jonathan Alter, and moderator Stephen Schlesinger have a spirited debate on the most salient political question of this generation. All four of our panelists will bring their deep pools of knowledge and differing perspectives to bear on this important topic.

Event Speakers

    • Stephen Schlesinger - Moderator
      Fellow, The Century Foundation

      Stephen Schlesinger is a Fellow at the Century Foundation in New York City. He is the former Director of the World Policy Institute at the New School (1997-2006) and former publisher of the quarterly magazine, The World Policy Journal. Mr. Schlesinger received his BA from Harvard University and his JD from Harvard Law School. He spent four years as a staff writer at Time Magazine. For twelve years, he served as a speechwriter and foreign policy advisor to New York State Governor Mario Cuomo. In the mid 1990s, he worked at the United Nations at Habitat, the agency dealing with global cities. He is the author of Act of Creation: The Founding of The United Nations (Westview Press 2003), for which he won the 2004 Harry S. Truman Book Award; Bitter Fruit: The Story of the U.S. Coup in Guatemala (Doubleday 1982, with Stephen Kinzer) cited as one of the New York Times’ “notable books” for 1982 which has sold over 100,000 copies; and The New Reformers (Houghton Mifflen 1975). He is co-editor (with Andrew Schlesinger) of the best-selling Journals 1952-2000 Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., (Penguin Press 2007), and of The Letters of Arthur Schlesinger Jr. (Random House 2013). In 2016, he wrote the new introduction to President John Kennedy’s first book, Why England Slept, reissued by Praeger. He is a specialist on the United Nations and on the foreign policies of the Clinton, Bush and Obama Administrations. His website is:

    • Jonathan Alter - Panelist
      Author, Reporter, Columnist, TV Analyst

      Jonathan Alter is an award-winning author, reporter, columnist and television producer and analyst.He is the author of three New York Times bestsellers: "The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies"(2013), "The Promise: President Obama, Year One" (2010) and "The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope (2006), also one of the Times' "Notable Books" of the year. Since 1996, Alter has been an analyst and contributing correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC, appearing on-air two or three times a week. After 28 years as a columnist and senior editor at Newsweek, where he wrote more than 50 cover stories, Alter is now a twice-monthly columnist for the Daily Beast. He has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Washington Monthly, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The New Republic, Esquire, Bloomberg View and other publications. He is an executive producer of "Alpha House," a half-hour political comedy created by Garry Trudeau and starring John Goodman that is available for viewing on He is at work on a full-length biography of former President Jimmy Carter and is producing a documentary about the lives of legendary journalists Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill.

      Follow him on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook


    • Akhil Reed Amar - Panelist
      Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale University

      Akhil Reed Amar is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, where he teaches constitutional law in both Yale College and Yale Law School. After graduating from Yale College, summa cum laude, in 1980 and from Yale Law School in 1984, and clerking for then Judge (now Justice) Stephen Breyer, Amar joined the Yale faculty in 1985 at the age of 26. His work has won awards from both the American Bar Association and the Federalist Society, and he has been cited by Supreme Court justices across the spectrum in some forty cases—tops in his generation. He regularly testifies before Congress at the invitation of both parties; and in surveys of judicial citations and/or scholarly citations, he invariably ranks among America’s five most-cited mid-career legal scholars. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a recipient of the American Bar Foundation’s Outstanding Scholar Award. In 2008 he received the DeVane Medal—Yale’s highest award for teaching excellence. He has written widely for popular publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Time, and The Atlantic. He was an informal consultant to the popular TV show, The West Wing, and his constitutional scholarship has been showcased on a wide range of broadcasts, including The Colbert Report, Up with Chris Hayes, Tucker Carlson Tonight, Morning Joe, AC360, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 11th Hour with Brian Williams, Fox News @Night with Shannon Bream, Fareed Zakaria GPS, Erin Burnett Outfront, and Constitution USA with Peter Sagal. He is the author of dozens of law review articles and several books, including The Constitution and Criminal Procedure (1997), The Bill of Rights (1998—winner of the Yale University Press Governors’ Award), America’s Constitution (2005—winner of the ABA’s Silver Gavel Award), America’s Unwritten Constitution (2012—named one of the year’s 100 best nonfiction books by The Washington Post), The Law of the Land (2015), and The Constitution Today (2016—named one of the year’s top ten nonfiction books by Time magazine). In 2017 he received the Howard Lamar Award for outstanding service to Yale alumni. He is Yale’s only currently active professor to have won the University’s unofficial triple crown—the Sterling Chair for scholarship, the DeVane Medal for teaching, and the Lamar Award for alumni service.


    • Philip C. Bobbitt - Panelist
      Herbert Wechlser Professor of Federal Jurisprudence, Columbia Law School

      Philip C. Bobbitt is the Herbert Wechsler Professor of Federal Jurisprudence and director for the Center for National Security at Columbia Law School. He is one of the nation’s leading constitutional theorists. Bobbitt’s interests include not only constitutional law but also international security and the history of strategy.

      The author of ten books, Bobbitt is a former trustee of Princeton University and a former member of the Oxford University Modern History Faculty and the War Studies Department of Kings College, London.

      Bobbitt is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and of the Royal Historical Society. He is a life member of the American Law Institute; a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; the Pacific Council on International Policy; and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (London). He is also a member of the Commission on the Continuity of Government.

      He has served as law clerk to the Honorable Henry J. Friendly; associate counsel to the president; the counselor on international law at the State Department; the legal counsel to the Senate Iran-Contra Committee; director for Intelligence Programs ;and senior director for Critical Infrastructure and senior director for strategic planning at the National Security Council. He was appointed to the National Infrastructure Assurance Council; the Secretary of States’s Advisory Committee on International Law; and the External Advisory Board of the Central Intelligence Agency.

      Before joining the Law School’s faculty, Bobbitt was A.W. Walker Centennial Chair in Law at the University of Texas Law School.

      He serves on the editorial board of Biosecurity and Bioterrorism. He was the Florence Rogatz Visiting Professor of Law at Yale Law School in 2014; the Samuel Rubin Visiting Professor of Law at Columbia Law School in 2007; and the James Barr Ames Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School in 2005.

      He serves as a distinguished senior lecturer at the University of Texas.