HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University’s Amicus Curiae Lecture Series on Constitutional Democracy will feature a lecture by Grinnell College Professor Peter Hanson on the impact of deep partisan polarization on Congress and prospects for reform.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, March 28, at the Brad D. Smith Foundation Hall.

Hanson, who also serves as the director of the Grinnell College national poll, is a specialist on the United States Congress and the politics of the federal budget. He is the author of Too Weak to Govern: Majority Party Power and Appropriations in the U.S. Senate. From 1996-2002, he served on the staff of U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle, focusing on appropriations and environmental policy. He is regularly interviewed by Iowa Public Radio and a variety of national media outlets.

“Dr. Hanson’s lecture could not be more timely or relevant,” said Patricia Proctor, director of Marshall’s Simon Perry Center for Constitutional Democracy. “The current Congress is the focus of intense scrutiny on a daily basis due to its failure to pass laws, and whether one supports its current state or does not, it clearly is related to the polarization affecting our country. Dr. Hanson’s work explores whether Congress still has the capacity to solve critical problems the country faces and how the situation might be be addressed and improved. He brings the added benefit of lived experience to his analysis of the situation.”

The lecture, titled “Evaluating Congress: The Cost of Partisan Polarization and Prospects for Reform,” is sponsored by Marshall’s Simon Perry Center for Constitutional Democracy with support from the West Virginia Humanities Council. For more information, contact Proctor by e-mail at

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