The YDA is proud to announce an intergenerational alumni debate featuring constitutional law scholar Akhil Amar ('80), former presidential speechwriter David Frum ('82), and two more recent graduates, Rhodes Scholar Jake Sullivan ('98) and National Champion Tim Willenken ('03). The diversity of the debaters' backgrounds and political persuasions promises a lively and enlightening event; see biographies of the debaters below.
You decide the topic of debate! We invite submissions for the topic, to be announced by the YDA board on October 11. We ask only that these be serious and of current relevance; click the button below to make a suggestion.
Meet the Debaters
Akhil Reed Amar ('80): Professor Amar is an expert in constitutional law, and holds the the Southmayd endowed chair at Yale Law School, where he was the secound-youngest Professor to be granted tenure in the School's history and has taught since 1985. Amar graduated summa cum laude, with a 4.0 GPA, from Yale College in 1980, and earned his J.D. in 1984 from Yale Law School, where he served as an editor of The Yale Law Journal.
Before joining the Yale faculty, Professor Amar clerked for Judge Stephen Breyer, U.S. Court of Appeals, 1st Circuit. He is also the author of several books, including The Constitution and Criminal Procedure: First Principles (1997), The Bill of Rights: Creation and Reconstruction (1998), and America's Constitution: A Biography (2005).
David J. Frum ('82): A journalist and scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Frum is renowned for his term as an economics speechwriter for President George W. Bush from 2001-2002. He graduated in 1982 from Yale College, where he was simultaneously awarded B.A. and M.A. degrees in History, and received a J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1987.
Frum has written five major books, two of which were New York Times bestsellers: The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush (2003), the first "insider" account of the Bush presidency, and An End To Evil: What's Next in the War on Terror (coauthored with AEI scholar Richard Perle, 2004). Frum is also a contributing editor for National Review, and regularly writes editorials for The Wall Street Journal and other American, Canadian, and British periodicals. In 2001, Richard Posner included Mr. Frum in his list of the one hundred most influential minds in America.
Jake Sullivan ('98): During his undergraduate years, Jake was both a star on the debate team and the Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Daily News. In 1997, Jake and his partner Thiru Vignarajah were ranked as the fifth-place Team of the Year. After graduating from Yale in 1998, where he was a Truman Scholar, he went on to attend Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar (after turning down the Marshall). There, Jake continued to debate, breaking, with Andrew Kidd, as the top seed at 2000's World Championships in Sydney, Australia and earning second-place speaker honors.
After Oxford, Jake returned to Yale for a J.D. at the Law School, where he served as an editor of The Yale Law Journal (and coached the YDA). After completing his degree in 2004, Jake clerked for Judge Guido Calabresi on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and then for Justice Stephen Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court. Following a brief stint practicing law in his hometown of Minneapolis, Jake worked until recently on the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.
Tim Willenken ('03): During the 2002-2003 season, Tim and his partner Jay Cox won the APDA National Championship and were runner-up for Team of the Year (behind another Yale team). Individually that season, Tim earned top speaker honors at Columbia and Brown and won a total of seven tournaments, more than any other debater in the league. During his time at Yale, Tim also served as Speaker of the Yale Political Union.
After graduating from Yale in 2003, Tim moved to Pennsylvania. Well-known as an undergraduate for his thought-provoking ethical cases, he is now completing his Ph.D in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh.