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The biggest challenge facing American democracy is the rise of political extremism since compromise enables our government to function effectively and is essential to enact most major legislation. This webinar explores whether political reforms involving such issues as the presidential nomination process, party primaries, gerrymandering, and campaign-finance can help minimize the role of extremist forces in our politics or whether certain “good government” measures might actually make the problem even worse.
Richard H. Pildes is the Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law at New York University School of Law. He is one of the nation’s leading scholars of constitutional law and a specialist in legal issues affecting democracy. His numerous articles and acclaimed casebook, The Law of Democracy, have helped to create an entirely new field of study in law schools. A former law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall, Pildes has successfully argued voting-rights and election-law cases before the United States Supreme Court and has just been appointed to the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States. He writes frequently for The New York Times and The Washington Post and also served as CNN’s voting expert for the 2020 election. Pildes received a B.A. from Princeton University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Richard T. Pildes, “Two Myths about the Unruly American Primary System,” The Washington Post (May 25, 2016)
Richard T. Pildes, “Small dollars, big changes,” The Washington Post (February 6, 2020)
Richard T. Pildes, “How to Keep Extremists Out of Power,” Op-Ed, The New York Times (Feb. 25, 2021)
On the campaign trail, Democrats promised to break from the Trump administration’s immigration policies. Already, the Biden-Harris administration has taken several steps in that direction, but the path ahead is filled with political obstacles and legal challenges. César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández will discuss options available to the new administration and challenges it is likely to face—from activists on the left and Republicans on the right.
César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández is a professor of law at the University of Denver and a practicing immigration lawyer. He is a pioneering scholar in the new field of “crimmigration,” which focuses on the intersection of criminal law and the immigration system. His recent book, Migrating to Prison: America’s Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants, is “a ‘must-read’ for any American interested in the tragic humanitarian impacts of the mass detention of immigrants.” He is also the author of Crimmigration Law and the publisher, since 2009, of crimmigration.com. His op-eds have appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, Salon, and La Opinión. He regularly appears in news stories about immigration matters, including on MSNBC, NPR, and Univision. García Hernández is a graduate of Brown University and Boston College Law School.
César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, “Biden’s Migration Policy Options,” Oxford Faculty of Law Border Criminologies (January 11, 2021)
Maria Sacchetti, “Biden Sees Obama’s Mass Deportations as a ‘Big Mistake,’” The Washington Post (December 2, 2020)
Noah Lanard, “Biden Pledged to Close For-Profit ICE Detention Centers. Will He Follow Through?” Mother Jones (January 27, 2021)
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Recorded on February 24, 2021
This webinar focuses on what we have learned about electoral processes from November’s historic presidential election – and what we might want to think about changing. Among the topics engaged are: the possibility of Electoral College reform; the need for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to vote; the need for more nationally uniform procedures across the states; better funded election administration; and stronger safeguards against the many different varieties of voter suppression.
Alexander Keyssar is Matthew W. Stirling Jr. Stirling Professor of History and Social Policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Widely regarded as “America’s greatest historian of democracy,” he is the author of numerous books, including Why Do We Still Have the Electoral College? (released July 2020) and The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States, a 2001 Pulitzer Prize finalist and winner of the Beveridge Award from the American Historical Association for the best book in U.S. history. Keyssar has also taught at Duke University, MIT, and Brandeis University. He graduated from Harvard University with a PhD in the History of American Civilization.
Alexander Keyssar, “The Real Grand Bargain, Coming Undone,” The Washington Post (August 19, 2011)
Alexander Keyssar, “Voter Suppression Returns: Voting Rights and Partisan Practices,” Harvard Magazine (July-August 2012)
Alexander Keyssar, “The Strange Career of Voter Suppression,” The New York Times (February 12, 2012)
Alexander Keyssar, “How Has the Electoral College Survived for This Long?” The New York Times (August 3, 2020)
Alexander Keyssar, “The Stubborn Survival of the Electoral College,” The Wall Street Journal (August 13, 2020)
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Recorded on November 22, 2020