Voting rights have always been sharply contested in this country. This talk will place current struggles over the expansion and suppression of the right to vote in a historical context, tracing battles over voting from the ratification of the Constitution through the elimination of property qualifications, the enfranchisement of Black men during Reconstruction and the advent of Black officeholding, Black disfranchisement in the Jim Crow South, the achievement, and limits, of women’s suffrage, the rise and fall of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and current laws making it harder to cast a ballot.
Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University, is one of this country’s most prominent historians. He is the author or editor of over twenty books, including Reconstruction, 1863-1877: America’s Unfinished Revolution (winner of the Bancroft Prize and Los Angeles Times book prize), The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery (recipient of the Bancroft Prize and Pulitzer Prize for History) and, most recently, The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution. As co-curator of two award-winning historical exhibitions, and through frequent appearances in newspapers and magazines and on radio and television discussion programs, he has also endeavored to bring historical knowledge to a broad public outside the university.
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.
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.
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.
Jeffrey Rosen discusses the future of the Supreme Court and the key constitutional issues it will face, such as free speech, religious liberty, and civil rights. At a time of deep partisan polarization, he talks about how the Supreme Court can maintain its bipartisan legitimacy and independence. Finally, Rosen explores the arguments for and against calls for structural reform of the judiciary, including court packing and term limits.
Jeffrey Rosen serves as President & CEO of the National Constitution Center, Professor at The George Washington University Law School, and Contributing Editor of The Atlantic. He is the author of six books including, most recently, Conversations with RBG: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life, Love, Liberty, and Law. He has also written William Howard Taft: The American Presidents Series; Louis D. Brandeis: American Prophet; The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries that Defined America; The Most Democratic Branch: How the Courts Serve America; The Naked Crowd: Reclaiming Security and Freedom in an Anxious Age; and The Unwanted Gaze: The Destruction of Privacy in America. He is co-editor of Constitution 3.0: Freedom and Technological Change. Rosen is a graduate of Harvard College; Oxford University, where he was a Marshall Scholar; and Yale Law School.
What can be done consistent with the First Amendment and without raising the risk of censorship to ensure that voters can make informed election decisions despite a flood of virally-spread false and misleading speech, audio, and images? How can the United States minimize foreign disinformation campaigns aimed at American elections and attempts to sow social discord via bot armies? How can voters obtain accurate information about who is trying to influence them via social media and other new forms of technology?
Richard L. Hasen, Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine, is a nationally recognized expert on election law and campaign finance regulation. His latest book, Election Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust, and the Threat to American Democracy, will be published by Yale University Press in February, 2020. He is also the author of The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown, Plutocrats United: Campaign Money, the Supreme Court, and the Distortion of American Elections, and The Justice of Contradictions: Antonin Scalia and the Politics of Disruption. He was named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America by The National Law Journal in 2013 and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in California in 2005 and 2016 by the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journal.
What happened to the conservative movement? And where does it go now? Charlie Sykes is the author of How the Right Lost Its Mind, which looks at the Trumpist takeover of the Republican Party. But now that that takeover is complete, what lies ahead for the conservative movement? Will it continued to be dominated by Trumpism? By nationalism? Isolationism? Protectionism? Anti-immigrant sentiment? Or can it return to its small government, free market, intellectual roots?
Charlie Sykes, veteran journalist and conservative political commentator, is a founder and editor-in-chief of The Bulwark, host of The Bulwark Podcast, and an NBC/MSNBC contributor. He is also the author of nine books on current affairs and education. Sykes was previously a contributing editor at the now-shuttered Weekly Standard and host of its Daily Standard podcast. He co-hosted the public radio show “Indivisible” in 2017 and prior to that was a top-rated and influential conservative talk-show host in Wisconsin for 23 years. Sykes has written for many national publications including The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, Politico, and National Review. He has appeared on Meet the Press, the Today Show, ABC’s This Week, Real Time with Bill Maher, as well as on PBS, CNN, Fox News, the BBC, and NPR.
This seminar explores the unique risks face recognition poses to our constitutional rights and liberties, and the efforts underway in communities across the country to regulate or ban its use. It will outline the current state of the technology and likely future deployments in the United States and abroad in the absence of regulation, using the UK as a comparative case study. It also examines historical and recent court decisions from both the US and UK that can help inform what legal protections exist vis-a-vis face recognition and related surveillance technologies.
Clare Garvie, Senior Associate at Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology, is the lead researcher and author of The Perpetual Line-Up: Unregulated Police Face Recognition in America (2016), a landmark study which revealed law enforcement’s widespread use of facial recognition technology with very little to no oversight or accountability mechanisms, limited training for bias, and the systematic compilation of databases made up of law-abiding citizen. She also served as the lead researcher on two follow-up reports, Garbage In, Garbage Out: Face Recognition on Flawed Data and America Under Watch: Face Surveillance in the United States, both of which appeared in 2019. In May, she testified before the U.S. House Oversight Committee hearing on “Facial Recognition Technology: Its Impact on our Civil Rights and Liberties.”That same month the groundbreaking findings of Clare and her research team were the focus of a one-day conference entitled, “About Face: The Changing Landscape of Facial Recognition,” sponsored by the Northeastern University School of Law. Her current research focuses on the use of face recognition-derived evidence in criminal cases, and she serves as an informational resource to public defenders, advocates, and journalists. Prior to attending Georgetown Law School (’15), Garvie worked in human rights and international criminal law with the International Center for Transitional Justice. She received her B.A. from Barnard College in political science, human rights, and psychology.
This event has been made possible through the generosity of Claude and Susan Case, Dorothy Largay and Wayne Rosing.
This seminar examines a largely overlooked reason for our failure to narrow the substantial gap in test scores between students at the top and bottom of the socioeconomic spectrum—and to raise overall achievement—over the past 50 years. Policymakers and reformers have viewed the problem as one of skills, leading educators to focus intensively on supposed reading comprehension skills like “finding the main idea” and marginalize social studies and science. Cognitive science, however, indicates the problem is fundamentally a lack of academic knowledge and vocabulary, especially among students from less educated families. As some schools are now discovering, the solution is to immerse all students in a rich, content-focused curriculum, beginning in the early elementary grades.
Leading education journalist, Natalie Wexler, is a senior contributor Forbes.com and the author of The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America’s Broken Education System—and How to Fix It (2019) which was deemed “essential reading for teachers, education administrators, and policymakers alike” by Library Journal. She is the coauthor, with Judith C. Hochman, of The Writing Revolution: A Guide to Advancing Thinking Through Writing in All Subjects and Grades (2017). Wexler has written articles and op-eds on education for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and other publications. Wexler blogs about education for Greater Greater Washington and on her own blog, DC Eduphile. She is a graduate Radcliffe College (A.B. 1976, magna cum laude), where she wrote for The Harvard Crimson. She also has degrees from the University of Sussex (M.A. 1977), and the University of Pennsylvania Law School (J.D. 1983), where she served as editor-in-chief of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. After graduating law school, she worked as a law clerk for Judge Alvin Benjamin Rubin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and then for Associate Justice Byron R. White of the United States Supreme Court. Following her clerkships, she practiced law with Bredhoff & Kaiser in Washington, D.C.
This event has been made possible through the generosity of Mitchell Kauffman and Joanne Moran.
More than four decades after a post-Watergate Congress tried to put serious limits on campaign spending, the flood of money into politics has become a tsunami. A series of Supreme Court decisions has eroded many if not most attempts to restrict campaign spending. The growth of PACs and Super PACS has brought funds into the process from an ever-wider range of sources, especially from people of great means. But the rise of the Internet has made it possible for campaigns to raise huge sums from small donors (Bernie Sanders’ campaign was and is the most dramatic example). With the 2020 money race in full stride, is there any realistic chance that an effective law limiting campaign spending can get through the Congress, or withstand constitutional scrutiny? Will money be the determining factor in who wins in 2020? And is there a chance that big money could actually be a weapon to reform the process?
Jeff Greenfield is a five-time Emmy-winning network correspondent and best-selling author who, during a career spanning more than three decades, has served as former senior political correspondent for CBS, senior analyst for CNN, political and media analyst for ABC News, and contributing correspondent for PBS’ “News Hour Weekend.” Best known for his coverage of domestic politics and media, he has been a floor reporter or anchor booth analyst for every national convention since 1988. He was formerly a columnist for Time, Yahoo! News, and the New York Observer and is currently one for Politico and The Daily Beast. Greenfield has authored or co-authored 14 books, including a national bestselling novel (The People’s Choice) and several alternate histories of American politics (Then Everything Changed, 43*: When Gore Beat Bush, and If Kennedy Lived).
This event has been made possible through the generosity of the Poomer Fund, Santa Barbara Foundation courtesy of Anne Smith Towbes.