The American Constitution Society hosted “Congressional Forum: Holding the President Accountable” at Chicago-Kent on May 31, 2017. The event featured a fast-paced discussion from a distinguished panel, including Congresswoman Schakowsky, constitutional legal scholars and leaders from the American Constitution Society.
If you weren’t able to attend in person, we’ve gathered the social media coverage and videos from the event here so you can explore the many topics they discussed, from checks and balances to congressional investigations and pushback on executive orders for immigration.
Video of the program has been excerpted by speaker and organized into a playlist, but you can also find the full length video here. (You can access the playlist using the three-bar “hamburger” menu in the upper left corner of the video frame below.)
Professor Carolyn Shapiro was a guest panelist on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” on May 30, 2017, to discuss the prospect of the U.S. Supreme Court reviewing president Trump’s second executive order on immigration. The executive order, which would temporarily ban travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries, is blocked by an injunction recently upheld by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Professor Shapiro also commented on cases on the Supreme Court docket related to gerrymandering and whether religious institutions have a right to receive government funds.
The American Constitution Society hosted this program with a distinguished panel to discuss a wide range of topics germane to the Trump administration. These included immigration, separation-of-powers issues with the Russia investigations, the judicial vacancy crisis, and how lawyers can use their law degrees to help address these issues.
Aziz Huq, Frank and Bernice J. Greenberg Professor of Law at the University of Chicago
Steven Schwinn, Associate Professor & Director, Clinical Programs Professor, John Marshall Law School and Member of the ACS Chicago Lawyer Chapter Board of Advisors – @sschwinn
Geoffrey R. Stone, the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, Co-Chair of the Chicago Lawyer Chapter Board of Advisors and Member of ACS’s National Board of Advisors – @stone_geoffrey
Amy M. Gardner, Director of Lawyer Chapters, The American Constitution Society for Law & Policy
Join us for “Law, Democracy, and the Right to Vote” on Thursday, April 27. In this panel discussion, civil rights and advocacy experts will discuss the historical developments of the Voting Rights Act, gerrymandering, voter disenfranchisement, access to the polls, ID laws and more. We will address the experiences and burdens on the right to vote and make sure you know your rights.
Ryan Cortazar, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, @RZCortazar
Going nuclear may serve Republicans today, but in the long term, it may do more for Democrats. Today, in response to a Democratic filibuster of Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court, the Republicans voted to eliminate the 60-vote threshold to end debate on a Supreme Court nomination. The Republicans have an immediate victory here: Justice Gorsuch will be sitting on the Supreme Court before its oral arguments scheduled for later this month. But in the long run, the elimination of the filibuster may help Democrats more than Republicans when it comes to Supreme Court appointments. (I’m not alone in thinking about unintended consequences here. Nate Silver of 538.com has an extensive piece today about how Republicans have generally used the filibuster more effectively than Democrats to block legislation and arguing that eroding its power may thus advantage Democrats in areas beyond the Supreme Court.)
Here are the arguments for why Senate Democrats should filibuster:
They need to protest what Republicans did to Judge Garland’s nomination last year. Democrats need to take extraordinary action to make it clear the extreme wrong of the Republican refusal to hold hearings.
Judge Gorsuch will be such a conservative justice that Democrats need to do all they can to try to stop his nomination.
The Base. The progressive base and liberal pressure groups are energized and are demanding that Democratic senators do all they can to stop the nomination. Even if a filibuster is unlikely to prevent Gorsuch from taking his seat, it could be seen as a partial victory and might further energize the base for future battles.
Long Game. The most likely consequence of a filibuster—i.e., the “nuclear option” of a Senate rules change that eliminates the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations—is not as bad as it sounds. A straight majority vote process might even allow a future Democratic-controlled Senate to get a more liberal justice onto the Court.
It’s showdown week for the Gorsuch nomination. Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee debates and votes on the nominee. Democratic committee members scored a minor victory after the hearings had concluded when they were able to head off the effort of Republican committee members to have a quick vote on Gorsuch. The Democrats asked for more time so they could receive and review written responses to questions posed by the senators. The Committee vote on Gorsuch today is expected to fall along party lines (11 Republicans in support; 9 Democrats opposed).
Then the real fireworks are expected when the nomination comes to the full Senate.
What rules do the police need to follow when interacting with protesters? What are the privacy laws related to police body cams and protester-created videos?
“Public Protest and the Law,” a two-hour panel discussion among civil rights and advocacy experts held at Chicago-Kent College of Law on March 2, 2017, addressed First Amendment rights as they relate to protests, local protest permit laws and how they relate to spontaneous protests, issues undocumented immigrant and non-citizen protesters might face if arrested, proposed legislation to curb protester rights, and more.
Judge Neil Gorsuch is headed toward Senate confirmation. Ever since the President made the nomination, it has been hard to imagine another outcome. Short of some scandalous skeletons emerging from Judge Gorsuch’s closet—a closet that, by all accounts, appears safely devoid of anything of much interest—this is a loss Democrats expected. The Republicans have the votes to put Gorsuch on the Court (although they may need to invoke the “nuclear option” and eliminate the filibuster to do so). Gorsuch’s strong performance in the hearings only gave them more reasons to support him.
Knowing this was a loss they were going to have to absorb, Democrats still hoped to at least score some political points during the hearings. It was a highly visible opportunity to advance their concerns with the politics surrounding the nomination process and the nominee’s conservative jurisprudence. Yet here too, I think the Democratic efforts should be judged a loss. They were unable to take advantage of the hearings to advance their agenda in any meaningful way.