Brennan Center Live









November 2018
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New York Times best-selling author Carol Anderson speaks with Cornell Brooks about her new book on racist voter suppression and the fight against it. Anderson focuses in particular on the drive to weaken the landmark Voting Rights Act, and argues that voter suppression ultimately aims to make its targets lose faith in democracy itself. Ensuring that doesn’t happen could hardly be a more urgent task.

Brennan Center Live is a weekly series of podcasts created from Brennan Center events, featuring fascinating conversations with well-known thinkers on issues like democracy, justice, race, and the Constitution.

Direct download: 5-CarolAndersonV1.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:00am EST

As crucial elections approach, voters from Georgia to North Dakota to Texas are at risk of disenfranchisement, and the result could be further skewed by extreme gerrymandering. Meanwhile, automatic voter registration could expand access to the polls in several states. How will the battle over voting shape the midterms, and what can we do to make sure every eligible American has a chance to cast a ballot? 

Hear from several of America’s top voting rights lawyers — Dego Adegbile, Julie Ebenstein, Brenda Wright, and the Brennan Center’s Sean Morales-Doyle — on the most urgent issue facing our democracy. 

Brennan Center Live is a weekly series of podcasts created from Brennan Center events, featuring fascinating conversations with well-known thinkers on issues like democracy, justice, race, and the Constitution.

Direct download: 4-StateOfVotingV1.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 4:30am EST

How did we lose an entire generation to the American prison system following the War on Drugs? In Cuz, The Life and Times of Michael A., the Harvard professor and political theorist Danielle Allen explores the issue through the experience of her cousin, who served 11 years in prison for an attempted carjacking committed when he was 15, then lost his life to violence three years after being released. Allen is joined in conversation by the Brennan Center’s Nicole Austin-Hillery.

Brennan Center Live is a weekly series of podcasts created from Brennan Center events, featuring fascinating conversations with well-known thinkers on issues like democracy, justice, race, and the Constitution.

Direct download: 2-DanielleAllenV5.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 4:00am EST

Donald Trump poses a grave, long-term threat to our democratic institutions, Atlantic senior editor and former White House speechwriter David Frum has been warning. But, in this wide-ranging conversation with NYU Law School president Trevor Morrison, Frum argues we need to focus not just on Trump’s own behavior, but on “the system of power that enables him.” And Frum explores the ways in which America’s potential retreat from democracy under Trump mirrors developments around the world.

Brennan Center Live is a weekly series of podcasts created from Brennan Center events, featuring fascinating conversations with well-known thinkers on issues like democracy, justice, race, and the Constitution.

Direct download: 3-DavidFrumV2_1.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:16am EST

Mass incarceration is among the nation’s greatest moral and racial injustices. We have five percent of the world’s population, but nearly a quarter of its prisoners. In recent years, a dynamic movement for change has swept across the country. How will it survive the current political climate?

CNN host Van Jones, the author of the new book Beyond the Messy Truth, will discuss his drive to cut prison populations in half – and the challenge of fighting for change in a polarized America. He will be in dialogue with Darren Walker, the President and CEO of the Ford Foundation.

Van Jones, President and Founder, DreamCorps; host, The Van Jones Show on CNN; author, Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together

Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation

Category: -- posted at: 12:26pm EST

Every ten years, the federal government conducts the census of all people in the United States. The stakes are extraordinarily high, particularly in light of the push to include questions about citizenship. The tally determines everything from the allocation of congressional seats and the shape of legislative districts, to the flow of vast amounts of government funds. Political pressure is especially high this time, as demographic change transforms the country. In all, it's a potential crisis looming ahead – with huge ramifications for civil rights and government policy for years to come.


How could budgetary constraints, new and untested technologies, and potential political interference create obstacles to an accurate count? What are the steps engaged organizations and individuals can take to increase the likelihood of a successful census?


Join civil rights leader Vanita Gupta, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Wendy Weiser, Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Thomas Saenz, President and General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and Joseph J. Salvo, Director of the NYC Department of Planning's Population Division, to unpack the many questions and challenges of the upcoming census. They will spotlight work that litigators are doing to bolster the health of the census and ensure the decisions that will impact our society in political and economic ways are made are based on honest and accurate calculations.



Vanita Gupta, President and Chief Executive Officer, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Thomas Saenz, President and General Counsel, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund

Joseph J. Salvo, Director, Population Division of the NYC Department of Planning

Wendy Weiser, Director, Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law

Direct download: Census2020_GB_042418_processed.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 12:24pm EST

The courts have proven a key battleground in the fights of the Trump era. On immigration, voting rights, freedom of religion and more, legal advocates are taking on federal policy – and, often, winning. What are these new legal strategies? Will they last? And how can issues of democracy, justice, and the rule of law become burning matters of public – not just legal – debate?


Alexander Heffner, Host, The Open Mind on PBS

Becca Heller, Director and Co-Founder, IRAP; Visiting Clinical Lecturer in law, Yale Law School

Jameel Jaffer, Executive Director, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University

Neal Katyal, Paul and Patricia Saunders Professor of National Security Law, Georgetown Law; former Acting Solicitor General of the United States

Faiza Patel, Co-Director, Liberty & National Security Program, Brennan Center for Justice

Elizabeth Wydra, President, Constitutional Accountability Center

Direct download: 2018_04_04_Brennan_Center_Audio.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 12:15pm EST

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is largely remembered for his campaigns against segregation, his calls for racial brotherhood, and his unwavering commitment to nonviolence. He is less often remembered, however, for his fervent opposition to increasing global militarism, his all-consuming desire to eradicate poverty, and his vision for a transformed and truly participatory democracy.

Fifty years after his assassination, former Rep. Donna Edwards and former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, in conversation with the Brennan Center’s Ted Johnson, will reflect on King’s life and examine the expansion of his activism from 1967 to 1968. Who was King at the end of his life? What is his lasting impact on issues of poverty, war, and democracy? And what must we do to bring about the revolution of values he envisioned?

Donna Edwards, former Representative, U.S. Congress

Michael Steele, former Chairman, Republican National Committee

Theodore Johnson, Senior Fellow, Brennan Center for Justice

This program is produced by the Brennan Center for Justice in partnership with the NYU John Brademas Center and NYU Washington, DC.

There are a shocking 2.2 million Americans behind bars right now, but how can we cure America of its epidemic of mass punishment? Leaders across the criminal justice movement share an array of reform ideas, including improving prison conditions, creating effective youth re-entry programs, changes to the parole model, alternatives for mental health and drug addiction issues, and models of new industries to replace the prison economy.

Speakers include Nicole Zayas Fortier, counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, Robin Steinberg, founder of the Bronx Defenders, and Judith A. Greene, a former Soros Senior Justice Fellow and criminal justice expert, both contributors to Decarcerating America, The New Press volume, edited by Ernest Drucker.

Nicole Zayas Fortier, Advocacy & Policy Counsel at the Campaign for Smart Justice, American Civil Liberties Union

Judith A. Greene, Former Soros Senior Justice fellow; Contributor, Decarcerating America: From Mass Punishment to Public Health

Robin Steinberg, Founder, Bronx Defenders; Contributor, Decarcerating America: From Mass Punishment to Public Health

Direct download: DecarcAm_GB_032918_processed_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:11am EST

Big data has produced big change. As anyone with a phone knows, technology has exploded – and created startling amounts of data about our lives. How is this information tracked and stored, and how does that affect our rights? Algorithms trained on big data have transformed law enforcement and social services. Cash-strapped governments have proven especially eager to use automated tools. Some claim to predict crime “hot spots” and even individuals at risk. Others recommend whether to detain or release defendants before trial. And some assign children to schools and families to shelters. All these automated computing tools today play a larger role than ever before.

Fans praise these as better than fallible human judgment. But do they live up to their promise? How to judge claims by the companies who stand to make money off them? Can we really achieve transparency and efficiency? Do big data tools, as some charge, simply reinforce class and race prejudice under the guise of objectivity? Can these systems be harnessed for good? And how can affected communities gain control over how data is used and packaged?

Join us for a discussion on the use of big data in social welfare, policing, and criminal justice, and its impact on marginalized communities.


Tamika Lewis, Organizer, Our Data Bodies

Rachel Levinson-Waldman, Senior Counsel, Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program

Cornell William Brooks, Senior Fellow, Brennan Center for Justice

Andrew Guthrie Ferguson, Professor of Law, University of the District of Columbia's David A. Clarke School of Law; author, The Rise of Big Data Policing: Surveillance, Race, and the Future of Law Enforcement

With social media on the rise, living standards stagnating, and fears of multiethnic democracy growing, voters are discontent with politics. Across the world — from India to Turkey to the United States — authoritarian populists have seized power. In his new book, Yascha Mounk examines how trust in the political system is dwindling as money in politics soars and democracy wanes. How did we get here, and how can we protect democracy moving forward?

Yascha Mounk, Lecturer on Political Theory at Harvard University and author of the new book The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It,discusses the future of democracy with Wendy Weiser, Director of the Democracy Program and the Brennan Center for Justice.



Yascha Mounk, Lecturer on Political Theory, Harvard University; author, The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It

Wendy Weiser, Director, Democracy Program, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law

Direct download: Brennan_LiberalDemo_LPC_032218.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:15pm EST

A half century after the Voting Rights Act guaranteed the franchise to all Americans, access to this fundamental right is once again under siege. How did a group of great citizens drive the enactment of the Voting Rights Act? How did the legislation work to secure access to the ballot? Why is its pledge once again under attack?

In an extraordinary and relevant conversation, legendary television journalist Bill Moyers — who served as one of President Lyndon Johnson’s top aides during the civil rights era — will discuss the epochal events of the “Second Reconstruction.” He will be joined by two leaders of the current fight for democracy and veterans of courtrooms across the country in the fight against voter suppression — Kristen Clarke of the National Lawyers' Committee and Myrna Pérez of the Brennan Center's Democracy Program.



Kristen Clarke, President & Executive Director, National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Bill Moyers, President, Schumann Media Center

Myrna Pérez, Deputy Director, Brennan Center's Democracy Program and leader of the Center’s Voting Rights and Elections project


This event is part of Carnegie Hall’s The ’60s: The Years that Changed America festival.

Direct download: 2018_03_08_Moyers_Podcast.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 3:29pm EST

Considered one of the most influential justices to ever serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia left behind a complex legacy as a conservative legal thinker and disruptive public intellectual. A vivid writer known for caustic dissents, Justice Scalia was crucial to reshaping jurisprudence during his three decades on the bench. According to Richard Hasen, author of the new book The Justice of Contradictions, Scalia’s jurisprudence and confrontational style disrupted the American legal system, delegitimizing opponents and leading a conservative renaissance on the Court.

Join Richard Hasen — professor at University of California, Irvine and one of The National Law Journal's 100 most influential lawyers in America — as he delves into the complicated legacy of Justice Antonin Scalia. He will be interviewed by leading legal journalist Joan Biskupic, author of the definitive biography of Justice Scalia.

Rick Hasen, professor, University of California, Irvine School of Law; author, The Justice of Contradictions: Antonin Scalia and the Politics of Disruption

Joan Biskupic, CNN legal analyst & Supreme Court biographer; author of American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and forthcoming biography of Chief Justice Roberts

Direct download: Scalia_Podcast_large.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:28am EST

Citizens UnitedHobby Lobby. Many Americans had not heard of the movement to expand constitutional rights for businesses before these landmark cases. But the struggle for corporate rights has a long, complicated history in the United States. The first Supreme Court case extending constitutional protections to corporations was decided in 1809, more than a half-century before the first comparable cases for racial minorities or women. In the years since, the nation’s most powerful corporations have gained our most fundamental rights, transforming the Constitution to serve the ends of capital.

Join Adam Winkler, law professor at UCLA and author of the new book We the Corporations, for a discussion about the American government’s relationship to big business and the 200-year effort to give corporations the same rights as people. He will be joined by Dahlia Lithwick — one of the country’s most prominent legal journalists — an editor at Slate and host of its Amicus podcast — who covers the Supreme Court and its decisions on corporate rights.


Adam Winkler, author, We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights; professor of law, UCLA

Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Editor and legal (Supreme Court) correspondent, Slate


In partnership with the American Constitution Society.

Direct download: Corps_and_Const_Lip_022718_processed_01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 3:55pm EST

When can a democracy slide into autocracy? In his provocative new book, Trumpocracy, conservative writer David Frum examines the ways in which Trump and his administration continually undermine our most important public institutions. As Frum argues, Trump has steadily damaged many of the tenets and accepted practices of American democracy in just his first year of presidency, including media freedom, judicial independence, and the right to have one’s vote counted fairly.

David Frum is a Senior Editor at The Atlantic, the author of nine books, and served as a special assistant and speechwriter for President George W. Bush. In this special conversation with NYU School of Law Dean Trevor Morrison, a leading expert on the presidency and the Constitution, Frum will discuss what happens next under Trump, as well as how to prevent a push toward illiberalism.

David Frum, Senior Editor, The Atlantic; author, Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic

Trevor Morrison, Dean and Eric M. and Laurie B. Roth Professor of Law, New York University School of Law

Direct download: Trumpocracy_Podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:56pm EST

President Donald Trump’s decision to keep control of his business empire despite apparent conflicts of interest is but one of a number of ethical controversies that have made headlines since Inauguration Day one year ago. As informal guardrails that constrain self-dealing by those in power fall away, what can be done to shore up federal ethics laws to give the public confidence that their leaders will put the interests of the American people first?

The panel reviews the most significant gaps that exist in our system of federal ethics regulation, considers the special challenges that accompany any effort to regulate the president’s conduct in office, and debates the most promising ideas for reform.

Kimberly Atkins, Chief Washington Reporter/Columnist, Boston Herald

Kathleen Clark, Professor of Law, Washington University School of Law

Walter Shaub, Senior Director, Ethics, Campaign Legal Center and former Director of the Office of Government Ethics

Daniel I. Weiner, Senior Counsel, Democracy Program, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law

This program is produced by The Brennan Center for Justice in partnership with the NYU John Brademas Center and NYU Washington, DC.

Direct download: Reforming_Government_Ethics_in_the_Age_of_Trump_Audio_itunes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00pm EST