The Brennan Center Podcast (general)









September 2018
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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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

Join the Brennan Center’s Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, author of Periods Gone Public, and Malaka Gharib, Deputy Editor and Digital Strategist of NPR's Goats and Soda, to learn more about how this campaign emerged, why the issue resonates across party lines, and what is next for “menstrual equity.” Gretchen Borchelt of the National Women's Law Center and Congresswoman Grace Meng, (NY-6), sponsor of the Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2017 (H.R. 972), will introduce the conversation.



Direct download: Jennifer_Weiss-Wolf_-_Periods_Gone_Public.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:56am EDT

Fact: More than 100,000 individuals in the US are held in private prisons and private immigration detention centers. These institutions are criticized for making money off mass incarceration―$5 billion every year―and have become a focus of the anti-mass incarceration movement. The Department of Justice under President Obama attempted to cut off private prisons, while DOJ under Trump has embraced these institutions.

Few journalists or scholars have seen these prisons firsthand―until now. Join Lauren-Brooke Eisen―senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice―for the launch of her new book, Inside Private Prisons, as she reflects on her unprecedented access to our nation’s private penal system and what she’s uncovered about these corporate prisons. She will be joined by Glenn Martin of JustLeadershipUSA and CNN's Laura Jarrett will moderate the discussion.

Direct download: InsidePrivatePrisons_DCAudio_FINAL.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:16pm EDT

For 510 days, NBC News Correspondent Katy Tur reported on Republican Nominee Donald Trump. She visited forty states with the candidate and made over 3,800 live television reports. Over the course of the year and a half, Trump taunted Tur incessantly, transforming her into a prominent figure in the presidential campaign. As Tur was singled out, colleagues rallied around her and thousands tweeted their support with #ImWithTur.

Katy Tur—who recently received a Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence—joins the Brennan Center and Irin Carmon, co-author of Notorious R.B.G., to reflect on her unexpected time in the spotlight and the fascinating, highly controversial world of the 2016 Trump Campaign.

Direct download: KatyTur_Audio_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:39pm EDT