Monday, September 12th, 2022, 7-8:30pm ET
The elimination of many polling places. The cancellation of early voting. The intimidation at the polls of voters and election workers. These are just a few of the signs of voter suppression that have sprouted in recent years as some members of the electorate attempt to attain or to hold on to power by preventing those they regard as potential opponents from voting.
As the nation gears up for the 2022 midterm elections in November, ClassACT HR73 hosted the forum “Voter Suppression: A Cancer in Our Body Politic” on September 12th, 2022. The forum brought together journalists, activists and experts concerned with election integrity to discuss how repressing voting threatens our democracy. Class of 1973’s own E.J. Dionne, the renowned Washington Post columnist, moderated a panel that included Congressman Joaquin Castro HLS '00, the Congressman for the 20th District of Texas, Cecile Scoon ’81, President of the League of Women Voters of Florida, Michael Waldman, President of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School, and Samuel Spital '00, HLS '04, the Director of Litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.
ClassACT HR73 invites everyone to view the videos from this crucial forum. We also urge all of you to become involved in efforts to register new voters, to inspire those registered for all parties to cast their ballots, and to help safeguard the right of everyone to free and fair elections.
We have created 19 videos from this conversation—one of the whole event, and 18 others, divided by question, starting with what we can do as citizens. They are all available by clicking on the playlist in the YouTube video screen below. The playlist is very hard to see! You will find it along the top of the screen just to the right of the title of the forum. It looks like this ≡.
Click on the ≡ button. That will open a drop down menu. You can then scroll down the menu and choose individual videos to play.
OUR MODERATOR AND PANELISTS
MODERATOR E.J. DIONNE JR.
E. J. Dionne Jr. is a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and university professor at Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy. He is the author of several books, including the National Book Award nominee, Why Americans Hate Politics, and two New York Times bestsellers, Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism--From Goldwater to Trump and Beyond and One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported, coauthored with Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann. His latest book, with Miles Rapoport, is 100% Democracy: The Case for Universal Voting, published in March 2022.
CALL TO ACTION
CONGRESSMAN JOAQUIN CASTRO
Joaquin has worked hard to seize the opportunities created by the sacrifices of his grandmother and prior generations. After finishing high school a year early, Joaquin left San Antonio to graduate with honors from Stanford University in 1996. He then went on to attend Harvard Law School where he received his Juris Doctorate degree in 2000. Upon his return to San Antonio at 28 years old, Joaquin joined a private law practice and was elected to the Texas Legislature. He served five terms as state representative for District 125. In 2012, Joaquin was elected to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives as representative of Texas' 20th Congressional District, which covers a large portion of San Antonio and Bexar County. Joaquin’s identical twin brother, Julián Castro, was elected in 2013 to his third term as Mayor of San Antonio. On July 28, 2014, Julian Castro was sworn in as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Joaquin’s respect for public service developed at a young age and was deeply influenced by his parents’ involvement in political movements and civic causes. His father, a retired teacher, and his mother, a renowned community activist, instilled in him a deep appreciation for the democratic process and the importance of serving one’s community.
Despite a difficult political environment during his time as state legislator, Joaquin transcended partisan gridlock to help restore millions of dollars in funding to critical health care and education programs. As Vice Chairman of the Higher Education Committee and Democratic Floor Leader in the Texas House, he was also at the forefront in proposing forward-thinking legislative reforms in the areas of mental health, teen pregnancy, and juvenile justice.
Now in his fifth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Joaquin serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as well as the House Education and Labor Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where he chairs the Subcommittee on International Development, International Organizations, and Global Corporate Social Impact. He was the 2013 Co-President for the House freshman Democrats, the Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for the 116th Congress, and currently serves as Chair of the Texas Democratic Caucus.
Outside of the legislative chamber, Joaquin has demonstrated a strong commitment to his community. He created the Trailblazers College Tour, personally raising money to send underprivileged students on college visits, giving them exposure to some of the nation’s best institutions of higher education. He also founded SA READS, San Antonio’s largest literacy campaign and book drive. Over 200,000 books have been distributed to more than 150 schools and shelters across the city. To honor and express gratitude to San Antonio grandparents and other family members raising relatives who aren’t their children, Joaquin created the annual Families Helping Families dinner and awards. He has also taught as a visiting professor of law at St. Mary’s University and as an adjunct professor at Trinity University. Joaquin is active on several boards of education-related, non-profit organizations, including the National College Advising Corps.
Having experienced America’s promise firsthand, Joaquin wants to help build out what he calls the Infrastructure of Opportunity so that future generations will have the same chance to pursue their American Dream. Joaquin believes that just as there is an infrastructure of transportation that helps us get to where we want to go on the road there is an Infrastructure of Opportunity that helps Americans get to where they want to go in life. It is that Infrastructure of Opportunity – great public schools and universities, a sound healthcare system, and good-paying jobs – that enables Americans to pursue their American Dream. Our centuries-long commitment to building and preserving this infrastructure is what distinguishes America among the nations of the world.
As Congressman, Joaquin continues to be a tireless advocate for those who call San Antonio home. From supporting military families to investing in education, Joaquin remains committed to helping mold an Infrastructure of Opportunity for San Antonians and Americans around the country.
CALLS TO ACTION
Cecile Scoon received a Visual and Environmental Studies undergraduate degree from Harvard in 1981. She is currently a civil rights lawyer in Panama City, Florida. After graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1984, she spent five years as an active duty Air Force JAG prosecuting in military courts-martial. She retired from the A.F. reserves as a Major in 2005.
Cecile attempts to protect the rights of those wronged at work due to their race, religion, age, disability, place of birth, or unwanted sexual advances. When not burning the midnight oil drafting lengthy pleadings, Cecile enjoys parenting her three children, as well as running, gardening, painting, and watching soccer matches with her best friend, husband, law partner, and LWV member, Alvin Peters.
Cecile currently serves as the President of the LWV of Florida. She is a past president of the League of Women Voters of Bay County. Cecile also previously serves chair of the Florida League’s efforts on Restoration of Rights (including passing Florida’s 2018 Amendment 4) as well as heading up our Health Care Action Team. Cecile is a proud member of the Xi Omicron Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
CALLS TO ACTION
Michael Waldman is president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. A nonpartisan law and policy institute that focuses on improving systems of democracy and justice, the Brennan Center is a leading national voice on voting rights, money in politics, criminal justice reform, and constitutional law. Waldman, a constitutional lawyer and writer who is an expert on the presidency and American democracy, has led the Center since 2005.
Waldman was director of speechwriting for President Bill Clinton from 1995 to 1999, serving as assistant to the president. He was responsible for writing or editing nearly two thousand speeches, including four State of the Union and two inaugural addresses. He was special assistant to the president for policy coordination from 1993 to 1995.
He is the author of The Fight to Vote (Simon & Schuster, 2016), a history of the struggle to win voting rights for all citizens. The Washington Post wrote, “Waldman’s important and engaging account demonstrates that over the long term, the power of the democratic ideal prevails — as long as the people so demand.” The Wall Street Journal called it “an engaging, concise history of American voting practices,” and the Miami Herald described it as “an important history in an election year.” The Fight to Vote was a Washington Post notable nonfiction book for 2016 and a History Book Club main selection.
Waldman is also the author of The Second Amendment: A Biography (Simon & Schuster, 2014). Publishers Weekly called it “the best narrative of its subject.” In the New York Times, Joe Nocera called it “rigorous, scholarly, but accessible.” The Los Angeles Times wrote, “[Waldman’s] calm tone and habit of taking the long view offers a refreshing tonic in this most loaded of debates.” In a Cardozo Law Review symposium devoted to the book, a historian wrote, “The Second Amendment is, without doubt, among the best efforts at melding constitutional history and constitutional law on any topic — at least since the modern revival of originalism two generations ago.”
His previous books are My Fellow Americans: The Most Important Speeches of America’s Presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama (2003, 2010), A Return to Common Sense (2007), POTUS Speaks (2000), and Who Robbed America? A Citizen’s Guide to the S&L Scandal (1990).
His frequent appearances on television and radio to discuss policy, the presidency, and the law include Good Morning America, The Colbert Report, Morning Joe, PBS NewsHour, CBS Evening News, Meet the Press Daily, All In with Chris Hayes, the O’Reilly Factor, Nightline, 60 Minutes, Tavis Smiley, Hardball with Chris Matthews, and the Rachel Maddow Show, as well as NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Fresh Air. He writes for the New York Times, Politico, the Washington Post, the Daily Beast, Slate, Democracy, Reuters, Bloomberg, and other national publications.
He is a graduate of Columbia College and NYU School of Law.
CALLS TO ACTION
Samuel Spital is the Director of Litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.
Prior to joining LDF, Sam practiced for over a decade at two national law firms, where he worked with LDF as co-counsel on numerous cases involving capital punishment and voting rights. These included Buck v. Davis, in which the Supreme Court held that LDF-client Duane Buck’s constitutional rights were violated when Mr. Buck’s own trial counsel presented an “expert” who falsely testified that Mr. Buck was more likely to commit future acts of criminal violence because he is Black, and Williams v. Allen, in which the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals granted habeas corpus relief after the trial judge had overrode the jury’s 9-3 vote in favor of a life sentence and imposed death instead. In Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder and Shelby County v. Holder, Sam was an integral member of the LDF-led teams that represented Black voters who intervened to defend the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act. Sam’s extensive experience in civil rights litigation also includes successfully representing three men who served between 25 and 40 years in solitary confinement-type conditions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.
Sam has also been a Lecturer-in-Law at Columbia Law School, where he taught a course on death penalty and prison litigation. He is a 2000 graduate of Harvard College and a 2004 graduate of Harvard Law School. After graduating law school, Sam clerked for The Honorable Harry T. Edwards of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and for The Honorable John Paul Stevens of the United States Supreme Court.
CALLS TO ACTION
CLASSACT HR73 CALLS TO ACTION