Session Type(s): Panel
Starts: Saturday, Aug. 15 11:00 AM (Eastern)
Ends: Saturday, Aug. 15 11:50 AM (Eastern)
Despite a handful of critical progressive rulings, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority remains a co-conspirator in a scheme to sabotage democracy for partisan reasons. While Chief Justice Roberts gives SCOTUS proceedings the appearance of an honest competition, the fix is in. The Roberts Court has issued 80 split decisions in civil cases involving GOP donor interests and his majority has ruled 80-0 in favor of GOP donors. Rebalancing the Supreme Court—which Mitch McConnell stole from the rest of America—through addition of seats is emerging as a top advocacy issue as prominent writers such as Jamelle Bouie, Brian Beuler, and Moira Donegan have recently spoken out in favor of it. Aaron Belkin, who has been leading the charge on this fight via Take Back the Court will host this panel underscoring how the issue of the Supreme Court and courts in general are no longer just a topic of interest for the extreme right, but also a key advocacy flash point for the progressive movement.
Aaron Belkin is a scholar, author and activist who has written and edited more than thirty scholarly articles, chapters and books. Since 1999, Belkin has served as founding director of the Palm Center, which the Advocate named as one of the most effective LGBTQ rights organizations in the nation. He designed and implemented much of the public education campaign that eroded popular support for military anti-gay discrimination, and Harvard Law Professor Janet Halley said of Belkin that, “Probably no single person deserves more credit for the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’” When the military lifted its transgender ban in 2016, a senior Defense Department official said during a White House Ceremony that the Palm Center had been one of the two organizations most responsible for helping the Pentagon formulate inclusive policy for transgender troops. In 2018, Belkin founded Take Back the Court, which informs public opinion about the urgency of court expansion as a necessary step for restoring democracy. When Belkin started Take Back the Court, expansion had been taboo for 81 years—since 1937—and 0 candidates, 0 organizations, and 0 thought leaders endorsed the strategy. Fast-forwarding to today, 12 presidential candidates said they were “open” to expansion; 17 major progressive groups and prominent leaders such as Eric Holder have endorsed expansion; and moderate Senators such as Dick Durbin have said that the Court may need to be “restructured” if it continues to operate in a partisan manner. And, Court watchers on the left and the right have said that the Court’s restraint on DACA, reproductive justice, gun safety, and LGBTQ rights this term is at least partially attributable to pressure the Chief Justice feels from threats to enlarge the Court. Belkin serves as professor of political science at San Francisco State University. He earned his B.A. in international relations at Brown University in 1988 and his Ph.D in political science at the University of California, Berkeley in 1998.
Mondaire is the Democratic nominee to represent New York’s 17th Congressional District.
He grew up in the district with a single mom who often had to rely on Section 8 housing and food stamps to get by. He got his start in politics as a high school freshman registering and organizing voters to help get a school budget passed to fully fund his public school district. He went on to Stanford University, worked on judicial nominations and criminal justice reform at DOJ in the Obama Administration, attended Harvard Law School, and most recently worked at the Westchester County Law Department litigating the county’s biggest cases.
When elected, he will be the first openly gay black member of Congress in United States history.
Co-host of Pod Save America, author of the newsletter Message Box, and former Senior Advisor to President Obama
Tamara is a native New Yorker and environmentalist focused on equity, access and community. She develops capacity building programs and creates multimedia campaigns to dismantle privilege and increase opportunities for vulnerable populations to access healthy air, clean energy, and a toxic free economy at the local, regional, and national level. Tamara is the North America Director at 350.org where she supports and is accountable to organizers and campaigners on the United States and Canada teams. As the leader of 350’s programming in North America she drives mission critical work and organizational investments to build a multiracial, multi-generational climate movement that is capable of holding our leaders accountable to science and justice.
Other sessions: Why Now? The Case for Climate Reparations, Climate President: Organizing for Climate Justice through Transformative Executive Action, Beyond the Trump Bump: Leveraging New Strategies to Build Power Sustainably