New York University's John Brademas Center for the Study of Congress, the Brennan Center for Justice, and the Office of Government and Community Affairs welcomed roughly 300 community members, students, and NYU affiliates to a dialogue about the U.S. Constitution — the role that it plays in our lives as Americans, the ways in which it is used by Congress, and the benefits we stand to gain from expanding our understanding of it.
Moderated by former President Clinton speechwriter Michael Waldman, NYU's Constitution Day 2012 featured a panel of expert speakers exploring voting rights and First Amendment protections in the government’s founding document — as well as the challenges facing each of them today.
Michael Waldman is President of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. He has led the Center since 2005. Formerly, Waldman was Director of Speechwriting for President Bill Clinton, serving as Assistant to the President from 1995-99. He was responsible for writing or editing nearly 2,000 speeches, including four State of the Union and two Inaugural Addresses. Additionally, he was Special Assistant to the President for Policy Coordination from 1993-95. As the top White House policy aide on campaign finance reform, he drafted the administration's public financing proposal.
Burt Neuborne is the Inez Milholland Professor of Civil Liberties and founding Legal Director of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School. For 45 years, he has been one of the nation's foremost civil liberties lawyers, serving as National Legal Director of the ACLU from 1981-86, Special Counsel to the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund from 1990-1996, and as a member of the New York City Human Rights Commission from 1988-1992. He has argued numerous Supreme Court cases, and has litigated literally hundreds of important constitutional cases in the state and federal courts. He challenged the constitutionality of the Vietnam War, pioneered the flag burning cases, worked on the Pentagon Papers case, worked with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg when she headed the ACLU Women's Rights Project, anchored the ACLU's legal program during the Reagan years, and defended the Legal Services program against unconstitutional attacks. He currently directs the legal program of the Brennan Center, especially its efforts to reinforce American democracy and secure campaign finance reform. The Brennan Center was established in 1994 to honor Justice William Brennan, Jr.’s monumental contribution to American Law.
Zephyr Rain Teachout is an internationally recognized expert on the impact of the Internet on electoral politics and government. An associate professor of law at Fordham University School of Law, she also serves on the Board of the Public Campaign Action Fund and Fight for the Future. She has previously served as the national director of the Sunlight Foundation, the director of online organizing for Howard Dean, and the executive director of the Fair Trial Initiative, of which she was a cofounder. Teachout’s research about corruption in politics has been cited by the United States Supreme Court and the Montana Supreme Court, and her innovative internet organizing efforts have been widely covered in news media including Bill Moyers, PBS News Hour, UP with Chris Hayes, various NPR and CNN programs, and newspapers such as the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and more.
A nonpartisan law and policy institute that focuses on fundamental issues of democracy and justice, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is one of the nation’s leading legal voices on election law, Constitutional law, government reform and racial justice. In 2008 it protected the voting rights of at least 500,000 citizens. The Boston Globe called the Center “indispensible.” Learn more »
The mission of the John Brademas Center for the Study of Congress is to increase understanding of "the People's Branch" of government — its role in making policy, and its powers, processes, and responsibilities. The Center's bi-partisan work is aimed at scholars, students, current and future public servants and the public.
The Center conducts research, teaches, holds public outreach events, and hosts policy addresses by members of Congress. Its programming aims to explore issues and problems of the legislative branch from new perspectives. As a part of the New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, the Center strives to help the next generation of public service leaders develop a deeper understanding of how and why Congress makes decisions. Learn more »
The Office of Government and Community Affairs (OGCA) is the University's primary liaison to the community. OGCA fields questions, addresses concerns, and disseminates information on a variety of University topics, ranging from free and public events to updates on construction projects. In partnerships with local community groups, BIDs, nonprofits, and individuals, OGCA collaborates to create events, programs, and partnerships for members of the NYU community as well as neighbors and members of the general public. Learn more »
Since 2004, all primary, secondary and post-secondary educational institutions in the country have worked to raise awareness about the significance of the U.S. Constitution during the anniverary season of the document’s signing in 1787. Constitution Day first came into being thanks to a bill written by U.S. Senator and prominent constitutional scholar Robert Byrd (D-WV).