On Wednesday, April 19, the Brandeis Legal Studies Department hosted an event with renowned legal scholar Michael Waldman, where they delved into the future of democracy and judicial politics. This event was moderated by Associate Professor of Legal Studies Rosalind Kabrhel and Associate Professor of Politics, Jeffery Lenowitz. The attendees of the event saw a lively conversation on the state of judicial politics and its role in shaping the democratic future of America.
Michael Waldman brings a wealth of experience to his role as president of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, where he leads nonpartisan efforts to advance democracy and justice. A respected constitutional lawyer and writer, Waldman has played a prominent role in national conversations on issues such as voting rights, money in politics, criminal justice reform and constitutional law. Under Waldman’s leadership, the Brennan center has become a prominent advocate for these crucial topics. Prior to his role at the Brennan Center, Waldman served as a speechwriter for Bill Clinton, creating four State of the Union addresses and two inaugural speeches.
During the event, Waldman emphasized the importance of creating a code of ethics for the Supreme Court to ensure accountability and transparency in the decision-making process. He argued that while most branches of the government have a binding code of ethics, the Supreme Court does not, and this has become a cause for concern. Waldman believes that the Supreme Court should have an ethical framework that would guide the justices in their decision-making and ensure transparency and accountability.
Waldman also delved into the topic of judicial politics, criticizing originalism as an outdated theory that prevents progress and stagnates society in the past. The discussion touched on recent Supreme Court cases such as Bruen v. The City of Albuquerque and Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which have generated significant controversy and public scrutiny due to their impact on women’s rights and gun control laws.
Waldman also touched on the controversy surrounding the expansion of the Supreme Court. He noted that while he opposes an expansion of the higher courts, he strongly supports the expansion of the lower courts. He argued that this would not only be a much simpler process—Congress would need to pass a law—but it would also create more diversity within the Supreme Court.
The event provided attendees with a valuable opportunity to engage in a lively and informative conversation about the critical role of the judiciary in safeguarding democracy. Attendees praised the insightful and informative discussion, and the event highlighted the crucial role of legal experts in shaping the future of democracy.