Tuesday, January 23, 2024 Noon – 1:00 PM
Please share this invitation and join CWI. Meetings are public and free of charge.
Approval of the Supreme Court remains at a historic low. This follows polling last term finding that about half of Americans view the Court unfavorably and would describe the Court as “corrupt” and “unaccountable.” The same proportion, 48 percent, said that the Court is making decisions to take away their freedoms.
In just the past two years, the conservative supermajority, led by justices placed on the Court by Donald Trump, has overturned laws on abortion, gun control, voting rights, affirmative action, executive power, and privileging religious views to permit discrimination in public spaces.
As revelations about certain justices receiving elaborate gifts and failing to report gifts and spousal income as required mount, the legitimacy of the Supreme Court has come into serious question. Despite public and congressional scrutiny, the Supreme Court remains resistant to adopting an enforceable code of ethics.
Calls to reform the Court are growing louder. One change often suggested is to expand the number of justices, perhaps adding four more justices to the current nine. Another possible avenue of reform would limit justices’ active terms to 18 years, rather than allowing for lifetime appointments. A Presidential Commission studied these and other options and issued a report in 2021.
In addition to support for reform at the country’s highest court, there is increasing recognition that our system of federal circuit and district courts needs serious updating. Two speakers grounded in these concerns and possible solutions will speak at the Tuesday, January 23, 2024 CWI meeting.
CHRIS KANG – Chris Kang is Co-founder of Demand Justice (demandjustice.org) and former Chief Counsel of the organization. Demand Justice is an advocacy organization which aims to inform and empower citizens to fight for progressive change in our judicial systems. Chris serves on the Board of Advisors for the American Constitution Society and was invited to testify before the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court.
Chris served in the Obama White House for nearly seven years in key roles. He was Deputy Counsel to the President as well as Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs. Chris oversaw the selection, vetting, and confirmation of more than 220 of the president’s judicial nominees—who set records for the most people of color, women, and openly gay and lesbian judges appointed by a president. In the Office of Legislative Affairs, as an advocate for the administration before Congress, Chris helped spearhead the confirmations of Supreme Court Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and passage of the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenses.
Chris also served as National Director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans and worked for U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Richard Durbin, of Illinois, as Director of Floor Operations, Judiciary Committee Counsel, and Counsel for labor issues.
The organization Chris co-founded, Demand Justice, is working to restore balance to the courts by reforming the Supreme Court, expanding the circuit and district courts, and championing new judges with experience as public defenders, civil rights lawyers, legal aid lawyers, and labor lawyers who represent working people. Demand Justice first endorsed Supreme Court expansion in 2018 and called for a freeze on the appointment of corporate lawyers to the federal bench in August of 2019. Demand Justice publishes an informative Daily Supreme Court News Briefing which reports on cases before the Court and related media coverage.
REBECCA BUCKWALTER-POZA – Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza is Aron Senior Justice Counsel at the Alliance for Justice. (afj.org). An advocate, attorney, and author, Rebecca is best known for successfully suing the forty-fifth president of the United States under the First Amendment with Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute.
A second-generation American and two-decade veteran of Washington, Rebecca has worked on progressive campaigns and policy projects on five continents, including as a Luce Scholar at Hong Kong’s Asian Human Rights Commission and as Deputy National Press Secretary of the Democratic National Committee during President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Rebecca went on to direct access to justice project Making Justice Equal at the Center for American Progress, cover the Supreme Court and federal judiciary at NPR with Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg, and originate the role of Judicial Affairs Editor at Daily Kos. She is a co-founder of Prism, a publication that elevates stories, ideas, and solutions from the underrepresented leaders, thinkers, and activists whose voices are critical to a reflective democracy.
Rebecca received her A.B. from Harvard College and her J.D. from Yale Law School. A student of military law who observed at Guantanamo, Rebecca clerked for the Honorable Margaret Ryan on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces as well as the late Honorable Juan R. Torruella on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
The next CWI meeting on Election Reforms is February 27, 2024 at noon on zoom.