For a generation or more, conservatives have condemned liberal judges as “activists”—dedicated to an ideological agenda, dismissive of precedent and the provisions of the Constitution, and eager to overturn the acts of duly elected legislatures. Today, however, the left is using the same terminology to criticize the conservative Roberts Court; recently President Obama himself attacked activist conservative judges. This panel examines whether there is any meaningful content to this debate, whether liberals are truly dedicated (as many say they are) to “judicial restraint,” and what history— particularly the era that came to an end in 1937, the last great era of conservative jurisprudence—can teach us about our own times.
Panelists: Jan Crawford, Chief Legal Correspondent for CBS News Barry Friedman, Vice Dean and Professor of Law at New York University, author of: The Will of the People: How Public Opinion Has Influenced the Supreme Court and Shaped the Meaning of the Constitution Jeff Shesol, Former Speechwriter to President Bill Clinton and author of: Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. The Supreme Court and Moderator Olati Johnson, Associate Professor of Law at Columbia University
Special Welcome: Nan Aron, President of Alliance for Justice Michael Waldman, Executive Director of the Brennan Center