Event Profile

2020 Annual Meeting

January 2 — 5, 2020
Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel
2660 Woodley Rd. NW
Washington, DC 20008 
This event has a fee

Pillars of Democracy: Law, Representation, and Knowledge

Legal education plays essential roles in sustaining the pillars of constitutional democracy. These include law, its values, and institutions; elections and representation; and the knowledge institutions of which law schools are an integral part.

The ideas of government under law, and equality under law, central to our constitutional traditions, require independent courts. Yet personal attacks on judges, along with increased violence against certain minorities, threaten the ideal of equal justice under law. Legal training speaks to issues of fair process, equal treatment, and judicial independence. These ideas do not sustain themselves; they need to be taught, critically analyzed, and practiced. Indeed, respect for fair process is important throughout government, including adherence to “regular order” in the Congress (in which lawyers disproportionately serve). Law school curricula should reflect the needs for fair process in all parts of our system of governance.

A second pillar of constitutional democracy is fair voting and representation—with law laying down rules in advance—about who can vote, for what candidates, for which offices. But law can be used to obstruct as well as to support democracy by, for example, illegitimately suppressing the vote. Law schools should consider how to explore the significance of voting and representation, as well as the norms of political reciprocity on which a decent democracy rests. Just as we introduce our students to thick ideas of what it means to be a good judge, we should consider providing more analytical and normative attention to elections and elected representatives, asking, for example, whether principle and compromise might play different roles for a judge and for a legislator.

Knowledge institutions—universities (including law schools), a free press, and public and private offices devoted to gathering and disseminating data—are a third pillar of constitutional democracy. Self-governance requires informed voters, whose opinions rest on shared knowledge. Law schools today help fulfill the roles that President George Washington contemplated for a national university—to educate citizens in knowing their rights, knowing the law, knowing how to evaluate their representatives, and understanding government. Yet higher education, of which law faculties are a part, faces serious challenges, including new partisan divides about its value, and concerns about fair access. Other challenges confront the press, which supports democracy by reporting on matters of public concern, and government offices charged with responsibility for data collection. We should ask our students to reflect on how law sustains those institutions central to the epistemic foundations of democracy.

Finally, we should recognize that institutions can only do so much—character and attitude matter. Constitutionalism and democracy are supported by such lawyerly civic virtues as open-mindedness, fairness, integrity, and courage—the courage to stand up for equality, as did Justice Thurgood Marshall, and the courage to make compromises that enable our representative government to function.

Working together, we, as legal educators, and our students can help strengthen the pillars of constitutional democracy.

Vicki C. Jackson
AALS President and Harvard Law School
  • Individual Registration
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  • 11:00 am - 6:30 pm AALS Information Desk
    Type: AALS Office

    Short description is not available at this time.

  • 11:00 am - 7:00 pm AALS Speaker Ready Room
    Type: AALS Office

    Short description is not available at this time.

  • 11:00 am - 7:00 pm Nursing Parents Room
    Type: AALS Office

    Short description is not available at this time.

  • 11:00 am - 8:00 pm AALS Operations Office
    Type: AALS Office

    Short description is not available at this time.

  • 11:00 am - 8:00 pm AALS Registration
    Type: AALS Registration

    Short description is not available at this time.

  • 12:00 pm - 5:30 pm Contemplative Space for Registrants
    Type: AALS Programs

    Short description is not available at this time.

  • 1:30 pm - 3:15 pm AALS Arc of Career Program
    Type: AALS Arc of Career Programs

    Tweeting, Gramming: Social Media for the Legal Academic

  • 1:30 pm - 3:15 pm AALS Discussion Group
    Type: AALS Discussion Groups

    The Role of Women as International, Regional, and National Judges

  • 1:30 pm - 3:15 pm Balance in Legal Education, Co-Sponsored by Teaching Methods
    Type: Section Programs

    The Unequal Workplace: Well-Being at Stake

  • 1:30 pm - 3:15 pm Children and the Law
    Type: Section Programs

    A Time of Momentum in Child Welfare Advocacy, Policy, and Research

  • 1:30 pm - 3:15 pm Continuing Legal Education
    Type: Section Programs

    Beyond the Socratic Method - Thinking Entrepreneurially about Executive Programs

  • 1:30 pm - 3:15 pm Criminal Justice
    Type: Section Programs

    New Frontiers in State Post-Conviction Litigation

  • 1:30 pm - 3:15 pm Disability Law
    Type: Section Programs

    Reconsidering Disability Benefit Programs

  • 1:30 pm - 3:15 pm Economic Globalization and Governance
    Type: Section Programs

    Democracy and Democratic Deficits in Economic Globalization and Governance

  • 1:30 pm - 3:15 pm Jewish Law
    Type: Section Programs

    The Rise and Fall of the Jewish Law Firm

  • 1:30 pm - 3:15 pm Law School Administration and Finance
    Type: Section Programs

    Law School Business Boot Camp for New Deans, Associate Deans and New Business Officers

  • 1:30 pm - 3:15 pm North American Cooperation, Co-Sponsored by Environmental Law, Natural Resources & Energy Law, and State & Local Government Law
    Type: Section Programs

    Transnational Environmental Issues & the Role of States, Provinces, Cities & Indigenous Communities

  • 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm AALS Program – Transforming Faculty Hiring in 2020
    Type: AALS Programs

    Transforming Faculty Hiring in 2020

  • 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm Empirical Study of Legal Education and the Legal Profession, Co-Sponsored by Leadership, Professional Responsibility, Pro-Bono & Public Service Opportunities, and Student Services Panel 1
    Type: Subsessions

    How Well Are Law Schools Imparting the Value of Public Interest, Leadership, and Serving Others?

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Daisy Soderberg-Rivkin
Organization: R Street

Jasmine C. Abdel-khalik
Organization: University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law

Heather R. Abraham
Organization: Georgetown University Law Center
Session: Civil Rights

Aviva Abramovsky
Organization: University at Buffalo School of Law, The State University of New York

Kerry Abrams
Organization: Duke University School of Law

Jamie R. Abrams
Organization: University of Louisville, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law

William E. Adams
Organization: American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar

Sarah Adams-Schoen
Organization: University of Oregon School of Law

Walter Edward Afield
Organization: Georgia State University College of Law

Afra Afsharipour
Organization: University of California, Davis, School of Law

Afra Afsharipour
Organization: University of California, Davis, School of Law

Maryam Ahranjani
Organization: University of New Mexico School of Law

Richard Albert
Organization: The University of Texas School of Law

Richard Albert
Organization: The University of Texas School of Law

Josh Albertson
Organization: Association of American Law Schools

Mark C. Alexander
Organization: Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law

Lisa T. Alexander
Organization: Texas A&M University School of Law

Michèle Alexandre
Organization: Stetson University College of Law