ACS plays a vital role in convening, educating, inspiring, and networking law students, lawyers, judges, academics, policymakers and others who believe that law should be a positive force for everyone in the United States. As a law student I am involved with ACS in my earliest years, and it helped supplement the legal education I received in classrooms with a greater focus on real-world issues and current debates. I am confident that ACS has made me better aware of the challenges facing our democracy.
I have been involved with this organization for the last 5 years and the work that they do is critical in advancing the public debate on so many crucial issues facing this nation.
The American Constitution Society (ACS) has helped define the lawyer I am today. As a first-generation high school graduate, college graduate, and law school attendee, I was completely overwhelmed my 1L year of classes. ACS took me under its wing, connected me with established lawyers in my desire practice area, offered me scholarships to attend conferences and conventions, and ultimately helped me secure my current legal position. As a nonprofit, ACS is amazing in creating a sense of community for progressive lawyers and providing wonderful networking and education opportunities. The organization stands by its values in its pursuit of the progressive advancement of the law, never forgetting about the individual members that make up the organization.
ACS is an ideal organization for attorneys and law students who want to (1) learn more about the most pressing legal and social issues of the day; and (2) network with other engaged, vibrant professionals. I appreciate that ACS has given me the opportunity to plan substantive events that bring together legal professionals from throughout my area and to attend amazing events planned by others. I was fortunate to receive public interest funding to attend the national convention in DC this year and was absolutely blown away by the quality of the programming and the passion with which attendees engaged on the issues. It's a tremendous group of people, and I am honored to be a part of it.
I have been involved with ACS since law school, and find that it fulfills both my desire both for camaraderie in the progressive legal community and my nerdy-wonky needs. They have a very active board that hosts events in everything from tech privacy to criminal justice reform, and we are always looking for new people and topic areas to help us with our mission. It's also a GREAT place to network.
ACS is a great organization that I joined after entering law school last year. I am currently the event coordinator at my school and am so proud of all the events that we have had because they were both informative and inclusive of all viewpoints on issues like immigration and healthcare. The national organization also offers great advice and support to the student organizations and advise us on the hot topics of the year so we can plan events that showcase the issues that currently affect our nation and the living constitution of the United States. This is a great organization and I am happy to be a part of it and will continue to participate once I am a lawyer.
As President for the University of St. Thomas School of Law Chapter, ACS helped me become more active in the community and provide informative forums on important topics and public policy. The staff is incredibly supportive and always available to assist in setting up events, recruiting speakers, or providing funding when we have a shortfall in our budgets.
I am a second year law student at Concord Law School who had an opportunity to attend the 2012 ACS National Convention in Washington, D.C. this past June on a student scholarship. I strongly support the efforts of the American Constitutional Society for Law and Policy as they promote the vitality of the U.S. Constitution and the fundamental values it expresses. One area that I am particularly interested in is access to justice. During one of the many break-out sessions at the Convention those in attendance were made particularly aware of the judicial vacancy crisis. The extent of the crisis puts at serious risk the ability of all Americans to have a fair hearing in court. This concern was woven into many of the break-out sessions provided at the Convention along with specific information on communicating an effective message to the public and governmental officials regarding his concern. Democracy must constantly be safeguarded and the ACS is an organization that not only promotes thoughtful discussion among individuals but also preserves the fundamental tenet that the law should be a force to improve the lives of all the people.
ACS has been a major part of my professional life for the last decade. It offers liberal and progressive lawyers a chance to interact, in a substantive way, across fields, regions, and demographics. So I've attended panels on a wide variety of topics outside my everyday specialties on issues like consumers' rights, corporate accountability, and international law. I've met like-minded lawyers from across the country and frequently run into lawyers and judges I've met through ACS. And I've gotten many chances to talk about constitutional law with students and young lawyers.
Perhaps my most extensive involvement has come from being a co-author of Keeping Faith With the Constitution, first published by ACS (and available for free download from its website: acslaw.org) and then in a revised edition by Oxford University Press. This book offers an accessible account of constitutional interpretation and why the U.S. Constitution is, at its heart, a progressive document responsive to our nation's needs and commitments. Not only was the book fun to write, but as part of the process, I got to work with a pair of amazingly talented co-authors (Goodwin Liu and Chris Schroeder), a perceptive slew of sounding-board folks from a range of perspectives, and then to debate and present the work around the country. That kind of collaborative effort to advance a liberal understanding of the Constitution lies at the heart of ACS.
I joined ACS my first year of law school because the events that ACS organized helped keep my studies in perspective. Inviting authors, professors, and practicing attorneys to speak to law students was inspiring and motivated me to want to do more. ACS is a great way to be involved in the community and helps us feel like we can make a difference.
I've loved being a part of ACS. I was co-president of the Yale Law chapter last year and now am on the Board. At well over 100 law schools, ACS empowers student members to fight to restore the Constitution to its true role as guarantor of equality and freedom. Whether that means hosting speeches and debates or organizing happy hours and potluck dinners, ACS provides students the support to make their chapters work
While there are several progressive think tanks and policy groups, only ACS is anchored in hundreds of law-student and lawyer chapters around the country, with the mission of growing the next generation of progressive lawyers and policy-makers by exposure to ideas and with links made to one another. It is a unique role within the progressive community.
I am honored to serve on the board of the American Constitution Society. Seldom has an organization been validated as quickly as ACS was at its founding ten years ago. Law students immediately saw the importance of participating in an organization dedicated to lifting up a vision of law and justice associated with progressive values. A decade later ACS has chapters at nearly 200 law schools and engages leaders in the law in significant public discussion of pressing legal issues of the day. I believe strongly that ACS has done crucial work in increasing the number of law students and lawyers who will participate on a lifelong basis in the hard work of keeping our democratic society committed to its founding values and ideals.
ACS is the most important organization in the United States trying to counter the conservative campaign to dominate the national discourse about constitutional interpretation and the proper role of courts in enforcing our Constitution. For the past forty years, conservatives have succeeded in shaping the public's understanding of consetitutional law by promoting such concepts as "judicial restraint," "originalism," "strict constructionism," and "calling balls and strikes." The problem is that in the hands of conservative judges these approaches to constitutional interpretation have proved to be largely disingenuous and dangerous to American freedom and democracy. ACS plays a central role in both exposing the faults and failures in conservative jurisprudence and in exploring and explaining an alternative understanding of constitutional law that is more in line with American traditions and with the goals and purposes of the Framers.
I am a former ACS Board Member and have working with a number of law school and lawyer's chapters. I have been routinely astonished by the vitality of the conversations and the engagement with the issues demonstrated by ACS members and supporters. The panels, speeches, and debates are nearly uniformly well-reasoned and interesting. Without this important voice, our legal and constitutional community would be substantially less rich. I have been especially impressed with the quality of programming and speakers at the ACS National Conventions every year. I encourage everyone interested in the Constitution and how the United States is applying it in areas from immigration to health care to criminal law to attend the Convention and programs in your area.