• Video
  • June 30, 2020

The Current Battle for the Constitution: A Symposium

The National Constitution Center hosts a symposium bringing together contributors to The Atlantic and the Center's joint online project, The Battle for the Constitution. The program begins with a brief conversation about the online project with Atlantic Senior Editors Yoni Appelbaum and Rebecca Rosen. The first panel, featuring project contributors John Inazu of Washington University in St. Louis Law School and Tracey Meares of Yale Law School, and former Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey explores the constitutional dimensions of policing, protests, and equal protection. The second panel, featuring online project contributors Deborah Pearlstein of Cardozo Law, Polly Price of Emory Law School, and Adam White of George Mason Antonin Scalia Law School explores the key constitutional issues raised by the coronavirus crisis. Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, moderates.

This program is presented in partnership with The Atlantic and in conjunction with The Battle for the Constitution website, exploring the top issues of today from a constitutional perspective. This program is also made possible through generous support from the John Templeton Foundation.



Panel One

  • John Inazu is the Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law & Religion and professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis. His books include Liberty’s Refuge: The Forgotten Freedom of Assembly and Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving Through Deep Difference. Inazu is the special editor of a volume on law and theology published in Law and Contemporary Problems, and his articles have appeared in a number of law reviews and specialty journals. He has written broadly for mainstream audiences in publications including USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post.
  • Tracey Meares is the Walton Hale Hamilton Professor of Law and Founding Director of The Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School. She is the author of two books, including Legitimacy and Criminal Justice: A Comparative Perspective and Urgent Times: Policing and Rights in Inner City Communities. Meares has worked extensively with the federal government having served on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Law and Justice, a National Research Council standing committee and the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs Science Advisory Board. In December 2014, President Obama named her as a member of his Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

  • Charles Ramsey spent 48-year law-enforcement and is the former Police Chief of Washington, D.C. and the former Police Commissioner for the City of Philadelphia. In January 2017, he became a regular CNN contributor. He is also the president of Major Cities Chiefs, where he created the Leadership Executive Institute to help prepare police chiefs of the future. Ramsey also serves as an adjunct professor at Lewis University and Northwestern University. He served as co-chair of President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. He partnered with the National Constitution Center and the Philadelphia Police Department to create the Policing in a Moer Perfect Union program, designed to give police officer recruits a historical understanding of the constitutional rights and restrictions that are defined in the Bill of Rights.

  • Jeffrey Rosen is the president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization devoted to educating the public about the U.S. Constitution. Rosen is also professor of law at The George Washington University Law School and a contributing editor of The Atlantic.

Panel Two

  • Deborah Pearlstein is is co-director of the Floersheimer Center for Constitutional Democracy and professor of law at Cardozo Law. Her work on national security and the separation of powers has appeared widely in law journals and the popular press, including the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the University of Michigan Law Review, the University of Texas Law Review, and the Georgetown Law Journal, as well as in Slate, Foreign Policy, the Washington Post, and the New York Times. In addition to developing impact litigation strategies and preparing multiple briefs amicus curiae to the U.S. Supreme Court, Pearlstein co-authored a series of reports on the human rights impact of U.S. national security policy.

  • Polly Price is the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law and Professor of Global Health in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. A public health law scholar as well as a legal historian and citizenship and immigration law expert, she has published, lectured, and taught widely about immigration and citizenship, public health law and regulatory policy, federalism, property rights, and the judiciary. She is the author of two books and dozens of journal articles, book chapters, editorials, and reviews. Her forthcoming book, Plagues in the Nation, explores the ways epidemics have shaped US law and continue to pose challenges for disease control in democratic societies. 

  • Adam White is an assistant professor of law at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School and executive director of the law school’s C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State. He also is a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, and a public member of the Administrative Conference of the United States. He has served on the leadership councils for the Administrative Law sections of both the American Bar Association and the Federalist Society, and he serves on the boards of two nonprofits: LandCAN (for conservation on private lands) and Speech First (for free speech at universities).
  • Jeffrey Rosen is the president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization devoted to educating the public about the U.S. Constitution. Rosen is also professor of law at The George Washington University Law School and a contributing editor of The Atlantic.

Resources Cited During the Program

The Battle for the Constitution website

Tracey Meares and Tom Tyler, The Atlantic, “The First Step Is Figuring Out What Police Are For”

Interactive Constitution website

John Inazu, The Atlantic, “America’s Most Under-Appreciated Right”

House hearing on Incident with U.S. Park Police and Protesters

Tracey Meares, Phillip Atiba Goff, and Tom R. Tyler, NBC News, “Defund-the-police calls aren't going away. But what do they mean practically?”

Final Report of the President’s Task force on 21st Century Policing (Charles Ramsey, co-chair)

John Inazu, “Unlawful Assembly as Social Control” 64 UCLA L. Rev. 2 (2017)

Phillip Atiba Goff, Elizabeth Hinton, Tracey L. Meares, Caroline Nobo Sarnoff, Tom R. Tyler, “Re-imagining Public Safety: Prevent Harm and Lead with the Truth"

Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality, National Constitution Center exhibit

Policing in a More Perfect Union program

John Inazu, Liberty’s Refuge: The Forgotten Freedom of Assembly

Polly Price, The Atlantic, “How a Fragmented Country Fights a Pandemic”

Adam White, The Wall Street Journal, “Deregulate for the Coronavirus Recovery”

Adam White, The Atlantic, “The Flaw in the President’s Newest Constitutional Argument”

Deborah Pearlstein, The Atlantic, “Zoom Congress Is Perfectly Constitutional”

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