SCOTUS, Polarization, and the Rule of Law

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The federal courts, and particularly the Supreme Court, usually reliable institutions embodying the nation’s commitment to the rule of law, have come to the foreground of our polarized political environment. The increasingly vicious tone of battles over judicial nominations is a symptom of deeper dysfunctions in the structure of American government. Our two speakers see a common thread running through problems regarding judicial appointments, anti-democratic gerrymandering, voter suppression, and the conduct of the decennial census. That common thread is our national inability to maintain strong institutions and processes that serve as a buffer against destructive partisanship. These issues existed long before Donald Trump’s Presidency, though the Trump Presidency seems to have exacerbated a number of them. Our speakers will discuss judicial appointment and tenure, drawing on international and state level comparisons, the drawing of electoral boundaries, the controversy surrounding inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 census, threats to the independence of the FBI and the Department of Justice, the importance of the civil service system, and the Speaker’s dominance of the House of Representatives. Meet our experts Professors Perry Dane and Bernard Bell for a dynamic evening.


Bernard W. Bell is Professor of Law, and Herbert Hannoch Scholar at Rutgers Law School (Newark Campus). Professor Bell received a B.A. cum laude from Harvard College and a J.D. from Stanford Law School, clerked for Judge Amalya L. Kearse of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for United States Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White. From 1984 to 1994, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Civil Division of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.


Perry Dane is a Professor of Law at the Rutgers Law School.  He was previously on the faculty of the Yale Law School and served as a law clerk to William J. Brennan, Jr., Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. 

Professor Dane is a graduate of Yale College (1978) and the Yale Law School (1981).  His research and teaching interests include religion and the law, conflict of laws, the jurisprudence of Jewish law, legal pluralism, the debate on same-sex marriage, constitutional law, comparative constitutionalism, jurisdiction, the law of charities, education law, and the Canadian legal system.


Thanks to our co-sponsors:

League of Women Voters of Northern Valley
League of Women Voters of Fair Lawn, NJ
Northern NJ Chapter, National Organization for Women


September 27, 2018 at 7:30pm - 9:30pm


Fairleigh Dickinson University
140 University Plaza Dr
Wilson Auditorium
Hackensack, NJ 07601
United States
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Will you come?