Election, Supreme Court, and sexual harassment among timely focal points of annual Cabraser lecture series

July 22, 2016

In one of the most turbulent years in American history, our brown bag lecture series has been keeping pace with current events, addressing the pressing social issues and the presidential campaign. Find videos of the complete lectures — including the most recent, given by Wendy Webster Williams, Georgetown law professor emerita, “Getting to know Justice Ginsburg: A Conversation with her Co-Author” — on our Facebook page.

Our 34th annual Elizabeth J. Cabraser Summer Lecture Series began with a talk on environmental justice after the water crisis in Flint, Mich., and continued with racial equality in modern America; the new enforcement of Title IX against sexual harassment and assault on campus; the obstacles facing refugees and asylum-seekers in the U.S.; the 2016 election; and the upcoming book from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Find clips of many highlights on our YouTube channel.

Most timely of all the talks was Nathaniel Persily’s on July 12 previewing the legal issues in play this election year right ahead of the GOP and Democratic conventions. Persily, the James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, offered numerous insights, including an analysis of three possible scenarios that could unfold if Donald J. Trump drops out of the race, even now that he has formally been nominated. Find a clip here about the gap between voting laws and practices.

The lectures kicked off June 7 with “Environmental Justice after Flint,” with four speakers: Adenike Adeyeye of Earthjustice, Roger Lin of Communities for a Better Environment, Claudia Polsky of Berkeley Law, and Madeline Stano of the Center for Race, Poverty, and the Environment. On June 14, Steve Phillips, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi spoke on race in America and how the nation might move towards solutions. The lecture opened with a screening of Adachi’s new film, “Racial Facial,” an 8-minute documentary of racism in the U.S.

When discussing the relatively recent phenomenon of institutions seeking diversity in their ranks, Phillips asked, “Why are there not more people of color? The question incorrectly puts the onus on people of color…. It’s a very different conversation if instead you ask, why are there so many white people? And that brings the question around to the issue of implicit bias.”

Pictured above, left to right, Title IX coordinator Keasara Williams of San Francisco Unified School District, sexual assault survivor and Title IX advocate Tessa Ormenyi, and investigator Ava deAlmeida-Law of the defederal Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights discussed enforcement of Title IX against harassment and assault on campus in our third lecture, moderated by staff attorney Kim Turner (at right). The fourth lecture — on American immigration policy and institutional flaws in the system: “A Hard Place: Refugees and Asylum-Seekers in the U.S.” — was our most popular online thus far, reaching more than 700 people in the course of its broadcast.

Immigration attorney Lina Barroudi of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, policy director Jessica Morreale Therkelsen of Asylum Access, and Zahra Billoo, executive director of the SF Bay area office of CAIR spoke. They addressed institutional discrimination in immigration policy, domestic discrimination, and the need for international cooperation.

Join us live on Facebook at noon on Tuesday, July 26, for our next lecture, a review of the U.S. Supreme Court’s most recent term with UC Irvine School of Law’s founding dean Erwin Chemerinsky. Or attend in person! Please RSVP to brownbaglectures@las-elc.org for either the noon talk at Morrison & Foerster, 425 Market Street, San Francisco, or the 5 p.m. reception and talk at Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass, One Market Street.

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