American History

The New Power of Popular Protest

Nathan Stoltzfus— The new administration’s condemnation of dissent and the arrogation of more and more power in the president’s hands have made street protest and its images more forceful. The president made his way to power by creating images of himself with broad brush strokes vague enough to appeal to

Continue reading…

Closing the Courthouse Doors to Challenges to the Trump Presidency

Erwin Chemerinsky— The first weeks of the Trump presidency demonstrate that the federal judiciary must be available as an essential check to enforce the Constitution. Already many lawsuits have been filed against President Trump and his administration, such as for violating the “emoluments clauses” of the Constitution, for the travel

Continue reading…

Conspicuousness/Invisibility

Sally McKee— In August, 2014, while all across the United States many African Americans and their allies protested the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, I sat at my laptop in considerable comfort in a basement apartment in Bordeaux, France. That was the summer that I finished writing

Continue reading…

Are Adversarialism and Justice One and the Same?

Amalia D. Kessler— For many, if not most Americans, the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s is all but synonymous with the iconic litigation that led to the United States Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.  Indeed, for many generations of lawyers and social movement activists, the

Continue reading…

The Heart of the Abolitionist Movement

Manisha Sinha— Caricatured as unthinking, single-minded fanatics who caused a “needless war,” abolitionists are often compared unfavorably to political moderates and compromise-minded statesmen. Their resurrection as freedom fighters during the modern civil rights era has been relatively brief. It is often dismissed as neoabolitionist history. While a bland celebration of

Continue reading…

Reconstructing the Vietnam Peace Movement

Tom Hayden— It is time for a new effort to reverse the propaganda about Vietnam and our movement to end the war. It is time for truth telling, for healing, and for legacy. Who will tell our story when we are gone? So much has already escaped memory, and now

Continue reading…

Women and (Soft) Power: Jackie Kennedy and Blanche of Castile

Lindy Grant— Last night I went to see the new film Jackie, in which Natalie Portman gives a searing portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy in the immediate aftermath of her husband’s death. It made me think of the similarities and differences between Jackie Kennedy and Blanche of Castile, the queen of France who lived

Continue reading…

A Republic If You Can Keep It

Richard D. Brown— In 1787 when Benjamin Franklin left the Constitutional Convention a lady famously asked “Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” “A republic,” Franklin replied tartly, “if you can keep it.” Now, 230 years later, Franklin’s observation on our Founders’ great experiment haunts us.

Continue reading…

What Washington Gets Wrong

Benjamin Ginsberg— At a Washington dinner party, I happened to mention to the woman seated to my right, an executive of Health and Human Services (HHS), the agency responsible for Americans’ health care, that a colleague and I had undertaken a survey of Washington officials to find out what the

Continue reading…

World AIDS Day: Remembering the Epidemic

Peter Selwyn— Thirty-five years ago, in the summer of 1981, the AIDS epidemic officially began. Thirty-five years can seem like a lifetime, and in many cases they were, in a sense, as young men and women died in their twenties and thirties from a disease that was relentless, devastating, and

Continue reading…