The American Constitution Society is the nation’s leading progressive legal organization, with approximately 200 student and lawyer chapters in almost every state and law school. Through a diverse nationwide network of progressive lawyers, law students, judges, scholars and many others, we work to uphold the Constitution in the 21st Century by ensuring that law is a force for protecting our democracy and the public interest and for improving people’s lives. Our chapters hold over 1,400 public programs across the country each year, generating “intellectual capital” for ready use by progressive allies and shaping debates on key legal and public policy issues. A list of all student chapters is available here.
ACS also works to cultivate the next generation of progressive leaders. We use our extensive national network to assist our members with career development, mentorship, and job assistance. Our members get access to job banks, special conference calls, and the opportunity to network with progressive leaders throughout the country.
Access Members Job Bank here.
Fill out our Summer Update Form to let us know what you will be doing in Summer 2020!
Not yet an ACS student member? Join our network today.
For all student chapter resources, click here.
ACS Stands with the Civil Rights Community, Condemning Racism and Violence
As ACS President Russ Feingold and ACS Executive Vice President Zinelle October said in their joint statement earlier this week, we at ACS are grieving over the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others at the hands of police. These murders and acts of violence are rooted in systemic racism and we stand with our Black and Brown communities who feel this pain most acutely.
ACS is committed to be a part of the change that’s so desperately needed. While we revere the Constitution, defend democracy, and work toward a more just union, we cannot ignore the racist history of our nation’s founding documents. We must continue to work to uphold and insist that our leaders uphold the Constitution in the 21st Century by ensuring that law is a force for protecting our democracy and the public interest and for improving people’s lives—including the lives of Black and Brown people.
Elevating and Engaging with Black Lives on Law School Campuses
On June 30, ACS co-hosted a discussion with Professor Michele Goodwin and the National Black Law Students Association about the need for a better aligned curriculum that takes seriously how the law engages with Black lives. The panelist further discussed the need for more professors of color, especially Black professors at America’s law schools. As you work towards greater equity and inclusion at your own law schools, please review the recording here.
2020 ACS National Convention
Thank you for joining us for the 2020 ACS Virtual National Convention, an unprecedented event for unprecedented times. We were honored to present an impressive lineup of national legal leaders, including Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Michele Goodwin, Pam Karlan, Ron Klain, and Vanita Gupta. You can review the videos of our invigorating week of programming and networking here.
2020 ACS Virtual Graduation Ceremony
On May 26, we celebrated the graduation of our incredible ACS Student Leaders! You can view highlights from the Virtual Graduation here.
2020 ACS Student Chapter Award Winners
ACS Rising Chapter of the Year
Congratulations to our University of Idaho College of Law ACS Student Chapter for being ACS’s Rising Chapter of the Year! This annual award goes to a new or recently revived chapter that has done the most to advance progressive causes.
Chapter Programming Awards
ACS Programming Awards are presented annually to our most active chapters. We are thrilled to recognize these chapters, who helped to shape the debate and promote a progressive vision of the Constitution at their universities. The ACS Student Chapter winners of this year’s Programming Awards are:
- Boston College Law School
- University of California, Berkeley School of Law
- University of Chicago Law School
- University of Cincinnati College of Law
- Duke Law School
- The George Washington University Law School
- Georgetown University Law Center
- Harvard Law School
- Indiana University Maurer School of Law
- Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center
- University of Michigan Law School
- Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
- Notre Dame Law School
- New York University School of Law
- University of Pennsylvania Law School
- Santa Clara University School of Law
- Stanford Law School
- The University of Texas School of Law
- University of California, Los Angeles School of Law
- University of Virginia School of Law
- Willamette University College of Law
- William & Mary Law School
- University of Wisconsin Law School
- Yale Law School
Reproductive Rights and Justice Award
Congratulations to our Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Student Chapter for being this year’s recipient of the Reproductive Rights and Justice Award. This annual award, presented in conjunction with the Center for Reproductive Rights, goes to the chapter that has had the greatest impact in the area of reproductive rights.
ACS Chapter of the Year
Congratulations to our University of Michigan Law School Student Chapter for being selected as the 2020 ACS Student Chapter of the Year. This annual award is presented to the chapter that has shown the greatest strength in meeting ACS’s mission and goals.
Faculty Advisor of the Year
Congratulations to Professor April G. Dawson for being selected as the 2020 Faculty Advisor of the Year. Professor April G. Dawson is the ACS Faculty Advisor at North Carolina Central University School of Law, where she has been monumental in supporting the chapter and and strengthening ACS’s progressive network.
2020 ACS Student Convention
ACS is excited to have hosted the ACS Student Convention Virtual Series, which took parts of our planned Student Convention programming and made them virtually accessible and interactive for all of our ACS student leaders. Here is the recording of our kickoff event, Virtual Townhall with ACS President Russ Feingold and you can check out the recordings for the rest of the panels here!
Save the date for the 2021 ACS Student Convention at Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law on February 26-27, 2021!
ACS Volunteer Opportunities
Through our volunteer efforts, ACS connects lawyers and law students across the country to opportunities tailored to their interests, skills, and schedule. We are constantly looking for volunteers for ongoing research and pro bono projects. Information on some of our current projects can be found here. They include ACS’s Voter Pre-Registration Initiative, ACS’s Notice and Comment Project, ACS’s Presidential Nominee Vetting Project, and many more! Please sign up on our volunteer survey or email us at LCEmails@acslaw.org if you’d like to help or if you know of any volunteer opportunities or trainings where our members could be helpful.
ACS’s State Attorneys General Project
Through ACS’s network of students, lawyers, academics and allies, the State Attorneys General Project (AG Project) develops and disseminates legal resources and hosts programming and events examining the actions of state attorneys general and the emerging legal and policy issues they face. As states’ chief legal officers, state attorneys general are, first and foremost, law enforcement officials sworn to uphold the U.S. and state constitutions, and to enforce federal and state laws. The heart of a state attorney general’s mission is to serve the public interest. With broad jurisdiction and independence to act, state attorneys general play a crucial role in upholding the rule of law and protecting the rights, health and safety of their states’ residents. By supporting the efforts of state attorneys general at this critical hour in our nation’s history, the AG Project is an extension of ACS’s efforts to ensure that the law is a force to improve the lives of all people. If your chapter is interested in planning an event involving the state AG office and would like our guidance, e-mail us at email@example.com.
2020 ACS Program Guide
This year marks the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s ratification, an occasion on which to honor the hard work and steadfast commitment that went into its passage, to elevate the women who were and continue to be left behind in the march toward progress, and to explore the Amendment’s legacy and continued significance for gender equality today. ACS encourages chapters to engage in programming designed to do all three.
View the program guide here.
Join Constitution in the Classroom!
Constitution Day is on September 17! Our Constitution in the Classroom program provides an opportunity for lawyers and law students to teach lessons based on the United States Constitution in elementary, middle, and high schools throughout the country. Participating is a great way to increase constitutional literacy in schools and excite young minds about the Constitution. Check out the 2019 Voting Rights lessons and additional information here. If you are interested in participating, please email LCEmails@acslaw.org.
ACS Next Generation Leaders
The application period for the 2020 Next Generation Leaders program has now closed. We will have details for the 2021 application later in the year. Check out our 2020 Next Generation Leaders here!
Fall Membership Competition
ACS is pleased to announce the 8th Annual Student Membership Contest winners are:
- Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
- University of Chicago Law School
Congratulations Student Chapters!
ACS’s 2019 Regional Convening
ACS leaders and progressive advocates gathered at Regional Convenings throughout the country last year.
- Thank you to our University of Denver Sturm College of Law Student Chapter and the Colorado Lawyer Chapter for hosting the Western Regional Convening on October 25-26, 2019.
- Thank you to our Marquette University Law School Chapter and Milwaukee Lawyer Chapter for their work organizing the Midwest Regional Convening on Sep 5-6.
- Thank you to our North Carolina Central University School of Law Student Chapter and the ACS North Carolina Lawyer Chapter for hosting the Southeast Regional Convening on September 27, 2019.
- Thank you to our New York Law School Student Chapter and the ACS New York Lawyer Chapter for hosting the Northeast Regional Convening on October 4, 2019.
You can view highlights from the Northeast, Western, Southeast, and Midwest Regional Convenings on social media at @acslaw and @ACSStudents.
2019 ACS National Convention
ACS held its 2019 National Convention June 6-8 in Washington, DC. Attorneys, law students, policymakers, and advocates from across the nation came together to discuss complex legal issues facing the United States today. Law students from 45 states and Washington, DC attended, and participated in discussions about structural reform of the U.S. Supreme Court, progressive federalism, the impact of prosecutors on the criminal justice system, and more.
Convention speakers included Bryan Stevenson, Hon. Goodwin Liu, Rep. Colin Allred, Rep. Sharice Davids, Michele Goodwin, Hon. Anita Earls, and many more.
Check our convention page for photos and videos from the Convention.
Student Chapter of the Week
Our student chapters work hard to bring progressive programming on timely legal topics to campuses across the country. The ACS Chapters Team recognizes a different student chapter for its efforts each week during the academic year. Read about our previous Chapters of the Week here.
Stanford Law School ACS Student Chapter
Stanford’s ACS Student Chapter has taken up a leading role on campus this year, hosting twenty events and continuing to build a community of progressive leaders. A few highlights from the Chapter’s programming include “Clerking as a Progressive,” which offered professional guidance for progressive lawyers, and a reading group series that offered students a platform to discuss current progressive issues. The Chapter held criminal law and policy events on “anticipatory prosecution” in the War on Terror, provided progressive responses to white nationalist violence and domestic terrorism, and discussed drug policy reform. The largest classroom at the law school was packed for a celebration of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, where three of her former clerks discussed their experiences working for the incomparable RBG. In addition, the Chapter held various events in partnership with other student organizations, including the Stanford Federalist Society, the Stanford Advocate for Immigrants’ Rights, and the Election Law Project.
The Chapter has devoted much of its programming to exploring the American judiciary; altogether, the Chapter invited six federal and state judges from both progressive and conservative backgrounds to speak with students about everything from methods of statutory interpretation to diversifying the bench. These judges have included Ninth Circuit Judge Michelle Friedland, Northern District of California Judge Jon Tigar, Sixth Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton, Eleventh Circuit Judge Britt Grant, Seventh Circuit Judge David Hamilton, and California Supreme Court Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar. The Stanford Chapter also engaged in programming that went beyond the traditional lunchtime panel. This year, for example, the Chapter screened a voting rights documentary and held a casual dessert reception for student members.
To keep members connected with the organization, the Stanford chapter established a new monthly newsletter this year and frequently shared information on upcoming events, relevant progressive issue areas, and updates from ACS national with its members. As the Chapter adapts to the COVID-19 public health crisis, it plans to continue building the progressive lawyer movement at Stanford Law School virtually.
The Chapter would like to thank its Faculty Advisors, Professors Pam Karlan and Jeff Fisher, for their support and guidance.
Students of ACS
ACS wouldn’t be ACS without its amazing network of law students that inspire us every day. Each week of the academic year, ACS features a blurb from a student chapter member about their work with ACS, what led them to law school, what motivates them, and more.
Katie Teleky, University of Michigan Law School, ‘21
“Your pain leads you to your passion to do your purpose.” The first time I remember hearing that phrase, I was sitting caddy-corner from Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, trying to prove I had the requisite passion to work in his office. The words resonated with me then, but it is only recently that I have come to fully grasp their meaning.
I had the privilege of working for Rep. Cummings on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform for five years. As the lead staffer on census issues, I investigated the Trump Administration’s proposal to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Upon returning to the Committee as a staff member for my 1L summer, I continued that work as the House held Secretary Ross and Attorney General Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with the Committee’s requests. I also worked on a myriad of healthcare issues, ranging from staffing hearings on the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs, to protecting the Affordable Care Act from repeal, to drafting provisions of the CARE Act—a bill focused on addressing the opioid epidemic through treatment and prevention efforts. While I learned so much from each of these experiences, perhaps nothing was more rewarding than learning what it was like to wake up every day knowing that my actions had the potential to make a very real difference in the direction of both peoples’ lives and the law.
This passion for legislation, congressional investigations, and, ultimately, public service, drove me to law school and prompted me to join ACS upon my arrival. ACS has provided me an opportunity to continue engaging with the progressive policy issues I dealt with during my time on the Hill and to expand my network of individuals similarly committed to ensuring that the law works for everyone. In my tenure as a President of Michigan Law’s Chapter, I hope to facilitate a similar experience for other students.
As I pass on that torch and finish my 2L year, I am consistently reminded of Rep. Cummings’ words about pain, passion, and purpose. Those simple words have taken on a new meaning as I watch this pandemic expose the stark disparities in our healthcare systems, the gaps in our social safety nets, and the breakdown of our democratic norms. In these times, though Rep. Cummings is no longer here to call us to be our better selves, the pain of his absence has amplified my passion for public service and made clear my purpose. I honor his legacy by fighting for healthcare access, government accountability, and, as he often termed it, “the soul of our democracy” every day of my career.
Read about past Students of ACS here.
For all student chapter resources, click here.