July 12, 2022
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm, Pacific Time
ACS Puget Sound: The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution: A Conversation with Professor Joseph Fishkin
Please join the ACS Puget Sound Lawyer Chapter for a talk by Joseph Fishkin, Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law, about his book The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution: Reconstructing the Economic Foundations of American Democracy, co-authored with William E. Forbath, Lloyd M. Bentsen Chair, Associate Dean of Research at UT Austin School of Law and Professor of History at University of Texas, and their corresponding chapter in the forthcoming compilation, Rethinking Law.
Oligarchy is a threat to the American republic. In The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution, Profs. Fishkin and Forbath reconstruct and chronicle the "democracy-of-opportunity," a tradition that America has drifted away from over the last 75 years. Fishkin and Forbath argue for America to reclaim this lost tradition, fight oligarchy, and ensure broadly shared wealth and power, using constitutional arguments and constitutional politics in ways Americans have forgotten.
Fishkin and Forbath demonstrate that reformers, legislators, and even judges working in this "democracy-of-opportunity" tradition understood that the Constitution imposes a duty on legislatures to thwart oligarchy and promote a broad distribution of wealth and political power. These ideas led Jacksonians to fight special economic privileges for the few, Populists to try to break up monopoly power, and Progressives to fight for the constitutional right to form a union. During Reconstruction, Radical Republicans argued in this tradition that racial equality required breaking up the oligarchy of the Slave Power and distributing wealth and opportunity to former slaves and their descendants. President Franklin Roosevelt and the New Dealers built their politics around this tradition, winning the fight against the "economic royalists" and "industrial despots."
But today, as we enter a new Gilded Age, this tradition in progressive American economic and political thought lies dormant. The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution begins the work of recovering it and exploring its profound implications for our deeply unequal society and badly damaged democracy.
As the nation's leading progressive legal organization, ACS is committed to ensuring that all aspects of our events are accessible and enjoyable for all. If you require any accommodations, please contact us at LCemails@acslaw.org.