ACS 2019 National Convention Videos

The 2019 ACS National Convention brought together nearly 1,000 lawyers, law students, judges, and policymakers to address some of the most urgent and challenging issues confronting our nation. This page shares videos from the nation’s premier progressive legal gathering of the year.


Senator Mazie Hirono

Senator Hirono, a strong advocate for a fair judiciary, addressed the ACS National Convention on Friday morning.

Watch Senator Hirono's remarks


2019 National Convention: The Lawyers Come to Washington

Moderated by journalist Kimberly Atkins, this panel featured a discussion with progressive lawyers in the freshman congressional class elected in 2018: Rep. Colin Allred, Rep. Sharice Davids, and Rep. Jennifer Wexton.

Watch the newly elected Reps. discuss the value of their legal educations


After Trump: Reforming Government and Repairing Democracy

As we look to a post-Trump era, what reforms should we consider enacting to protect our democracy from corruption and unchecked executive power? Should we review – and perhaps rescind – statutes that give the president broad power in times of national emergencies? Should the Vacancies Reform Act be reformed? Should the framework of our anti-corruption laws be reworked? Does the Department of Justice, itself, need restructuring so that it can achieve its mission independent from political influence?

Watch the discussion of proposed reforms across the federal government


Amaha Kassa: 2019 David Carliner Public Interest Award Winner

Amaha Kassa, Founder and Executive Director of African Communities Together received the 2019 David Carliner Public Interest Award at the 2019 ACS National Convention.

Watch Kassa's remarks and read more about the David Carliner Award, which recognizes excellence in public interest advocacy.


The Possibilities and Perils of Supreme Court Reform

A panel of experts discussed proposals to alter the structure of the Supreme Court. Such proposals have only multiplied in recent years as the judicial nominations process has grown increasingly contentious.

Watch the discussion of a variety of court reform proposals


Washington AG Bob Ferguson

Washington AG Bob Ferguson has been on the front lines of legal challenges against the Trump administration, including successfully blocking the first travel ban against seven Muslim-majority nations. His office has filed more than 30 lawsuits against the Trump administration and won more than 20 legal victories against the federal government.

Watch AG Bob Ferguson's remarks


Doing Theory/Doing Law

Walter Dellinger moderates a panel of three distinguished federal judges as they reflect on their experiences in the law and how one's role defines how they engage with the law. Featuring Hon. David Barron, U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, Hon. Pamela Harris, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Hon. Sri Srinivasan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Watch the Doing Theory/Doing Law panel


Flipping the Narrative on American Democracy

Innovative ideas are on the table that will expand the electorate and ensure that representatives better resemble their constituents. Are we ready to play offense? Will these strategies ultimately strengthen not only voting rights, but also our democratic institutions? Why are these proposals more likely to gain traction than other ideas, and what can be done to support these efforts?

Watch the discussion on innovating and reframing the American electoral system


2019: A Tech Odyssey

But we do not understand the full range of rewards and risks that arise from the use of this technology and the data accumulation necessary for it to work effectively. Computers make trillions of decisions each day in search results and newsfeeds. How does the data collected affect our constitutional rights, and who's job is it to police emerging tech?

Watch the discussion on the ramifications of new technology and our constitutional rights


Women's Rights as Human Rights: Raising the Floor & Shattering the Ceiling

Despite unprecedented numbers of women winning elections across the country and bills and initiatives passed to equal the playing field, women continue to face serious threats in the form of workplace discrimination, reduced healthcare access, and sexual harassment and violence. Moreover, these issues disproportionately impact women of color and low-income women. What legal strategies can be employed to improve gender equality—for all women—and what are the likely obstacles from the courts, the Trump administration, and state and local governments?

Watch for a discussion of the legal strategies to advance women's rights


Is Deference Deserved? Reexamining Judicial Review in National Security Cases

Principles of judicial deference, particularly in the context of national security, are rooted in the acknowledgment that the executive branch is more expert, experienced, and politically accountable than the judiciary. But is judicial deference appropriate when that expertise isn’t consulted, or in fact, repudiates the executive’s claims? Should deference give way when civil rights are in jeopardy? Should there be a more considered approach to when and how courts defer to the executive in these circumstances?

Watch the discussion of the use, or misuse, of deference in national security cases


Promoting Progress: Opportunities and Obstacles to Prosecutor-Led Reform

Progressive prosecutors, many of whom are men and women of color, are seeking to leverage their roles as prosecutors to combat racial and economic disparities in the criminal justice system. How can prosecutors use their discretion and influence to pursue racial and economic justice? What constraints, both legal and systemic, limit a prosecutor’s ability to achieve reform? What are the ethical obligations to pursue prosecutions, even in cases where the law disparately impacts people of color or the economically vulnerable?

Watch progressive prosecutors speak to their work toward reforming the criminal justice system


One Factor Among Many? The Future of Affirmative Action

Panelists discuss the state of affirmative action admissions policies in light of a new type of challenge - these lawsuits allege discrimination not against white students, which had been the claim in the previous cases, but against Asian American applicants. Does/should the fact that plaintiffs belong to a racial minority affect the legal analysis in affirmative action cases? And in light of the Supreme Court’s new composition, how likely is this new legal strategy to prevail?

Watch the discussion on the need for continued affirmative action and the new wave of challenges


Let's Talk About Text

Panelists discuss the origins of originalism and the ways in which progressives can approach debates on constitutional interpretation. Is there a danger in signing on to a textualist or originalist approach to constitutional interpretation? How should progressives reconcile these arguments?

Watch the panel discussion on the path forward for progressives making constitutional interpretation arguments


Into the Breach: Relying on State Courts and Constitutions to Safeguard Rights

Now, with the federal courts moving ever more to the right under the current administration, it may be increasingly important for progressive advocates to look to state courts and state constitutions to advance civil rights and protect individual liberty. Which types of rights might receive stronger protection under state constitutions? What might be at risk with such a strategy? Where the federal and state constitutions contain substantively the same text, is it legitimate for state courts to reach different conclusions than the U.S. Supreme Court about constitutional questions? As progressives look at an increasingly inhospitable federal judicial landscape, are state courts and constitutions the answer?

Watch the discussion of the role state courts and constitutions can play


Toward a Progressive Vision of Religious Freedom

How should progressives respond to conservative efforts to reinvigorate what was once progressive doctrine? Should progressives consider using RFRA to advance their own causes, for example, to assert a right to assist undocumented immigrants or to make decisions about their intimate lives? What would a contemporary progressive view of free exercise look like?

Watch the discussion of a progressive vision of religious freedom