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Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes David Cole, National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union for a discussion of two of his ten books-- his first book, No Equal Justice, and his most recent, Engines of Liberty. The conversation begins with his reflections on his formative years and the skill set and temperament appropriate for a constitutional lawyer. It then turns to the work of the ACLU and his role as national legal director. On the issue of criminal justice, Cole emphasizes how the structure of the criminal justice system reinforces inequality and sacrifices justice. On the Bill of Rights, Cole analyzes the role of political activism in shaping constitutional law, referencing the establishment of gun rights and gay marriage rights. The conversation concludes with a discussion of the implications of the changing political landscape - with its emphasis on libertarian ideology, nationalism, and the importance of social media - for constitutional law. Recorded on 02/22/2018.

Overcoming gridlock to achieve solutions to society's pressing problems usually requires compromise but around a quarter of legislators reject compromise proposals if they perceive that their voters especially their primary voters - are likely to punish them for compromising. But political scientist Sarah Anderson shows that only a small slice of primary voters who oppose a particular policy really do punish compromise. Solutions that insulate legislators from the small groups of legislators who punish for compromise may allow legislators to more easily support a beneficial compromise. Recorded on 07/16/2018.

Recent hard right political mobilizations in the West are commonly framed as rebellions against neoliberalism. In this lecture Berkeley political theorist Wendy Brown questions that framing as it identifies neoliberal reason with the aim to replace robust democracy and social justice with authoritarian liberalism, traditional morality and, of course, unregulated markets. Politically pacified citizens disciplined by patriarchal families and free markets, themselves secured by lean, strong states this was the neoliberal dream. The dream twisted, of course, and the lecture concludes with reflections on the current conjuncture. Recorded on 10/30/2018.
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