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July 08, 2024 Top Legal News of the Week

Democracy Summit headlines ABA Annual Meeting

The ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago July 31-August 6 will feature a plethora of exciting programs and events, but a centerpiece will be the “Democracy Summit” on Friday, Aug. 2.

The Democracy Summit, a centerpiece of the ABA Annual Meeting, will feature national leaders discussing the role of lawyers in ensuring democracy.

The Democracy Summit, a centerpiece of the ABA Annual Meeting, will feature national leaders discussing the role of lawyers in ensuring democracy.

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The summit will be hosted by the co-chairs of the ABA Task Force for American Democracy, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Charles Johnson and former federal judge, J. Michael Luttig.

“Addressing the biggest issue facing our country today – threats to democracy – the Democracy Summit is a must-attend event focused on strategies that lawyers and citizens can use to protect democracy in this critical election year,” ABA President Mary Smith said. “With high-profile speakers such as legendary journalist Judy Woodruff, former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, January 6 Committee key witness Judge Michael Luttig and frequent commentator and former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Charles Johnson, the summit’s sessions will explore important topics such as civics education, the role of lawyers and key techniques to ‘disagree better.’”

The event will kick off with a ticketed luncheon at 11:30 a.m. CDT featuring a fireside chat with former Merck CEO Ken Frazier and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina discussing threats to democracy, the role of the business community and the actions we all can take to safeguard our democracy, particularly in this election cycle. PBS senior correspondent and task force member Judy Woodruff will moderate the discussion.

Smith will present the task force’s Unsung Heroes of Democracy Awards at the luncheon to honor 22 lawyers, election workers, everyday citizens and non-profit organizations that stand up for democracy and the rule of law.

Panels and speakers at the summit will include:

  • Role of Lawyers and the Justice System in Defending the Constitution and Assuring Trust in Elections: A discussion of lawyers’ fundamental role in defending the Constitution and the rule of law looking at concrete steps that lawyers can take to ensure trust in our election systems and their crucial role in protecting our democracy. Panelists include Dennis Archer, past ABA president and former mayor of Detroit; Heather Gerken, dean of Yale Law School and member of the ABA Task Force for American Democracy; and Bill Bay, ABA president-elect. Task Force Vice Chair Bill Ide, past ABA president and former senior vice president and general counsel of Monsanto, will moderate. 1:30-2:30 p.m. CDT
  • Every American is a Civics Teacher:  A conversation about how, in a time of democratic crisis, Americans from every walk of life need to act like teachers of civics and how members of the bar can help their communities understand and practice civic power locally and nationally. Panelists include Sherrilyn Ifill, the Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Esq. Endowed Chair in Civil Rights at Howard University and current Klinsky Visiting Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School, and Eric Liu, CEO and co-founder of Citizen University. Both are members of the ABA Task Force for American Democracy. Michelle Behnke, ABA president-elect nominee, will serve as moderator for the panel. 2:30-3:00 p.m. CDT
  • How to Remove Contempt from our Political Discourse: Since the Constitution requires vigorous disagreement but cannot survive a citizenry that holds one another in contempt, we can disagree better? Panelists include David Blankenhorn, president of Braver Angels, and Rachel Kleinfeld, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Democracy, Conflict and Governance Program. Thomas B. Griffith, former judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and member of the ABA Task Force for American Democracy, will moderate. 3:00-3:30 p.m. CDT
  • The Activities and Learnings of the Task Force and What Each of Us Can Do to Make a Difference: Hear how each of us can support the work of the ABA Task Force for American Democracy in our community and ensure the integrity of elections in our state as Johnson and Luttig discuss what we all can do to help. 3:30-4:15 p.m. CDT

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