Justice and Society Program
Justice and Society Program
Our Policy Work
For close to forty years, the Justice and Society Program has convened individuals from diverse backgrounds to discuss the meaning of justice and how a just society ought to balance fundamental rights with the exigencies of public policy, in order to meet contemporary social challenges and strengthen the rule of law. The annual Justice and Society Seminar, held in Aspen and co-founded by the late Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun, continues to be led by preeminent judges and law professors.
Through our public programming component—which includes the Susman Conversation on the Constitution and the Courts at Aspen, periodic roundtables at the Aspen Institute’s Washington office, and presentations by leading jurists—we bring to the table public officials, established and emerging opinion leaders, and grass-roots organizers to share their perspectives in a neutral and balanced forum.
Our goal is to foster civil and respectful dialogue, seek compromise, and develop strategies for positive change. Justice and Society Program conversations pose open-ended questions, elevate the public discourse, and enable participants to find common ground. In a climate where the loudest voices often come from one extreme or another, we provide a space to reconcile the demands of justice and fairness with the exigencies of public policy.
Recent Public Programs:
- The Future of Affirmative Action in the Courts and the Classroom, with Peter Edelman and Stuart Taylor, Jr., December 12, 2012
- Philanthropic Transparency: How Public Should Private Philanthropy Be?, with Rick Cohen, Jack Horak, Cindy Lott, and John Tyler, moderated by Suzanne Garment, May 10, 2012
- Confronting Genocide: Prevention, Accountability, and Reconciliation, with Harold Koh, David Scheffer, and William Shawcross, moderated by Michael Abramowitz, February 2, 2012
- Targeted Killings and the Law of War, with John Bellinger, Sarah Cleveland, Jameel Jaffer, Martin Lederman, and Benjamin Wittes, moderated by David Bradley, February 1, 2012
- The Constitution and the Politics of Religious Bigotry, with Michael Gerson and Asma Uddin, October 24, 2011
- America the Inclusive: Building Robust Community and Interfaith Partnerships, featuring remarks by Hon. Jane Harman, Hon. Michael E. Leiter, and Eboo Patel, March 30, 2011
- Educating for Democracy in a Digital Age, featuring remarks by Hon. Sandra Day O'Connor and Hon. Arne Duncan, March 29, 2011
- Health Care Reform and the Constitutionality of the Individual Mandate, A Roundtable Discussion with Hon. Bob McDonnell and Hon. Edward Rendell, February 9, 2011
- Is Law Suffocating America?, A Roundtable Discussion with Philip K. Howard, September 22, 2010
- The Kagan Nomination: A Look at What's to Come, Justice and Society Program Roundtable, June 15, 2010
- Caperton v. Massey Coal / Citizens United (the "Hillary Film"): What Effect Will Two Leading Supreme Court Cases Have on State Courts?, Georgetown Law - Aspen Institute Symposium, January 26, 2010
- Executive Compensation and TARP: Finding Equity in a Third-Rail Issue, Georgetown Law - Aspen Institute Symposium, October 27, 2009
- Striking the Balance: Fair and Independent Courts in a New Era, May 20, 2009
Judicial Human Rights Education:
- International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law: Their Application in National Jurisprudence. The Justice and Society Program has been holding judicial seminars for a number of years, during which more than 300 federal judges, including six former and current U.S. Supreme Court Justices, have participated. The purpose of these seminars is to examine the significant body of international human rights and humanitarian laws and norms that has evolved over the past fifty-five years, territory largely unfamiliar but increasingly relevant to U.S. judges. Cases challenging the applicability of the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Geneva Conventions are appearing on court dockets with increasing frequency, and these seminars present judges with the opportunity to gain background knowledge and context before rendering decisions in cases that implicate international human rights laws, treaties and norms.
The International Criminal Court:
- International Justice and Accountability: The United States, Canada, and the International Criminal Court
- The United States, International Justice, and the International Criminal Court: Darfur and Beyond
The Role of the Courts (in partnership with the Foundation for Law, Justice and Society, affiliated with Oxford University)
- In Times of Crisis, Can We Trust the Courts? More info; download
- Courts and the Making of Social Policy More info; download
- Legacy of Abuse More info; download
- State Crimes: Punishment or Pardon