Justice and Society Program

breyer_oconnor_chertoffFor over four decades, the Justice and Society Program (JSP) 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.


The Justice & Society Program of the Aspen Institute and our extended network of seminar alumni and friends mourn the death of New York Court of Appeals Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, a 2009 Polsky Scholar at the Justice & Society Summer Seminar, and a distinguished jurist on New York’s highest court. As an attorney at East Brooklyn Legal Services and later an assistant attorney general in the New York State Department of Law for its civil rights and real estate financing bureaus, Judge Abdus-Salaam was a tireless advocate for the rights of the marginalized and impoverished. She carried her moral commitment to social justice to the bench. She was a first in many respects—the first African-American woman on the New York Court of Appeals, and its first Muslim-American. She was gracious, humble and charming, with a dry wit and an easy laugh. We will miss her, and her absence will be a loss to the pursuit of justice in our nation.