2019-2020 Season: Where is our country headed?

Exploring polarizing issues that have Americans split about the direction of our nation

As we move closer to the 2020 elections, the United States has become bitterly divided on issues ranging from reproductive rights to fake news. This season begs the question: Where is our country headed?  We will discuss the pivotal role our nation’s laws, religions, and leadership play in shaping our community. We’ll seek answers to critical questions that define us not just as a community, but as humans in a constantly and rapidly changing world. Get a season pass here.

September 24: The Future of the Supreme Court

We will examine the shift in the Supreme Court and its power to determine the direction of hot button issues including reproductive rights, gun laws, and immigration. We will look at the Court as a bellwether of this nation and examine the power as the highest court. Does the Court reflect the views of the country and where it’s headed?

Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 7:30pm

Riemer-Goldstein Theater, Leventhal-Sidman Center


Gary Lawson, Panelist
Boston University Law Professor

Gary Lawson is the Philip S. Beck Professor at Boston University School of Law.  He has authored or co-authored five books on jurisprudence, constitutional history, and constitutional law; eight editions of a textbook on federal administrative law; a forthcoming textbook on constitutional law; and more than eighty scholarly articles. He is an associate editor of The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, and he twice clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia – in 1984-85 on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and in 1986-87 on the United States Supreme Court. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies.

Kate Shaw, Panelist
Cardozo Law Professor

Kate Shaw is a Professor of Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Her academic work has appeared, among other places, in the Columbia Law Review, the Cornell Law Review, and the Georgetown Law Journal, and she recently published the book Reproductive Rights and Justice Stories, with Professors Melissa Murray and Reva Siegel. Her popular writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, and the Take Care blog.  She regularly appears on ABC News, where she is a Supreme Court Contributor, and she is one of the hosts of the Supreme Court podcast Strict Scrutiny. She previously served in the Obama White House Counsel’s Office, and clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens and Judge Richard Posner. 

Jed Shugerman, Panelist
Fordham University Law Professor

Jed Shugerman is a law professor at Fordham and the author of The People's Courts: Pursuing Judicial Independence in America. His current book project, The Rise of the Prosecutor Politicians, examines how the prosecutor's office transformed from a low-prestige, marginal role into a powerful national stepping stone and the driver of mass incarceration. He has a BA, a JD, and a PhD in American history from Yale, and has won prizes from both the American Constitution Society and Harvard's chapter of the Federalist Society. He has published in the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, the Stanford Law Review, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.

Robert Barnes, Moderator
Washington Post Supreme Court Reporter

Robert Barnes has spent most of his career at The Washington Post, as a reporter and editor. He covered politics and campaigns at the presidential, congressional and gubernatorial level. He served in various editing positions, including metropolitan editor, deputy national editor in charge of domestic issues and the Supreme Court, and national political editor. He has covered almost all of the Roberts Court, beginning in November 2006, with a brief break to report on the conclusion of the 2008 presidential campaign. He has also written on the Supreme Court nominations of Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

January 30: Can Faith and Politics be Separated?

Communities across America are divided over politics, culture, identity, and the overall direction of the country. Are religious congregations any different? How do religious leaders today navigate deeply divisive issues — like the Middle East, gay marriage, abortion, the immigration crisis — in their own communities? We examine the role religious leaders play in such partisan times.

Thursday, January 30, 2020 at 7:30pm

May 6: Polarization & Divide: Navigating the News

The information landscape has forever changed, with fake news and blurred lines between fact and opinion. Our panel examines the consequences of living in an age of politicized truth, fake news, and selective reality.  We explore how we sort fact from fiction and through what lens do we see the truth?  Moreover, we ask what are the implications for creating a civil society.  

Wednesday, May 6, 2020 at 7:30pm

What is Hot Buttons, Cool Conversations?

If you enjoy a lively exchange of ideas on today’s hot button topics, the JCC’s acclaimed discussion series is for you. We bring together distinguished scholars, thought leaders and expert moderators for thought-provoking dialogue on issues of concern to the Jewish community and beyond.

The series is named in honor of Jonathan Samen (z”l), past chair of the JCC Greater Boston Governing Board, to recognize his legacy of leadership. View donors.

All JCC arts and humanities offerings are programs of the Ryna Greenbaum JCC Center for the Arts. As a 501(c)(3), JCC Greater Boston does not endorse or oppose candidates for public office or political parties.

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