American Constitution Society
The Columbia Law School chapter of the American Constitution Society (ACS) brings together powerful, relevant ideas and passionate, talented people to advance progressive values in the constitutional, legal, and public policy debates that continue to shape our democracy.
We're a vibrant chapter of progressive legal thinkers.
Our chapter works to amplify progressive voices and create an open and inclusive space for legal thinking at Columbia Law School. In the past two years alone, we have welcomed speakers like Bob Bauer, former White House Counsel to President Barack Obama (see left picture); Donald B. Verrilli '83, the 46th Solicitor General of the United States; Roberta Kaplan '91, who argued the landmark LGBTQ+ equality case United States v. Windsor before the U.S. Supreme Court; Myrna Pérez '03, Deputy Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice; Stephen Bright, who argued the landmark case Foster v. Chatham before the U.S. Supreme Court; Linda Greenhouse, the Pultizer Prize-winning Supreme Court journalist and scholar; and Debo Adegbile, who argued the landmark case Shelby County v. Holder in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Things we do: protect the right to vote; advocate for reform in our broken criminal justice system; pursue justice for historically marginalized groups including racial and ethnic minorities and members of the LGBTQIA community; support a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented Americans; advance the scholarship of innovative, progressive legal thinkers; and so much more.
Interested in ACS and what we do? Join us! We have quickly become one of the most vibrant ACS chapters in the country and one of the largest student organizations at Columbia Law School. Our members plan events and shape discourse on key progressive legal issues. Please email Zach Piaker ([email protected]) if you are interested.
What we've been up to...
On April 20, 2017, ACS hosted the event The "Muslim Travel Ban": Legal and Social Implications featuring a panel to discuss President Donald J. Trump's executive order suspending entry into the United States by people of certain Muslim-majority countries. The panel included Baher Azmy, legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights; Tarek Z. Ismail, senior staff attorney for the CLEAR Project; Faiza Patel, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice; and Thomas P. Schmidt, a senior associate at Hogan Lovells LLP and one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs in Hawaii v. Trump. The event was co-sponsored by the Muslim Students Law Association.
On April 11, 2017, ACS welcomed back to Columbia Law School the Hon. Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. '83, the 46th Solicitor General of the United States under President Barack Obama. Verrilli discussed the U.S. Supreme Court during a time of transition. The event was co-sponsored by the D.C. Law Students Association, Social Justice Initiatives, and the Office of Career Services and Professional Development. (See picture to the left of former Solicitor General Verrilli with members of our Executive Board.)
On March 21, 2017, ACS welcomed election law scholar and University of Chicago law professor Nick Stephanopolous back to Columbia Law School to talk about partisan gerrymandering, the upcoming Supreme Court case Whitford v. Gill, and the efficiency gap. Stephanopolous was previously an associate-in-law at Columbia Law School.
On February 8, 2017, ACS, the Columbia Law School Democrats, and the Entertainment, Arts, and Sports Law Society welcomed Ari Melber, MSNBC Chief Legal Correspondent, to Columbia Law School for a talk on the First Amendment, the media under the Trump Administration, and summer internship opportunities with NBC News. (See picture to the left.)
On November 14, 2016, ACS hosted the event Roberta Kaplan '91 and the Mississippi HB 1523 Litigators: New Frontiers in the Fight for LGBTQ+ Equality. Kaplan and her team at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP - including Jacob Taber and William Freeland - spoke about their work challenging Mississippi HB 1523, an anti-marriage equality and anti-transgender bill. With the results of the 2016 presidential election still on everyone's minds, Kaplan spoke from the heart about the challenges ahead for members of transgender communities seeking justice and spoke to how important it is for litigators to listen to their clients - particularly those whose rights are at stake in bringing litigation.
On October 19, 2016, ACS hosted the event Fixing the Court: Making the Supreme Court More Open and Accessible with moderator Gabe Roth, founder of the nonprofit organization Fix the Court; Professor David Pozen of Columbia Law School; and Alicia Bannon, senior counsel in the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. The panel spoke to the pros and cons of taking measures to make the U.S. Supreme Court more open and accessible to the public. Roth, Pozen, and Bannon discussed whether there should be cameras in the Supreme Court; explanations for recusals; and more.
On October 6, 2016, ACS initiated a petition to encourage Dean Gillian Lester and the Columbia Law School administration to require all faculty members to record classes and provide excused absences to students on Election Day - November 8, 2016. After over 170 students and 21 student organizations signed on to our petition, we hand-delivered it to Dean Lester on October 11. In response to our petition, the Law School took unprecedented steps to record all classes on November 7 and 8, 2016 to allow students to vote and volunteer on Election Day. ACS is grateful to the Law School administration for their favorable response to our petition and everyone who helped make it happen. Click here to read former ACS Co-President Shane Grannum's letter thanking the student body for their involvement in the petition.