tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN October 3, 2011 10:00am-12:00pm EDT
be live on c-span 3 with a series of discussions from the campaign for america's future. speakers include don edwards and former white house adviser van jones. with congress back in session this week, the house will consider a spending bill that would keep the federal a garbage open for another six weeks through november and the senate is considering a bill to deal with china's currency. and use our comprehensive resource on congress to get more and permission about your elected officials, with c-span's congressional chronicle, including video of every house session, schedules, committee hearings, and more. >> for the first time, americans
will have access to connectivity, even if there are natural disasters and other things happening, through our satellite network. >> the ceo of light squared on his company's effort to build a satellite network. discussing how his technology may interfere with military and government equipment. >> ruth bader ginsburg discusses legal issues in front of law students at the university of california hastings college of law from sanfrancisco. the founding person for the justice of law interviews her over topics including civil procedure, the recent walmart decision, and other important legal decisions which came before the high court. this is about 90 minutes.
pick 4 conversation and fourth thoughts about law and justice. i am so honored to be able to present to you joan williams, a member of our faculty, who is a boxcar, has actually been called them by the new york times, for her career brickwork over so many years, reinventing the law of the workplace. joan has been a major voice on issues of women and law firms for more than two decades. in 1999, she started a project called the product for return retention which came up with the
modern policies that have allowed working women to make partners at major law firms, even after they need to lower their hours. for this work, she was given the margaret brent award for women lawyers of achievement, but beyond that, through the center for work life law, a center that demonstrates the best of what legal scholarship is all about, taking big ideas and applying them in the real- world, she developed a theory that protect each and everyone of us. he may have heard over the past few years it is now improper to discriminate against employees on the basis of their having family care giving responsibilities. that was her work, virtually single-handedly. she came up with this idea in 2000, and the eeoc adopted in 2007.
and joan will be speaking with justice ruth bader ginsburg. justice ginsburg has a distinguished career as a law professor herself, appointed in 1918 by president jimmy carter, and to the u.s. court of appeals from the d.c. circuit. she was elevated to the supreme court in 1993 by president bill clinton. please join me in welcoming both john williams and justice ruth page rifkin spurt. -- ruth a. perkins burke. -- bader ginsburg. [applause] >> i want to start by welcoming you, just as concerned. we were talking before this and we realized that she was on law same law faculty as my father
and i was in her daughter's law school class. >> and son in laws. >> yes. i wanted to thank you for coming out here. not everyone is willing to jump out of a plan on to an inflatable slide. [applause] >> i will not claim that as part of my journey here, but i had a unique invitation from the hastings law school. i think it was evan lee who said, here is the program for the san francisco opera in september. pick any one. mary will invite you as our guest. [laughter] saw last night, we sought a remarkable production. i think there were performances
remaining, so i highly recommend it. >> i gather you did get to the opera despite the fact of being late? >> and that's the first act. it was a david hockney-designed production. stunning. >> i wanted to go back to talk about your past and early life. you often said the person who influenced you the most was your mother and her two key messengers were to be a lady and be independent. i was thinking about that, and for many women of her generation, they would not have seen it as a problem if a wife was supported by her husband. did she think differently? >> on the contrary, if a woman worked, it was a sign that her husband could not make it.
it was a disgrace for a man to have a woman who worked outside the home. i think my father realized many years later that my mother would have been, she would have had a fuller life, had she been gainfully employed. >> but it sounds like she was sending you early that message that it was important for a woman to be independent. sounds like a bit of a free thinker. >> of course, she hoped that i would meet prince charming -- >> which you did. >> i was married happily for 56 years, but she also thought it to be important that a woman be self standing and be able to support herself, her family, if need be.
>> another influence on you was the novelist vladimir nabokov. i wanted to hear you talk about that a little bit because most people do not think about artists and lawyers in the same breath. you are clearly attracted to oart. >> nabokov was a european literature professor at cornell university. he changed the way i read and influenced the way i write to. he was a man in love with the sound of words. let me see if i can give you one example. it was a quiz that we had on a dickens novel. the question was, when we first meet the character, where is he?
our professor announced that most of you remember that his head is sticking through of great. but only seat number 59, which happened to be my husband, wrote that we see his large head sticking through the grave. that large gives you the misery of this child that you would not have otherwise. i remember he read to us the first page of "bleakhouse" giving us the picture of this fog. he spoke about what he liked in english language.
suppose you wanted to say a white horse. in english you say white horse. when you get to the course, it is always white. in french, you said horst first -- you say horse first. >> you are known for your opinions, keeping it right, keeping it tight. >> that came in part from him. also came from being a law teacher and lawyer, realizing that judicial opinions were much stronger. >> i think my students would agree. [laughter] i also wanted to ask you about your husband marty ginsburg, who
you said was the first boy who care that i had a brain. he was unusual in his support for your career. i just wonder concretely, how you balanced a working family every day. when you went off to study swedish procedure, your daughter was five or six. how did you put it all together? >> marty and i married the same month that i graduated from cornell. i had never lived alone and i had word about little things like, could i figure out how to tip at a restaurant? could a figure out to do those things myself? marty understood and was supportive of my decision, who was in -- i was confident i
could manage for myself. the one of my dear college friends noticed something about marty barrett would be were very young, when we first met, he was 17, i was 18. marty was so confident of his own ability, so comfortable with himself, that he never regarded me as any kind of a threat. on the contrary, he always made me believe that i could do more than i thought i could. >> my gender in law class wanted to know what advice you have for finding a partner who is really a partner. i think you just gave it to us. >> the other special thing about marty is he was a great cook. [laughter] he said he attributed his skill in the kitchen to two people.
first, his mother, and then his wife. i thought that was very unfair with respect to my mother-in- law. but it was an accurate description of me. we started out -- i was the everyday coat, he was the weekend and company cook. i have seven things i could make. when we got to no. 7, we got back to number one. [laughter] and they all came from a book called "the 60-minute jeff" which meant nothing took longer than one hour to go from the kitchen to the table. we spent the first two years of our marriage in lauren, oklahoma. marty was an artillery officer. when jane was born, i went back
to his folks. she was born in long island. my cousin said marty a cookbook been a loose translation and said that this will give you something to do what your wife is a way. marty was a chemistry major until goff practice in a record with that. so he took this cookbook and treated it like a chemistry text. he started with the basic stuff. he was quite accomplished by the time we left. >> soaking is chemistry. >> and then, the best part of the story for me, jane, around her high-school years, noticed a distinct despite big difference between mommy's cooking and
eddie's cooking. she decided that i should be phased out of the kitchen. [laughter] we moved to washington, d.c. in 1980 and i have not cooked a meal from the day that we made our move. that is true even today. sadly, my husband died a year ago in june. but my daughter comes one the month to cook for me. she fills my freezer. sometimes she takes -- makes so much i have to take it to the court's freezer. >> that is wonderful. having read about you, knowing you do not like to cook, i was worried who was cooking for you. now i know. another question related to your late husband, from my class as well. as you have mentioned, when you
got supported to the d.c. circuit, he gave up his job in new york. was he still practicing or just a professor? >> he was a professor at columbia law school. >> he gave up both and polity to washington. >> he transferred to georgetown. >> what would you say to young men about why they should accept the family situation where their career sometimes comes second? >> in a family, there is a balance. when we started out, we were in oklahoma. then we were students for the next two years, so it was natural to share everything. when marty was starting out in
law practice, evil to make -- eager to make partner, i was responsible for the lion's share of taking care of jane and the home. but that balance changed when the women's movement came alive and marty appreciated the work that i was doing. so i became the person who's career came first. when i was appointed to the d.c. circuit, so often, people would come up to me and say, it must be hard for you, commuting back and forth to new york. they could not imagine that a man would leave his work to follow his wife. even then, we would go to
parties, we would be introduced -- i was introduced as judge ginsburg. a hand would introduce to marty. that did not happen when i was appointed to the supreme court. [laughter] [applause] >> so you see, young ladies? we have a solution to that problem. >> i should tell you, too, marty was a member of the dentist club. he was introduced by john o'connor. the qualification for being a member of the denis thatcher club is, your wife has a job, but in your heart of hearts, you would love to have your own. .
[laughter] >> i wanted to talk about our hastings legal case, a first amendment case that said that hastings could insist that all student groups accept all comers, and other words, be open to anyone who wanted to join them. when we teach that case, we find students are generally satisfied with the supreme court's opinion, i am sure you will be pleased to hear, but they wonder, if every student group is required to accept everyone, they wonder how individual group can distinguish itself from a viewpoint. >> the history of that organization answers the question. for years, the christian legal society excepted all comers. then when they became an affiliate of the national, i
think it was the national who said you can accept only true believers. people who had been part of the club when it was open to all comers, talked about the experience of having people who were not the same. particularly, having gay members, how it affected them. it was pretty clear the equality policy worked and did not, in any way the mission of the organization. it just made them more understanding others who were different. >> i want to shift to an establishment clause case. the status of the clause prohibits the establishment of religion. in one prior case law, states
prohibited from buying books for religious schools. last term, the supreme court decided a case involving state law which gave a tax credit for up to $500 worth of contributions to tuition student organizations. then that money is used to buy scholarships to pay for students to go to private schools, often religious schools. a tax ensued saying it violated the establishment clause. the supreme court said that the taxpayer had no standing to sue, distinguishing and maybe overruling past cases. if i think about arizona question, it leaves me wondering, what is left of the establishment clause? it seems all the government needs to do is structured funding through a tax credit or
different tax expenditure read than paying a direct subsidy. why is the establishment clause so important and have in that case affect it in your view? there are two distinct issues. only one was involved in that case. that was who complained about a violation of the stomach and cause. the president's case said all the taxpayers in general cannot bring suits because they are not serving any more than the next person as taxpayers, so we have an exception for the establishment clause unless we allow taxpayers standing, then the actions by the government arguably is in violation of the cost, simply will go unchallenged.
the arizona case said taxpayers -- made an attempt to distinguish it. unless you have the facts itself, it is doubtful whether you would be able to challenge any action of the government as a violation of the establishment clause if you are merely a citizen, a taxpayer. what is the content of the establishment clause? has changed. it was once thought there was a wall of separation between church and state. it was best for the state and for the church if each tended to its own house and the government stayed out of the any intermingling with religious organizations.
there is, frankly, a different notion that the current majority of the court has, and that is, there is no wall of separation, but there is a rule of nondiscrimination, that is, in a tuition case, if you are going to give money for scholarships to catholic schools, equally, you must give money to jewish schools. the notion is lots of room for accommodation and the prohibition is favoring one religion over others. that is the current debate, what does the establishment clause mean? does it mean, state, you stay out of state affairs, or does it mean, you can support religion
as long as you do so without referring one religion or region over another. >> that is a dramatic shift from the understanding of the establishment clause that was taught while i was in moscow. >> the two strains were there from the beginning. >> you have always loved civil procedure, which is a mystery to me. >> the greatest law school teacher i ever had was benjamin kaplan. the very first class i had was civil procedure. this man was so engaging. i also had in a civil procedure class a classmate, his name was anthony lewis. he was on a fellowship to
harvard. a journalist. he was taking courses in law school and in college. on that first day, he performed brilliantly in the class. i went home and i said to marty, if they are all that smart, i am not going to make it. he said you are at least as far as he is. i said, i am going to try to volunteer and talk as much as that fellow. i do not know if i would have loved the subjects of much if i did not have the extraordinary teachers. >> it is also tied up, i think, with access to justice? >> you can have all the rights in the world, but if you cannot enforce them, they are not worth very much. >> there was a supreme court
case, and i will not remember the name, last term, that was very well known, in which he dissented. it had to do with an american who had been injured by a machine manufactured were brought, could sue in the u.s. do you want to talk about that case? >> this was a man that worked in a metal shop in new jersey. the employer had purchased a shearing machine that was allegedly defective and was responsible for the accident. the manufacturer had engaged an exclusive distributor in the u.s. the manufacturers object was to sell as many machines any place in the u.s.
the manufacturer showed its stuff every year at the metalworks organization trade fair. but the court house, there were not sufficient ties to the state of new jersey, to allow the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the foreign manufacturer. my point was, we are a nation that does not know states. this manufacturer could not care whether it was new jersey or arizona or texas. just wanted to sell machines in the united states. the question then should be, are there sufficient contacts with the united states? is this manufacturer the official date for it -- affiliated with the united states to of pursued here? then the question becomes one
that lawyers call venue. yes, affiliation with the united states, but a suit. where the accident happened, that is where the witnesses were. my colleagues, it was a 5-4 decision. we said that the ties in to be in new jersey, not new jersey as a whole. it is a classic example of why this court is not pro- corporation. that is a bum rap for this reason. there is not a single manufacturer in the united states that could escape liability for someone injured in the u.s. by use of that product. but foreign manufacturers are home free. they can exploit a market in the u.s., but they escape liability for the injuries their products
cause. most important for foreign manufacturers are personal injury awards, which are vastly higher than awards elsewhere in the world. so the majority decision i found was very difficult to understand when you are dealing with an of entrepreneur who sees the u.s. as a market. and the court saying, you have to pinpoint a specific state. if he do not do that, there will not be personal jurisdiction over you. >> when i was reading, i thought, i understand why justice ginsburg cares about civil procedures. it was clearly an important case. a sobering one for me. i wanted to talk about the cases that i have a spend my life
studying. the cases that began in the 1970's with you litigating them, riding a brief about gender. as of 1970, the supreme court had never met a gender classification it did not like. the 14th amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law was seen as a plan to race but not gender. this had been settled interpretation for over 104 years. so the question is, what made you think you could get the port to record to overrule a century of precedence? >> accord is a reactive institution. it is never in the forefront for social change. there is always a movement in society pushing the court that way. when you think of brown v.
board, the campaign, it was not only the third marshall was a brilliant lawyer and made building blocks to get up to brown v. board, but it was the tenor of the times. we had just bought our second world war against an odious form of racism, and yet, our troops, through much of the war, were separated by race. apartheid in america really had to go after the second world war because racism of the kind we had in the united states was wholly against what we were fighting for a broad. so the time was right for that recognition. similarly, by 1970, and the women's movement was revived.
not just in the united states, but all over the world. some places ahead of us, some behind, but there were international women's years. there was that issue that people cared about, and the court, as a great legal scholar, paul born once said, should never react to the weather of the day, but inevitably, it will react to the climate of the era. the climate was right for that change. in the first brief that i helped to write, we put on the cover of the brief, as the aclu represented sally reed, the names of two women.
pauli murray and toward the canyon. they were saying the same things that we were saying, but they said it at a time when no one was prepared to listen -- or very few people. the liberal 1960's, more on the court, the case against florida. there was a woman that was abused by her philandering husband. anhui one day, he had humiliated -- one day, he had humiliated her to the breaking point. she spied a baseball bat that belonged to her young son in the corner of the room, she hit him on the head, he fell, it was the end of his life, and it was the beginning of the murder
prosecution in hillsborough county, florida. florida did not put women on juries unless they came into the clerk's office and volunteered. how many men would volunteer if they could escape service? her thought was, if there were women on the jury, they might better understand my state of mind. not that they would acquit me, but at least she thought she might be convicted of the lesser climb -- crime of manslaughter rather than murder. she was convicted of murder by an all-male jury. she had raised that question of the absence of women on the jury rolls in florida all through the lower courts, the supreme court
heard the case. the attitude in 1961 was, we do not understand what women could be complaining about. they have the best of all possible worlds. they can serve if they want to. if they do not want to, they do not have to. well, the notion of a citizen that escapes the basic obligation that you have to participate in the administration of justice really means that you do not consider that person, that citizen expendable in the administration of justice. the supreme court did not react as it should have to the case. 10 years later, the court writes a unanimous decision in sally personsase say andining,
equally entitled, males must be referred to females. the court held that that was unconstitutional. it was the times. sally reed was an ideal representative of what women were complaining about. her case arose in tragic circumstances. she and her husband were child less. they adopted the boy. -- a boy. they separated. sally was given custody when the boy needed care. when the boy reached his teen years, his father said i want to
take care of him. he needs to be prepared for a man's world. sally thought that he would not be a good influence on her son. she was right. the boy was terribly depressed. one day, he took out one of his father's and he killed himself. so sally wanted to be appointed administrator of his estate, not that it had any value, but for sentimental reasons. she was faced this provision and she said, that is not fair. i applied first, so i should get the appointment. sally reed was not a sophisticated woman. she made her living by taking care of elderly people in her home. she would not have called
herself a feminist. she probably would not have known the word. but she thought she had suffered an injustice, and she had faith in the legal system that it could right that wrong. it was through cases like this, cases in the '70s, real people who were ready to complain and thought the system could do something to redress their grievances. >> he made sure that it did? >> i was lucky to be there at the right time and the right place. a law professor with a flexible schedule. [laughter] >> i have thought a lot you were the right person for the right time, for the right place. but you were also a brilliant in doing something that you do a lot. when you use legal change to respond to or change societal
change, how do you orchestrate the court, legislature, press, the executive, to make it all happen? i imagine you thought about that in a self-conscious way. >> we started the aclu women's rights project. we have remissions. the first was public education. people have to care about change. the second was the legislature. get the legislature to change. that was one of the reasons why i was an advocate of the equal rights amendment, because that would prompt legislatures to clean up their law books. finally, the courts. we worked on all three levels. on legislative change, we got a
great gift from the law school i first attended. when he was solicitor general, mr. griswald, it came about in a tax case that my husband and i, the only case where we were co- counsel. it involved a tax deduction for the care of a young child or a disabled dependent of any age. the deduction was available to any woman or any widowed or divorced man. the plaintiff in that case was charles mark, a man who never married but took great care of
his mother, though, at the time, was 93. he could not get this deduction. he represented himself in the tax court. his brief read, if i had been a dutiful daughter, i would get this deduction for the care of my mother. i am a dutiful son and i do not get the deduction. that makes no sense. [laughter] son that was the case. we wrote them brief there before read, and that was the model for it. it did not work out because litigation does not always run a smooth course. we have two cases of stereotypes. sally reed was deemed to be less confident to administer at a
estate -- an estate, and charles was deemed not competent to care for his mother. if they would have seen these two cases at the same time, they would have seen the irrationality of these. that is the broad classification of gender. >> i wanted to talk about your early cases, and you did that. those cases in the casebooks are now commonly referred to as the common equality cases. one thing i wanted to ask you for the record, was your goal only formal equality? >> one has to begin at the beginning. what we faced was statute books, state and federal, riddled with classifications based on sex. what we wanted was to open all
doors for men and women, that nobody should be blocked from an opportunity or pursuit of a particular course in life because he was male or she female. the idea was to get rid of all of the overt gender based classifications. that was the starting point, to have the law books that did not classify people, lump classifications on the basis of the is it a mother, father, is it a son or a daughter? that was the mission. what we encountered in approaching courts was something absent in the movement for racial justice. that is, everyone understood by
the 1950's, 1960's, that race discrimination was a bad thing. but many people thought gender discrimination operated benignly in the women's faber. when women were told they could not do this, work at night, worked overtime, because their powers were limited to eight -- all those protections sheltered women. it was hard for them to see that those so-called protections really operated, not to put women on a pedestal, but in a cage. >> the way i see those cases is
not only on a formal quality, but focused on engender system, -- a gender system which happens to be the gender system we continue on today, separate spheres. that associates women with family, men with work, has particular descriptions, that women are focus on care and corporation. men are focused on ambition and work and competition. as i look back on those cases, it seems to me, a central theme in those cases was to change that system. one of the reason that you felt so comfortable choosing males often as plaintiffs is an equally effective way to the construct the system is to change rules for men as to change rules for women. i wonder what you think of that.
>> i think that is exactly right. as i have said quite often, if i were to invent an affirmative action plan, it would be to give men every incentive to be close to children. i would give them a plus as kindergarten teachers, grade school teachers. we would have a healthier world, i think, if men shared with the responsibility for bringing up the next generation. what you are talking about, i have a store that just epitomizes the attitude of ,ociety, even in the 1970's when the women's movement was alive.
i have a son, now in his 40's, but i called him lively. my husband called him i corrective -- hyperactive. i would get a call once a month to come down to the school to see the principle, a teacher, sometimes school psychologist. he would have a story of my son's latest escapade. one day, i was sitting in my office in columbia, very tired. weary as i was, i said, this child has two parents. please alternate calls. it is his father's stern. [laughter] -- turn.
marty did show up. after that, although there was no discernible change in my son's behavior, the calls came only once a semester. people were reluctant to take a father away from a court and would not hesitate to make a mother feel guilty. >> that is such an important story. when i had my own children 30 years later, exactly the same thing happened to me. they called me up every single time. i did not have such a lively child. it was not as common. when i said -- not quite as succinctly as you did -- the spirit has -- distraught has two parents.
i wanted to shift to a doctor final question. when you started litigating the read v. reed line of cases, you had hoped to achieve a strict point of legal exception. eventually, you developed a fallback position when it was seen that it would be hard to get, and settled for an immediate scrutiny standard in which the government had to articulate that the classification serve important objectives and were related to those objectives. and then when you joined the court and decided the famous equal protection case that in many ways and in that line of cases that you had begun in the 1970's, you articulate the standard differently. you were quoting from an earlier opinion from justice o'connor, but you were living at the
immediate scrutiny standard as requiring immediate justification. did this new language up the ante, the increase the intermediate scrutiny standard more toward script -- strict scrutiny? why have to wait for an opinion? >> we call it heightened scrutiny. it came, ironically, from a case -- let me describe. >> craig v. board? >> no, it was feeneyv. massachusetts or something.
there was a system where veterans did not simply have points added. if you were a veteran and you had a bear pass, you would go to the top of the list, and you would trump men who had a 99% score. the result was, the civil service jobs in massachusetts, the top jobs were overwhelmingly male. these were women who had scored very high and had lost out to a veteran who had maybe a score in the 60's. in that case, they said it was no attempt to discriminate against women. the result was in spite of. there was no intention to disadvantaged women. there was only an intention to
advantage veterans who had done service to the country, which everyone agreed. our argument was that the prince was not being challenged, but it has to be reasonable. it has to operate so that it does not cut out virtually every woman. in that opinion is when the language came out. i was reminded, in reed v. reed -- >> that was rational basis. >> in practical effect, it meant that a classification would have to the lunatic. >> my constitutional law professor called it the the
test. any idiot would have to pass it. >> i looked at past cases for some good language. i came upon a case that was probably decided the wrong way. it had has language that was quoted in reed v. reed that was in favor of striking down arbitrary classifications. the exceedingly press was a justification was the best way that i could use. it had been used at least twice before. >> it has also been used by justice o'connor in mississippi v. hogan. >> that was in 1982.
>> that is why you went to the other language. sorry, this is getting lunky. [laughter] today, you said you thought you would never be confirmed for the supreme court with your activism with the aclu. what has changed? is it the confirmation process, politics more broadly? something else? >> it is not the process itself. when i was nominated for the good job that i now have, chief justice burger king to congratulate me -- came to congratulate me. when i became chief in 1969, my confirmation hearing lasted exactly one hour.
i said yes, and there is one word that describes the difference. television. the members of the committee have all that free time to communicate to the folks back home to impress them with their knowledge, and they are not going to give that up. that has not changed. what has changed, back in 1993, 1994 and again when justice breyer was nominated, there was a true bipartisan spirit prevailing in that congress. now vice-president and chair joe biden was on the committee. the ranking republican member was orrin hatch. his autobiography.
he will tell you with great pride, before the president nominated me, justice breyer, he called senator hatch and said, orrin, i am thinking of the nominating ginsberg or briar. would that be ok with you? -- ginsburg or breyer. that does not happen anymore. i was confirmed 96-3. think about the vote for elena kagan, who was supreme unqualified for the job. she had many more negative votes because the division was on party lines. sunday, we will get back to the way -- some day, we will get back to the way it was. but it will take people on both sides of the aisle, who care to
make government work, to the fact that change. i should say, by the way, the white house people were quite worried about my aclu and affiliation, in what they called murder boards, preparation for the hearing. people in the white house staff would take the part of various senators and ask me questions. the question would be run this way. you were on the aclu board in the year 1976. in that year, a past -- they passed that resolution. did you vote for it? i said, stop. i will not do anything to disparage the aclu.
a neighbor grudgingly gave up. -- they begrudgingly gave up. and there was not a single question from republican or democrat, about the work that i had done with the aclu. that would not happen today. >> if you could accomplish one thing before leaving the bench, assuming that all of your colleagues would magically agree, what would that one thing the be? >> it is hard to say just one thing. [laughter] i would probably go back to the day that the supreme court said the death penalty cannot be administered with an even hand. but that is not likely to be an opportunity for me. it is the hardest part of the job that i do.
even today. i do not know how many calls i got because there was an execution scheduled tonight for 7:00. that is a dreadful part of the business i have to do. i have to make hard decisions. i could have said, as justice marshall, justice brennan said. i am good to take myself although this. the death penalty is unconstitutional premise. if i did that, i would have no voice in what was going on. i could perhaps make things better. so i have perhaps stayed i don't think the labels mean as much engender classification. what with the court does --
watch what the court does, not the words it uses. >> have said you are not a fan of the different levels of scrutiny. in the ideal world "would shift to a common citizenship idea. i would like to hear you talk about that a little more and especially whether that provide enough guidance, not that the levels of scrutiny provide much guidance either. >> the jury cases are a perfect example of that. treat the people as equals, citizens equal in opportunity, equal in what they can aspire to do. i think also that thurgood marshall had the right idea when he said it really depends, it is
a sliding scale, how important is the right, how important is it, governmental interests asserted in defense of the claim. just as we would not recognize any of the as a racial classification of the kind that once existed, so it should be with -- for all people. we should not be stopped from pursuing whatever talent god has given us simply because we are of a certain race, religion, search and national origin, a certain gender or gender preference. >> when is this going to end? >> about 25 minutes. >> fabulous. being on the supreme court, has
a more less than what you thought it was like or has it been different and if so how so? >> the most surprising thing for me was the high level of collegiality. on the court. you might not get that idea if you read, for example, justice scalia's dissented in the vmi case. [laughter] that is his style. his opinions are always attention grabbing. i don't say anything bad about the other side. i would rather it be bland and may be boring. [laughter] it is a different style. justice o'connor wrote opinions as i did but she'd never put down the other side or the
judge who decided the case in the court of first instance or on appeal. >> when i read some of those opinions, i have been reading a lot of them, i sometimes wonder how, after deciding a bitterly divided case, you folks come to work the next day and see each other at the coffee machine. how does it work? >> because we genuinely like each other. scalia is my big as a body at the opera. [laughter] we have traveled different places in the world together. the best example i could give of how the court operates as a family with each other were my
first bout of cancer. first was colorectal cancer which was diagnosed early in september and we start sitting the first monday in october. everyone rallied around me. to make it possible for me to show up in court. that first sitting session, the end of it, chief justice rehnquist called the into his office and said i think we should keep you light. what case would you like to have? that is something he had never done before. [laughter] i was going to go through chemotherapy and radiation and there will come a time when i need to have a light assignment but this time, i said there are two cases i would love to have.
he said those are two cases i would think [unintelligible] [laughter] he gave me one. sandra called me and the hospital and said you will get a lot of cards. she said don't even try to enter them. just concentrate on what you have to do. when you get out of chemotherapy, scheduled it on a friday so you will get over it, a saturday and sunday, and be back in court. on monday. everyone cared and took care of me so i could get through that hard time. it was the same thing with my pancreatic cancer surgery two years ago. >> i think that as a side of the relationship among the justices that we don't see as often.
it is not written down. you have also said we all revere the court and what we want to do is make sure we just don't do any damage to it. that means none of us can project power will singly on to the others. we are a collegial bench. i wanted to hear you talk more about the constitutional vision and sense of role and purpose. >> i think the u.s. supreme court is unique in the world to the extend that society accepts the court as having the final word on what the constitution means. because that is a heavy responsibility, there has to be at least five people who will agree on what the outcome is.
sometimes i am asked why i put that in or the other thing. i will say to think about what i am doing. i am writing for the court, not for myself. i tried to incorporate the views that others on my side. if i circulate an opinion and someone asks something -- me to take something out or at a citation for my opinion -- [laughter] 1 not? i am heartened in that that another supreme court justice said is that he tried to read his opinions as clearly as he could but they call it what it can to put in something else, in it goes.
the law schools -- he said let bell law schools figure out what it meant. [laughter] [applause] >> having been a law professor for over 30 years, i thank you. [laughter] when something does not make sense, you just heard her say it does not make sense [laughter] ] >> i can also say there is a lot of togetherness on the court. we have exchanges with the jurors from other countries and there is usually 2, 3, 4, or more of us. we have exchanges with the european court of justice a few times. i was in india with justice scalia. >> on an elephant? >> yes, [laughter] it was quite magnificent. it was a very elegant elephant. [laughter]
my feminist friends, when they see the photograph of ginsburg and scully on this elephant [laughter] they asked why i am sitting in the back? [laughter] >> you heard it here. we did say that. i wanted to talk to you actually about international and foreign law. you have said learning about another legal system opens your eyes to facets of your own system. i frankly don't understand the reservations voiced by some of my colleagues about referring to foreign and international law. i was talking to a friend of mine who clerked for you way back when you were on the d.c. circuit and she said that even then, you traveled to other countries and met with other judges from other countries and that often with them in the united states. i want to ask what kind of insights those conversations in your study of international law have given you into other
systems and into our own. >> you see that there are other ways to achieve the same end. there are bright minds and other places struggling with the same basic human rights issues that confront us. think of the balance between liberty and security, how much liberty are we willing to give up in the name of security. one case i give as an example comes from the supreme court of israel which is a judgment in a ticking bomb case. the question before the court was, if the police have a suspect that they believe knows where and when a bomb is going
to go off, can the police use extraordinary means, to put it bluntly torture, to extract that information? the message of that opinion was + ever., the explanation is that if we allow security concerns to so overwhelm our deep attachment to fundamental human values to the dignity of each person, we will become more and more to look like our enemy and what greater victory could we handed them then, over time, to resemble them in their disrespect for human dignity.
i think we have a majority on the court who recognizes the value of references to what courts are doing abroad. i should qualify that by saying, of course, what another court does it never binding precedent in a united states court. even people serving our system. but still, if i can read and refer an opinion to any law review article, even a student now in the law journal and no one questions that, why should the question a side glance to an opinion, say, from the supreme court of canada or the german constitutional court or the european court of human rights? >> you have also said that in some ways u.s. courts' failure
to engage with decisions in other countries could undermine the overall influence of this country and undermine the sense that we are part of the world community. >> yes. until world war two, we did not look abroad simply because there was nothing to look at. most systems were fiercely attached to a parliamentary supremacy and that meant the legislature, not the court. said what the constitution means. after world war two, constitutional court to emerge in many places -- emerged in many places in the world. those courts have only one place to look and those were at
decisions of the u.s. supreme court. after some years when i went abroad, was often asked, we look at decisions of your court and they don't find us but what do you think about this hard question? and yet you never refer to our decisions. don't you think we have something to contribute to this international conversation? about fundamental human rights? what i have said it is -- with many courts engaged in this activity, if we don't listen to others, if we pay no attention to what they do mean, we won't be listened to. nowadays, it may be that the
canadian supreme court is cited informed decisions more frequently than decisions of the united states supreme court. if you pick up decisions of that court on questions of human rights, you will find that they refer to decisions of other courts. we don't very often. there are notable exceptions. what is the case? the case of consentual same-sex relations cannot be made a crime, lawrence v texas. justice kennedy cited a leading
decision of the european court of human rights from 1981. than several follow on decisions not because we are bound by these judgments of the european court of that court has recognized that consentual relations between two people do no harm to anyone and cannot be something that government prohibits. also in some of the death penalty cases there have been references to our decisions and our legislation. you would think there will be more and more of it. when our nation was new, we looked abroad. >> it was very common to cite other decisions abroad.
>> as far as international law is concerned, that is part of our law. we are among the world's nations so we are bound by the law of nations which is what they call the international. in the day of john marshall. >> i have to ask one question or i cannot face my friends. since i am basically an employment lawyer, and i will ask about. , but wal-mart case. >> i thought was going to be lee ledbetter. [laughter] >> i had a question about late ledbetter but that was a happy case in terms of its ultimate result. your dissent in lily ledbetter really turned heads.
you read from the bench. one of the first times in your career, 2007. before i get back to wal-mart. , before that, you have almost never or maybe never read from the bench. what changed? >> the court's custom is that the majority opinion will be summarized from the ba-- bench. the person raised the majority and summarizes it will say justice so and so filed the dissenting opinion joined by -- the dissent is not summarized. if you think that the court not simply got it wrong but, to use justice stevens expression, that the court was profoundly misguided, that it was
egregiously wrong, if you want to call attention to that, ;i;y case said congress. they said the ball is now in the court of congress. in other cases, you are speaking to a later court. every dissenter hopeful all will one day be as they thought it should be. we think of the great dissenters in first amendment cases, a holmes and brandeis were two. most of their dissents are today below of the land. either you're aiming for immediate reaction -- the
reaction to lily ledbetter was like a reaction to the gilbert case. it was discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. that is not discrimination on the basis of sex. there is a pregnancy discrimination act which was the result of that. it made people understand everybody came on board for the pregnancy discrimination. act. there was a similar reaction in lily ledbetter's case. your are dying to ask about wal-mart. >> the supreme court opinions really unsettled class action law and a very big way. it also changed the economics of class-action law. i struggled to find a question i
could ask you. i could not find one but here's what i came up with -- what are some of the key issues that divided the majority and the dissenters? some of us were surprised at the part of the majority opinion that the dissenters signed on but i don't want to get towoo wonky. one part of wal-mart is the basic requirement to have a class action. >> you need a common question of law or fact. that is the gateway determination that has to be made in every class-action. it had been considered. it was not a very high hurdle. the court held that it is quite a steep hurdles. .
the common question of law or fact in the wal-mart case was that women overwhelmingly were not getting raises, were not being promoted at the rate that men were getting raises or being promoted. the court said this class has 1.5 million people. that is 1.5 million discrete employment questions. how could there be any commonality? maybe one woman was passed over because she was stealing from the till. maybe another one was just incompetent.
the dissenters understood the argument that there were people making decisions and they were andwhelmingly white men the people they were choosing for promotions or of the same race, the same gender. perhaps there was unconscious bias. it was not delivered discrimination but people feel more comfortable with people like themselves. the example i gave in the opinion criticizing the majority was that there is a great transformation in symphony orchestras in the united states by the simple device of dropping a curtain so the audition and did not know whether it was a
woman or it was a man. as i mentioned to the constitutional law class this morning, my violinist friend said it was more than that. we auditioned shoeless to so that audition people will not hear the footsteps of a woman's healed. heel. there was no deliberate discrimination but a woman came onstage and there was a certain percentage -- perception of her. it was different when it was a man. the other part on which we all agree was what kind of class- action should this be? if what you are dominant lease seeking is in jongh dividend- related, you can go under b-2, any easier formed to deal with
than b-3 were the dominant complaint is money, what you want his money. the b-2 class as had been prominent in the civil rights era when people were seeking class relief -- that is no segregation in schools. you wanted to do not -- you wanted a decree that would bind everyone it did not matter what the members of the class said it would like to be segregated and it was the same thing to put women on juries. some women might say i like it the way it is, don't change it. the relief has to be the same for every member of the class. it was not meant to deal with money claims. was them in wal-mart wanted in shock of relief and we want back pay.
the court thought that the driving force in that case was the money. most of the women in the class had already left wal-mart's employed. the injunction was going to mean a whole lot to them. every woman wanted the money and, frankly, so did the lawyers who brought the action. we said this class is fixed for b-2 classification 2b-3 and not b-2 and we were unanimous in that judgment. you could not take a class- action rule that dealt with money claims and save those go this way and injunctive relief claim and try to shove the money claim into the injunctive relief. category. >> i will last two more short questions.
before i do, i want to thank everybody who has helped me prepare for this interview. my staff at the center for work- life law, linda greenhouse, hillary hard castle, beth coleman, ray a little , joe paul, susan williams, and my gender and law class. what is your favorite comfort food? [laughter] >> it is hard for me to pick out one thing. he made, i don't know if you call this comfort food, but the ambassador of france to the united states had dinner with us one evening and said marty made the best baguettes outside france.
a man who begs his own bread -- [laughter] >> my very last question is this -- what would you like to see as your legacy on the court? >> i would just like people to think of me as a judge who did the best she could with whatever limited talent i have. [laughter] to keep our country true to its -- to what makes it a great nation. and to make things a little bit better than i might have been if i hadn't been there. >> i would like to thank you for all the work you have done on behalf of women and for working so hard to keep the court so respected an institution. thank you. [applause]
[captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] >> today is the first day of the supreme court term, the first monday in october. among the cases they will consider is one dealing with police tracking suspects with a gps devices and indecency standards on television. the court also decide whether to consider the constitutionality of the nation's health care law. you can follow the course of our website, c-span.org. go to our homepage and look under the court tab. >> oral argument is actually the first time the justices to talk about a case together. when justice scalia or justice ginsberg asks a question, i can't figure out what is bothering them about a case and where they are leaning. >> by law, since 1916, the new
supreme court term begins the first monday in october each year, hearing almost 70 cases. cases already include a gps -- gps tracker and without a war, profanity on television, and copyright protection. watch the justices on line at the cspan video library. it is washington your way. our live programming today begins at 1:00 eastern with a speech by documentarian ken burns. he is at the national press club this afternoon talking about his latest project, the pbs series called," prohibition." you can watch that live at 1:00 p.m. eastern right here on c- span. with congress back in session this week, the house will consider spending bill that will keep the federal government open for another six weeks, for mid
november and the senate is proposing a bill dealing with the chinese currency. watch our live coverage of the house on c-span and the senate on c-span 2 and use our comprehensive resource on congress to get more information about your elected officials with the cspan congressional chronicle and video of each session. it is washington your way. this cspan networks were greeted by cable and provided as a public service. >> for the first time, americans will have access to connectivity even if there are natural disasters and other things happening through our satellite network that of the head of light squared on his company's efforts to build a $40 billion high-speed wireless network amid reports the network might interfere with consumer and military global positioning equipment. "the communicators" tonight at 8:00 on c-span 2.
>> up next, a speech in the history of race relations in america from the chautauqua institution in western new york. police -- political scientist melissa-perry will speak. this is about one hour, 15 minutes. melissa harris-perry has the founding director of the juliana cooper project on gender, race, and politics in the south. her belief in the classroom is a critical space for democratic reflexion and that is reflected in the fact as she has taught
students from grade school through graduate school. dr. harris-perry's interests are in the area of african-american political thought, a black religious ideas and practice, and social and clinical psychology. her writing probably appears in many scholarly journals and newspapers and she writes a monthly column for "the nation" and is a frequent contributor to msnbc. in 2009, she became the youngest scholar to deliver the w. e. b. du bois speech at howard university. she is the author of the award winning book, "barbershops, bibles, and bet, everyday talk and black political fault." dawn of brazil has described her most recent book, "sister cinema: shame, stereotypes, and
black women in america" as insightful and provocative. the title of her lecture today is ricans"trudgen lessons." current u.s. -- is " reconstruction lessons." please welcome melissa-harris- perry. [applause] >> thank you for that lovely introduction. let me tell you a story -- i am from the south. i grew up in charlottesville, virginia and then richmond, virginia and went to college and grad school in north carolina. now in new orleans. at some point, maybe six or
seven or longer ago months ago, i got this invitation. it came through the woman who handles my electors. -- my lectures. i heard her say it on the phone and i typed it into my google calendar, chat and a lot -- can't judge an elector. [laughter] this made perfect sense to me because it was about the civil war and was related to the colonial williamsburg foundation. my daughter started fourth grade yesterday in new orleans. my thought was that it was no big deal that i would pop up to tennessee and give the talk and headed back. i would be home before the end of the evening. when she called me maybe two weeks ago and said you have to book your flight to new york, i was like the york? [laughter] where am i going? [laughter]
i spent two weeks than in a lot of time learning about this place. i am honestly a little nervous at the moment because i did not realize the stage to which i had accepted an invitation. i am truly, truly honored to be here although surprised i am not in tennessee. [laughter] in addition to being a southerner, i am a political scientist, not an historian. in addition to the things that made me somewhat nervous about today, it was looking at the speaker's from this week. the speakers who have been here this week are the sort of thing that one would get in one year or in a semester but certainly not in four days prior to my lecture. i want to be clear that i will
not be offering probably a great deal more on original historic insight on the moment of the civil war. my particular vantage point as a contemporary political scientist is to make use of history, to take the work of archivists and historians who are telling stories about our past and make them part of the analysis of our current political moment. the very first time this happened for me was actually in graduate school. my best friend than an today is an nestorian. when we first met, she estimates what i study. i study african american politics. i study black politics and she looked at me and ask the question that changed my life. you study black politics when? [laughter] that question, asking to make
something historically specific, to ask when has been incredibly important in the work i do as a political scientist, as many social scientists, we're always looking for the models of how the world works and not necessarily thinking about the historic contingencies of those models. even as a political scientist, i can say that i believe our contemporary political environment cries out for an urgent collective immersion inaccurate american history. this includes the complicated intersections with race and racism. i have a professional nurse fantasy where i imagine a quarter hour of every cable news program being devoted to a study of american history. [laughter] [applause]
i can hear the ratings plummet. that only gets applause here. in dulles the fantasy for a moment -- what would happen if we were engaged in thinking about american history? what might happen if americans understood revolutionary war history? it might be considerably more difficult for the tea party to argue that their anxieties about a president elected with 53% of the popular vote by an electorate that enjoys universal adult suffrage is just like, just like, or just the same as the concerns of colonists who decried taxation without representation under the rule of an absolute monarch. just that small distinction -- [laughter] i honestly also think that no sustained engagement with the
federalist papers should allow us to continue such narrow simplistic assertions about what the founders believed it. . the paragraph i wish we were talking about in this political moment is that the american founding was contested. it was itself a political process. it was not a divine revelation that came down with agreement from all of the founders. the very thing that we hold up now as our constitution is a political document that included all of the nature of politics which is to say, compromise. [laughter] the ability to deploy the symbols and language of patriotism in the way they are currently deployed in our american political context requires deep and broad ignorance about american history. [laughter] [applause]
i want to be really clear -- i don't mean that if we read the federalist papers or thought more about the revolutionary war that we would find that all of the founders are secular, liberal, humanists who are progressive and would follow and read "the nation"magazines and watch and has been -- msnbc. a recognition there has been conversation even from the beginning would help to set our current political crises in some context. although i think we suffer from a national deficit of historical knowledge in general, we seem to be particularly uninformed about the history of marginal people. ; black americans, non-white immigrants, women of all races, workers, and, of course, a gay-
americans. i also suspect that if we had a clear understanding of those marginal histories that secession would seem like a less reasonable response to political disagreement. if we carefully had conversation even for just 50 minutes on the evening news about the civil war, we might be better equipped to recognize and appreciate the consequences of the racial banks to currently directed at president obama's administration. i am confident that a serious study of labor history would make us more sober in our conversations about stripping workers of their rights to collectively organize. i have no doubt that young women would feel more urgent about protecting their reproductive rights if we were having more public conversations about the struggle for women's equality. there is no single historical truth that will lead all
americans to conclude the same things about our future. history is in many ways the collective project of making meaning out of the events of the past. history is also much more than an academic exercise. i think the texas textbook committee is very clear about how important history is. that is why there were to sanitize it. [laughter] the tea party is incredibly aware of how powerful historical discourse is which is why they cherry pick heroic moments like the boston tea party or vague historic enemies like hitler and socialism. in short, i think the results of our collective historical ignorance are profound. those with political goals on the left or the right might well invest their resources in accurate discussions of history
just as much as in pressing for a particular public policy. it is in that context, that feeling about history, that i am excited despite the fact that i am not an historian of the civil war, to have an opportunity to discuss some of the lessons of the 19th century for our contemporary political moment. i want to consider four. there is no way i can do justice to all of these. my goal in this portion is to just be a bit provocative about how we might imagine these four aspects of 19th century history impacting our current moment and then hopefully engage in conversation, as i have been told, the q &a here is quite robust. [laughter] here are the four points of light to make. the first is about the continuing structural political and economic legacy of our
unresolved anxieties about federalism. i will talk a little bit about federalism and the extent to which federalism is the course of the rights of british civil war moment, also a civil-rights of moment, that we are continuing to work with. the second is about the power of confederate nostalgia in american political culture. yes, i will talk a bit about the health. [laughter] third is about the civil war and reconstruction's legacy for black of voting and how critical it is to understand contemporary african-american voting an electoral behavior within the context that goes back to reconstruction. and finally, the fourth, the lingering racial anxiety of the american south that find themselves in broader american
political culture which is also connected with confederate nostalgia in general. let's start with structures. the two immediate precursors of the civil war place the issue of slavery squarely within a contest over federalism. it's impossible to suggest that the civil war is only about one of these issues. it is obviously, at all times, both about the question about intergenerational human bondage and the relative autonomy of the state's relative to the national government. the two that bring the final decade of stress, that breaks apart the union, are the fugitive slave act of 1850 which allowed an slavers to pursue formerly enslaved women and men and children into free states
and return them to servitude. the second is the compromise of 1850 that allowed the territories to enter the union as slave or free states. this set up violent lobbying. it turns out people did not just get to make these choices. there was lobbying around those and organizing within these potential new states. one might suggest that the bloody battles of the civil war result of these questions, the question of 1850 through the fugitive slave act and through the compromise of 18 51 cent for all. that once all lincoln and union wind, once the union is preserved, that it is clear we have established the primacy of the federal government. i thank there are reasons to read a post-1865 american history in a way that
demonstrates the growing authority of a centralized national government. at a minimum, a recognition that in fact that government will be the primary side of citizenship identity. it would be a mistake to think that those questions were resolved with the final truth. our contemporary politics in fact reflects these continuing anxiety is rooted in this 19th century question about the appropriateness of the federal government policy. let's just take the current debt ceiling debate. let's just take that moment. we can do lots of those but let's take the recent debt ceiling debate and look at it as a moment of civil war knowledge. the civil war was the first time our country willingly took on massive federal debt. it sounds nuts but the president decided it was worth spending
money we did not have an order to preserve the union. [laughter] seriously, look at that. to preserve the union, it was worth going into debt. there it was this notion that debt itself is not inherently evil. it is not inherently bad for the state but it is actually a reasonable choice for responsible leaders to make under the circumstances of the need to preserve the union. the civil war is also the moment of the imposition of the first federal income tax in 1861. to fight a war, one might need to impose a tax. [laughter] [applause] where have we come to america when you would all applaud to fight a war and impose a tax?
of course, the third which we heard about so much during the end of the debt ceiling debate is that that great civil war amendments, the 14th amendme emerged in the period of reconstruction which establishes american citizenship has are rooted in due process and equal protection. how we end up race allies in the 14th amendment because of the context has in which it hemorrhages but also because of the use to which it was put in the 20th century. the 14th amendment provides a national citizenship definition for all americans in a critical way for the first time. as we have learned in the recent debate, it also established the full faith and credit of the united states in this clause that the validity of the public debt shall not be questioned. it was bad phrase that many
suggested meant that president obama had the authority if he wanted to to simply and the debt ceiling, raise the debt ceiling limit as a result of the requirement of the 14th amendment that the validity of public debt shall not be questioned. these moments, the willingness to take on debt, the imposition of the first federal tax and the question of whether or not the president has a right and responsibility to raise the debt ceiling were all core questions 15 months ago. 15 minutes ago. what we were talking about were questions of the 1860's. despite the fact that they had been resolved, they are clearly not resolved at all. they are very much up for debate about whether or not the
country's primary responsibility is to get out of debt or to preserve itself. whether or not the federal government should be appropriately bringing in more tax revenues and whether or not the president has certain kinds of authority under the 14th amendment relative to the economic power of the nation. the victory of the union is in certain ways a victory of the federal government bought the incompleteness of reconstruction means that the tension with state's rights remains. localism is the painful consequence of this. before the debt ceiling debate, the central debate around localism and the power of the federal government has been the health care reform act, lined as obama care. renewing the anxiety over notification and the power the
federal government to act as a preeminent policy-making body -- let's be careful as we think about notification. i want to suggest that northern states, free states, were actually engaged in a nullification of their own. their refusal over and over again to abide by the fugitive slave act of 1850, their resistance against sending back formally and slid person was a kind of localism that said you cannot come here into this free territory and take people away and back into american slavery. it was, in fact, the confederates despite their language about localism who insisted the power of the federal government be imposed on local choices of three states, not to respect the fugitive slave act. there is not just sort of southerners like localism
because they are yokels. [laughter] the yankees in the free states like a big government. it is rather as we see today, there is a waxing and waning about the desire of the power of the central government to act in one interest. issues of marriage equality, abortion, and other socially conservative issues demonstrates that often those who make claims on states' rights and on localism are actually very willing to use the power of the federal government to impose a single set of ideas nationally when those ideas are consistent with their ideology. that is certainly true on both sides. as a matter of provoking some conversation here, the war between the states, the war of
northern aggression [laughter] is not a war that settles once and for all the question of federalism. we continue to be in that conversation today. the second is less a structural and more a cultural thing. it is a question about confederate nostalgia. i grew up in the u.s. south which means that i know the confederate flag very well. i want to be really clear that the confederate flag truly does have multiple meanings. my husband is the most aggressive civil rights advocate who i know personally. there must the other ones in the world but personally, he spends every moment of his day working
for very little, i assure you, to bring about questions of story racial justice. he is also an eagle scout. he and camp, not in these issues [laughter] but he and diecamp and week camp mostly in the south, mississippi, louisiana, and the florida panhandle. my husband has a camping outfit. it includes the shorts that i try to burn on every camping trip. [laughter] it also includes a hat. the hat as a pit bull and a confederate flag on it. [laughter] i actually have many pictures of him and his hat and often tell him that if he ever runs for office again, i will put it on the internet.
look, the civil rights guy is wearing a confederate flag. we are both keenly aware of the history of the confederate flag. we are also keenly aware of a couple of other things like wearing this had makes us safer in southern camping locations. [laughter] [applause] that is absolutely true. there is a way in which it signals a kind of i am not y'all, we are here to have a good time. [laughter] that actually does have a kind of resonance for our childhood. we really did was "the dukes of has" growing up. we listened to the band alabama. we really are southerners. we are not something else. we are both black and southern at the same time in a way that does unnecessarily always cause double consciousness. that said, the effort, the work
of trying to get african- american southern stories back into the center of our stories of what it means to be southern are blocked by a continuing refusal and confederate nostalgia to recognize the role that african-americans played. nowhere was the power of this confederate nostalgic clear that -- then when governor mcdonal compared -- declared civil war month in virginia. he called for virginians to understand the sacrifices of confederate leaders, soldiers, and citizens during the period of the civil war. leaders, soldiers, and citizens -- by focusing exclusively on these three categories,