Critical race theory, immigration hot topics at ABA Social Justice Policy Summit, December 8-9

In an effort to create awareness around issues such as racial equity and social justice, the American Bar Association Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice and the ABA Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice will jointly host an online program, “A Social Justice Policy Summit: A New Administration,” on Wednesday and Thursday, December 8-9.

Law experts, leading professors and advocacy strategists will explore topics such as critical race theory, voter suppression laws and the question of race and terrorists. They will also answer questions such as the policy status of immigration in the U.S., and whether we are aiding or abetting violent extremism and insurrections.

Programming will include:


• 11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m.—“Legislative Backlash: Anti-Protest Bills, Voter Suppression Laws and Critical Race Theory”

In the aftermath of the 2020 election cycle, and on the heels of a historic racial justice movement, GOP lawmakers have responded to the political mobilization of communities of color with legislative reprisals. For instance, in response to the Black Lives Matter demonstrations following George Floyd’s murder, Republican legislators introduced more than 80 anti-protest bills in 34 states during the 2021 legislative session. Similarly, after historically marginalized communities delivered Democratic victories, Republican lawmakers introduced 361 bills to restrict voting rights in 47 states during the first three months of this year. Moreover, in retaliation to demands for social change and racial equality, GOP lawmakers also proposed laws to restrict education on racism and bias. The panelists will discuss these developments and necessary policy responses.

• 1:30- 2:45 p.m.—“Ensuring Accountability: Are Corporations Funding Insurrections or Just Bad Political Candidates Docket”

After President Biden prevailed in the general elections, 147 Republicans voted to overturn those results thus planting the seeds for the subsequent riot. But, what role did corporate America play in this sequence of events? For instance, Toyota donated $62,000 to 39 members of Congress who refused to certify the Electoral College results, and only reversed course following consumer backlash. While corporate America largely stopped PAC contributions to the 147 Republicans who blocked the election results, others–such as telecom giant AT&T and health insurer Cigna–have resumed donations. Beyond the January 6th attack on the Capitol, is corporate political giving to candidates who advance corporate–rather than the public–interest undermining our democracy? Are politicians up for sale? During this session, experts will discuss money in politics and needed reform.

• 3- 4:15 p.m.—“Must All Terrorists Be Black and Brown? Let’s Discuss White Supremacy and National Security”

According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, white supremacists and right-wing extremists have long committed the majority of terrorist events on U.S. soil. From the 2015 shooting rampage at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC to the 2018 massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA to the 2019 attack in El Paso, TX, the victims are overwhelmingly African Americans, Jewish Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos and other members of historically marginalized groups. Still, terrorism remains synonymous with, and the national security apparatus appears focused on, Black and brown communities despite the empirical data evidencing the national security threat lies elsewhere. Experts will address the social, legal, and political dynamic that contributes to this phenomenon and practical policy responses.


• Noon-1:15 p.m.—“Policy Update: Where Are We on Immigration?”

During this policy roundtable, experts will discuss what has happened on immigration in the last year, what is happening now and what needs to happen in the time ahead.

• 1:30-2:45 p.m.—“Guantanamo Bay, Torture, and Drones: Are We Countering Violent Extremis ... or Fueling It?”

Twenty years after the tragic events on September 11, 2001, debate persists surrounding the efficacy of U.S. counterterrorism tactics. Some question whether languishing prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and civilian casualties from drone strikes abroad contribute to the conditions and narratives that nourish–rather than extinguish–violent extremism. For instance, Faisal Shahzad justified his attempt to bomb Time Square as retribution for U.S. drone warfare in Pakistan. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen are responsible for thousands of civilian deaths–including children. What reforms are needed? Experts will discuss.

To register for any of the online sessions, visit