Annenberg Public Policy Center Director and Annenberg School for Communication Professor Kathleen Hall Jamieson took part virtually this month in a panel of the American Bar Association Annual Meeting on the future health of democracy in America and around the world.
Speaking at “Democracy in Peril: How can we change the course for America?” on Aug. 8, 2022, Jamieson participated in a panel of lawyers, judges, and scholars examining the causes for concern about the future of democracy and discussing what the legal profession should be doing about it.
Jamieson, the author or co-author of 17 books, including “Creating Conspiracy Beliefs: How Our Thoughts Are Shaped” (Cambridge University Press, 2022), was asked about the proliferation of false claims and conspiracy theories: Haven’t those always existed? What is different now?
“What’s different now is that we don’t have in the democratic deliberative process outside the courts a way to adjudicate difference by coming to common ground and fact,” Jamieson said, “because we’ve now had routine attacks on the institutions that are custodians of what’s knowable in the moment. And as a result, they can’t be relied on as sources to which we turn to say, when we differ about something, what is known about what is knowable.
“But in that environment … some of our institutions have reliable means to the extent humanly possible of determining what we can know, and the courts are central among them. And because the courts had those procedures in place and people of integrity appointed or nominated by very different presidents, by people of very different persuasions, people who probably voted in very different ways, those practices and procedures let our courts exemplify for us something that is now missing in the other sectors of democratic discourse.”
The panel, moderated by former Ohio attorney general Nancy Rogers, also featured lawyer and commentator Bakari Sellers, of the Strom Law Firm, LLC, in Columbia, S.C.; Steven Levitsky, a professor of Latin American studies and government at Harvard University; and retired U.S. Court of Appeals Judge J. Michael Luttig.
Watch the panel below, with Rogers’ question to Jamieson beginning at 18:30.