Clinic Visits Washington to Advocate for Reforms to Strengthen Democracy

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Students in Fordham Law’s Democracy and the Constitution Clinic discussed their work with members of Congress and legislative staffers when they travelled to Washington, DC earlier this semester.

They met with Representatives Thomas Suozzi, Jerrold Nadler, and Jamie Raskin. Two were once Fordham Law students themselves: Suozzi ‘89 and Nadler ’78.

The clinic focuses on developing reforms to strengthen the country’s democratic institutions. While on Capitol Hill, the students highlighted projects dealing with checks on presidential powers, ethics and transparency issues, Electoral College reform, and improving representation in Congress.

The clinic is taught by former Fordham Law Dean John Feerick ‘61 and Visiting Clinical Professor John Rogan ‘14. The March 27 trip was not Feerick’s first time at the Capitol discussing legal reform. He participated in drafting the Constitution’s Twenty-Fifth Amendment in the mid-1960s.

The Twenty-Fifth Amendment is the subject of one of the clinic’s projects. That project was a focus of the clinic’s discussion with Congressman Raskin, who has introduced legislation regarding the amendment.

Many of the issues the clinic’s projects address fall within the jurisdiction of the House Judiciary Committee, which Congressman Nadler chairs. Nadler, who represents the district where Fordham Law is located, shared his views on the clinic’s projects in a wide-ranging discussion in his office.

Congressman Suozzi attended Fordham Law while Feerick was dean. Feerick recalls that when Suozzi was a student, the future congressman told him “he had a dream of someday participating in the political life of America and doing all of the good he could.”

“Meeting with him reminded me of that earlier day. It brought me great happiness to see a dream of a student fulfilled,” Feerick says. “The meeting was an inspiring moment for me and all of the students.”

In addition to their meetings, the clinic students attended a hearing on the pardon power where Fordham Law Professor Andrew Kent testified.

Before heading back to New York, the students went to a Fordham alumni reception in a House hearing room. Father Joseph McShane, Fordham University’s President, was in Washington for event, and took time beforehand to meet with the clinic.

The clinic will be releasing its reform recommendations and supporting reports in the coming months. Fourteen students participated in the clinic between the fall and spring semesters. Over the last year, the clinic conducted over 30 interviews with experts, scholars, and current and former government officials to supplement their research. Among those interviewed were former CIA Director John Brennan, former White House Counsel Fred Fielding, Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, and Fordham Law Professors Bruce Green, Jed Shugerman, Jerry Goldfeder, and Elizabeth Maresca.

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