Centre for the Study of the United States

American Studies students discuss civil rights in the Trump era with ACLU president

Students enrolled in the American Studies program at the University of Toronto recently received the unique opportunity to partake in a private question-and-answer session with Susan Herman, the incumbent president of the American Civil Liberties Union and renowned constitutional law scholar.

The hour-long session allowed students to ask questions about the Constitution, civil rights law, and, of course, the Trump Presidency.

Many attendees were enrolled in the American Studies program’s course on populism and demagoguery, which was created in response to the Trump Presidency and the apparent rise in populism. This private Q & A with the president of the ACLU perfectly complemented the course.

Herman shed light on the complexities of the Constitution — particularly the right to free speech.

Herman also encouraged students to pursue political discussion, even with people who hold opposing views. She stressed the importance of knowing your rights, respecting other people’s rights, and remembering the similar values that form the basis of seemingly opposing views.

The event was informative for everyone. Several aspiring lawyers and scholars gained further understanding of the intricacies of the professions, students were exposed to the complexities of topics that recur in their field of study and everyone gained a better understanding of contemporary American sociopolitical issues.