In June 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a landmark ruling on the Second Amendment individual right to keep and bear arms with its Heller v. District of Columbia decision. Two years later, in June 2010, a second historic decision squeezed through the highest court in the land.
On September 16, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, actor and director Andy Garcia, and entrepreneur William K. Bowes, Jr. were honored at the Independent Institutes A Gala for Liberty. Each honoree received the Alexis de Tocqueville Award in recognition of their contributions to advancing the ideas and ideals of liberty, entrepreneurship, innovation, and peace.
In the 1960s, civil rights victories dealt a blow to racial discrimination, and yet 40 years later many blacks remain left behind. Has affirmative action sabotaged the gains of the civil rights movement? What is the role of personal accountability in improving the standing of minority groups?
In June 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Kelo v. New London that local governments may force property owners to sell out and to make way for private economic development, even if the property is not blighted. In response, many states have passed legislation and proposed amendments to their state constitutions to block this unprecedented government assault on the rights of property owners.
Astronomical housing costs, suffocating traffic congestion, and pollution take a heavy toll on our quality of life. Are these problems the inescapable consequences of modern life or the results of poor government policies? Proponents of "smart growth" seek to correct them by replacing suburban living with high-density, urban living and public transit. Others seeks to extend and expand current public and private systems. But how smart are these and other approaches? Would market-based alternatives be preferable to create sustainable communities? Urban economists Randal O'Toole and Daniel Klein discussed innovative "smarter growth" solutions for affordable housing, transportation, land use, and the quality of life in our communities.
The Civil Rights revolution was a pinnacle of American history, freeing African Americans from centuries of disenfranchisement. Yet, according to linguist John McWhorter, it has had a tragic side effect. As racism recedes as a serious obstacle to black advancement, many black Americans have been misled into a self-destructive ideological detour. Has affirmative action fostered the cults of Victimology, Separatism, and Anti-Intellectualism? Have false assumptions and low expectations conditioned black students for low achievement? If racism is to be dealt a final death blow, what strategies must Americans black and white pursue?
Begun in the 1960s, government affirmative action policies are now in retreat in California, Washington, Florida, and many other states and localities in the U.S. Will such changes end America's racial divide or merely intensify it? Can the American Dream be colorblind or are racial preferences necessary to right the wrongs of past discrimination? Is affirmative action a force for fairness and justice or instead merely a "feel good" policy that cloaks the real barriers to social and economic advancement for the most disadvantaged? Ward Connerly and William Bagley, two distinguished members of the Board of Regents at the University of California, will debate this very timely and crucial issue.