We the People of WCL, in order to honor his leadership and patriotism, present this tribute to Congressman Jamie Raskin
FROM YOUR COLLEAGUES AT AMERICAN UNIVERSITY WASHINGTON COLLEGE OF LAW, SPRING 2021
“I am so proud to call Jamie a friend and colleague. I have watched in awe over the past several weeks as he led the nation through extraordinarily turbulent times. I sleep better at night knowing he is helping to lead the country. (And because I am fromDC, I consider Jamie my member of Congress). I have treasured Jamie as a colleague ever since I arrived at WCL in 2004—from the moment he warmly welcomed me to the faculty, to the gift of a baby blanket for my first daughter (which we treasure), to the way he made time in his busy schedule to help my Maryland clients in the Immigrant Justice Clinic. Jamie is that rare politician who is entirely motivated by his desire to help others. I have known this for years, and now the nation knows it too.” Amanda Frost Bronfman Professor of Law & Government
February 14, 2021 You Are the Nation’s Valentine! Dear Jamie,
You are so amazing and I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the chance to know you. In fact you are hands down the most impressive person I know personally. I have listened to your supremely eloquent advocacy these past weeks with profound pleasure and pride. Your speeches will go down in history. As you know, I have admired your political career from its start, and was there with you in the beginning, as you may remember. I’ve lost the picture of my car with balloons spilling out the windows as I carried them somewhere for you during your first campaign for state senate but I wish I could reproduce it here. Buoyant balloons reflect who you are personally, spiritually, and intellectually. I have attached a picture froma day, much later, whenyou came tomy fundraiser for WCL grad Wala Blegay. By that time you were so busy and so important but still you, alone among WCL faculty, showed up. I know you will never forget the grassroots you grew from even as you float into the stratosphere of national power and prominence. And Jamie, as I have written to you before, I am beyond sadness that all of your success and acclaim around the capitol assault and impeachment proceedings happened right after the incredible tragedy of losing your beloved Tommy as you so sweetly referred to him in one of your
speeches. Truly you were divinely inspired in the energy and eloquence you projected as you spoke for the nation so many times over these past weeks. I don’t believe in heaven but it does almost seem that he was speaking with you. How you had the stamina and brilliance to write so incredibly, at such length and under such pressure and intense demands, exceeds what any human being should be capable of. You are a hero of the likes of William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips; maybe all of you are connected in some deep way we cannot comprehend on this side of the divide. With love and admiration, Susan Carle
Jamie, TheJaffefamilyissoproudandappreciative of everything you are doing. From teaching withyour jawwired shut as anewprofessor, to demanding from the Capitol what needs to be done, you have always held your constituents as number one. David B. Jaffe Associate Dean for Student Affairs
Jamie, Under the clouds of your darkest hour and amid America’s darkest days, you brought an inspirational light to the world. You stood up for accountability and decency using education, law, facts, humor, and common sense to force America to account for the wrong done to its principles and people. You have gone from teaching constitutional history to making constitutional history in the same inspirational but humble way that makes everyone who knows you proud of that connection. When you stood up and spoke truth to power, you had the backing of millions of American citizens still clinging to the belief that righteousness will win out against those willing to lie for power. You renewed our faith. You taught. You represented your family, your WCL friends, your constituents, and all of us in a way that will be remembered for generations to come. We owe you our deepest thanks. Professor AndrewGuthrie Ferguson
Dear Jamie, We both joined the faculty at WCL at around the same time. Many of the things that I remember about your time at WCL are connected to your success in politics and governance. As a law professor, you had the skills of a community organizer. Along with others, you built the Law and Government Program from scratch. The Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project is an inspiration to so many of us. The Marshall-Brennan alums who participate in clinic understand the importance of community and the challenges that young people of color face. Your law review article on voting rights was insightful, creative and reflected your commitment to political participation at the grass roots level. Fast forward to your election to theMaryland State Senate. I amdeeply grateful for your work spearheading the abolition of the death penalty in Maryland, where I practice as a criminal defense attorney, and championing other progressive causes. You’ve always had a knack for working with people whose views are different from yours, an important quality in achieving legislative success. On a more personal level, I took my seminar class to observe proceedings in the Maryland Senate; you helped me organize this trip and make it a meaningful experience for the students. When a former student contacted me for help in securing a judgeship I put him in touch with you, you made some calls, and he’s now been a judge for nearly a decade. When you were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, we lost your progressive voice as a State Senator, and I worried that your voice would be diminished at an institution that is larger, more cumbersome and more difficult to navigate. But instead your voice is evenmore powerful. Thank you for all that you have done tomake WCL and the world a better place, and for persisting in the face of the unfathomable loss of Tommy. -Binny
Representative Raskin, I am writing at the instruction of one of your smaller constituents, my three-year-old daughter Alexandra. My husband and I have struggled to explain current events in terms that make sense to our very verbal preschooler; her innate sense of fairness, and her hard-won understanding of turn-taking, have left her incensed at President Trump’s failure to concede the election. Alex dictated the attached letter last night after dinner and made me promise to send it to you, as she has been relieved to hear that we have representatives who are enforcing rules that she understands to be the bedrock of fair play. (She keeps asking why “Mr. Donald won’t just tell Mr. Joe that it was a good game and Mr. Donald will win next time,” which she knows is what you’re supposed to say when you lose a board game.) Please accept her letter with her parents’ deep gratitude for all of your hard work in turning the madness of this year into something that we can explain to our preschooler consistent with the values she is learning as a tiny member of society.
In addition to serving as Alexandra’s mother, I am also currently working at AUWCL as Senior Assistant Dean. Bob Dinerstein, Susan Carle, Amy Tenney, and Hilary Lappinhavetoldmanystoriesofyouryearsof collaboration and I hope you know how much respect, admiration, and affection your colleagues still have for you. This group has also told tales of watching Tommy grow up around the law school (and, I gather, decorate EliotMilstein’s dining room walls during one Pesach sedar?), and my heart goes out to you and your family for your loss. There is a history of mental illness in my family and I am touched by the way you have addressed Tommy’s disease with raw honesty. We are holding your family close, even if we are doing it from far away. Thank you for all of your service and for serving as a beacon for what public service can be. We appreciate all that you have done and all that you have given. To brighter days ahead, Ann Chernicoff (and Alex Perles)
Jamie Raskin is authentic. He is brilliant, brave, kind, and so much more. But if I’m given one word to describe Jamie, I choose authentic. I first met Jamie years ago when he was in his first elected office. I was visiting my mother in Takoma Park and Jamie was going door to door to speak with constituents. I was struck by how friendly he was and how interested he seemed in whatever it was I had to say at the time. Years later, I would join Jamie on the AUWCL faculty. He was among the most respected professors at the school, and I was the new kid on the block, but he was just as gracious and generous with his time as he had been years earlier at the front door. He was the same guy. His authentic self. Then he got elected to Congress. Same guy. Didn’t change one bit. And now, as he represents us all in fighting for what is right, he is the same authentic, giving person. In the wake of devastating personal tragedy, Jamie is giving all he has to us and our country. Standing on the Senate floor – brilliant, brave, and kind – bearing his soul. I have never beenmore proud of a colleague and friend. Best, Jeremi Duru
Jamie was the first face I saw at WCL when I began teaching in the clinic in 1996 and Jamie was associate dean. I can only say Jamie immediately struck me as the Ultimate Pied Piper.... enchantingly setting the pace for students, for colleagues, for friends, for anyone in his greater orbit. He is the whole package: stratospheric intellect, off-the-chart emotional intelligence, from-the-heart and down-to-earth empathy, unbridled energy, unshakable loyalty and friendship, wonderful humor, innate gravitation to the good, and unmatched wordsmithing. And surely this list is incomplete. I can only say Jamie inspires me every day! With every good wish and great affection, Nancy Abramowitz
Dear Jamie, Your advocacy will be remembered and celebrated. Great advocacy locates itself in moments of historical time, summoning recollections of the past as guides to the present and future. Great advocacy speaks of the evidence and empowers the deciders to honor their oaths while respecting their own power to see and hear the truth. The great advocate is a bit — just a bit — self-effacing, to remind everybody that the matter is not about him or her, or this or that decider’s personal concerns, but rather about an issue that is important to a great many people who have entrusted it to the speaker and the hearers. That is, these decisions are made by the participants, but for the many. The advocate’s words are didactic, to be sure, but he or she reminds the deciders that their decision — their courage or cowardice —will teach a lesson as well. As Andrew Hamilton reminded the jury in the Zenger case — in words that lighted the way to independence: “The question before you, gentlemen of the jury, is not of small or private concern. It is not the cause of the poor printer, nor of New York alone. . . It is the best cause. It is the cause of liberty.” The advocate’s work reminds us of Monet’s impressionistic paintings, making the real world come alive by the careful arrangement of images into a persuasive whole. And then: the courage to see injustice and to speak about it. Jamie, you did all of this, and found your power in a time of your own sadness. Michael Tigar
Jamie Raskin has inspired and challenged us all, these weeks, with his amazing showing of strength, heart, intellectual power, and grace. I’ve been so deeplymoved by his capacity for action in the face of multiple, shocking tragedies. We are so blessed that he is part of theWCL community. —Heather Hughes
Tribute to Jamie Tributes tend to exaggerate, sometimes transforming the recipient of glowing accolades into an unrecognizable person. But there is no risk that celebrating Jamie will turn him into a utopian being. His inspiring teaching, creative scholarship, committed service, and unmitigated energy are all very real. As a former dean of WCL, I witnessed firsthand all of this and more, including Jamie’s superb organizational skills as Associate Dean for many years. I admired his ability to solve the unsolvable with his disarming wit and contagious sense of humor, leaving even adversaries with smiles on their faces. Jamie, the intelligent, generous, moral treasure of our community now shines everywhere. What we all knew about him, thewholecountrynowknows.Unfortunately, Jamieknows all too well that we cannot control illness and death. But Jamie has shown us how we can face tragedy together, strengthen community, and build from our pain. Jamie is again leading by example, with tears but with determination and upholding our dearest values. Un fuerte abrazo mi querido amigo! With admiration and gratitude, Claudio Grossman Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus
For nearly two decades I dreamed of becoming a U.S. citizen. By the time I finally got to take the Oath of Allegiance, Donald Trump was President. Everyone I knew asked why on earth I wanted to become a citizen when this was the state of America. I replied that a Trump Presidency made it more important than ever to gain the rights of citizenship – to be able to protest, clearly and repeatedly, to show my American-born childrenthe responsibility that comeswiththeprivilege of living in a democracy. Clearly and repeatedly, because Black LivesMatter. But by the time we reached January 6, 2021, my faith in the power of the American experiment waivered. “This cannot be the future of America,” you said, standing inside the very building the insurgents attacked. Jamie – from the core of my being – thank you. I join others in the WCL community and around the country in gratitude for your wholehearted
defense of the ideals this country is striving, failing, and striving again to fulfil. And, I am further grateful for the way you have done it in the midst a grief that few of us can begin to imagine. As the child of a parent who continues to battle “a disease called depression,” the dark reality of this illness, and the pain of watching someone you love do battle with it, is all too real. And despite some progress, people without intimate exposure to this disease continue to minimize its impact, further solidifying the stigma associated with it. For those of us with even a small glimpse into the way depression can decimate the lives of those we care about, it was hugely meaningful to hear you speak so openly about what led Tommy to take his own life. I will do my utmost to help carry forward his legacy of radical empathy and love. Rebecca Hamilton
Dear Jamin, I was introduced to you as Jamin and that is what I call you, I hope you are okwith that. You have been one of themost influential persons in my life and now in the life of our nation. I am forever grateful to Mort Horwitz for writing your name on a piece of paper and asking me to look you up at WCL. You brought me to WCL and changed my life forever. In the past 23 years, we both lost our parents and Khalid and battled cancer. I was inspired by your strength, idealism and resilience. I always knew that you would attain whatever goal you set and you did, over and over again. I got to know Sarah through you—and she is magnificent in every way. So it was with deep anguish that I heard of the passing of Tommy. I have been at a loss how to lessen your pain. But I do believe that there is more to life that this physical existence and that death is another birth. I am looking forward to working with you to make the world a better place as Tommy would have wanted it. Your friend, Padideh
ANODE TO JAMINRASKIN: FRIEND, COLLEAGUE, AND LEADER There is this man named Jamie … For whom justice is true satisfaction, Who gives us all needed inspiration. Through tragedy and tribulation This beacon of light takes no vacation, Because he possesses imagination About the fate of our Constitution. He helps us dismiss frustration With smart and loving cooperation Along with considerable devotion That gives us all so much exhilaration While he tempers our indignation. His strategies provide liberation Against the darkness of devastation, And no matter the configuration He reminds us all we are one nation, To embrace our unique occupation. Thank you very much, Professor Raskin; Plus an extra bonus for consideration Is that now you are my Congressman!
WilliamJ. Snape, III Westminster, MD
My breath catches every time I see the Capitol, the White House, the Supreme Court, the Smithsonian . . . the noble if imperfect vision of our Nation. Too often the imperfections shadow the inspiration, but many shadows have been dispelled since you have been my representative. The events of January 6 have scored new imperfections on the face of our government, and they are painful wounds now. But your courage and response, in the midst of your searing personal loss, are a step that I can hope will lead to healing. The scars will remain, but I hope our country will wear them with the pride that comes of having survived—not unscathed but, eventually, wiser. With respect to politics we may disagree as much as we agree, but you have always been the distinguished colleague who would listen, who would engage, and who would look for common ground. With pride I still talk about you as my colleague. With hope I think of you as my representative, and with comfort I think of you as an advocate for our shared democracy, our joint commitments to education and its necessary debates and disagreements, its solutions, and even its compromises. You stand for so much good, and it gives me pride. These are hard times. Be strong, and let us be strong together. Thank you. David Snyder
When Jamie told me in 2003 that my three-year-old daughter would be just fine in AU’s Child Development Center (CDC), I never would have thought that it was to be such an important moment for our family. I never thought that she would not only be “just fine” but that she would thrive and remember her days there fondly. “Do I recommend CDC?” Jamie replied to my timid question. “Let me put it this way” he said. “We had another child just so that we could be back in CDC,” he playfully said with his characteristically good humor. This answer made the decision much easier for us. It reassured a first generation migrant couple from Colombia trying to learn and navigate the U.S. in all ways, including caring for toddlers. I am personally grateful to Jamie for this “little” gift to us. It is in this way that he and his family imprinted a piece of themselves in our family and in our daughter, Maya. And now, I am grateful and proud to have benefited personally and professionally fromworkingwith the delightful human being, and impactful citizen, who now is carrying on his shoulders the weight of this ‘life or death’ battle in the U.S. Congress for the soul of our delicate democracy. It is indeed a struggle for democracy here and elsewhere. We could not be better represented. Gracias, Jamie! Pa’ delante! Diego Rodriquez-Pinzon
The week I started at WCL in 1997, Jamie came by my office to greet me. He jotted down his name and number on a piece of paper resting directly on my desktop and inadvertently etched that information permanently into the wood. That desk is going to be worth a lot of money one day. As I watched Jamie during the 2021 impeachment trial—watched himeloquently and courageously fight for our nation’s ideals in themidst of unimaginable personal tragedy—I thought to myself, “This is a great American. People will never forget his name.” I feel humbled and honored to have been Jamie’s colleague. Lewis Grossman
Dearest Jamie, Thank you for being such a stalwart activist of equality and education. You are a visionary that is responsible for inspiring so many people (young and old alike) to hold dear and fight for the principles of our U.S. Constitution. Thank you for the doors that you have opened for me. It was a pleasure to continue your legacy of the Marshall- Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project. Please keep fighting the good fight! Wishing you and yours the very best. Lisa Curtis
Dear Jamie, My boysWill and Charlie (now SFS seniors) are studying American Government this semester. Thank you for the synchronousmaster class. As a fourth grader (probably closer to the last time you saw them) Charlie chose a quote he was drawn to and created the collage below. It seems a fitting illustration of our gratitude. We are very proud and glad that the times found you. Thank you. Vicki, Winnie, Will and Charlie Phillips/Stachelberg
For: Jamie Raskin From: SherryWeaver Raskin Strong. You have set a whole new standard for courage and sheer power of the will, my friend. Despite all, and there was so much, going on in your life, you – as we say in the Black community – you stood up. You showed the country, the whole world for that matter, that the face of America is reflected neither in the mindless behavior of a gang of vicious, brainwashed hooligans nor its despicable leader. You showed us that the face of America is reflected in the decency of a single man who, in a moment of incomprehensible personal sadness, stood up and spoke truth with magnificent eloquence and dignity. You showed us Raskin Strong. Thank you, Jamie. And may you, Sarah, and the family be roundly blessed as you cherish memories of your beloved Tommy. See you soon; Leisure World misses you. With tremendous love and respect, Sherry
Jamie, Many years ago you said something that burned intomy brain: when I told you I’m often asked why victims of human rights violations can’t “just move on,” you said this reaction was dehumanizing—that it recognized neither the depth of the wrong that had been done to survivors nor the vital need to reckon with a society’s responsibility for grievous harms. Your unshakable commitment to the values you expressed then, your legal brilliance and eloquent clarity, made you the perfect leader for this moment as you called our nation to honor its core precepts and made us see why our country could not “just move on” without meaningful reckoning and repair. And throughout this month’s historic proceedings, you modeled what it means to truly work together to reach higher ground. Historywill record that our countrywas astonishingly fortunate that the times found you. With gratitude and awe, Diane
Jamie - Your intellect and empathy are so needed right now inAmerican politics. The skills you developed as both a father and professor, leveled patience and knowledge of the Constitution, were on full display during the Impeachment Trial. Please accept my heart-felt condolences about Tommy’s passing. By sharing Tommy’s story, your family helped many others talk about mental health. I’ve always admired your genuineness andcommitment to thegreater good. You’ll alwaysbeamember of ourWCLcommunity. Fondly, Brooke Sandoval
In 1913, Ellen Spencer Mussey, a founder of the Washington College of Law and its first dean, served as the marshal of a women’s suffrage march in Washington, D.C. On Capitol Hill, inadequate police protection failed to prevent a mob’s attack on the marchers. In that attack, Mussey was injured and hospitalized. Many years later, as a faculty member of the law school that Mussey founded, Jamin was a respected teacher and scholar but also a kind, witty, and even-tempered colleague both trusted and admired. He represented Ross Perot regarding exclusion from the Presidential Debates and later criticized the exclusion of third parties from election ballots. Jamin also directed the school’s Law and Government Program. That Programemphasized the importance of lawto effective, open, ethical, and accountable government. Like the women who founded the Washington College of Law, Jamin fought for social justice and the rule of law. Jaminand I servedon the school’shiringcommittee together, an undertaking which required interviewing dozens of candidates, one after the other, over a two and a half-day period, during a national hiring convention. When the committeemet to discuss them, we found it hard to visualize the candidates and to recall our impressions. Jamin had solved this problem by writing a haiku for each candidate, capturing their personalities and attributes.
On January 6, 2021, Jamin and his family sheltered in the U.S. Capitol from a mob incited to insurrection by President Trump—not far from the site of the mob attack on Mussey, 108 years before. Jamin emerged from the attack on the Capitol to lead a courageous and skilled impeachment of Donald Trump. To us, his former colleagues, Jamin is ours. We are forever bound to him by respect and affection. Robert Vaughn, Professor of Law Emeritus
By Jeff Lubbers During theSenate trial of the (second) impeachment, I received many emails from old friends around the country asking me “Do you know Jamie Raskin?” I was pleased to reply (brag?) that he was my former colleague/boss at WCL, my former State Senator, and nowmy Congressman. And that he is a good friend to me and all my colleagues. When Jamie and Tom Sargentich hired me as a Law and Government Fellow in 1996, I quickly realized what a force of nature Jamie was. When I saw him give talks at the Law and Government Program, perform a hilarious comedy routine at a big dinner for Professor Burt Wechsler, and give stump speeches for his underdog campaign for the State Senate, it was so obvious that he was in the top thousandth percentile of public speakers and in his commitment to progressive reform. I remember wishing that he could somehow obtain a national stage for his arguments and ideas—that he was so much better at making a case for the reforms we all need than the people who did have that stage. And gradually it happened. As state senator he made a huge difference in Maryland’s legislature, leading it to enact historic reforms, including marriage equality, repeal of the death penalty, re-enfranchising ex-felons, legalizing medical marijuana, increasing the minimum wage, and toughening drunk driving enforcement.
And now, barely into his third term in Congress, the Speaker of the House has elevated him to many prominent roles, none more important than to serve as lead impeachment manager— the role that not only showcased his talents to the nation but also allowed him and his team to definitively establish how much our democracy was threatened in recent years. I am extremely proud to know Jamie Raskin.
Dear Jamie, Words are inadequate to express my heartfelt sense of gratitude and pride in your extraordinary leadership of the Impeachment Team. My thoughts were not unlike that of a proud parent watching progeny set the world aflame with stunning brilliance. You were wonderful. The world watched and marveled at the masterful work of the Team. You have much to be proud of. Your commitment to and defense of our democracywas all the more amazing in the face of your own personal tragedy. You have my condolences. I unabashedly claim you as my Representative, friend, former colleague and even brother from anther mother to anyone I can corral. You did your part to preserve and protect our Nation and, like Adam Schiff, I wish you the sleep of the righteous who have done a good day’s work. I join theWCL community in saluting you. BarbaraWilliams
Dear Jamie, Your courage, grace, and tenacity in carrying out the most solemn of congressional duties under such extraordinary and painful circumstances set an example for us all. I so deeply admired the way you pulled together your team, put on a case as a team, and demonstrated remarkably skillful advocacy on behalf of the truth that has garnered plaudits from our students, alumni and other friends of WCL. As a fellownative son ofWashington, I was piercedwhen you shared your daughter’s fear of returning to the Capitol, our local landmark and the People’s House. Our generation must deed hers a better future, and with your values-based and focused leadership, I believe we can. I look forward to your continued engagement with the WCL community and thank you for your inspiring public service. Yours, Mike Carroll
Mio caro Jamie, Since I arrived at the Washington College of Law you have been an inspiring intellectual force, a generous friend, the funniest colleague and the moral center at our school. I’m always struck by how the personal and the political could coexist beautifully and in harmony in your work and life. When I was teaching local government law in 2014, I followed you with my students to Annapolis to see your stellar legislative work
inspired by social justice on so many different fronts. In 2021, while teaching Constitutional law, your magnificent quotes from Congress remind my students how law should be interpreted to achieve justice and defend our democracy. With your gorgeous family, you made our wedding inWellfleet the most memorable and hilarious event of the year. Nomatter where you are, your footprints are still in theWCL building with us, in the lives of your former students and on the ultimate progressive Frisbee that my family loves to play with. Brishen and I are full of gratitude and humbled by your, Sarah, Hannah, Tabitha, Potter and Toby’s friendships. We miss and talk about Tommy’s humanity and altruismwith Simone and Gio, to remind us what we owe to each other and how to keep us all real despite our great privileges. You are in our hearts and minds. Fernanda
The Savior of Democracy By Elliott S. Milstein, Emeritus Professor of Law
Jamie has become America’s hero and his articulation of the values embedded in the constitution, laws, and traditions of this country will endure. His persuasive, passionate, and lyrical arguments turned the impeachment hearing into a tremendous victory for democracy, for truth, and for justice. He and his colleagues turned a strange and unfamiliar tribunal into a place/setting where they could give a detailed and coherent narrative of the damage done by Trumpism. Thanks to them, both history and the voters will adjudge the Senators who supported Trump for who they are. Jamie’s focus on weaving together the whole story led to a moral conviction. Thanks to his strategy, the continuum of evil that characterized the last four years was exposed to the American Public. Whenever Jamie spoke, people listened. They got a deep lesson in the content and meaning of the Constitution and the duties and constraints that emanate from it. It was as important a civics lesson as most people have ever had. Jamie adapted to a trial without witnesses or questions and yet managed to present overwhelming and irrefutable evidence of responsibility. If it had been a courtroom trial, nearly all the senators who voted “No” would
have been disqualified as jurors for myriad reasons. For some of them to vote to convict would have been to convict themselves. So, by telling the story and making the arguments about history, the team convicted them along with Trump. Here, if the decision maker is the American People, they succeeded beyond measure. Many of Jamie’s arguments have become the stuff of legends and will live on as historic articulations of the meaning of the constitution. They will be read, studied, and enshrined among the greatest speeches about the meaning of America ever delivered. I am so proud that Jamie Raskin is known as Professor of Constitutional Law fromtheWashingtonCollege of Law. I am even prouder that he is my beloved friend. And I am grateful to him for the great service did for the country. He will be long known as the Savior of Democracy.
Robert Dinerstein, Professor of Law & Acting Dean February 28, 2021 One of the most rewarding aspects of being a dean is the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of one’s colleagues. That opportunity extends to members of the broader WCL community. There is no one of whom I am prouder than my friend Jamie Raskin. Your grace under fire was extraordinary to behold. Your deeply ingrained belief in the Constitution—in “We the People”— shone through. In a country that has become increasingly cynical about truth, facts, and societal institutions, your unbridled faith in our government was bracing. Youhave long been optimistic about theAmerican experiment, while at the same time acknowledging the many respects in which that experiment has fallen short of its ideals. That optimism led you to believe that fair-minded jurors—US Senators who were not only jurors but also witnesses to the shocking events of January 6, 2021—could not help but convict Donald Trump given the overwhelming evidence that he had committed the highest of all crimes: inciting insurrection against the United States. You and your House colleagues secured seven Republican votes for conviction, making this impeachment trial the most bipartisan impeachment of a president in US history. Although the 57-43 vote in favor of conviction was insufficient to convict, as you yourself said,
you achieved conviction in two other courts of surpassing importance—the court of public opinion and the court of history. That you were able to perform your constitutional duty so flawlessly while mourning the death of your beloved son Tommy is a remarkable achievement for which words fail. Watching and listening to you, your friends knew that your statements that Tommy was with you as you addressed the Senate were not mere rhetoric; they were profoundly true. Thank you for the extraordinary service you performed for our country in our time of need and in your time of pain.
Nothing could be more flattering than to have the opportunity to pen a few words in praise of my friend Jamie Raskin. Long before I met Jamie, I knew his father, Marcus, whom I greatly liked and admired. In Jamie’s case, the proverbial fruit did not fall far from the tree. Like his father, Jamie possesses a prodigious intellect, a keen interest in public policy, an understanding of the centrality of upholding the rule of law in a democracy, and abiding love of country. These attributes and related skills, which he honed at WCL as a teacher for over 25 years, were on full display when he was the House’s lead manager in the recent trial of the former president. For one riveting week, Jamie was the nation’s teacher. With disarming charm, self-deprecation and ruthless logic, Jamie diced and sliced away at the former president’s legal teams’ arguments, exquisitely laying bare their utter sophistry. I strongly suspect that his beloved son Tommy and Marcus would be, as I am, so very proud of him. Bob Goldman
Gandhi reportedly said, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” Thanks for embodying that ideal and setting an example for all of us. – Amanda Leiter
Dear Jamie, When you announced your run for the Maryland State Senate from your front porch 15 years ago, I was honored that you asked me to say a few words. I remember saying that the last line of Martin Luther King’s famous quote reminds me of you – “Everybody can be great . . . because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” Earlier this year, as I watched you lead the impeachment managers and deliver that brilliant opening statement from the floor of the United States Senate, I again thought of Dr. King’s words – “A heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” Those words describe you now even more than they did 15 years ago. Your willingness to put your country first – to serve others – during the most painful time in your life, demonstrates that
extraordinary grace and love. I am so grateful to you – not only for your selfless devotion to your country but also for your indomitable spirit, your compassion for all human beings, and your willingness to use your considerable gifts to help others. You always do the right thing, evenwhen no one is looking, and oftenwhen it is not in your personal best interest. I have witnessed your kindness and boundless generosity to others on so many occasions. You always seem to have time to help others, nomatter who they are or how small or large the problem. Thank you for your courageous leadership in the United States House of Representatives and for the little things you do every day to help your fellow humans. With love and gratitude, Amani (Angela J. Davis)
Jamie Raskin, You are the true embodiment of civic virtue. You represent the tradition of public service in the highest and most noble sense of that phrase. You put your personal well- being second to the well-being of the nation and of your constituents, rising regularly to expound the values of a society thatmust bemore just andhumane,more openand honest, more compassionate and accountable. Listening to you expound the essential tenets of our democracy on the Senate floor, I was never more proud to be your friend, your admirer, your colleague, and a fellow teacher of constitutional law. From advocating for the vote for DC to founding the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project to fighting to hold the president accountable and so much more, you make democracy come to life as a real set of ideals rather than a paper structure. In this and so many ways, you bring out the best in all of us around you. Thank you. SteveWermiel
Honoring Jamie Raskin As the world has come to know, Jamie Raskin is a truly extraordinary person. Jamie was brilliant at the impeachment trial indefense of our democracy. Eachdayhe demonstratedhis deepunderstandingof our constitutionas he expertly prosecuted the case. While facing unbelievable personal tragedy, he carried on day after day. His work has inspired countless people here and around the world. This tribute also has a personal component, because I have been fortunate enough to have been touched directly by Jamie’s work. When I arrived at WCL several years ago, I started out teaching legislation courses Jamie had designed while he was a senior faculty member. Having the opportunity to begin my academic career teaching Jamie’s wonderful courses inspired me as I pursued my new career path after 25 years of government service. Jamie was
incredibly generous with his time. He travelled to WCL from the Hill to guest lecture and stayed in close touch with students and faculty. The students were thrilled to have the chance to hear Jamie’s perspective on the legislative process. I subsequently established AU’s Program on Legislative Negotiation in collaboration with Harvard’s Kennedy School. Jamie’s inspiration at WCL helped lead the way for the groundbreaking workWCL is doing today. Thank you, Jamie, for your extraordinary public service to our country. And thank you for blazing a trail for those that follow, including teachers and students, hoping to have a meaningful impact on the country that they love. Bettina Poirier Director, Program on Legislative Negotiation Washington College of Law
Dear Jamie, The nation and the world owe you a debt of gratitude for your brilliant and selfless work as lead impeachment manager in the United States House of Representatives this year. With dignity, tenacity, clarity and shrewd legal analysis, you showed the world what it means to be a patriot in the truest form. You love your country enough to do all you can to protect it, especially in themost fractured times. It is difficult to fathom how you served the country so faithfully and fully in the midst of your own incredible pain and loss. And yet, for those of us who are blessed enough to call you friend, we have seen that selfless action is the core of who you are. As a public servant, professor, friend and mentor, you have always used your immeasurable talent, insights, and faith in our republic and humanity to uplift those around you. You do the right thing, even when no one is watching. You help people, even when it isnot convenient or easy todo so. Inyour service toour country, you embody all the qualities that you have employed in life in ways big and small to inspire students, colleagues, and communities on their journeys to speak truth to power and build more perfect unions. Thank you for your tenacity and unwavering leadership in Congress, for your tenderness, heart, and soul. We are grateful for your brilliant mind, wit, music and poetry that enrich the tapestry of humanity. Love, Lia Epperson
The big bluewave that took you to theMDSenate inAnnapolis carried us into activism in MD. We went to rallies, organized fundraisers, knocked on doors, distributed campaign literature. Law students learned the meaning of democratic governance through work with you to secure marriage equality, gun control, and an end to the death penalty. You honed your vision of democratic theory and political action and educated us along the way. We heard you develop your ideas at fundraisers, rallies, and celebrations. When you moved to Congress, we all moved our political activism, too. Although no longer formally a member of the faculty, you remained a vibrant member of our community. What is Democracy Summer but another iteration of Marshall-Brennan? In the impeachment, you told methodically, passionately, and brilliantly the story of a president who fomented and directed an insurrectionist mob to undermine democratic governance, betraying his Constitutional duty. You implicitly told the story of a party that was complicit with the president and you challenged them to renounce their false allegiance. Finally, you told the story of how each person could find strength and commitment in the vision of democracy you offered. What a joy to share this home with you. Ann
Dear Jamie, When you came to WCL, you found a home. You filled it with exhilarating ideas, dedication to students, commitment to justice, fun, and abundant projects. You created the Law and Government Program where democratic theory and practice took root. You inspired students in the classroom and sent them out to change society through political action. You imagined and brought to life the Marshall-Brennan Program. You wrote a book for law students to bring the Constitution to high school students. Combining scholarship and activism, you secured non-citizen voting in Takoma Park. You taught about, advocated for, and wrote about DC statehood.
Dear Jamie, Watching you lead the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump – with such incredible strength in the face of personal tragedy – left me in a state of awe. Your brilliant closing argument was simply a lean forward in your chair, listen intently, and never forget moment in history. Thank you for fighting for our democracy. Like other members of the WCL community, I could not be prouder of all you have accomplished. You were one of the first professors I workedwithwhen I arrived at the law school, and I very much enjoyed collaborating with you on creative projects. Over the years, I have relayed myriad stories about you and your career to my family in Boston and Washington State. I often receive texts from my 73-year-old-mother in Tacoma, WA that exclaim “Jamie on MSNBC!” She feels like she knows you. And it is easy to see why, as your passion, empathy, and genuineness is palpable (even on TV!), and your ability to connect with others leads many people beyond the boundaries of Maryland’s 8th to feel like your constituents. We are extremely lucky to have you as a member of the Washington College of Law family, and I will forever be grateful for my time spent working with and learning from you. Franki Fitterer
I want to pass along a big hug, connected to both your loss and to your work. About your loss, I do not have words. About your work, I am deeply thankful for all that you have done in Congress. The first politician whose work and voice deeply resonated withmewasPaulWellstonewhogaveaspeechatmy college while I was an undergraduate. His untimely death was a loss for the country and personally was felt as a loss because I was not sure where to find a politician who shared my concerns and my anger about economic and other forms of injustice. Since you left WCL, you have been a consistent voice for the most vulnerable and I am very thankful for that. War and Peace begins with Leo Tolstoy’s theory that history produces the leaders and historical figures, that if one general had not been born, history would have provided an equivalent alternative figure. That may be right, but I tend to think that individual differences and contributions matter, and it is wonderful to see someone like you find the space where you should be. Ezra
Dearest Jamin, John, Nora, Caleb and I are awed and grateful for your grace, power and passion that remained undimmed by the loss of your beautiful son Tommy. We are proud of you and the wonderful constitution defense team that you led. Often leaders, lead from the front. You led from the middle. You stood with fellow members to tell the truth, shine the light on evil, reclaim our democracy, and shame those who lie about who we are as a people and as country. We particularly loved watching how you amplified the work of each team member -- standing shoulder to shoulder with your partner in justice David Cicilline; announcing the arrival of your former student Stacey Plaskett. You listened carefully to everything said -- whether fromyour teammembers or fromthose opposed to holding the former president accountable for his attempts to overthrow the government elected by the people. You inspired all of us by your example. And for that I/we thank you. Never doubt though that we miss your humor, kindness, bravery, brilliance and empathy here at WCL. We feel your presence here in the relationships you built, the causes you championed and the programs and initiatives that you nurtured. We are sending love, light and hope to you, Sarah, Hannah, Tabitha and your entire family. With respect and admiration, Brenda
Dear Jamie, My first memory of working with you at WCL goes back decades, early in my days here, to a retreat (remember retreats?) somewhere on Maryland’s eastern shore. There was a grand piano. Sometime during lunch, you played the slow movement from the Moonlight Sonata on it, flawlessly. That’s pretty much all I remember about that retreat. I figured, this is a special place to be teaching at. We cheered you on as you took on what for anyone else would have been an impossible schedule: banking your courses during fall semester, to free up for the General Assembly session second semester. You represented your Senate district well, but you stood for all Marylanders with passion and a belief that our state had much to atone for, but ultimately could do justice. Bill McKibben’s moving piece about you in The Atlantic reminded us that of somany great turns of phrase, youmay have delivered the Best Quip Ever (he dates that to before you were elected), about swearing on the Bible but defending the Constitution.
You did so much good for democracy in the Maryland Senate. We wondered: why leave a place where you can achieve and have achieved so much, to move on to become one of 435 in an increasingly partisan Congress? Now we know why. The teacher’s drive to transform students into thinking civic actors, the humanity that sustainedanddeepened inyou through your own serious illness and the loss of Tommy, the instinct for beauty that brought you toaquietmoment at the piano - these propelled you to lead the country in ways we could never have imagined. Thank you for your resilient patriotism. Thank you for persisting in the face of disheartening cynicism, and for believing in a just America. All the best, Susan Bennett