Lecture to Spotlight Ongoing Ethics Debate in U. S. Congress

Submitted by Jan Hebbard on Wed, 04/04/2018

Image, Julian Zelizer Can the American Congress be ethical in an age of intense partisan warfare? Princeton University professor and CNN political analyst Julian E. Zelizer will take up the topic of ethics in Congress on Thursday, April 5 at 4 p.m. in the auditorium of the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries.

Titled, “Ethics in the Age of Partisan Warfare,” Zelizer’s talk will explore past debates over ethics reform, as well as the push for new oversight and enforcement on the heels of growing allegations of sexual misconduct in Congress. In a recent op-ed piece for The Atlantic, Zelizer submitted that the legislative branch botched a chance to curtail sexual harassment in the 1990s and illuminated the failures of the rules and regulations put into effect in that decade.

“Unlike the other institutions rocked by harassment scandals this past year, the inner workings of Congress remain a mystery to the American people,” said Russell Library director Sheryl Vogt. “As a founding member of the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress (ACSC), the Russell Library wants to promote a better public understanding of Congress as the branch of government closest to the people. Julian Zelizer is the ideal scholar to enlighten us about the partisanship and ethics scandals that characterize that elective body today.”

The author of numerous books, articles and op-eds, including a weekly column on CNN.com, Zelizer has been one of the pioneers in the revival of American political history. His current book project focuses on the ethics scandal that ousted Congressman Jim Wright from his position as Speaker of the House in 1989. “This was the moment,” Zelizer explains, “when the hopes of the post-Watergate reforms faded into the darkness of rampant partisanship in Congress.” 

The lecture complements a slate of lunch-and-learn programs the Russell Library will host during the month of April which look to increase civic knowledge and awareness on campus and in the community. Promoted collectively under the Civic Knowledge, Civic Power moniker, the series will feature speakers from the UGA Department of Political Science and address topics focused on Congress, its powers and responsibilities. The series was inspired by the ongoing Congress Week initiative, an annual program of ACSC.

“Ethics in the Age of Partisan Warfare” is free and open to the public; a light reception will follow the program. The event is co-sponsored by the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs and the Department of History. For more information on this and other events in the Civic Knowledge, Civic Power event series visit www.rbrl.blospot.com or call 706-542-5788.

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