Jamie Raskin, the Effective Progressive
With More than 100 Bills passed in Annapolis, a Strong Democrat with A Record of Dramatic Results Steps up to Run for Congress
Jamie Raskin is a three-term Democratic State Senator in Maryland, the Senate Majority Whip, and a dynamic leader of the progressive forces in Annapolis who has been at the center of the breakthrough policy changes Maryland has experienced over the last decade. A professor of constitutional law at American University’s Washington College of Law for the last 25 years, Jamie has also taught at Yale Law School and has had thousands of students and authored several books, including the Washington Post Bestseller Overruling Democracy: The Supreme Court versus the American People about conservative judicial activism and the acclaimed We the Students: Supreme Court Cases for and about America’s Students. Jamie is the founder, with the families of Thurgood Marshall and William Brennan, of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, which has sent law students at 20 law schools across the country into public high schools to teach thousands of high school students about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the meanings of constitutional freedom and democracy.
As a State Senator first elected in 2006 in a landslide upset (67% in the primary) running as a reformer against a 32-year incumbent who was President Pro Tem of the Senate, Raskin quickly became a leading policy thinker and legislative coalition-builder in Annapolis who helped deliver a series of landmark legislative accomplishments that have changed life in Maryland:
- With his colleague Senator Richard Madaleno, Jamie successfully introduced--and was the passionate Senate floor leader for--marriage equality legislation, which passed in 2012 and made Maryland the first state in the nation to adopt marriage equality without a prior judicial ruling striking down the discrimination.
- Jamie has been an ardent leader for civil rights and civil liberties. He successfully introduced historic legislation giving victims of race and gender discrimination the right to a jury trial and civil damages in state court; successfully fought for his legislation mandating gender parity in juvenile justice programs across the state so that girls would no longer be forced to do cosmetology or home economics classes while boys did auto mechanics or physical education; was the Senate floor leader for legislation requiring reasonable accommodations for pregnant women at work; and successfully introduced the Freedom of Political Expression and Assembly Act to stop police spying on nonviolent political groups in Maryland without any reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.
- Jamie has been a strong environmental champion and advocate of dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and successfully introduced both Maryland’s renowned Jane Lawton Farm-to-Schools program and the Green Maryland Act compelling all state institutions and agencies to use green purchasing rules and to have composting and recycling plans. In 2015 he introduced legislation with Senator Bobby Zirkin to impose strict legal liability on any fracking operations in the state.
- A visionary champion of both public safety and criminal justice reform, Jamie sponsored and was the eloquent Senate floor leader for abolition of the death penalty in 2013; and, working across the aisle with Republican colleagues, led the Senate in passing a series of historic criminal justice reforms in the 2015 Session, including reform of mandatory minimums in drug cases and the Maryland Second Chance Act, giving people convicted of nonviolent misdemeanors the opportunity to shield their convictions from public view if they have been clean for a period of at least three years.
- Battling Big Liquor lobbyists, Jamie led the successful fight in the Senate to require convicted drunk drivers to use ignition interlock breathalyzers in their cars, winning the praise of Mothers against Drunk Driving and helping to significantly lower alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Maryland.
- Jamie has been a passionate defender of strong democracy, voting rights, and open government. With the late Senator Gwendolyn Britt, he successfully fought to restore voting rights for ex-felons; introduced and guided to passage the first National Popular Vote law in the country; successfully introduced legislation to lower the voter registration age to 16 so high school students can get registered to vote before they graduate; successfully introduced legislation compelling independent spenders in Maryland races to disclose their expenditures and organized a majority of the General Assembly to sign a letter to Congress urging a constitutional amendment to repeal the 2010 Citizens United decision; successfully introduced with a Republican colleague successful sunshine legislation to require state government to put all public expenditures over $10,000 on-line; successfully introduced legislation for on-line ethics disclosure for public officials; in 2015 successfully introduced legislation strengthening the state’s Public Information Act and creating a public information ombudsman and review board; and worked zealously for several years for passage of the historic Maryland False Claims Act to crack down on low-road contractors who rip off the taxpayers.
- A passionate champion of Maryland’s embattled working families and small businesses, Jamie worked as Chairman of Montgomery County’s Senate delegation to successfully organize his colleagues to become early supporters of a long-overdue minimum wage increase. He also introduced the very first Benefit Corporation law in America, inventing a new corporate entity devoted both to making profits and to making positive change in the world, an innovation that has been adopted by dozens of other states, including Delaware. Jamie also championed the interests of Maryland consumers and its small-business wineries by fighting a tough multi-year battle to enact direct wine shipment, giving Marylanders the right to buy and sell wine on-line and send and receive it across state lines.
All told, Jamie has seen more than 100 of his bills pass into law while earning high marks as a zealous constituent servant. He has been listed as one of Maryland’s “Top 10 Most Effective Legislators” by the Gazette of Politics and Business, “Montgomery County’s Most Responsive Elected Official” by the Silver Spring Voice, “a Hero to Maryland’s Working Families” by Progressive Maryland, and “one of the nation’s most talented state legislators” by the Huffington Post.
Jamie is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, where he was an Editor of the Harvard Law Review. He is deeply involved in promoting chess among children and has been active in Lumina Studio, which is one of the nation’s leading Shakespeare theaters for young people. He and his wife Sarah, who is the Deputy Secretary of the United States Treasury Department and a former Governor of the Federal Reserve Board, live in Takoma Park, Maryland and have three children.
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Jamie Raskin headshot for media use: