Jamie Raskin is a Democratic State Senator in Maryland representing Silver Spring and Takoma Park (District 20). He is also a professor of constitutional law at American University's Washington College of Law where he directs its Program on Law and Government and its Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, which sends law students into public high schools in Maryland and Washington, D.C. to teach about the Bill of Rights.
In September 2006, in his first bid for public office, he won 67% of the vote in the Democratic Primary for State Senate from District 20, replacing a 32-year incumbent, and in November of that year captured 99% of the vote in the general election.
A member of the Maryland Senate's Judicial Proceedings Committee, the Joint Committee on the Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Regions, the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics and the Joint Committee on Federal Relations, Senator Raskin has seen nearly 50 of his bills pass into law in his first Term.
Senator Raskin's prodigious legislative output includes:
** Maryland's Farm-to-Schools Act, linking Maryland's farmers and their fresh produce with school kitchens and cafeterias across the state;
** The Green Maryland Act, requiring recycling, composting and green contracting and procurement rules in all state agencies;
** The Freedom of Political Assembly and Expression Act, protecting citizens engaged in nonviolent political activity from spying by the state police;
** The Advance Voter Registration law, setting the voter registration (not voting) age at 16 to enable all Maryland students to register to vote before leaving high school;
** the Benefit Corporation Law, which made Maryland the first state in the union to create a new kind of corporation that is organized around both a profit-making purpose and a larger social "benefit" as well;
** Maryland's first statewide civil rights law giving victims of discrimination the right to a jury trial and compensatory damages
** a consumer safety law protecting automobile purchasers from "secret warranties";
** a law giving tenants facing a condominium conversion the right to purchase their units and to be notified of the purchase price six months in advance, with set-aside rentals for elderly and disabled tenants in place;
** the Fairness-in-Negotiation Act establishing an independent and neutral board to resolve conflicts and grievances among teachers and school systems;
** a bicycle safety law establishing a required three-foot distance between motorists and people on bikes;
** a law establishing September 17 as Constitution and Bill of Rights Day in Maryland's schools and throughout the state;
** a bankruptcy reform law that creates, for the first time in state history, a personal homestead exemption for Marylanders in bankruptcy;
** the National Popular Vote law, which made Maryland the first state in the Union to adopt a plan for a nationwide interstate compact to cast every state's electoral college votes for the winner of the national popular vote. The New York Times published an editorial praising Maryland for its leadership in passing the National Popular Vote ("Maryland Leads the Way") and four other states have since passed it: Hawaii, New Jersey, Illinois and Washington.
The Huffington Post has called Senator Raskin "one of the nation's most talented state legislators." The Washington Post described Raskin as the Senate's "authority on constitutional issues," the Silver Spring and Takoma Voice called him the "whiz kid" of the General Assembly and, in its "Best of the Best" readers choice issue, named him Montgomery County's "Most Responsive Elected Official." MDPolitickerblog called him the "smartest Member of the General Assembly."
At the end of his first Term in office, Raskin was named by the Maryland Gazette of Politics and Business as one of the "Top Ten Most Influential Legislators" in Annapolis.
As a law professor (and former academic dean), Professor Raskin has written dozens of essays and law review articles and several books, including the 2003 Washington Post bestseller Overruling Democracy: The Supreme Court versus the American People, an analysis of conservative judicial activism and its corrosive effect on political democracy, and We the Students, which analyzes Supreme Court decisions affecting America's students and has been called "the bible of the new movement for constitutional literacy." In 1999 Raskin founded the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, which has sent many hundreds of law students at more than a dozen different law schools into public high schools to teach thousands of students a semester-long course in constitutional literacy. The Marshall-Brennan Project now operates across America, from the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel law schools in Philadelphia to Yale Law School to Southern Law School in Baton Rouge to Arizona State to Hastings and other schools in California.
A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, where he was an Editor of the Harvard Law Review, Professor Raskin is an active pro bono lawyer, and has successfully represented high school students facing censorship, Greenpeace, unions defending their free speech rights, and Cindy Sheehan in her effort to get charges dropped when she was arrested at the 2006 State of the Union Address in the Capitol building for wearing an anti-war T-shirt. He was also one of the lawyers in Alexander v. Daley arguing that the disenfranchisement of citizens of Washington, D.C. violates Equal Protection. Professor Raskin was the first Chairman of Maryland's Higher Education Labor Relations Board and wrote the rules through which more than 7,000 Marylanders gained collective bargaining rights.
He lives with his wife Sarah, a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, and their three children, Hannah (17), Tommy (15) and Tabitha (13), in Takoma Park.