On May 6, Facebook made the unprecedented move to appoint an independent Oversight Board empowered to make decisions about what content can appear on the global platform. The group is comprised of renowned thinkers and do-ers from a range of backgrounds and perspectives whose actions will be closely watched by boosters and skeptics alike. This is a conversation with chairs and members about their scope of authority, the nature of the relationship with Facebook, and their aspirations for serving the online community.
We are joined by:
- Evelyn Aswad, Director, Center for International Business & Human Rights, University of Oklahoma College of Law
- Jamal Greene, Dwight Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
- Michael McConnell, Director, Stanford Constitutional Law Center
- John Samples, Vice President, Center for Representative Government, The Cato Institute
- Vivian Schiller, Executive Director, Aspen Digital
Evelyn Aswad is a Professor of Law and the Herman G. Kaiser Chair in International Law at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. She is also the Director of its Center for International Business & Human Rights. Her scholarship is focused on expression online. From 1999 to 2013, she served as an attorney in the U.S. Department of State’s Legal Bureau, most recently as the director of the Office of Human Rights and Refugees. During her time at the State Department she advised on various issues including freedom of expression online, the assessment of foreign and domestic laws and practices with regard to international human rights standards, issues of mass atrocities, global corporate responsibility standards, and U.S. engagement at the United Nations on human rights. Previously, Professor Aswad served as a law clerk to the Hon. Arthur J. Gajarsa at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and worked as a corporate lawyer at Arnold & Porter in Washington, DC. She received her JD, magna cum laude, from the Georgetown University Law Center and her B.S.F.S., summa cum laude, from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.
Jamal Greene is the Dwight Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, where he has taught courses on constitutional law, comparative constitutional law, the law of the political process, the First Amendment, and American federal courts. His scholarship focuses on constitutional rights adjudication as well as the structure of legal and constitutional argument. Professor Greene is the author of numerous articles and book chapters and a frequent media commentator on constitutional law and the Supreme Court. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School and a visiting scholar at the Knight First Amendment Institute. Prior to joining Columbia’s faculty, Professor Greene served as a law clerk to the Hon. Guido Calabresi on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for the Hon. John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Michael W. McConnell is the Richard and Frances Mallery Professor and Director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School, where he teaches a course on freedom of speech, press, and religion, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. From 2002 to 2009, he served as a Circuit Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. He was nominated by President George W. Bush, a Republican, and confirmed by a Democratic Senate by unanimous consent. McConnell has previously held chaired professorships at the University of Chicago and the University of Utah, and visiting professorships at Harvard and NYU. He has published widely in the fields of constitutional law and theory, especially church and state, equal protection, and separation of powers. He is co-editor of three books: ‘Religion and the Law’, ‘Christian Perspectives on Legal Thought’, and ‘The Constitution of the United States’. McConnell has argued fifteen cases in the United States Supreme Court, and served as law clerk to Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. and D.C. Circuit Chief Judge J. Skelly Wright. He has been Assistant General Counsel of the Office of Management & Budget, Assistant to the Solicitor General of the Department of Justice, and a member of the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board.
John Samples is a Vice President at the Cato Institute. He founded and now directs Cato’s Center for Representative Government, which studies freedom of speech, the First Amendment and other aspects of American political institutions. He is currently working on an update to his monograph, ‘Why Government Should not Regulate Content Moderation of Social Media.’ He is also the author of ‘The Struggle to Limit Government: A Modern Political History,’ and ‘The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform,’ as well as the co-editor with Michael McDonald of ‘The Marketplace of Democracy.’ Prior to joining Cato, Samples served as Director of Georgetown University Press for eight years, and before that, as Vice President of the Twentieth Century Fund. He has published scholarly articles in journals including Society, History of Political Thought, and Telos along with numerous contributions to edited volumes and has been featured in publications like USA Today, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. Samples received his PhD in political science from Rutgers University.
Vivian Schiller is Executive Director of Aspen Digital. Over the last 30 years, Vivian has held executive roles at some of the most respected media organization in the world. Those include: President and CEO of NPR; Global Chair of News at Twitter; General Manager of NYTimes.com; Chief Digital Office of NBC News; chief of the Discovery Times Channel, a joint venture of The New York Times and Discovery Communications; and head of CNN documentary and long form divisions. Documentaries and series produced under her auspices earned multiple honors, including three Peabody Awards, four Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Awards, and dozens of Emmys. Schiller is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; and a Director of the Scott Trust, which owns The Guardian. She is also strategic advisor to Craig Newmark Philanthropies.