New research from the UCLA WORLD Policy Analysis Center shows that the United States is falling behind its global peers when it comes to guarantees for key constitutional rights. “The new decade begins with clear constitutional gaps that place the United States in a global minority” for failing to guarantee rights to healthcare and gender equality, said Jody Heymann, founder of the nonprofit policy research center. “Globally, the U.S. now lags 165 other nations with stronger constitutional protections for women. And the U.S. is absent from the 142 countries globally … that provide some degree of constitutional protection for the right to health,” said Heymann, a distinguished professor of public policy, medicine, and health policy and management at UCLA. Worldwide, the center’s researchers found a considerable expansion of protections over the past 50 years but noted that millions are still left without human rights guarantees, leaving them vulnerable to discrimination. Groups experiencing the greatest gaps in rights guarantees include migrants, people with disabilities and the LGBTQ community. To produce the report, researchers analyzed the constitutions of all 193 United Nations member states. “Constitutions help shape social norms and send clear messages about who matters and what nations value,” Heymann said. The report is now available as an online resource featuring policy briefs, maps and downloadable data as well as the book “Advancing Equality,” available for download at UC Press. The book’s authors, Heymann, Amy Raub and Aleta Sprague, also wrote an op-ed for CNN arguing that it’s time for the United States to guarantee gender equality by enshrining the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.
Television producer Norman Lear is one of the most influential people in his business. On the night of Jan. 17 in the Real D Theater in Beverly Hills, the 95-year-old creator of some of TV’s most legendary shows — who is still working on two current shows — gathered with members of the UCLA community and the public to reflect on his career, philanthropy and advocacy efforts after a screening of the documentary “Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You.”
The screening was part of a special conversation hosted by UCLA’s public policy magazine, Blueprint — the latest issue of which focuses on philanthropy. Editor-in-chief Jim Newton moderated the event.
“[Lear] inspired us to start conversations that were at once contentious, but also necessary,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said. “Norman’s contributions extend into philanthropy and activism as an outspoken champion of civic engagement and constitutional freedoms. Luckily for us, even at 95 years old, he’s not done yet. He still remains extremely active.”
Lear is best known as creator/producer of classic television shows such as “All in the Family,” “Good Times,” “The Jeffersons” and “Maude.” He also gained national notoriety when in 1981 he founded the liberal political organization People for the American Way. Over the years he has backed campaigns to register young voters, donated to organizations that fight climate change and sponsored a trust and awards to recognize and encourage businesses to think beyond the short term.
“I’m known to be quite liberal, progressive, etc.,” he told the packed room of about 130 people. “I think of myself, truly, as a bleeding heart conservative. You will not ‘eff’ with my First Amendment, my Bill of Rights, my Constitution or my Declaration — every single word of it. My dedication [to] life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans could not be stronger.”