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Legal Scholars and Democracy Advocate Among 2023 MacArthur Foundation Fellows
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The MacArthur Foundation, renowned for its prestigious “genius grants,” has bestowed its 2023 fellowships upon 20 outstanding individuals. These exceptional recipients hail from various fields, including poetry, art, culture preservation, environmental expertise, and anthropology. Among the laureates are legal scholars and a democracy advocate, each set to receive a substantial $800,000 award to fuel their innovative pursuits.

A Defender of Democracy: Ian Bassin

Ian Bassin, aged 47, a distinguished lawyer and a staunch proponent of democracy, stands out as one of the 2023 MacArthur Foundation fellows. Serving as the executive director of Protect Democracy, a prominent organization he co-founded in 2016, Bassin has been on a mission to safeguard the integrity of free and fair elections while countering the proliferation of misinformation. His impact resonated deeply, as a national task force convened by Bassin and his associates proposed pivotal reforms to the Electoral Count Act. These reforms, which included restrictions on the vice president’s and Congress’s ability to challenge Electoral College votes, were successfully enacted into law in December 2022.

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Remembering Lives Lost: Andrea Armstrong

Andrea Armstrong, aged 48 and a professor at the Loyola University at New Orleans College of Law, has undertaken a poignant endeavor. She has meticulously compiled a comprehensive database chronicling the lives of all individuals who have tragically perished within the confines of prisons, jails, or youth detention facilities in Louisiana since 2015. Beyond merely recording statistics, Armstrong’s database is a repository of descriptive memorials, imbuing humanity into each life lost. Her pioneering work extends further, as she crafted a guide for fellow law professors interested in adopting her empathetic approach to this challenging issue.

A Visionary Advocate: E. Tendayi Achiume

E. Tendayi Achiume, at 41, has emerged as a trailblazing voice in academia, advocating for the rights of individuals from formerly colonized territories to migrate to colonizer nations. As a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law, her scholarship and activism have ignited essential conversations on issues related to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance. Achiume’s extensive work is underscored by her role as the United Nations special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, amplifying her impact on a global scale.

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The MacArthur Foundation fellowships, disbursed over five years, come with no strings attached. They align with the foundation’s mission to encourage individuals of exceptional talent to pursue their creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations. These outstanding individuals, from diverse backgrounds and disciplines, serve as a testament to the power of visionary thought and the enduring pursuit of positive change.

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