U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, J.D. ’85, visited the University on Tuesday to discuss her experiences in the Senate as documented in her memoir, The Senator Next Door.
The event, sponsored by the Institute of Politics, allowed attendees insight into the life of a prominent Senator from Minnesota and her experience transitioning from the Law School into the national political stage. The meeting was moderated by former University provost and current Law School Professor Geoffrey Stone.
Senator Klobuchar, a Yale undergraduate and University of Chicago Law School alumna, began the talk by discussing her time in Chicago. Klobuchar spoke fondly of her time as a student, praising the Law School for pushing her to be more proactive in discussions and attributing her bipartisanship to the conservative views that she encountered there.
When asked to give advice to students who are contemplating a career in politics, Senator Klobuchar noted the importance of always being involved in the political process.
“I just kept doing politics on the side,” she said.
Throughout her 14 years in the private sector, Klobuchar always kept politics in the back of her mind; she made sure to work on campaigns and stay politically active throughout this time. The Senator pulled from her personal experience to show how continual involvement, along with proper mentorship, is essential to pursuing a career in politics.
Next, Stone led the conversation towards the impact of big money in Washington;
the Senator answered with a commentary on the dangers of outside spending and Super PACs. “If you’re someone who wants to work in the middle, the real problem is you get attacked from your own side—because the outside money has so much power,” she said.
The Senator emphasized the need for limits on outside spending, in addition to transparency in the candidate funding process. “We would [all be] best if we could ban this outside money.”
She used the recent death of Justice Antonin Scalia as an example. “Within a few hours, the words were coming out—’No, we shouldn’t have a hearing at all’,” she said.
The Senator showed her disapproval for biased political agenda-setting, especially so soon after the loss of a revered Supreme Court Justice, and expressed her hope for a bipartisan movement to fill the Supreme Court vacancy as soon as possible. “The sentiment is—‘No, go to your own corners.’ That really, really bothers me.”