September events celebrate 60th anniv of Ted Kennedy 1st swearing-in

Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate hosts Sept. events on "Working Across the Aisle" and "Balancing Powers" honoring 60th Anniversary of the Senator's first inauguration
Panel discussions, free and open to the public, build on he Kennedy Institute's commitment to civil discourse, bipartisan search for common ground and solutions

 Building on its commitment to promoting participatory democracy and civil discourse, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate today announced plans for two events next month that will also celebrate the 60th anniversary of Senator Kennedy’s first joining the upper chamber in 1962.

The Kennedy Institute’s “Working Across the Aisle” panel conversation on Sept. 13 and “Balancing Powers” event on Sept. 20 will be offered online and are free for the public to join. The two September events explore how Senator Kennedy, who served the fifth-longest term of any member of the U.S. Senate, often relied on forging bipartisan coalitions with other legislators and presidents to achieve major legislative compromises around expanding health insurance, enacting the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other important causes.

"This coming November 7 will mark the 60th anniversary of the day Senator Kennedy swore his oath of office and took his seat in the Senate, and today we are more committed than ever to celebrate his commitment to inspiring the next generation of citizens and leaders to engage in the civic life of their communities," said Bruce A. Percelay, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Kennedy Institute.

The ”Working Across the Aisle” conversation on Tuesday, Sept. 13, at noon will include:

  • Melody Barnes, Executive Director, University of Virginia Karsh Center of Democracy and Senator Kennedy’s former Chief Counsel on Judiciary Committee
  • Patricia Knight, former Chief of Staff to Senator Orrin Hatch
  • Michael Myers, former Managing Director of Policy, the Rockefeller Foundation, Senator Kennedy’s former Chief Counsel and staff director
  • Former Senator Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.)

The “Balancing Powers” conversation on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 1 p.m. will include:

  • Jeff Blattner, Special Assistant Attorney General, Colorado Department of Justice, former Chief Counsel of Senator Kennedy’s Judiciary Committee staff and Chief Counsel of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Refugee Affairs
  • Judge Patti B. Saris, U. S. District Court Judge, District of Massachusetts, since 1993 and former Chair (2011-17) of the U.S. Sentencing Commission
  • Margaret Spellings, former U.S. Secretary of Education (2005-09) and former President of the University of North Carolina (2016-19)

Offering opening remarks for both events will be Robert Shrum, Director of the Center for the Political Future and the Carmen H. and Louis Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics at the University of Southern California Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and a former Press Secretary to Senator Kennedy.

For full details on both September programs, including how to register to tune in to the live webcasts, please visit

The September events share many of the key goals of The Senate Project, the new debate series the Kennedy Institute launched in June with the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) and Orrin G. Hatch Foundation. The Senate Project seeks to bring Senators of widely diverging political viewpoints together for respectful, Oxford-style debates to promote a search for common ground and legislative solutions that can improve the lives of all Americans.

“These September events will complement and build on the impact The Senate Project is already having in promoting a renewed spirit of compromise and consensus for the good of the American people,’’ Chairman Percelay said.

The Senate Project kicked off June 13 with a debate, held in the Institute’s one-of-a-kind replica of the U.S. Senate chamber at the Capitol in Washington, between Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). The second debate, hosted by the BPC in Washington, featured Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio). Additional debates are being scheduled for the coming months.