Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott ’73, who in 2010 was recognized by The Hill newspaper as one of the top 25 hardest working members of Congress, is Boston College Law School’s 2019 Commencement speaker. He will address the graduating class on May 24 at Conte Forum on BC’s Chestnut Hill Campus.
Congressman Scott has represented Virginia’s third congressional district in the US House of Representatives since 1993. His election earned him the distinction of being the first African-American elected to Congress from the Commonwealth of Virginia since Reconstruction and only the second African-American elected to Congress in Virginia’s history. Having a maternal grandfather of Filipino ancestry also gives him the distinction of being the first American with Filipino ancestry to serve as a voting member of Congress.
“I am very pleased that Congressman Scott has agreed to be our Commencement speaker,” said BC Law Dean Vincent Rougeau. “He has served in many leadership roles and his public service record is exemplary. We are honored to have someone of his stature as a member of our alumni community. His is a voice of reason and compassion in a troubled world. He will bring a unique perspective to our graduating students and their guests.”
Currently the Chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor, he is advancing an agenda that improves equity in education, frees students from the burdens of crippling debt, protects and expands access to affordable health care, ensures workers have a safe workplace where they can earn a living wage free from discrimination, and guarantees seniors have a secure and dignified retirement, according to his official biography. A longtime and consistent advocate for all of these concerns, his leadership is manifest in a host of significant laws he’s authored or supported over the decades.
From 2015-2018, he was the ranking member of what was then called the Committee on Education and the Workforce and developed a strong record of working across the aisle to pass critical legislation. In 2015, he was one of the four primary authors of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act for the first time in 13 years and replaced the No Child Left Behind Act.
Additionally, in 2017, he worked to secure passage of legislation to reform and update the nation’s career and technical education system, as well as the juvenile justice system in 2018, which were both signed into law by President Donald Trump. The latter legislation, the Juvenile Justice Reform Act, contained core tenets of Congressman Scott’s Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education (Youth PROMISE) Act, which he had introduced in every Congress since 2007.
As a part of his effort to provide universal health care for all, prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Congressman Scott sponsored the All Healthy Children Act, which ensured a comprehensive set of health care services for uninsured children.
Congressman Scott also serves on the Committee on the Budget, where he is a leading voice on fiscal policy and reducing the deficit. He opposed the 2001 and 2003 Bush-era tax cuts and the 2008 taxpayer-funded bailout of Wall Street, the 2013 Fiscal Cliff deal that permanently extended most of the Bush-era tax cuts, and President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
Congressman Scott is also a recognized champion of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He protected the right of all children with disabilities in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), opposed passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, and has criticized both Republican and Democratic Administrations’ misuse of surveillance authorities. Further, he has fought efforts to permit employment discrimination in federally funded programs.
On matters of crime, terrorism, and homeland security, Congressman Scott sponsored the Death in Custody Reporting Act and led efforts in the House to pass the Fair Sentencing Act, one of the first successful reductions in a mandatory minimum sentence in decades. He co-authored the Safe, Accountable, Fair, and Effective (SAFE) Justice Act, which has been recognized as one of the most comprehensive criminal justice reform bills in a generation.
Congressman Scott is also a strong supporter of military readiness as well as troops and their safety. He himself served in the Massachusetts National Guard and the United States Army Reserve.
A native of Washington, DC, Congressman Scott is a graduate of Harvard College and Boston College Law School. Before his election to Congress, he was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1978 to 1983 and of the Senate of Virginia from 1983 to 1993.