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Constitution Center Event on Campaign Finance

June 03, 2014

Described as “always intelligent and provocative” (Wall Street Journal), the award-winning NPR show Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates (IQ2US) returns to the National Constitution Center for a no-holds-barred debate on campaign finance, super PAC’s, and the First Amendment.

Popular NPR debate show to return to Philly

June 19, 2014

Campaign finance, Super PACS and the First Amendment make up the three topics to be debated on NPR Radio’s popular show, “Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates,” due to return to Philadelphia Thursday, June 26, at the National Constitution Center, 6th. and Market streets, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $30.

The debate, which will follow the old Oxford style of sparring, will feature First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, Brennan Center’s Burt Neuborne, New York Law’s Nadine Strossen and Fordham Law’s Zephyr Teachout. ABC News’ John Donovan will moderate.

Intelligence Squared Debate: Campaign Finance

June 26, 2014

Many have argued for things like public financing or, you know, sensible limits, while others have said where you spend your money is a matter of free speech. Tonight, the Constitution Center will hold a panel—live streamed for NPR’s Intelligence Squared—debating these points of view.

The Obama Administration Is Setting a Dangerous Precedent about Due Process

April 15, 2014

The essence of due process, as Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman recently argued at an Intelligence Squared debate, is that “the government would not kill its own citizens without a trial.” That derived from the English Magna Carta of 1215, and the Framers of the U.S. Constitution had such a history in mind when, in the Fifth Amendment, they wrote that no one may “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

So this seems like an easy issue: The Constitution is clear that due process is required before the federal government takes a citizen’s life. But in many cases, that would fly in the face of common sense.

Professor Alan Dershowitz pointed out in the same debate that a bank robber firing at police as he flees is not entitled to a trial before police can shoot back at him. This exception is widened in the case of war, which is why the laws of war have never required a prior hearing before incapacitating an enemy combatant that is on the battlefield.

Racial Preferences Under Siege

March 20, 2014

The intellectual case for preferences is looking increasingly shaky. Last month, a packed auditorium at Harvard Law School featured an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate on whether “affirmative action does more harm than good.” Harvard professor Randall Kennedy, the author of the book For Discrimination, and Columbia professor Ted Shaw, the former head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, argued that diversity is an important and noble goal that universities must pursue. UCLA professor Richard Sander, author of the book Mismatch, and University of San Diego professor Gail Heriot, a commissioner on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, presented statistics from over 20 peer-reviewed studies that showed how the good intentions of affirmative-action supporters have had disastrous results.

FRIENDLY FIRE: Can Presidents Kill Americans?

March 06, 2014

Last night at the National Constitutional Center, NPR’s Intelligence Squared hosted a debate for broadcast on the limits of executive power, specifically is the president exceeding the constitutional powers of his office when, absent due process, he orders a fatal drone strike on an American citizen living abroad who is suspected of aiding or abetting terror plots that would harm American citizens or the homeland. Such was the case with the fatal drone strike executed against Anwar Al-Awlaki, a charismastic Imam and advocate for Jihad who was born in New Mexico.

The specific question being debated was not whether or not drone strikes are moral or legal, or even useful for advancing U.S. Foreign policy objectives, it was whether or not the president violated the constitutional rights of this particular American citizen. As per the premise of the show, the audience is polled about whether they are for or against the motion before the debate begins then again at the end. Before the debate, the audience vote tally was: 29% for, 44% against with 27% undecided.

Debate: “Affirmative action on campus does more harm than good”

March 04, 2014

What if affirmative action actually hurts minorities?

Badger Pundit has the rundown on a debate at Harvard Law School over the proposition in the title of this post, Epic smackdown of affirmative action at Harvard — following debate, audience’s opposition rises nearly a third.

It’s a discussion that people on campuses don’t like to have. Good for Harvard Law School for hosting such a debate with well-qualified speakers arguing each side. Too often the argument against affirmative action is denegrated as racism.

A speaker in favor of the proposition argued that affirmative action is an “epic policy failure” because it actually hurts — not helps — minority achievement through lower graduation and professional accomplishment rates.

CRIME & PUNISHMENT: Talking Drones, Snowden, O.J. And How To Solve The Israeli-Palestinian Riddle With Super-Lawyer Alan Dershowitz

March 04, 2014

Famed criminal defense lawyer, retired Harvard Law School professor and cable news gadfly Alan Dershowitz will be at the National Constitution Center tomorrow to debate the legality and ethics of drone strikes on American citizens. In advance of tomorrow’s debate, we got Mr. Dershowitz on the horn. DISCUSSED: When it’s OK for the President of the United States to order the assassination of an American citizen; his theory of a “Continuum Of Civilianality; why he is advocating for the court-supervised use of torture in so-called ticking time bomb situations; Zionism and how to resolved the Israeli-Palestinian crisis; is Edward Snowden a hero or villain; is mass surveillance of all American citizens constitutional under the Fourth Amendment; is O.J. Simpson innocent or guilty?

PHAWKER: Tomorrow, you’ll be at the National Constitution Center for the Intelligence Squared Debate. You’ll be arguing that President Obama was within the legal limits of executive power when he ordered the fatal drone strike on New Mexico-born Jihadist rabble-rouser Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. You will argue that the President can order the assassination of an American citizen absent any due process if he’s suspected of aiding and abetting the terrorists abroad in the killing of Americans. Can you summarize your argument for us?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Yes. I think that both international law and American constitutional law simply requires that the President determine under his war-power authority that the person targeted is a legitimate combatant, not a civilian. That’s the important line – the line is between combatant and non-combatant...

Approval to target terrorists, U.S. citizens

March 02, 2014

The president has the constitutional authority to target American citizens overseas.

This authority is derived from his war-making power as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. But this does not mean that the president has unfettered discretion to strike anyone he chooses.

The executive's war-making power is checked by the Founding Fathers' reservation in Congress of the power to declare war. The executive may not use this power unless authorized to do so by Congress.

Violating the ideals he pledged to uphold

March 02, 2014

The White House is once again weighing whether to kill an American citizen overseas as part of its "targeted killing" program.

This extrajudicial killing program should make every American queasy. Based on largely secret legal standards and entirely secret evidence, our government has killed thousands of people. At least several hundred were killed far from any battlefield. Four of the dead are Americans. Astonishingly, President Obama's Justice Department has said the courts have no role in deciding whether the killing of U.S. citizens far from any battlefield is lawful.

The president, it seems, can be judge, jury, and executioner.

Intelligence Squared debate: Affirmative action on campus does more harm than good

February 28, 2014

Intelligence Squared presented a very lively debate last night at Harvard Law School — “Resolved: Affirmative Action On Campus Does More Harm Than Good.” Arguing for the motion were Gail Heriot, professor of law, University of San Diego School of Law and member, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; and Richard Sander, professor of law, UCLA School of Law. Arguing against the motion were Randall Kennedy, professor of law, Harvard Law School; and Theodore Shaw, professor of law, Columbia Law School.

The debate largely focused on Rick Sander’s empirical work, which tends to show that affirmative action actually harms its intended beneficiaries. Regular readers will recall that Rick guest-blogged about this provocative work two years ago.

It was particularly striking to see this prominent debate on the Harvard Law School campus–since, ironically, it can often seem, on elite campuses, that the very topic of affirmative action on campus is taboo.

Law School Hosts Debate on the Merits of Affirmative Action

February 28, 2014

A panel featuring Harvard Law School professor Randall L. Kennedy and others debated the pros and cons of affirmative action Thursday evening at the Law School’s Ames Court Room.

Arguing that affirmative action does more harm than good, University of San Diego Law professor Gail Heriot and University of California, Los Angeles Law professor Richard H. Sander asserted that affirmative action reduces the percentage of minorities who succeed at selective academic institutions.

On the opposing side, Columbia Law School professor Theodore M. Shaw and Kennedy argued in favor of affirmative action as a means of advancing university goals while benefitting the educational experiences of all students.

At Intelligence Squared U.S. Debate Audience Says: “Freedom of the Press Does Extend to State Secrets”

June 08, 2011

With world governments still reeling from the WikiLeaks fallout, acclaimed debate series Intelligence Squared US turned its attention to the balance between national security and freedom of the press. After watching the heated debate, IQ2US’s live, sold-out audience came down in favor of the Dershowitz/Sanger team, deciding against the motion that “Freedom of the press does not extend to state secrets”.