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THE HIGH (AND MIGHTY) COURT: Judicial Supremacy

with Lawrence Alexander, Robert P. Georgevia Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, October 27, 2003

Did the framers of the United States Constitution intend that the Supreme Court be the sole and final interpreter of the Constitution, with the power to place binding decisions on the executive and legislative branches? Or did they intend that the Supreme Court have the final say only on the legal cases that came before it, thus permitting the executive and legislative branches to have wide latitude in interpreting the Constitution for themselves? The former view, that of judicial supremacy, is the dominant view of the Supreme Court today, accepted, for the most part, both within government and in society more generally. Is this view supported by the Constitution? If not, why and when did it arise? Should we support judicial supremacy, or is it time to rein in the Supreme Court?

KOREAN BEEF: North Korea's Nuclear Weapons

with Peter Hayes, James Woolseyvia Uncommon Knowledge
Thursday, October 16, 2003

In April 2003, North Korean officials admitted for the first time that their nation possessed the ability to build nuclear weapons. Many experts suggest that the possible possession of nuclear weapons by a so-called rogue state such as North Korea sets the stage for a far more serious conflict than the war with Iraq. Just how should the United States try to diffuse the Korean crisis? Can diplomatic efforts succeed where they have previously failed? Will the United States have to consider military options? And just what is North Korea hoping to accomplish by fomenting this crisis?

THE RELUCTANT EMPIRE: Is America an Imperial Power?

with Niall Ferguson, David M. Kennedyvia Uncommon Knowledge
Thursday, October 16, 2003

George W. Bush, during the 2000 presidential campaign said that "America has never been an empire... We may be the only great power in history that had the chance, and refused." Was then-candidate Bush right when he made those remarks? Or has America become an imperial power in all but name? How do America's unique historical circumstances predispose it to handle the unrivaled power it holds in the world today? And what lessons can we draw from our nearest historical antecedent, the British Empire of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries?

A FAMILY TRADITION: Gay Marriage

with Maggie Gallagher, Kate Kendell, Esq.via Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, September 8, 2003

Given recent trends at both local and federal levels, most notably the Supreme Court decision striking down the Texas antihomosexual sodomy law, it would appear that legal recognition of gay marriage may be just a matter of time. Should gay marriage be granted legal recognition? Are same-sex couples who are not allowed to marry under current law being denied equal protection of the law? How would recognition of gay marriage alter the traditional purpose of marriage? And would gay marriage erode support for families or strengthen it?

SOUTHERN EXPOSURE: Mexican Immigration

with Victor Davis Hanson, Richard Rodriguezvia Uncommon Knowledge
Tuesday, August 26, 2003

How is Mexican immigration changing the United States in the twenty-first century? In the past several decades, the United States has seen an explosion in the number of Hispanic immigrants to this country, most of them from Mexico. And most of them go to California. Today nearly half of all Californians are immigrants or the children of immigrants—most of them coming originally from Mexico. What is the economic and social impact of this influx on California, and what does it bode for the rest of the country? What makes Mexican immigration different than immigration from other countries? And what, if anything, should we do about it?

JUST SAY YES? Drug Legalization

with Jacob Sullum, Forrest Tennant, M.D.via Uncommon Knowledge
Tuesday, August 26, 2003

For more than thirty years, the United States has been waging a war on drugs. This war—which takes the form of billions of dollars spent each year on drug law enforcement and interdiction, as well as harsh sentencing for drug offenses—is being called a failure by many critics. But if it is a failure, is drug legalization the solution? Just how would legalization work? And would the benefits of legalization outweigh the costs?

JUDGING THE JUDGES: The Judicial Appointments Process

with Clint Bolick, Jesse Chopervia Uncommon Knowledge
Tuesday, August 26, 2003

In his first term, President George W. Bush has had difficulty getting his nominees to the federal courts of appeal confirmed by the Senate. The Democrats have taken the almost unprecedented step of threatening filibusters to prevent floor votes on certain nominees. Has the judicial appointments process become the latest victim of bitter partisan politics? Or has the judiciary brought this state of affairs on itself by advancing a doctrine of judicial supremacy, leaving the executive and legislative branches no choice but to resort to political litmus tests for nominees? What does this situation bode for the next Supreme Court nomination? And what, if anything, should be done to reform the process?

PLAYING HARDBALL WITH SOFT MONEY: Is Campaign Finance Reform Constitutional?

with Richard Hasen, Bradley Smithvia Uncommon Knowledge
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

In March 2002, President Bush signed into law the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, better known as the McCain-Feingold Bill. The law bans political contributions known as "soft money"—that is, money from corporations, unions, and other organizations given to political parties for "party-building activities," thereby skirting campaign contribution limits. The Supreme Court has now taken up McCain-Feingold and will determine whether all or parts of the act will be upheld or overturned. Are soft money bans legal? Or do such campaign finance restrictions infringe on freedom of speech? Just how should the Court decide?

POWER TO THE PEOPLE: The California Recall and Direct Democracy

with Thomas Cronin, Peter Schrag, Robert Sternvia Uncommon Knowledge
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

On October 7, 2003, Californians go to the polls to vote in a historic election. They will decide whether to recall Governor Gray Davis and replace him with someone else. Davis is only the second governor in U.S. history to face a recall election. Is the California recall in the best interests of its citizens? Or is this recall election an example of direct democracy gone awry? And what long-term effects will this recall campaign have on politics at both the state and national levels?

A LESS PERFECT UNION? The Constitution of the European Union

with Timothy Garton Ash, Paul Johnsonvia Uncommon Knowledge
Wednesday, July 16, 2003

In June 2003, a European constitutional convention presented the fruits of 18 months of work: a draft constitution for the European Union that runs to more than 200 pages. Why does the European Union even need a constitution? Will the constitution limit the powers of the EU over the member countries, or does it mean the creation of a European superstate? Should the constitution be ratified, or is it just a colossal mistake?

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