Peter Berkowitz is the Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. In 2019-2021, he served as the Director of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, executive secretary of the department's Commission on Unalienable Rights, and senior adviser to the...
In the “Discourses on Livy,” Machiavelli asks whether the nobles – these days we speak of the elites – or the people are better guardians of freedom. Acknowledging that “there is something to say on every side,” the cunning student of cunning sees threats to freedom emanating from both camps. Critics of the nationalist turn within American conservatism – and the national conservatives themselves – would do well to keep in mind Machiavelli’s supple assessment.
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?
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?
In discharging their constitutional duty to provide advice and, if they deem appropriate, give consent to President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, Senators should examine the critical importance the president attaches to empathy...
Hoover research fellow Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s new book is Prey: Immigration, Islam, and the Erosion of Women’s Rights. It examines the sharp rise in the number of sexual assaults in Western Europe that coincides with the sharp rise in illegal immigration from Muslim-majority countries.
In 1965, Congress voted to change the laws that had restricted immigration into the United States for more than four decades. The Immigration Act of 1965 resulted in a wave of increased immigration that continues today. How do recent immigrant groups compare with those of the last great wave of immigration a century ago? Are they successfully integrating into American culture or threatening America's cultural stability? Should immigration once again be restricted, or should we concern ourselves with helping immigrants assimilate when they arrive?
During the 2004 presidential campaign, one principal plank of George W. Bush's domestic platform was reforming tort law, which includes class action lawsuits, asbestos liability, and medical malpractice liability. President Bush believes that tort law as it now stands permits trial lawyers to take advantage of good companies, driving up the costs of doing business for everyone. Others believe that existing tort law allows consumers to protect themselves against bad companies. Which is it? And should President Bush be given the tort reforms he wants? Peter Robinson speaks with David Davenport and Alan Morrison.
A class essay condemning rape was ‘unnecessarily provocative,’ the Title IX coordinator allegedly said.
In June 2013, when he began leaking thousands of classified documents — from among hundreds of thousands that he had stolen — about America's global surveillance programs, Edward Snowden, a former employee of the National Security Agency, confirmed the arrival of the cyber era...
Late August and early September bring recent high school graduates, bright and eager, to campuses around the country.
In October 2001, in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, Congress passed, and President Bush signed, the USA Patriot Act. The law is intended to prevent future terrorist acts by enhancing various law enforcement tools. Critics argue that the Patriot Act is a dangerous infringement on American civil liberties. Now, more than two years after the passage of the Patriot Act, do we have any evidence that the critics are right? For that matter, do we even know whether the Patriot Act is working to deter terrorism? Should the Patriot Act be allowed to expire, or should its provisions become a permanent part of the war on terrorism?
In late 2001, in response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the Bush administration proposed the USA Patriot Act, which gave law enforcement agencies expanded surveillance and intelligence-gathering powers. Congress overwhelmingly approved the Patriot Act on the condition that most provisions of the act would expire in 2005. President Bush now wants all provisions of the act extended. Should they be? Or are the provisions dangerous and unnecessary infringements on our civil liberties? Peter Robinson speaks with Jenny Martinez and John Yoo.
On March 14, 2005, a California Superior Court judge ruled that the state's ban on same-sex marriage violated the state constitution. Although the decision is certain to be appealed up to the California Supreme Court, California may now be on the road to joining Massachusetts in legalizing gay marriage. Did the Superior Court judge decide correctly? Just how compelling are the constitutional arguments for and against gay marriage? Peter Robinson speaks with Terry Thompson and Tobias Wolff.
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?
According to recent polls, instructors at American universities are overwhelmingly liberal: 72 percent of faculty members describe themselves as liberal, whereas only 15 percent call themselves conservative. Some critics charge that this ideological imbalance has created a code of political correctness that inhibits freedom of inquiry and expression in our universities. Is this true? And if so, what should be done, or can be done, about it? Peter Robinson speaks with David Horowitz and Graham Larkin.
The past decade has seen the emergence of an increasingly vocal animal rights movement in this country. Although many of the specific goals of the movement have to do with promoting the humane treatment of animals, the underlying argument is that certain basic legal rights should be extended to animals as well. Should we recognize that animals have legal rights, or should we continue to regard animals as property, as resources to use as humans see fit? Just what rights, if any, should animals have? And how could these rights alter the relationship between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom?
It's been more than 25 years since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. For most of that time, the number of executions in this country climbed steadily higher. In the past several years, however, the death penalty has come under increasing criticism. Executions have fallen nationwide from a high of 98 in 1998 to 66 in 2001. Two states, Illinois and Maryland, declared moratoria on the death penalty over concerns that the death penalty could not be administered fairly. Is the death penalty immoral in and of itself? If not, is it unconstitutional? What is required to ensure that the death penalty is administered with fairness, justice, and accuracy?
Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, Congress passed and President Bush signed the USA Patriot Act—legislation intended to thwart the threat of domestic terrorism. Critics were quick to denounce USA Patriot as a dangerous expansion of government power at the expense of our civil liberties. Are the critics right? Or can we win the war on terrorism without sacrificing our civil liberties here at home? And what has the American experience in earlier crises, such as the Civil War and the two world wars, taught us about balancing national security and personal freedom?
The First Amendment of the Constitution declares in part that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." What did this amendment mean to the founders who wrote it? Did they intend to establish an inviolate "wall of separation between church and state"? Or was their intent instead to merely preserve religious freedom and prevent the establishment of a national religion?
It is estimated that currently there are between 7 and 10 million illegal immigrants in this country. Meanwhile the Border Patrol has grown from a staff of 2,000 and a $100 million budget 30 years ago to 11,000 men and women and a $9 billion budget today. Clearly, our attempts to control illegal immigration have not been working. But what should we do instead? President Bush has proposed a new immigration plan that would turn illegal immigrants already here into legal temporary workers. Is his plan an acknowledgment that our economy needs cheap immigrant labor and that we simply can't control our borders any longer? Or is his plan the entirely wrong way to address the immigration problem?