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Past Programs

Independent State Legislature Theory, May 31, 2023

The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to decide the monumental voting rights case Moore v. Harper. The case concerns a legal doctrine known as the independent state legislature, which asserts that state legislatures have exclusive power--not subject to federal or state courts--to govern all aspects of elections, electors, and voting registration and procedures. The theory is rooted in the Elections and Electors Clauses of the U.S. Constitution. It first appeared in legal arguments during the 2000 Presidential Election, when votes in Florida were in dispute. In the current case, it's about Congressional redistricting following the 2020 Census.

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Originalism and the Constitution, September 22, 2022

Does the Constitution establish the right to have an AR-15? What about rights to birth control and abortion? In the modern era, is the death penalty “cruel and unusual” punishment even though the Constitution recognizes it multiple times? How, in a dynamic world, should one interpret the Constitution to answer those questions? Many views exist, among them those dubbed “originalism,” “textualism,” and “The Living Constitution.” Even views among the Supreme Court Justices vary, both contemporaneously and over time.

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Supreme Court Reform, July 22, 2022

Not since the New Deal has the United States Supreme Court been under as much scrutiny as in the past several years, in part because of the passionate views of Americans on both sides of the abortion debate. Bipartisan concern with suggestions of “court packing,” strategically-timed retirements, the hostility of the confirmation process, and the potential intimidation of Supreme Court justices has led observers on both sides of the political aisle to suggest that, instead of lifetime appointments, Supreme Court justices be appointed to staggered, fixed length terms. Yet the devil is in the details, and sometimes the devil we know may be preferable to the devil we don’t.

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