• The First Amendment and Privacy: Free Speech Rules (Episode 9)
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    The First Amendment and Privacy: Free Speech Rules (Episode 9)

    When can the law stop you from saying things about me in order to protect my privacy? Pretty rarely it turns out. Here are the five rules of free speech and privacy. Actually before we get to the rules, let’s just make clear what kind of privacy we’re talking about. The Supreme Court has sometimes discussed a right to privacy but that’s generally a right to personal autonomy. For instance, the right to buy and use contraceptives. We’re not talking about that right here. We also often have a right to physical privacy in the sense of freedom from trespass or surveillance. The Fourth Amendment for example protects us against…

  • Free Thoughts, Ep. 213: Do Employers Rule Our Lives? (with Elizabeth Anderson)
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    Free Thoughts, Ep. 213: Do Employers Rule Our Lives? (with Elizabeth Anderson)

    Aaron Powell: Welcome to Free Thoughts, I’m Aaron Powell. Trevor Burrus: And I’m Trevor Burrus. Aaron Powell: Joining us today is Elizabeth Anderson. She’s the Arthur F. Thurnau professor and John Dewey Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan. She was, I believe, one of the earliest guests on this show. Trevor Burrus: Definitely the first 30 or so, I would say. Aaron Powell: Yeah, so welcome back to Free Thoughts, Professor Anderson. Elizabeth Anderson: [00:00:30] It’s great to be back. Aaron Powell: So today, we’re talking about your newest book, Private Government, How Employers Rule Our Lives and Why We Don’t Talk About…

  • The Common Law Part I: What is Common Law and What Role Did it Play in England? [No. 86]
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    The Common Law Part I: What is Common Law and What Role Did it Play in England? [No. 86]

    The common law is a body of laws and authorities among the judicial branch that was kind of a common heirloom that the people of America brought with them when they began to set up their colonial governments. And, of course, aspects of the common law then informed so many aspects of the daily lives of the colonists, from tort, to contract, to property, to real estate, to ordinary criminal law, protections of defendants who are faced with accusations of crime. A large body of judge-made law that came from England. Now under the common law, even if these rules and regulations were developed by the courts, they were always…

  • Can Congress Sub-Delegate Legislative Powers? [No. 86]
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    Can Congress Sub-Delegate Legislative Powers? [No. 86]

    The Constitution of the United States divides up powers of government among different institutions. It vests all legislative powers herein granted in Congress; it vests the executive power in the President and through the President and subordinates within administrative agencies. And it vests the judicial power of the United States in Federal Courts. Question is, what are the contours of that power? If Congress gives certain authority, to the President, to administrative agencies, to courts, for that matter, to private citizens or foreign countries, is there a point at which Congress is giving those other entities the legislative power that the Congress is vested with under The Constitution. That question,…

  • Should Courts Defer to Political Branches? [No. 86]
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    Should Courts Defer to Political Branches? [No. 86]

    One popular notion about how to think about the courts is the idea of judicial restraint. The idea here is that when interpreting the Constitution, courts should be restrained and should defer to the judgments of Congress or the President or the state legislatures. I do not think that the courts should defer to the opinions of other branches about the meaning of the Constitution. But this is the way I think it should work is that the legislative branches or the political branches are entitled to govern, unless what they are doing violates the Constitution. And some things that they might do violate the very words, I mean, you…

  • Impeaching Bad Presidents Should Be No Big Deal
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    Impeaching Bad Presidents Should Be No Big Deal

    Impeachment we’re told is similar to a coup d’etat. It’s a dangerous distraction from the business of government, that it’s going to cause national trauma, a constitutional crisis, and even a second American Civil War. There’s no reason to believe any of this. Nobody likes to get fired right, but if there’s any country on earth that’s pretty comfortable with the idea that people can be fired it’s the United States of America. Not only are we basically okay with this, America actually pioneered the idea of firing people as entertainment. You’re fired. Now people often say that you know the presidency is such an important job, it’s such a…

  • Nick Offerman’s Political Comedy Routine
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    Nick Offerman’s Political Comedy Routine

    Offerman: Good evening They’ve left a gavel up here for me, it’s apparently a stout American white oak so things get unruly will call this room to order. Good evening it’s a great honor to be here, my sisters and I look forward to coming to this event every year since march of 2011 Syria…shit. Excuse me. Good evening. And thank you for having me here tonight it really is a great honor and don’t worry I’m being paid significantly less than Jill Abramson to do this job. I grew up in a small town. My late grandpa Ray was the mayor of my hometown Minooka, IL. I come from…

  • Constitutional War Powers: Thomas Jefferson and the Barbary Pirates
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    Constitutional War Powers: Thomas Jefferson and the Barbary Pirates

    Immediately after the Revolutionary War, the US lost the protection of the naval forces of Britain and France in the Mediterranean. And the Barbary pirates were the naval forces of the, uh, satellite states of the Ottoman Empire, who essentially demanded tribute or would seize commercial vessels and hold as prisoners and hostages their crews, and sometimes even put them into slavery. Jefferson heard about the seizures of American commerce, and he realized that something had to be done, but he was against paying tribute or ransom. So, when the issue came up in Jefferson’s time, Jefferson did explicitly authorize the naval forces that Congress had provided him to defend…

  • Does the Fourteenth Amendment Guarantee Birthright Citizenship? [POLICYbrief]
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    Does the Fourteenth Amendment Guarantee Birthright Citizenship? [POLICYbrief]

    Before the Civil War, it appears that the people who decided on citizenship were the states because the federal government was not really regulating it at all. Citizenship was done under what we call the common law, the law we inherited from England at the time of the Revolution. No one disagrees that that’s the rule that applied in England at the time of the Revolution. If you were born on English soil, you were English, and so the assumption has always been to the extent we can tell that the states all adopted the birthright citizenship approach. Now, the reason why this became important is because of Dred Scott.…

  • Steve Mnuchin Repeatedly Suggests Trump Should Violate Constitution During Fox Interview
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    Steve Mnuchin Repeatedly Suggests Trump Should Violate Constitution During Fox Interview

    Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin appeared on FOX News this past weekend to discuss the recently passed spending bill that Donald Trump signed, but Donald Trump was totally not cool with signing it even though he did it anyway. Steve Mnuchin had to go on FOX News to explain this away and make Donald Trump’s case for him. Unfortunately for Mnuchin, the fact that he knows nothing about the federal government or the laws of this country was on full display and Chris Wallace, FOX News host, was not afraid to let him know that. Take a look. But the Democrats demanded a massive increase in non-military spending. That’s gonna balloon…