Archive for the ‘Academics’ Category

220px-Steve_Stockman_official_portraitScientists and environmentalists might be a bit alarmed by a bill introduced in the House that references a scientific theory that they were entirely (and perhaps blissfully) ignorant of before last week: the “Stockman Effect.” The Stockman Effect Act mandates that the director of the National Science Foundation must commission a study on the extent to which changes in the weather can be attributed to natural shifts in the Earth’s magnetic fields. That may have led many scrambling for their textbooks and scientific journals. They would have been better off looking up the names of the sponsors. Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) clearly is looking for a legacy as he completes his final term in office after losing his seat in the last election. He wants a federal law that orders that a federal study of his own theory. Stockman, as you might imagine, is a sceptic of man-made climate change theories but he is an advocate of . . . well . . . Stockman science.

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La_monstrua_desnuda_(1680),_de_Juan_Carreño_de_Miranda.We have often discussed obesity rates in the world on this blog and their causes. However, a new report makes an interesting finding. First, not too surprising, it says that Americans are fatter than we previously thought. Second, and more surprising, the reason for the underreporting is that people think or say that they are taller than they are. The study findings were presented by researcher Zachary Ward of the Harvard School of Public Health.

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800px-Capitol_Building_Full_ViewToday, we filed our complaint United States House of Representatives v. Burwell (Case 1:14-cv-01967), in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The House’s complaint contains eight counts concerning constitutional and statutory violations of law related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). There are a myriad of unilateral amendments to this Act, ordered by President Obama’s Administration, which could be the subject of a challenge, and there are a number of changes that are already being litigated, including King v. Burwell, which has been accepted by the Supreme Court for review. The House’s complaint, however, focuses on the Administration’s usurpation not only of the House’s Article I legislative authority, but also of the defining “power of purse.” Both of these powers were placed exclusively in Article I by the Framers of our Constitution. These constitutional and statutory claims are highly illustrative of the current conflict between the branches over the basic principles of the separation of powers. The House’s complaint seeks to reaffirm the clear constitutional lines of separation between the branches – a doctrine that is the very foundation of our constitutional system of government. To put it simply, the complaint focuses on the means rather than ends. The complaint is posted below.

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caitlyn-ricciThere is an interesting ruling out of New Jersey where a court has ruled that parents of an estranged adult daughter must pay for her college tuition. It is a ruling that runs against the traditional view that upon a child reaching the age of majority, parents are relieved of their mandatory financial obligations just as children are emancipated from their control. We discussed a prior case where a court ruled against such an adult daughter seeking tuition. However, Caitlyn Ricci has secured a ruling that her biological parents Michael Ricci and Maura McGarvey must pay the tuition even though she moved out of their home and has seen them for years — except in court.

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800px-Capitol_Building_Full_ViewAs many on this blog are aware, I have previously testified, written, and litigated in opposition to the rise of executive power and the countervailing decline in congressional power in our tripartite system. I have also spent years encouraging Congress, under both Democratic and Republican presidents, to more actively defend its authority, including seeking judicial review in separation of powers conflicts. For that reason, it may come as little surprise this morning that I have agreed to represent the United States House of Representatives in its challenge of unilateral, unconstitutional actions taken by the Obama Administration with respect to implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It is an honor to represent the institution in this historic lawsuit and to work with the talented staff of the House General Counsel’s Office. As in the past, this posting is meant to be transparent about my representation as well as my need to be circumspect about my comments in the future on related stories. (more…)

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FSU_Seminoles_logoThere are serious questions raised this week as to whether a star football player from Florida State was given preferential treatment not only by university police but Tallahasee police after a hit-and-run where two cars were totaled. At the heart of the controversy, is starting cornerback P. J. Williams who was allegedly driving the car that slammed into an oncoming vehicle. A second starting cornerback, Ronald Darby, also reportedly fled the scene at 2:30 am. However, neither was charged and the incident was not written up by the university police — as if it never happened. Just a couple of minor tickets for the “Noles.” It is a new meaning to nolo contendere. It usually means a defendant not contending a charge. In this case, Nole contendere is used by police to say “I do not wish to contend” a criminal charge against a FSU player. [For full disclosure, my wife is an FSU graduate and a “Nole”].

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Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 8.45.49 AMPelosi-denies-Gruber-2014nov-fullIt appears that friends (albeit a dwindling number) of MIT professor Jonathan Gruber may soon have to put his face on milk cartons to locate the economist. After a series of frank but embarrassing statements on the strategies behind the Administration’s passage of the Affordable Car Act (ACA), Gruber has moved from the status of “disfavored” to “disavowed” to “disappeared.” This week, Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi expressed a complete lack of knowledge of who Gruber is, was, or will be — even though she previously cited his work and he was paid $400,000 as one of the architects of Obamacare and has made over $2 million from HHS. Such roles are often difficult for scholars in moving between the political and academic worlds, but it is rare to find an academic become such an issue in a national debate.

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