Is Eight Enough?


Cara L. Gallagher, weekend contributor, and James Coll, adjunct professor of Constitutional History at Hofstra University

The vacancy on the Supreme Court that materialized with the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia this past February, and endures into the current term that began last week, has Americans perplexed about the kind of Supreme Court we want to have. It also has us revisiting the kind of Supreme Court the U.S. Constitution requires us to have. These distinctly different contemplations, although both deserving of our attention, are all too often mistakenly confused as being the same concern.

Given the choice, I favor a nine-member Court. The downside of an even-numbered bench has been evident to most Americans as recently as the last term when important decisions about executive powers, immigration, and unions were left with 4-4 deadlocks for us to see the obvious benefit a ninth justice on the bench would have provided.

Yet just because I would rather have—and simple math would prefer—a fully-staffed Supreme Court doesn’t mean the Constitution requires it. Continue reading

Comey: Combetta Insisted That He Acted Alone In Destroying Evidence After He Was Given Immunity

I recently wrote a column on FBI investigation into the Clinton email scandal and revised my view as to the handling of the investigation in light of the five immunity deals handed out by the Justice Department.  I had previously noted that FBI Director James Comey was within accepted lines of prosecutorial discretion in declining criminal charges, even though I believed that such charges could have been brought. However, the news of the immunity deals (and particularly the deal given top ranking Clinton aide Cheryl Mills) was baffling and those deals seriously undermined the ability to bring criminal charges in my view.  Now, Comey has testified before both the Senate and the House. His answers only magnified concerns over the impact and even the intent of granting immunity to those most at risk of criminal charges.

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The Fight For Free Speech: University of Chicago Leads Counter-Movement Against Speech Regulation

Unknown-2Below is my column on free speech on college campuses and the courageous decision of the University of Chicago to reject “safe spaces” and speech regulation.  We are facing a growing movement to curtail free speech on campuses.  Conservatives rightfully complain that they are being silenced as hecklers bar speakers and administrators punish unpopular speech. The forced silence of students and faculty will be the death knell for American higher education.  Too many faculty are unwilling to speak against these measures in fear that they will be labeled racist or micro aggressors.  Others like University of Chicago Professor Eric Posner have readily embraced speech regulations by belittling college students as just impressionable children.

They think universities are treating students like children. And they are right. But they have also not considered that the justification for these policies may lie hidden in plain sight: that students are children. Not in terms of age, but in terms of maturity. Even in college, they must be protected like children while being prepared to be adults.

So now people who are adults legally will be dismissed as children to justify the imposition of speech codes where faculty dictate what is acceptable or unacceptable viewpoints.  It is incumbent upon the rest of us to fight the rising tide of speech regulation and intolerance. To that end, every faculty senate should consider replicating the letter of the University of Chicago to its incoming class, as discussed in the column below.

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Camp_x-ray_detainees495px-Donald_Trump_by_Gage_SkidmoreBelow is my column in USA Today on Donald Trump’s statement that he thinks that American citizens should be tried at Guantanamo Bay with other “terrible people” accused of terrorism.  I have previously criticized Hillary Clinton for her views on free speech and executive power.  However, the suggestion that U.S. citizens could be sent for faux trials at Gitmo is truly chilling.  Here is the column.

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Olympic Ratings Continue To Plunge For NBC

Massachusetts Passes Law Barring Employers From Asking Applicants About Their Salaries

Charlie_Baker_official_portraitMassachusetts has passed a law (signed by Gov. Charlie Baker) which for the first time would bar employers from asking job applicants about their salaries.  It is designed to prevent pay disparity for women. However, it could create uncertainty on how to address a key piece of information used to gauge wage offers for employees.

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