Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

Scott Miller

Presidential Immunity

We agreed to discuss Trump’s claim of presidential immunity from criminal prosecution on Monday, May 6.

  • Should POTUS be immune from criminal prosecution for:
    • all acts taken during the time they are president? (As I think Trump’s attorneys are arguing.)
    • all acts reasonably connected to the scope of their official duties?
    • all acts which only they can take (such as vetoing legislation or making appointments to certain Executive Branch positions–“core” responsibilities)?
    • only those acts in which the underlying criminal statute expressly exempts the president?
    • no acts?

Although there have been lots of op/eds written on the subject, I think the best starting point for research would be arguments made in Trump’s case before the Supreme Court.

  • For the “Cliff Notes” version, ScotusBlog is usually a good source for reporting and summarizing key Supreme Court cases.
  • For those who want to review the source materials, here is:
    • A link to the oral arguments (audio and transcript) as they took place last Monday.
    • The Supreme Court docket page, with links to the various filings made by the parties in the case and amicus briefs filed by third parties.

Campus Protests and Free Speech

At last week’s meeting, we decided to have a discussion around the protests at Columbia University—with less focus on the subject of the protest and more on Columbia’s (or, since then, many other universities’) role in governing these activities.

Since that decision, protests have become much more widespread and there has been plenty of journalistic ink (or pixels) devoted to the back-and-forth between the protesters, the universities, and, perhaps unusual in this particular case, a group of non-protesters who feel threatened or harassed by the protest activities.

I won’t try to select from amongst the many articles and op-eds on the subject—there are plenty to choose from. I will just post the following opinion from a Princeton professor (a founding member of the Academic Freedom Alliance). I think it’s a sensible starting point for our discussion.

See you on Monday.

Monday: Live Organ Donations

At Monday’s Beyond Labels session, we’ll discuss organ donations–especially of kidneys, where living donors can provide an organ (humans have two of them) without undue risk.

While we selected the topic almost two weeks ago, “Maine Calling” has since had a program on the subject. Here’s a link to the “Live Organ Donation” segment, which aired on April 15.

Here’s a link to an NYT Op/Ed piece that sparked the suggestion that we cover the topic at this time: “Let People Sell Their Kidneys. It Will Save Lives.”

And here’s a link to a 2018 article examining the question “Would government compensation of living kidney donors exploit the poor?

After we set the subject, a frequent participant, Richard J. sent an email highlighting recent advances in genetic technology and “Xenografts” (a new word for me). He points out that, as this technology advances and becomes more commonplace, the ethical questions around live organ donation may become moot. He wrote quite a long email, but he should be in attendance on Monday to express his views. In the meantime, here are three links he provided on the subject:

So we’ll have a chance to discuss medicine, ethics, and developing technologies, all in one Beyond Labels session.

See you Monday.

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