“From wherever you stood, the opposing side offered respectable, credible views. In today's fractured culture the evening struck a blow for civility.”
- The Huffington Post
December 11, 2015
During the Intelligence Squared debate last week, Roger Clegg, president and general counsel for the Center for Equal Opportunity, argued that a diverse campus and the interracial conversations that could result from it is not a compelling enough reason to continue racial preferences, even as part of a larger calculus that considers many factors for student admission.
December 08, 2015
As the Supreme Court of the United States again prepares to consider arguments in Fisher v. The University of Texas at Austin today, the arguments will be presented amid a national environment that seems to have proven that race is still very much a factor on campuses across the country.
September 21, 2015
On September 16, 2015, ALI members Stephen J. Schulhofer of New York University School of Law, Jeannie C. Suk of Harvard University Law School, and Michelle J. Anderson of City University of New York School of Law participated in a debate discussing whether universities are equipped for enforcing policies in response to sexual assault violence, or whether the criminal court system is better suited for the task.
September 18, 2015
Just before four law professors take the stage here to debate whether courts or colleges should decide sexual-assault cases, the ABC News correspondent John Donvan polls the audience of about 250 people.
Should all rape allegations involving college students be handled by the criminal-justice system? Or should campuses continue to use a separate disciplinary process, with different standards and sanctions, and give students who allege such incidents a choice of how to proceed?
September 18, 2015
Harvard Law School professor Jeannie C. Suk argued at a forum in New York this week that the criminal court system, not campus resources, should investigate and adjudicate cases of alleged sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape.
At the forum—hosted by Intelligence Squared Debates and titled “Courts, Not Campuses, Should Decide Sexual Assault Cases”—Suk and Yale Law School professor Jed Rubenfeld argued in favor of the motion. Michelle Anderson, the dean of City University New York School of Law, and Stephen Schulhofer, a professor at New York University School of Law, argued in favor of university involvement in the contentious issue.
September 17, 2015
Jed Rubenfeld and Jeannie Suk (for) and Michelle Anderson and Stephen Schulhofer (against) participated in an interesting and extensive debate on this question on September 16; video here. One of the most notable aspects of the discussion was the systematic doubt about the capacity of courts to be fair. Professor Suk noted that campus disciplinary proceedings had a disproportionate impact on the poor and minorities; Dean Anderson responded, to oversimplify, that Ferguson and other incidents make clear that the criminal justice system is worse. All sides agreed that there are excesses in campus discipline which are appropriately being weeded out in courts. Again, to oversimplify, Professor Schulhofer argued nevertheless that campus discipline was necessary for fairness to the accused; given draconian sexual assault sentences, the power of prosecutors, the pressure of sweet pleas, and the unreliability of juries, some form of accountability other than prosecution was necessary so that the lives of minor offenders (or alleged offenders) were not ruined. Taken together, I think most or all parties might agree that the criminal justice system has often been disrespectful of victims, dismissive of sexual assault claims, and also sometimes arbitrary and brutal to those charged with or convicted of sex offenses. If this is so, one wonders what makes the character or ability of professors and administrators so much higher that better results are likely in the academy.
June 04, 2015
Marriage equality won big in Philadelphia this week at the National Constitution Center.
Broadcast by National Public Radio, the NCC on Tuesday played host to an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate that questioned whether the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution requires states to license same-sex marriage — just weeks before the Supreme Court is set to answer that very question.
April 26, 2015
I have long been a fan of the Intelligence Squared debate series, which I often hear on my local NPR station (and which too often leads me to stay in my car longer than I had intended). I was especially excited when I learned that the series was finally going to focus on the death penalty.
March 17, 2015
Intelligence Squared hosted a lively debate last week over the so-called “Right to be Forgotten” embraced by European courts—which, as tech executive Andrew McLaughlin aptly noted, would be more honestly described as a “right to force others to forget.” A primary consequence of this “right” thus far has been that citizens are entitled to demand that search engines like Google censor the results that are returned for a search on the person’s name, provided those results are “inadequate, irrelevant, or no longer relevant.” In other words, if you’re unhappy that an unflattering item—such as a news story—shows up as a prominent result for your name, you can declare it “irrelevant” even if entirely truthful and ask Google to stop showing it as a result for such searches, with ultimate recourse to the courts if the company refuses. Within two months of the ruling establishing the “right,” the company received more than 70,000 such requests.
March 12, 2015
The University of Oklahoma expelled two fraternity members this week after video of them leading a racist chant went viral. Now, a Google search of the young men’s names shows the incident right at the top of the results.
But should this still be the case in 30 years? Should future employers and girlfriends be able to use Google to easily discover the video? Or would it be better for the U.S. to create a law to allow such men, one day in the future, to cloak their youthful misdeeds?
On Wednesday night at the Kaufman Center in New York City, the Oklahoma frat brothers were discussed as part of a larger debate over whether it’s time for the U.S. to adopt a “right to be forgotten” law to help people hide their past.
March 12, 2015
The “right to be forgotten” should be adopted in the U.S. because Americans deserve the ability to exercise control over their personal data. Then again, the right to be forgotten could be seen as a form of censorship that aims to conceal past news. At least that's what four privacy and technology experts debated Wednesday night.
The experts considered whether the ruling should be (hypothetically) implemented in the U.S. Organized by Intelligence Squared, a live New York City audience served as the barometer for which side won the debate. Before any words were exchanged, 36 percent believed the U.S. should adopt the ruling; 26 percent were against it, and 38 percent were undecided.
October 10, 2014
Some very smart people try to make the case that gobbling up phone data on all of us isn’t really a constitutional case. Let’s see if they convince you…
Intelligence Squared held a debate on exactly this topic. If you’ve never checked out Intelligence Squared, I highly recommend it. Imagine a televised argument, except instead of sound bytes spewed by yelling heads, accomplished experts calmly and rationally hash out the issues with enough time to guarantee that nuance isn’t sacrificed to make time for another commercial.
October 08, 2014
A resounding win! A Philadelphia audience sided squarely with team civil liberties in a debate hosted yesterday by Intelligence Squared. Arguing for the motion, "Mass Collection of U.S. Phone Records Violates the Constitution," were ACLU staff attorney Alex Abdo and Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel of the Constitutional Accountability Center. They faced off against John Yoo, a former Justice Department attorney known for authoring the Bush-era torture memos, and Stewart Baker, former NSA general counsel.
October 08, 2014
A strong majority of audience members thought mass collection of U.S. phone records violates the constitution’s Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure following an Oxford-style debate on the topic last night sponsored by Intelligence Squared, which is affiliated with NPR. The motion — “mass collection of U.S. phone records violates the Fourth Amendment” — polled at 46 percent among audience members before the debate and at 66 percent afterward. Arguing in favor of the motion were ACLU staff attorney Alex Abdo and Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel for the Constitutional Accountability Center. Opposing it were former NSA general counsel Stewart Baker and John Yoo, a former Justice Department lawyer best known for writing the Bush Administration memo justifying enhanced interrogation of terror detainees that critics have dubbed torture. Before the debate, 17 percent of audience members opposed the motion and 37 percent were undecided. After the debate, 28 percent opposed it and 6 percent were undecided.
June 26, 2014
Many have argued for things like public financing or, you know, sensible limits, while others have said where you spend your money is a matter of free speech. Tonight, the Constitution Center will hold a panel—live streamed for NPR’s Intelligence Squared—debating these points of view.
June 19, 2014
Campaign finance, Super PACS and the First Amendment make up the three topics to be debated on NPR Radio’s popular show, “Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates,” due to return to Philadelphia Thursday, June 26, at the National Constitution Center, 6th. and Market streets, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $30.
The debate, which will follow the old Oxford style of sparring, will feature First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, Brennan Center’s Burt Neuborne, New York Law’s Nadine Strossen and Fordham Law’s Zephyr Teachout. ABC News’ John Donovan will moderate.
June 03, 2014
Described as “always intelligent and provocative” (Wall Street Journal), the award-winning NPR show Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates (IQ2US) returns to the National Constitution Center for a no-holds-barred debate on campaign finance, super PAC’s, and the First Amendment.
April 15, 2014
The essence of due process, as Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman recently argued at an Intelligence Squared debate, is that “the government would not kill its own citizens without a trial.” That derived from the English Magna Carta of 1215, and the Framers of the U.S. Constitution had such a history in mind when, in the Fifth Amendment, they wrote that no one may “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
So this seems like an easy issue: The Constitution is clear that due process is required before the federal government takes a citizen’s life. But in many cases, that would fly in the face of common sense.
Professor Alan Dershowitz pointed out in the same debate that a bank robber firing at police as he flees is not entitled to a trial before police can shoot back at him. This exception is widened in the case of war, which is why the laws of war have never required a prior hearing before incapacitating an enemy combatant that is on the battlefield.
March 20, 2014
The intellectual case for preferences is looking increasingly shaky. Last month, a packed auditorium at Harvard Law School featured an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate on whether “affirmative action does more harm than good.” Harvard professor Randall Kennedy, the author of the book For Discrimination, and Columbia professor Ted Shaw, the former head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, argued that diversity is an important and noble goal that universities must pursue. UCLA professor Richard Sander, author of the book Mismatch, and University of San Diego professor Gail Heriot, a commissioner on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, presented statistics from over 20 peer-reviewed studies that showed how the good intentions of affirmative-action supporters have had disastrous results.
March 06, 2014
Last night at the National Constitutional Center, NPR’s Intelligence Squared hosted a debate for broadcast on the limits of executive power, specifically is the president exceeding the constitutional powers of his office when, absent due process, he orders a fatal drone strike on an American citizen living abroad who is suspected of aiding or abetting terror plots that would harm American citizens or the homeland. Such was the case with the fatal drone strike executed against Anwar Al-Awlaki, a charismastic Imam and advocate for Jihad who was born in New Mexico.
The specific question being debated was not whether or not drone strikes are moral or legal, or even useful for advancing U.S. Foreign policy objectives, it was whether or not the president violated the constitutional rights of this particular American citizen. As per the premise of the show, the audience is polled about whether they are for or against the motion before the debate begins then again at the end. Before the debate, the audience vote tally was: 29% for, 44% against with 27% undecided.
March 04, 2014
Famed criminal defense lawyer, retired Harvard Law School professor and cable news gadfly Alan Dershowitz will be at the National Constitution Center tomorrow to debate the legality and ethics of drone strikes on American citizens. In advance of tomorrow’s debate, we got Mr. Dershowitz on the horn. DISCUSSED: When it’s OK for the President of the United States to order the assassination of an American citizen; his theory of a “Continuum Of Civilianality; why he is advocating for the court-supervised use of torture in so-called ticking time bomb situations; Zionism and how to resolved the Israeli-Palestinian crisis; is Edward Snowden a hero or villain; is mass surveillance of all American citizens constitutional under the Fourth Amendment; is O.J. Simpson innocent or guilty?
PHAWKER: Tomorrow, you’ll be at the National Constitution Center for the Intelligence Squared Debate. You’ll be arguing that President Obama was within the legal limits of executive power when he ordered the fatal drone strike on New Mexico-born Jihadist rabble-rouser Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. You will argue that the President can order the assassination of an American citizen absent any due process if he’s suspected of aiding and abetting the terrorists abroad in the killing of Americans. Can you summarize your argument for us?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Yes. I think that both international law and American constitutional law simply requires that the President determine under his war-power authority that the person targeted is a legitimate combatant, not a civilian. That’s the important line – the line is between combatant and non-combatant...
March 04, 2014
What if affirmative action actually hurts minorities?
Badger Pundit has the rundown on a debate at Harvard Law School over the proposition in the title of this post, Epic smackdown of affirmative action at Harvard — following debate, audience’s opposition rises nearly a third.
It’s a discussion that people on campuses don’t like to have. Good for Harvard Law School for hosting such a debate with well-qualified speakers arguing each side. Too often the argument against affirmative action is denegrated as racism.
A speaker in favor of the proposition argued that affirmative action is an “epic policy failure” because it actually hurts — not helps — minority achievement through lower graduation and professional accomplishment rates.
March 02, 2014
The president has the constitutional authority to target American citizens overseas.
This authority is derived from his war-making power as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. But this does not mean that the president has unfettered discretion to strike anyone he chooses.
The executive's war-making power is checked by the Founding Fathers' reservation in Congress of the power to declare war. The executive may not use this power unless authorized to do so by Congress.
March 02, 2014
The White House is once again weighing whether to kill an American citizen overseas as part of its "targeted killing" program.
This extrajudicial killing program should make every American queasy. Based on largely secret legal standards and entirely secret evidence, our government has killed thousands of people. At least several hundred were killed far from any battlefield. Four of the dead are Americans. Astonishingly, President Obama's Justice Department has said the courts have no role in deciding whether the killing of U.S. citizens far from any battlefield is lawful.
The president, it seems, can be judge, jury, and executioner.
February 28, 2014
Intelligence Squared presented a very lively debate last night at Harvard Law School — “Resolved: Affirmative Action On Campus Does More Harm Than Good.” Arguing for the motion were Gail Heriot, professor of law, University of San Diego School of Law and member, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; and Richard Sander, professor of law, UCLA School of Law. Arguing against the motion were Randall Kennedy, professor of law, Harvard Law School; and Theodore Shaw, professor of law, Columbia Law School.
The debate largely focused on Rick Sander’s empirical work, which tends to show that affirmative action actually harms its intended beneficiaries. Regular readers will recall that Rick guest-blogged about this provocative work two years ago.
It was particularly striking to see this prominent debate on the Harvard Law School campus–since, ironically, it can often seem, on elite campuses, that the very topic of affirmative action on campus is taboo.
February 28, 2014
A panel featuring Harvard Law School professor Randall L. Kennedy and others debated the pros and cons of affirmative action Thursday evening at the Law School’s Ames Court Room.
Arguing that affirmative action does more harm than good, University of San Diego Law professor Gail Heriot and University of California, Los Angeles Law professor Richard H. Sander asserted that affirmative action reduces the percentage of minorities who succeed at selective academic institutions.
On the opposing side, Columbia Law School professor Theodore M. Shaw and Kennedy argued in favor of affirmative action as a means of advancing university goals while benefitting the educational experiences of all students.
June 08, 2011
With world governments still reeling from the WikiLeaks fallout, acclaimed debate series Intelligence Squared US turned its attention to the balance between national security and freedom of the press. After watching the heated debate, IQ2US’s live, sold-out audience came down in favor of the Dershowitz/Sanger team, deciding against the motion that “Freedom of the press does not extend to state secrets”.