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Politics

The Implications of Justice Ginsburg's Death

GinsburgSupreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died from complications of pancreatic cancer on Friday, Sept. 18, just six weeks before the presidential election. A replacement for the liberal justice will have serious implications for an array of cases the Supreme Court will hear in the near future. 

Ginsburg’s death afforded President Trump the opportunity to nominate a third conservative justice to the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, affecting the way the Court will rule for decades to come.

The addition of a sixth conservative justice could tip the scales on some particularly hot-button issues, namely the Affordable Care Act, discrimination laws, and women’s rights. Chief Justice John Roberts would no longer hold the controlling vote in cases often split along partisan lines. 

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Is TikTok a Threat to National Security?

TiktokPresident Donald Trump has been trying to make a deal to either ban the extremely popular app TikTok from the United States or remove the app from the control of the Chinese Government, since July. 

Donna Dolphin, an Associate Professor of Communication, explained that the official justification of the Trump Administration for blocking or controlling the TikTok app is that it is owned and operated by the Chinese government, which is hostile to the United States.

“Because of the way the app functions, it is easily possible for the operator to access additional personal data. In other words, it is possible for the TikTok app to be used as an instrument for espionage,” said Dolphin.

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An Analysis of Kenosha Shooting Suspect's Motives

KenoshaFollowing the police shooting of Jacob Blake, 17-year old, Kyle Rittenhouse, fatally shot two people and wounded another person at a protest in Kenosha, Wis. on August 25th.  Rittenhouse is facing charges for murdering two people.  

Kyle Rittenhouse’s attorney, John Pierce, says his client acted in self-defense.  

Johanna E. Foster, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Sociology, said, “Obviously, Rittenhouse, like all of us, is afforded the assumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law.  I do think the video images we have of Rittenhouse, similar to the images we have of police officers blatantly using deadly force on unarmed civilians, makes for a real challenge in proving his innocence for folks willing to put politics aside.”   

Foster then continued with, “That said, I think what is also important to raise up is that it a justice system that is truly equitable would give people of color the same presumption of innocence in cases, big or small, that is, rightfully so under the law, being afforded to Rittenhouse right now.” 

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Appeals Court Upholds Florida Law Baring Ex-Felons from Voting

Appeals

A federal appellate court ruled that Florida can bar ex-felons from voting if they owe court fees or fines related to their convictions, even if they are unable to pay, on Friday, Sept. 11.

The 11 Circuit Court of Appeals 6-4 ruling overturned a lower court’s ruling that negated parts of Florida’s GOP controlled legislature’s law that conditioned the right to vote for former felons on payment of all financial obligations associated with their respective sentences.

Chief Judge William Pryor wrote in the majority opinion that the law does not constitute a poll tax, rather “it promotes full rehabilitation of returning citizens and ensures full satisfaction of the punishment imposed for the crimes by which felons forfeited the right to vote,” he said. “Monetary provisions of a sentence are no less part of the penalty that society imposes for a crime than terms of imprisonment.”

Johanna Foster, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Sociology, said of the majority opinion, “On the face of it, that argument may sound reasonable, but Chief Justice Pryor most certainly knows the facts that people who have not paid court fines are disproportionately poor, and disproportionately people of color.”

“For people to be productive when they return to society, they need greater access to political power to organize and change the systems that make ‘productive citizenship’ a challenge,” she continued.

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Trump and Biden's Differing Approaches to Coronavirus

Biden and TrumpThe COVID-19 pandemic has affected everything in every aspect of life and now it could strongly impact the campaigns for the upcoming presidential election between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Stephen J. Chapman, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science, stated that the upcoming election will be approached very differently from both candidates. He stated that sitting presidents are going to want to shift the message away from anything that does not make them look good or professional.  

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What Does the Biden-Harris Ticket Mean for the Campaign

biden harrisDemocratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s selected Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate in a bid to win over moderate Republicans in the general election. 

Biden’s decision is consequential to his campaign as Harris is the first Black and Asian American women to run for vice president (VP) on a major-party ticket, at a moment where the nation is grappling with institutionalized racism. 

Joseph Patten, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Political Science, explained that Biden is attempting to thread a political needle: energizing his base by picking a non-white woman, as well as appealing to moderate Republicans who might break away from Trump since Harris is perceived as a political centrist, not a liberal Democrat. “Kamala Harris checks both boxes,” he said. 

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Trump and Media Butting Heads at Coronavirus Briefings

default article imagePresident Donald Trump seemed to get into arguments with reporters at the past few coronavirus task force briefings.

Patrick Murray, Director of the Polling Institute, stated that President Trump’s back and forth with the press is a deeply ingrained pattern now. “It plays well to his base but turns off most voters,” he said. “The problem is in the midst of a global crisis, the public has a desire to unify behind a leader. Trump’s continued attempts to focus on perceived enemies has cost him a lot of good will at the same time we see the poll ratings for governors and other world leaders jump in a positive direction.”

Murry continued to explain Trump’s claims are not helping him gain more advocates. “Trump’s inability or unwillingness to change his tone has cost him a big opportunity for gaining public support during this crisis,” said Murry.

Stephen J. Chapman, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Political Science, believes that this is a continuation of the president’s strategy with the press. “His constant need to control the messaging is apparent in the daily news conferences. This is illustrated in his attempts to redefine the timeline of his comments on the virus, pushing unproven medications, and at times being at odds with his medical experts,” said Chapman. “Any attempt by the press to highlight these facts has been met with forceful denials or ad hominem attacks on some journalists.”

In an interview on Brian Kilmeade Show, Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) stated that during this tough time, the country must come together. Crenshaw also added that journalists are going into the press meetings asking the president ‘gotcha’ questions which contributes to the “outrage culture.”

Chapman discussed how there is a noticeable opposite approach with certain news outlets, such as One America News (OAN) Network, who tend to offer more favorable coverage of the president. “The end-game of this type of strategy is to shape public opinion,” he said. “Trump is already receiving a rally around the flag effect, which is common during times of uncertainty for presidents to see a bump in approval, but he is attempting to further capitalize on it.”

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Presidential Candidates Propose Financial Transaction Taxes, Efforts to Regulate Wall Street Speculation

Presidential CandidatesDuring the 2016 presidential election both Democratic candidates, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), supported a financial transaction tax on Wall Street speculation. Four years later, most every Democratic presidential candidate supports such a measure in 2020.

Sanders introduced a bill (S. 1371) that would direct the proceeds to funding tuition-free public colleges and universities. Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg, and former Mayor of New York City Mike Bloomberg all support some variation of a financial transaction tax, in an effort to resolve wealth inequality and fund additional programs such as Medicare expansion.

According to Jeffrey Christakos, Chair of the Department of Accounting and Specialist Professor, The Wall Street Tax Act would impose a tax of 0.1 percent (or 10 basis points) on the sale of all three types of trades, whereas the Inclusive Prosperity Act would impose a 0.5 percent tax on stock trades, a 0.1 percent tax on bond sales, and a 0.005 percent tax on the sale of derivatives.

Some worry, however, that the tax could end up hitting average Americans who have 401(k) plans, health savings accounts, and 529 college savings plans. The Tax Foundation says that the tax would have both a direct and indirect effect on lower and middle-income people, not just the wealthy to whom the tax is directed.

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A Year Later: Trump's Economic Initiative for Women

Trump Initiative WomenUnder the leadership of Ivanka Trump, over 12 million women in the United States have been helped economically in the past year through the White House’s new Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP).

Last February, President Trump launched the initiative with an overview of this program to the public in hopes to inform them.

The goal of this program is to make women more economically successful in order to support themselves and their families.

Their motive with this is to spark overall economic growth and global solidity and tranquility. W-GDP’s main goal, however, is to help 50 million women under this order by 2025.

Since 12 million have been helped so far, their mission is to help roughly around 40 million and more. Jennifer McGovern, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies, said that it is a positive sign to see that Ivanka Trump has made efforts to increase women’s opportunities for work.

“Hopefully, many positive benefits will flow from these investments,” she said, noting that the cause is worthy but much of the investments are happening in other countries.

“It is important to be good global citizens and help women throughout the world, but we can’t forget that here in the United States, some groups of women are still excluded from the labor force for many reasons,” McGovern explained. “It would be great to see a similar investments made in education, training, and support of some of the most vulnerable groups here.”

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Democrat's Disaster in Iowa Leads Some Calling to Change

Democrats DisasterFor the Democratic Party, the Iowa caucus was supposed to be their springboard into primary season, with Iowa setting the tone for who voters would choose to be the nominee to take on President Donald Trump.

Instead, it turned into a picture of chaos, with reports of failed voting apps and unorganized voting precincts all playing out on national television on Tuesday, Feb. 3.

Nearly a week later, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg was declared the winner with 26.2 percent (13 delegates) of the votes, barely squeaking out a win over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who garnered 26.1 percent of the vote (12 delegates).

The only other candidates to gain more than 10 percent of the vote were Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren with 18 percent (8 delegates), former Vice President Joe Biden with 15.8 percent (6 delegates) and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar with 12.3 percent (1 delegate).

The reason for the week-long delay in results was due to a computer glitch in some of the mobile apps that the Democratic Party used to count votes.

Even as the votes were being tallied, officials from the Iowa Democratic Party were fielding complaints from poll workers who were having trouble using the app.

While state officials had a backup plan to count each vote manually, it meant that the results could not be reported in real-time and would only slowly become available over the next few days.

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President Trump Issues Executive Order to Combat Human Trafficking in the United States

Human TraffickingPresident Donald Trump signed an executive order to combat human trafficking and online child exploitation last Friday, Jan. 31.

The White House seeks to strengthen and expand supportive services for victims of human trafficking such as medical assistance, housing and shelter services, and education and job training, among others.

The executive order will establish a public website to organize all of these resources needed to fight human trafficking.

The federal government will also be revamping the methodologies of targeting and locating the traffickers, with the goal to eliminate human trafficking in the United States completely.

The executive order designates the White House Domestic Policy Office to be completely devoted to fighting human trafficking, an initiative orchestrated by Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter.

The Domestic Policy Council is in the process of looking for someone to head the new full-time position. The office’s website will also provide public information to help prevent people from becoming victims of human trafficking.

“Human trafficking is an illegal and criminal activity that is happening in different countries and internationally,” said Saliba Sarsar, Ph.D., a Professor of Political Science.

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