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Last updateWed, 28 Oct 2020 1pm

Politics

Biden's Plan for Climate Change, Explained

default article imageWith the 2020 election underway, the climate crisis has proven itself to be a primary concern for many voters. As it stands, the world is on track to pass its “carbon budget” of 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, according to the IPCC’s 2018 Special Report on climate change. 

The key takeaway from the report was the daunting reality that we have just a decade to reduce our carbon emissions by at least 50 percent, in order to avoid irreversible, damage.

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Marijuana Is on the Ballot in New Jersey

Marijuana BallotThis election, as the country casts their votes for President, New Jerseyans are also flipping over their ballots to decide the fate of marijuana legalization in their state—and the numbers are trending toward the referendum being passed.

After a lengthy and unsuccessful campaign to legalize recreational pot at the level of the state legislature, the decision is being left up to voters in New Jersey as Public Question 1, the “Marijuana Legalization Amendment.” The ballot asks New Jerseyans to answer “yes” or “no” to this question: “Do you approve amending the Constitution to legalize a controlled form of marijuana called ‘cannabis?’”

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United Arab Emirates and Israel Sign Peace Agreements

United ArabsThe leaders of Israel, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates met at the White House on Sep. 15 to sign a treaty recognizing Israel’s sovereignty and normalizing their relations with it. The treaty known as the Abraham Accords (after the Biblical/Koranic patriarch), marks the first time in decades that two Arab countries officially established diplomatic ties with Israel.  

There were many positive reactions to the ceremony. Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the United Arab Emirates’ minister of foreign affairs, publicly stated, “I stand here today to extend a hand of peace and receive a hand of peace.” 

In addition, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “This is not only a peace between leaders. It’s a peace between peoples. Israelis, Emiratis, and Bahrainis are already embracing one another.” Since Bahrain and the UAE signed the treaty, Israel promised to end establishing settlements in the West Bank.

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Monmouth Poll: Law and Order Seen As Major Problem

Monmouth PollThe 2020 Election is taking place during a challenging time in America. Currently, the United States is facing three coinciding existential crises:  a pandemic that has stretched to every corner of the globe, the worst economy since the Great Depression, and a reckoning of racial injustice that has led to a polarizing perception of the issue of law and order.  

 To gain a better understanding of American’s feelings regarding the topic of law and order, the Monmouth University Polling Institute conducted a nationwide survey of 867 adults in an effort to analyze differing sentiments across a variety of demographics.

The data concluded that 65 percent of Americans view law and order as a major problem, compared to the 25 percent that see it as a minor one, and the remaining 8 percent that feel there is no issue at all. 

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Amy Barrett's Nomination Fuels Partisan Disputes

Amy BarrettJudge of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Amy Coney Barrett, was nominated by President Trump for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on Saturday, Sept. 26. 

Barrett graduated from Rhodes College and Notre Dame Law School. She taught at Notre Dame for 15 years and continues to teach part time. She is a conservative, Pro-Life judge, who Trump nominated to the 7th Circuit Appellate Court three years ago. 

 Randall S. Abate, Professor of Political Science and Sociology, explained how our political process works. He explained that Republican presidents nominate conservative justices and Democratic presidents nominate liberal justices.

“Elections matter. Trump’s appointees to the Supreme Court will have a profound influence on the interpretation of our Constitution for the next 30-40 years. It also was important to conservatives and liberals alike to replace Justice Ginsburg with a woman to maintain gender balance on the Court,” said Abate.

Jennifer McGovern, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor of Sociology, also weighed in on the vacancy and politicization of the ostensibly bipartisan process of selecting a Justice.

“Given the way that the Supreme Court vacancy has turned into a political battle,” she said, “I hope that Ginsburg’s passing inspires politicians to work towards finding a solution that has clear rules for nominating justices with respect to election timelines. I hope they can work together to develop a bipartisan solution that can be in place from this point forward.”

McGovern believes that the American people should play a role in the making of this decision.  “Democrats in the House are considering a bill on term limits,” she explained. “This is one solution, but I’d like to see a number of solutions proposed that might reduce partisanship and make American people feel like they have a voice in the process.”

Abate then gave his opinion on having a nomination for a new high court justice right before an election.  “I understand that the political party in control would seek to capitalize on that opportunity. I am concerned, however, that this very important confirmation process for the highest court in our nation is being rushed and conducted carelessly,” he said. “That concern would have been true even at the beginning of 2020, but it is a much greater concern just one month prior to the election.”

Abate explained how Barrett’s politics are very different from his, but there are many conservative jurists who he trusts to make decisions based on the merits of the disputes before them. 

“My concern about Barrett’s track record and candidacy is that she appears to be a ‘hired gun’ to cast the deciding vote to overturn a woman’s constitutional right to choose as established in Roe v. Wade when the opportunity presents itself,” said Abate. “Some are also concerned that the rush to get her nomination confirmed is to provide added support on the Court for Trump in the event that the 2020 election results are contested,” 

Matt Filosa, junior political science student, explained that the nomination of Barret to the Supreme Court is being ridiculed to the Supreme Court for two reasons. “First, it comes in the midst of an election season, where in 2016 a precedent was created by the Republican senate to hold off on nominations until after the election is held,” he said.”

He elaborated that in 2016, Republicans held off on Obama’s selection, Merrick Garland, to the court. Because of Trump being in office, Republicans feel that she should be nominated to the court as soon as possible, according to Filosa. He also said that there is backlash on social media over this because it is a double standard. 

“The second reason could be the issues at stake, her seat on the court will solidify a 6-3 conservative majority. Some people have raised concerns about things like Roe vs. Wade or the Affordable Care Act,” he said.

Filosa then gave his partisan perspective on Barrett’s nomination by saying it was very smart of Trump to nominate her and have her confirmed as soon as possible. The conservative base could solidify a judge for decades who can rule on issues that they advocate for.

“If she is confirmed by the Senate, she could sit on the Supreme Court for decades. This means that she is someone who will have significant influence on cases to come which is something that we all should care about. And that is up to people themselves to decide if they feel this is a person that should sit on our country’s highest court,” said Filosa.

 

IMAGE TAKEN from USA Today

An Analysis of the First 2020 Presidential Debate

Analysis DebatePresident Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden engaged in the first of three scheduled presidential debates on Tuesday, Oct. 3. Faculty speculate that the frequent interruptions by Trump were a strategy to derail the debate and draw media attention, but it may not have worked in his favor. 

Fox news anchor Chris Wallace moderated the debate and struggled to keep the candidates from interrupting each other during their fixed speaking time. Wallace appealed to Trump to respect the debate format his campaign agreed to, and he declared a segment over when Trump would not stop talking. 

“Trump is a handful to his advisers because he refuses to prepare, saying he’s been preparing during his four years in the White House, which is a cavalier statement as presidential debates require practice,” explained Joseph Patten, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Political Science.

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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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