Scrolling Headlines:

Clock runs out on UMass men’s soccer’s dream season in NCAA opener -

November 17, 2017

2017 Basketball Special Issue -

November 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball prepares for transitional season in 2017-18 -

November 16, 2017

Author Viet Thanh Nguyen discusses how history and humanity is remembered -

November 16, 2017

CMASS completes seven-week discussion series -

November 16, 2017

UMass women’s basketball resets and reloads, looking to improve on last year’s record with plenty of new talent -

November 16, 2017

Matt McCall’s winding path to bring unity to UMass -

November 16, 2017

Carl Pierre is a piece to Matt McCall’s basketball program -

November 16, 2017

Why they stayed: Malik Hines, Chris Baldwin and C.J. Anderson -

November 16, 2017

McConnell chooses politics over morals -

November 16, 2017

Swipe right for love? Probably not. -

November 16, 2017

‘The Florida Project’ is a monument to the other side of paradise -

November 16, 2017

‘Thor: Ragnarok’ doesn’t have to be the best Marvel movie -

November 16, 2017

Thursday’s NCAA tournament rematch between UMass men’s soccer and Colgate will be a battle of adjustments -

November 15, 2017

Veteran belonging and the decline of American communities discussed by journalist and author at Amherst College -

November 15, 2017

‘UMass Cares About Cancer’ Hosts Blanket Making Event -

November 15, 2017

UMass women’s basketball heads to North Dakota for two games -

November 15, 2017

UMass football sets its sights on BYU -

November 15, 2017

UMass men’s soccer hosts Colgate in opening round of NCAA tournament -

November 15, 2017

UMass women’s basketball looks to improve from last season’s road record this weekend in North Dakota -

November 15, 2017

UPenn professor gives lecture on the growth of executive power at Smith College

(Caroline O’Connor/ Daily Collegian)

Claire Finkelstein spoke to a crowd of about 40 people at Smith College on Monday, discussing how recent presidents have ignored the rule of law to increase the power of the executive branch.

Finkelstein is the Algernon Biddle professor of law and philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania and the founder and director of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law, a nonpartisan organization that seeks to promote and protect the rule of law in America and internationally.

The lecture, entitled “Is the U.S. Becoming a Constitutional Dictatorship? Executive Authority and the Rule of Law in the Age of Trump,” was sponsored by the Louise W. and Edmund J. Kahn Liberal Arts Institute at Smith College, an organization that seeks to promote collaboration between faculty, students and experts on broad research projects.

Finkelstein’s main argument contended that presidents in the post-9/11 era have sought to gain power through ignoring the rule of law in the name of safety for American citizens. Finkelstein defined the rule of law as a concept where the control over power in a country comes from a set of laws rather than an individual or a group.

“The law is supposed to constrain what we do, and we are not adhering to the rule of law and acting according to rule of law values,” Finkelstein said.

“I’ll claim that is exactly what happened immediately following 9/11,” she added.

Finkelstein cited multiple examples of a rise in executive power in the aftermath of 9/11, such as George W. Bush’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques in Guantanamo Bay, and Donald Trump’s attempts to impose a travel ban on immigrants from certain nations.

Finkelstein also argued that President Barack Obama did not prosecute operators of enhanced interrogation techniques under the order of Bush in order to use the same justification for his own use of drone strikes on suspected terrorists.

In addition, Finkelstein related her claims of the disregard of the rule of law by the executive branch to Trump.

“The lack of moral character of the president, as well as a number of the officials with whom he has surrounded himself, have had a corrosive effect on public faith that law will be perceived by public leaders as a constraint,” she said.

Throughout her lecture, Finkelstein continually emphasized the importance of laws constraining the powers of members of the government.

“The willingness of political leaders to be constrained by law is an essential feature of law,” she said.

Following the lecture, Karen Remmler, a professor of German studies at Mount Holyoke College and an attendee of the lecture, said Finkelstein addressed crucial ideas on executive power.

“I thought it raised important points about the current administration, and also raised the question of how do we, as citizens, address violations or overuse of executive power,” she said.

John Harding, a lawyer for the state of New Hampshire, saw many implications of the lecture in his own work.

“[Finkelstein] presented viewpoints, arguments and facts that I really hadn’t encountered before presented in that way, so this was a fascinating lecture for me to hear, whether it was me just as a regular citizen or me as a lawyer,” he said.

Will Mallas can be reached at wmallas@umass.edu.

Comments
One Response to “UPenn professor gives lecture on the growth of executive power at Smith College”
  1. NITZAKHON says:

    Quote from the article:
    “…Donald Trump’s attempts to impose a travel ban on immigrants from certain nations.”

    Carter did the same thing against Iranians during the hostage crisis. A read of the law and precedents shows that this is absolutely within Executive Privilege.

    Quote from the article:
    “In addition, Finkelstein related her claims of the disregard of the rule of law by the executive branch to Trump.”

    You excoriate Trump, as is your right, without mentioning the obscene weaponization of the IRS by Obama? HA! Listening to a liberal lecture about the Rule of Law, let alone ethics and morality, is like listening to a hooker lecture about chastity and fidelity.

    I think it was Eisenhower who said “Imagine the political power you seek in the hands of your political opponent”. We Conservatives have been warning about that, especially vis a vis Obama, for years. All of a sudden, now, “Separation of Powers” and limits are hot topics since the shoe’s on the other foot.

Leave A Comment