U of L Provost hosts panel to discuss presidential succession Wednesday, Jan 20 2021 

By Eli Hughes–

University of Louisville Provost Beth Boehm hosted a forum on Jan. 12 that was focused on the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election and what to expect going forward.

The conversation was held virtually and moderated by Brandeis School of Law Dean Colin Crawford. The panelists included Vice President for University Advancement Jasmine Farrier, visiting professor at the Brandeis School of Law Eugene Mazo, and political science chair and professor Jason Gainous.

The forum began with a chance for each of the panelists to give an opening statement. Farrier started her statement with a glimpse into her scholarly perspective on political theory. “When I was in college, as an undergraduate, I found political theory to be fascinating because political theory asks everyone to think about what humans are made of,” Farrier said.

“When humans form community, we get the good and the bad. We get power, we get strength, we also get victimized,” she said. “We also have to realize that society can only survive if you treat the losers with dignity and with fairness.”

She continued her statement by discussing the constitution and what it means to apply this very old document to modern life. She also discussed her particular area of interest, separation of power and how that topic related to the current political moment in terms of the limitations on a president and the limitations on Congress.

Mazo began by discussing his background and how it led to his interest in democracy.

“I am a scholar of the law of democracy. This comes out of my personal heritage. My parents were refugees who moved here from an authoritarian country and so I have never taken our democracy for granted and I’ve spent my professional career studying it,” Mazo said. “I’m interested in what it means to have a democracy. I’m interested in how democracies are created, how they function, and how democratic disputes are resolved, in this country at least, by the courts, and what tools the courts use to resolve those disputes.”

He went on to discuss the factors that made the 2020 presidential elections different from any other. Mazo said that the pandemic had a tremendous impact on the way elections were conducted this year and brought up numerous challenges related to the voting system that states had to resolve.

He also pointed out that this presidential election was unlike any other in the recent history of the United States because one of the candidates refused to concede the election and now a large amount of Americans feel like the election was stolen. Mazo concluded his introductory statement by posing the question: “What should we do as a society to move forward and to begin to heal after the events of last week, or should we say, after the events of last year?”

The last panelist to give an opening statement was Gainous, who began his statement by discussing how his area of interest fits into the focus of the forum.

“What is fascinating in studying information effects across time is that we started off as scholars of information technology believing that the internet was going to be a democratizing force,” Gainous said. “It was going to open up avenues for communication between citizens and legislators, it was going to break the chains of censorship in autocratic contexts. We thought all of this to be true, and what we found, across time is that we were wrong.”

Gainous continued to say that the current environment of the internet makes it possible for people to keep themselves in their own little bubbles and leads them to surrounding themselves with information that reinforces whatever they want to believe. He then went on to make the case that storming the capitol would have made sense if the people involved were correct in their beliefs.

“I believe that the storming of the capitol, in many ways, is a completely rational behavior. It seems completely crazy and irrational to us, but when I say rational, if indeed the things that these people believe have happened, then that seems like the American thing to do. We’ve done that across the course of our history. The problem is that the things that they believe are not true,” Gainous said.

The panelists then moved on to the questions and answers section of the discussion where they discussed numerous legal options available to Congress and the president in the remaining days of Donald Trump’s presidency.

The moderator began this discussion by asking Farrier about the possibility of the president issuing a self-pardon. Farrier responded that it wasn’t clear if the pardon could be used this way, and even if it can, this would only clear the president of federal crimes he may have committed and not prevent him from being charged in any particular state.

Mazo was then asked if he believed the lawsuits the president’s administration brought up related to the election were frivolous and what purpose they serve, if any. He replied by saying that he believed many of the lawsuits to be frivolous, but some of them were founded on reasonable legal theory, they just weren’t filed in the correct way.

Farrier was then asked if the fact that Trump appointed judges refused to hear his case was surprising. She replied that it wasn’t surprising because judges tend to be careful about keeping their legitimacy instead of leaning in an overtly partisan way.

Gainous also went on to argue that if the point of filing the lawsuits was to get people to believe the election was fraudulent, then they were successful. He said that just the filing of the lawsuits, even though nothing came of them, was enough to convince many Trump supporters that the election was fraudulent.

The panel went onto discuss impeachment, censure, expulsion, and eliminating eligibility from office. The day after this panel took place, Trump became the first president to be impeached twice.

The full forum can be found on the U of L Alumni Facebook page.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Storming of the Capitol exposes biases of federal government Tuesday, Jan 19 2021 

Catherine Brown–

The riots at the Capitol building on Jan. 6 are inexcusable. But the government needs to answer for its own hypocrisy when hundreds of white protestors can storm their way into a federal building trashing political offices, looting and even killing 5 people, while peaceful Black Lives Matter protests were constantly victim blamed, shot at and even killed for standing up for their right to live.

Sadly, I agree that white supremacists who staged an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol based on unfounded conspiracy theories were being treated differently than Black Lives Matter protesters in Washington this past summer,” said University of Louisville political science professor Dewey Clayton.

“It should not matter whether they were Trump supporters or not,” Clayton said. “They were engaged in lawless activity — a mob going after anyone not supporting their attempt to overturn a lawful election.  This country has a history of treating Black and White protesters differently even when the Black protesters are engaged in lawful peaceful protest and the White protesters are engaged in lawlessness.”

It’s clear that there is privilege afforded to the protestors who participated in the recent riot. 

On what he thought of the news when he first heard about it, Clayton said that he was shocked, but not surprised. “President Trump has released racial hatred since he became president and this was predictable as we saw his behavior and that of his supporters at his rallies.”  

“The band of insurgents carried Confederate flags into the U.S. Capitol, Tea Party flags, Trump flags and American flags as they threatened the safety and lives of our elected members of Congress and attacked Capitol Police,” Clayton said. “One of the greatest threats to our democracy today is not from foreign invasion but from domestic terrorism from white supremacists within this country.  Too many in the administration have remained quiet for too long — some have now resigned, though too late.”

Clayton said it is unlikely that Vice President Mike Pence will invoke the 25th amendment, which members of the House across party lines have called for.  And as Clayton predicted, Vice President Mike Pence did not invoke the 25th Amendment against President Trump. 

Despite this, President Trump was not let off the hook for the incident on Capitol Hill. As the House moves forward with a second impeachment trial, several media corporations, including Twitter, Facebook, and Google have already suspended or banned Trump from their platforms. “Our democracy is shaken but it will hold,” Clayton said.

This incident will be yet another example of how we continue to fail Black Americans and stifle Black voices. We shouldn’t tolerate this racial bias because it could lead to even more casualties in the future. Don’t accept this incident as yet another American tragedy because of this country’s history in discrimination. 

Use it to make your voice heard against the injustices that prevail.

Photo Courtesy of Tyler Merbler 

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COVID could have been over by now if we held ourselves accountable Wednesday, Jan 13 2021 

Catherine Brown–

In just a few weeks, it’ll mark the one year anniversary since the WHO declared COVID-19 a global health emergency and only a few months out from being declared a pandemic. If we took collective responsibility to be safe, we probably could’ve ended this months ago.

It’s safe to say that when the pandemic started, nobody had a clue that it would last as long as it has. As we approach the ‘1 year’ mark, maybe we should reflect on what we could’ve done right to prevent this.

First, lack of mask wearing. Unfortunately, wearing masks has become a political hot topic since they were first mandated in public places. 

Patrick Van Kessel and Dennis Quinn, researchers for the Pew Research Center, found that Democrats and Republicans have been divided on masks for different reasons.

For Democrats, the major drawbacks for mask-wearing included the concern that other people were not wearing their masks. 

For Republicans, the concern is that they’re unnecessary and don’t actually work.

Political skepticism alone has created so much of a divide on handling COVID-19.

U of L requires that students wear masks on campus and in public spaces. 

But that also leaves certain areas on campus susceptible to spread coronavirus. Dining areas, the library and housing are all at risk for spreading the virus as students often take their masks off in indoor areas, often within close proximity. 

And it’s no secret by now that there have been parties held near campus resulting in multiple positive cases

Traveling has also been a huge issue. Within the last year there have been several major holidays in which traveling is common, including Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Many U of L students have taken advantage of the university’s holiday breaks. While the main campus hasn’t been nearly as crowded in the last semester, many students are, in fact, coming back to campus after traveling. We see that after these breaks, there are always spikes in COVID-19 cases that appear on the university’s testing dashboard.

During these breaks, vacation hotspots like Florida or South Carolina were still busy with tourists. 

Those that continue to travel for leisure or other non-business reasons are blatantly disregarding the suggestions of numerous state governors. 

Because of this, the virus has reached so many more people and now we all have to face the consequences by continuing to quarantine, work through online classes and follow strict guidelines in public as well as within the university.

In the meantime, if you plan to return to campus at any point during the semester, particularly after recently after winter break, you need to get a COVID-19 test.

We could’ve slowed the spread of coronavirus months ago if we’d all done our part and enforced the safety precautions like wearing a mask, keeping socially distant and not traveling unless absolutely necessary. If you’ve traveled anywhere with a high volume of COVID-19 cases, please be responsible and do not return to campus until you have quarantined and been tested. 

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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‘It’s unacceptable.’ | Attorney General Daniel Cameron discusses D.C. riots Wednesday, Jan 13 2021 

Cameron said while prosecuting rioters might not directly fall under his jurisdiction, he does support the move.

        

This is how Kentucky’s impeachment of Gov. Andy Beshear will play out Tuesday, Jan 12 2021 

'The committee was formed because it is legally required to be formed. No one should get excited nor upset that the committee has been formed.'

        

Kentucky lawmakers plan to file bills addressing police response to social justice protests Sunday, Jan 10 2021 

Lisa Willner (D-35) and Attica Scott (D-41) say the bills look to limit intimidating and potentially harmful tactics used by law enforcement during protests.

        

Citizens’ petition for Gov. Beshear’s impeachment prompts Kentucky House to form committee Saturday, Jan 9 2021 

The petition includes mention of Beshear's orders prohibiting in-person worship, business closures, the travel ban and more.

        

Kentucky lawmakers vote to give AG power to regulate abortion clinics Saturday, Jan 9 2021 

The Senate voted 30-5 Saturday to send the measure to Gov. Andy Beshear. The governor vetoed similar legislation in 2020.

        

Governor Beshear’s budget address delayed after mob breaches U.S. Capitol Wednesday, Jan 6 2021 

The governor will deliver the address Thursday, January 7.

        

Kentucky Republicans push bills targeting governor’s emergency powers and protect businesses from COVID-19 shutdowns Wednesday, Jan 6 2021 

Gov. Andy Beshear, in his press briefing Tuesday said he hasn't read the republicans' bills and that his focus is on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

        

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