BSS lecture considers court, cabinet & costs
December 4, 2008 10:16 PM
Students attended a Behavioral and Social Sciences lecture last night, with a discussion on what the future will bring for President-elect Barack Obama.
Held in Jack Adams Hall, the lecture began with an introduction by BSS Dean Joel Kassiola, who commented on the nomination of Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton.
“Who would have expected Senator Hillary Clinton becoming Secretary of State?" he said. "There have been a myriad of surprises all the way back to the beginning of the campaign."
The first speaker, assistant professor of political science Martin Carcieri, discussed who would have the most influence in the future of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Like former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, current Justice Anthony Kennedy is neither liberal nor conservative, and therefore the pivotal swing justice on the court, he said.
“The world belongs to Anthony Kennedy, and you and I just live in it,” Carcieri said.
The three issues most particular to the students are abortion, affirmative action and gay marriage, he said.
Carcieri said that the court could have overruled Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion rights case, but Kennedy has supported that ruling in the past. “If John McCain won the election, Roe v. Wade would have been toast,” he said.
He said affirmative action has historically split the court in two and the court has yet to weigh in on gay marriage. “Kennedy will be right in the middle,” he said.
Assistant professor of public administration, Eric Zeemering, also spoke at the lecture about Obama’s management agenda.
He said that the president is the top public administrator or the head bureaucrat, and that citizens generally don’t trust the federal bureaucrats. However, citizens are often satisfied with their individual interactions with bureaucracy, he said.
Zeemering’s presentation included a slide on the American National Elections Survey, which asked citizens to rate the level government wastes tax money.
When Zeemering asked the audience if the government wastes a lot of tax money, nearly everyone at the presentation raised their hands.
In a sense, “the president is the chief person in charge of wasting our money,” he said jokingly.
Zeemering also said there is skepticism that, because of the diversity amongst Obama’s cabinet and their range of diverse opinions, they will become rivals “too busy bickering with one another,” he said.
At the end of the lecture, students asked questions about the environment as well as the bailout and financial crisis.
Students were interested in seeing what the next four years will bring.
Danielle Flint, a freshman psychology major, said that, especially as a young voter, it was interesting to see “what is coming out of my ability to affect the electoral process and hear a prediction of where this administration is heading with their policies over the next four years—and hopefully eight.”
The lecturers “put complex theories and terms into words we can understand,” Flint said. She said she thought it was funny when Zeemering said the president is the key person in charge of wasting tax money.
“I liked the emphasis on the importance of the constitution—I have a new sense of hope,” said Al Aparicio, a junior biology major.
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