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Brazil’s electoral reform: The more things change, the more they stay the same

Liz McKenna, Ph.D. Candidate, Sociology | December 16, 2017

This blog was originally published by Nexo and cross-posted by CLAS Berkeley. In the stream of sensationalist stories coming out of Brazil, electoral reform seems among the least newsworthy. The updated rules of the political game, however, reveal exactly how the deck gets stacked against democracy—and how incumbent elites tinker with institutions to consolidate power over … Continue reading »

Trump’s Jerusalem decision and its fallout

Mahmood Monshipouri, visiting associate professor, Middle Eastern Studies | December 8, 2017

President Trump’s announcement that the United States now officially recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has tossed the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians into a political tailspin on an unprecedented scale, while raising new tensions in the region and at worst, inciting a fresh round of violence:  in that this discursive disruption could … Continue reading »

Urging action to oppose GOP tax plans

Carol Christ, Chancellor | December 6, 2017

This post was co-authored with Fiona Doyle, UC Berkeley’s vice provost for graduate studies and dean of the graduate division. Right now, Congress is considering tax reform proposals that would harm the financial security of students and their families, and threaten the research, education, health care and public service missions of universities. Numerous provisions would … Continue reading »

Roots and branches of Honduras’ electoral crisis

Rosemary Joyce, professor of anthropology |

Observers from the Organization of American States have issued a preliminary report on the election that took place November 26, and is still unsettled. Even the short English summary exudes alarm about a profoundly flawed process: “The tight margin of the results, and the irregularities, errors and systemic problems that have surrounded this election do … Continue reading »

Punishing school students for online speech

William Turner, Lecturer in media studies | December 4, 2017

On November 29, a San Francisco federal judge untangled a really messy “school speech” case and ruled that students who posted or praised racist Instagram comments were not protected by the First Amendment. Judge James Donato decided that although the online posts, including “likes,” were “speech” under the First Amendment, the out-of-school posts were subject … Continue reading »

About last night: Honduras elections

Rosemary Joyce, professor of anthropology | December 2, 2017

Last night, the incumbent president of Honduras declared a state of emergency, suspending the constitutional guarantee of the right to move freely around the country. He ordered the armed forces and the police, whose militarization he has promoted, to remove protests that have closed roads, taken bridges, and occupied public spaces throughout the country. In … Continue reading »

Why Is the Supreme Court taking all these free speech cases?

William Turner, Lecturer in media studies | November 15, 2017

If the U.S. Supreme Court wanted to enlist the First Amendment to advance politically conservative causes, it’s certainly giving itself the opportunity this year. The court has complete, unreviewable discretion to choose the cases it will decide. It’s not random selection. Each term, the court agrees to decide only 70-75 cases, selected from about 8,000 … Continue reading »

Professors are losing their freedom of expression

Erwin Chemerinsky, Berkeley Law dean |

By Erwin Chemerinsky and Howard Gillman, chancellor and professor of law and political science at UC Irvine With so much attention focused on whether controversial speakers such as Milo Yiannapoulos or Richard Spencer should be allowed to appear on campus, an even more basic issue has been obscured: universities punishing faculty who, outside of professional … Continue reading »

Explaining Orthodox Jews’ growing support for the Trump presidency

David Henkin, professor of history | November 9, 2017

(This is cross-posted from the site, Public Books, where it appeared as the 24th installment of The Big Picture, a public symposium on what’s at stake in Trump’s America, co-organized by Public Books and NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge.) Exit polls conducted during the 2016 election yielded a fact about the political allegiances of American Jews that … Continue reading »

Who’s talking to whom about free speech?

William Turner, Lecturer in media studies | November 8, 2017

I came across this picture of the current Supreme Court justices. It must have been taken in an unguarded moment just before their annual formal portrait. In my imagination the justices are chatting about their views on the First Amendment. It looks as though Clarence Thomas is trying out one of his unorthodox theories of … Continue reading »

Trump’s unintended support for immigrant civil rights?

Sarah Lakhani, law student and Human Rights Center fellow | November 1, 2017

Amid the predictably restrictive border policies enumerated in President Trump’s seven-page document recently delivered to Congress is a proposal to hire 370 additional immigration judges to ostensibly “ensure swift return of illegal border crossers.” While on the surface this may sound like another brick in the anti-immigrant border wall being constructed by the Trump administration, … Continue reading »

Trump can pardon Manafort. He shouldn’t

John Yoo, law professor | October 31, 2017

The indictments on Monday of the former Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates has some prominent conservatives openly considering desperate measures. The Wall Street Journal editorial board called on the special counsel who handed up the indictments, Robert Mueller, to resign, arguing that he lacks the “critical distance” to carry out the inquiry. So did … Continue reading »

When religion ‘trumps’ reproductive rights, enter public health

Alexandra Carter, Human Rights Center fellow and graduate student | October 24, 2017

For decades now, advocates for religious and reproductive rights have argued their morality on the grounds of women’s health. The latest crusade comes with Trump’s announcement to expand religious accommodations and overturn the contraceptive mandate under the Affordable Care Act. Effective immediately, the federal rules allow employers, and now universities, to deny women contraceptive coverage … Continue reading »

Taxpayers, indirect subsidies and influencing America’s gun lobby

Brian DeLay, Associate professor of history | October 10, 2017

After Stephen Paddock opened fire on Las Vegas concertgoers on Oct. 1, many people responded with calls for more gun control to help prevent mass shootings and the routine violence ravaging U.S. neighborhoods. But besides a rare consensus on restricting the availability of so-called bump stocks, which Paddock used to enable his dozen semi-automatic rifles to fire like machine guns, it’s unclear if anything meaningful will … Continue reading »

What is hate speech?

George Lakoff, professor emeritus of linguistics | October 3, 2017

I have been asked what hate speech is. It is not exactly hard to detect. Hate speech defames, belittles, or dehumanizes a class of people on the basis of certain inherent properties — typically race, ethnicity, gender or religion. Hate speech attributes to that class of people certain highly negative qualities taken to be inherent … Continue reading »

Global forced migration and the entanglements of race, state power, capitalism and environmental change

Hossein Ayazi, graduate student and Haas Institute research assistant | September 28, 2017

When people think of forced migration today, what might they think of? Most might think of the “European refugee crisis.” And why would they not? In 2015, over 1.3 million people arrived at Europe’s borders by way of the Mediterranean Sea, the largest wave of forced migration in nearly a century. Most might also think … Continue reading »

It’s the German economy, stupid! Economic inequality, not immigration, explains far right rise in Germany

Beverly Crawford, Professor emerita, Political Science and International and Area Studies | September 27, 2017

The surprise showing of the far-right nationalist party, Alternativ fuer Deutschland (AfD) in Sunday’s German election has struck fear in the hearts of many analysts. Is Germany’s liberal democracy and society simply a thin veneer covering the monster of virulent nationalism that has long been crouching in the dark, waiting for its chance to attack? … Continue reading »