Friday, October 10, 2008

The Teaching Assistant - Reading the Web so You Don't Have To

Hello fellow law professors.  As you know, the Law Professor Blogs Network is dedicated to promoting teaching and scholarship.   After giving it some thought, I realized that it might be helpful to summarize what's out there on the "internets" that might be helpful to someone teaching this subject.  This week's topic is inspired by the news.  As reported by my wondeful co-bloggers, in the vice-presidential debate, Sarah Palin and Joe Biden debated about the proper scope of Executive authority.  Additionally, today Governor Palin was found to have abused her power in the firing of a state trooper.  So it seems that the executive branch should be the focus for the first Teaching Assistant post.

What's out there . . .

Johnathan Adler of The Volokh Consiparcy reports that the D.C. Circuit ruled in the case of Committee on the Judiciary v. Miers.  Summary:  The House Judiciary Committee would like to obtain information from White House Counsel Harriet Miers (yes, that Harriet Miers) concerning the firing of nine U.S. Attorneys (yes, those U.S. Attorneys).  In defending the request, Miers is relying on exective privilege.  The District Court did allow a limited assertion of the privilege, and the Court of Appeals granted a motion for stay pending appeal today.   The District Court's original case (reported at 558 F. Supp. 2d 53 (D.D.C. 2008)) provides a great recap of the doctrine of executive privilege and explains why Ms. Miers is not entited to abolute immunity.  It might be a good way to make this issue relevant to your students.

Since we're talking about investigations, Slate's "Explainer" section answers a question your students may have asked:  What's the difference between a special prosecutor, a special counsel, and a special attorney?  The piece explains the history of special prosecutors in the United States (Teapot Dome!) and also provides a great jumping off point for discussions of prosecutorial independence and the removal power.   Students will appreciate the historical background and the modern-day spin.

Jack Balkin at Balkinization has an interesting piece called "The Five Worst Supreme Court decisions of the Past 50 years."  Prof. Balkin's Number 1 case is Clinton v. Jones.   This could be an interesting starting point for that discussion in your courses.

Steven Griffin, also at Balkinization, has a great post on the Youngstown case.  His take?  That Youngstown should not be limited to the President's "domestic powers," but rather should apply to all exercises of presidental authority.  Well worth the read.   (Note:  Professor Griffin begins the piece by noting an article by Patricia L. Bellia in the new book Presidential Power Stories, edited by Christopher Schroeder and Curtis Bradley. I just recieved my advance copy today and should be reading it soon.  I'll be sure to post back with comments.   From my brief skim of the book this afternoon, I feel that it is going to be a great benefit in the classroom, just as the rest of the Stories series.)

That's all for this week.  Stay tuned next Friday when your humble Teaching Assistant will return with another report.  Happy Weekend! 

NLS

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