Recent Commentary from Inter Alia

YLPR’s online edition
Kris Olson
Saturday, March 30, 2019 - 1:30pm

President Donald Trump’s sometimes turbulent relationship with his now-former Attorney General Jeff Sessions drew the attention of the country, but how unusual was it really? As the head of the Department of Justice, the AG is tasked with ensuring appropriate administration of justice, but, as a political appointee removable at will by the President, the AG is also intrinsically tied with the politics of the administration.  Throughout the last six administrations, different AGs have reacted in various ways to the tensions created by these two roles–each earning their own moniker: The Foxtrotter. The Wingman. The Co-Conspirator. The Company Man. The Stand-Up Lady. The Witness. The Wallflower. 

Carl Tobias
Tuesday, November 20, 2018 - 7:30pm

Justice Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation process exacerbated the striking divisiveness, rampant partisanship, and stunning paybacks that have systematically plagued the federal judicial selection process. The Senate basically ended any true debate when the Republican majority peremptorily detonated the “nuclear option” for Supreme Court nominees. This measure limited filibusters regarding all judicial nominees, allowing a simple majority ballot to confirm a nominee. One century-long practice that does remain is the “blue slip.” Under Senate tradition, whenever the President submits a federal district or appeals court nominee, the Judiciary Committee Chair sends a blue slip of paper to each senator who represents the state in which the nominee will sit, and those senators can delay the nomination by refusing to return the slip. However, recent changes in the blue slip practice by Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), powerful support for Grassley’s perspectives regarding slips from many Republican senators, and new threats by other GOP members to abrogate or change blue slips merit scrutiny. Elimination or alteration could jeopardize the Senate’s discharge of its constitutional responsibility to advise and consent on presidential nominees and undermine the institution itself.

Alda Yuan
Wednesday, August 15, 2018 - 12:15pm

Cheap genetic sequencing, big data, and advanced biotechnology have the potential to revolutionize healthcare, but they also raise health data privacy concerns. They permit the emergence of derived data, which is unknown to the individual it describes and obtained through the analysis of existing data, both related and unrelated to healthcare. Derived data implicates the effectiveness of informed consent, the current method to protect patient privacy. Patients, research subjects, and consumers cannot reasonably consent to sharing, analysis, or use of data they do not know exists. To protect privacy rights while enabling progress in healthcare, regulations which now conceptualize data in silos must properly contend with 21st century data processing capabilities to link distant and seemingly unrelated data to form a more compete whole.

Kevin J. Fandl
Monday, January 29, 2018 - 9:00pm

Many young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, affectionately known as “Dreamers,” enjoy substantial protection from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. President Trump’s administration is attempting to withdraw this protection, purportedly in an effort to promote the rule of law by limiting executive overreach into matters of congressional concern. This Essay argues that the attempted rescission of DACA is not only out of step with broadly held American values, but premised on a flawed vision of the relationship between the legislative and executive branches. Our constitutional tradition wisely grants the President flexibility to make social policy through enforcement discretion, within the broad legal contours drawn by Congress. DACA is a legitimate exercise of that presidential power.

Amanda Parsons
Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 12:45pm

In September 2016, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden released a discussion draft of a “Retirement Improvements and Savings Enhancements Act” that would reform retirement planning policy. Among the proposed reforms is ending “backdoor” Roth individual retirement account (IRA) conversions. Backdoor Roth IRA conversion is a method for higher-income taxpayers to avoid the income limits for Roth IRA contributions by rolling funds from a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA. This method provides a variety of tax advantages for taxpayers, including paying no tax on investment gains and avoiding required lifetime distributions.