Osher@Dartmouth Summer Lecture Series will be available to Camden Conference members through the Member Portal

The Summer Lecture Series “Critical Thinking for the Preservation of Our Democracy” presented by Osher@Dartmouth will be streamed on our website through the member portal beginning on July 18. The programs will be available one week after the live events. Members will be able to watch through the portal at their convenience.

Recently there has been a sharp decline in critical thinking – listening thoughtfully and evaluating different points of view objectively on an issue. Rather, partisan and often uncivil tribal loyalty is dominating the discourse, and Americans are more and more getting their information and opinions from media vehicles that already agree and reinforce their going-in opinions. Other points of view are ignored.

Each session will be a debate where both sides of each issue are covered, thus demonstrating critical thinking in action. For each debate there will be a moderator and two speakers representing different points of view on the issue.

July 18: Freedom of Speech
Speaker: Owen Fiss, Professor of Law, Yale Law School
Speaker: Akhil Reed Amar, Professor of Law, Yale College and Yale Law School
Moderator: David Bisno, Constitutional law scholar
Freedom of speech, enshrined in the First Amendment, grants all Americans the liberty to speak their minds without the fear of being censored or persecuted. But there are limitations, and lawmakers and judges continue to struggle with balancing free speech protections with the necessity of maintaining a civil and peaceful society. Should inflammatory hate speech be allowed? Should an invited guest at a college be shouted down, threatened, or even physically abused because of radically opposing views? Confrontations are escalating.
July 25: Gun Rights
Speaker: Joseph Blocher
, Professor, Duke Law School
Speaker: Erin Murphy, Partner and Litigator, Kirkland & Ellis law firm
Moderator: John Garvey, Professor, UNH School of Law
The Second Amendment to the Constitution established that “a well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. Nowhere does it define “arms”, and it neither permits nor denies gun ownership for private purposes. In 2008, the Supreme Court decided that individuals have an inherent right to own handguns for lawful purposes. But does “handguns” include assault rifles? And Sandy Hook and other tragedies have raised the profile of the gun rights issue to our schools and churches. Is it legal to monitor everyone who has been treated for mental illness?
August 1: Affirmative Action
Speaker: Adam Mortara
, Partner, Bartlit Beck law firm and Lecturer, University of Chicago Law School
Speaker: Neal Katyal, Partner, Hogan Lavells Law Firm; Professor of Law, Georgetown University
Moderator: Dan Benjamin, Director, John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, Dartmouth College
Most U.S. colleges are implementing special Affirmative Action admission policies where academic achievement is only one factor, designed to generate a student body with more economic, racial, sexual, and global diversity. They claim their broader student diversity pool results in enhanced multicultural understanding and critical thinking. Opponents of these policies claim they unfairly discriminate against applicants with better academic qualifications, and thus are a violation of civil rights laws. Several Asian-American students among this group have just sued Harvard, alleging racial discrimination. What are the legal merits of each position?
August 8: Freedom of the Press
Speaker: RonNell Andersen Jones
, Professor of Law, University of Utah Quinney College of Law
Speaker: Andy Phillips, Partner and Litigator, Clare Locke law firm (DC)
Moderator: Richard Tofel, President of ProPublica, a non-profit investigative journalism organization in NYC
Freedom of the press has been regarded as an essential right in a democracy in which the government is accountable to the people. A free media can be a watchdog that reports government wrongdoing, and it can be free to promote different and sometimes radical opinions on issues. Recently, as the media have proliferated and we have entered the digital world, many of them have reported blatantly inaccurate and “fake news”. Some dark websites have become a forum for bigots, spewing hate rhetoric and inciting unlawful violence. Should some limitations be imposed?
August 15: Individual Privacy
Speaker: Jennifer Daskal
, Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law (DC)
Speaker: Neil Richards, Professor of Law, Washington University in St. Louis Law School
Moderator: Peter Teachout, Professor of Law, Vermont Law School
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution restricts actions of the government to intrude into the privacy of its citizens, ensuring their security in their persons, houses, and property, and their protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Law enforcement officers in today’s digital world, however, have found new ways to track individuals and get possible incriminating data without a warrant. Authorities and social media can pervasively use an individual’s personal data to track that person’s behavior and communications. Should limits be placed on these actions?
August 22: Voting Rights
Speaker: Debo Adegbile
, Partner, Wilmer Hale Law Firm
Speaker: Bradley Smith, Professor of Law, Capital University Law School
Moderator: John Greabe, Professor of Law, UNH Law School
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed all discriminatory voting practices that denied people the right to vote. But some states have enacted practices that can suppress voter rights – literacy tests, ID cards, residency requirements, purges of voter rolls, and gerrymandering. Are these suppressions legal? And, in 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations and special interest groups have a free speech right to spend unlimited amounts of money in elections. This can drown out other voices and diminish the ability of many voters to hear other views and thus make reasoned decisions.

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