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W&M faculty in the media this month

  • Neal S. Devins
    Neal S. Devins  is the Sandra Day O'Connor Professor of Law at the William & Mary Law School. He was recently quoted in The Washington Post about the possible expansion of presidential powers by Donald Trump if elected to office.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Brian Beach
    Brian Beach  (right) is an assistant professor of economics at William & Mary. He was recently quoted by The Daily Press about politicians with business experience.  Courtesy Photo
  • John Hardin Young
    John Hardin Young  (right) is an adjunct professor of law at William & Mary. He was recently quoted by the U.S. News & World Report about voter turnout around the world.  Courtesy Photo
  • Dan Cristol
    Dan Cristol  is a Professor of Biology at William & Mary. He was recently quoted in Phys.Org about mercury poisoning in Alaskan shorebirds.  Courtesy Photo
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Following are selected examples of William & Mary faculty and staff members in the media. - Ed.

Donald Trump and the expanding power of the presidency

In a July 30 Washington Post article, Neal S. Devins, Sandra Day O’Connor Professor of Law at William & Mary, discussed the expansion of presidential powers.  

According to the Post, Donald Trump promised to take decisive action if elected to office. Possible measures would be the immediate suspension of immigration from countries known for terrorism and imaginable reneging of treaty responsibilities from the North American Treaty Organization (NATO). 

The article also noted that American presidents have been given many abilities from their predecessors that Trump could fulfill many of his promises legally and unimpeded by Congress.

“Every president expands the power of the presidency,” said Devins. “This is a constant pattern. They never shrink the presidency. A President Trump could say, ‘I’m going to use the Obama playbook’ and go pretty far. The difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is not going to be one of lawlessness but of the policies they pursue.”

But Devins also remarked, “No one knows what Trump would really do, which is why people are so freaked out. If he did push the boundaries dangerously, it really would depend on Congress, and it would take an awful lot for Republicans to join with the Democrats to assert themselves and slap him down.”

Alaska's shorebirds exposed to mercury

In a July 13 Phys.Org article, Dan Cristol, professor of biology at William & Mary, discussed why shorebirds in Alaska are being exposed to mercury.

According to the article, atmospheric circulation and other factors can lead to birds getting mercury poisoning due to the fact mercury that humans make tends to gather in the Artic. Mercury exposure can reduce birds' reproductive health and even be lethal.

"These species already face a lot of tough new challenges, from climate change to disappearing stop-over habitat,” said Cristol. “So throwing a neurotoxin in the mix that can reduce reproductive success is likely to harm their populations.”

Study: Business experience no predictor when it comes to local politics

In a July 5 Daily Press article, Brian Beach, associate professor of economics at William & Mary, talked about his study politicians with business experience.

The article states that in Beach’s paper, there is “no evidence that the election of a candidate with business experience generates an observable change in policy.”

Beach also found that city governments didn’t have increased or decreased spending on parks or roads when officials with business experience were elected.

Beach’s paper reported that a Gallup poll found that 81 percent of respondents believed the United States would be better managed if someone with "business or management experience" was in control.

"What we're saying is really that, if you're a naive voter … you might want to be a bit hesitant about that," Beach said.

Across the world, where are the voters?

In a July 1 U.S. News & World Report article, W&M Adjunct Professor of Law John Hardin Young discussed voter turnout in elections around the world.

According to U.S. News, voter participation rates in the United States are some of the lowest in the world, especially among minority groups and young people. The article also suggests that the U.S. isn’t the only country having trouble mobilizing voters.

It was noted that there are different attitudes between voters who live in newly established democracies and older ones. Those attitudes could revolve around the overall issues that is at stake. This was found most notably in Afghanistan which held its first presidential election in 2004, and Kenya in 2013.    

But Kenya and Afghanistan are countries “where voting is viewed as critical to evolution of a democracy, where voting is viewed as essential, where it makes a difference and people believe that the only way their life is going to be better is if they vote in a government that will do that," said Young.