Poll the Professors

MSU Debate will occassionally reach out to professors on campus whose academic work intersects with the college debate topic. Below you can find those responses.
  • Matthew Fletcher, MSU College of Law
    MSU Debate Polls the Professors is an ongoing series where students from the MSU Debate Team interview professors and faculty at Michigan State to augment their yearly research. The year-long college debate resolution this year is “Resolved: The United States should legalize all or nearly all of one or more of the following in the United States: marihuana, online gambling, physician-assisted suicide, prostitution, the sale of human organs.” As part of the team’s research efforts, students ask questions pertaining to the topic of professors from Political Science, Philosophy, Criminal Justice, and Law.

    Matthew L.M. Fletcher is Professor of Law at Michigan State University College of Law and Director of the Indigenous Law and Policy Center. He is a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians,  located in Peshawbestown, Michigan. He is the Reporter for the American Law Institute’s Restatement, Third, The Law of American Indians. He sits as the Chief Justice of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Supreme Court and also sits as an appellate judge for the Grand Traverse Band, the Hoopa Valley Tribe, the Lower Elwha Tribe, the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, and the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska.

    MSU Debate: Could you explain a bit about federal supremacy and tribal sovereignty in the context of legalization? Would federal legalization of these items make it legal in areas administered by American Indians or would that need to be something that they would address separately? If, for example, the federal government legalized physician assisted suicide, would that still be criminal in areas under tribal jurisdiction?
    MF: Presumably if the feds legalized anything it would apply to Indian country. Indian tribes could, however, prohibit whatever the feds legalized and prosecute people under their jurisdiction for that activity. Those people are Indians pretty much exclusively.

    MSU Debate: This is somewhat contingent on the first answer but, some argue that federal legalization of marijuana would spur state decriminalization or legalization. Do you think there is the same spillover effect to tribal areas?
    MF: Yes and no. Many Indian communities are wracked with drugs and alcohol. In Wash state, the Yakama tribe is steadfastly against legalization. Other tribes are more open to it.

    MSU Debate: This is something I don't know much about but, are there legal concerns as it relates to state/federal legalization of online gambling given that there are American Indian casinos?
    MF: This is a huge concern for Indian tribes. They don’t want to be left out the market, so they lobby to be included like everyone else.
  • Charles O. Press, MSU Department of Political Science
    MSU Debate Polls the Professors is an ongoing series where students from the MSU Debate Team interview professors and faculty at Michigan State to augment their yearly research. The year-long college debate resolution this year is “Resolved: The United States should legalize all or nearly all of one or more of the following in the United States: marihuana, online gambling, physician-assisted suicide, prostitution, the sale of human organs.” As part of the team’s research efforts, students ask questions pertaining to the topic of professors from Political Science, Philosophy, Criminal Justice, and Law.

    Charles Press is a Professor Emeritus at Michigan State University. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, he completed his B.J. at the University of Missouri in 1948, earned his M.A. in Political Science at the University of Minnesota in 1951, and his Ph.D. in 1953. Press joined the Michigan State University Department of Political Science as an Assistant Professor in 1954, was promoted to Associate Professor in 1956, and to Professor in 1965. He is author of over thirty books and monographs, as well as numerous journal articles. His coauthored books include Democracy in Urban America (1961), The American Political Process (1965, 1969), Governing Urban America (1968, 1977), American Politics Reappraised: The Enchantment of Camelot Dispelled (1973, 1974), State and Community Governments in the Federal System (1979, 1983), and American Policy Studies (1981). In addition to co-editing Democracy in Urban America: Readings on Government and Politics (1961) and Empathy and Ideology (1966), he is the sole author of American Politics and Journalists (1988), Democracy in the Fifty States (1966), and The Political Cartoon (1981). Press is a past president of the Midwest Political Science Association. He currently lives in East Lansing, Michigan.

    MSU Debate:
    (1.) What would the implications to federalism be if the federal government legalized one of the areas in the topic (marijuana, physician assisted suicide, prostitution, online gambling and human organ sales) and left the issue for the states to decide?
    (2.) What are the issues that policy-makers need to be aware of when making decisions about what ought to be legal on a state and federal level? It seems like an issue fraught with state/federal balance concerns.
    (3.) On a more general level, what do you think about the states as "laboratories of democracy" argument that many make about U.S. federalism? What are the potential benefits or pitfalls to such a system? Do you see any benefits or pitfalls as it relates specifically to legalization issues?
    CP: Thè three arrangements in federal systems are
               Program administered solely by the national government - Social Security
                Program administrated cooperatives between national and states or private group -
                      The building of the interstates - The affordable care act  - usually the national sets
                       Standards and the states or private groups administer within the guidelines
                 Program developed and administered by the states or private groups

    >> Reform groups prefer national programs with no exceptions, but may have to settle for cooperative federalism as with the Affordable care Act or even worse settle for individual state action as was the case with women suffrage! prohibition, legalizing drugs, abolishing the death penalty, etc

    >> Some programs like building the interstates may have been considered too unwieldy for the national government to go it alone and there was the question of deciding the routes and the interchanges, something the locals had to be consulted on at the least.


    Note that most of the programs on your list were by tradition settled at the state level alone and all states had in effect set a national policy with little significant variations.

    The point is that a federal system allows both reform groups and those fighting reform, many strategies to choose from.

    As to the programs themselves.

    It seems to me our democracy is a system of regulated libertarianism.

    Governments are one source of regulation but without others life would be difficult.  To name some - the free market, religious values internalized, common sense, ettiquette, professionalism.

    Why do we need regulations - because in any libertarian system some of the strong exploit the weak.  Strong can be defined as having greater brute strength, more money, being of a privileged race, ethnic, religious, gender, etc group, not exercising self restraint,parenting, and you may think go others. I should have added some believe the unborn are exploited for the convenience of the born.

    The problem occurs in part, because contrary to simple democratic theory, only a small part of the population is politically attentive.  Unless an issue touches them directly or the exploitation becomes notorious as when that football player banged around his wife, they don't take the trouble to be informed because they have other demands on their time - choir practice, children, etc.  They like to think things are ok.  Thus when you take a poll and ask whether blacks are being harassed by police, the responses between whites and blacks differ significantly.

    When public opinion is aroused on an issue you get action as in the anti- smoking campaign - action by individuals, groups, cities, states, and the federal government.  But don't expect. Perfection.  For political reasons the federal government still, I think! pays subsidies to tobacco growers.   As Disraeli once observed, "England is not governed by logic, England is governed by Parliament."   One might add that the world is ruled by the fairly bright.

    All but are regarded as unimportant matters may be regulated.  There are no absolutes.  Despite the ACLU even civil liberties are regulated.  Lightly to be sure.  Take freedom of religion.  You can  preach anything you want - but no government established religion, and certain practices are prohibited like human sacrifice or polygamy.  But the Supreme Court and Congress are struggling with other regulation.

    So the question is one of which action may justifiably be regulated and by whom?

    The states are laboratories for experiments - some are democratic and some may in your view be anti-democratic and tsome, like trying a new way to pave roads, would be neither.  The Good Government types were fond of saying that there was no Republican or Democratic way to pave a road, but they didn't observe that there might be a difference in whose road gets paved.

    I feel like I haven't emphasized enough the prevalence of political compromise.  Elizabeth Warren describes how when setting up the Consumer Protection body on financial dealings they had to leave out auto dealers.  They recognized every congressman had a number in his district so opposition from the auto dealers might kill the bill.
  • Christopher E. Smith, MSU School of Criminal Justice
    MSU Debate Polls the Professors is an ongoing series where students from the MSU Debate Team interview professors and faculty at Michigan State to augment their yearly research. The year-long college debate resolution this year is “Resolved: The United States should legalize all or nearly all of one or more of the following in the United States: marihuana, online gambling, physician-assisted suicide, prostitution, the sale of human organs.” As part of the team’s research efforts, students ask questions pertaining to the topic of professors from Political Science, Philosophy, Criminal Justice, and Law.

    Christopher E. Smith joined the faculty of the MSU School of Criminal Justice in 1994 after previously teaching political science at the University of Akron and the University of Connecticut-Hartford.  His primary research interests are   judicial policy-making, the U.S. Supreme Court, court processes, and constitutional rights in criminal justice, especially prisoners’ rights.  He is the author or co-author of more than 20 books, including The American System of Criminal Justice (13th ed. 2013), Constitutional Rights:  Myths and Realities (2004), Law and Contemporary Corrections (2000), and Courts and the Poor (1991).  He is also the author of more than 100 scholarly articles that have been published in such journals as Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law, Criminal Justice Studies, Criminal Justice Policy Review, Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, Justice System Journal, and Boston University Public Interest Law Journal.

    MSU Debate: Some argue that prohibition enforcement for marijuana is too much of a burden and legalization would benefit law enforcement (by freeing up resources) but others argue that legalization would have adverse effects on law enforcement. What is the impact on law enforcement if the federal government legalizes marijuana? 
    CES: Unanswerable question--the burden of marijuana enforcement already varies dramatically by police department depending on how much of a priority the department places on enforcement of these laws--some don't enforce much since budget cuts have made them focus on more serious offenses, emergency medical response, etc.  As colorado has discovered, legalization opens up other problems--people more freely driving under the influence of marijuana, young children more easily gaining access via their parents, esp. Young kids going to the hospital after eating weed-laced brownies and other marijuana foods that they find at home.  Will there be increased robberies in some locations from marijuana stores? (as some have seen with medical marijuana stores).  Increased issues with other drugs if, as some claim, marijuana serves as a gateway to trying other drugs?  Really cannot predict accurately.

    MSU Debate: Much of your research centers around the Supreme Court and constitutional rights. If the Supreme Court were to strike down federal law that makes marijuana illegal (the Controlled Substances Act) what would the implications of such a decision be? Would it be challenged by the Congress? Would it have spillover effects on other federal statutes that might also be called into questions as a result? 
    CES: It is difficult to envision the basis for such action by the court--unless you got a majority to agree that this is an issue reserved to the states and congress has exceeded its authority.  If the supreme court suddenly decides to drastically reduce the power of congress by taking a more literalist approach to interpreting article i of the constitution, then this could affect a lot of laws.  However, in an age of post-9/11 anti-terrorism efforts, it is difficult to see a court effort to significantly limit congressional power, except with respect to specific partisan issues such as health care reform (which still survived in the court by one vote).  I cannot see the supreme court striking down the CSA.

    MSU Debate: More generally, we sometimes argue about the implications of a more conservative Supreme Court. Do you think that the make-up of the Court and decisions that it makes would meaningfully change if it were to move in a more conservative direction? How so? 
    CES: Sure--if a republican is elected president in 2016 and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (now age 81) leaves during that presidency, we would see more conservative decisions on a variety of issues for which liberals have recently held the line by a single vote.  Just look at any 5-4 decision with Ginsburg in the majority in the past decade and you're looking at the laws that could change.  On the other hand, if any of the conservative justices leave the court for health reasons before 2016, the liberal vote count could be strengthened by president Obama.  Our rights and other judicially-defined laws are determined by the quirks of fate that lead particular justices to leave the court at  moment when a particular individual happens to occupy the white house.

    MSU Debate: Some argue that justices are "political" and make decisions based on their political ideology and to balance past decisions. Is this something you agree with- why or why not?
    CES: Don't know what you mean by "balance past decisions"--but clearly political values influence all justices--not necessarily determining their votes in all cases, but a strong influence nonetheless--plenty of social science research to demonstrate that justices do not consistently follow specific theories of constitutional interpretation and that they are affected by other factors, such as political values.
  • David Rohde, MSU Department of Political Science
    MSU Debate Polls the Professors is an ongoing series where students from the MSU Debate Team interview professors and faculty at Michigan State to augment their yearly research. The year-long college debate resolution this year is “Resolved: The United States should legalize all or nearly all of one or more of the following in the United States: marihuana, online gambling, physician-assisted suicide, prostitution, the sale of human organs.” As part of the team’s research efforts, students ask questions pertaining to the topic of professors from Political Science, Philosophy, Criminal Justice, and Law.

    David W. Rohde is a University Professor Emeritus of Political Science. He received his B.S. from Canisius College in 1967 and his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester in 1971. Rohde joined the Department as an Assistant Professor in 1970,  was promoted to Associate Professor in 1973, and to Professor in 1978. He served as a University Distinguished Professor from 1992-1993 and from 1994 to 2005. Rohde is coauthor of Supreme Court Decision Making (1976), coeditor of Home Style and Washington Work (1989), author of Parties and Leaders in the Postreform House (1991), coeditor Why Not Parties? (2008), and coauthor of a series of fifteen books on U.S. presidential and congressional elections, the most recent of which is Change and Continuity in the 2008 and 2010 Elections (2012). Rohde is currently Ernestine Friedel Professor of Political Science and director of the Political Institutions and Public Choice Program at Duke University.

    MSU Debate: What effect, if any, do you think U.S. legalization of marijuana, physician assisted suicide, prostitution, online gambling or human organ sales would have on the midterm election? Are any of these issues that you could see having a meaningful pull on key races?
    DR: I think the only one of these issues that is actively involved in the midterms is legalization of marijuana. I believe it is on the ballot in at least two states, Alaska and I think Florida. Perhaps others. Plus there may be some residual effects in the states that have already legalized, like Colorado.

    MSU Debate: There is a state ballot initiative in Alaska to legalize marijuana and many have argued that it will cause more Democrats to turn out for that race and possibly tip the election for U.S. Senate there. Would you agree or disagree with that and why?
    DR: I think it is possible that this issue may have an effect on turnout where it is on the ballot, but it is hard to be more specific because so many other things affect turnout. Moreover, it is difficult to predict the direction of an effect because this issue could stimulate participation by both proponents and opponents. That said, I think many observers expect that it might stimulate more turnout among supporters because they are disproportionately young and young citizens are less likely than their elders to vote without such a stimulus.

    MSU Debate: What effect, if any, would state or federal legalization or marijuana before the election have on the U.S. Senate race in Alaska? I could see an argument that state legalization before the election would eliminate the drive for more voters to turn out (no need to vote for something that's already legal) but I could also see an argument that any sort of legalization would still energize a voting bloc because it shows that the candidate is in-line with what the voter is looking for.
    DR: Given that the expectation is mainly for a turnout effect, I think that legislative action in advance would probably reduce the incentives for turnout.
  • David L. Carter, MSU School of Criminal Justice

    MSU Debate Polls the Professors is an ongoing series where students from the MSU Debate Team interview professors and faculty at Michigan State to augment their yearly research. The year-long college debate resolution this year is “Resolved: The United States should legalize all or nearly all of one or more of the following in the United States: marihuana, online gambling, physician-assisted suicide, prostitution, the sale of human organs.” As part of the team’s research efforts, students ask questions pertaining to the topic of professors from Political Science, Philosophy, Criminal Justice, and Law.


    David L. Carter is a professor in the School of Criminal Justice and Director of the Intelligence Program at Michigan State University.  His expertise is in the areas of policing issues, violent crime control, law enforcement intelligence  and counterterrorism.  A former Kansas City, Missouri police officer, Dr. Carter was Chairman of the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, Texas for 9 years prior to his appointment at Michigan State in 1985.  He has served as a trainer, consultant, and advisor to many law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia on various law enforcement issues.  In addition, he has presented training sessions at the FBI National Academy, the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar (LEEDS), the International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest, Hungary; the United Nations Asia and Far East Institute (UNAFEI) in Tokyo; special programs for the Royal Thai Police, Hong Kong Police, the British Police Staff College at Bramshill, several British Police Constabularies and police “command colleges” of several states. He also served at the FBI Academy’s Behavioral Sciences Unit the first academic faculty exchange with the Bureau.  Dr. Carter is an Instructor in the Bureau of Justice Assistance SLATT program, author of the COPS-funded publication, Law Enforcement Intelligence: A Guide for State, Local and Tribal Law Enforcement; served as Project Director for three multi-million dollar national intelligence training programs funded by the Department of Homeland Security and co-Project Director of a National Institute of Justice grants to do a nationwide study on best practices and efficacy of law enforcement intelligence initiatives.  Dr. Carter was also Team Leader of two Department of Justice assessments of the Homicide Units at the New Orleans Police Department and Puerto Rico Police Department.  He is an Academic Fellow of the Foundation for Defending Democracies wherein he studied terrorism in Israel.  He is the author or co-author of five books and numerous articles and monographs on policing issues and is a member of the Editorial Boards of various professional publications.  Dr. Carter is also a member of the Justice Department’s Global Intelligence Working Group Training Committee and Privacy Committee

    MSU Debate: Some argue that prohibition enforcement for marijuana is too much of a burden and legalization would benefit law enforcement (by freeing up resources) but others argue that legalization would have adverse effects on law enforcement. What is the impact on law enforcement if the federal government legalizes marijuana?
    DLC: This question is more complex than it may seem - there is not single universal answer.  It will have a different effect on federal law enforcement than state or local law enforcement.

    In the "big picture" the current enforcement of marijuana laws does not cost most state and local law enforcement agencies much money -- most of the state laws and local ordinances on possession of marijuana are used when an officer happens to encounter marijuana possession.  Proactive drug investigations by state and local law enforcement virtually also go after sellers and distributors.  Generally speaking it is rare that marijuana is singularly targeted -- many drug distributors are supplying multiple types of controlled substances.  If marijuana is legalized, then that is simply taken "off the list" but there are plenty more drugs that remain illegal. In the practical daily world of policing, the effect of legalization would have minimal effect and would not free up resources.

    For federal law enforcement, legalization of marijuana is not a matter of ending an enforcement responsibility, but likely changing the focus.  If there is federal legalization of use and possession of marijuana, there will be new regulations on packaging, quality control, and taxes.  Federal law enforcement, such as DEA, will probably shift their focus from criminal law enforcement to compliance enforcement.  Most likely, The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) would take on a new responsibility for tax enforcement much like they do for tobacco. Legalization also does not mean that marijuana can simply come into the country without controls.  Just like their are regulatory, safety and tax controls on imported liquor, there will likely be the same for marijuana.  Hence ICE and the Border Patrol will still seize marijuana that is smuggled into the U.S. that do not follow import regulations.  "Bootleg" marijuana will no doubt still arrive in the U.S. and be sold at a price lower than commercialized marijuana.  There will likely still be criminal law enforcement against bootleg marijuana distributors because they will no doubt be violating tax laws -- just like bootleg cigarette sellers.

    MSU Debate: Many have said that legalizing marijuana would reduce a stream of revenue for terrorist organizations and/or Mexican cartels. What would the impact of legalizing marijuana be on terrorist organizations and/or Mexican cartels?
    DLC: Legalization would have no effect on terrorists' organization.  The only terrorist organization that has consistently and actively been involved in drug trafficking is the Taliban, and it trafficked in Afghan heroin.  While some marijuana has been sporadically trafficked by terrorists groups, it's a small part of their revenue stream -- moreover, terrorists are driven by ideology, not profit, hence a disruption in financing from marijuana (which is minimal) has little effect on their goal.

    The Mexican cartels are not terrorists organizations -- although they often act like.  The cartels are criminal enterprises and are driven by profit, not ideology. As criminal enterprises the cartels make money in trafficking in marijuana, heroin and cocaine.  They also profit in various forms of human trafficking, kidnapping, theft of vehicles and heavy equipment, money laundering, extortion and any other crime they can profit from.  No doubt, their biggest profits come from drug trafficking, but they learned from their Colombian peers to also diversify their criminal portfolio.  In short, legalization of marijuana in the U.S. does not stop the global demand nor will it stop the U.S. black market demand.  There will likely be some profit loss from the cartels but it will not knock them out of business.

    MSU Debate: What other revenue streams do terrorist organizations and/or Mexican cartels have? Are those more directly causing violent activity than drug revenue?
    DLC: There is little that can be generalized.  Domestic terrorist -- or criminal extremists -- operate on very small budgets, usually from personal funds and in some cases crimes such as theft, robbery and burglary -- there is a lot of variation here.

    For international terrorists (essentially, Jihadists) the biggest revenue stream has historically been donations from wealthy supporters.  As noted above we have also seen some drug trafficking.  Most recently ISIS/ISIL has funded their operations by grand theft from banks, businesses and stealing equipment and materiel. 

    I described the Mexican cartels revenue streams above.

    Remember, don't lump together the drug cartels and terrorists groups.  They are all dangerous, but the threats they pose, the methods of handling the threats, the way they are investigated and how they operate are entirely different. 

    MSU Debate: More generally, what is the connection between Mexican cartels and terrorist activity in the United States? How big of a threat is that possible connection?
    DLC: Despite some anecdotes and investigations on a connection, there are no formal connections and they generally don't trust each other.  My sources are good on this.  They do not pose a combined threat.  The threat to the homeland by international terrorists is substantial, although most likely on a significantly smaller scale than 9/11.  The threat to the homeland from Mexican cartel violence is minimal, particularly for people who have no connection to the illegal drug trade.  The bigger picture of the threat from the illegal drugs impact on Americans and illicit profits is simply unknown.

  • Brian Kalt, MSU College of Law
    MSU Debate Polls the Professors is an ongoing series where students from the MSU Debate Team interview professors and faculty at Michigan State to augment their yearly research. The year-long college debate resolution this year is “Resolved: The United States should legalize all or nearly all of one or more of the following in the United States: marihuana, online gambling, physician-assisted suicide, prostitution, the sale of human organs.” As part of the team’s research efforts, students ask questions pertaining to the topic of professors from Political Science, Philosophy, Criminal Justice, and Law.

    Before coming to MSU College of Law, Professor Kalt worked at the Washington D.C. office of Sidley and Austin in one of the top appellate law practices in the country. He earned his juris doctor from Yale Law School, where he was an editor on the Yale Law  Journal. After law school, he served as a law clerk for the Honorable Danny J. Boggs, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Professor Kalt's research focuses on structural constitutional law and juries. At MSU Law, Professor Kalt teaches Constitutional Law, Torts, and Administrative Law.

    MSU Debate: A lot of our research has centered around the conflict between federal and state laws regarding marijuana legalization. What implication would removing marijuana from the Controlled Substance Act have on decentralization? Would it be likely to have spillover effects on issues that are not marijuana (i.e. states rights on abortion, gun control, ACA etc.)?
    BK: Currently, the federal marijuana laws are concurrent with state laws. In other words, the feds do X, the states do Y, and to be obeying the law you need to comply with both. If the feds don’t ban marijuana anymore, it could still potentially be banned by states, so it would be totally up to each state to decide how to handle it. I don’t think that making a statutory or regulatory change like that would have much effect on the other issues you mention.

    MSU Debate: There are a lot of people who argue that other countries watch/model the US system of federalism. Do you think that this is the case for marijuana legalization as well? What are the international implications of federal legalization considering that there are potentially substantial domestic federalism implications to such a decision?
    BK: I am not aware of how other countries regulate marijuana. My sense is that rather than a federalist approach they might have variation at the municipal level. But I really don’t know.

    MSU Debate: More generally, is the premise of my third question correct? Would you say that the U.S. is still considered a "model" of successful federalism internationally?
    BK: Not my area, but my sense is that the answer is “sort of.” I don’t think that other countries admire the level of conflict we perpetrate with our current system—the vertical question of federal versus state—but that they do appreciate the “laboratories of democracy” idea—the horizontal question of state versus state.
  • Bruce W. Bean, MSU College of Law

    MSU Debate Polls the Professors is an ongoing series where students from the MSU Debate Team interview professors and faculty at Michigan State to augment their yearly research. The year-long college debate resolution this year is “Resolved: The United States should legalize all or nearly all of one or more of the following in the United States: marihuana, online gambling, physician-assisted suicide, prostitution, the sale of human organs.” As part of the team’s research efforts, students ask questions pertaining to the topic of professors from Political Science, Philosophy, Criminal Justice, and Law.


    Professor Bruce W. Bean began his international career upon graduation from Brown University as recipient of the first Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, which enabled him to spend a year in Southeast Asia studying student political activity.  After receiving his law degree, Professor Bean clerked  for Judge Leonard P. Moore on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He practiced law at Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett and then Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler, where he worked closely with Rudolph Giuliani, later Mayor of New York City. Professor Bean then worked as Counsel for Finance & Planning at the Atlantic Richfield Company in Los Angeles. He returned to New York as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of a diversified financial services company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. While in this position Professor Bean continued his active involvement in mergers, acquisitions and divestitures and actively lobbied on behalf of his company's interests in Washington.

    Professor Bean lived and worked in Russia from March 1995 to July 2003. He was Managing Partner of Coudert Brothers' Moscow office until June 1998 when he became Head of Corporate and Foreign Direct Investment for Clifford Chance - Moscow, at the time the leading law firm in Russia and the world's largest international law firm. While in Moscow, he was active with the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission and served as Chairman of both United Way Moscow and the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia. He iss one of the original founders of the Russian Institute of Corporate Law & Governance.

    At the College of Law Professor Bean teaches Business Enterprises, Strategic International Transactions, the Global Law Colloquium, Doing Business in Transitional Political Systems, and the Jessup International Moot Court Competition.  He also serves as Faculty Advisor to the International Law Review. Professor Bean is Director of the LL.M. for Foreign Lawyers Program. He has taught courses for the Law College in Lodz, Poland, Kaunas, Lithuania and for the MSU LL.M. program in Dubai.  He has previously taught at the University of San Diego's Moscow Institute in Russia and at Columbia University's Harriman Institute.


    MSU Debate: Do you think that the argument is correct that other countries "model" the US system of decentralized federalism? Is this true for a country like Russia?
    BWB: Yes, we were an early federation, but is there any reason to think we invented this system?  There are overwhelming political reasons to call a system a "federation."

    No nation I am aware of  has been crazy enough or desperate enough to create a system comparable to ours where each state in our federation has its own legal system.  That has proven to be incredibly awkward and expensive, although great for lawyers.

    MSU Debate: What are the potential benefits/concerns you see in Russia adopting a more decentralized approach to policy-making?
    BWB: The Russian Federation has no interest in decentralizing.  One of the first moves Putin made was to seek to gain control of the subjects of the RF.  He appointed 7 regional administrators of the then 89 subjects of the federation and took control of designating governors.  For Russia and the world this was actually a good thing, since some of the subjects were operated by criminal elements.

    MSU Debate: Are there things that the U.S. could do that would benefit Russian governance in a meaningful way given the tensions between the U.S. and Russia
    BWB: Is there any reason to think the US should take steps to "benefit Russian governance?"  If by governance you refer to administration of the RF, why would we think we are better equipped than the Russians themselves to determine what would work best there?  Indeed, under the Clinton administration Strobe Talbott and much of the US government did undertake that duty.  Talbott was derisively referred to as "Proconsul Talbott" by the Russians and was uniformly despised.  Of course, under Yeltsin, with oil prices under $20 for all of the 1990's, Russia was desperate for US economic support through the IMF and therefore tolerated the incessant interference into Russian governance that the US administration and hundreds of know it all academics presumed to offer.

    [If by governance you refer to corporate governance, we have done some good things and private efforts continue to offer to discuss with Russian lawyers developments here and there that could be =of interest to them.., The American Bar Association's Section on  International law has run a program in Moscow for the past 8 years where private lawyers get together.  The next one is September 19.]

    Carly, as one who was caught up in that "we-know-better" movement for years while based in Moscow, I can assure you the Russians know a great deal more about the US than we know about them.  We should take care not to project our own ignorance of Russia onto the Russians and assume they know as little about the rest of the world, including the US.

    As to your federation point, the slow deterioration of national sovereignty within the EU is a much better example of how others follow the US model.  The EU has very gradually begun to do precisely what the States did while existing under the Articles of Federation immediately after our Revolution.  The EU is currently a clumsy federation, but as the unavoidably need arises, they are moving very slowly closer to our model, often by decisions of the European Court.  

    MSU Debate: Your response was really very interesting. I apologize if our questions came off as overly "U.S. centered" - we debate about a resolution all year that asks what the U.S. should do and I think sometimes we forget that that does sound like "we-know-better." You're absolutely right to point out that, in reality, many countries are doing just fine without us.
    BWB: You will note all kinds of nations commented on our issue in Ferguson last month.  Maybe they have a point?  were they wrong to lecture/criticize us since we do so much of that?

    MSU Debate: I'm wondering if you would be willing to expand on your thoughts about the benefits of centralization in Russia. You say that a centralized approach allowed Putin to eliminate some criminal elements. Is that a process you see as largely completed or something that is still a work in progress?
    BWB: There was a saying in Russia when we lived there that the farther one was from Moscow, the less significance Moscow's government had. When Exxon had a problem in Sakhalin Island (beyond Vladivostok) Exxon would simply appeal in Moscow after losing there, and get the decision overturned. Russia will continue to evolve until long after Putin has left.   This is exactly what we did for more than a century.

    MSU Debate: This has very little to do with our topic this year but we discussed it at length last year. I'm wondering what your take is on Russia and Ukraine. What are the primary motivating factors sparking conflict there in your opinion? It also seems like U.S. attempts to intervene have done more harm than good in some instances. Are there actions any international actors could take that would moderate tensions there?
    BWB: The US has been actively opposing Ukrainian  governments since prior to the Orange Revolution (which we paid for). The folks who truly believe we can redesign the world in our image, or at least to our liking, are the policy makers in Washington.  This cannot be blamed on Bush since it continued under Obama without interruption.  We must know better, or at least there are those in Washington are dependent upon our thinking this is so.  Never underestimate the power of bureaucratic "experts" to continue their role long after it is needed.  Exhibit A?  NATO.