The first presentation this morning was given by Helen Knowles, a British born academic teaching at Skidmore College in New York State. Her subject was a lawyer from the mid 19th Century called Joel Tiffany, who wrote "A Treatise on the Unconstitutionality of American Slavery." She presented an interesting picture of one of a small number of individuals who argued that the silence of the US Constitution on slavery, meant that it had no constitutional basis. Tiffany himself wrote the treatise, at the suggestion of a wealthy supporter of abolition, but - like many things in his life - Tiffany took little further interest in the issue. Yet the treatise has been reprinted in recent years by those who are interested in arguments about the original intent of the Constitution.
She was followed by Alex Waddan (Leicester University) whose paper was entitled "Implementing Obamacare: The Case of Medicaid". A very interesting paper (which is part of a wider academic collaboration looking at the implementation of the Affordable Care Act) highlighted the important point that passing a law isn't the end of legislating - but just the beginning. Implementation is the way law becomes a reality. Without it, laws just remain pieces of paper. Medicaid expansion created particular problems, as the Supreme Court struck down the sticks, whilst leaving the carrots for states. As a result the expansion which should have benefited millions, has been successfully resisted by many states. Waddan considers the various factors which led different states to position themselves. The story isn't finished yet, but the book that is planned will have some useful food for thought for future legislators.