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Jeb Bush, former Florida governor and 2016 presidential election candidate, became the second Penn Presidential Professor of Practice in Sep. 2018.

Credit: Pranay Vemulamada

Presidential Professor of Practice Jeb Bush spoke about his support of federalism and states' rights at Penn Law on Thursday afternoon.

The former Florida governor and 2016 presidential election candidate engaged in a conversation with Penn Law Dean Ted Ruger to warn against the power of the federal government. Bush delivered the keynote address at the event, titled "The Future of Federalism," in Fitts Auditorium.

“We protect our freedom from an ever-encroaching federal government and we allow for the laboratories of democracy to rule the day,” Bush said. “[The Tenth Amendment] was designed to keep power away from the most removed parts of governance and allow power to exist in our families, communities, and local and state government.”

Bush praised former Democratic President Bill Clinton for granting some waivers with the implementation of health care rules and requirements, but criticized former President Barack Obama’s administration for failing to do the same.

“I think some of these mandated requirements stifle the kind of innovation that could get people healthier,” Bush said.

Bush also implicitly criticized those who are selective about applications of the Tenth Amendment, which grants states powers not explicitly given to the federal government.

“If you love the Constitution, and you love the Bill of Rights, you can’t be selective about it,” Bush said. “Maybe we can reach a consensus to allow California to be California and Florida to be Florida and let the best ideas emerge,” he said. 

Credit: Pranay Vemulamada

The event was hosted by Penn’s chapter of the national Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization which seeks to mentor young conservative lawyers and steer them towards positions in government and the court system. Penn’s chapter has become known for bringing conservative speakers to campus in the past, such as National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Bush became a Presidential Professor of Practice at Penn in September 2018. His transition to a role in academia comes after his unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination in the 2016 election, where he was eventually beaten by Wharton 1968 graduate Donald Trump. Bush dropped out of the race in February 2016 after a string of poor results in key primaries.