Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Daily Read: Resnik on Equality's Frontiers

What do our visual images of justice tell us?  Judith Resnik with her co-author Dennis E. Curtis, provide ample, exciting and complex answers to that question in their marvelous book, Representing Justice: Invention, Controversy, and Rights in City-States and Democratic Courtrooms, published in 2011.

Resnik's 2013 essay, Equality’s Frontiers: Courts Opening and Closing, adapted from remarks at an event celebrating Justice Ginsburg’s gender-equality jurisprudence and drawing on the book, is a brief but evocative look at how justice and equality are - - - and were - - - portrayed.  Two images Resnik includes and analyzes from WPA murals in courthouses are particularly salient.

First, there is an image of Justice as Protector and Avenger in a South Carolina courtroom.

Resnik figure 1aa
Not particularly remarkable, one might think, until one reads about the objections to "justice" looking like a “barefooted mulatto woman wearing bright-hued clothing.”

Second, there is an image in a Idaho courthouse:

Resnik figure 2a

Should this be removed as offensive?  Or displayed as an accurate part of the history of justice and equality?  Resnik shares the decisions of state officials, ultimately made in consultation with Native tribes.

Resnik contends that such images, including these from courthouses in South Carolina and Idaho,

make a first point—that courts were one of equality’s frontiers. The conflicts about what could or could not be shown on courthouse walls mirrored conflicts about what rights people had in court.

A terrific read - - - and look - - - as well as a reminder of the richness of the Representing Justice book.

[images via]

April 17, 2013 in Books, Equal Protection, History, Profiles in Con Law Teaching, Race, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Daily Read: Snyder on Frankfurter's Popular Constitutionalism

Can a judge - - - a Supreme Court Justice - - - be a practitioner of "popular constitutionalism"?  Was Justice Felix Frankfurter such a judge?

In his forthcoming article, Frankfurter and Popular Constitutionalism, ConLawProf Brad Snyder answers both questions with an enthusiastic and erudite "yes." 


Snyder's view of popular constitutionalism may be a broader than some, but his linking of judicial restraint with popular constitutionalism, especially when situated in the New Deal era, is sound.  Snyder concentrates on three of the most important and oft-criticized constitutional moments of Frankfurter's judicial career – the flag salute cases of Minersville School Dist. v. Gobitis (1940), reversed a mere three years later in West Virginia Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette (1943);  Brown v. Board of Education and its progeny; and Baker v. Carr (1962). 

Snyder concludes: "Frankfurter’s judicial reputation suffered at the hands of scholars intent on preserving the Warren Court’s legacy of protecting civil rights and civil liberties. Frankfurter’s Baker [v. Carr] dissent, however, has proven to be just as prophetic as some of Holmes’s and Brandeis’s dissents because it revealed the ugly underside of the Warren Court’s legacy – judicial supremacy."  

While others have certainly noted the vacillations of progressive and conservative judicial activism, Snyder's article calls for a renewed evaluation of Frankfurter and perhaps of popular constitutionalism.

[image via]

April 1, 2013 in Courts and Judging, First Amendment, History, Interpretation, Profiles in Con Law Teaching, Scholarship, Supreme Court (US) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Daily Read: Hutchinson on Political Power and Same-Sex Marriage

HutchinsonIn the oral argument for United States v. Windsor challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA, Chief Justice Roberts expressed skepticism that gays and lesbians were politically powerless, announcing to Roberta Kaplan, representing Edith Windsor, "As far as I can tell, political figures are falling over themselves to endorse your side of the case."

ConLawProf Darren Hutchinson (pictured) provides an indepth examination, context, and prescient critique of Roberts' remark in his new article, Not Without Political Power': Gays and Lesbians, Equal Protection, and the Suspect Class Doctrine, available in draft on ssrn.  Hutchinson argues that the political powerlessness factor used to evaluate claims for heightened scrutiny under equal protection doctrine is "especially undertheorized and contradictory." 

Hutchinson's article is a tour de force of precedent deploying rhetoric of political powerlessness.  Of course, Hutchinson highlights Justice Scalia's well-known dissent in Romer v. Evans, the Colorado Amendment 2 case, noting that not only is it based on stereotypes but it "sounds exactly like a political document against gay and lesbian rights."  But Hutchinson does suggest that there is indeed a role for politics, however at a much more sophisticated level.  Rather than jettison any inquiry into political powerlessness as some scholars have argued, Hutchinson contends that a much more robust understanding of politics is necessary.

Ultimately, Hutchinson concludes that the present scholarly and judicial discourse

fails adequately to discuss the multiple factors that cause political vulnerability among gays and lesbians. While some gays and lesbians possess power, most of them do not. Poverty, gender, race, geography, and disability influence the ability of gays and lesbians to exercise political power.

Instead, he suggests that political science scholarship inform legal scholarship and judicial opinions, and that antisubordination legal scholarship inform wider discussions of equal protection.  Certainly, Hutchinson's article should inform anyone considering political powerlessness in the context of same-sex marriage and equal protection.


March 28, 2013 in Current Affairs, Equal Protection, Family, Fifth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, Gender, Interpretation, Profiles in Con Law Teaching, Reconstruction Era Amendments, Scholarship, Sexual Orientation, Sexuality, Supreme Court (US), Theory | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

In Memoriam: Ronald Dworkin

Ronald Dworkin, renowed legal philosopher who influenced generations of legal scholars, has died.


Todays' NYT obituary calls Dworkin "a legal philosopher and public intellectual of bracingly liberal views who insisted that morality is the touchstone of constitutional interpretation."

UK's Guardian obituary says that through his "sheer intellectual brilliance and a formidable capacity for work," Dworkin managed "to be both a consummate scholar's scholar and a lawyer's lawyer," while nevertheless enjoying himself.

Tributes will undoubtedly follow.

[image via]


February 14, 2013 in News, Profiles in Con Law Teaching, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Governor Cuomo Announces Jenny Rivera Confirmed to NY's Highest Court

Watch last evening's video here:



More on Jenny Rivera here.


February 12, 2013 in News, Profiles in Con Law Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 4, 2013

ConLaw at AALS: Looking Towards Fisher

Top_logoIf you're at AALS, don't miss today's double panel on affirmative action in education, starting at 2pm:

This joint program will explore issues of equal educational opportunity. The first panel will consider these issues in the context of elementary and secondary education, with emphasis on school financing. The second will deal primarily with the constitutionality of racial affirmative action in higher education admissions. Both panels will consider the implications of the Court’s grant of review in Fisher v. University of Texas, involving an undergraduate affirmative action admissions program.

In 1973, the Court held in Rodriguez that there was no fundamental right to education. Plaintiffs alleged that substantial disparities in educational opportunity violated the Constitution. The Court found the Texas elementary and secondary school finance system constitutional because it was rationally related to advancing local control of education; the Court hesitated to second guess the Texas legislature in light of federalism principles and concerns about judicial competency to deal with school finance systems. 

 The first panel will focus on the legacy of Rodriguez and how the law can address educational disparities in elementary and secondary education. Panelists also will discuss the effect of limits on use of race-conscious programs under the 2007 Parents Involved decision, and will consider the implications of the grant of review in Fisher.In 1978, a deeply fractured Court decided Bakke. Only one paragraph of Justice Powell’s pivotal opinion was joined by four other justices; it held that a “properly devised admissions program” that took race into account could be constitutional. He envisioned a flexible, individualized program that would provide the educational benefits of a diverse class. In 2003, the Court in Grutter held that diversity could be a compelling interest; the Court upheld Michigan Law School’s program, even as it held (in Gratz) that Michigan’s more mechanical undergraduate affirmative action program violated equal protectio

The second panel will consider the legacy of Bakke and discuss how the Court should decide Fisher. Is racial diversity a compelling interest? What is the role of empirical evidence? What do the empirical studies tell us about the benefits or harms of affirmative action? Diversity may provide better learning outcomes for all students (or for certain students), better preparation of students for a diverse world, and better social results due to formation of a diverse group of leaders. Which potential benefits “count”? How can a program be narrowly tailored to advance the interest in educational diversity?


Speaker: Kevin D. Brown, Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Speaker: Erwin Chemerinsky, University of California, Irvine School of Law
Speaker from a Call for Papers: Paul Horwitz, The University of Alabama School of Law
Speaker: Jennifer Mason McAward, Notre Dame Law School
Speaker from a Call for Papers: Eboni S. Nelson, University of South Carolina School of Law
Speaker: Angela I. Onwuachi-Willig, University of Iowa College of Law
Speaker: Michael A. Rebell, Columbia University School of Law
Co-Moderator: Kimberly Jenkins Robinson, The University of Richmond School of Law
Speaker: Richard H. Sander, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law
Co-Moderator: Mark S. Scarberry, Pepperdine University School of Law

More information here.


January 4, 2013 in Affirmative Action, Conferences, Equal Protection, Profiles in Con Law Teaching, Race, Supreme Court (US), Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Second Circuit on Middle Finger

Although the Second Circuit panel opinion in Swartz v. Insogna does not refer to the First Amendment, the court implicitly relies on free expression principles to reverse the district judge and allow the plaintiffs' civil rights action against two law enforcement officers to proceed.

Majeur5As Judge Jon Newman, writing the unanimous opinion, explained, the case began as the result of an "irate automobile passenger's act of 'giving the finger,' a gesture of insult known for centuries, to a policeman," prompted by the officer's use of a radar device. Although the plaintiffs' car was not speeding, the officer followed the car and initiated a "traffic stop."  Mr. Swartz was subsequently arrested for disorderly conduct (seemingly because of a statement describing himself in unflattering terms) and made three court appearances before the charges were ultimately dismissed on speedy trial grounds. 

At issue was whether the original stop was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.  But underlying this determination depended on the meaning of the "middle finger" expression.  As Judge Newman wrote:

Perhaps there is a police officer somewhere who would interpret an automobile passenger’s giving him the finger as a signal of distress, creating a suspicion that something occurring in the automobile warranted investigation.  And perhaps that interpretation is what prompted [Officer] Insogna to act, as he claims. But the nearly universal recognition that this gesture is an insult deprives such an interpretation of reasonableness.  This ancient gesture of insult is not the basis for a reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or impending criminal activity. Surely no passenger planning some wrongful conduct toward another occupant of an automobile would call attention to himself by giving the finger to a police officer. And if there might be an automobile passenger somewhere who will give the finger to a police officer as an ill-advised signal for help, it is far more consistent with all citizens’ protection against improper police apprehension to leave that highly unlikely signal without a response than to lend judicial approval to the stopping of every vehicle from which a passenger makes that gesture.

Judge Newman cites LawProf Ira Robbin's wonderful 2008 article, Digitus Impudicus: The Middle Finger and the Law, published in the UC Davis Law Review and available on ssrn.  While the citation is to Robbins' discussion of the first recorded use of the gesture in the United States in 1886 (hint: think baseball), Judge Newman's opinion does seem influenced by Robbins' article, which extensively discusses the First Amendment aspects of the gesture and their relationship to criminal justice.  

[image via]


January 3, 2013 in Criminal Procedure, First Amendment, Opinion Analysis, Profiles in Con Law Teaching, Scholarship, Speech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Daily Read: Seidman on the Constitution as Bondage

We are used to speaking about the Constitution as a "binding document" and a less used to thinking about it as bondage.  Thus, ConLawProf Louis Michael Seidman's op-ed in the NYT entitled "Let's Give Up on the Constitution" has been causing a bit of a stir, especially among ConLaw students and some profs. 

Seidman-michael_1Seidman (pictured) takes his hook from the so-called "fiscal cliff" negotiations in Congress, but he does not limit his argument to the latest controversies.  Instead, he writes:

Our obsession with the Constitution has saddled us with a dysfunctional political system, kept us from debating the merits of divisive issues and inflamed our public discourse. Instead of arguing about what is to be done, we argue about what James Madison might have wanted done 225 years ago.

Yet this seems to be more of a critique of originalism than constitutionalism.  And interestingly, Seidman appeals to originalism to support his ultimate argument:

Constitutional disobedience may seem radical, but it is as old as the Republic. In fact, the Constitution itself was born of constitutional disobedience.

Seidman's new book, Constitutional Disobedience, will presumably expand these ideas further.  But for today, the op-ed is an interesting read.



January 2, 2013 in Books, Profiles in Con Law Teaching, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Daily Read: Carl Bogus on Second Amendment Constitutional Scholarship

With renewed attention on the Second Amendment and guns after Friday's horrific events,  a provocative (re)read is Carl T. Bogus' 2000 article, The History And Politics of Second Amendment Scholarship: A Primer, published in a Symposium on the Second Amendment in Volume 76 of Chicago-Kent Law Review, and available on the Second Amendment Foundation website here

Bogus_C2Professor Bogus (pictured) who has written widely on the Second Amendment discusses the involvement of the legal scholarly community with Second Amendment issues and organizations. Writing years before the Court's 5-4 decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010), Bogus traces the move from the "collective right" model (stressing the militia aspect) of the Second Amendment that was universal until 1960, including the efforts of organizations to fund work friendly to the individual right interpretation of the Second Amendment, which became known as the "Standard Model."

Bogus stops short of arguing scholars were improperly influenced, but argues that the influences are worth considering, writing:

One last note before concluding. I have written about the campaign to develop a large body of literature supporting the individual right position and to create a perception that this view constitutes a standard model of scholarship (a perception this Symposium is likely to end). I have observed that some writers have connections to gun rights organizations, and even that some received grants in connection with their writings. I do not, however, contend that anyone was paid or improperly influenced to advocate a position that he or she does not genuinely hold. On the contrary, I am convinced that individuals identified in this Article believe - - - many passionately - - - in what they have written. And I believe everyone, regardless of political affiliation or belief, is entitled to have his or her work judged on its merits.

Why then discuss the history and politics of Second Amendment scholarship? Why not focus entirely on the merits? The history and politics of Second Amendment scholarship, including to some extent the political affiliations and agendas of the participants, is relevant because so-called standard modelers made it relevant. They have made much of both the size of the individual right literature and the prominence of certain scholars endorsing that position.  It is important, therefore, to understand the history and politics that have helped bring these about.

Although more than a decade old, Carl Bogus article is certainly worth a (re)read by constitutional scholars.


December 17, 2012 in Profiles in Con Law Teaching, Scholarship, Second Amendment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Daily Read: Corporate Free Speech

Bezanson_randy_sqIn their article, Commercial Expression and Business Regulation in the Shadow of Citizens United and Sorrell, available in draft on ssrn, authors ConLawProf Randy Bezanson (pictured), William O'Hare, and Robert Miller ask "whether the system and market- based flexibility accorded government in its regulatory action will continue to be respected." 

In interrogating this question, one of their three case studies of regulation is off-label drug marketing, the subject of yesterday's divided Second Circuit opinion reversing a criminal conviction on the basis of the First Amendment, and an application of Sorrell v. IMS Health, Inc.  In their consideration of off-label drug advertising more generally, they write:

the apparent overbreadth of specific applications of a regulation will seem obviously unconstitutional without a perspective that recognizes a speech restriction as part of a broader system of similar speech regulations that, added together, protect the systematic and market justifications of government action. It may be obvious that sophisticated consumers of off-label drug treatments, or sophisticated investors in the new issue market for stock, don’t need the information or the waiting periods or the other regulatory steps that government may impose. But if those steps do help the market system by assuring equal and complete consumer information, even if at some inconvenience to a sophisticated few, there is justification for the looser scrutiny that the Supreme Court has historically accorded regulation of commercial speech.

Worth a read for anyone teaching or writing in the commercial speech area.


December 4, 2012 in Current Affairs, First Amendment, Profiles in Con Law Teaching, Recent Cases, Scholarship, Speech, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Daily Read: Collegiality and Same Sex Marriage Controversies

As the news is filled with the expected decision from the United States Supreme Court on whether - - - and if so, in what constellation - - - to grant certiorari on the issue of same-sex marriage, including both Proposition 8 and DOMA, Lyle Denniston's excellent discussions at SCOTUSBlog are a welcome resource.

TwolffBut equally vital is Tobias Barrington Wolff's recent brief remarks, to be as an essay in Fordham Law Review entitled Collegiality and Individuality Dignity, and available on ssrn, that discusses the more personal aspects of the issues for some ConLawProfs.

Wolff (pictured) explores the "deep tension that exists for LGBT scholars and lawyers who work" on issues of same-sex marriage and other sexuality issues, "between principles of collegiality and basic principles of individual and human dignity."   For example, "there is this seeming willingness on the part of antigay advocates to go around calling LGBT people unfit parents, and to expect to be treated with courtesy in response. I’ve been doing this for a dozen years, and I have to tell you, in very personal terms: I’m getting a little tired of being courteous in response to this kind of argument."

Wolff concludes:

I’ll just say quickly: One can refuse to engage with these arguments and the people who make them, which is a choice that some LGBT scholars make and is a choice that has obvious costs associated with it. One can continue engaging in a collegial fashion, which is the choice that I have made for most of my career, but carries serious individual costs. Or one can engage with a somewhat sharper- edged critique of the nature of the arguments that are being made, which is part of what, of course, I am doing today, which has its own set of costs and disruptions of the normal collegial atmosphere about it. I acknowledge that.

But I think that the impact upon the individual dignity of LGBT scholars from having to confront these ugly, ugly arguments over and over again is something that needs to be acknowledged as one of the central, central dynamics that warrants attention in conversations about these issues.

Wolff's worth-reading essay is situated in the context of scholarly discourse, but many ConLawProfs experience similar dynamics in the classroom.  How do we discuss these arguments and issues without assaulting each other's dignity?


November 30, 2012 in Family, Profiles in Con Law Teaching, Scholarship, Sexual Orientation, Sexuality, Supreme Court (US), Theory | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Daily Read: Thirteenth Amendment Scholars Supporting Matthew Shepard & James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act

Did Congress have power pursuant to the Thirteenth Amendment to pass the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009


President Barack Obama greets Louvon Harris, left, Betty Byrd Boatner, right, both sisters of James Byrd, Jr., and Judy Shepard, center, mother of Matthew Shepard, following his remarks at a reception commemorating the enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in the East Room of the White House, Oct. 28, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The question of the Act's constitutionality is before the Tenth Circuit in an appeal arising from the first prosecution under the Act.  In Hatch v. United States, the defendant challenges 18 U.S.C. § 249(a)(1), which provides:


Whoever, whether or not acting under color of law, willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any person—

There seems to be little dispute that the three defendants admitted actions against the Native American victim, including branding the victim with a swatstika, fit within the terms of the statute.   But did the statute exceed Congress' power pursuant to the Thirteenth Amendment, or does the statute violate equal protection as guarenteed through the Fifth Amendment?

On the Thirteenth Amendment issue, ConLawProfs William M. Carter, Jr., Dawinder S. Sidhu, Alexander Tsesis, and Rebecca E. Zietlow, have filed an amicus brief, available on ssrn, argue that the Thirteenth Amendment's enforcement clause gives Congress broad powers.  They contend that the hate crime section should be analyzed under a defential rational basis standard, both because of its provenance in the Thirteenth Amendment and, perhaps most interestingly,  because the statute does not make a racial classification.

This is a terrific read of engaged scholarship as well as a providing a great grounding for a class exercise or student project.


November 29, 2012 in Equal Protection, Fifth Amendment, Interpretation, Profiles in Con Law Teaching, Race, Recent Cases, Scholarship, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Daily Read: Rostron on the Second Amendment After Heller and McDonald

The central argument of ConLawProf Allen Rostron's article, Justice Breyer’s Triumph in the Third Battle over the Second Amendment, published at 80 George Washington Law Review 703 (2012), and available in draft on ssrn, received further validation with yesterday's Second Circuit opinion upholding a New York law restricting concealed carrying of firearms in public. 

RostronRostron (pictured) considers the range of lower court decisions resulting from challenges to state and local firearm regulations made possible by the Court's recent Second Amendment decisions.  Heller v. District of Columbia, the first "battle" in the gun wars, recognized a Second Amendment right beyond the militia, and in the second battle of 2010, the Court in McDonald v. City of Chicago, incorporated this right to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.  However, in neither "battle" did the Supreme Court specify what level of scrutiny or test should be used to assess the validity of gun laws under the Second Amendment, leaving the lower courts to struggle with this issue.

Rostron's contribution is his engagement with the third "battle": the interpretation and application of Heller and McDonald in the lower courts.  He argues that the third phase of the fight over the right to keep and bear arms is moving toward an unusual result, with these decisions reflecting the "pragmatic sentiments of Justice Breyer’s dissenting opinions in Heller and McDonald,"  rather than the majority, plurality, or concurring opinions that are long on history and rhetoric and short on doctrine or guidance. 

Rostron is candid about his own preferences and equally candid that the politics or doctrine could shift, including the Court's grant of certiorari in an additional case in order to promulgate a strict scrutiny standard.  For now, however, Rostron's compelling article demonstrates that Breyer's dissent operates in many ways as a majority opinion.

Of course, if Breyer's view had prevailed in the controversial 5-4 decisions in Heller and McDonald, the federal courts would not be busily adjudicating these Second Amendment challenges.


November 28, 2012 in Courts and Judging, Federalism, Profiles in Con Law Teaching, Scholarship, Second Amendment, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Professor Sherrilyn Ifill Named to Lead NAACP-LDF

The University of Maryland School of Law has announced that Prof Sherrilyn Ifill has been named as President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF).


Screen Shot 2012-11-20 at 11.56.51 AM

Professor Ifill, a well known ConLawProf scholar, will take a leave from academia to head LDF, the organization founded by Thurgood Marshall.



November 20, 2012 in News, Profiles in Con Law Teaching, Race | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

University of California Settles UC Davis "Pepper Spray" Lawsuit

Arising from the now infamous video (below) of a UC-Davis officer seeming to casually pepper spray students as they sat on campus during a protest, the University of California has wisely settled a lawsuit alleging constitutional violations filed by the ACLU.  The UC Davis suit is one of a number of complaints challenging police practices during Occupy and Occupy-type actions last year.



As reported by the LA Times, the approved settlement includes:

$30,000 to each of the 21 students and alumni who were pepper-sprayed;

$250,000 attorneys' fees;

set aside of $100,000 to pay up to $20,000 to any other individuals who were pepper-sprayed;

written formal apology by UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi to each of the students and alumni who were pepper-sprayed or arrested.

The ACLU Northern California reports additional terms, including compensation to ACLU of $20,000 for work with the university to develop "new policies on student demonstrations, crowd management, and use of force to prevent anything like the November 18 pepper spray incident from ever happening again" and to "protect free speech and free expression on campus."  Additionally, the University promised to "assist students whose academic performance was adversely affected by the incident in applying for academic records adjustment."

Of course, the video was an important aspect of the case and settlement, even as controversies about constitutional rights to record police officers continues (our latest post is here)


ConLawProf Cruz Reynoso

Additionally, the 190 page report of a Task Force appointed by the university was strongly condemnatory of the incident. The Task Force was chaired by ConLawProf Emeritus Cruz Reynoso (pictured above) and included  ConLawProf Alan Brownstein, who was nominated by the Academic Senate, and Law Student William McKenna, who nominated by the Law Students Association), , service on such a Task Force was a time-consuming endeavor and one that too often goes under-appreciated, so kudos to Brownstein and McKenna.

The University's actions in creating a Task Force also merits recognition, although one wonders whether such a Task Force would have been created absent the video and the attention it generated.


September 27, 2012 in Cases and Case Materials, Criminal Procedure, First Amendment, News, Profiles in Con Law Teaching, Speech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Daily Read: Radice on Bell on ConLaw Pedagogy

Need some midweek teaching inspiration? 

Derrick BellProfessor Joy Radice shares her observations of the conlaw teaching of the late Derrick Bell (pictured): "Bell’s classroom community was a safe space to learn constitutional law, to discuss difficult but related issues of race, class, and gender, and to take risks when thinking about legal strategies."

Radice's terrific brief essay, "Derrick Bell’s Community-Based Classroom,” is part of the wonderful collection of essays from the conference last year, now available in Columbia Journal of Race and Law:

  • “The Post Racial Era: Race, Silence, the Denial of Race/Racism and Optimism,” –Leonard Baynes, St. John’s University School of Law
  •  “Notes Toward a Critical Contemplation of the Law,” –Sonia Katyal, Fordham University School of Law
  • “Derrick Bell’s ‘Afrolantica’ and Gentrification in Harlem,” –Twila Perry, Rutgers University School of Law
  • “How Derrick Bell Helped Me Decide to Become an Educator, Not Just a Faculty Member,” –Vanessa Merton, Pace University School of Law
  • “Derrick Bell’s Community-Based Classroom,” –Joy Radice, University of Tennessee College of Law
  • “ ‘A Living Working Faith’: Remembering Our Colleague Derrick A. Bell, Jr. as Teacher,” –Andrea McArdle, CUNY School of Law
  • “A Legacy of Teaching,” –Robin Lenhardt, Fordham University School of Law
  • “Derrick Bell’s Children,” –I. Bennett Capers, Brooklyn Law School
  • “From Interest Convergence to Solidarity,” –Julie Suk, Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University
  • “A Multiplicity of Interests,” –Rachel Godsil, Seton Hall University School of Law
  • “Racial Fortuity, Rights Sacrifice, and the Promise of Convergence in Prison and Policing Policy,” –Taja-Nia Henderson, Rutgers School of Law – Newark

Each one of these essays is worth a read.


September 19, 2012 in Affirmative Action, Current Affairs, Equal Protection, Profiles in Con Law Teaching, Race, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In Memoriam: Ann Scales

ConLawProf Ann Scales, University of Denver Strum College of Law, was best known for her constitutional law work on feminist legal theory, equality, and military matters.  She died June 24, at the age of 60.




More on Feminist Law Prof here.

[image of Ann Scales via]

June 27, 2012 in Gender, Profiles in Con Law Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Conference Honoring Derrick Bell

“A Living, Working Faith”:

Remembering Our Colleague
Derrick A. Bell, Jr.


at COLUMBIA LAW SCHOOL, NY, NY  on Saturday December 10th, 2011


This one day conference organized by Professors Kendall Thomas and Penelope Andrews will honor the work of the late ConLawProf Derrick Bell



  9 a.m. to 9.15 a.m: 
Welcome − Professor Kendall Thomas, Columbia Law School and
Professor Penelope Andrews, CUNY School of Law
9.15 a.m. - 10.30 a.m.
The Elusive Quest for Equality and the Permanence of Racism:  Faces at the Bottom of the Well and We Are Not Saved
Reflections Panel 1:
Chair:  Professor Penelope Andrews, CUNY School of Law
Professor Twila Perry, Rutgers University School of Law
Professor Sheila Foster, Fordham University School of Law
Professor Rose Villazor, Hofstra University School of Law
Professor Olati Johnson, Columbia University School of Law
10.30 a.m to 10. 45 a.m.  Morning Tea
10.45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Reflections Panel 2:
Chair:  Professor Kendall Thomas, Columbia University School of Law
Professor Susan Sturm, Columbia University School of Law
Professor Jenny Rivera, CUNY School of Law
Professor Leonard Baynes, St. John’s University School of Law
Professor Beryl Jones-Woodin, Brooklyn Law School
Professor Sonia Katyal, Fordham University School of Law
12:15 to 1:15 p.m.   Lunch
1:15 p.m. – 2.45 p.m. 
Derrick Bell as Teacher
Chair:  Professor Ruthann Robson, CUNY School of Law
Professor Vanessa Merton, Pace University School of Law
Professor Joy Radice, New York University School of Law
Professor Andrea McArdle, CUNY School of Law
Professor Robin Lenhardt, Fordham University School of Law
Professor I. Bennett Capers, Hofstra University School of Law
2:45 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Interest Convergence
Chair:   Professor Paulette Caldwell, New York University School of Law
Professor David Troutt, Rutgers University School of Law
Professor Julie Suk, Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University
Professor Rachel Godsil, Seton Hall University School of Law
Professor Taja-Nia Henderson, Rutgers University School of Law
Professor Theodore Shaw, Columbia University School of Law
4.00 to 5 p.m.
Closing Comments and Further Reflections

December 4, 2011 in Conferences, Profiles in Con Law Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bork’s “75 page” Memo to Goldwater on the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s Unconstitutionality?

Did Robert Bork, as a law professor, write a “75 page” brief to Presidential Candidate Barry Goldwater arguing that the bill that would become the 1964 Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional?

Bork2Bork (pictured left) the controversial conservative and rejected Supreme Court nominee, has reappeared on the political scene as the co-chair of the legal advisory team of potential GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.   He has recently also made news for opining that women are no longer discriminated against and do not need constitutional attention.

Bork has also long been famous for his argument that the 1964 Civil Rights Act, including Title VII, is unconstitutional.  Rand Paul has also made this argument, although at least one commentator distinguishes Rand Paul’s position from Goldwater’s based upon Goldwater’s “constitutional concerns” rooted in the “75 page brief” Bork sent to Goldwater as well as future Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s concerns.

When internet references to the “75 page” memo or brief mention a source, they cite to Richard Perlstein’s Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater.   Speaking on C-Span (written transcript provided), Perlstein in 2001 discussed Goldwater’s agonizing over the 1964 Civil Rights Bill which was resolved by the influence of Rehnquist’s statements and Bork’s 75 page memo against the Act.   In Perlstein’s book, he sources the Bork brief to James Perry, [A Report in Depth on] Barry Goldwater: A New Look at A Presidential Candidate.   Perry’s “Report in Depth” is a “Newsbook” peppered with photographs, published by the National Observer in 1964.   In the chapter “Men Around Goldwater,” the author names Bork as a “Goldwater favorite” and one of a number of law professors to whom “the Goldwater idea men went for advice” on the 1964 Civil Rights Bill.  Perry wrote:

The Goldwater staff asked for an objective, legal analysis by Professor Bork of the civil-rights bill.  They received a 75-page critique, which was used (along with other analyses) in preparing Mr. Goldwater’s statement against the bill.

 (at 25).

Scholars wishing to read the “75-page critique” by Bork sent to Goldwater - - - or to Goldwater’s staff - - - will have a difficult time obtaining it, as I learned when I asked faculty law librarians.  The memo is not in the seven volumes of Bork nomination materials compiled by Roy Mersky and J. Myron Jacobstein in their series of Supreme Court Nominees.  The Mersky and Jacobstein Volume 14-F, however, does include Bork’s notorious piece for The New Republic, “Civil Rights—A Challenge,” (August 31, 1963), arguing that the Act would be a “loss of liberty,” as well as the New Republic Editors’ reply and Bork’s rejoinder (here).  It is apparently not in the Goldwater papers at the Arizona Historical Foundation at Arizona State University or in the papers of Dean Burch, also at ASU, the Chair of the RNC in 1964.   As for the papers of Robert Bork, there may be some at the Library of Congress, although apparently Bork retains the authority to grant access.

Does the “75 page” memo still exist - - - perhaps a Xerox of a carbon copy - - - in someone’s files?  Did it ever?     

Almost a half-century has passed.  It is not that a missing document is nefarious (indeed, it sometimes seems a wonder that anything is preserved) or that Bork should be assumed not to have changed his opinions (indeed, he has recently stated that the “transition to a non-discriminatory society was much easier” than he thought it would be).  But page-number precise references to a document that is not available is intriguing. 

So, if you have a copy or have read a copy of that "75 page" memo, I’d love to hear from you.

[image: Robert Bork, 2007, via]

October 24, 2011 in Books, Commerce Clause, Congressional Authority, Courts and Judging, Current Affairs, Equal Protection, Federalism, Fourteenth Amendment, Gender, History, Profiles in Con Law Teaching, Race, Reconstruction Era Amendments, Scholarship, Supreme Court (US) | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

In Memoriam: Derrick Bell

ConLaw Prof Derrick Bell died yesterday at the age of 80.  As the NYT obit reports, Bell was known for his scholarly works, for his pioneering of critical race theory, for storytelling as scholarship, for being ethical, and for leaving a position at Harvard Law.  While the obit certainly does mention that Bell was a law professor, it does not emphasize that he was also a teacher. 

Derrick Bell Bell's writing on Constitutional Law pedagogy deserves continuing attention.  Here is an excerpt from his 1998 essay published in Seattle University Law Review,  Constitutional Conflicts: The Perils and Rewards of Pioneering in the Law School Classroom:

By departing from the norm in constitutional casebooks and giving priority to "learning by doing" simulations, students mimic the kind of process that an attorney, researching an unfamiliar area of law, might utilize to investigate prior decisions. In practice, lawyers are called to research and to write; to comprehend legal arguments; to guess at the probable effect of and interaction between judicial, statutory, legal and policy arguments in court; to argue, persuade and debate; to work cooperatively with colleagues; and for some, to judge those arguments and decide cases and issues of law. This is as true in the practice of constitutional law as in any other. Once their research skills are in place, most students are aware that they have the capacity to learn, relatively quickly, whatever they need or want to know regarding any legal question.

Bell's Constitutional Conflicts was a casebook of sorts, modeled on this method to achieve active learning and participation.  His students seemed to thrive in the "Court of Bell."

For some law professors putting together such material and assessing the student products would deflect from their scholarly agenda.  But Derrick Bell took pedagogy as seriously as he took his many scholarly projects and his lecturing schedule.  Or maybe not so seriously: One of my fondest memories of him was as a co-panelist on an AALS Teaching section plenary, when he replied to a question by saying that teaching was fun.  And then he whispered to me that perhaps we'd better not tell everyone how much fun it really is.

[image: Derrick Bell via]

October 6, 2011 in Current Affairs, Profiles in Con Law Teaching, Race | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)