Thursday, February 5, 2015
From Redress Information & Analysis:
There are many international treaties and conventions that Israel has either not signed or not ratified. It is the only state in the Middle East not to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It has not signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention either. It has signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention. But one convention it has actually signed is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
While the media in the West have shown little interest in reporting the abuses of children’s and parents’ rights in Israel, the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, is duty bound to ensure that Israel is respecting its commitments under the UNCRC.
Thus, last week Israeli human rights representatives held a meeting with Jonny Cline, the head of UNICEF in Israel, during which Mr Cline agreed to investigate some of the issues they raised.
Read more here.
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
From BBC News:
The UK is now set to become the first country to introduce laws to allow the creation of babies from three people.
In a free vote in the Commons, 382 MPs were in favour and 128 against the technique that stops genetic diseases being passed from mother to child.
During the debate, ministers said the technique was "light at the end of a dark tunnel" for families.
A further vote is required in the House of Lords. It everything goes ahead then the first such baby could be born next year.
Proponents said the backing was "good news for progressive medicine" but critics say they will continue to fight against the technique that they say raises too many ethical and safety concerns.
Estimates suggest 150 three-person babies could be born each year.
Read more here.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
National Association of Women Lawyers®
2015 Selma Moidel Smith Law Student Writing Competition
The National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL)® is a national voluntary legal professional organization whose mission is the advancement of women in the legal profession and women’s rights. Since 1899, NAWL has served as an educational forum and active voice for the concerns of women lawyers in this country and abroad. NAWL continues to support and advance the interests of women in and under the law, and in so doing, supports and advances the social, political, and professional empowerment of women. Through its programs and networks, NAWL provides the tools for women in the profession to advance, prosper, and enrich the profession. NAWLhas established the annual Selma Moidel Smith Law Student Writing Competition to encourage and reward original law student writing on issues concerning women and the law. The rules for the competition are as follows:
Entrants should submit a paper on an issue concerning women’s rights or the status of women in the law. The most recent winning paper was “The Decriminalization of Rape on America’s College Campuses: How Federal Sex Discrimination Policy Has Diminished the Role of the Criminal Justice System in Combatting Sexual Violence” written by Danielle Elizabeth DeBold, New York University School of Law. Please view paper at http://www.nawl.org/p/cm/ld/fid=83.
Essays will be accepted from students enrolled at any law school during the 2014-15 school year. The essays must be the law student author’s own work and must not have been submitted for publication elsewhere. Papers written by students for coursework or independent study during the summer, fall, or spring semesters are eligible for submission. Notwithstanding the foregoing, students may incorporate professorial feedback as part of a course requirement or supervised writing project.
FORMAT: Essays must be double-spaced in 12-point, Times New Roman font. All margins must be one inch. Entries must not exceed fifteen (15) pages of text, excluding notes, with footnotes placed as endnotes. Citation style should conform to The Bluebook – A Uniform System of Citation. Essays longer than 15 pages of text, excluding notes, or which are not in the required format may not be read.
JUDGING: NAWL Women Lawyers Journal® designees will judge the competition. Essays will be judged based upon content, exhaustiveness of research, originality, writing style, and timeliness.
QUESTIONS: Questions regarding this competition should be addressed to the chair of the Writing Competition, Professor Jennifer Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SUBMISSION AND DEADLINE: Entries must be received by May 1, 2015. Entries received after the deadline will be considered only at the discretion of NAWL. Entries must provide a cover letter providing the title of your essay, school affiliation, email address, phone number, and mailing address. Entries must be submitted in the following format: email an electronic version (in Microsoft Word) to email@example.com.
AWARD: The author of the winning essay will receive a cash prize of $500. NAWL will also publish the winning essay in the NAWL Women Lawyers Journal.
From Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Thousands of Minnesota children living in temporary foster care could find permanent homes under a new state program that eliminates the long-standing financial penalty for people who adopt foster children.
The new program, Northstar Care for Children, which the state Department of Human Services launched this month, simplifies and significantly increases monthly benefits for more than 7,000 children across Minnesota who receive state adoption assistance — giving foster care parents more of a financial incentive to adopt children who are unable to be cared for by their birthparents.
Read more here.
Monday, February 2, 2015
From The Irish Times:
The Government has pledged that legislation providing for adoption by gay couples will be enacted before the referendum on same-sex marriage in May.
The pledge came in the wake of concern in both Coalition parties that the first television debate on the issue on Monday night had raised doubts about potential pitfalls in the campaign.
At their weekly Cabinet meeting, Ministers agreed to hold another special meeting today to finalise the wording of the Bill providing for the referendum on same-sex marriage.
Read more here.
Saturday, January 31, 2015
From KPRC Houston:
For Natalie and Brandon Champagne, the question was not if they would become parents, but rather how they would become parents.
"Brandon had leukemia as a child and some of the treatments that he received, we knew we probably wouldn't be able to have children of our own," said Natalie Champagne.
The two then heard about the Snowflake Adoption Program, a program that matches families that are willing to donate embryos they no longer need for IVF, to families that want to have children. Families like the Champagnes then adopt, birth and raise the child as their own.
Read more here.
Friday, January 30, 2015
From Erez Aloni (Whittier Law School), writing for the Guardian:
Even as social conservatives pontificate on preserving the sanctity of marriage and the importance of making divorce once again more difficult, other conservatives have launched a complementary crusade if ‘I do’ isn’t forever: hands off your ex’s money.
Some politicians contend the ease of getting a divorce is the source of other problems like poverty and crime, making it a worthy primary target for reform. Last month, 50 international scholars and religious leaders wrote a letter to the Pope, urging the Catholic Church to consider the effects of no-fault divorce – or ending a marriage without having to demonstrated the other spouse has done wrong – on society. The letter followed relentless political efforts by conservative legislators to make divorce more difficult, with legislation to impose “cooling off” periods before legally ending a union introduced in more than a dozen states.
Read more here.
Thursday, January 29, 2015
Babies are a hot commodity and so scarce here in the U.S. that some prospective adoptive parents will spend thousands of dollars to adopt a baby from overseas — while older children are ignored and left behind. But that doesn’t have to be the case.
Stephanie Bosco-Ruggiero, Gloria Russo Wassell, and Victor Groza have written a new book: “Adopting Older Children: A Practical Guide to Adopting and Parenting Children Over Age Four” that is designed to help couples that would like to adopt but have questions about how adoption works with older children.
In an interview with MyCentralJersey.com, Bosco-Ruggiero said “people hesitate when considering adopting an older child because they concern that the child will have severe behavioral or emotional problems stemming from backgrounds of abuse and neglect.” While those factors complicate an adoption, these problems can be successfully overcome.
Read more here.
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Mississippi, which does not allow same-sex marriages, should find a way to grant a divorce to a DeSoto County woman who married another woman in California in 2008, lawyer Carey Varnadotold the state Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The attorney general's office, though, told the court that the state can't grant a divorce to Lauren Czekala-Chatham (chick AH' luh-CHAT' um) and Dana Ann Melancon (muh LAWN' sawn) because their marriage is void in Mississippi.
There may be a way out for the nine justices on Mississippi's top court: They could find a way to grant a divorce or legally dissolve the marriage without overturning the state constitutional amendment and law that limit marriage to a union between only one man and one woman. They could also wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule.
Read more here.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
From Between the Lines News:
A custody case filed against a local lesbian woman will soon be presented before a Wayne County Judge, as the children's biological father seeks full custody.
Annette Burgan, 44, has three children. The metro Detroit woman elected to seek out a suitable candidate that would enable her and her partner at the time to use the services of a sperm donor bank in California to conceive. Eleven years later she is fighting to remain the legal parent of her children.
Read more here.
Monday, January 26, 2015
From Dekalb Daily Chronicle:
A new service beginning Tuesday will provide DeKalb County parents with a middleman to keep their children out of potential squabbling during visitation exchanges.
The Neutral Exchange Program, a new division of the DeKalb County-based Family Service Agency, is a court-ordered service that provides divorced or separated parents a way to transfer custody of their child with almost no interaction, making the situation less uncomfortable for everyone involved.
Read more here.
Saturday, January 24, 2015
From NY Magazine:
In the late '80s, the founder of a support group for adopted children who had recently reconnected with their biological relatives coined the term “Genetic Sexual Attraction” (GSA) to describe the intense romantic and sexual feelings that she observed occurring in many of these reunions. According to an article in The Guardian, experts estimate that these taboo feelings occur in about 50 percent of cases where estranged relatives are reunited as adults (GSA’s discoverer had herself become attracted to the son she’d adopted out when she met him 26 years later, but her feelings were not reciprocated).
Though the research is scarce, those who have studied GSA offer a range of possible explanations for it, including a primordial feeling of always having “belonged” to the estranged relative, a sense of wanting to experience the bonding missed out on during childhood, or simply an overwhelming closeness based on similarities: like meeting a mate who was designed for you in a science lab. Perhaps GSA accounts for Kevin Gates’s attraction to his first cousin.
Read more here.
Hat Tip: Gregg Strauss
From Omaha World-Herald:
Many noncustodial parents would see a reduction in their monthly financial obligations under proposed updates to Nebraska’s child support guidelines.
The across-the-board recommendations of a special state commission are intended to reflect Nebraska’s lower cost of living as compared with surrounding states. Depending upon a parent’s income, the proposed changes could reduce base monthly child support payments by as much as $200.
Read more here.
Friday, January 23, 2015
From The Courier-Journal:
Despite a Kentucky law that bars the recognition of gay marriages performed where they are legal, a Jefferson Family Court judge has granted the state's first same-sex divorce.
In the first ruling of its kind in Kentucky, Judge Joseph O'Reilly permitted the divorce of two Louisville women who were legally married in Massachusetts.
Though state law says gay marriages performed elsewhere are void in Kentucky, O'Reilly said that barring same-sex couples to divorce here violates the state constitutional guarantee that all people should be treated as equals.
Read more here.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, writing for the New York Times:
YEARS ago, while producing the hit TV series “The Shield,” Glen Mazzara noticed that two young female writers were quiet during story meetings. He pulled them aside and encouraged them to speak up more.
Watch what happens when we do, they replied.
Almost every time they started to speak, they were interrupted or shot down before finishing their pitch. When one had a good idea, a male writer would jump in and run with it before she could complete her thought.
Sadly, their experience is not unusual.
We’ve both seen it happen again and again. When a woman speaks in a professional setting, she walks a tightrope. Either she’s barely heard or she’s judged as too aggressive. When a man says virtually the same thing, heads nod in appreciation for his fine idea. As a result, women often decide that saying less is more.
Some new studies support our observations. A study by a Yale psychologist, Victoria L. Brescoll, found that male senators with more power (as measured by tenure, leadership positions and track record of legislation passed) spoke more on the Senate floor than their junior colleagues. But for female senators, power was not linked to significantly more speaking time.
Suspecting that powerful women stayed quiet because they feared a backlash, Professor Brescoll looked deeper. She asked professional men and women to evaluate the competence of chief executives who voiced their opinions more or less frequently. Male executives who spoke more often than their peers were rewarded with 10 percent higher ratings of competence. When female executives spoke more than their peers, both men and women punished them with 14 percent lower ratings. As this and other research shows, women who worry that talking “too much” will cause them to be disliked are not paranoid; they are often right.
Read more here.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Monday, January 19, 2015
Jeffrey A. Parness (Northern Illinois University - College of Law) has posted Parentage Prenups and Midnups, Georgia State University Law Review, Vol. 31 (forthcoming 2015) to SSRN. Here is the abstract:
In July, 2012 the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws recommended for enactment in all American states the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act . Unlike its predecessor, the Act treats “premarital agreements and marital agreements under the same set of principles and requirements.” Like its predecessor, it speaks largely to agreements on property, including money. Unlike its predecessor, it expressly recognizes there may be agreements on “custodial responsibility.”
Custodial agreements are not “binding” on the courts under the Act because parents and prospective parents do not have the power to waive the rights of third parties (their current or future children) or to remove the duty of the courts to protect the best interests of minor children. The Act’s Comment suggests that while such agreements are not always enforceable, they can provide “guidance” to courts. The paper argues that “guidance” on “custodial responsibility” should flow from prenups and midnups even if there is no statute on such agreements and even if any statute is silent as to “custodial responsibility.”
The Act implies there can be guidance within premarital and marital agreements on future child support for existing and future children. It also implies there can be guidance within such agreements to create, have created, or adopt children. States implementing the Act should expressly recognize that prenups and midnups can address child support and child creation as well as child custody.
When might child custody, child support or child creation promises within prenups and midnups be suitable for prospective and current spouses and others? And when might prenups and midnups provide “guidance” to judges? This paper suggests that future and actual stepparents could employ such agreements. Without such agreements, stepparent standing to seek childcare orders is usually less available because of the superior parental rights of existing parents. The paper also suggests that childcare pacts in prenups and midnups can guide other current and future family members (like grandparents, aunts and uncles) who later seek to childcare.
As to child support pacts, superior parental rights and public concerns about children’s interests pose fewer problems than childcare pacts. Childcare by a parent generally is not negatively impacted when additional child support is provided. Public policy does not allow money alone, however, to be the basis for childcare standing.
As to child creation agreements, both superior parental rights and other federal constitutional interests (like paternity opportunity interests), as well as public concerns, are significantly implicated. Statutes and common law rulings already respect certain child creation pacts involving assisted human reproduction outside of prenups and midnups. The paper suggests prenups or midnups on child creation should also guide judicial decisions, sometimes beyond these statutes and rulings.
Sunday, January 18, 2015
From the New York Times:
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to decide whether all 50 states must allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, positioning it to resolve one of the great civil rights questions in a generation before its current term ends in June.
The decision came just months after the justices ducked the issue, refusing in October to hear appeals from rulings allowing same-sex marriage in five states. That decision, which was considered a major surprise, delivered a tacit victory for gay rights, immediately expanding the number of states with same-sex marriage to 24, along with the District of Columbia, up from 19.
Largely as a consequence of the Supreme Court’s decision not to act, the number of states allowing same-sex marriage has since grown to 36, and more than 70 percent of Americans live in places where gay couples can marry.
The cases the Supreme Court agreed to hear on Friday were brought by some 15 same-sex couples in four states. The plaintiffs said they have a fundamental right to marry and to be treated as opposite-sex couples are, adding that bans they challenged demeaned their dignity, imposed countless practical difficulties and inflicted particular harm on their children.
The pace of change on same-sex marriage, in both popular opinion and in the courts, has no parallel in the nation’s history.
Read more here.
Friday, January 16, 2015
Smith & Pollvogt: "Children as Proto-Citizens: Equal Protection, Citizenship, and Lessons From the Child-Centered Cases"
Catherine E. Smith (University of Denver Sturm College of Law) and Susannah William Pollvogt (Washburn University School of Law) have posted Children as Proto-Citizens: Equal Protection, Citizenship, and Lessons From the Child-Centered Cases, UC Davis Law Review (forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The rights of children have recently taken a prominent role in the popular and judicial consciousness. This is largely due to litigation over marriage equality. In authoring the majority opinion in United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013), Justice Kennedy cited tangible and psychic harm to the children of same-sex couples as a basis for invalidating the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Post-Windsor, myriad state and federal courts similarly have recognized the manner in which state-level marriage bans inflict harm on the children of same-sex couples.
Yet, while courts have recognized the significance of harm to children as a factual matter, they have yet to address its significance as a legal matter. Specifically, they have ignored compelling Supreme Court precedent that directly addresses the equal protection rights of children. This body of law — which we refer to as “the child-centered cases” — unequivocally stands for the proposition that states may not deprive children of benefits in an effort to regulate adult behavior. Marriage bans do exactly this. Such laws deprive the children of same-sex couples the benefit of a legal relationship to one of their parents in an effort to incentivize opposite-sex couples to enter into the institution of marriage. This directly contravenes the legal principle articulated in the child-centered cases.
Thus, at a minimum, the child-centered cases provide a clear legal principle for resolving the same-sex marriage issue. But we contend that these cases offer much more. In particular, in the child-centered cases we see the Court giving greater meaning to equal protection guarantees because it views children as proto-citizens. In this context, the Court recognizes certain substantive rights — namely, public education, family formation, and the right to transfer economic benefits from one generation to the next — as foundational to citizenship, and therefore worthy of special judicial solicitude. The Court recognizes that depriving children of these rights at the beginning of life sets a pattern of marginalization and deprivation that has lasting effects on their ability to develop into full-fledged citizens.
The citizenship theme running through the child-centered cases is significant for several reasons. First, it connects equal protection jurisprudence to the concept of citizenship. Second, it draws attention to the substantive rights associated with citizenship-formation. Third, while the special concerns articulated in these cases are inspired by the fact that the plaintiffs are children, recognizing the interference with the individual’s ability to develop as a citizen can and should be extended to adults as well. In this sense, we are all proto-citizens — citizens in progress — entitled to basic civil rights necessary to thrive in our democracy.