Author Archive for sarah-waldeck
posted by Sarah Waldeck
I’m pleased to welcome Thomas Healy, who will be guest blogging this month.
Thomas is a professor at Seton Hall Law School, where he teaches constitutional law, federal courts, First Amendment, and criminal procedure. He recently published “The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind — and Changed the History of Free Speech in America,” which was selected as a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice and which Erwin Chemerinsky called “wonderful and engaging” in a review for California Lawyer. Thomas began his career as a journalist and was the Supreme Court correspondent for the Baltimore Sun prior to joining Seton Hall.
posted by Sarah Waldeck
Rachel Godsil is the Eleanor Bontecou Professor of Law at Seton Hall Law School. Her teaching and research interests include race and social science, constitutional law, property, education, and environmental law. Her recent scholarship focuses on implicit bias and the role of perception on public policy decisions and institutional treatment of people of color. Professor Godsil is a co-founder and research director for the American Values Institute, a national consortium of social scientists and law professors focusing on the role of implicit bias in law and policy. She is currently working on the link between stereotype threat and the success of students of color in law. Professor Godsil has written amicus briefs to the Supreme Court on behalf of research psychologists in the Fisher v. University of Texas and on behalf of the National Parent Teacher Association in the Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District litigation at the Supreme Court. She has written numerous articles and book chapters on issues of race and property and is the co-editor of Awakening From The Dream: Civil Rights Under Siege And The New Struggle For Equal Justice (Carolina Academic Press, 2005).
posted by Sarah Waldeck
Professor Marc R. Poirier is a Professor of Law and the Martha Traylor Research Fellow at Seton Hall University School of Law. Marc writes and teaches in the areas of property theory, environmental law, administrative law, coastal land use, regulatory takings, and law and sexuality. Two of Professor Poirier’s articles have won Dukeminier Awards from the Williams Institute at UCLA as among the best articles in the field of law and sexuality and gender identity. Marc has also been chair of two AALS Sections: (1) Property and (2) Law and Interpretation. He currently serves on the Society of American Law School’s (SALT) Committee on Issues in Legal Education.
Marc’s work includes:
Brazilian Regularization of Title in Light of Moradia, Compared to the United States Understandings of Homeownership and Homelessness, 44 U. Miami Inter-Am. L. Rev. (2013);
Name Calling: Identifying Stigma and the “Civil Union”/”Marriage” Distinction, 41 Conn. L. Rev. 1425 (2009);
The Cultural Property Claim within the Same-Sex Marriage Controversy, 17 Colum. J. Gender & Law 343 (2008).
Marc’s current works in progress include an article examining why the Boy Scouts of America’s proposed local option compromise on policy towards LGBT membership did not and could not satisfy the concerns of the Scouts’ constituencies; an article arguing that the key issue in the ongoing same-sex marriage controversy is localism, not federalism; and an article on neighborliness, risk, and scale in the management of coastal land. He is also working on what he hopes will become a book on hate crimes as territory.
posted by Sarah Waldeck
I am pleased to welcome Christine Kexel Chabot, who will be guest blogging during the month of July. Christine is a lecturer at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, where she has taught since 2010.
Christine’s empirical research focuses on judicial decision-making. For example, a recent Hastings Law Journal article analyzes the Senate’s ability to constrain presidents’ choices of Supreme Court nominees over an extended period. Her working paper, Schooling the Supreme Court, makes use of a unique period when Justices who attended law school sat with Justices who entered the profession by reading the law alone.
Before coming to Loyola – Chicago, Christine practiced in the Ann Arbor and Chicago offices of leading national law firms and clerked for the Hon. Jane R. Roth of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Her interest in judicial decision-making stems from her appellate and telecommunications litigation experience.
posted by Sarah Waldeck
That’s not my headline. It was in the New York Times earlier this month, in the section where the paper provides short blurbs about what is happening around the country.
My youngest daughter is in kindergarten. Here is a list of some of the things that she either cannot do or is not allowed to do: cross a busy street by herself; pour milk from a full gallon jug; ride in a car without a booster seat; and tie her shoes (I know . . . she’s working on that one). She is, however, a highly capable kid. So it might be fairer to her if I listed some of what she can do: get herself ready for school; ride her bike around the block; make her bed; use a variety of electronic devices that begin with an “i”.
But regardless of whether the list is of “cannots” or “cans,” it does not square with this statement from the county coroner in Kentucky:
Mr. White said that the .22-caliber rifle had been kept in a corner and that the family had not realized a bullet was left inside it. “It’s a Crickett,” Mr. White said, referring to a company that makes guns, clothes and books for children. “It’s a little rifle for a kid,” he said, adding, “The little boy’s used to shooting the little gun.”
I grew up in a small Wisconsin town. At my high school, so many teachers and students were absent on the first day of deer season that school might as well have been cancelled. Today some of my close relatives keep hunting rifles in their closets. So while I absolutely do not want to suggest that I know anything about the family that suffered this terrible tragedy, I am familiar with the kind of culture in which a .22-caliber rifle is put in a corner.
Which is not to say that I wasn’t jarred by the phrase “a company that makes guns, clothes and books for children.” Or that I expected, when I visited Crickett’s website, to see child-sized guns in bright blue and pink. And watch out Joe Camel, because Crickett’s mascot is a jolly green frog sporting a rifle, boots, and a hunting cap.
Footbinding, smoking, drunk driving—these are all legend among law and norms scholars. But with few exceptions, almost no one talks about trying to change gun culture through the sort of small, incremental changes that have made such a difference elsewhere. Certainly it is daunting to even think about how to spark change. And it’s also true that those whose ideas would make a difference would only receive posthumous gratification, because change might not actually be realized until my kindergartener has great-grandchildren.
But Boy, 5, Kills Sister, 2.
posted by Sarah Waldeck
I am happy to welcome David L. Schwartz, who will be a guest blogger during the month of May.
Dave joined the faculty of Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2009, where he is presently an Associate Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Center for Empirical Studies of Intellectual Property. From 2006 until 2009, Dave was an Assistant Professor of Law at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Prior to entering academics, he spent over a decade as an intellectual property law practitioner, including being a partner at two intellectual property boutique firms in Chicago.
Dave’s main area is empirical studies of patent litigation. He is also interested in judicial decision-making and the use of legal scholarship in judicial opinions. Some of his works include Analyzing the Role of Non-Practicing Entities in the Patent System, 99 Cornell L. Rev. (forthcoming 2014) (with Jay Kesan), Standards of Proof in Civil Litigation:An Experiment from Patent Law, Harv. J. L. & Tech.(forthcoming 2013) (with Christopher Seaman), and An Empirical Assessment of the Supreme Court’s Use of Legal Scholarship, 106 Nw. U. L. Rev. 995 (2012) (with Lee Petherbridge).
posted by Sarah Waldeck
Loyola University Chicago School of Law is organizing the fourth annual Constitutional Law Colloquium at the Philip H. Corboy Law Center, 25 East Pearson Street, Chicago, IL 60611. The event will begin on Friday morning, November 1 and end midday on Saturday, November 2, 2013. The conference aims to bring together constitutional law scholars at all stages of their professional development to discuss current projects, doctrinal developments in constitutional law, and future goals. Presentations will be grouped by subject matter.
The conference is organized by Professor John E. Nowak, Raymond and Mary Simon Chair in Constitutional Law; Professor Juan Perea; Professor Alexander Tsesis; and Professor Michael J. Zimmer
The Law Center is located on Loyola’s Water Tower campus, near Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile, Lake Michigan, Millennium Park, the Chicago Art Institute, and Chicago Symphony Center.
This announcement invites abstract submissions of 150 to 200 words from Constitutional Law professors interested in contributing to the current debates concerning constitutional theory and Supreme Court rulings. We also welcome attendees who wish to participate in audience discussions without presenting a paper. The goal of the conference is to allow professors to develop new ideas with the help of supportive colleagues on a wide range of constitutional law topics.
Eligibility: The Loyola Constitutional Law Colloquium is aimed at Constitutional Law, Legal History, Political Science, and Philosophy scholars teaching full-time and part-time at the university, law school, and graduate levels on all matters of constitutional law.
Application Procedure: The registration and abstract submission deadline is June 15, 2013. Conference organizers will select abstracts on a rolling basis.
Registration at: http://www.luc.edu/law/conlawcolloquium/register.html
Information at: http://www.luc.edu/law/conlawcolloquium/index.html
Topics, abstracts, papers, questions, and comments should be submitted to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Participants are expected to pay their own travel expenses. Loyola will provide facilities, support, and continental breakfasts on Friday and Saturday, lunch on Friday and Saturday, and a dinner on Friday night.
posted by Sarah Waldeck
Today “smart” e-books are in the news. These books give professors access to a stream of data about how individual students are using their e-books—whether they are skipping pages, highlighting specific passages, or taking notes in the book. The software that makes such monitoring possible even provides an “engagement index” for each student. The news stories I’ve encountered have mostly focused on how the data enables professors to identify and then reach out to students with poor study habits.
I don’t know how to spell the sound I made when I first heard this particular news angle, but it was something close to the classic UGH. The company that created the software says its surveys indicate that few students or colleges have privacy concerns. But I know I would feel like I was spying on the adults I teach.
Which is not to say that I couldn’t put the data stream to some use, at least in an aggregate form. If a meaningful portion of my class does not appear to be reading the textbook but is nonetheless performing well in class and on exams, then my course is too easy or the textbook is a dud, or some combination of the two.
The data stream may also be of interest to the institutions that employ professors. Every university, college, or graduate school has at least a couple gut courses—classes in which students can do very little work and still get good grades. One concern in law schools is that GPA-conscious students will flock to a gut course instead of one that would better prepare them for the bar and eventual practice. A dean who is trying to convince a professor that her class needs to be harder could put the data from smart e-books to very effective use. In fact, some professors will be disinclined to embrace smart e-books once they realize that students aren’t the only ones who can be watched.
Last, I am struck by the connection between the emergence of smart e-books and a post Larry wrote a few weeks ago. Larry’s post laments that as e-books become increasingly dominant, he will no longer be able to peruse the bookshelves of colleagues or friends as a means of sparking a connection or sizing them up. E-books do not serve the same (often inadvertent) signaling function as a print book. E-books mean that no-one can get a window into my interests by scanning my shelves or seeing what’s open on my coffee table. They also mean that I can no longer pick out law students on the subway by looking for a telltale red binding. But with smart e-books, a select group will know more about these students’ reading habits than most of us would have imagined just a few years ago.
posted by Sarah Waldeck
Recently I wrote about In re Ehrlich, 47 A.3d 12 (2012), a trusts and estates case pending before the New Jersey Supreme Court that will serve as a bellwether of what can be probated in harmless error jurisdictions. Under the Uniform Probate Code’s harmless error rule, a defective document can be probated if there is clear and convincing evidence that the decedent intended it to be a will.
As I previously explained, the proponent in Ehrlich wants to probate an unsigned and unattested document that otherwise reads like the usual formal will. The decedent had noted in one corner of the document that he mailed “the original” to his executor. I suggested that the dissenting appellate division judge, who wanted to deny probate, was applying a substantial compliance standard instead of the harmless error rule, which New Jersey adopted in 2004.
But another possibility is that the dissent and majority have different understandings of testamentary intent. This would help reconcile Ehrlich with In re Macool, 3 A.3d 1258 (2010), another important harmless error case.
In Macool, the dissenting judge in Ehrlich voted with the majority to hold that probate under the harmless error rule requires proof that the decedent (1) actually reviewed the document and (2) gave final assent to it. The Macool court refused to probate a document that a lawyer had dictated while Macool was in his office; although the lawyer’s secretary had typed up the document, Macool never saw it because she died just an hour after leaving the lawyer’s office. The court explained that in the absence of review and final assent, it could not be certain the document reflected Macool’s final testamentary wishes.
Similarly, the dissenting judge in Ehrlich may not see adequate evidence of testamentary intent. Perhaps from the dissent’s perspective, all we have is an unsigned and unwitnessed document. The other evidence—the handwritten notation; the fact that the decedent drew up the document just before he had life-threatening surgery; and that he executed health care directives on the same day that the document is dated—all of this is simply not enough to convince the judge that Ehrlich gave final assent to the document. In other words, the dissenting judge may not be sufficiently certain about Ehrlich’s testamentary intent.
The dissent in Ehrlich writes that he now believes Macool “gives too expansive an interpretation” to the harmless error rule. Perhaps the dissent fears that Macool opened the barnyard door to the probate of documents that will fall short of what the dissent believes is necessary to establish testamentary intent. In particular, the dissent appears reluctant to find testamentary intent without a decedent signature.
I, for one, have never been concerned about Macool throwing open the barnyard door. In fact, I have argued that Macool partially closed it. I’ve written more about that here.
posted by Sarah Waldeck
Estates and trusts junkies are watching what the New Jersey Supreme Court will do with the harmless error doctrine in In re Ehrlich, 47 A.3d 12 (2012), a case it has recently agreed to review. The New Jersey appellate court and most legal reporters framed Ehrlich as determining the scope of In re Macool, 3 A.3d 1258 (2010), which held the harmless error rule can only be applied when the decedent actually reviewed the document in question and gave final assent to it. But really the central question in Ehrlich is about the relationship between harmless error and substantial compliance. Because New Jersey is generally a progressive jurisdiction on estates and trusts issues, Ehrlich may reveal much about how intent-oriented courts are inclined to be.
After Ehrlich’s death, a fourteen-page document labeled “Last Will and Testament” was found in his home. Ehrlich was an attorney and the document was typed on legal paper with Ehrlich’s name and law office address printed in the margin of each page. The document was not signed or witnessed, but Ehrlich handwrote on the cover page, “Original mailed to H.W. Van Sciver,” whom Ehrlich had named executor. Ehrlich prepared the document just before he had life-threatening surgery and on the same day he executed a power of attorney and living will. The document left the bulk of Ehrlich’s estate to his nephew, Jonathan. Under intestacy, the estate would be split between Jonathan and another nephew and niece. Ehrlich had not talked to the other nephew and niece for more than 20 years.
You all know where this story is heading. Sciver died in 2005 and the original will could not be located. Nothing suggests that the original was ever returned to Ehrlich. This means the usual rules governing lost wills, which contemplate the will last being in the possession of the testator, cannot neatly resolve the case. To get the bulk of Ehrlich’s estate, Jonathan must convince the New Jersey Supreme Court to allow probate of the document found in Ehrlich’s home. Because the document is neither signed nor witnessed, everything turns on how the Court interprets the harmless error rule, which the New Jersey legislature adopted a few years ago.
posted by Sarah Waldeck
I sighed heavily at last week’s news that the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) had changed its policy on routine neonatal circumcision. Nearly everyone expected the AAP to move away from its neutral stance and state that the health benefits of the procedure outweigh its medical risks. So it wasn’t the substance of the policy that made me sigh, although I wish that the AAP had at least remained neutral. Rather, it was the extent to which, although details change, the central arguments remain the same.
I have written a lot on this blog about how non-religious circumcision is no longer a medically-motivated phenomenon. Instead, it is a practice driven largely by social norms and a desire to make boys look like their fathers and peers. (If you want to read old posts, start with this one, which also explains some of the medical research behind the new policy.)
Because routine neonatal circumcision is mostly about conformity, I’ve previously questioned to what extent a new policy will actually change parental behavior. Circumcision rates in the United States have been declining for more than a decade; at present they hover just under 55 percent nationwide. But in some areas of the country, like the Pacific Northwest, less than 20 percent of male newborns are routinely circumcised. If conformity is what parents care about, I’m not sure that a new policy from the AAP will make much of a difference—at least in parts of the country where non-circumcision is the norm.
What should most worry non-circumcision advocates is the language in the new policy stating that third-party coverage of circumcision is warranted. Many experts partly attribute the low circumcision rates in the Pacific Northwest to decisions to remove the procedure from Medicaid funding in the 1980s and 1990s. If lack of insurance coverage helped launch the trend toward non-circumcision, a change in coverage may lead to a slow reversal in favor of circumcision.
Or maybe not. Once non-circumcision is the norm, will the AAP’s new policy—which states the health benefits of the procedure outweigh its risks, but also that the decision whether to circumcise should be left to parents—meaningfully change behavior? I doubt it, but I will be closely watching what happens in the Pacific Northwest to find out.
posted by Sarah Waldeck
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how my colleague Tim Glynn and I recently examined elementary and high school rankings in Illinois, New Jersey, and Ohio, and sampled school report cards from 18 states. Our analysis, available here, demonstrates how rankings penalize socioeconomic and racial diversity and are biased toward wealthier and Whiter schools.
My prior post explained that because most ranking metrics fail to account for the achievement gap, wealthier and Whiter schools will almost always outrank diverse schools. The post also hypothesized about how the choices parents make based on these ratings help fuel neighborhood and school segregation. Now I want to discuss how alternative rankings could dampen the diversity penalty’s damaging effects.
People are drawn to the bottom-line assessment of quality that rankings provide, which means that rankings are not going to just disappear. But there is plenty of room to improve how school rankings and ratings are calculated. And herein lies a powerful opportunity to counteract the diversity penalty. As research by Michael Saunder and Wendy Nelson Espeland demonstrates, one way to mitigate the harm caused by influential ranking systems is to offer competing rankings. When a marketplace is crowded with multiple ratings, it is too loud for any single rating system to carry the day. No single ranking system will appear authoritative because each just offers information that conflicts with that offered by others.
Right now readers are probably thinking that they can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a school ranking. There are national ranking entities like SchoolDigger and GreatSchools, local magazines with “Best Schools” issues, and even some state department of education websites that provide ordinal ranks or allow users to compare one school to another. The problem, however, is that almost all of these ranking systems use metrics that ignore the achievement gap. The marketplace thus becomes an echo chamber in which wealthier and Whiter schools are rewarded and diverse schools are penalized.
The key, then, is for states to develop truly alternative rankings—ones that are sensitive to the socioeconomic and racial composition of schools. These rankings would neither penalize nor reward demographic diversity. Instead, they would measure a school’s overall quality by comparing the performance of each of its students against the average performance of the student’s demographic peers across the state. Indeed, New Mexico has already started down this road by including a variant of this methodology in its school assessments.
You can read more about this sort of methodology in our article. To be clear, however, these alternative rankings would not freeze expectations for any subgroup of a school’s population. On the contrary, a school’s ranking would benefit from better outcomes for students on both sides of the achievement gap, as well as from outperforming other schools in narrowing the gap. These competing rankings would encourage parents to dig deeper to determine whether a school is right for their children. That analysis would benefit students, schools, and communities alike.
posted by Sarah Waldeck
Those in legal education are familiar with the deleterious effects of the U.S. News rankings, but have not paid much attention to similar popular rankings of elementary, middle, and high schools. Because perceptions of public school quality often dictate where parents of school-aged children choose to live, these rankings are tremendously important.
My colleague Tim Glynn and I have recently examined rankings by private entities of schools in Illinois, New Jersey, and Ohio, and sampled school report cards from 18 states. Our analysis, available here, demonstrates that school rankings are neither accurate nor neutral measures of quality. Instead, rankings penalize socioeconomic and racial diversity and are biased toward wealthier and Whiter schools.
Most rankings use a student body’s overall performance on standardized proficiency tests to gauge school quality. This ignores the achievement gap—the well-documented phenomenon that, on average, wealthier students outperform poorer students on these tests and Asian and White students outperform Black and Hispanic students. The achievement gap is not inevitable, and educators are working hard to close it. But while the gap persists, wealthy and White schools will almost always have higher aggregate proficiency scores and thus outrank schools with a diverse mix of students. And that’s true even if a particular school serves each subgroup of its student population better than the higher ranked schools do.
This diversity penalty exists across popular school ranking systems in all areas of the country. Consider the website SchoolDigger and its rankings of New Jersey and Illinois high schools. Millburn High School—located in an affluent northern New Jersey town and often described in the media as one of the best high schools in the state—ranked 22 for tested year 2010. (The top spots were held by magnet schools that pre-select their students based on academic achievement.) The high school in neighboring South Orange-Maplewood—a far more socioeconomically and racially diverse community—ranked 179. But isolating performance at these two schools by demographic subgroup creates a very different impression of relative school quality. For example, when the two schools are re-ranked based just on the test scores of White students, they are in a virtual dead heat. The high school in Montclair, another nearby diverse community, performs comparably. Similarly, in Illinois, New Trier Township High School—which draws students from several affluent Chicago suburbs—ranked fifth for tested year 2010. Nearby Evanston High School—located in a far more diverse community—ranked 126. But when the two schools are re-ranked in ways that account for the achievement gap, they are essentially tied. Oak Park & River Forest High School, another diverse Chicago suburban school, is competitive as well. This pattern repeats itself in different years and different states and for elementary schools as well as high schools.
Parents should care about more than just the performance of their child’s demographic peers. But rankings that rely on aggregated scores are a misleading indicator for all demographic subgroups, including low-income students and historically-disadvantaged minorities. The problem is not that disadvantaged subgroups drag down aggregated test scores. Rather, by lumping all students together without regard for socioeconomic and racial differences, rankings reveal little about how a school actually serves its student population.
Because of the achievement gap, diverse schools in which both disadvantaged and advantaged students outperform their demographic peers will often still have lower aggregated proficiency scores—and hence lower rankings—than schools with mostly wealthy and White students. The rankings therefore penalize diversity and reward wealth and White racial homogeneity. Parents who rely on rankings will conclude that wealthy and White schools are better, even when the statistics show their children would do just as well or better in a diverse school.
Many parents see the value of diversity and would happily opt for schools that are both diverse and academically strong. And integrated learning environments benefit all students. But popular school-ranking systems suggest, contrary to reality, that academic strength and diversity seldom co-exist. When parents choose school districts based on rank, those with means will select away from diverse schools and the neighborhoods in which they are located. This distortion of local housing markets contributes to school and neighborhood segregation and may help explain why highly diverse communities are so rare.
School report cards contain data about demographic subgroup performance, and some private ranking systems also make this information available. But because the disaggregated data is usually buried beneath the headlines, many parents do not focus on it. Moreover, disaggregated data does not provide what many parents want—a bottom-line assessment of overall school quality.
Given their popularity, rankings are not going to disappear anytime soon. The question, then, is how to dampen their damaging effects. More on that in a later post.
posted by Sarah Waldeck
This fall Minnesota voters will decide whether to amend their state constitution by adding a ban on same-sex marriage. The William Mitchell faculty recently adopted a resolution against the amendment and then released the resolution along with details of the faculty vote (24 – 7) to the press. The resolution first notes that the proposed amendment conflicts with William Mitchell’s anti-discrimination policy and “could substantially impair William Mitchell’s ability to recruit and retain the best qualified students, staff and faculty.” The resolution then goes on to list legal and moral objections to the amendment and states, “As a Faculty of Law, we believe that limitations on civil rights should not be enshrined in our state constitution.” Finally, the resolution encourages Minnesota’s three other law schools to adopt similar resolutions of their own.
William Mitchell’s action has left me thinking about several broad questions. First, when—if ever—do law faculties have a responsibility to take public positions on matters facing the electorate? Of course individual faculty members routinely comment on such issues, either in their own writings or when responding to press inquiries. But when an issue involves fundamental rights or constitutional amendments, are law professors obligated to weigh in “as a faculty?” For example, did law professors in the South have the responsibility to speak collectively about segregation? Or should law faculties on the West Coast have passed resolutions against Japanese internment? On one hand, law faculties reasonably can be expected to have opinions on such matters. If faculties do nothing, their silence could be construed as tacit approval or at least as evidence that the issue is not important enough to warrant public comment. On the other hand, public resolutions do not mean that all faculty members agree. At William Mitchell, for example, about one-fifth of voting professors are now publicly affiliated with a resolution that they were against.
This leads to my next question. If a faculty can’t speak with unanimity or at least near-unanimity, is there value in the faculty speaking at all? William Mitchell’s resolution specifically states, “Many people of good faith support [the proposed amendment], including some co-workers, students, and alumni, and they have every right to do so.” One can easily imagine the kinds of concerns and compromises that would lead to the inclusion of this language, as well as the decision to make public the 24 – 7 vote. But is the public likely to see that vote tally and just conclude that the William Mitchell faculty—like the state of Minnesota—is split on the merits of the proposed amendment? Assuming that law faculties are generally perceived as left-leaning, could the vote tally even have the unintended consequence of suggesting that there is something meritorious about the proposed amendment because 7 out of 31 law professors did not want the faculty to speak out against it?
Finally, if you conclude that law faculties are sometimes obligated to speak collectively and that doing so is effective, is the obligation limited to the faculties located in the areas where the problematic behavior is occurring? For example, did law faculties on the East Coast as well as the West Coast have a responsibility to weigh in on Japanese internment? Law faculties have a special interest in what happens in their own communities, so perhaps we would expect that if any faculty spoke against internment, it would be one on the West Coast. But if the relevant issue involves fundamental rights, are law faculties obligated to speak up about more than just what is happening in their backyards?
I’ve raised questions here without offering answers, but I’m hoping readers will take a stab at that in the comments.
Hat Tip: Mark Edwards
posted by Sarah Waldeck
Some of our readers may be interested in the following conference announcement:
Loyola University Chicago School of Law is organizing the Third Annual Constitutional Law Colloquium at the Philip H. Corboy Law Center, 25 East Pearson Street, Chicago, IL 60611. The event will begin on Friday morning, November 2 and end midday on Saturday, November 3, 2012.
This is the third annual Loyola conference bringing together constitutional law scholars at all stages of their professional development to discuss current projects, doctrinal developments in constitutional law, and future goals. Unless we are overwhelmed, we hope to be able to schedule presentations for all who submit. In this way, we will provide a forum for the vetting of ideas, invaluable opportunities for informed critiques, and networking opportunities. Presentations will be grouped by subject matter.
The Loyola Constitutional Law Colloquium is aimed at Constitutional Law, Legal History, Political Science, and Philosophy scholars teaching at the university, law school, and graduate levels on matters of constitutional law. We welcome applications from full-time, part-time, and adjunct faculty members, as well as post-doctoral fellows from academic discipline related to the study of constitutional issues (anthropology, history, law, literary criticism, philosophy political science, sociology, etc.).
Application Procedure: The registration and abstract submission deadline is May 31, 2012. Conference organizers will select abstracts on a rolling basis.
You can register for the conference here.
posted by Sarah Waldeck
Where I live Girl Scout cookie season finally is beginning to wind down. The boxes I purchased from neighborhood children have been delivered and this past weekend only one troop had set up stands on downtown street corners. Last March, after my family polished off a bunch of cookies that—but for the Girls Scouts—they wouldn’t have eaten, I resolved henceforth to be merciless in saying NO to the cookies and instead offering to make an outright donation. But when two kids who live across the street came knocking eight weeks ago, I balked at the prospect of appearing unneighborly or telling the girls I would rather just write a check than buy what they were selling. So I dutifully ordered two boxes from each of them. By my very rough estimate, that’s 5,600 calories of pure junk. If prior years are any indication, we’ll eat the Girl Scout cookies in addition to—not as a substitute for—the other sweet treats we consume. Perhaps, however, I should just be relieved that we made it through cookie season with only four boxes. One year we somehow ended up with twenty (read 22,400 calories).
How do the Girl Scouts get a pass on the reality that they fund their activities by peddling junk food? Elementary schools have gone from a “healthy food only” policy at class parties to a “no food” policy, and pity the parent who tries to celebrate a birthday with cupcakes. School cafeterias are revamping their menus. Michelle Obama (who, like all First Ladies since Lou Henry Hoover, is the Girl Scouts’ Honorary National President) appears on the Disney Channel exhorting kids to eat right and exercise. Why are the Girl Scouts exempt from this nationwide campaign against obesity?
I can think of at least three reasons. First, criticizing the Girl Scouts seems as un-American as complaining about Mom and apple pie. Second, the economic effects of a Cookie War would be devastating for the Girl Scouts. In 2010, the Girls Scouts sold almost 200 million boxes (read 2,240,000,000 calories). Total sales were $714 million, with $415 million going to local councils. Unless the Girl Scouts could radically rethink their funding sources, a world without cookies might mean a world without Girl Scouts. Most scouting enthusiasts would likely argue that the benefits provided by the Girl Scouts outweigh any harm caused by 200 million boxes of cookies. Maybe they would be right, but I am not certain how to establish who would have the better side of this argument. Third, Americans have a notoriously complicated relationship with food, particularly nostalgic food. This is why when I express surprise that a friend who is adamant about eating only organic food helped her daughter sell cookies, she can reply “They’re Girl Scout cookies,” as though that resolves the inconsistency.
This nostalgia also helps explain why the Girl Scouts are able to sell 200 million boxes. A lot of us probably would not want even four boxes if we were tasting Girl Scout cookies for the first time, either because they would fall short of our culinary expectations or because we would actually be deterred by the 5,600 calories. But of course most of us tasted Girl Scout cookies for the first time in elementary school or earlier, so a combination of nostalgia and the cookies’ once-a-year availability dampens any foodie criticisms or concerns about healthy eating.
The Girl Scouts’ ability to remain above the food fray is troubling. Twenty years from now, today’s elementary school students will have no expectation that they should celebrate their own children’s birthdays by sending in cupcakes and at least some of them may have internalized various messages about exercise and healthy eating. But they are likely to be as nostalgic about Girl Scout cookies as most of us are and thus the Girl Scouts can continue to count on 200 million boxes. Good for the Girl Scouts; not so good for the nation’s waistline.
posted by Sarah Waldeck
Northwestern University School of Law and Loyola University Chicago School of Law are co-hosting the Colloquium on Current Scholarship in Labor and Employment Law on September 14 and 15, 2012 in Chicago, IL. The Colloquium provides an opportunity for labor and employment law scholars to present works-in-progress and receive feedback from their colleagues in the field.
The Colloquium will be held at Loyola on Friday, Sept. 14 and at Northwestern on Saturday, Sept. 15.
You can also reserve your seat for the colloquium here. Participants are expected to pay their own travel expenses. The law schools will provide facilities, support, and continental breakfasts on Friday and Saturday, lunch on Friday and Saturday, and a dinner on Friday night.
posted by Sarah Waldeck
Some of our readers may be interested in the following job posting:
Chicago-Kent College of Law is seeking immediate applicants for Visiting Assistant Professors. The VAP program is a centerpiece of the Chicago-Kent legal writing program. The program is designed to provide students with a faculty that has diverse academic interests and legal practice experience and to provide promising teachers an opportunity to bridge from their practice and legal writing teaching experience to doctrinal law teaching and academic scholarship.
Visiting Assistant Professors are generally appointed for two-year terms, with the possibility for a single one- or two-year renewal, or in extraordinary cases, for a long-term contract. In addition to teaching Legal Writing, each Visiting Assistant Professor teaches a single doctrinal course each year. The school provides Visiting Assistant Professors with considerable assistance and guidance in developing their academic scholarship, including a Research and Travel fund. Traditionally, Visiting Assistant Professors use their time at the school to write and publish one or more scholarly articles as a basis (together with their teaching experience) for eventually attaining a tenure-track law teaching position. In addition to providing faculty mentors, the school offers a series of informal “roundtables” at which faculty members, including Visiting Assistant professors, can discuss works in progress with their colleagues.
Over the years, the Chicago-Kent Visiting Assistant Professor program has produced exceptional doctrinal and skills professors. Current VAPS have accepted tenure-track jobs in the fall at the Washington & Lee University School of Law, the University of Richmond School of Law, and the Lewis & Clark Law School. If you are interested in applying to the VAP program, please submit a cover letter, current curriculum vitae, one writing sample and a research agenda (if you have one) to Professor Mary Rose Strubbe, Director of the Legal Research and Writing Program, email@example.com.
Diversity candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.
posted by Sarah Waldeck
This week Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois signed legislation that will allow the City of Chicago to put speed cameras in the one-eighth mile buffer zones around schools and parks. As the Chicago Tribune has reported, the City has more than 600 public schools and only slightly fewer parks, so this legislation gives Chicago the authority to cover roughly half of its territory with speed cameras. The City says it will concentrate on the approximately 80 areas where the need for speed enforcement is particularly acute.
Although Quinn signed the legislation, the cameras are the handiwork of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The Mayor says he developed the plan after school officials and the police expressed concerns about public safety. Emanuel’s critics—and he has a lot of them—paint the legislation as being more about revenue generation than public safety. Drivers who go more than 5 miles over the speed limit will be fined $50 and drivers who go more than 11 miles over the limit will be fined $100. The Mayor has said repeatedly that he doesn’t care if the cameras generate any revenue; the legislation is all about keeping kids safe.
Let’s take the Mayor at his word and assume that his only goal is to make Chicago safer. What would traffic engineers and behavioral economists advise? They would tell him to install dynamic speed displays, which announce the posted speed limit and display in large digital numbers the speed of each driver going past. One of the first experiments with these displays took place in school zones in suburban Los Angeles in 2003. Drivers slowed down by an average of 14 percent and in some zones the average speed dropped below the limit. The use of dynamic speed displays has since become commonplace and research has consistently shown that they cause drivers to slow down by about 10 percent for several miles.
These displays upend the usual approach to traffic enforcement because there is no penalty for displaying a speed that is higher than the posted limit. Instead, the display works by creating a feedback loop: (1) sensors instantly capture and relay information about the driver’s speed; (2) the large public display of numbers carries real punch because few people want to be perceived as reckless or careless; and (3) the driver has immediate opportunity to slow down by simply easing up on the gas. This feedback loop is so effective that traffic safety experts have concluded it does a better job of changing driving habits than techniques that depend on police issuing tickets. (You can read about dynamic speed displays and feedback loops more generally here.)
Chicago’s speed cameras will be accompanied by highly visible signage, so time will tell whether the combination of signage and speed cameras make drivers slow down in the short term and change their driving habits in the long term. If I were advising a mayor whose priority was public safety, however, I’d recommend the use of dynamic speed displays that provide effective feedback to drivers in the moments before they enter a school zone, and not cameras whose feedback comes in the mail several days after the driver already has sped by a school.