Twenty years ago, when I began researching and writing about the removal and imprisonment of Japanese Americans in World War II, I thought I was studying a closed chapter in American history. Congress and the president had apologized for it and paid reparations. The courts, while never outright overruling the Supreme Court’s 1944 Korematsu decision that validated the episode, had condemned its reasoning.
Little did I imagine that a time would come when the closed chapter would reopen.
And yet here we are. During Donald Trump’s campaign, he said he didn’t know whether he would have supported or opposed Japanese American removal and detention. While he didn’t like “the concept of it,” he said he “would have had to be there at the time to tell you, to give you a proper answer.” A few months later he did say that he would “rule out” the most extreme action, “internment camps for American Muslims,” but he insisted Americans would have to be “very rigid and very vigilant.”
With his presidency now weeks away, we are seeing what this rigidity and vigilance might look like. Reports have circulated that the administration might require all Muslims in the United States to register with the government. Pressed to defend this on national television, a Trump surrogate cited – you guessed it – Japanese American internment.
So this is probably a good moment for us to review how that tragic episode came to pass – to remember that the blame lay not with a few military decision-makers at the top but with ordinary Americans from many walks of life.
The Roosevelt Administration defended the program in the courts as a military necessity, claiming that it would be impossible to sift loyal from disloyal Japanese Americans in the event of a Japanese invasion of the West Coast. But scholars debunked this decades ago. The military did not expect and was not preparing for a coastal invasion. And after just a few months of imprisoning Japanese Americans, the government undertook the very loyalty screening that it had said was impossible.
The truth is that large swaths of the American public were responsible for the persecution of Japanese Americans. Many whites along the West Coast had feared and envied the ethnic Japanese for decades, seeing them as a racially and culturally distinct people who were answerable to a different call than true Americans. They also resented Japanese farmers for their productivity and longed to eliminate their competition.
Pearl Harbor sent a wave of fear through the population of the West Coast that only grew in the months following the attack. Rumors of Japanese military activity and Japanese American collaboration – all false – ran wild.
A hysterical press fanned these fears. Nationally syndicated columnists called for action, with one well-known commentator urging that Japanese Americans be "herded up, packed off, and given the inside room in the badlands."
Law enforcement officials believed the problem could be handled with the arrests of a couple of thousand Japanese aliens suspected of pro-Japanese sentiment. Military officials initially believed that the problem could be handled by cordoning off specific locations with national security significance – military installations, factories producing war materiel, key dams and bridges, and the like.
But politicians were only too happy to channel and amplify the fears of their constituencies. Federal, state, and local representatives began pressing the executive for mass action. Over the objection of the Justice Department, the military ultimately suggested the mass uprooting of all people of Japanese ancestry, aliens and citizens alike, along the entire coast, and President Roosevelt acceded in February of 1942, instructing the Secretary of War simply to “be as reasonable as you can.”
At that moment there were no plans for the guarded barbed-wire enclosures in which Japanese Americans would end up. The federal government’s hope was to relocate the evicted population to open-gated agricultural communities in the interior not unlike the camps of the Civilian Conservation Corps. But the people of the mountain states would have none of that. Their governors demanded “concentration camps” for the Japanese as a condition of accepting them within their borders, and they got them.
Dissenting in the 1944 Korematsu case that held the mass removal of Japanese Americans constitutional, Justice Robert Jackson put his finger on the enduring danger of the Supreme Court’s opinion. He predicted that the Court’s approval of the program would “lie about like a loaded weapon, ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need.”
It appears that the American people may have brought to power an authority with a ready hand. But as in the 1940s, we, the American people, are the ones who have the power either to hand that authority the loaded weapon or to lock it away. Certainly there is rampant fear of Muslims in our country, and a press eager to fan it. Conditions are ripe for “a plausible claim of an urgent need.”
It is up to us to oppose any renewed calls to revive and apply this discredited and illegal principle.
The much-anticipated report of Yale's Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming has just been released. It's a very thoughtful assessment of the factors to consider in renaming -- and also the situation on the ground in New Haven as it relates to Calhoun College, which is what set the whole debate in motion. The committee, chaired by Yale Law Professor John Witt, established a set of principles to guide discussions about renaming. The report begins with the important observation that "The central mission of a university is to discover and disseminate knowledge." And after a discussion of renamings at other schools and the circumstances surrounding the naming of Calhoun College at Yale in the 1930s -- and the contemporary controversy over the name -- they turn to a set of principles to consider regarding renaming. They start with a presumption against renaming -- and then use a series of factors to take into consideration the name's significance and meaning at the time of naming and today. They conclude with the point that a decision to rename -- or to keep a name -- "come with obligations of nonerasure, contextualization, and process."
Obviously this report and the factors they establish will be the center of discussions of renaming. In addition to the report itself, those of us really into the issue of renaming will be interested in the supporting documents, especially this file of correspondence with the Committee for people far and wide.
The illustration -- as Jason Mazzone could tell you -- is of Fort Hill, John C. Calhoun's mansion on the Clemson campus. I remember when I visited Clemson a few years back being sort of shocked at how modest the house was -- and especially Calhoun's office behind the house. There was something surprising, really anti-climactic, about confronting a place and a person who looms so large in our nation's history. I'll be following what happens next. The Report sets a thoughtful basis for future discussions, but it also leaves room for debate about how to weigh the values at stake in keeping a name or removing it.
Shontavia Johnson joined the Drake University Law School faculty in 2010 and was named the Kern Family Chair in Intellectual Property Law and Director of the Intellectual Property Law Center in 2016.
Her academic specialties include intellectual property law, trademark law, patent law, entertainment law, business law, technology and innovation, entrepreneurship, and social justice.
Named one of the Top 40 Young Lawyers in the US by the American Bar Association, Shontavia was recently placed on the prestigious Fulbright Specialist roster and named a 2016 A. Leon Higginbotham Fellow by the American Arbitration Association.
Shontavia’s publications have appeared in the Berkeley Technology Law Review, the Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review, the John Marshall Review of Intellectual Property Law, and the Arkansas Law Review. Shontavia has taught law to students in the U.S. and abroad and served as a consultant to both startups and large corporations.
In 2014, Shontavia’s article, Trademark Territoriality in Cyberspace: An Internet Framework for Common Law Trademarks, was awarded the International Trademark Association Ladas Memorial Award, a competition that identifies the best article in the world on a trademark law topic. That same year, her article, Memetic Theory, Trademarks & the Viral Meme Mark, won third place in the competition. Shontavia has received the Iowa Organization of Women Attorneys Gertrude Rush Award, the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics Outstanding Alumnus Award, and the Jackie Robinson Foundation 42 Under 40 Alumni Award. In 2013, Shontavia was also named one of 40 Lawyers Under 40 by the National Bar Association and IMPACT.
Shontavia is also the founder and managing attorney of Jackson Johnson LLC, a boutique law firm serving entrepreneurs and entertainers. She frequently counsels clients in all areas of intellectual property law and consults with clients on entrepreneurial growth and development. She is registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office and a licensed mediator and arbitrator.
In a prior post I pointed to a press release announcing the University Professorship at Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. The official job posting, which includes details and application information, is now available, and located here.
The summary description follows:
Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law seeks an outstanding teacher-scholar whose research pursues inquiry at the intersection of markets and law. The University Professor in Law, Business and Economics will promote Villanova University’s position as a thought leader in law, business and economics and as a center for innovative business law education.
The successful candidate will be a member of the faculty of the Law School and also will teach at the Villanova School of Business and across the University. The rank of University Professor is Villanova University’s top faculty rank and highest academic honor, bestowed on select faculty members of extraordinary achievement. Consistent with this standard, the successful candidate for the University Professor in Law, Business and Economics will possess an outstanding record of scholarly accomplishments that establishes her or him at the forefront of university faculty nationally and internationally.
Villanova is a Catholic university sponsored by the Augustinian order. Diversity and inclusion have been and will continue to be an integral component of Villanova University’s mission. The University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer and seeks candidates who understand, respect and can contribute to the University’s mission and values.
Temple University invites applications and nominations for the position of dean, Beasley School of Law. The dean is the chief administrative officer and chief academic officer of the law school and a tenured member of the faculty. Appointed by the president, the dean reports to and works with the provost. Candidates should have a J.D. degree and a strong record of scholarship, teaching, and service to the profession. The dean will be charged with maintaining the school’s commitment to access and excellence; garnering resources to support academic endeavors; continuing to develop the Law School's curriculum; and supporting the faculty’s commitment to scholarship and classroom teaching excellence. In light of Temple’s longstanding commitment to diversity, we particularly encourage applicants from traditionally underrepresented groups.
The University A Carnegie classified Doctoral University/Highest Research Activity institution, Temple is the 32nd largest university in the U.S. and one of the nation’s leading centers of professional education. The University’s 17 schools and colleges, eight campuses, over 500 degree programs, and over 39,000 students combine to create one of the nation’s most comprehensive and diverse learning environments.
The Law School Temple University Beasley School of Law is committed to excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service. The 58-member full-time faculty is dedicated to maintaining its outstanding record of scholarship while preparing students to enter and continue in the legal profession with the highest level of skill possible. The School seeks to maintain and strengthen its longstanding tradition of accessibility and diversity in order to pursue the goals of excellence in higher education and equal justice under the law. Temple Law’s diverse and talented students bring a wide range of interests and backgrounds to their study of law, arriving from 113 undergraduate schools and 25 states and countries. Selected through a highly individualized admissions process from an applicant pool of nearly 2,000 applicants, the law school student body is nationally competitive. The J.D. program serves students through both day and evening divisions.
Temple University has engaged Heidrick & Struggles, a national executive search firm, to assist with this search. Review of applications will start immediately. Please direct applications, nominations and inquiries to:
firstname.lastname@example.org, Heidrick & Struggles Jackie Zavitz, Principal J.J. Cutler, Principal Samantha Thompson, Associate Education, Non-profit and Social Enterprise Practice 1735 Market Street Suite 3550 Philadelphia, PA 19103
Yesterday I posted a ranking of all US law schools, based on employment outcomes. I relied on the ABA spreadsheet compilation of job placement results for all regulated law schools. The ABA also provides a summary report of employment outcomes for each individual law school - you can download these forms individually from the ABA and every school is required to post its own summary on its website. The summary sheet should be identical to the spreadsheet and I'm confident that rankings - like Above the Law and US News - rely on the spreadsheet alone.
I discovered last night that for one school - South Texas - there is a significant disparity between the spreadsheet and the form. This morning I checked every school - but only in the three relevant categories (JD required jobs LTFT, JD advantage job LTFT, and number of graduates) and found small discrepancies for over 25 schools. Who knows whether there are other errors in categories I haven't checked; I'm guessing there are.
I don't know the source of these mistakes, and I don't know whether the spreadsheet is right or the school summary is right in any given case. I am working to update the post from yesterday to reflect the data on school summary sheets on the theory that these are more likely to be correct - though of course, I can't be certain.
But the main takeaway from this is that both individual law schools and the ABA should be vigilant in confirming that the numbers are identical in both places.
The ABA has provided a ton of data on law school job placement and I've tried to summarize it here - comparing the placement rate ranking with the U.S. News ranking, and providing actual placement numbers. The numbers set out here represent the percentage of graduates in the class of 2015 who found full-time long term positions (JD required or where a JD was an advantage) within nine months after graduation. This is the number many ranking organizations use, though I recognize that there are other ways to slice the data. As I note below, I have excluded law school funded positions.
This ranking uses the freshest data currently available and - compared to what you can find for pretty much any other discipline outside of law - a pretty damn good data set. We only wish business schools and other similar programs would give this sort of guidance to applicants.
I think a big takeaway is that the US News ranking doesn't actually predict how well graduates of a given school will do on the job market. One conclusion from this data is that any school recruiting solid students (as opposed to students who probably don't belong in law school) can deliver those students good job outcomes if it trains them well and provides good support from bar prep through career planning. (It helps to be in a region with jobs or a region that is not a net importer of law grads.)
It's also worth pointing out that this chart suffers from an infirmity it shares with US News: it tends to over-state the gaps between law schools. Another way to read this chart is to think in clumps - schools in the +/- 85% placement range; those in the +/- 75% placement range; etc. But I do think there may be real differences between schools with 80% rates and those with 65% rates.
This ranking doesn't get at salaries - though, having looked at the data, I have a strong sense that there are really only about 15 schools where more than 33% of the graduating class scores a large firm job. US News is actually pretty good at this element of ranking: if you want a big firm job, the US News top 15-20 is a reasonably good guide. But US News ceases to be very predictive of large firm placement after that point. This list also has anomalies: Yale is #20, but that probably has more to do with the choices that students made rather than the options they encountered. And Georgetown? My theory is that their career strategies office is good for students seeking big firms, but has work to do with the other 63% of the class.
The schools with the biggest gaps between this ranking and US News? Figure that out for yourself - there are some whoppers!
Update: I've decided that it would be more accurate and useful to round placement results to the nearest whole number and describe virtual ties as ties. As I discuss above, my goal is to provide information without overstating gaps between schools. Schools that are tied are listed in order of their precise rank. With this change, Yale is now #18. In this analysis, I excluded law school funded positions - consistent with US News - in large part because it is impossible to determine how many of these graduates would have been able to secure long-term full-time employment in the absence of law school assistance.
Update 2: A kind reader has alerted me to at least one error - the numbers provided to the ABA by South Texas on their form are inconsistent with the numbers set out in the ABA spread sheet. I am not going to change anything yet, but I hope that over the next day or two, I can identify any other conflicts between the forms and the spreadsheet. If there is an error or two, I can fix that easily. If problems are more pervasive, I'll pull and rework it entirely. For now, please note that based on the employment form submitted to the ABA, South Texas seems to have a 62% placement rate, rather than a 54% rate, which puts it at 152 rather than 172.
Update 3, Nov. 30, 12:30 pm: I have adjusted the chart to reflect what I expect are accurate numbers. As I discuss in this post, there are discrepancies between data reported by the ABA in individual school summaries and in the overall compilation spread sheet. This list reflects the numbers reported by schools in their individual school summaries. These changes shifted the rankings a bit. I have inserted asterisks after schools whose ranking changed after switching to the data provided on the individual school summary. In a later post, I will detail the changes. I believe the numbers are now as accurate as I can make them.
Dean Eric Lane of Hofstra Law has announced he will step down at the end of December. Lane joined the faculty in 1976 and has served as Dean since 2013. Judge Gail Prudenti, who recently joined the law school in 2015 as Executive Director of the Center for Children, Families and the Law and Senior Associate Dean for Operations, has been named Interim Dean. The school will conduct a search next year.
Blake Bailey’s fine review of Mary Wisniewski’s “Algren: A Life” (Nov. 13) is marred by his unfamiliarity with Chicago. Nobody here would refer to Gary, Ind., as “across the lake.” It is around the lake.
The writer is the director of the Bartlit Center for Trial Advocacy at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.