The ABA Council has withdrawn approval for Arizona Summit Law School, according to this letter posted on the ABA Section of Legal Education News page. Arizona Summit had been placed on probation last March but was apparently unable to convince the ABA that it reliable plans in place to remedy its many deficiencies. Arizona Summit had the worst bar pass rate in the country and has had among the lowest admissions standards in the country for several years. The school was also having serious financial difficulties. Arizona Summit has been directed to file a teach-out plan within 10 business days. Although Arizona Summit has the right to appeal the decision to an appeals panel of the Council (and no doubt will challenge this decision as part of its ongoing litigation with the ABA), if the decision holds up, that will leave Florida Coastal as the last of the three InfiLaw schools in operation, following the closure of Charlotte Law School last year and the subsequent withdrawal of its ABA-approval in February 2018. Florida Coastal is not currently on probation or under ABA sanctions, but has been found out of compliance with Standard 501(b) despite significantly raising its admission standards over the last two years. All three InfiLaw law schools have filed separate suits against the ABA, claiming arbitrary and capricious enforcement of ABA Standards. The ABA is currently seeking to consolidate the lawsuits into one multi-district litigation in Charlotte, NC.
I recently posted about a romance author who had registered the term "Cocky" for a series of books relating to the exploits of the Cocker Brothers. That registration garnered a lot of criticism from the publishing community. Both the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the Authors Guild become involved in subsequent legal battles surrounding the mark. On June 1, the District Court of the Southern District of N.Y. struck down an application for a TRO and a preliminary injunction made by the registrant of the mark against the editor of a romance short story anthology entitled "Cocktales" and another romance author who used a similar term in his title. The court noted that it was a weak mark at best and that purchasers of romance titles were not likely to be confused by the similar terms used in different titles by different authors. The mark remains registered and several cancellation petitions are still pending, but at least the ruling has given competing authors some comfort. The Guardian covered the story here.
(And I'm aware that any mention of this story opens the field for all kinds of puns, so have at it ...)
Temple University Beasley School of Law is seeking to fill two faculty positions beginning in fall 2019. The first is in constitutional law. For this position, we are particularly seeking an established, tenured expert in the field. The Clifford Scott Green Chair may be available in respect of this hire. The second is an entry-level or junior lateral position in criminal law and criminal procedure. Potential candidates for either position may contact Jane Baron at firstname.lastname@example.org. Temple University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer, and we strongly encourage veterans, women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, LGBTQ individuals, and members of other groups that traditionally have been underrepresented in law teaching to apply.
The ABA’s March decision to find WMU Thomas Cooley School of Law back in compliance with Standard 501(b) was puzzling, given the fact that Cooley has been America’s least selective law school for the last three years. In 2017, virtually the entire entering class at Cooley was comprised of very high and extremely high risk students, with LSATs of 146/142/139 at the 75th, 50thand 25th percentiles, respectively. The public notice claimed that “the further report [from Cooley's Dean] and concrete steps taken by the Law School with respect to its admission policy and practices demonstrated the Law School’s compliance” but the ABA did not explain what was in the report or what steps had been taken to warrant reversing their earlier decision. Given that the ABA was vigorously defending the earlier decision in federal court, it seemed reasonable to assume that Cooley must have made some very significant changes to their admissions policies.
A further suggestion that Cooley had made major changes came from Barry Currier, Managing Director, Accreditation and Legal Education. In response to an inquiry from Dean Paul Caron of Pepperdine Law School about the Cooley decision, Mr. Currier stated:
The ABA law school accreditation process includes opportunities for schools to address matters of non-compliance determined by the Accreditation Committee and the Council. When that occurs, and the committee or the council conclude that the steps taken by a school have addressed the concerns that led to the finding of non-compliance, then the appropriate action is to find that the school has returned to good standing on those issues.
Thanks to a document filed on May 25, 2018 as an exhibit in the ongoing lawsuit between Cooley and the ABA, we now know two things: first, we know what concrete steps Cooley has promised to take with respect to their admissions policies and practices, and second, we know that these changes were not significant and did not adequately address the concerns of the ABA. The document in question is the private letter sent on April 18, 2018 from the ABA to Cooley explaining the public decision of the Accreditation Committee. And although the letter answers some questions about the ABA’s decision, it raises far more questions than it answers.
Recently New York behemoth Weil Gotshal & Manges announced that it was “shortening its partnership track” from 9½ to 7½ years. Commentators have responded skeptically (law-firm consultant David Barnard of Blaqwell doubts whether the approach will improve overall associate retention; Vivia Chen says “all this just sounds too peachy to be true”).
I think the doubters are wrong, and that while Weil’s “partnership track” change (I’ll explain the reason for the scare quotes later) may not be that big a deal by itself, the reasons for it that the firm has plausibly articulated and their broader implications mark important evolutionary developments that we can expect to become more widespread in the industry.
As part of the great educational machine that manufactures new lawyers, we law teachers should want to know whether any of this is good for the young lawyers entering BigLaw. Our students will naturally want to know as well. As I’ll explain after the jump, the answer is yes and no, but the no is mainly a function of the economic environment to which all BigLaw firms must react these days (and thus isn’t really a result of any law-firm policy or policy change), and the yes is important and being largely overlooked.
New York Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy died from gunshot wounds 50 years ago today. RFK’s assassination represented a turning point in American political history. At the time of his assassination, RFK was only 42 years old with a promising future ahead of him. Even if he had failed to win in 1968, he would have remained a formidable contender in subsequent elections. Indeed, it seems safe to say that had he lived, RFK would have been a major force in American politics well into the 1990s.
But his assassination is also historically important for another reason: it left a legacy of public distrust and cynicism that remains entrenched in our politics today.
From an email message that I received earlier today:
University of Detroit Mercy School of Law seeks applicants for tenured or tenure-track faculty positions in the areas of (i) Constitutional Law, (ii) Evidence, and (iii) U.S. and Canadian Commercial Law (including Business Organizations) to begin in the 2019-20 academic year. Other potential hiring interests include Professional Responsibility and Civil Rights. Applicants must have a law degree, a strong academic background, and a record or the promise of both teaching excellence and high scholarly achievement. Applicants for the Commercial Law position should have education or experience in both American and Canadian law.
Please address applications, or any questions, to Professor Pamela A. Wilkins, Chair of Faculty Recruitment, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, 651 East Jefferson, Detroit, Michigan 48226. Email: email@example.com. Phone: 313.596.0250. Applications will be accepted via email or regular mail.
Detroit Mercy Law offers a unique and innovative curriculum that complements traditional theory- and doctrine-based course work with practical learning. The program requires students to complete at least one clinic, one upper-level writing course, one global/international perspectives course, and one Law Firm Program course (an innovative simulated law firm practicum). Detroit Mercy Law also boasts a Dual J.D. program with the University of Windsor in Canada, allowing students to earn both an American and a Canadian law degree in three years and to gain a comprehensive understanding of two distinct legal systems.
Michigan’s largest, most comprehensive private university, University of Detroit Mercy is an independent Catholic institution of higher education sponsored by the Religious Sisters of Mercy and Society of Jesus. The university seeks qualified candidates who will contribute to the University's urban mission, commitment to diversity, and tradition of scholarly excellence. University of Detroit Mercy is an Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer with a diverse faculty and student body and welcomes persons of all backgrounds.
Review of applications will begin in July 2018 and will continue until the positions are filled.
Over at SCOTUSblog, Richard Epstein calls the Court’s decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop “the worst form of judicial minimalism.” The case involves a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of religious objections to their marriage. By failing to squarely address the conflict between the state’s antidiscrimination law and the baker’s religious beliefs, Epstein argues, the Court cheated the nation out of an answer to a “clear question of high principle.”
However, as I argue in a forthcoming paper, I tend to think that judicial minimalism is often the right approach to contentious social issues. The Court’s role is to decide cases and controversies, not to create uniform social policy for the nation on divisive issues. Court decisions on such issues can create backlash and produce unpredictable results like altering the course of elections and legislation. For example, my paper argues that when the Court used broad constitutional doctrine to attempt to diffuse the antebellum fugitive slave issue, it produced the conditions necessary for the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, a law that shook the shook the Union to its core. Of course, others have advanced similar historical accounts of cases like Dred Scott, Brown, and Roe. Based on this history, a narrow decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop would have been perfectly defensible.
As I explain after the fold, however, I don’t think Masterpiece Cakeshop is actually a minimalist decision at all. In sum, the Court uses broad language that is not necessary to resolve the case and applies the Free Exercise doctrine in a strange and potentially expansive manner. Because of the lack of clarity in the Court’s opinion, moreover, it can plausibly be cited to support expansive results.
But that's not quite the right phrasing. The right phrasing, per Article II, Section 2, is: "can Donald Trump grant a pardon to himself?"
There's a difference, in the form of the verb "to grant."
Might it be an important difference?
(A few caveats about what follows: (a) I am not following the discussion about this issue closely. This might have already been said a thousand times. (b) I am saying something about an approach to constitutional interpretation in which I place relatively little stock. (c) My methods are ridiculously simplistic -- a look at the Oxford English Dictionary and a couple of searches with a rudimentary Google tool.)
A person can certainly give himself something. I, for example, give myself grief on a regular basis about all manner of things. This is true about the verb "give" today, and it was true centuries ago. ("What the devil should move me to undertake the recovery of this drum, being not ignorant of the impossibility, and knowing I had no such purpose? I must give myself some hurts, and say I got them in exploit." William Shakespeare, All's Well That Ends Well, Act IV, Scene 1.)
But can a person grant himself something, in particular a legally operative thing like a pardon? To put the question in terms an originalist would prefer, did the ordinary meaning of the verb "grant" in the late nineteenth century include use as a reflexive verb?
Perhaps not. Note this definition of the verb "to grant" from the Oxford English Dictionary. (There other meanings, as in "I'll grant you that," for example; what appears here is the most germane one to the usage in Article II, Section 2):
Even without the specific "in Law" definition, the verb "to grant" seems to carry a sense of outward direction -- a transfer of something from a person with discretion to bestow or confer it to a recipient who has no claim of right to the thing but is instead dependent on the discretion of the one who bestows.
The more specific "in Law" definition makes this explicit: to "transfer from oneself to another person." To be sure, the specific legal context in which this most often appears is a deeded conveyance of real property. The thing "granted" in Article II, Section 2 is not a deed to real property but a document excusing its holder of legal culpability. Still, if the question is what the word "grant" likely meant to the ordinary person in the context of a legal document like a Constitution, this specific legal connotation seems informative.
There's another way we might get at the issue, though. If one could "grant oneself" something in the same way as one could "give oneself" something, we'd expect to see usage of the reflexive form of the verb to grant. We'd expect to see usage of the phrase "grant myself" or "grants himself," much as we'd expect to see usage of the phrase "give myself" or "gives himself."
But we don't. Here's the n-gram comparing the phrase "give myself" with the phrase "grant myself" between the years 1700 and 2000.
(To be clear: "grant myself" is the red line that runs along the x axis.)
And here's the n-gram comparing the phrase "gives himself" with the phrase "grants himself."
(Note: there are no meaningful differences if the search is run with "... herself" or with the gerund "giving/granting" instead of "gives/grants")
It looks to me like "granting" was something one did to someone else back in the eighteenth century (just as it is today), unlike "giving," which was (and remains) something one can do to oneself.
Can Donald Trump "pardon himself?" Perhaps. But that's not the precise question. The precise question is whether a pardon is something he can "grant" if he is also the recipient.
It doesn't look that way to me, at least if we're talking about the ordinary meanings of words.
There is a serious question among pediatricians about whether they should retain patients whose parents decline vaccinations. There is an informative discussion about the ethics of dismissal in this issue of JAMA Pediatrics, and a podcast debate about the issue here. The debate itself illustrates an interesting and important difference between medical and legal ethics.
In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a report affirming the right of practices to refuse to accept unimmunized patients, though with some cautions:
The decision to dismiss a family who continues to refuse immunization is not one that should be made lightly, nor should it be made without considering and respecting the reasons for the parents’ point of view. Nevertheless, the individual pediatrician may consider dismissal of families who refuse vaccination as an acceptable option. In all practice settings, consistency, transparency, and openness regarding the practice’s policy on vaccines is important.
Nonetheless, many physicians – including Clay Jones, a pediatrician who blogs at the super-credible Science Based Medicine – believe that it is wrong to exclude unvaccinated children.
Azar v. Garza involved the efforts of "Jane Doe," a minor held in HHS custody, to obtain a legal abortion in Texas. Acting on her behalf, ACLU attorneys eventually obtained a TRO from the D.C. District Court, ordering DHS to allow the minor to keep an appointment at an abortion clinic, which was originally scheduled for a mandatory counseling session. The government planned to seek an emergency stay from SCOTUS but, believing that the abortion could not immediately go forward, delayed action for a day. It turned out that the counseling session was not required, and the minor obtained her abortion before the government could file its petition.
In response, the government filed a cert petition asking to dismiss the underlying case for mootness (in order to avoid a precedent), and also seeking "disciplinary action" against the ACLU attorneys for making misleading statements about the scheduling of the abortion, and thus preventing the SG from timely filing its stay petition.
From an email message that I received earlier today:
The Faculty of Law at Queen’s University invites applications for at least two tenure-stream appointments, to begin July 1, 2019. While the primary focus of this search is for an entry-level tenure-track appointment at the rank of Assistant Professor, a tenured appointment at the rank of Associate Professor may be considered for a truly outstanding candidate. The Faculty welcomes applicants in all areas of legal study. Without limiting the call for applications, the Faculty signals a special interest in receiving applications in the areas of aboriginal and indigenous law, intellectual property law (particularly patent law), private law, labour and employment law, tax law, legal ethics and professionalism, international economic law, land use planning and land transactions, and public and constitutional law.
A couple of years back, Drexel University School of Law received a huge naming gift from Tom Kline - which is while we're now the Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law. One element of that gift was Horace Trumbauer's landmark and imposing Ionic-style Beneficial Bank Building. The University has spent time and treasure turning it into a one-of-a-kind law school building (a supplement, not replacement, for our main facility.) It rocks. But as much as we admire it, there remained the question of whether it would be too modern or brash or different to please the architecture crowd. The first returns are in - in the form of Inga Saffron's review in the Philadelphia Inquirer - and they're very good. Saffron is no pushover so - yeah - we're pleased.
We'll have more on this building, its history, and its architect, in Issue One of our new mag, Lex, out this fall.
Northern Illinois University College of Law will host a Junior Scholars Works-in-Progress conference at Loyola University Chicago School of Law on Friday, October 5, 2018. This event will offer junior scholars (those who have spent 7 years or fewer as full-time professors) the opportunity to present their works-in-progress, get feedback from their colleagues, including senior faculty, and network with other scholars from the Chicago area and beyond. Articles may be presented in various stages of development.
If you are interested in presenting a paper at the conference, please submit a working title and abstract of 200-300 words to LeAnn Baie (lbaie[at]niu.edu), no later than June 15, 2018, with final papers due no later than September 5, 2018. There is no registration fee for this conference. Meals will be provided.
Email Prof. Dan McConkie at mcconkie[at]niu.edu with questions.
One anecdote particularly stood out for me, and it involves James Madison’s first effort to win elective office. The story of Madison’s inaugural political campaign illustrates that the problem of money in politics is not a new development. It dates to the very origins of our republic.
Note: This is a change from the earlier announced November 9-10 date.
The date for submission of proposals (July 1) remains the same.
Corrected Call for Proposals:
Call for Proposals for the Second Annual Equality Law Scholars’ Forum, UC Davis Law School on Friday, November 16 – Saturday, November 17
Building on the success of the Inaugural Equality Law Scholars’ Forum held at UC Berkeley Law last fall, and in the spirit of academic engagement and mentoring in the area of Equality Law, we (Tristin Green, University of San Francisco; Angela Onwuachi-Willig, UC Berkeley; and Leticia Saucedo, UC Davis) announce the Second Annual Equality Law Scholars’ Forum to be held this fall. This Scholars’ Forum seeks to provide junior scholars with commentary and critique and to provide scholars at all career stages the opportunity to engage with new scholarly currents and ideas. We hope to bring together scholars with varied perspectives (e.g., critical race theory, class critical theory, feminist legal theory, law and economics, law and society) across fields (e.g., criminal system, education, employment, family, health, immigration, property, tax) and with work relevant to many diverse identities (e.g., age, class, disability, national origin, race, sex, sexuality) to build bridges and to generate new ideas in the area of Equality Law.
We will select five relatively junior scholars (untenured, newly tenured, or prospective professors) to present papers from proposals submitted in response to this Call for Proposals. In so doing, we will select papers that cover a broad range of topics within the area of Equality Law. Leading senior scholars will provide commentary on each of the featured papers in an intimate and collegial setting. The Equality Law Scholars’ Forum will pay transportation and accommodation expenses for participants and will host a dinner on Friday evening.
This year’s Forum will be held on November 16-17, 2018 at UC Davis Law School.
Junior scholars are invited to submit abstracts of proposed papers, 3-5 pages in length, by July 1, 2018.
Full drafts must be available for circulation to participants by October 19, 2018.
Proposals should be subtmitted to:
Tristin Green, USF School of Law, firstname.lastname@example.org. Electronic submissions via email are preferred.
Arthur C. Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute, has an amusing column in today's New York Times explaining why he doesn't like his first name. According to Brooks, "Arthur" is an "old man's name," and has been ever since he was a child. His grandfather, also named "Arthur," evidently had the same complaint. Brooks graciously avoids blaming his parents for his discomfort, though it isn't too hard to read between the lines, given the obvious inference that they should have known better than to addle him with a name that was already outdated at his birth.
Of course, the popularity of every name will rise and fall, which is part of the field of onomastics. Aversion to particular names is nomomisia, and dislike of your own name, Brooks tells us, would therefore be autonomomisia. In any case, some children are given perfectly benign names, only to see them age badly, eventually becoming anachronisms, if not outright signifiers of desuetude.
I wrote a column to that effect for the Chicago Tribune, back in 1997, lamenting that "Steve" had become an old guy's name. You can read it after the jump, if you are so inclined, though you will have to excuse time-bound references to things like a 56000 bps modem as the ultimate in modern technology. (Also, I didn't write the headline.)