July 28, 2015

Broad Support for Regional Economic Cooperation Found in New Law School Poll

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Category: Marquette Law School, Marquette Law School Poll, Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at Marquette
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A substantial majority of people in the Chicago “megacity” – the region stretching from the Milwaukee area, across metropolitan Chicago, and into northwest Indiana – want to see their political leaders make a priority of action that benefits the region as a whole, and not just actions focused on the needs of their own area.

But what does that mean when you get into details? How does that translate into reality?

That main finding of broad support for regional cooperation and those two questions shaped a groundbreaking conference at Marquette Law School on Tuesday. “Public Attitudes in the Chicago Megacity: Who are we and what are the possibilities?” focused on the results of what is believed to be the first extensive poll of residents of the sections of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana that are part of the “megacity.”  The conference was sponsored by the Law School and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Describing the broad conclusions, Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll and the Law School’s professor of law and public policy, said, “What we see is a substantial majority, over 70% in Illinois and Indiana, and 61% in Wisconsin, who say they would rather see cooperation among the governors and the elected officials,” than for political leaders to focus only on their own states’ concerns. Read more »

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July 27, 2015

Marquette Students Study Comparative Law in Germany

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Category: Constitutional Law, International Law & Diplomacy, Marquette Law School, Public
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Giessen 2015This is week Two of the Summer Session in International and Comparative Law, taking place in Giessen, Germany.  Pictured to the left are my students in the class on Comparative Law.  They come from Mexico, Peru, Senegal, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Spain, Moldova, Vietnam, the Slovak Republic and, yes, even Wisconsin.  Along with my co-teacher, Thilo Marauhn from Justus Liebig University here in Germany, we have been comparing the constitutional systems of the United States and Germany, and also contrasting the quasi-constitutional structure of the European Union.  It may not look like it in the photo, but we are certainly having a great deal of fun.

Other classes this session include International Economic Law & Business Transactions, The Law of Armed Conflict, and International Intellectual Property Law.  The faculty come from the United States, Germany, Lithuania, and Great Britain.  The faculty are all experts in their fields and, judging from our dinner tonight, we all share an appreciation of German beer. Read more »

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July 21, 2015

Julia Taylor on Megacity Cooperation: In Need of “the Big Opportunity”

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Category: Marquette Law School, Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at Marquette
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Megacity CoverJulia Taylor, president of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, is a leader of the effort to improve our economy through regional cooperation. One way to accomplish this is to understand we live in the Chicago Megacity, which is defined as the 21-county region stretching from the Milwaukee area down through Chicago into northwest Indiana.  In 2012 at a conference titled, “Milwaukee’s Future in the Chicago Megacity” at Marquette Law School, she was on a panel of business leaders.

Ahead of the July 28 conference, “Public Attitudes in the Chicago Megacity: Who are we, and what are the possibilities?” once again sponsored by the Marquette Law School and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Taylor talked about what has been accomplished in the last three years and opportunities for regional cooperation in the future.

Taylor has been president of the GMC since 2002. She is on the boards of the Milwaukee Water Council, the Governor’s Council of Workforce Investment, and VISIT Milwaukee.

She talked with former Journal Sentinel editor Marty Kaiser earlier this month.

Q. In 2012 the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a global economic think tank based in Paris, issued a 332-page report that advocated closer ties within the Chicago-Milwaukee economy, and declared that the region “is at a tipping point.” The report was not optimistic about the future of the region, but said that if leaders worked together, the region could become more competitive in the global economy.  Have you seen signs that the area has begun to work together in the last three years? Read more »

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July 20, 2015

Richard Longworth on Megacity Cooperation: “I Wish I Could Be More Optimistic”

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Category: Marquette Law School, Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at Marquette
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People in the Chicago Megacity, defined as the 21-county region stretching from the Milwaukee area down through Chicago into Northwest Indiana, need to work together with great urgency so the region can compete in the global economy.  That was the opinion of Richard C. Longworth at the 2012 “Milwaukee’s Future in the Chicago Megacity” conference and in an essay he wrote for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel before the conference.

Three years later, ahead of the July 28 “Public Attitudes in the Chicago Megacity: Who are we, and what are the possibilities?” conference, once again sponsored by the Marquette Law School and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Longworth is still just as concerned about the future of our region.  One of the world’s foremost experts on global cities, he follows the issue closely from Chicago despite having recently retired from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs where in 2012 he was a Senior Fellow on Global Cities. Before joining the council, he was a long-time reporter and foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and United Press International. He is the author of three books on globalization, including “Caught in the Middle,” on the impact of globalization on the American Midwest, and of the new eBook, “On Global Cities.”

He talked with former Journal Sentinel editor Marty Kaiser earlier this month.

Q. In 2012 the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a global economic think tank based in Paris, issued a 332-page report that advocated closer ties within the Chicago-Milwaukee economy, and declared the region “is at a tipping point.” The report was not optimistic about the future of the region, but said that if the region worked together it could become more competitive in the global economy.  You supported this view when you wrote about the issue and spoke at the “Milwaukee’s Future in the Chicago Megacity” conference at the Marquette Law School in 2012. Is your concern as strong as it was three years ago?

A. Yes. It definitely is. The need is still there. Nothing has changed since then to indicate that the region, as fragmented as it is, can prosper in a global economy unless it does work together and leverage its many strengths. The region is defined by the OECD as Milwaukee down through Chicago and northern Indiana.  Frankly, I would have taken it around Lake Michigan up to Grand Rapids.  I think it is very necessary for this region to work together because, as one cohesive economic region, it shares one huge natural resource, which is water, and a great deal of history.  It is based on the City of Chicago and expands out from there.   None of these areas exist separate from Chicago, so we are all interconnected anyway. But we don’t work together as a region.  We have this opportunity and we have the assets and we don’t make use of them. Read more »

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The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s Caperton Moment

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Category: Election Law, Judges & Judicial Process, Public, Wisconsin Law & Legal System, Wisconsin Supreme Court
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wisconsin-supreme-courtThe definitive litmus test for the impartiality and competence of the Wisconsin Supreme Court took the form of a lengthy opinion issued in response to the consolidated action State of Wisconsin ex rel. Two Unnamed Petitioners v. Peterson (2015 WI 85) by our state’s highest court on July 16, 2015. They failed this test miserably. In that one day, the court managed to squander the entirety of its judicial capital and to risk making itself into a tribunal that is an insult to the distinguished jurists who have come before them. This is about much more than the unjustified halting of a bipartisan probe into potentially severe violations of Wisconsin’s election laws — it is a prime illustration of the corrosive and corruptive influence that money has on politics and, in particular, judicial politics. These decisions are more misguided and indeed may possibly be more corrupt than the decisions reached by the West Virginia Supreme Court that led to the now-famous United States Supreme Court decision Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co. (556 U.S. 868) and inspired John Grisham’s best-selling novel The Appeal. Read more »

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July 9, 2015

Wisconsin’s State Motto: Forward or Backward? The Potential Demise of Open Records Law

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Category: Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Wisconsin Law & Legal System
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In 1851, the state of Wisconsin adopted the simple word Forward as its state motto. It’s a powerful word that has symbolized the State’s progressive history. Lately, though, it seems like we’ve been going backward rather than forward. Case in point: open records law.

Wisconsin’s open records law has been around since 1981. Embodied in sections 19.31-19.39 of the Wisconsin Statutes, the law begins with a broad declaration of policy: “all persons are entitled to the greatest possible information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those officers and employees who represent them.” Wis. Stat. § 19.31. The law “shall be construed in every instance with a presumption of complete public access, consistent with the conduct of governmental business. The denial of public access generally is contrary to the public interest, and only in an exceptional case may access be denied.” Id.

Open records law is consistent with transparency in government. Brett Healy, president of the conservative think-tank MacIver Institute, said, “Transparency in government is not a liberal or conservative issue, it is a good government issue. Taxpayers deserve access to government records, so they can keep politicians all across this great state honest and accountable.”

And the law has been used to do just that. Read more »

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July 8, 2015

The Initial Appeal of Chief Justice John Roberts’ Dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges

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Category: Civil Rights, Constitutional Interpretation, Constitutional Law, Human Rights, Judges & Judicial Process, Legal History, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public
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b599a34c0d512e42e3f5277e172bbebcd745dd98Rainbows abounded on the morning of Friday, June 26, 2015, when the United States Supreme Court held 5-4 that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry and a right to have their legal marriages recognized in every state.

The Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges was not unexpected. The divide in the Court, too, was not unexpected: Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion for himself, Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Elena Kagan, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

(An interesting side note: Justice Kennedy, a 1988 Reagan nominee, has authored all four of the major SCOTUS cases on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights: Romer v. Evans, Lawrence v. Texas, United States v. Windsor, and now Obergefall v. Hodges. As well, three of those cases were handed down on June 26Lawrence on 6/26/03; Windsor on 6/26/13; Obergefell on 6/26/15).

When I first read the Obergefell decision, I found myself skeptical. Make no mistake: I fully agree with and welcome the holding. However, I was concerned about the Court’s reasoning. My first thought, upon reading the opinion, was to wonder why the Court did not base its holding more on the Equal Protection Clause, like Judge Richard Posner did in his opinion in Baskin v. Bogan, 766 F.3d 648 (7th Cir. 2014). That seemed to me to be the easiest argument. There is simply no compelling justification for the State to distinguish between opposite-sex and same-sex couples when it comes to marriage.

So, when I got to Chief Justice John Roberts’ dissent, it initially made some sense to me, and I could envision its appeal to many others. Read more »

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July 2, 2015

The Problem with Justice Thomas’s Dignity Argument

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Category: Constitutional Law, Judges & Judicial Process, Public, U.S. Supreme Court
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Justice Thomas, in his fervent dissent to the Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate same-sex marriage bans, has some interesting things to say about the concept of dignity. His view of human dignity is that it is innate and therefore inalienable: “Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them.”

The punchline, of course, is that the majority’s reasoning, which relies heavily on a Constitutional reading that sees dignity at the heart of liberty and the Due Process Clause, is flawed – gays and lesbians are not deprived of dignity (and therefore liberty) by their inability to marry, because “the government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.” Essentially, Justice Thomas says, as long as the state leaves me alone, my liberty and dignity are intact.

Justice Thomas’s invocation of slavery and internment to illustrate his qualms about the dignity argument arguably undermines the moral force of his point. Moreover, it rests on a narrow and theoretical concept of dignity.   Read more »

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Who Needs Words Anymore?

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emoji press releaseMy worst fear has been realized: we can now stop writing in words.

Last week, Chevy issued a press release written entirely in emoji (except for its hashtag line #ChevyGoesEmoji). Emoji are the little graphics that appear all over the digital world. You’ve probably gotten emails or text messages that include them: a thumbs up sign; a little yellow smiley or angry or sad face; a dog; etc. I’ve done a screen capture of a portion of that release that you can see above. According to one journalist, the press release was “utterly incomprehensible.”

The press release introduced the 2016 Chevy Cruze and seemed to be an attempt to appeal to millennials—the younger generation generally born between the early 1980s to the early 2000s. While the company released its English translation the following day, those in media attempted to decipher the emoji version. Read more »

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June 30, 2015

Kettle Moraine Kids, Compared to the World

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Category: Education & Law, Public
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You could expect students in the Kettle Moraine school district to do well. The communities served by the district in western Waukesha County are generally doing well economically, parents are involved and expect good results, and the school leaders and staff are talented professionals.

But what does “do well” mean? Compared to whom? Neighboring districts? Wisconsin? The nation?

How about the world?

Kettle Moraine has been an eager participant in a small, but growing movement that involves samples of 15-year-olds taking a test called the OECD Test for Schools. It yields comparisons of individual schools to students in nations around the world. The test also includes a set of questions that yield potentially insightful information for school leaders on the perspectives of students about the learning environment they find, both at school and elsewhere.

I was asked by editors of Education Next, a widely-followed national magazine and Web site, to write about Kettle Moraine’s involvement with the OECD Test.

The story can be found by clicking here and will be in  the issue of Education Next to be published in coming weeks.

And the answer  to the question of how Kettle Moraine kids are doing? The answer, in short, is quite well, but there’s room for improvement.

 

 

 

 

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June 29, 2015

Rodriguez v. United States: Supreme Court Says No to Prolonged Traffic Stops

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Category: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law & Process, Public, U.S. Supreme Court
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Last week, the Supreme Court decided City of Los Angeles v. Patel, the fourth and final of its search-and-seizure cases this term. In Patel, the Court overturned a city ordinance requiring hotel operators to share information about their guests with the police.

Patel confirmed this as a good term for Fourth Amendment rights, joining Grady v. North Carolina (GPS tracking of sex offender counted as search for Fourth-Amendment purposes) and Rodriguez v. United States (police improperly extended traffic stop to conduct dog sniff of car). Less favorable, though, was Heien v. North Carolina (no suppression of evidence obtained after traffic stop that was based on officer’s reasonable mistake of law).

The remainder of this post will focus on Rodriguez, which strikes me as the most interesting of the Fourth-Amendment series. Broadly speaking, at issue was the extent to which the police can go on a fishing expedition when they pull over a driver for a traffic violation.   Read more »

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June 26, 2015

Ohio v. Clark: The Supreme Court’s Latest Pronouncement on the Confrontation Clause

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Category: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law & Process, Public, U.S. Supreme Court
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By guaranteeing criminal defendants the right to confront their accusers, the Sixth Amendment limits the ability of the government to use hearsay evidence against defendants at trial. Importantly, though, the Confrontation Clause only limits the use of statements that are “testimonial” in nature. A pair of Supreme Court cases from 2006 clarified what makes a statement testimonial, but left an important question unanswered. Last week, the Court finally provided an answer (sort of) in Ohio v. Clark.

Clark featured an unusually unsympathetic defendant who was convicted of physically abusing his girlfriend’s two very young children.   Read more »

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