MULS to Welcome Professor Linda Edwards in Fall 2014

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Category: Legal Education, Legal Scholarship, Legal Writing, Marquette Law School, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public
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faculty_lindaedwards2014-04Marquette University Law School’s legal writing professors are pleased to announce that Professor Linda Edwards, E.L. Cord Foundation Professor of Law at University of Nevada Las Vegas, will be joining us as a Boden Visiting Professor for the fall semester of 2014.

Professor Edwards is a leading scholar and leader in the field of legal writing.  She has authored five texts, three of them focused on legal writing, and has written numerous scholarly articles on legal writing, rhetoric, and law. Her recent book, Readings in Persuasion: Briefs that Changed the World (Aspen Law & Bus. 2012) will serve as the basis for the advanced legal writing seminar she will be teaching at MULS next fall. The book discusses why some briefs are more compelling than others and covers briefs written in some of the law’s most foundational cases: Muller v. Oregon (the Brandeis Brief), Brown v. Board of Education, Miranda v. Arizona, Furman v. Georgia, Loving v. Virginia, and others. Professor Edwards says the course will build on what students learned in Legal Analysis, Writing & Research 2, but from a more advanced perspective.

Professor Edwards practiced law for 11 years before becoming the coordinator of NYU’s Lawyering Program. She then spent 19 years at Mercer University School of Law, where she was the director of legal writing and taught legal reasoning and advanced legal writing, as well as property, employment discrimination, and professional responsibility. In 2009, she joined the faculty at UNLV.  Also in 2009, Professor Edwards was awarded the Association of Legal Writing Directors and Legal Writing Institute’s Thomas Blackwell Award for her lifetime achievements and contributions to the legal writing field.

We are very excited to welcome Professor Edwards next fall.

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Poll Results Show Strengths and Weaknesses for Walker and Burke

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A couple of quick observations about the newest Marquette Law School Poll, released Wednesday. It contains good news for Republican Governor Scott Walker, who leads his likely Democratic challenger Mary Burke 48 to 41 percent among those surveyed. Walker should also be heartened by the results of the familiar and important “right direction/wrong track” question. Fifty-four  percent of respondents say Wisconsin is headed in the right direction. Only 42 per cent say we’re on the wrong track. There is also majority support for his recently signed $541 million property and income tax cut.

But the poll reveals several areas of concern for the governor. He remains below 50 percent in job approval and in a head-to-head matchup with Burke. Seventy-three percent of those surveyed say a failure to keep his 250,000 new jobs promise would be “very important” or “somewhat important” in deciding how they would vote. The governor’s opposition to a minimum wage hike and repealing the state’s same sex marriage ban puts him at odds with public sentiment in the poll, and the recently released John Doe documents aren’t helpful. But perhaps the most worrisome result for the Walker campaign is found in question number 32. When asked if Walker “cares about people like me,” 51 percent say he doesn’t. Forty-three percent say he does. Mary Burke fares better on the question. Thirty-six percent say Burke “cares about people like me.” Twenty-nine percent say she doesn’t. But 34 percent say they don’t know, demonstrating that many people still haven’t formed an opinion of Burke. It’s early, but the “empathy” or “compassion” question will be one to watch as the campaign moves into high gear.

 

 

 

 

 

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Burke Zings Walker, Touts Herself as Pro-Business Candidate

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Who’s the real pro-business, pro-jobs candidate in this year’s election for governor of Wisconsin? Mary Burke, who is mounting a major campaign as a Democrat, used an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program Tuesday in the Appellate Courtroom of Eckstein Hall to say it’s her.

Her visit provided her first public comments on her long-awaited economic development plan, which was released late Monday night. With the presumption that jobs and the economy will be the central issue, Burke said she’s the one with specific plans that will create a better business climate in Wisconsin.

Burke held up a four-page position paper on the subject from Walker’s 2010 race for governor and said, “I’ve seen eighth grade term papers that frankly had more work put into them.” She said that in terms of job creation, Wisconsin still ranked 35th in the country and ninth among 10 Midwestern states after three a half years of Walker as governor. Wisconsin also ranks 48th in business start-ups, she said, and she criticized the track record of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which Walker created to succeed the state Commerce Department that Burke headed under Gov. Jim Doyle a decade ago.

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Ribble and Pocan: Political Opposites Find the Attractions of Working Together

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Category: Congress & Congressional Power, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Speakers at Marquette
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Reid Ribble says that when Mark Pocan was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012, Ribble was told by some Republican legislators in Madison he should reach out to Pocan.Ribble said then-Rep. Tammy Baldwin did the same for him when he was elected in 2011.

So Ribble contacted Pocan, and the two developed a friendship that has seen them work together in friendly, civil ways, including in the work of the House budget committee, on which they each serve.

What’s so unusual about that? Only this: Ribble is a Republican who represents the Appleton-Green Bay area in Washington. He is a self-described conservative with a libertarian bent. Pocan is a self-described progressive liberal Democrat who represents the Madison area. (For that matter, Baldwin, who helped Ribble on his arrival and who is now a senator, is one of the most liberal members of Congress.)

You just don’t do that cross-the-aisle stuff in the divisive, highly partisan atmosphere that surrounds Congress.

Or do you? Ribble and Pocan are now leading figures in a growing effort called the No-Labels Problem Solvers, which brings together members in the House and Senate from both parties in informal social settings, just to get to know each other. Ribble was one of the four initial members of the group, which has grown to more than 90, including two other Republican representatives from Wisconsin, Sean Duffy and Tom Petri.

At an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” session Monday at Eckstein Hall, Pocan and Ribble described the effort and their hopes that it will change the way Congress handles many issues and raise the low-opinion so many Americans have of Congress. Read more »

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Norquist Lets Zingers Fly in Eckstein Hall Program

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Category: Milwaukee, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Speakers at Marquette
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“I wish you wouldn’t hold back,” Mike Gousha told former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist at the end of an hour-long “On the Issues” conversation at Eckstein Hall on Feb. 5. That got a big laugh from the audience of about 200 because Norquist held back little in giving zinger-filled opinions on a range of subjects.

In nearly four terms as mayor, from 1988 through 2003, Norquist was known for speaking his mind. If anything, he is even more willing to speak out now that he’s a decade removed from that office. A few examples from his session with Gousha, the Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy:

On Waukesha’s request to get access to Lake Michigan for its water supply: Given the way some Waukesha officials have treated issues of importance to the City of Milwaukee, Norquist said, “If I were one of the elected officials, I’d be tempted to say, ‘you want our water, that’s too bad, you can dry up and blow away.’ ” Read more »

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The Promise Revisited

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Last July, I wrote a post for the Marquette Law School Faculty Blog that was premised on The Promise. The one Scott Walker made when he ran for governor four years ago. Walker pledged that at least 250,000 jobs would be created in Wisconsin during his first term in office. The thrust of the blog post was to look at whether that promise could come back to haunt the Governor in a reelection campaign. You can find my earlier thoughts here.

We won’t know for sure what role The Promise will have played in this year’s race until Election Day, but there are early indications that it may not be the all-powerful political weapon Democrats had hoped for.

That’s not to say job creation isn’t a potential problem for the governor. Wisconsin, according to the most reliable jobs numbers, has lagged behind the national average during Walker’s tenure. The latest tally of “jobs added” shows Wisconsin ranks 37th in private-sector jobs created. With roughly a year left in office, the governor is only 42 percent of the way to his promise of 250,000. Read more »

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New Law School Poll Results Offer Insight as the Race for Governor Takes Shape

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It is still a bit over nine months until Wisconsin’s election for governor in November and the major parts of the campaigns, especially the expected heavy rounds of television advertising, are far from beginning. So Professor Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, cautioned against reading too much into the first round of polling in 2014 as results were released Monday.

That said, the results attracted attention in political and news circles across Wisconsin and beyond when they showed Gov. Scott Walker, the Republican incumbent, had a six percentage point lead over Mary Burke, the only major Democratic challenger. In late October, the Law School poll found Walker was leading Burke by two percentage points.

Franklin noted that in both polls, Walker was the choice of 47% of those polled. However, in October, Burke got support from 45% and in the new results, based on polling from Jan. 20 to 23, she came in at 41%. Read more »

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Logos, Ethos, and Pathos in Persuasive Writing

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aristotleIn the second semester of their first year, students make the switch from objective to persuasive writing. It’s a switch that some students welcome because they like the idea of arguing a position rather than having to be objective. As students learn, though, there’s more to persuasive writing—or at least more to good persuasive writing—than just arguing a position.

At their core, objective and persuasive legal writing share many of the same traits, such as maintaining the small scale organizational paradigm we refer to as CREAC (a/k/a IRAC). Because lawyers use that paradigm to advance their arguments, students need to master it, which makes the structure of the argument look similar to objective writing. But students need to make other, subtler changes in their writing (and thinking) to persuade effectively. It’s often challenging to succinctly explain these more subtle differences, but one easy way is to introduce the “why” behind the differences, which in turn helps explain those differences. Good persuasive writing argues a position by using a combination of three ancient rhetorical techniques: logos, ethos, and pathos. Read more »

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Social Position and Attitudes about Income Inequality

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Over the last four decades the gap between rich and poor in America has widened. According to economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, the share of pre-tax income held by the top 1% of US earners has increased dramatically since the 1970s; in 2012, the top 1% held nearly a quarter (23%) of total pre-tax income. To be sure, liberals and conservatives disagree about the causes of inequality and government’s responsibility to address growing income disparities. My contention here is not to weigh into these debates, but rather to examine attitudes about income inequality more broadly. What do Americans think about this growing inequality and what, if anything, should be done about it?

Public opinion data can provide some insight. For example, the General Social Survey (GSS) polls Americans on whether respondents think “income differences in the United States are too large.” The data suggest that over the past 25 years, a majority of Americans have consistently rated the income gap as too large. There has also been a modest uptick in public concern over that period, as actual income differences have increased. The share of respondents who “strongly agreed” that income differences are too large nearly doubled between 1987 (15.7%) and 2010 (27.1%), though the change in the overall share of respondents who either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” was not nearly as dramatic (58.5% in 1987 versus 64.6% in 2010). Opinions on the matter have also become slightly more polarized.

Ascribing meaning to these public opinion data can be tricky though because Americans have varying understandings of the real distribution of income in the US. One study asked respondents to first estimate the actual income distribution and then to construct their ideal distribution. Both the estimated and ideal distributions of wealth were vastly more egalitarian than the status quo. And interestingly, the authors found remarkable consensus across demographic and partisan groups. But does this mean Americans want government to intervene to decrease income inequality? Although the ideal income distributions constructed by respondents looked more like Sweden than the United States, would more Americans support a Swedish-style welfare state if only they knew the true extent of income disparities? The evidence here is mixed.

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Wisconsin and the Repeal of Prohibition

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Category: Constitutional Law, Legal History, Milwaukee, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Wisconsin Law & Legal System
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prohibition_ends_at_lastThis past December 5 marked the 80th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, America’s experiment in the creation of an alcohol-free society.

Prohibition officially ended in 1933 with the ratification of the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution. The new Amendment repealed the earlier 18th Amendment, which had made the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages illegal in the United States.

The repeal of Prohibition is an event that has been celebrated daily in Wisconsin for the past eight decades.

Somewhat remarkably, Wisconsin, long associated with the production of alcoholic spirits, did actually vote for Prohibition. On January 17, 1919, in the wake of intense anti-German sentiment throughout the United States and in the aftermath of World War I, in which the U.S. government had used its war powers to sharply curtail the production of alcoholic beverages, the Wisconsin legislature approved the 18th Amendment by a majority vote. However, in “defense” of the legislature, Wisconsin’s approval did not come until after the Prohibition Amendment had already been ratified by the requisite number of states to bring it into law. Read more »

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No, But I Know Scott Walker . . . .

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As has been widely reported statewide, the Marquette Law School Poll released on Tuesday found the 2014 governor’s race shaping up to be close, which means an intensely fought campaign is all but a certainty. But it’s worth underscoring the degree to which the race, one year out from the election, is between Scott Walker and someone who’s not Scott Walker.

The poll found that the large majority of Wisconsin voters do not have an opinion yet on former Trek Bike executive Mary Burke, the only announced candidate for the Democratic nomination, or two state legislators who are considering running, Sen. Kathleen Vinehout and Democratic Assembly Leader Peter Barca. To be specific, 70% had no opinion on Burke, 79% on Vinehout, and 82% on Barca.

But they sure know who the Republican incumbent is. Only 4% had no opinion on Walker. And he remains a highly polarizing figure, with 50% saying they have a favorable opinion of him and 46% unfavorable. As Professor Charles Franklin said during the poll release event, a lot of governors would come nowhere near 96% name recognition in their home states. Read more »

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Pot, Politics, and the New Center

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The headlines about the newest Marquette Law School Poll are focusing on the 2014 race for governor and that’s certainly no surprise. Let’s be honest. For the news media (I’m still a member), the horserace is catnip. We can’t resist. But there’s another question in the Poll that may generate—forgive me—some buzz of its own. “Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?” Of the 400 people who responded, 50 per cent said yes, marijuana should be legal. Forty-five per cent said it should not. (See question 33 of the poll results here.)

Surprising? Perhaps. But why is it significant? To be sure, marijuana will not be a major issue in next year’s elections in Wisconsin. We’re not about to become the next Colorado or Washington, where in statewide referenda voters made recreational pot use legal. We’re also not about to join the list of 20 states that permit marijuana for medical use, although two Democratic state lawmakers, Jon Erpenbach and Chris Taylor, are proposing we do just that. Erpenbach and Taylor say the public is ahead of the politicians on this one, and the Marquette Law School Poll suggests they may be right. Furthermore, a recent Gallup Poll found even stronger support for legalizing marijuana. For the first time ever, a clear majority of Americans, 58 percent, favored legalization. Read more »

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