Some Historical Perspective on Netanyahu’s Address to Congress

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Category: Constitutional Law, International Law & Diplomacy, Public
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Today there’s some interesting news from the realm of foreign relations law: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will give an address to Congress next month on the topic of Iran’s nuclear program, presumably to encourage legislators to support a hardline stance and perhaps to undermine the President’s ongoing efforts to achieve a diplomatic solution. To me, the noteworthy part is not so much the address itself, but rather the process by which it was arranged: the White House had no role. In fact, the Administration didn’t even know about it until today. John Boehner says that he invited Netanyahu without consulting officials from the executive branch because “Congress can make [such a] decision on its own.” The President’s Press Secretary responded that it was a breach of protocol for Netanyahu to plan a visit without first contacting the White House.

A couple of quick points. First, addresses of this type have a long historical pedigree. Consider these facts from the Office of the Historian of the House of Representatives, which has a fun website on the subject: Read more »

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Karl Marx on Religion

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Category: Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public
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marxReligious people sometimes express disdain for Karl Marx and his philosophies because he supposedly characterized religion as “the opiate of the masses.” It turns out that this isn’t exactly what Marx said. Furthermore, he wasn’t necessarily negative about religion and its role in social life.

Appearing in Marx’s projected but never completed A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy, Marx’s words on religion are of course in German. Read more »

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Barrett: Streetcar Plan Is a Bet on the City’s Future

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Category: Milwaukee Public Schools, Public, Speakers at Marquette
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“I’m betting on the future of this city, and I’m saying we have to invest.”

The specific investment Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was speaking of during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” event at Eckstein Hall on Tuesday is the proposed streetcar that would serve parts of downtown Milwaukee.

Barrett has been an energetic advocate for the streetcar plan, which has become a political controversy of a major order. The proposal appears to be coming to an important point (but not a final decision), with two votes scheduled for Wednesday by the Milwaukee Common Council that would create tax incremental districts in the area to be served. The districts would go far to make financing feasible. But supporters are saying that, even if the streetcar wins, there very likely will be a second round of voting in February, as well as other possible avenues of opposition to pursue.

Barrett told a full house in the Appellate Courtroom that downtown Milwaukee has seen a boom in development and that the streetcar would help continue that. He showed photos of major business projects underway and said 800 new residential units are being readied for the market. “I want that momentum to continue,” the mayor said. Read more »

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Attorney Priya Barnes Highlighted for Pro Bono Work

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Category: Marquette Law School, Pro Bono, Public
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This month the State Bar of Wisconsin highlighted Attorney Priya Barnes, a 2013 Marquette Law School graduate, for her pro bono work. The State Bar’s Inside Track interviewed Barnes.  Barnes noted that while in law school, she volunteered with the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic (MVLC) and the Milwaukee Justice Center (MJC).  She now represents pro bono clients referred through the Volunteer Lawyers Project at Legal Action of Wisconsin, handling primarily Chapter 7 bankruptcy and domestic violence matters.  Barnes said that her pro bono work reinforces the work she does in her general practice and gives her “valuable practice experience” as a newer attorney.

As mentioned in the article, the State Bar Pro Bono Initiative “works to improve public access to the legal system by promoting solutions that eliminate barriers to effective access to the civil justice system.”

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Pet DNA Used to Help Solve Crimes

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CatAs this public radio show discusses, DNA from pets is increasingly being used to help solve crimes.  Investigators can take DNA samples found at a crime scene, such as hair, and have it tested to match a victim’s pet.  A match can link a perpetrator to the crime if, for instance, the DNA of the victim’s pet shows up on the assailant’s clothes.  As noted on the show, the field of veterinary forensics is growing, and while the DNA testing is expensive, it can make a big difference in solving a case.  In addition to animal DNA, plant DNA and viral DNA has also been used in criminal cases.

 

 

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Compelled Diplomacy in Zivotofsky v. Kerry

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To the parties and lower courts, Zivotofsky v. Kerry has been a dispute primarily about the nature of the President’s power to recognize foreign borders. But what if the law also raises another, entirely separate issue under Article II?

In a new essay in the NYU Journal of Law & Liberty, I discuss the possibility that Section 214(d) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 2003 is unconstitutional not because it recognizes a border or materially interferes with the implementation of U.S. recognition policy, but simply because it purports to compel diplomatic speech that the President opposes. From this angle, Zivotofsky presents a question about who controls official diplomatic communications, and recognition is beside the point. The essay is available here.

 

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Half-a-Lawyer

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When I left my last exam of the fall semester, one of my classmates commented that we were now halfway to becoming lawyers. This comment made me reflect on my experience in law school and think about what it means to be half-a-lawyer.

I describe my law school experience as tough but worthwhile. The first semester of classes were a whirlwind of inquiry, excitement, and worry. However, upon reflection, I know I have truly benefitted from learning in an environment with so many intelligent people. There is always a person to bounce ideas off of and a person to learn from. It is great to be challenged as it encourages me to strive to do my best work. Read more »

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The Problem with a Grand Bargain on the Senkaku Islands

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Lately there have been a variety of proposals for cooperative solutions to the Sino-Japanese dispute over the Senkaku Islands, but these proposals seem to suffer from a common problem in that they misapply international law in ways that uniformly disfavor Japan. Today I published a short article with The National Interest to explain this point; it’s available here.

 

 

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A Social Trust Theory of Criminal Law, Part III

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The first two posts in this series are here and here.  In this concluding post, I will share some thoughts regarding the various mechanisms by which criminal law potentially enhances social trust.

Deterrence: The criminal law’s deterrent threats help to make people feel more secure.  It seems to be a matter of widely shared intuition, and not without basis, that the possibility of punishment will cause many individuals to think twice before harming or endangering others.  The difficulty with deterrence is this: just because the threat of some punishment tends to reduce the frequency of undesirable conduct or outcomes does not mean that the threat of more punishment will achieve further gains.   Read more »

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A Social Trust Theory of Criminal Law, Part II

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As I discussed in my previous post, the job of criminal law is to reassure us that we will not be victimized when we leave the safety of our homes and families and engage with the wider world. Such reassurance is necessary for our economy to work and for us to be able to enjoy the individual freedoms so exalted by our culture. But the central dilemma of criminal law is this: criminal law and its enforcement not only function as sources of reassurance, but as threats in their own right—producers of fear that may undermine, rather than enhance, people’s sense of security and willingness to engage with the wider world. Every time the criminal-justice system acts against a citizen, it causes harm in some form or another. Viewing this harm, some will feel reassured—if the system, for instance, is seen as thereby deterring future harms—but others will feel frightened. Indeed, the very essence of deterrence is fright. There is no unalloyed good when the system acts. The bitter always accompanies the sweet.   Read more »

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Welcome to Our January Blogger

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2014 NYE Ball Drop Times SqHappy New Year! Our January guest blogger will be 2L Vanessa Richmond. Many thanks to our previous guest, 3L Frank Remington.

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A Defense of Law School Education

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School of LawTwo weeks ago, the New York Times published an article entitled “A Steep Slide in Law School Enrollment Accelerates.” One of the major premises for the article was that prospective graduate school students have increasingly found law school not to be an attractive option anymore. According to the article, students likened their relationship to their schools as a business contract. The article was supported by ABA employment figures that showed that less than two-thirds of law school graduates found jobs that required passing the bar exam. I found the article and its premises unfair. The article, hardly the first to do so, equated law school success to finding long-term employment as a lawyer.

Grading a law school education based on bar-exam-required employment is unfairly simplistic. The breadth of interesting employment opportunities available to law school graduates is incredible. Read more »

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