ACLU Attorney Says Tighter Voting Rules “Not Healthy” for Democracy

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Category: Election Law, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Speakers at Marquette
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There was a sea change in the approach to election issues across America in the late 2000s, as Dale Ho sees it. He isn’t sure what the cause was, but he is sure it wasn’t a good development. Ho is director of the American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights Project, which makes him one of the leaders of legal opposition nationwide to tightening the rules on who can vote.

Ho told an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” session at Eckstein Hall on Wednesday that voting rights issues had largely drawn bipartisan support for decades.

“We had thought we had largely achieved a consensus in this country around universal suffrage, basic access for everyone (to voting),” Ho said. “Most of the debates about voting rights since the early 1970s were about redistricting – are the lines being drawn fairly for every community, are they being gerrymandered for partisan reasons, things like that. The trend remained toward greater liberalization in terms of ballot access. We didn’t see a lot of fights about registration and ballot access. .  . .

“In the late 2000s, something changed.” Read more »

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Mapping Out the Copyright Semicommons

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Category: Intellectual Property Law, Public, Speakers at Marquette
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Plan of a Mediaeval ManorMy previous two posts on the upcoming Nies Lecture (Thursday, April 16, at 4:30pm — it’s not too late to register!) attempted to sketch out where I think Prof. Smith is headed, based on the abstract and his previous work. In this post I want to reflect for a moment on the implications of viewing copyrights as a type of semicommons.

Copyright was born, in the eighteenth century, with a focus on who had the right to print, publish, and reprint works of authorship. That is, the concern was to exclusively reserve the manufacture of complete works — books, maps, and nautical charts — to the person who created them, or any downstream purchaser of those rights. Although the copyrighted work is intangible — it is the particular creative expression that is embodied within a book, map, or chart — for the first century or so of its existence that expression as a practical matter had a one-to-one correlation with physical objects. In that realm, it is easy to conceive of the property rights assigned by copyright, and the open access rights to the public domain, as dividing lines dividing up an imaginary space — this tract over here is the book Moll Flanders, which is owned by X; that tract over there is public domain, and thus can be used by anyone.

Over the course of the nineteenth century and into the early twentieth, that early, simple framework broke down as courts embraced the notion that the intangible object protected by copyright could be infringed in ways other than reprinting physical copies of the original. Read more »

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The 2015 Nies Lecture: IP as Semicommons

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Category: Intellectual Property Law, Public, Speakers at Marquette
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cows-on-meadow-1410432-mThe title of the 2015 Nies Lecture, being given by Harvard Law Prof. Henry Smith on Thursday, April 16th, at 4:30pm (register here), is “Semicommons in Fluid Resources.” What’s a “semicommons,” and what does it have to do with intellectual property? (I should note that I haven’t talked to Prof. Smith about his lecture; Tuesday’s post and today’s are based just on the abstract read in light of Prof. Smith’s previous scholarship.)

Before I go further, let me recap Tuesday’s post. Prof. Smith has, in a series of articles, laid out a theory of property law that takes into account the informational costs of assigning property rights in various ways. Some ways of describing who has a certain right, and monitoring whether that right is being respected, are very concise: “Kerry owns that red ball.” “Hey, that’s not your ball, it’s mine!” I called these object-based rules, but Prof. Smith calls them “exclusivity rules.” The idea is the same: saying Kerry has the exclusive right to use the red ball for any purpose is a short and easily comprehended way of assigning all uses of that particular object to Kerry. It’s easy to identify who Kerry is, what the object is, and what Kerry (or anyone else) can do with it.

But that’s not the only way to assign rights to objects. Instead of giving all uses of a particular object to one person in an undivided lump, we could instead specify various uses of the object under various conditions, and say that different people can engage in those uses. In other words, we could manage access to the ball. Read more »

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NEWaukee and How to Create the Most Awesome City on the Planet

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Category: Milwaukee, Popular Culture & Law, Public, Speakers at Marquette
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Angela Damiani has a clear goal: “To make this the most awesome city on the planet.”

Note that we didn’t say “an easy goal,” we said “a clear goal.” But don’t tell Damiani that it can’t be pursued and there can’t be progress in getting there. In the six years since it began, NEWaukee, the organization she leads as president, has become a fast-growing  energizer and catalyst for community-building activities, particularly among young professionals.

At an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall on Wednesday, Damiani said the jargon term for NEWaukee is that it is a social architecture firm. What does that mean? In short, NEWaukee is an organization aimed at consciously designing ways to shift a population toward a goal – and that goal is to make Milwaukee a place people think is attractive and appealing.  Which is where the ”awesome city” ambition comes in. Read more »

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The 2015 Nies Lecture: What Is “Intellectual Property,” Exactly, and How Does It Relate to Water Law?

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Fall StreamI’m very excited about this year’s Nies Lecture, which will be delivered by Prof. Henry Smith of Harvard Law School in just a little more than a week — Thursday, April 16th, at 4:30pm. (Register now to attend!) The title is “Semicommons in Fluid Resources,” but that only hints at the depth of the waters, so to speak, that Prof. Smith is likely to explore. As I understand it, the topic is nothing less than the nature of property itself, and how some forms of it — rights to water, and intellectual property — occupy a “middle ground” between communal governance and individual ownership. That has important ramifications for copyright law in particular, in which the dividing line between common goals and individual incentives lies at the heart of numerous doctrines.

The issue is this: suppose you have some sort of resource that multiple people want to use. Say it’s a particular piece of land. As Smith has written previously, there are two basic ways of specifying rules for what people can do with that resource: you could draw lines around objects, or you could draw lines around uses. That is, you could identify a particular object, such as a plot of land, and say that one person has the right to decide all permitted uses of it. (Or that everyone has the right to decide what they will do with it, turning it into a commons, or no one does, turning it into a forbidden zone.) Alternatively, you could draw lines around uses, not objects, and say that person X has the right to engage in activity A using the piece of land in question, and spell out rules governing each person or set of persons and telling them what uses they can make of the land and which they can’t, and under what conditions.

As Smith has argued, these different methods are best viewed as lying on a spectrum. Read more »

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Conferences Focuses on Fighting Human Trafficking and Repairing the Harm to Victims

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“I want to believe that this can end,” Sharmere McKenzie said. “Let’s do this together. Let’s do this together. Are you with me?”

Yes, a capacity audience in the Appellate Courtroom of Eckstein Hall was with her. That was because of far more than the riveting personal stories told by McKenzie and several others at a day-long conference, “Restorative Justice and Human Trafficking – from Wisconsin to the World.”

The people at the conference were with McKenzie because of their commitment to dealing with the entirety of the issue of human trafficking, starting with understanding the realities of it and expanding to include prevention, prosecution, and repair of the lives of those who are victimized by it.

The emphasis at the conference was particularly on the “restorative justice” aspects of responding to trafficking. Janine Geske, a retired professor at Marquette Law School, continues to be a central figure in restorative justice work at the Law School and far beyond. She led the conference and set the tone of focusing on what harm is done by human trafficking and what can be done to repair the harm. Read more »

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Judge Brett Kavanaugh Calls for “Rules of the Road” for Separation of Powers Issues

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Category: Congress & Congressional Power, Federal Law & Legal System, Political Processes & Rhetoric, President & Executive Branch, Public, Speakers at Marquette
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Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh

So Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys leaps for a pass as the playoff game with the Green Bay Packers is about to end. He comes down with ball on the one-yard line. Or does he? Or course, you know the answer—he doesn’t, the referees rule, a call that is hotly debated nationwide (and helps the Packers to victory in the Jan. 11 NFL playoff game).

The referee’s call required making a decision on the spot under great pressure and scrutiny. But to Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D. C. Circuit, a big reason the call was made in a way that stood up to later scrutiny was that the rules for deciding what was a legitimate catch were established ahead of time, with thought and clarity.

And that is, in substance, much of the message Kavanaugh delivered in the 2015 Hallows Lecture at Marquette University Law School on Tuesday. The lecture, titled “Separation of Powers Controversies in the Bush and Obama Administrations: A View from the Trenches,” examined five different policy areas where controversies over separation of powers at the top of the federal government have arisen in recent years. In all five areas, Kavanaugh said, it pays off when “the rules of the road” are developed before a crisis comes.  Read more »

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Some Perspective from Five Marquette Lawyers Who Are General Counsel

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Category: Corporate Law, International Law & Diplomacy, Legal Practice, Public, Speakers at Marquette
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You are the general counsel of a large corporation. Your company is involved in negotiations to buy a competitor and there are layers upon layers of complexity and risk. Is a lawsuit against the competitor a deal-killer or no big deal? Why is a key employee of the other company about to bolt for a third company? Business for your own company has been slipping. Do you need this deal to save your company or will the deal wreck what you do have? The questions—and the pressure—build.

Ray Manista, Cari Logemann, Paul Dacier, Julie Van Straten, and Frank Steeves in Eckstein Hall’s Appellate Room

Ray Manista, Cari Logemann, Paul Dacier, Julie Van Straten, and Frank Steeves in Eckstein Hall’s Appellate Room

Paul Dacier, L’83, outlined the scenario before a capacity audience in the Appellate Courtroom of Eckstein Hall on Feb. 20, and as he did so, he asked members of the audience how they would handle each step.

As Dacier’s story comes to a head: The CEO calls you into his office. “It’s just the two of you in the room and the CEO is sweating bullets,” Dacier says. He wants to know what you as general counsel recommend.

Read more »

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Archbishop Explains the Pope’s Approach to Opposing Abortion

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Category: Public, Religion & Law, Speakers at Marquette
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Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki says, “Until I die, I will be supportive of pro-life efforts.” But does he understand what Pope Francis meant when he said that the Catholic Church was obsessed with issues such as abortion?

Yes, he said, during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall on Monday. The pope, he said, was not talking about the “rightness of the issue” and the church’s opposition to abortion. He was talking about how you spread the church’s message and bring people in.

Speaking of those who are particularly intent on the church’s fighting abortion, Listecki told Gousha, Marquette Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy, “These are my friends. Do they sometimes give me heartburn? Yes, they do.” The way the church’s position is articulated by some can push people away, and that was what Pope Francis meant, the archbishop said.  Read more »

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Paul Taylor: A Positive Look at Big Changes in America’s Population and Sociology

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The title of Paul Taylor’s recent book refers to “a looming generational showdown” as America changes. But Taylor, a senior fellow at the Pew Research Center in Washington, didn’t strike a particularly ominous tone as he described what lies ahead during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” session at Eckstein Hall on Tuesday.

There were three reasons for that. First, Taylor described himself as “a glass half-full guy,” generally inclined to be optimistic. Second, he said America has dealt successfully with many challenges in its history. And third, he said the foremost challenge – how a big surge in Social Security and Medicare benefits for retirees will be supported by the workforce of a few years from now – can be handled successfully if Congress and the president are willing to do so.

In his book, “The Next America: Boomers, Millenials and the Looming Generational Showdown,” and in his conversation in the Appellate Courtroom, Taylor gave a wide-ranging, insightful, and occasionally light-hearted tour of big changes in the demographics of America. Read more »

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Paul Ryan Speaks Well of Obama — on One Issue

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Kind words for Democratic President Barack Obama from Rep. Paul Ryan, a leading figure in the Republican Party and chair of the House Ways and Means Committee?

Yes – but on only one subject, the pursuit of trade agreements with countries in Europe and Asia. And a you might include tax reform, where there may be some room for bipartisan cooperation, Ryan said.

In an “On the Issue with Mike Gousha” session at Eckstein Hall on Monday, Ryan discussed a wide range of subjects, from his thoughts on fighting poverty to Obama’s handling of foreign policy (no kind words on that score) to Ryan’s decision not to run for president in 2016. Read more »

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Mission Week Expert Describes Progress and Problems on Global Water Issues

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Great progress has been since 1990 in making clean water available to hundreds of millions of people, but there remains great need to extend that progress to hundreds of millions more, a leading figure in such efforts said Thursday at Marquette Law School.

As part of Mission Week at Marquette University, Vanessa Tobin spoke with Mike Gousha, the Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy, in an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program. Tobin is senior technical advisor for water supply, sanitation, and water resources for Catholic Relief Services. She worked for 24 years for UNICEF on dealing with these needs and others around the world before joining Catholic Relief Services in December, 2011.

Tobin said that for people in nations such as the United States or her native England, “we take our hygiene and sanitation for granted. . . . These are luxuries in many countries.” For about 750 million people, primarily low-income residents of  sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, unpolluted water is not available and poor sanitary conditions affect the health of millions of people, particularly children five and under. Read more »

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