March 26, 2014

Majority Opinion on “Obamacare” Doesn’t Lie in Either Extreme

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Category: Health Care, Marquette Law School, Public
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As is so often the case, the focus in news reporting on the fresh results of the Marquette Law School Poll, released on Wednesday, was on the race for governor, with Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s lead over Democratic challenger Mary Burke holding steady from the prior round of polling in January. (Walker led 48 percent to 41 percent this time, compared to 47 percent to 41 percent then.)

But there is a lot more in each round of polling, both results that shed richer light on voters’ views related to candidates and voters’ views on issues. Distinguished Fellow Mike Gousha looks at some of the former in his posting on this blog, which can be found by clicking here. Permit me to look at one aspect of the latter, the results related to the new federal health law, often called Obamacare — results which don’t get much time in the spotlight.

Professor Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, pointed to one of the most interesting results related to health care in his discussion of the results with Gousha on Wednesday. Put simply: There isn’t much political mileage to be gained from being either strongly in favor or strongly opposed to the federal law. What the majority of those who were polled said they want is to keep the new law but improve it. Specifically, only 8 percent want to keep the law the way it is, only 18 percent want to see it repealed and not replaced. But 52 percent want it improved, while another 18 percent said they want it repealed but replaced with an alternative. That’s 70 percent who want a better plan than Obamacare, but still want a federal health care law (presumably in addition to or expanding on Medicare and Medicaid). Read more »

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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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March 25, 2014

Burke Zings Walker, Touts Herself as Pro-Business Candidate

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Category: Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Speakers at Marquette
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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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Congratulations to the 2014 Marquette AAJ National Trial Competition Team

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Congratulations to Marquette’s AAJ National Trial Competition Team for its third place finish in the Chicago regional.

The AAJ National Trial Competition is one of the premier national trial competitions in the country. Well over 200 teams from law schools around the country compete. The Chicago regional is generally one of the toughest regions, and many teams that advance from the Chicago regional to the national competition have ultimately won at nationals.

The Chicago regional hosted 16 teams. After the three preliminary rounds, Marquette was undefeated and advanced to the semi-final round. While the Marquette team ultimately lost a well-fought trial, the team ended up placing third in the Chicago regional. It was an excellent showing.

The team members are Katie Halopka, Hans Lodge, Emil Ovbiagele and Matt Tobin. Professor Dan Blinka is the team’s advisor, and attorneys Jason Luczak and Nate Blair coached the team.

 

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March 24, 2014

Legislative Treatment of E-Cigarettes

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In recent months, efforts to subject e-cigarettes to the same laws as traditional cigarettes have swept the country.  The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has unanimously voted to subject the smokeless, tobacco-less cigarette to the same public bans as cigarettes.  Across the country in New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie recently unveiled a new budget plan that will subject e-cigarettes to the same excise tax rate as their tobacco-filled cousins.
So, should e-cigarettes and cigarettes be subject to the same laws?  Read more »
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March 23, 2014

Congratulations to the 2014 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Semifinalists

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Congratulations to this year’s Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition semifinalists: Tyler Coppage, Amy Heart, Brian Kane, Amanda Luedtke, Jennifer McNamee, Elizabeth Oestreich, Frank Remington, and Derek Waterstreet. Teams are advancing after four rounds of preliminary competition.

Thank you to the numerous judges who graded briefs and heard oral arguments, as well as to all the competitors, who prepared hard for the competition and fought good battles this weekend.

The semifinal round will be held on Thursday, March 27 at 6:00 p.m. The teams will be matched as follows:

Tyler Coppage and Derek Waterstreet v. Jennifer McNamee and Elizabeth Oestreich will argue in the Appellate Courtroom.

Brian Kane and Amanda Luedtke v. Amy Heart and Frank Remington will argue in the Trial Courtroom.

The teams will argue before a panel of judges, including Hon. Michael Bohren; Hon. G. Michael Halfenger; Hon. Donald Hassin; Hon. Nancy Joseph; Hon. Joan Kessler; and Hon. JoAnne Kloppenburg.

Good luck to the semifinalists.

 

 

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March 21, 2014

Commonly Confused Words: Knowing When to Choose the Right One

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Even as we add more official (and some might say questionable) words to our dictionaries—like selfie, twerk, sexting, and LOL—we sometimes seem to have a difficult time knowing when to use some of the basic words that have been around forever. Below are some commonly confused words, their meanings, and their proper use.

That/Which/Who – Probably the most commonly confused combination.  Misuse of “that” and “which” proliferate nearly every judicial opinion students read, which adds to the confusion.  Also, of late, I’ve noticed that students are dropping the use of “who” altogether and using “which” instead in places that make their writing grammatically incorrect.  So let’s take a look at each of these words. Read more »

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March 20, 2014

2014 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition Preliminary Rounds

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Let the March Madness begin!

This weekend, the nine Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition teams will compete in four preliminary rounds at Eckstein Hall. The rounds will be held on March 22nd at 10:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., and on March 23rd at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Law students are invited to attend any of the rounds and should plan to arrive to the round at least five minutes before the round begins.  Attending a round of competition is a great way for students to learn more about moot court and study oral advocacy techniques.  Students–come and cheer on your friends and classmates.

Thank you to Brittany Kachingwe, Associate Justice of Intramural Competitions, and the Moot Court Board for their work in organizing the competition.  Best of luck to this year’s competitors!

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March 19, 2014

Law Day Gives High Schoolers Glimpses of Lawyers in the Movies — and In Real Life

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Category: Education & Law, Marquette Law School, Popular Culture & Law, Public
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If you are a typical high school student, where do you get your ideas on what attorneys do? Television and movies – that’s a pretty likely answer. So let’s role the tape and look at the reality of being a lawyer versus what the movies show.

For example, consider a clip from the 1998 movie, “A Civil Action.” After viewing it, Milwaukee Circuit Judge Carl Ashley’s reaction was, “It’s pretty sensationalized, but partly true.” Court rooms and law firms may not have movie-like drama often, but lawyers in real life do help people and can “make something right,” Ashley said.

In the movie, the lawyer played by John Travolta called some lawyers “bottom feeders.” But Marquette Law School Professor Rebecca Blemberg, a former prosecutor, said lawyers she has worked with almost all have been people who really want to help others, and a lot of people genuinely benefit from lawyers.

Milwaukee County Judge Joseph Donald said he wished some aspects of the movie were matched in real life. “I’d love to have theme music playing every time I’m in court,” he said.

And Marquette Law Professor David Papke said the real case that was the basis of “A Civil Action” didn’t turn out so well for the attorney for the plaintiffs – he tried to do the right thing and ended up filing for personal bankruptcy.

Joining the four in watching that movie clip (and several others) were 180 students from eight public and private schools that took part in Youth Law Day at Marquette Law School’s Eckstein Hall on March 12. The event was sponsored by the Law School, the Saint Thomas More Lawyers Society, and the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office. Even during their spring break week, about 20 Marquette Law students assisted during the mock trial and shared their educational experiences with the high school students. Law student Lindsey Anderson took a leading role in organizing the event.  Read more »

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March 18, 2014

Congratulations to the Marquette National Moot Court Team

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photo (2)Please congratulate third-year law students Hans Lodge, Brendon Reyes, and Robert Steele for their recent participation in the final rounds of the National Moot Court Competition (NMCC) in New York. The team was coached by Attorneys Emily Lonergan and Jason Luczak. The NMCC is hosted by the New York City Bar Association and the American College of Trial Lawyers.

I am grateful to the team for their tremendous hard work in all stages of preparation including brief writing and oral argument practice. I could not be more proud of them. Their coaches also put in countless hours of practice time with the team. This team is special for many reasons, but among them are that Brendon Reyes is our current Moot Court Association Chief Justice, and Emily Lonergan was our Chief Justice in the 2010-11 year. What a talented and dedicated group of students and young lawyers I am privileged to work with.

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The Sources of Anti-Gay Sentiment in Uganda

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Category: International Law & Diplomacy, Popular Culture & Law, Public, Religion & Law
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American politicians and journalists have sharply criticized Uganda’s apparent hostility toward gay men and lesbians. When in February Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a bill imposing harsh criminal penalties for homosexual acts, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry criticized the Ugandan law as a violation of international human rights. When a tabloid in Kampala, the nation’s largest city, published a list of “Uganda’s 200 Top Gays,” American newspapers reported that this mass “outing” led those on the list to fear for their lives and to seek desperately to flee the country.

In response to this criticism, the Ugandan government characterized the political comments and journalistic reports as disturbingly arrogant. Once again, the U.S. seemed to be trying to control Ugandan lawmaking and public opinion, the government said. Museveni himself insisted “outsiders” should leave his nation alone and vowed he would not give in. “If the West does not want to work with us because of homosexuals,” Museveni said, “then we have enough space to ourselves here.”

Is the dispute simply a matter of American support for gay rights colliding with Ugandan homophobia? As is usually the case in an international dispute of this sort, the controversy involves more than the purported enlightenment of the West on the one hand and the narrow-mindedness in the developing world on the other. There is ample evidence that American evangelical Christians heavily influenced Uganda’s political and religious leaders, who as a result of this influence turned on the nation’s gay men and lesbians. Read more »

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March 17, 2014

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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