International Sanctions with Domestic Benefits

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As we begin a new year, it is interesting to look back on how things have changed in both our personal world and in the world at large. One interesting development that has taken place over the past two decades in the world of international politics has been the drastic increase in the use of economic sanctions. It seems as if the imposition and lifting of sanctions is the language of international diplomacy, rather than being a single tool in the diplomatic toolbox.

The efficacy of international sanctions in changing a country’s behavior is debatable. One study, as reported by World Finance, found that economic sanctions only have a 20-30% success rate in this regard. Nonetheless, even if economic sanctions may not be the most effective way of changing behavior, they can provide an economic benefit to the countries that impose them. Continue reading “International Sanctions with Domestic Benefits”

Trump’s Willingness to Destroy Culture

Posted on Categories Federal Law & Legal System, International Law & Diplomacy, Public1 Comment on Trump’s Willingness to Destroy Culture
the Pink Mosque in Shiraz
Nasir al-Mulk Mosque (the Pink Mosque) in Shiraz

In the midst of our recent, deadly skirmishes with Iran, President Trump at one point threatened to bomb 52 sites that were “important to Iran and the Iranian culture.”  Commentators quickly pointed out that doing so would violate the UNESCO World Heritage Convention as well as the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.  (For just a sampling of those responses, see here, here, here, here, and here.)  For my own part, I was struck by the President’s understanding of “culture” and his willingness to destroy it. Continue reading “Trump’s Willingness to Destroy Culture”

Marquette Moot Court Association Names Participants in the 2020 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition

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The Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition is the appellate moot court competition for Marquette law students and is the capstone event of the intramural moot court program. Students are invited to participate based on their top performance in the fall Appellate Writing and Advocacy course at the Law School.

Congratulations to the participants in the 2020 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition:

Adam Best
William Brookley
John Fuller
Kaitlyn Gradecki
Xavier Jenkins
Naomie Kipulu
Michelle Knapp
Nicholas Lubenow
Colleen Mandell
Jay McDivitt
Wynetta McIntosh
Marilyn McQuade
Tori Nanstad
Kelsey Pelegrin
Jessica Puetz
Annalisa Pusick
Mathias Rekowski
Kelley Roach
Ashley Rossman
Adam Roznowski
Lucas Schaetzel
Natalie Sobierajski
Foley Van Lieshout
Haley Wentz

The Jenkins preliminary rounds begin in March 2020, with the winning teams progressing through the quarterfinals, then semifinals, to the finals. All rounds are open to the public. Stay tuned for more information.

Addressing the Housing Crisis on a Statewide Level

Posted on Categories Milwaukee, Poverty & Law, Public, Student ContributorLeave a comment» on Addressing the Housing Crisis on a Statewide Level

Milwaukee residents know firsthand that many cities in this country are facing an affordable housing crisis. The California legislature has recently taken major steps to address this problem. In addition to providing other protections for tenants, California’s Tenant Protection Act of 2019 has An apartment building in MIlwaukeelimited annual rent increases to 5% plus inflation for the next decade. This legislation was enacted on January 1, 2020, making California the second state to institute a statewide cap on rent increases.

Whether or not this is the best way to solve the affordable housing crisis is debatable. On the one hand such a restriction seems to oppose free-market ideals by limiting landlords’ incentives to invest in housing. Furthermore, although capping rent increases may provide many people with a relatively expedient solution to unaffordable housing, it does not address all the root-causes of the crisis and may even make the problem worse in the long run. In this regard, the cap may be likened to giving a person a fish rather than teaching the person how to fish. Continue reading “Addressing the Housing Crisis on a Statewide Level”

Autonomous Vehicle Malfunctions May Not Be So Complicated After All

Posted on Categories Computer Law, Public, Tort LawLeave a comment» on Autonomous Vehicle Malfunctions May Not Be So Complicated After All

NTSB’s Final Report on Pedestrian Fatality Involving an Uber AV Highlights Obvious Programming Missteps

On a dark street in Tempe, Arizona just before 10 p.m. on March 18, 2018, an Uber vehicle being tested in autonomous mode hit and killed a pedestrian.  This was the first pedestrian fatality involving an autonomous vehicle, and it triggered a media firestorm that caused Uber to suspend its autonomous vehicle program for nine months as it worked with the NTSB to understand the causes of the crash.  With the adoption by the NSTB of its final report on the crash on November 19, that work is now complete.

The NTSB’s final report paints a vivid picture of programming and human missteps that belies the argument commonly advanced in legal scholarship about AV liability — that crashes involving AVs will be impossible for the judges, juries, and doctrines that make up our current system of tort law to “understand.”  Indeed, the errors that led to the crash were all too simple. Continue reading “Autonomous Vehicle Malfunctions May Not Be So Complicated After All”

Latest Marquette Lawyer Magazine Offers Thoughts on Navigating Careers in the Law

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Marquette Lawyer Fall CoverNavigating your path as a lawyer—the new Marquette Lawyer magazine offers approaches to how you might do that.

The cover story, “Practicing Business Law at the Speed of Change,” includes insights from more than 15 lawyers whose work—together with that of their clients—is being shaped every day by advances in technology. Leaders of major firms, experts in the field, and lawyers at various stages in their careers describe how developments from the daily technology everyone uses (such as e-mail) to the most high-tech of today’s changes (blockchain, for example) are affecting legal practice. Click here to read the story.

Paired with the cover story is a profile of Ray Manista, L’90, whose titles at Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual include executive vice president – chief legal officer. Manista describes how “changing labels” has been a key to his successful career. He was a litigator at a large Milwaukee firm but “changed labels” to become a member of the legal team at Northwestern Mutual. Several years later, he changed labels again to become involved in corporate leadership. “To be truly effective, I had to lose the labels,” Manista says. To read his story, click here.

Lee H. Rosenthal, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, chose a thought-provoking subject about career paths when she delivered the E. Harold Hallows Lecture at Marquette Law School this past spring. “Ambition and Aspiration: Living Greatly in the Law” offers an essay version of her lecture on what priorities should guide members of the profession. Rosenthal’s remarks are accompanied in the magazine by responses from eight lawyers, judges, and professors: namely, Diane S. Sykes, Darren Bush, Suzanna Sherry, Chad M. Oldfather, Nancy Joseph, Anna Fodor, Anne Berleman Kearney, and Peter K. Rofes. To read the full story, click here.

Continue reading “Latest Marquette Lawyer Magazine Offers Thoughts on Navigating Careers in the Law”

Architecture and Public Housing in the Midwest

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A Cabrini-Green tower being demolished
By Apartment Therapy – Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0,

When I lived in Chicago, I would always turn my head at a certain point while riding the Brown Line to go home. I knew there was a place where I could look and see the remaining towers of the Cabrini-Green high-rises. The buildings were built post-World War II when the Public Housing Administration decided to invest more money in slum clearance and providing housing for low-income residents. I would marvel at the light buildings as the sun shone on them, cutting down Division.

Cabrini-Green, at its peak, was a sprawling complex consisting of rowhouses and 23 high-rises. The last of the high-rises was demolished in 2011 and the buildings have been replaced by mixed-income housing developments and businesses.

At the time the public housing high rises of Chicago were demolished, they were remembered for crime, poor maintenance, urban blight, and possibly the time then-Mayor Jane Byrne lived at the tower at 1150-1160 N. Sedgwick for 25 days. The end of the high rises for the Chicago Housing Authority, and many other public housing high rises in the Midwest, largely came about as they had become the very thing they meant to replace; they had become towering crime-filled “slums” filled with some of the most vulnerable and marginalized people in those communities.

In “’The Projects’: Lost Public Housing Towers of the Midwest,” one of the pieces in Midwest Architecture Journeys, Michael R. Allen examines the disappearance of the public housing high-rises of the Midwest. While some will point to Cabrini-Green as being the most notorious public housing project, St. Louis was home to Pruitt-Igoe. Pruitt-Igoe had Minoru Yamasaki, who would later design the World Trade Center in New York City, as its lead architect and featured windowed galleries that would be filled with light. Yamasaki had attempted to have mixed-rise buildings in the project but was forced by the federal government to build high-rises.

The planners of public housing in the Midwest would repeatedly run into the problem of being mandated to build high-rises but would still build what would seem nearly utopian. Allen writes in his piece about Pruitt-Igoe having playgrounds and the St. Louis Housing Authority initially planning on having a detailed landscape plan. Pruitt-Igoe was completed in 1956 and all thirty-three towers were demolished by the end of 1976.

Pruitt-Igoe, Cabrini-Green, as well as Robert Taylor, another Chicago public housing community, have become synonymous with the failures of attempts to create large communities for low-income residents. The New York City Housing Authority, which also features numerous high-rise housing communities, has not faced the same form of mass demolition under HOPE VI, and had its successes examined in Public Housing That Worked by Nicholas Dagen Bloom. It is the architecture of these public housing communities that is often attacked as it worked with the bold vision of urbanism. (Having walked through enough NYCHA communities during the time I lived in New York City, there has been planning regarding having playgrounds and community centers, but the tall red and brown brick buildings are not particularly inspiring.) Allen’s piece addresses the vilification of architecture in relation to public housing, in particular the lack of a desire to address the government policies that allowed public housing to fail.

As in Allen’s piece, an important consideration we as a society must make is whether to confront the policy problems with public housing and implement more affordable housing as rents rise throughout the country, or do we continue to blame architecture as skyscrapers continue to rise, including in Milwaukee — assuming The Couture is ever built. If we were to ever attempt the post-World War II public housing scale, could we do so while addressing the governmental and social issues in the most impoverished communities?

Climate Responsiveness at a Local Scale

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We often focus on the international level when discussing responses to climate change—for example, the just-concluded 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the ongoing struggle to operationalize the Paris Agreement, or even the war of words between President Trump and young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

A photo of Earth, taken from space.But a much wider spectrum of entities and organizations will have to conduct adaptation and mitigation measures to respond to the intensely local impacts of a changing climate. Among these are what used to be known as wastewater treatment utilities—now often called water reclamation facilities—that may have to deal with (among other things) predicted widespread flooding dangers caused by an increase in larger, more intense precipitation events.

For years, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District has been recognized as a “green leader” on a number of fronts, including climate change preparedness. The Marquette University Water Law and Policy Initiative received funding through the MMSD-Marquette WaterCARE grant program to examine and benchmark the District’s considerable climate progress against federal guidance, against actions taken by six peer utilities, and against the ambitious goals it has set for itself (the District seeks, by 2035, to meet 100% of the District’s energy needs with renewable sources, including 80% from internally generated sources, and to reduce its carbon footprint by 90% from its 2005 baseline). Earlier this month, the Initiative completed its work and issued a final report to the District.

Continue reading “Climate Responsiveness at a Local Scale”

Fresh Thoughts on How to Close the Pre-Kindergarten Learning Gap

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(This is a lightly-edited version of a column I wrote for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that ran in the Dec. 8, 2019, print edition.)

Dana Suskind is a surgeon at the University of Chicago whose specialty is providing kids who have little or no hearing with high-tech cochlear implants that allow them to hear much better. But she noticed about a decade ago that some of her young patients had much better outcomes than others after receiving the implants.

Dana Suskind
Dana Suskind

“It was a really painful experience to watch” kids who now could hear but weren’t thriving. She worked to find the reason. Her conclusion: The problem “had less to do with their hearing loss and more to do with the environment into which they were born.” Generally, their lives were shaped by poverty, instability, high stress and limited exposure to experiences that are intellectually and emotionally beneficial.

Much the same is true for millions of children who are born with normal hearing. By the time they reach kindergarten, they are nowhere near as ready for school as children who with better lots in their early years.

Suskind became founder and co-director of a project called Thirty Million Words. The name came from a study from several decades ago that concluded that, by the time they reached school age, low-income children had heard 30 million fewer words in every-day conversation than children from higher income homes. This limited their educational readiness. Continue reading “Fresh Thoughts on How to Close the Pre-Kindergarten Learning Gap”

The Process of Writing About Your Childhood Library

Posted on Categories Milwaukee, Public, Student Contributor1 Comment on The Process of Writing About Your Childhood Library

Cover of Midwest Architecture JourneysHow do you properly write about the Midwest? Since 2016, the Midwest and the Rust Belt are often lumped together as an area some people refer to as “Trump Country,” an anonymous area filled with diners of people who cling to guns and Bibles. There is nothing remotely interesting, other than possibly Chicago, and an article about how an area previously dismissed by coastal newspapers is up-and-coming because of places that will look good on Instagram. Belt Publishing, a small press in Cleveland, OH, was started in 2013 with the purpose of publishing the work and voices of those from the Midwest, Rust Belt, and elsewhere.

Midwest Architecture Journeys, released in October 2019 from Belt Publishing, examines a diverse range of spaces that would possibly be overlooked in a survey of the buildings of the Midwest. Among the topics covered in the book are the Cahokia Mounds in southern Illinois, flea markets, Lillian Leenhouts’s work in Milwaukee, Fermilab, public housing towers, mausoleums, Iowa rest areas, parking lots in Flint, and a post office that became a public library in Waterloo, Iowa. The Waterloo Public Library is the subject of a piece I contributed to the book, “Please Return Again.” Continue reading “The Process of Writing About Your Childhood Library”

Welcome to Our December Guest Blogger

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Our Student Guest Blogger for December is 1L Monica Reida. Prior to going to law school, Monica worked as a journalist, contributing to Barista Magazine, OnMilwaukee, NewCity, and Gapers Block, where she was the politics editor from 2013-2015. She has a B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University, with a concentration in public affairs reporting. Monica is also the author of a chapter in the recently-released book Midwest Architecture Journeys, edited by Zach Mortice and published by Belt Publishing. According to the publisher, Midwest Architecture Journeys contains “dozens of essays written by architects, critics, and journalists” that “take[ ] readers on a trip to visit some of the region’s most inventive buildings,” but also “includes stops at less obvious but equally daring and defining sites, such as indigenous mounds, grain silos, parking lots, flea markets, and abandoned warehouses.” Monica’s chapter, “Please Return Again,” is about the public library in Waterloo, Iowa. We’re looking forward to hearing more about the chapter and Monica’s experience in getting it published. Welcome, Monica!