The Libya Intervention: Legality and Lessons (Part III)

Posted on Categories International Law & Diplomacy, Public1 Comment on The Libya Intervention: Legality and Lessons (Part III)

In my last two posts, I discussed some of the legal and practical issues raised by the U.S. intervention in Libya, including the issue of whether the Obama Administration violated the War Powers Resolution by declining to seek congressional approval for participation in the conflict. Although there is room for debate, I concluded that the Administration probably did violate the Resolution insofar as the statutory meaning of “hostilities” aligns with the word’s colloquial meaning. But the question of meaning probably depends on more than text alone. As with most other questions of statutory interpretation, we should also look to precedent as an interpretive guide. My purpose in this post is to identify some relevant precedent and discuss how it might affect the analysis. Continue reading “The Libya Intervention: Legality and Lessons (Part III)”

Recent College Football Realignments Are Nothing New

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The realignment of major college football conferences has been one of the most important sports stories of the fall. As teams shift from one conference to another, many commentators have described these happenings as unprecedented, and in the minds of many, these developments appear to threaten the stability of college athletics. Rumor has it that the National Sports Law Institute is planning to hold a conference on the legal implications of such changes.

However, the wailing and gnashing of teeth reflects more than anything else a lack of historical awareness on behalf of the wailers and the gnashers. In reality, the history of college athletic conferences has largely been a story of instability and change and not of stability and respect for tradition.

First of all, conferences themselves have come and gone on a fairly regular basis over the history of college sports. For example, most of the major football-playing conferences of today were created in the past half-century. There are currently eleven Football Bowl Division college conferences (Division 1-A, in the previous nomenclature), and 14 Football Championship Division conferences (formerly Division 1-AA). Only three of the former and three of the later (6 of 24 conferences) existed in 1952. As late as 1974, only 6 of the 11 I-A conferences and 3 of the 14 I-AA conferences of today had yet appeared. The remaining 16 were created after 1974. Four of the 11 current FBS conferences—Big 12, Mountain West, Conference USA, and Big East football—were created in the 1990’s. Continue reading “Recent College Football Realignments Are Nothing New”

A Belated Review of Criminal Cases in the Supreme Court Last Term

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Public, U.S. Supreme CourtLeave a comment» on A Belated Review of Criminal Cases in the Supreme Court Last Term

At Life Sentences Blog, I’ve just finished a series of posts reviewing the Supreme Court’s criminal cases from last term.  In light of their belated nature, I have not cross-posted them, but here are the links:

Humility and Advocacy

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[Editor’s Note: This month faculty members share their favorite brief writing or oral argument tip. This is the fourth entry in the series.] My favorite advocacy tip applies to briefs and oral arguments alike. (Indeed, for my money it serves as a pretty good rule of thumb for life in general.) It is this: Your arguments are never as good as you think they are.

As a general matter, the phenomenon is a product of (or is at the very least related to) what psychologists call the confirmation bias. That’s our tendency to assimilate new information in such a way as to confirm our pre-existing beliefs. If I’m inclined to believe in the truth of Proposition X, then I will give relatively greater weight to new information that confirms that belief than to information that runs contrary to it.

Continue reading “Humility and Advocacy”

Fleeting Indecencies and Enduring Constitutional Doctrine

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[Editor’s Note: This month, faculty members will discuss upcoming judicial decisions of particular interest. This is the first post in the series.]

On June 27, 2011, near the end of its October 2010 Term, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari review in FCC v. Fox Television Stations, a case arising in 2010 out the Second Circuit Court of Appeals following a 2009 remand from the Supreme Court.

At issue, in this round of the litigation, is the FCC’s expansion of its broadcast prohibitions to include so-called “fleeting indecencies,” isolated (uncensored) utterances that “describe or depict sexual or excretory organs or activities” and, when used, are “patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium.” Perhaps the most notorious fleeting indecency in recent years was Janet Jackson’s unfortunate “wardrobe malfunction,” precipitated by Justin Timberlake, during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII. Continue reading “Fleeting Indecencies and Enduring Constitutional Doctrine”

Senator Feingold on Civility

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School, Negotiation, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Speakers at Marquette3 Comments on Senator Feingold on Civility

Last week in honor of ABA Mediation Week, the DR Society here hosted former Senator Russell Feingold for a talk on Civility in Public Discourse. We had a wonderful off-the-record hour (so I can’t tell you all the good stories!–here is me cracking up at one) but what I can say is heartening in terms of supporting our students. Feingold noted that the most persuasive negotiators in the Senate were those who were passionate and had conviction and would also know when to work out a deal. You could trust that they would keep their word. When I asked him about the “argument culture” that seems to pervade Washington, Senator Feingold urged our students to fight against this mentality–stay civil, be humble, keep your word. In reflecting about his long-term interactions with Senator McCain on the campaign finance reform bill, Senator Feingold pointed out that these cross-cutting relationships are crucial–after all, you don’t need to make a deal with those who already agree with you. Over his 18 years in the Senate, he noted how the atmosphere had changed where a senator was part of a joint enterprise with an honored history and esprit de corps–these days politicians get elected by running against the idea that you need to work together. In focusing on Wisconsin–which has been an incredible battleground in the last year over labor rights, the Supreme Court, and other issues–I will note at least two state senators that seem to be taking a page from Senators Feingold and McCain. Dubbed the Common Ground tour, these two senators are touring their respective districts stumping for common issues.  (For more on the Common Ground tour and to hear directly from these state senators, you can click here to watch our own Mike Gousha interviewing them as part of Marquette’s “On the Issues” series.)

Cross posted at Indisputably.

Pro Bono: A Lot to Celebrate

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Last week, as part of the American Bar Association’s coordinated effort to showcase the great difference pro bono makes, we hosted our third annual Pro Bono Celebration.  This gave us opportunity to highlight some of our community partners.  We celebrated with balloons and cake in the conference center and heard from Beth Cordes Thompson, Director of Wisconsin English Language Partners of Wisconsin and a recent beneficiary of the Marquette Legal Initiative for Nonprofit Corporations’ services;  Gerri Sheets-Howard, Director of the House of Peace where the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic (MVLC) is in its tenth year of operation; Jim Duff, Director of Milwaukee County Veterans’ Service Office where the MVLC has hosted a clinic since 2009; Dr. Luis “Tony” Baez, Director of the Council for Spanish Speakers where the MVLC has operated a clinic since 2008; and John Barrett, Milwaukee County Clerk of Courts, where our clinic has run since 2009. These speakers are pictured from left to right in the photo accompanying this post. I heard from multiple attendees that they were refueled after hearing about the reach of the legal services our law students and a dedicated cadre of volunteer attorneys provide. Continue reading “Pro Bono: A Lot to Celebrate”

Orcas and the Thirteenth Amendment

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This last week, a lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California alleging that SeaWorld’s captivity and exploitation of five wild-captured orcas, or so-called killer whales, amounts to slavery and involuntary servitude in violation of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The nominal plaintiffs are the orcas themselves—Tilikum, Katina, Corky, Kasatka, and Ulises—although the suit is technically being brought by PETA and several individuals.  The complaint seeks “an injunction freeing [the orcas] from Defendants’ bondage and placing them in a habitat suited to their individual needs and best interests.” Continue reading “Orcas and the Thirteenth Amendment”

Maybe the Brewers Should Hire a Lawyer as Their Next Manager

Posted on Categories Public, Sports & Law1 Comment on Maybe the Brewers Should Hire a Lawyer as Their Next Manager

The announcement that St. Louis Cardinal manager Tony LaRussa is retiring after his team’s victory in the 2011 World Series provides us with an opportunity to remind the non-lawyer world of the extraordinary success of lawyers who have served as managers in Major League baseball.

LaRussa, who earned his law degree from Florida State in 1978, is one of only seven law school graduates and/or lawyers to manage in the major leagues.  The other six were John Montgomery Ward, Hughie Jennings, Branch Rickey, Miller Huggins, Muddy Ruel, and Jack Hendricks.  In addition, all seven played in the major leagues as players, though with varying degrees of success.

As a group, the seven were quite successful.  LaRussa, who managed in the majors from 1979 to 2011, managed the second largest number of games in baseball history (second to Connie Mack who owned the team that he managed) and recorded the third greatest number of victories (behind Mack and non-lawyer John McGraw).  Altogether, LaRussa’s teams won 14 division championships, six league titles (three in the National League and three in the American), and three World Series titles.  Continue reading “Maybe the Brewers Should Hire a Lawyer as Their Next Manager”

Marquette Law School Poll

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Marquette University Law School will undertake a substantial statewide polling initiative during 2012. This will be the most comprehensive polling enterprise in Wisconsin’s history, following public opinion through a number of polls over the year. The goal of the Marquette Law School Poll is to provide a balanced and detailed understanding of how voters on all sides view and respond to the issues of the 2012 campaigns. The initiative will build upon the work at Marquette Law School of Mike Gousha, distinguished fellow in law and public policy since 2008, and Alan Borsuk, senior fellow in law and public policy since 2009. Leading the effort will be Charles Franklin, a University of Wisconsin–Madison professor of political science, who will be with us throughout 2012 as a visiting professor of law and public policy. Franklin is a national expert on statistical methods, political polling, elections, and public opinion. With the national attention that Wisconsin will receive in 2012 and Marquette Law School’s growing reputation as a premier neutral site for debate and civil discourse on matters affecting the region and points beyond—and with Franklin, Gousha, and Borsuk, together with interested faculty at the Law School and the larger university—there can be little doubt that the time, place, and people are right for the Marquette Law School Poll. The announcement and the underlying reasoning are expanded upon in this press release and in this detailed project description.