Two experts on the United States Supreme Court expressed concerns Thursday during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Marquette Law School that the level of partisanship in confirmation processes for justices is causing damage to the court itself.
David A. Strauss, the Gerald Ratner Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, said, “Things have become a lot more partisan in a way that I think is really damaging for the court as an institution.”
Strauss said, that, even though partisanship has long been a part of confirming court nominees, among senators overall, “there was a consensus that we really have to kind of make sure that we take care of the court.” That meant approving well-qualified candidates who would be respected and do their jobs well, with less attention paid to their partisanship. That has eroded, he said.
“I think it has taken a turn for the much more partisan,” Strauss said. ”What’s really troubling about it . . . Once that happens, it is very hard to dig yourself out of it.” Continue reading “Two Supreme Court Experts Warn About Impact of Partisan Nomination Fights”
Over the past year and a half Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been taken a place under the mainstream spotlight, meaning the public at large has witnessed the speculative behavior in the cryptocurrency market. In December 2017 the price of one Bitcoin surpassed $20,000, only to encounter a bear market where the market price today is around $6,500. This volatility is not new to Bitcoin. For example, on December 4, 2013, Bitcoin was $1,175 and shortly after, on February 10, 2014, the price hit a low $100. I point out price volatility to show that the cryptocurrency market is a unique speculative market. With that being said, let’s put money to the side and focus on the technology on which the Bitcoin network runs – blockchain technology. As we will see, using blockchain to create and maintain a currency is only the beginning.
At its essence blockchain technology is linked data between computers. It is defined as a digital, decentralized, append-only, distributed ledger that allows unrelated individuals to transact with each other without the need for a third-party or controlling authority. Because no third-party transaction confirmation is needed, the network becomes trustless. I want to make a note on the ‘append-only’ characteristic because it is crucial to the high security value blockchain provides. Append only means that data can only be added to the blockchain, it cannot be removed. Blocks that are already on the chain cannot be altered in any way. You can only make a change by noting it on a future block that is not on the chain yet, and every participant of the blockchain can see this change. At very technical levels advanced cryptography is what allows blockchain to exist, but diving into a discussion of these technicalities requires a scientific discussion, which, while interesting, would not serve a legal purpose. However, something of high-relevance to the legal community is a discussion of smart contracts. Working closely with coders and blockchain experts, attorneys can draft smart contracts that provide a more efficient, secure, and cost-effective way of facilitating transactions between individuals. Continue reading “Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Smart Contracts – Part 1”
Ed Flynn was a complete outsider to Milwaukee. The city’s police chief from 2008 to 2018, he never lived in Milwaukee before he became chief, he left Milwaukee as soon as he was done, and some people questioned how much he was connected to the life of the city as a whole while he was serving as chief.
Alfonso Morales, Flynn’s successor, is a complete insider to Milwaukee. Born in the city, grew up on N. 33rd St., graduated from Milwaukee Tech High School, as it was then called (it’s now Bradley Tech). After graduating from Carroll College, he became a Milwaukee police officer and rose through the ranks until he was named chief in February 2018.
Flynn appeared several times at “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” programs at Marquette Law School. Morales was an “On the Issues” guest for the first time on Thursday (Sept. 13, 2018). The differences between them in personal styles, in priorities, and in connecting with the community were clear. Continue reading “A Milwaukee Native Describes His Work as the City’s Police Chief”
Please join me in welcoming Jose Lazaro, our Student Blogger of the Month for the month of September. Here is how Jose introduces himself:
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico where my entire family still resides. At age fourteen I was given the opportunity to play baseball at a boarding school in Philadelphia. I then moved to Florida, where I got drafted by the New York Yankees after my senior year of high school. Instead of pursuing professional baseball I chose to be a student-athlete and went on to play four years of college baseball. After battling injuries, my baseball career finally ended after shoulder surgery and an unsuccessful two-year long rehab attempt. I am now a second-year law-school student here at Marquette University pursuing a number of interests and focused on acquiring a set of skills that will allow me to have a positive impact on the lives of others and the community at large. This past summer I interned at Harley-Davidson, and I will be a summer associate at a Milwaukee law firm this upcoming summer 2019.
Thanks, and we look forward to your posts.
There are few people in recent Wisconsin history – maybe all Wisconsin history – who could work a crowd better than Tommy Thompson, and he showed he still has that ability in an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall on Wednesday that was interesting, insightful, provocative and entertaining.
Elected four times, he was governor of Wisconsin from 1987 to 2001, followed by four years as health and human services secretary in the administration of President George W Bush, Thompson, now 76, spoke on the day after his autobiography, Tommy: My Journey of a Lifetime, written along with journalist Doug Moe, was released officially. Continue reading “Tommy Thompson Describes Lessons from His “Journey of a Lifetime””
The ongoing refusal of President Donald Trump to both reveal the specifics of his personal finances and to decline any income from sources outside of his official salary as President has brought renewed attention to the Emoluments Clauses of the United States Constitution. There are two such clauses, which state as follows:
The Foreign Emoluments Clause prohibits any “Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust” from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State,” absent “the Consent of the Congress.” U.S. Const. art. I, §9, cl. 8. The Domestic Emoluments Clause entitles the President to receive a salary while in office and forbids him from “receiv[ing] within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.” U.S. Const. art. II, §1, cl. 7.
The meaning of these two provisions has become the subject of public debate and also litigation. In one leading case, the State of Maryland and the District of Colombia have sued Donald Trump
for violating these constitutional provisions. They are suing for declaratory and injunctive relief which would compel President Trump to comply with the terms of the Constitution. Continue reading “Emoluments, Textualism and Original Intent”
Public opinion polls typically find a preference for tougher treatment of defendants in the criminal-justice system. However, few polls attempt to disaggregate types of crime. When laypeople are asked what they think should be done with “criminals,” their responses are likely based on the relatively unusual violent and sexual offenses that dominate media coverage of crime. However, punitive attitudes toward such offenses may not necessarily indicate that similar attitudes prevail more generally.
In order to develop a better understanding of the extent to which public attitudes differ based on crime type, I collaborated with Professor Darren Wheelock of the Marquette Social and Cultural Sciences Department on a set of questions in the most recent Marquette Law School Poll. Rather than asking respondents about crime in general, we posed questions regarding violent crime and property crime. Our results were consistent with the expectation that members of the public see these two types of crime in a rather different light.
Continue reading “Violent Crime Versus Property Crime: Law School Poll Reveals Notable Differences in Public Opinion”
To the left you can see a photo that seems to show a plate of spaghetti noodles topped by some sort of strawberry sauce. However, first looks can be deceiving. This is actually a photo of a popular type of gelato, called “spaghetti eis,” that is served at the Cafe San Marcos and at numerous other locations in Giessen, Germany.
Similarly, if you were to walk around the campus of Justus Liebig University for the next three weeks, you would undoubtedly see a large group of students laughing and talking as they make their way to and from classes. You might even assume that these are German law students attending a summer session. However, once again first looks can be deceiving.
These students currently enjoying the warm and sunny weather are actually over 40 law students who have gathered in Giessen from the United States and across the globe to participate in the Summer Session in International and Comparative Law co-hosted once again by the Marquette University Law School and our partners the University of Wisconsin and Justus Liebig University. There are 14 students attending from the United States and a variety of other countries represented including Brazil, Poland, Egypt, Portugal, Belgium, Macedonia, Italy and Vietnam, to name a few.
At this stage of the program, the students have finished a week of classes, and a whirlwind field trip to Berlin, and they are beginning to feel at home in Giessen. A Laser Tag outing has been planned. The best Karaoke Bar in town has been located. Continue reading “First Looks Can Be Deceiving in Giessen, Germany”
“If there’s a subtitle to today’s presentation, it is partisan differences.”
That comment from Professor Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, as a new round of poll results was released Wednesday at Eckstein Hall, spotlighted a striking and important aspect to public opinion in Wisconsin (and probably across the United States). In short, there are two different worlds of perception on what is going on when it comes to politics and policy.
Start with the most obvious example, opinions of President Donald Trump. Overall, 42 percent of registered voters polled in Wisconsin approved of Trump’s job performance and 50 percent disapproved. In polling a month ago, it was 44 percent and 50 percent. Since Trump took office, those numbers have not varied much.
But break it down by partisanship and there’s a canyon of difference. Among Republicans, 86 percent approve of how Trump is doing as president and 8 percent disapprove. Among Democrats, 3 percent approve and 93 percent disapprove. Continue reading “Partisan Divides Are Vivid in New Law School Poll Results”
In hydrologic terms, a “gaining stream” is a surface stream augmented by groundwater flow. In a more conventional sense of the term, legal and policy disputes surrounding groundwater are also “gaining” in importance, though localized groundwater-related issues have perplexed the courts for generations. In a 1903 opinion, at the end of a lengthy discourse summarizing various authorities on the subject of groundwater withdrawals, Justice John B. Winslow of the Wisconsin Supreme Court admitted that “[p]erhaps more time has been spent in reviewing these decisions than is profitable, but the subject is interesting, and . . . should be given serious consideration.” Winslow’s comments came during the latter part of a long period of judicial unfamiliarity with the science of groundwater. Nineteenth century jurists characterized its movement and sometimes its very existence as “unknown” or even “occult.”
About two-thirds of Wisconsinites draw their drinking water from the ground. Still, both in this state and elsewhere, groundwater lacks the intuitive familiarity of surface water. Perhaps as a result, many states still don’t have well-developed jurisprudence or legal management systems for groundwater even though hydrogeology has become a well-developed and well-accepted science. Judicially-created groundwater doctrines vary widely from state to state. This legal dissonance is of increasing concern in light of a surge of groundwater problems and disputes involving water quality concerns, the viability of the public trust doctrine as a tool for groundwater regulation, and transboundary management issues, among many others. This societal and legal evolution proves Justice Winslow correct: The law of groundwater is indeed “interesting,” and courts are giving it ever more “serious consideration.” Consider the following examples:
Continue reading “Groundwater: A “Gaining Stream” Of Controversy”
The results of the Marquette Law School Poll, released on Wednesday, June 20, showed both how long a time and how short a time two months is as an election approaches.
The primary on Aug. 14 will decide which of a large field of Democrats will race incumbent Republican Scott Walker in the November election for governor and which of two Republican candidates will face incumbent Democrat Tammy Baldwin in the election for a US Senate seat.
How long is it until Aug. 14? The poll, conducted through telephone interviews with 800 registered voters statewide from June 13 to 17, found that large majorities said they did not know enough about or did not yet have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of every one of the candidates in the top spotlighted contests. The figures ranged from 61 percent to 94 percent. Large portions of the public haven’t yet felt the election is close enough to require a lot of attention.
On the other hand, now that the clock is under two months, interest in the poll results, including news coverage of the findings, is increasing. While the general public may not have tuned in strongly yet to the campaigns, those who are involved know time is running short. Increasingly active campaigning and advertising almost surely will lead to more voters knowing the people running for office by the time Aug. 14 arrives. Continue reading “The Developing Shape of August Primaries Comes into View in New Poll Results”