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February 25, 2008

Reflections on the OSLJ symposium (or other events areound the law school)

A few students sent me some reactions to different events related to last week's OSLJ symposium, and I got their permission to post those reactions in this space for all to consider.  One student had this reaction to the mock hearing on the Supreme Court schools case that took place Wednesday:

I just thought that it was interesting that there were 2 minorities [arguing] on the side of the Parents against the race-based system and 2 Whites for it.  Going along with our "whos" and "aesthetics matter", is sure does make it look like the system is bad if the group that it is supposed to help is opposing it.  I don't know how it was in the actual case, though.

When I was watching it, I thought about Kobe Bryant and how he had a white lady representing him.  It kinda showed that maybe he's not all bad and maybe he didn't rape that young white girl.  So, basically who represents your position matters. If it's someone who shares some of the same racial and gender characteristics as the opposing party, it helps to strengthen your argument.

Also, I thought that the school seemed to be pushing the position that the court took. Having the Dean serve as a justice, made it appear that the "quota, race-based" system was bad and that "race should only be one of the many factors used for admission system" was good.  I think it relates a lot to our class and legislation because the people who are chosen to represent a position affect the way others perceive it.

Another student had this reaction to one of the panels taking place on Friday:

Part of the Symposium this morning was Panel 4: Schools Using Race as a Factor After Parents Involved.  The subject in general clearly ties into the Equal Protection cases we’re looking at in Constitutional Law, but more important (to this blog) was the discussion of the Legislative Process in all of this.

Lia Epperson, from Santa Clara University School of Law, spoke about a proposed solution to the problem of desegregation.  Though she spoke at the speed of light, I did try to take notes about her presentation: She asserted the need for legislative involvement in the possible solution claiming,  “If there’s a way in which Congress can publicly support these changes they will have more strength. . . there’s a credibility that Congress has through its process. . . they can also hear viewpoints from different people.”

So this is clearly about process and brings up the weight that different interest groups [can bring to bear].  I thought it was a very helpful way to make the abstract ideas make more sense.  She added that “this is not a revolutionary concept, for Congress to be more involved.”  This is shown by Brown v. Board of Education, because not much happened with Brown until the Civil Rights Act, then there was a significant change because of the power to enforce that came with the Act.  This is done via funding, post-Brown: it was schools in the deep south that were poorest, and they needed the funding ... to stop segregating.  Additionally the Emergency School Act, which was championed by Nixon, was about fostering integration in all schools, regardless of previous segregation. She discussed No Child Left Behind as the largest foray into education involvement, which shifted away from state and local bodies in favor of federal power. 

There is history of bipartisan support for integration.  Kennedy’s concurrence in Parents Involved, is important for predictive value if nothing else. His suggestion is that the executive and legislative branches should be permitted to consider race in these policies. Thus Congress could now be encouraging voluntary efforts of integration.

Her goal is to make a more narrow plan to garner bipartisan support, which is as follows: 1) Funding research, provide grants to find out what works in reducing racial isolation and disparities (look at Kennedy’s suggestions, look at successful programs), 2) beef up transfer options under no child left behind 3) and expand title 6 enforcement power. “Congress should be a corrector of the courts” thus, they should challenge educational practices that have a discriminatory effect.  She concluded explaining that the Legislature and the President must work together here, and that will depend on next administration. Federal government should play a more active role, and there should be more funding, which is Congress’s power.

Of course, both these students earned serious Berman bonus points for providing such great blog copy.  And, of course, other students are highly encouraged to comment on these comments in the comments and/or to otherwise make a similar serious and studious efforts to connect stuff going on around the building to stuff going on in our class.

February 25, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

February 13, 2008

Congress, sports, priorities, politics and even bribery

I've just watched the first two hours of the congressional hearing concerning Rogers Clemens' alleged use of performance enhancing drugs.  There are soooooo many interesting aspects to this story, and I hope every student is thinking about these events as both a lawyer in training AND as the "who" selected for our class use.

This CNN article provides some of the highlights, and I though this comment from a reader was especially worth discussing in our Legislation class this afternoon:

Stephen: What a waste of taxpayers' money. Don't we have a couple of wars going on?  A recession and economic crisis to deal with?   Why is our congress wasting time and money on something that should be dealt with in the private sector with the Baseball Commission?

Meanwhile, and very fitting as we wind up our conversations about structural issues today, consider this passage from this morning's New York Times article about the hearings, which is headlined "Clemens Autograph Seekers May Have Broken Federal Law":

Any members of the House oversight committee or their staff who asked Roger Clemens for an autograph during his tour of the Capitol over the past week might have violated a federal law against soliciting things of value from people with interests before the committee, several lawyers with expertise in Congressional ethics laws said.  In addition, if a staff member or a member of the committee had Clemens autograph a baseball, that would apparently violate a House ethics ban against taking a gift valued at more than $50, the lawyers said.

Clemens’s entourage here said he autographed scores of items Thursday and Friday while visiting 19 of the 40 members of the committee, which is set to take his testimony Wednesday. Clemens and his lawyers were back Tuesday, visiting more committee members in advance of the public hearing. “They shouldn’t have been asking him to autograph things because no matter what it’s worth, there’s a prohibition against soliciting gifts of any value,” said Bernadette Sargeant, a lawyer in Washington who worked as counsel for the House Ethics Committee until late 2004. “You’re definitely not supposed to do it if it’s linked to any action you’re taking or being asked to take,” she said in a telephone interview. “That’s a problem if he’s going around meeting with members of the House oversight committee.”

Another Congressional ethics expert, Jan Witold Baran, a partner in the law firm of Wiley Rein & Fielding in Washington, said, “It would be like O. J. Simpson giving an autographed football to Judge Ito.”

A lawyer for Clemens, Rusty Hardin, said Tuesday that he had “no idea” whether Clemens had signed baseballs in members’ offices. Joe Householder, director of Public Strategies Inc., a public relations firm in Houston working with Clemens’s lawyers here, said Clemens had autographed mostly paper and some balls and a baseball card in the hallways of the House office buildings.

February 13, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (19) | TrackBack