I’m in the Baltimore Sun with an op-ed about the University of Maryland’s ill-chosen decision to represent the Waterkeeper Alliance in what was intended to be a landmark environmental case against an Eastern Shore farm family. Earlier here, etc. (& welcomeGlenn Reynolds/Instapundit readers)
P.S. Welcome listeners from Baltimore’s WBAL, which had me as a guest Friday afternoon to discuss the suit. Research assistance thanks to Ryan Mulvey, Cato intern.
On Maryland’s Eastern Shore yesterday, federal judge William Nickerson ruled against a lawsuit alleging that Alan and Kristin Hudson’s family farm and Perdue Inc. violated the federal Clean Water Act. The plaintiffs, the Waterkeeper Alliance led by celebrity environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., had hoped to establish that big food processors, in this case Perdue, could be held liable for the purported pollution sins of “contract growers” like the Hudson family. Aside from its considerable factual weaknesses, for which the judge criticized the plaintiffs, the case had touched off a furor in Maryland because the University of Maryland law school’s environmental clinic had entered the lists on behalf of Waterkeeper and its long-shot theory; Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley had sent a critical letter to the university saying it had contributed to an “injustice” against the Hudsons. The university law clinic says it’s reviewing the judge’s order in search of grounds for appeal. [Beth Moszkowicz/Daily Record, Charlene Sharpe/DelmarvaNow, MeatPoultry.com; earlier coverage, CBS Baltimore, Mark Newgent/Red Maryland; Maryland Coast Dispatch; pro-defense SaveFarmFamilies.org; legislative reaction, NLJ and more]
The Court has no disagreement with Plaintiff that the Chesapeake Bay is an important and vital resource, that it is seriously impaired, and that the runoff from factory farms, including poultry operations, may play a significant role in that impairment. Nor does the Court disagree that citizen suits under the Clean Water Act can play a significant role in filling the void where state regulatory agencies are unable or unwilling to take appropriate legal action against offenders. When citizen groups take up that mantle, however, they must do so responsibly and effectively. The Court finds that in this action, for whatever reason, Waterkeeper did not meet that obligation.
Stephen Bainbridge has some speculations about whether university law clinics can be successfully divorced from politicized cause-mongering, and along the way, kind comments for my book Schools for Misrule. More: Ann Althouse.
Josh Blackman has a summary, including the Justice’s memories of Charles Reich’s constitutional law class at Yale, his commentaries on cases from the last Supreme Court term, and a proposal to carve the faces of Federalist Society founders Lee Liberman, David McIntosh, Peter Keisler, and Steve Calabresi on Mount Rushmore.
Alito said arguments can be made for overturning Citizens United, but not the popular one that boils down to one line: Corporations shouldn’t get free speech rights like a person.
“It is pithy, it fits on a bumper sticker, and in fact a variety of bumper stickers are available,” Alito told a crowd of about 1,400 at The Federalist Society’s annual dinner. He cited two: “End Corporate Personhood,” and “Life does not begin at incorporation.”
Then Alito pointed out the same people do not question the First Amendment rights of media corporations in cases like The New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, the Pentagon papers case. If corporations did not have free speech rights, newspapers would lose such cases, he said.
Last week the George Mason U. School of Law in Virginia held its second annual Henry G. Manne Law and Economics Conference, on the theme “Unlocking the Law: Building on the Work of Larry E. Ribstein,” in honor of the late University of Illinois legal scholar (and friend). Among the panelists and moderators were Henry Manne, dean emeritus of the school; John McGinnis of Northwestern; Judge Douglas Ginsburg of the D.C. Circuit; William Henderson of Indiana; and Benjamin Barton of Tennessee. I live-tweeted a few of the many interesting papers. Some highlights, in downward chronological order rather than the Twitter-standard reverse:
At George Mason U. Law & Econ conference in honor of late Larry Ribstein #GMULaw First panel’s on legal education
Mary Reichard interviewed me about Teresa Wagner’s suit against the University of Iowa law school for the broadcast show “The World and Everything In It.” More on the Wagner case and its recent mistrial here, here, etc. Also on the politics of law faculties: is it believable that roughly 19 percent of law professors are going to vote for Romney, or is that number implausibly high? [Prof. Bainbridge; Tom Smith, Right Coast]
“A federal jury rejected Teresa Wagner’s First Amendment claim that the University of Iowa College of Law denied her a faculty position due to her conservative politics, but deadlocked over her Equal Protection claim that she was passed over in favor of less qualified candidates. The U.S. Magistrate Judge declared a mistrial on the 14th Amendment claim.” [Paul Caron, TaxProf, with many links; earlier here, etc.; Bainbridge, more, related on faculty political leanings]
I appeared in the press a fair bit commenting on the case, including Blaze TV (above) and Iowa Public Radio as well as stories in the Daily Iowan, AP, the New York Times and elsewhere.
U. Miami: “Law School Email Draws Fire Amid Hotly Contested Retention Election for 3 Top Florida Judges” [ABA Journal, earlier on election]
Janet Jenkins sues Liberty U. School of Law, charging assistance to custody-nappers; school describes suit as baseless [ABA Journal, earlier on Miller-Jenkins custody case]
“Maybe a lawprof is not what you want in a politician. And yet, Bill Clinton was a lawprof. So was Hillary Clinton. And there are different types of lawprofs. They don’t all listen, give ground, and offer complex caveats!” [Ann Althouse]
“Former law student became a chronic litigant” [Boston Globe]
Andrew Morriss on Tamanaha’s Failing Law Schools [Liberty Law]
“Institute for Humane Studies Webcast on the Pros and Cons of Law School” [Ilya Somin]
The Associated Press covers the pending lawsuit against the University of Iowa by Teresa Wagner, who believes she was shot down for a job teaching legal writing because of her outspokenly conservative views (earlier here, here, and here). A federal trial starts Monday in Davenport, Iowa.
One sentence misses the mark slightly in conveying my views. As I should have taken pains to make clear, the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, as a decision, is by no means sacrosanct in legal academia; law professors both right and left, young and old, criticize it often for its reasoning, as a political blunder, and on other grounds. What is a good bit less common — and especially rare among younger academics aiming for tenure offers at law schools with no religious affiliation — is a passionate stand against abortion in itself, like Ms. Wagner’s.
The university, for its part, disclaims political bias and apparently intends to argue that Ms. Wagner did not perform as well at the interview stage as her lawyers contend. As I told the AP, while I have no doubt that political bias is rife — in 2007, Iowa’s law faculty is recorded as having had 46 registered Democrats and only one registered Republican — I have severe doubts that the courts will improve matters by peering over the hiring committees’ shoulders. (&TaxProf with links; Des Moines Register “Juice”; Prof. Bainbridge)
Ken has also stayed on top of this issue in other posts, noting, for example, that the Holocaust-denial laws already accepted in many Western countries pave the way for further restrictions on speech; that Greece has lately moved against mild religious satire; and that Great Britain is electing to unleash criminal-law enforcement against a broader range of Internet comment trollery.
The U.S. Department of Justice is taking the position that it violates the Americans with Disabilities Act for the Law School Admission Council to inform law schools that test-takers got extra time or other accommodations after lodging demands under the ADA. The ABA is siding with disabled-rights activists in calling for an end to test score flagging. [ABA Journal]
A judge has dismissed another of the wave of lawsuits charging that law schools concealed evidence that placement rates, employment prospects and other relevant statistics were bleak for many graduates. The most recently dismissed case was against Chicago’s DePaul; earlier, judges threw out cases against Thomas Cooley, in Michigan, and New York Law School. [Caron, TaxProf; ABA Journal on Cooley] On the other hand, a California court will allow fraud suits to proceed against the University of San Francisco and Golden Gate law schools [Caron]
Meanwhile, critics have been sniping over some funny numbers at Rutgers-Camden [Paul Campos, Law School Scam; and more on an unrelated controversy in which an assistant law dean is hinting at legal action following unfavorable press coverage of her combined role as compliance officer and spouse for a New Jersey member of Congress]
“Legal commentator Walter Olson sounded the battle cry in his recent post: ‘Abolish the Law Reviews!,’ arguing that most exist so students can edit them, rather than to be read by lawyers and judges.” (more)
Get your copy today!My new book tackles the question of why so many bad ideas come from the law schools. "Cutting-edge commentary, hard-hitting, witty, astute." -- Publisher's Weekly. "Excellent... A fine dissection of these strangely powerful institutions" -- Wall Street Journal.