Current Faculty Headlines
Notable Faculty Quotes, November and December 2013
Kenneth Abraham was quoted in a Nov. 26 Pittsburgh Tribune Review article about higher liability costs for universities after the Sandusky scandal at Penn State. He noted that annual rates for general liability coverage can reach well into tens of thousands of dollars at large institutions, and said the Penn State case could encourage schools to rethink their liability coverage. "It may be that they take another look at it and buy some more coverage. That's certainly a possibility," he said. "I don't think there's necessarily a wholesale race to buy more coverage."
Richard Bonnie was quoted in numerous articles in the aftermath of the wounding of State Sen. Creigh Deeds and death of his son Gus. In a Nov. 20 Richmond Times-Dispatch article, for example, he discussed the issue of emergency mental detentions in the state. "I think there have been improvements in the situation, but rural areas remain a problem," he said. Bonnie's comments at a forum on gun policy in the wake of the Deeds tragedy were reported in the Dec. 2 Charlottesville Daily Progress. "The case is a poignant reminder - as was the tragedy at Virginia Tech - that a robust infrastructure for crisis response must be established and maintained, even during an economic downturn," he said. A Dec. 19 Times-Dispatch article discussed Bonnie's study of emergency mental health evaluations in Virginia showing that a psychiatric bed was found within the legally required six hours in 97 percent of the cases examined. "In a limited number of situations, six hours is not long enough to find a suitable bed," he said. "It's about 3 percent of the roughly 1,400 adult temporary detention order cases a month - but of course you want it to be zero."
Brandon Garrett discussed prosecution of financial institutions in a Nov. 19 U.S. News & World Report article. "Very few major banks have ever been convicted of a crime, but quite a few are prosecuted, and they tend to receive deferred or non prosecution agreements," he said. "They don't want the bank to lose its banking license, or they don't want to hurt the bank's reputation so much that innocent shareholders would suffer. In a Nov. 24 Wisconsin Watch article about false confessions, Garrett said that in some ways innocent people can actually be more likely to confess. "There is an assumption that they can clear it all up later. They trust the system. They think, 'I'll get a lawyer, and we'll clear this all up,' " he said. "What they don't realize is that once they sign a confession, it becomes almost impossible to undo." Garrett was interviewed about his work in the Dec. 23 Corporate Crime Reporter. "We all know, although it is hard to pin it down, that corporate culture is important," he said. "And we know that crimes can have far greater seriousness and people can cause far greater harm because of the role of organizations. Focusing on organizations is really important. It would be wrong for prosecutors to neglect organizations and simply think about corporate crime in individual terms."
In a Dec. 1 WVTF story about campaign finance disclosure, Michael Gilbert said that disclosure laws may actually promote corruption. "If you're the politician, and I'm the wealthy individual who wants to engage in a corrupt deal with you, we can't sign a contract for obvious reasons," he said. "I have to be confident that if I give you the money, you're going to deliver the vote later on." Open records of campaign donations make that easy. "If I can look at a long record of who has supported you and whether you've then done them some favors, I suddenly trust you a little bit more, and likewise if you can look at a disclosure record which reveals that I systematically support politicians who vote the ways I like, then suddenly you can trust me a little bit."
John Harrison was quoted in a Dec. 10 Watchdog.org article about efforts to call for a convention of the states to amend the Constitution to limit federal power. "When Congress gets valid convention calls from two thirds of the states, it has an obligation to call a convention," he said. "But it's doubtful that the obligation is judicially enforceable. You can have a legal obligation that can be enforced only politically." He noted, however, that the threat of a convention of the states may be enough for Congress to act. In 1912 Congress passed the 17th Amendment, which changed the way U.S. Senators are elected, only after the states threatened to do it. "The threat of a convention was enough to galvanize Congress," he said.
Toby Heytens was featured in a December Wisconsin Lawyer article about mock trial programs for high school students, in which he participated as a senior at Superior High School. "I got more out of my high school and college mock trial activities than anything I ever did at any point in high school, college, or law school, and it's not even close," he said. "In mock trial, you literally cannot win by yourself. You are going to win or lose this activity as a team. Mock trial certainly made me much better at learning how to get the most out of myself and other people. It's an extraordinary activity."
In a Nov. 26 Washington Post article about the limited ability of Virginia local authorities to raise taxes, A. E. Dick Howard said that power is centralized at the state level. "The General Assembly has been quite jealous of its prerogatives and not inclined to give counties and cities independent authority in any area," he said.
Gordon Hylton was quoted in a Nov. 17 New York Times Magazine feature about the history of the Washington NFL team's logo. He noted that the owner of the team "had this whole weird thing about the White Confederates and Indians being joined by some mystical bond." As a result, he "wanted the images to be dignified. He thought that having the band dressed up as Indians and the cheerleaders wearing these Princess Minnehaha costumes was not a caricature, but was, in an odd sort of way, respectful."
Douglas Laycock's remarks that culture war issues pitting religion against sex are turning many Americans against religious liberty were quoted in a Nov. 8 Associated Baptist Press article. "What one side views as a grave evil the other side views as a fundamental human right," he said. "For tens of millions of Americans, conservative churches have made themselves the enemies of liberty. And for tens of millions of Americans, what religious liberty now does is empower their enemies." He warned: "If the people no longer believe in religious liberty, we will lose it. And that will be a loss for America, no matter which side of the culture wars you find yourself on." In a Nov. 11 USA Today story, Laycock argued that "there is no war on Christmas," but that it was a "talking point" for conservatives uncomfortable with the nation's growing religious diversity. "A certain portion of the Christian community are accustomed to imposing their beliefs on everybody because it didn't really matter; there were not that many non Christians," he said. "But now there's 25 percent."
David Martin discussed immigration enforcement on the Nov. 26 PBS NewsHour, saying that "the Obama administration has made an effort to redirect deportations and enforcement actions so that they focus on a better set of priorities, to prioritize people with criminal involvement or recent border crossers or people with serious immigration violations." He noted that the president doesn`t have the authority to stop deportations. "Prosecutorial discretion is the authority to focus resources, to direct toward priorities," he said. "It's not the authority to negate the law or ignore it."
Daniel Ortiz was quoted in a Nov. 20 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article about a man planning to simultaneously run for the U.S. Congress in four states, on the grounds that he only needs to live in a district at the point when he's elected. Ortiz agreed: "I don't think there's any constitutional problem there. It's crazy. It's, politically, a crazy strategy."
Saikrishna Prakash was quoted in a Nov. 27 International Business Times article about whether President Obama can stop deportations. "I don't think his lawyers believe he can do that," he said, "because he has a budget for deportation and we have a law that obliges him to deport."
Richard Schragger wrote a Nov. 6 Slate article about whether Mayor Bill de Blasio's vision of a progressive city is realistic. He noted that De Blasio's plan to reduce the city's inequality by raising taxes on the rich, increasing services for the poor, and ending subsidies for corporations "flies in the face of the conventional wisdom that . . . the successful metropolis must pursue business friendly, growth oriented policies that attract professionals and corporations, even if those policies result in greater income inequality." He argued, however, that the recent revival of cities "has not been driven by the dramatic lowering of local taxes and regulations. . . . If a city's economy is otherwise healthy, then redistributive fiscal policies are unlikely to make much of a difference." If De Blasio succeeds, he concluded, "he will advance an idea that has mostly gone out of fashion: that cities can play a significant role in creating an urban middle class by providing the kinds of resources necessary for upward mobility."
Micah Schwartzman coauthored a Nov. 26 Slate commentary on religious challenges to Obamacare's requirement that for-profit corporations provide contraceptive coverage in their employee health insurance plans, arguing that "exempting large, for profit corporations from the contraception mandate would significantly burden female employees, along with all the wives and daughters covered by the policies of male employees." The authors noted that "the Supreme Court has insisted that the Establishment Clause prohibits religious accommodations that impose burdens on third parties-which is exactly what is happening here." They wrote that this did not mean "that people who own and manage corporations do not have meaningful rights to religious free exercise. . . . What it does mean, however, is that the rights of large, for profit employers are necessarily limited. Civil rights laws, including this health care provision, draw the right line when they exempt religious organizations and small companies but not large corporations that could significantly burden the freedom and equality of their employees."
John Setear was quoted in a Nov. 6 Richmond Times-Dispatch article about Comedy Central's Daily Show coverage of the Virginia gubernatorial election, in which people were asked to compare vile beverages representing Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli. Setear, who was shown in the segment tasting one of the drinks, said that "it's always been my dream to be on 'The Daily Show,' demonstrating my expertise about an abstruse matter relating to my scholarly interests. That dream came true, except that I was the guy who had no lines but just scrunched up his face after swallowing a foul concoction."
Robert Turner wrote a commentary for the Dec. 6 Washington Times about the Senate's unconstitutional holds on presidential nominations. "It is perfectly reasonable for the Senate to permit one or more members to seek a delay in consideration of a nomination while the chamber continues a good faith investigation of that nominee's fitness," he wrote. "To allow a single senator to place a 'permanent' hold on nominees so that presidential appointments cannot be made without the unanimous consent of the Senate, is a flagrant breach of the Constitution." Turner also wrote a Dec. 18 Wall Street Journal commentary about the National Security Agency's collection of telephone records, after a federal judge declared that there was no sufficient justification for "continuous, daily searches of virtually every American citizen." "With all due respect, that's not what is going on," he wrote. "There is a tremendous difference between collecting metadata and actually searching it. . . . During all of 2012, the NSA searched roughly 300 telephone numbers via this database. Save for the owners of phones found to have been in communication with phones associated with foreign terrorists, no Americans were identified by these search."
Steven Walt was quoted in a Dec. 14 Charlottesville Daily Progress article about a title insurance firm headed for liquidation after agent misuse of funds and a corresponding rise in claims. "[T]heft that leaves insurance companies financially impaired and policyholders unprotected, although unusual, isn't unheard of," he said.
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Faculty in the News is compiled by Kent Olson, Law Library Director of Reference, Research and Instruction; and the Law School Communications department.
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