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Faculty in the News by Date | By Name

Notable Faculty Quotes, January and February 2015

Richard Bonnie was quoted in a Jan. 9 WVTF story about the possible decriminalization of marijuana in Virginia. “I just am flabbergasted that it has taken 40 years for people to realize that punishing people in jail and giving them criminal records for using marijuana just makes no sense,” he said. A Feb. 26 Charlottesville Daily Progress article on the issue quoted Bonnie’s remarks at UVA’s weekly Medical Center Hour. “We need to explore the regulatory space in between prohibition and laissez-faire, anything goes, which is pretty much what we’ve got for alcohol,” he said. “We are learning how to do that with tobacco.”

Brandon Garrett was quoted in a Jan. 5 BuzzFeed News article about the difficulty of overturning a criminal conviction. “Once a person has been convicted at trial he is no longer presumed innocent,” he said. “Because courts are deferential to that finding of guilt, the evidence that was used to convict the person tends to be presumed correct.” Garrett was also quoted in a Jan. 7 Wall Street Journal article about flawed practices at crime labs leading to tainted criminal convictions. “These crime-lab scandals are not going away,” he said. “There need to be ground rules to grant relief for all these people whose cases are affected.” In a Jan. 29 BuzzFeed News article about reversing convictions, Garrett said that witnesses who recant their testimony tend not to be persuasive. “There is the concern that motives may change over time,” he said. “We don’t know whether the person lied then or now. Either way we know that they’re a liar.”

In a Jan. 29 New York Times article about proposed state bills to limit marriage rights, Risa Goluboff suggested that they could face sharp rebukes from judges who have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. “I think they’ll be angry,” she said. “I think they’ll see this as outright defiance and treat it that way.” She added that she expected the bills to be struck down if approved, although she said their authors might enjoy immediate political benefits. “It seems like, as a long term strategy, this is not a good step,” she said. “But as something short term to organize people around, it might not be a bad one.”

Deborah Hellman wrote a Jan. 19 Reuters commentary about the fifth anniversary of the Citizens United case. “In the five years since the Supreme Court handed down its Citizens United ruling, Americans have had the opportunity to see the effects of its defective reasoning and absence of common sense,” she wrote. “It is now painfully clear that elections depend substantially on money, and elected officials have to spend too much time raising money and respond disproportionately to the preferences of donors. The silver lining of Citizens United may be that it is so clearly flawed that it will open the door, at last, to a more reasonable view of the relationship between money and speech.”

John Jeffries was quoted in a Jan. 4 Norfolk Virginian-Pilot article about the sentencing of former governor Bob McDonnell and whether partisan politics played a role in the case. “Given the enormous discretion that prosecutors have under this law to single out this person to charge and a host of others to ignore, there will always be questions about why they choose this defendant,” he said.But, he added: “I know the prosecutors involved, and I don’t think there’s any chance that they are motivated by a partisan agenda.”

Leslie Kendrick was quoted in a January ABA Journal article about whether the First Amendment allows a church to put up temporary signs directing traffic to services in violation of local sign ordinances. “Local governments are caught between a rock and a hard place,” she said. “They can’t regulate with a blunt instrument,” but “it looks suspicious” when they try to regulate signs “with a scalpel.” She defended the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on content- and viewpoint-based neutrality. “I think the court has been more coherent in this area than it has been given credit for,” she said. “The Roberts court has made a concerted effort to formalize these rules.” In a January 9 Washington Post article about parents opting out of standardized tests for their children, Kendrick said the trend might best be understood as an act of civil disobedience. “It could be that the more important part of this is the power of the opt-out as an expression of parents’ viewpoints that education needs to change,” she said. Kendrick was also quoted in a Feb. 20 Charlottesville Daily Progress article about a decision ruling that an ordinance prohibiting panhandling on parts of Charlottesville’s downtown mall is unconstitutional. “This is an issue that’s only escalating,” she said. “Municipalities like Charlottesville are stuck without many good options if they want to regulate solicitation in high-traffic areas.”

Douglas Laycock was quoted in a Jan. 9 Austin American-Statesman article about the constitutionality of a Christmas card featuring a Nativity scene sent by a state-established agency. The front of the card “endorses Christianity, and that violates the Establishment Clause,” he said. “But I don’t think there are five votes for that view on the Supreme Court. Kennedy is the swing vote, and he thinks there is no constitutional problem unless someone is coerced. And you are not coerced by receiving a Christmas card.” In a Feb. 24 USA Today story about a case before the Supreme Court on Abercrombie & Fitch’s refusal to hire a 17-year-old Muslim girl wearing a head scarf, Laycock noted that the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s ban on religious discrimination includes observances and practices, unless the employer cannot reasonably accommodate them without undue hardship. “Congress did this very deliberately,” he said. “It said no discrimination on the basis of religion, and religion includes religious practice.”

In a Feb. 19 WVTF story about the potentials and risks of offshore oil drilling, Michael Livermore noted the economic harm of a large oil spill. “It could mean people are laid off. It could just mean a local business owner enjoys smaller profits or shuts down. It could mean local tourism takes a hit.” Sometimes, he said, companies conclude it’s wiser and in the long run more profitable to wait before drilling. “The oil is going to be there in the next five year cycle and the five year cycle after that, and we learn about environmental risks and technology gets better as we wait.”

In a Feb. 1 Associated Press article about immigrants being told that their legalization cases may not be resolved until 2019 or later, David Martin criticized Congress and the Obama administration for not funding more immigration judges. “You fund more investigators, more detention space, more border patrol, almost all of these are going to produce some kind of immigration court case,” he said. “You are putting a lot more people into the system. It’s just going to be a big bottleneck unless you increase the size of that pipeline.” Martin was also quoted in a Feb. 13 Bloomberg News article about the SEC’s crackdown on a program giving visas to wealthy foreigners in exchange for investments that generate jobs. “It’s not been demonstrated that it does much to create jobs, it’s given rise to a lot of questionable schemes, and it’s very complicated,” he said.

Daniel Ortiz was quoted in a Feb. 4 Norfolk Virginian-Pilot article about bills in the Virginia legislature to call a convention of states. One of the concerns is that no one knows what the convention would look like, he said, including how representation would be determined or whether its powers would allow a rewrite of the Constitution or merely the adoption of amendments. “So the fear among some people is that if we were to have such a constitutional convention that the whole Constitution would be up in the air again,” he said. “It might be possible that the whole thing would be undermined, and no one would know going in what might replace it.”

George Rutherglen was quoted in a Jan. 21 Wall Street Journal article about a Supreme Court case on whether fair-housing enforcement requires proof that discrimination is intentional or can be based on disparate impact that disproportionately harms minorities. “The threat of the use of disparate impact tends to induce decision makers to engage in affirmative action, which sometimes looks to some people like reverse discrimination,” he said.

In a Jan.19 Washington Post story about proposed informed-consent rules about participating in clinical trials, Lois Shepherd said that arguments that the revised policy would require consent forms to include 20-page lists of all minor risks are misguided. “What HHS is trying to get at is the heart of what people need to know in order to volunteer for research,” she said.

George Yin was quoted in a Jan. 2 Bloomberg News story about a proposed House rule that the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimate the revenue effects of tax legislation based on macroeconomic models, straining the workload of the committee’s staff economists. “If the staff encounters difficulties that could be ameliorated with additional personnel, one would think the members of Congress who are most supportive of the proposed rule will be able to find the money necessary to support the staff’s needs,” he said. He also noted that under the new rule, “staff will have to choose which assumptions to incorporate into its budget law-required estimates” instead of providing a range of outcomes and leaving to lawmakers the choice of which to trust the most. “I think this change is more important than the practical implications of the proposed rule.”


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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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