Current Faculty Headlines

Faculty in the News by Date | By Name

Notable Faculty Quotes, May and June 2015

Richard Bonnie was quoted in a June 24 Vox article about raising the smoking age to 21, a recommendation from an Institute of Medicine analysis he directed. He said that delaying when people start smoking is crucial because older people — perhaps more aware of their mortality and the health effects of tobacco — are less likely to do so. Older friends and family members “are largely where young people get their tobacco,” he said. “If you raise the smoking age to 21, over time we think that’s going to have a significant effect on separating these social networks.”

Darryl Brown was quoted in a June 23 Culpeper Star Exponent article about a court’s decision to appoint a special prosecutor to handle a specific officer’s criminal cases because the Commonwealth’s Attorney refused to proceed with any of his cases. “I can only speculate that the prosecutor must know of some very disturbing evidence about the officer’s conduct,” he said. “What’s so odd in this Culpeper case is that the police chief and the town are standing firmly behind the officer, while the commonwealth’s attorney has apparently concluded the officer is so untrustworthy that she can’t trust any evidence the officer is connected with.”

Jonathan Cannon was quoted in a June 29 Inside Climate News article about the Supreme Court’s ruling that the EPA mush consider the costs of regulating mercury emissions from coal plants. Because nobody expects the agency to shrug its shoulders and declare that it’s not worth the expense to control mercury pollution, he noted that it might be best to see the decision mainly as a shot across the EPA’s bow over how expansively it can interpret its powers. “It’s hard to know what this ruling accomplished, other than to teach the agency a lesson,” he said.

Ashley Deeks was quoted in a June 8 Foreign Policy article about the difficulties of obtaining compensation for civilians killed by U.S. drone strikes. She discussed an earlier case brought by the owner of a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan bombed by the United States in 1998. “The D.C. Circuit concluded that the case raised a political question — that is, the decision to bomb the factory fell squarely within executive discretion, and there were no standards by which courts could assess whether the decision to bomb was lawful,” she said.

Brandon Garrett was quoted in a May 7 Business Insider article about the continued use in many jurisdictions of hair microscopy, an outdated method for identifying forensic evidence at crime scenes, instead of more sophisticated and accurate DNA analysis. “This is a mass disaster, but it is one that judges have been largely indifferent to and lawyers have had halting success in revisiting,” he said. Garrett was also quoted in a May 11 Reuters story about criminal charges against the parent companies of several major banks for foreign exchange rate manipulation. “Guilty pleas by major banks at the parent company level will send a message that even the largest U.S. financial institutions can be convicted of crimes,” he said, noting that it would “help chase away the ghost of Arthur Anderson, and the fear that criminal prosecutions should be brought only with great caution against major corporations.” In a May 26 Christian Science Monitor article about the fallout from faulty and falsified evidence in criminal cases, Garrett said that small number of cases that go to trial limits how much pressure judges could exert to help speed up the process of fixing forensic science and crime labs. “Judges really could trigger change, but so few cases come before judges, so it is equally important or more so that labs use sound methods in the first instance,” he said.

A. E. Dick Howard was quoted in a May 24 Richmond Times-Dispatch article about Loving v. Virginia’s influence on Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court’s gay marriage case. “Loving is both a case about the anti-discrimination principle and a case about marriage as a fundamental right,” he said. “This is what makes it so powerful an analogy to draw upon by people who are the plaintiffs in the same-sex marriage cases.” In a June 1 ABA Journal article about the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, Howard said that the document “has had a remarkable capacity to be relied upon and invoked over the centuries by lawyers and judges.” He noted that “Magna Carta really has more meaning here than it does in its country of origin.” In a June 27 Richmond Times-Dispatch article about the Obergefell decision, Howard said he believed that future generations will look at same-sex marriage just as most Americans now see desegregation and interracial marriage. “Most people will be saying that it seemed like the right and natural thing to do, and they’ll think of it in terms of consequence and not the role of the Supreme Court,” he said. “I think by large, this week’s opinion will be absorbed into the common consciousness twenty years from now.”

In a June 27 Washington Post article about the impacts of the Obergefell decision, Douglas Laycock said he doubted that faith-based groups will lose their tax-exempt status but he predicted they will not be able to continue to receive government funding while discriminating against gay employees. “The gay rights side keeps escalating its demands and public opinion keeps shifting in their favor,” he said. “Conservative believers are their own worst enemies and lead people to think they are hateful morons, so they’re not getting much sympathy.” In a June 29 Vox article about a Texas court clerk’s attempts to cite religious objections to deny a same-sex couple a marriage license, Laycock explained that individual government employees may refuse — based on religious objections — to marry same-sex couples, but the county government as a whole must accommodate the couple’s constitutional right to marry. “The conscientious objector clerk and the clerk who is willing to issue the license need to just trade places,” he said. “The county has a constitutional duty, and there is a compelling government interest in requiring someone to perform that duty.”

Michael Livermore was quoted in a May 5 Takeaway story about his research that Supreme Court opinions had increased in both accessibility and length. “The court is becoming more vernacular and more everyday in its tone,” he said. “When political issues and important policy issues come up, less formal language is going to carry that sentiment, and it’s not going to get stripped out as it may have in the past.” Livermore was also quoted about his research in a June 25 Wall Street Journal article. “The reality is that almost every legal issue is susceptible to what makes an opinion long — extensive discussion of legislative history, a huge review of relevant case law, every iteration of every possible counterargument,” he said.

Paul Mahoney’s testimony before a House Financial Services subcommittee on the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was quoted in a May 13 Law360 article. He said that pre-recession policies that encouraged homeownership and protected “too big to fail” institutions from financial ruin led to banks taking unwarranted risks, but Dodd-Frank allows banks to place the blame on regulators when things go wrong. “Dodd-Frank really puts bank regulators in the driver’s seat in a lot of decisions that the largest financial institutions make,” he told the subcommittee.

Ruth Mason was quoted in a May 26 article about pressure on American multinational corporations to pay local taxes in European countries. “Individual European countries need revenue, and this is a push by regulators to reduce profit shifting by multinational corporations,” she said.

Thomas Nachbar was quoted in a June 26 National Law Journal article about the Obergefell decision. He said that he wasn’t surprised by the 5-4 ruling against state same-sex marriage bans, but that he’d expected the justices to apply the stringent rational-basis scrutiny to those bans. “I think this is a case of tremendous historical import, but it’s not a case of huge constitutional development,” he said. “It’s more the culmination of a line of cases. There are not a lot of new constitutional arguments.”

Daniel Ortiz was quoted in a May 18 National Law Journal article about the UVA Supreme Court clinic’s selection of cases. “If we can, we love to get cases that are great for students to use to capstone their law school experience,” he said. “We had the Elonis case, which is not only an interesting First Amendment case but concerns mens rea and runs right to the core of their criminal law course. It’s a way of taking them back to fundamentals and trying to make them wrestle with those issues.”

Margaret Riley was quoted in a May 24 Richmond Times-Dispatch article about the federal probe of Health Diagnostic Laboratory Inc. and its allegedly illegal payments to health care providers. “Sadly, defendants have become part of this problem through their abuse of the Medicare program - a program designed to benefit senior citizens, not private companies,” she said, noting that the kind of payments HDL and other companies were making would be legal in other industries where government funds are not involved in transactions. “In any business where you are trying to build a customer base, you may have a situation where you give perks to your customers,” she said. Riley discussed potential political fallout from the impending Supreme Court decision on Obamacare in a June 17 Bloomberg News article. “There’s a significant constituency within the Republican Party which is ‘repeal or nothing,’” she said. “The concern is we’re going to play chicken right up to the brink.”

In a June 4 Associated Press article about allegations that hip-hop artist Pusha T was denied entrance to a Virginia Beach nightclub, George Rutherglen noted that it’s illegal for a club to discriminate based on race but that cases of customers being denied entry into a business rarely go to court. “I think this occurs fairly regularly because there’s not much incentive for an individual to sue,” he said. “Publicity is a powerful deterrent from these kinds of practices; once they see the light of day, the whole complexion of the issue changes.”

Richard Schragger and Micah Schwartzman wrote, with co-author Nelson Tebbe, a June 29 commentary on the Obergefell decision for Religion & Politics. “From the beginning, the only real basis for excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage was religious. . . . So when the Court struck down exclusions of same-sex couples from civil marriage, it implicitly—but clearly—rejected the idea that such a law could be based on religious reasons alone, without understandable secular aims,” they wrote. “Laws supported by religion can continue to be enacted, but only if they can be justified by concern for harm to others or some other public rationale.”

In a June 2 PolitiFact article about the bulk collection of telephone data under the Patriot Act, Molly Bishop Shadel said that the government can’t just browse the data generally; it can only examine information on phone numbers with terrorist ties. “The odds are that it will never look at your metadata at all -- only if you have been in contact with a phone number connected to terrorism,” she said.

Rip Verkerke was quoted in a May 2 Law360 article about the relative absence of large retailers from Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuits, a development employment experts attribute to aggressive efforts to keep pay practices in line. “They have both outside counsel and in-house counsel, and those compliance efforts are likely to stave off claims like those that affect midsize companies,” he said. In a June 27 Law360 article about the effects of the Obergefell decision on worker protection efforts for LGBT employees, Verkerke said he doubted that federal anti-discrimination legislation would “pass any time soon because current electoral districting and apportionment give conservative Republicans a stranglehold on the House.”

Andrew Vollmer was quoted in a May 21 Bloomberg Business article about the Securities and Exchange Commission’s problems with politics and poor leadership. One problem, he pointed out, is that SEC Chair Mary Jo White “hasn’t formed the necessary coalitions or reached grounds for compromise and accommodation with her other commissioners.”


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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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