The Future of Affirmative Action

Jenna Goldman '18
Editor-in-Chief

The American Constitution Society, the Black Law Students Association, and the Center for the Study of Race and Law hosted, “Fisher v. University of Texas and the Future of Affirmative Action” last Wednesday in Caplin Pavilion. The panel consisted of affirmative action law experts: Professors Douglas Laycock, George Rutherglen, Kim Forde-Mazrui, and Scott Ballenger, a partner at Latham & Watkins LLP who played a key role in Latham’s representation of both the University of Texas in the Fisher[1] case and the University of Michigan Law School in Grutter v. Bollinger.[2]

Photo courtesy www.youtube.com

Photo courtesy www.youtube.com

Speaking to a standing-room only crowd, professors and Mr. Ballenger addressed the implications of the Fisher decision and the future of affirmative action policies in the United States.

Professor Laycock began the discussion by outlining the progression of affirmative action cases starting with Regents of the University of California v. Bakke.[3] Deciding the case in 1978, Justice Powell wrote the opinion of a plurality that struck down race based quota systems in admissions but upheld the use of race as a factor in admissions.

Laycock went on to describe Justice O’Connor’s opinion in Grutter v. Bollinger,[4] which upheld the affirmative action policy at the University of Michigan Law School and affirmed that a race-conscious admissions process did not amount to a quota system. In the opinion, Justice O’Connor opined, “Twenty-five years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today.”[5]

 At issue in the Fisher case was the University of Texas’ “Top-Ten Percent Plan” which guarantees admission to the University of Texas system to the top ten percent of students graduating from each in-state high school. The remainder of students outside the top percentage of their class may be admitted through a process that considers a number of factors, including grades, extra curricular involvement, and race. The appellant, Abigail Fisher, a white student, alleged she was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin based on her race in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.[6] During oral arguments in early 2016, the late Justice Scalia made the comment that “most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re –that they’re being pushed ahead in–in classes that are too fast for them.”[7]

The comment by Justice Scalia and the allegations by Ms. Fisher sparked the twitter hashtag “#StayMadAbby.” The hashtag was used by black students at UT and around the country to highlight their achievements in response to Justice Scalia’s comment and to bring attention to the fact that only four percent of students in UT’s 2015 freshman class were black.[8]

Professor Laycock went on to describe why race-neutral admissions policies do not fulfill the objective of diverse student bodies. He explained that institutions of higher education must rely on proxies for race and often have trouble including the most academically strong minority high school students because they slip through the framework. For example, admissions officials use geography as a proxy for race in Texas, looking closely to admit students from schools located in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods. However, as Laycock points out, without the opportunity to take race into account, admissions are not able to identify minority students who go to competitive high schools in predominantly white areas.

Scott Ballenger, a 1996 graduate of UVa Law, said he kept an optimistic view of the outcome throughout the litigation. The case was heard “with the backdrop of Ferguson and the terrorist attack on the Emanuel AME Church by Dylann Roof,” Ballenger said, “and it was more than clear that the United States was far from the ‘race neutral’ utopia Justice O’Connor described in Grutter.”

The recusal of Justice Kagan and the death of Justice Scalia shook up the case, said Ballenger, and the team knew they would be relying on Justice Kennedy for a favorable decision, if they got one at all. Ballenger expected a 4-4 divide, so when they heard the decision was 4-3, with Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor in the majority, Ballenger was elated. Kennedy’s opinion affirmed that the Top Ten Percent Plan was narrowly tailored to serve the compelling state interest of diversity in higher education.

For Ballenger, the case was “more about the dormitories than the classrooms,” and “the societal benefits of having diverse leadership.” He emphasized that a diverse campus served the educational goals of the students, the state, and the nation.

Ballenger says he remains optimistic, even into the Trump administration: “If the law changed today,” he said, “it seems unlikely that law schools and law firms will go back to ‘the way it was’ with no or very few women or people of color in their ranks. Clients insist on diverse teams, and increasing diversity in law firms to meet client demand is a continuous goal.”

Ballenger’s optimism was challenged by Professor Rutherglen, author of the recent article “Fisher II: Whose Burden, What Proof?”[9] Rutherglen saw the case in light of the implications it will have on civil procedure. He says that the Fisher case substantially shifts the burden of proof to the attacker of an affirmative action plan. “As a matter of constitutional doctrine, the law is very stable at the moment; how long the moment will last is the question.” Rutherglen lamented that a return of affirmative action to a Presidential agenda may reverse the recent progress.

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jmg3db@virginia.edu

[1] Fisher v. Univ. of Tex., 579 U.S. ___ (2016).

[2] Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003).

[3] Regents of Univ. of Cal. v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978).

[4] Grutter, 539 U.S. 306.

[5] Id. at 343.

[6] Fisher v. Univ. of Tex., 570 U.S. ___, 2415 (2013).

[7] Transcript of Oral Argument at 67, Fisher, 579 U.S. (No. 14-981).

[8] Brian Feldman, ‘Stay Mad Abby’: Black College Graduates Ridicule SCOTUS Affirmative-Action Case, New York Magazine (Dec. 10, 2015), http://nymag.com/selectall/2015/12/black-graduates-ridicule-affirmative-action-case.html.

[9] George Rutherglen, Fisher II: Whose Burden, What Proof?, 20 Green Bag 2d 19 (2016).

Law Student to Head University Judiciary Committee

Peter Bautz '18
UJC Chair

On March 19, 2017, the newly elected University Judiciary Committee (UJC) Representatives from the various schools at UVa met in the Rotunda to elect their new leadership. For the first time in recent history, a law student, Peter Bautz ’18, was elected Chair of the UJC. Given the recent discussion of graduate representation on UJC, Peter’s win represents a huge step forward for graduate students, and for law students specifically, in the organization. We had a chance to sit down with Peter and hear about his time on UJC and his plans as UJC’s leader.

1. How did you become involved with the UJC?

In my first year, I applied to be a counselor on the UJC. I hoped to further hone my advocacy skills for use after law school. UJC and Honor both offered opportunities to do this in the first semester of my first year. My selection of the UJC had a lot to do with the fact that the UJC hears many more cases a year than Honor, which offered me better prospects for getting more cases and thus more chances to work on my advocacy skills. The UJC would allow me to help real people as opposed to the imaginary clients I had been helping through eight years of mock trial.

Last year, both of the Law School's UJC Representatives were not seeking re-election. Over my first year, I had found that the UJC was my favorite extra-curricular activity, so I decided to run for one of the open UJC Rep positions. By the start of the election, only two people – Brandon Newman and I­– were seeking the seats. We were both elected to those positions, and I transitioned to being a judge on April 1, 2016.

2. What was your old position and what did you accomplish in that role?

The Vice Chair for Trials oversees most of the administrative operations of the UJC. From scheduling cases to ensuring cases were properly staffed, I oversaw all of the cases that came through the system, from filing through assignment to a trial chair. I also oversaw the representative pool, which is made up of the twenty-five representatives ­–two from each of UVa's different schools (except the College, which has three representatives).

On the operational side of my work, I used my knowledge of public legal records to match accused students with their public court records to keep on top of when their criminal trials were occurring (if there was a criminal trial). This additional resource allowed me to schedule cases once criminal trials had been resolved. I stayed on top of cases and scheduled a large number of them throughout the past year. In fact, over the past three months in which the UJC heard cases, we have had a case scheduled almost every single weekday night (including Fridays). Scheduling all the cases and ensuring they got staffed with judges was a challenge, but I was able to successfully get it done.

On the representative side, I tried to help bring more qualitative feedback into our system by bringing in sample Investigator's Reports and mock opening and closing statements by counselors for representatives to learn how to effectively give feedback to support officers after a trial. I also brought more awareness to graduate issues by having our representatives workshop what sorts of questions panels might need to ask different accused students from different schools. A question that makes sense for a twenty-year-old undergraduate may not make as much sense for a twenty-nine-year-old law student. 

3. Why did you run for chair?

There are a few reasons I ran for chair. The first is that I have seen a lot of issues with the UJC’s outreach to graduate students. Every year that I have run to be a UJC Rep for the law school, the question I get more often than “What's your platform?” is “What does the UJC do?” This question suggests to me that even at the law school, where the UJC has its strongest bastion of graduate student support, there is a failure to communicate effectively what the UJC does and what our mission is. The situation is even worse in other schools. We regularly have issues filling all of the graduate student UJC Rep seats from the different grad schools.

Second, I wanted to ensure a level of institutional memory within the UJC. I am the only returning Voting Member of the UJC Executive Committee, as the other three members are all graduating. Most of my new Vice Chairs have some Executive Committee experience but not as voting members. I have met with Susan Davis, our legal adviser, many times throughout the year, and I have worked with Mitch Wellman (fourth year, CLAS), our outgoing Chair, on a number of issues over this year. I thus know a lot about many of the longer-term issues that the UJC has faced this year. I ran for Chair because I would bring that institutional knowledge with me, ensuring some continuity on the UJC.

Finally, I ran to continue graduate representation in the Voting Members of the Executive Committee. This reason is not unique to the Chair position, as I could have kept my old position with the same result. However, I felt that it would be beneficial to have a graduate student at the top of the UJC. Having a graduate student in the Chair position sends a message to the University community that we are all one community regardless of whether we are graduate or undergraduate students.

4. What will your new role require you to do?

The UJC Chair is a multifaceted role. I find it helpful to break it into two general spheres of responsibilities: internal and external. In terms of internal responsibilities, the Chair oversees all UJC activities. He or she helps to select the non-voting Executive Committee members and plays a role in the selection process for new support officers. The Chair ensures everything is running smoothly and that cases are going off without any issues. Outside of trials, the Chair runs Executive Committee and General Body meetings.

In terms of external responsibilities, the Chair is the public face of the UJC. The Chair is the only member of the UJC authorized to speak for the UJC. The Chair helps organize outreach strategies with the Senior Educator and ensures that the UJC's message is getting out to the University community. Additionally, the Chair represents the UJC on multi-organization committees like the Presidential Senate. Through all these activities, the Chair represents the UJC to the University at-large.

5. What do you hope to accomplish through UJC in the coming year?

I think the key word for all of the new voting members is “outreach.” We want to increase outreach to the University across the board. Some undergraduates view the UJC as a punitive body–an image we would like to change because it is not accurate. Personally, I would like to expand our outreach among the graduate schools. Two UJC Reps can't do all the outreach necessary at a school alone. I want to increase the number of Educators we have working on graduate outreach. One of the challenges here is adapting to the different circumstances of each school.

I would like to put together more social activities for our members. One theme that has emerged from Voting Member elections this year is that our Representatives often feel that they are isolated from the support officers. I would like to work with the new Vice Chair for Trials to put together more fun activities that bring our members from all of our pools together. This past year we had a banquet that brought together all of our members with student life personnel. It was a successful evening, and I would like to see more events like it as well as some less formal events.

6. Can you talk about graduate representation on the UJC?

Graduate representation is hard to universalize because there are so many different graduate schools. The law school is one of the best-represented graduate schools on the UJC due in large part to the number of law students who become Counselors. Although the past two elections for UJC Rep from the law school have been noncompetitive, the law school generally does not have too much of an issue filling its two Representative spots. Other graduate schools regularly have issues filling their Rep slots, and most of the time there are no support officers from any graduate school besides the law school. I view this as a serious problem. Graduate students make up about a third of the University, but their representation on the UJC does not match that breakdown.

One side effect of this representation issue is that sometimes there are no graduate students on the Executive Committee. The most recent time this happened was two years ago. This past year, Alex Haden, Amy Ackerman, and I represented three graduate students on the eleven-member Executive Committee. This coming year's Executive Committee has not fully formed yet, but I, at least, will represent one graduate student on the Executive Committee. I would also like to find a way to ensure that the Executive Committee always has at least one graduate student member, as I think we provide a different perspective from the undergraduates.

7. Anything else you want to add?

I look forward to representing not only the law school but every student at this University as the Chair of the UJC. It is an office with many responsibilities. I hope to bring the perseverance and dedication that we as law students embody to this position as I lead the UJC for the next year.

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pb2bc@virginia.edu

A Preview to the Obama Doctrine

Julie Dostal '19
Features Editor

The Virginia Journal of International Law and the John Bassett Moore Society of International Law are sponsoring their annual International Law Symposium on Thursday, March 23 from 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm in Caplin Pavilion. Entitled “The Obama Doctrine: International Law and Policy of the 44th President,” the Symposium will examine hallmark international initiatives furthered during Obama’s administration and will discuss how these initiatives may transform under President Trump. The Symposium will cover a range of public and private international law issues, led by panels composed of academics, practicing attorneys, journalists, and officials from the Obama administration.

The Symposium begins at 12:15 pm with a lunchtime discussion by University of Virginia Law School Professor Saikrishna Prakash regarding executive orders and subsequent disorder stemming from confusion about the orders’ provenance and their limits. Professor Prakash’s scholarship concerns separation of powers, with a particular emphasis on executive authority and the limits of presidential power. He has emerged as one of the leading advocates for the use of originalism as a methodology for interpreting the Constitution’s structural provisions. Professor Prakash’s position on originalism may stem partly from his time as a clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas, known for his strong attachment to originalism as a means of interpretation, on the U.S. Supreme Court. Professor Prakash will focus his discussion on great confusion existing about executive orders, with some brief comments on recent controversies.

At 12:30 pm, a four-person panel  will focus on the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia, as reflected in the title of the event, “Pivot to Asia: Ongoing Disputes in the South China Sea, Nuclear Weapon Build-Up in North Korea, and the Unsure Future of U.S.-Asia Trade Relations.” “Pivot” quickly became a buzzword for the Obama administration’s foreign policy shift from the Middle East to Asia-Pacific. Among several goals, the pivot intended to strengthen military and security alliances, expand trade relations and investment opportunities, and advance human rights. The panel members will examine the setbacks the Obama administration faced in striving towards these broad-based policy goals and if, and how, President Trump will continue an Asia-Pacific shift. UVa Law School professor and Director of the Center for National Security Law John Norton Moore will moderate the panel. The panel features University of Pennsylvania Law School professor Jacques deLisle, a foremost expert on contemporary Chinese law and politics; Lieutenant Commander Rachel Mangas, an associate professor at Judge Advocate General Corps Legal Center and former assistant general counsel for the United States Navy in Japan; Georgetown Law professor John T. Oliver, the Senior Ocean Policy Advisor for the U.S. Coast Guard; and Bloomberg News correspondent Toluse Olorunnipa.

Following the Pivot to Asia discussion, at 2:00 pm, UVa Law Professor Paul B. Stephan will moderate a discussion between Georgetown Law Professor David P. Stewart and international law attorney Richard D. Klinger on the impact of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act of 2016 on the Doctrine of Sovereign Immunity. In September 2016, Congress overrode President Obama’s veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), allowing families of 9/11 victims to bring suit against instrumentalities of foreign nations that provide material support to terrorists. While the bill’s sponsors asserted that JASTA is narrowly drawn, the Obama administration contended that such legislation imperils Americans abroad. The panel will delve into potential ramifications from loosening the strict provisions of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, effects on the international doctrine of sovereign immunity, and the impact of the United States’ relationship with allies abroad.

At 3:30 pm, the Symposium continues with a moderated discussion concerning the corporate challenges posed after the Joint Comprehensive Plan (JCOPA) with Iran. NYU School of Law Professor Zachary K. Goldman, an expert on national security and international sanctions law, will serve as a moderator in discussion between UVa law alum Eric J. Kadel, who now serves as the principal partner in Sullivan and Cromwell’s international trade and investment practice, and Lindsay B. Meyer, the head of the International Trade practice for Venable LLP. The panel will focus on the corporate challenges following the inception of the JCOPA, specifically the hesitance of banks and private interests to enter the Iranian market.

The Symposium concludes with a keynote address titled, “Weathering the Perfect Storm: Can the United States Accommodate the Mass Migration of Refugees While Guarding Against Nefarious Actors and Combating Terrorism at Home and Abroad?” at 5 pm. The keynote address is co-sponsored by the Immigration Law Program. UVa Distinguished Professor of Law David Martin will introduce keynote speaker and fellow UVa law alumnus Peter S. Vincent. As the current Assistant Director General of International Policy for Borderpol and the General Counsel for Thomson Reuters Special Services, LLP, Vincent is a foremost expert on international intelligence information and cybersecurity.

According to Vincent, also an Obama appointee to the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the mass migration of refugees and asylum-seekers from the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa and an unprecedented wave of terrorism in the West have tragically combined to create a 'perfect storm' of death, destruction, misery, fear, distrust, and xenophobia. Vincent contends that the United States and other Western nations can provide safe havens to these victims while at the same time guarding against any nefarious actors who might seek to exploit these legitimate streams of irregular migrants to perpetrate acts of terror, and indeed, it is our collective legal and moral obligation to do so. A reception with refreshments and food will follow the keynote at 6:15 pm.

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jpd5pd@virginia.edu

 

This Week in SBA

Toccara Nelson '19
SBA Secretary

Hello! Welcome to this week’s SBA Secretary Column for the Law Weekly. My goal with the regular column is to increase transparency between SBA proceedings and the student community. We want students to know what is going on around Grounds, and what better way to do so than to collaborate with the beloved Law Weekly.

But onto business! Last week’s meeting saw the introduction of the SBA’s new members for the 2017-2018 school year. We also filled out the board based on the results of our supplemental elections. We plan to update the SBA website soon with a bios from our new members.

Something big that the SBA is involved in planning is the development of a Pan-Grad Council. We want the interests of the Law School along with other graduate schools in the UVa network to be better represented within UVa. The goal of the Pan-Grad Council is to promote that representation while emphasizing and maintaining the independence of the grad schools from Main Grounds. Locally, we have the creation of a suggestion box in the works. It is important to hear about your suggestions for our law school community, and the creation of a physical suggestion system can increase participation. Organization leaders should be prepared to renew their status with SBA. In addition, the school is engaging in space reallocation this year, an endeavor which occurs every two years. Student orgs should prepare themselves for the initiative so we can ensure that this process goes smoothly.

University-wide updates involve changing the language of the honor code involving the informed retraction policy to allow multiple claims for “inextricably linked events” instead of what is currently read as a “single nexus of events.” Changing this language could possibly reduce the number of hearings that the honor board has to deal with by expanding the scope of activities that students can group into one “inextricably linked event” (i.e. instances of potential cheating that went toward one grade or class would be considered as inextricably linked).

Please let us know if you have any questions about the SBA! Feel free to contact me, at tmn2aa@virginia.edu. Thank you, and have an excellent week!

New SBA Officers:
President: Steven Glendon
Vice President: Laura Gregory
Secretary: Toccara Nelson
Treasurer: Frances Fuqua
3L Senators: Ashley Finger, Charles Baker, Eric Hall, Hilary Turner, Richey Fraga, and William Davis
2L Senators: Aparna Datta, Julia Wahl, Lollie Akere, Muskan Mumtaz, Michelle Chang and Robbie Pomeroy
Honor Representative: Lindsay Fisher and Owen Gallogly
UJC Representative: Brandon Newman and Peter Bautz
Student Council Representative: Lollie Akere and Muskan Mumtaz
ABA Representative: Tia Bassick

WELCOME ADMITTED STUDENTS

Robbie Pomeroy '19
Toccara Nelson '19
Kirsten Jackson '18
Jill Winter '18
Kiersten Fowler '17
Brady Mickelen '17
ASOH Co-Chairs

 

As the Law School prepares to welcome the Class of 2020, we are thrilled to announce that Admitted Students Open House is this Thursday and Friday. During ASOH, we officially introduce our admitted students to the community and culture we foster here at UVa Law. Current students have the opportunity to reminisce about why they chose UVa while getting to know our incoming class. This year’s ASOH is bringing you some of your favorite events from years past while shaking things up with exciting new events. We hope everyone joins us for as many events as possible this weekend as this is shaping up to be the best ASOH yet!

Photo courtesy www.abovethelaw.com

Photo courtesy www.abovethelaw.com

We will start off Thursday afternoon with tours, giving admitted students the opportunity to see our grounds, ask questions, and form their first impressions of our school. Admitted students: we know there’s a lot to see, so if you can’t remember where something is after the tour, don’t hesitate to ask any current students walking by!

Following the Law School tours, we will kick off ASOH with a Welcome BBQ in Spies Garden and Scott Commons. There, admitted students will have the opportunity to meet their future classmates while enjoying some of Charlottesville’s best BBQ (really, Charlottesville has some amazing food). The free food is sure to attract many current students as well, so be sure to mix and mingle with students of all years.

After the BBQ, admitted students will board buses for a private tour of Thomas Jefferson’s estate, Monticello. Admitted students will have the opportunity to bond with their new friends while interacting with the complex, and often cognitively dissonant, history surrounding Jefferson as the founder of our school, President of the United States, slave owner, academic, and more. Plus, they’ll get to find out whatever it is he did in Monticello (Hamilton, anyone?).

Bringing up the rear of our Thursday of fun is Trivia Night at Kardinal Hall. This will be another great opportunity for current and admitted students to mix and mingle, all while winning special prizes and eating pub grub.

Friday will begin with a breakfast in Caplin Pavilion, followed by a full slate of informational programs that will give admitted students the ins and outs about classes, career opportunities, financial aid, and so much more. Friday is packed with a lot of valuable programming, and we encourage admitted students to take advantage of any session that sounds interesting or helpful to them.

Lunch will be served during our numerous Student Life Panels, where our admits will be able to receive a more intimate and candid representation of what UVa law is really about through the eyes of our current students. Admitted students should also be on the lookout over the weekend for opportunities to meet with our affinity groups, some of which will be hosting some fun events for admits so that they can further get acquainted with our current students.

Friday will conclude with our “Supreme Alums” Reception in Caplin Pavilion, where admitted students will have the chance to meet faculty and recent UVa Law alumni who have achieved the distinguished honor of clerking for the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. Admitted students will get to enjoy great conversation, eat more food, and say goodbye to their new friends (until the fall semester!).

It is an honor to serve as your ASOH Co-Chairs this year. To our current faculty, staff, and students: thank you very much for volunteering to help welcome our amazing admitted students. ASOH wouldn’t be anything without your help, and we are so appreciative of the time you all take out to represent UVa Law. 

To our admitted students: We hope this year’s ASOH will allow you to see why UVa Law is nicknamed “The Disney World of Law Schools.” UVa Law affords students incredible opportunities to advance both academically and professionally, but we also want to emphasize the importance of the community we have built here. To maximize your ASOH experience, we encourage you to seize every opportunity to interact with this culture. Please feel free to ask us anything about UVa Law during the weekend. We are here to help; our school is your school. Do not hesitate to mingle with your fellow admits, current students, faculty, and staff. The connections you make here will endure throughout law school and beyond. The people you meet at ASOH will be your future classmates, your professors, your advisors, your co-workers, and your friends.  

We hope you all have a great time at UVa Law’s Admitted Students Open House. See you soon!

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rap3fa@virginia.edu

tmn2aa@virginia.edu

klj2ce@virginia.edu

jw9ve@virginia.edu

ksf4sh@virginia.edu

bkm3fp@virginia.edu

This Week in SBA

Toccara Nelson '19
SBA Secretary

Hello everyone! My name is Toccara Nelson, and I am your new Secretary for the Student Bar Association here at the University of Virginia School of Law. I’m originally from Detroit, and I attended the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) for undergrad before coming to UVa Law. I am active in many organizations here, including the Black Law Students Association, Lambda, Women of Color, and Libel. I will serve as a Virginia Law Ambassador next year, taking prospective students on tours of Law Grounds. Currently, I am a 1L Co-Chair for the Admitted Students Open House Planning Committee, along with my friend Robbie Pomeroy. By the way, we are looking forward to having an amazing Open House this weekend.

The position of SBA Secretary is one that is centered around communication. Some of my duties include taking minutes for our SBA Meetings; distributing the Law Street Journal to students, faculty, and staff; managing the events calendar for our numerous student organizations; and updating the SBA Website. My goal is to make sure our student body is informed about the events and initiatives offered by the Law School, so that students can take advantage of all that UVa Law has to offer.

When the Secretary position opened up, I saw an opportunity to contribute and further serve this law school. As members of the SBA, we are charged with representing the interests of the Law School student body in our interactions with the administration, faculty, staff, and the larger University of Virginia community. Through my affiliations with several student organizations, I have built amazing connections with a large number of student leaders. I felt that if I became SBA Secretary, I could use those connections to obtain meaningful feedback from students about their concerns and feelings regarding UVa Law. UVa Law is special place, but in order to maintain and improve the quality of our community, the voices of students cannot be ignored. I also felt that my status as someone possessing numerous marginalized identities would help better engage students from such demographics to become more active in sharing their concerns about UVa Law, so that these students won’t feel like their voices and concerns are swept away in the law school rush.

I aim not only to bridge the gap between students and the SBA, but also between students of different organizational affiliations. Through our SBA calendar and this column in The Law Weekly, I hope to encourage more collaboration between organizations. As far as the SBA goes, I will increase the amount of transparency and openness of communication among the student body. I aim to expand the scope of the "Say Hey, SBA" program, spotlighting the work and initiatives from our many SBA Committees. I also plan to reformat the SBA Calendar to be more accessible to students and to collaborate with Peer Advisors to elicit more 1L participation and feedback regarding school-wide issues. I am going to engage in more grassroots coalition building between the SBA and the student body. Whatever concerns you all have about the law school community, feel free to come to me about them. It is an honor to be elected as UVa Law’s next Secretary for the SBA. Thank you for electing me, and I am excited about what’s to come for the next year!

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tmn2aa@virginia.edu

A Message from Our New SBA President

Steven Glendon '18
SBA President

I’m so excited to be your new SBA President for the 2017-2018 term. I’d like to introduce myself to everyone and let you know a little about my goals for the coming year. My name is Steven Glendon. I grew up in a small town north of the Outer Banks in North Carolina and went to Wake Forest University for undergrad. While at Wake Forest, I met my wife, Joyce Fain; after we left Wake Forest, we spent two years in Richmond, Virginia, during which time I was a paralegal for McGuireWoods.  I got was grateful to gain some experience working on product liability cases and my time at McGuireWoods solidified my decision to pursue a law degree.  UVa has been a wonderful fit for my family and I am honored to serve the student body as SBA President.

I’m humbled by all the support I received during the election and I’m looking forward to working with my other SBA members to best represent the interests of the student body.  I see my role as SBA President as primarily a position of advocacy.  As such, I will work hard to hear your voice and express your interests to the administration, advocating for changes that will best serve our fellow students.

My tenure as SBA President will begin with a number of meetings with various Deans on Grounds, and I would like to foster relationships with the administration that will allow me to promote the needs of the student body.   I will work hard to serve as your advocate, and I hope each of you will feel as though I represent your needs to the best of my ability.  I will be available to hear your voice whenever you need; whether I am in the SBA office, having lunch in ScoCo, or walking the halls, I hope that you feel free to speak with me and know that your concerns are my concerns.

While being available to the student body is my top priority, I also want to serve as a bridge to other graduate schools across Grounds in order to deepen our relationships outside of the Law School.

I believe there is a lot of room for expanding our existing relationships with Darden and the Medical School as we move forward.  I plan on working closely with my counterparts in these schools in order to foster a deeper relationship and to organize more interactions between our student bodies. The annual Darden and Med School mixers have historically been very successful events, and I would like to see our socialization with both of these graduate schools become a more frequent occurrence. As President of the SBA I also hold a representative position on the newly organized Pan-Grad Council, which is an organization comprised of the presidents of all of the graduate schools on grounds. I believe that I can take advantage this position to not only increase our interaction with Darden and the Med School, but also many of the other graduate programs on Grounds as well. 

One sentiment I particularly appreciated about outgoing president A.J.’s platform was his characterization of the SBA as “Your SBA.” As your President, I am beholden to the student body and hold myself accountable for the success of the student experience.  I would like your help in elevating your student experience, and my hope is that you, as students, will feel comfortable reaching out to the SBA so we may do what we can to make your student experience the best it can be. It is our job to work towards achieving goals set for us by the student body, and I believe we can do it, with your contribution. 

To A.J., Sami, Will, and Laura, thank you for all of the great work you have done for the student body this past year. I look forward to continuing this success into the coming year with my new colleagues Laura, Frances, and Toccara. To the faculty and administration, I am excited to work with you, and I know it’ll be an amazing year! Wahoowa!

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sjg8ps@virginia.edu

Letter from the New Editor-in-Chief

Jenna Goldman '18
Editor-in-Chief

To say we are living in a contentious time for journalism is an understatement. With a President banning prominent news outlets from attending briefings and the coining of the term “fake news” to (hitting closest to home) the Rolling Stone article debacle over the reporting of a gang rape story at a University of Virginia fraternity house. If anything has been learned from the past year, it is that a free and reliable press is imperative to informed decision-making, in other words, “Democracy dies in darkness.” 

As law students, we are acutely aware of the power of the First Amendment and our respective rights therein, even as amateur journalists. The Virginia Law Weekly may only publish once per week, and those of us who contribute to the paper may regard writing as more of a “hobby” than as a profession, but we take our work and responsibility as the school’s news source very seriously. 

The Law Weekly has been an incredibly formative experience in my law school career and I am thrilled to serve as the Editor-in-Chief for the 2017-2018 term. My vision for the paper this year is to be even more interactive and collaborative with the student body and faculty. The current political climate is not one that fosters constructive dialogue, but we hope the paper may be used as a springboard for meaningful conversation in our community.  We welcome political and opinion articles, but, being at the famously collegial University of Virginia School of Law, we hold our writers to a high standard of civility in their discourse.

Though the Law Weekly predominantly covers school and local news, such as changes to the alcohol policy and SBA elections, we are striving to expand our coverage of U.S. and global politics and current events. Most recently, one of our columnists was cited by SCOTUS Blog for his editorial piece on why Judge Merrick Garland’s confirmation would have been mutually beneficial to Senate Republicans and President Obama. Serious news aside, our mission is also to serve as an outlet for creative, humorous expression in an atmosphere that prizes the rote in writing. 

The Law Weekly has an impressive and expansive history since our founding in 1948. Our office, located on the second floor of Slaughter in room 279, is home to the full paper archive which we plan to digitize in the coming year so the history of UVa Law may be accessible to students and alumni through the new Law Weekly website. 

In our nearly seventy year history, we have won the American Bar Association’s Best Law School Newspaper three times, and our articles have been cited by the Supreme Court, the Fifth Circuit, and numerous state courts.

The paper in its modern form is due to the hard work of Editor-in-Chief emeritus Alex Haden and the rest of the 2016-2017 Editorial Board. Alex, you are leaving an incredible legacy at UVa Law in the standard of quality, accessible student writing you have set–a standard the 2017-2018 team is eager to continue. 

Our goals for the year include expanding our website and social media presence to reach a wider audience of students and alumni. We hope to publish more Professor articles in our “Dicta” column, which introduces students to professors’ recent projects and thoughts on current events. Of course, we will still run our popular professor lunch, Hot Bench, and alumni corner series.

Despite the emphasis on news and editorials, the paper will always pay homage to our satirical beginnings with the esteemed “Court of Petty Appeals.” The highest Petty Court in the Law School accepts complaints through editor@lawweekly.org. We do accept and publish amicus briefs; however, our justices are rarely compelled by anything. 

First and foremost the paper belongs to the students; we encourage debate and participation in this forum, and hope everyone considers contributing during their time at UVa Law. The quality of writing we receive from our brilliant fellow classmates is what keeps us going on the paper late into the night as we format and edit for our Wednesday morning release. 

We are always looking for writers, reporters, editors, photographers, and even cartoonists to join our Editorial Board. If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to write for us, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at jmg3db@virginia.edu throughout the year, or the staff generally at editor@lawweekly.org. 

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jmg3db@virginia.edu

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1 https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/cnn-new-york-times-other-media-barred-from-white-house-briefing/2017/02/24/4c22f542-fad5-11e6-be05-1a3817ac21a5_story.html?utm_term=.05d3fd405d21.

2 https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/jury-finds-reporter-rolling-stone-responsible-for-defaming-u-va-dean-with-gang-rape-story/2016/11/04/aaf407fa-a1e8-11e6-a44d-cc2898cfab06_story.html?utm_term=.74abe15b52f7.

3 http://thehill.com/homenews/media/320619-the-washington-post-democracy-dies-in-darkness.

4 http://www.scotusblog.com/2016/03/thursday-round-up-316/.

United in diversity

Camille Grant ’18 & Charles West ’18
SBA Diversity Co-Chairs

The theme we chose for Diversity Week 2017 was “United in Diversity.” This past year has seen a lot of divisiveness and societal tension; so we sought to provide programming that underscored the law school’s inclusivity throughout the week. We also invited students to sign the Diversity Pledge, which included a charge to take steps in making the University community a welcoming
place for all.

SBA Diversity Co-Chairs Charles West (left) and Camille Grant (right). Photos courtesy of Charles West.

SBA Diversity Co-Chairs Charles West (left) and Camille Grant (right). Photos courtesy of Charles West.

The beginning of Diversity Week coincided with President’s Day, so it was fitting that we host a panel on “The Legacy of Thomas Jefferson.” The panel was moderated by Professor Kim Forde-Mazrui and included Professors Noelle Hurd, Claudrena Harold, Kirt von Daacke, and Christa Diershiede. Each of the panelists brought a particular and potent view on how the University should honor Thomas Jefferson’s contributions while also confronting his problematic history as a slaveholder. The clear theme of the evening: in seeking to uncover the complete history of Jefferson and the University, we should also seek to uncover the untold stories of the slaves and early trailblazers of our community of learning. There are many examples of fine citizen leaders who have ties to this University, and honoring them as we honor Jefferson could be the start of coming to terms with our complicated history.

On Tuesday, we hosted a “Diversity in the Legal Profession” panel with representatives from the public and private sector. The panel included Jamar Walker (UVa Law Alum), Assistant US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Reba Medoza (UVa Law Alum), Williams Mullen and H. Bola George, Paul, Weiss. The panelists discussed ways in which law students could market themselves as diverse candidates and ways in which the legal profession is benefiting from diverse perspectives. 

For the second year in a row, we hosted “Unpacking Privilege; an Experience-Based Dialogue on Diversity.” We had eight of our law school colleagues speak about their respective privileged perspectives that they bring to the law school community. The topics ranged from being of mixed heritage/race; being a black woman experiencing microaggressions among her law school peers; how disabilities are not always visual; the complexities of mental illness; and the experience of a Muslim refugee living in America. After the student speakers, we launched into discussion groups where the participants unpacked their own privilege and shared action-oriented steps to use that privilege to empower others and to create a more inclusive environment at the law school. 

We closed out Diversity Week with our first annual Diversity Festival in Spies Garden on Thursday. Over eleven student groups showcased their groups’ culture and/or identities. We also had great representation from the LLM students who showcased their Iranian, Brazilian, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cultures. The visual display of the various cultures at the University in one setting was truly a special experience for the attendees as well as the student groups who participated in the event.  

While Diversity Week is only one week, we hope that the messages from our events continue throughout the year and beyond… Empowering, Educating, Respecting & Celebrating the DIVERSE & INCLUSIVE Lawyers of the Future.

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cng2pm@virginia.edu
chw6jf@virginia.edu

2107 SBA Elections

Jansen VanderMeulen '19
Staff Columnist

Candidates for open positions on the Student Bar Association (SBA) spoke at a debate hosted by the Virginia Law Weekly on Monday. Two positions are contested: Secretary and Treasurer. Candidates for the remaining positions made brief statements. Steven Glendon, the unopposed candidate for President, spoke first, encouraging his fellow students to apply for and fill the remaining open positions for which no one is a candidate: Representative to the UVa Student Council, American Bar Association Representative, and two 3L senator positions. Glendon pledged honest communication and joked that he hoped not to send too many emails students wouldn’t read.

Laura Gregory, a 2L is the sole candidate for Vice President. Gregory, this year’s SBA Secretary, told the crowd she looked forward to increasing SBA’s presence on Grounds, and reiterated Glendon’s call for the student body to fill the remaining open positions.

Running unopposed for the Law School’s representative to the University Judicial Committee (UJC) is Peter Bautz. Bautz, a 2L and this year’s UJC Vice Chair for Trials, reminded students to take part in voting in university-wide referenda. There will be four referenda related to the UJC and one related to Honor. Bautz stressed that, though the process of accessing the University Board of Election’s site to vote on the referenda is onerous, it is important that law students’ voices be heard.

Owen Gallogly is a 1L seeking one of the Law School’s two positions on the University Honor Committee. Gallogly, a Double Hoo, noted that he had been involved with Honor since he was a first-year on Main Grounds in 2009. Gallogly told the crowd that there is an Honor referendum on the ballot that would lower the required threshold for amendments to the Honor constitution from 60% voting for to 55% voting for. Though he strongly opposes the amendment, Gallogly urged students to vote on the referendum, regardless of their persuasion.

Lindsay Fisher is the sole candidate for the other Honor post. Fisher, a 1L, could not attend the debate due to an emergency, but she submitted a written statement. Fisher wrote to the crowd about her current position as Honor Representative for Section F. In that role, she acts as a counsel for the community, offering advice to students involved in the Honor system. She hopes more students will get involved with facilitating the Honor system.

There are two candidates for Treasurer: Hannah Fraher and Frances Fuqua. Both 1Ls, Fraher and Fuqua told the crowd about their relevant experience and goals for the position. Fraher noted her experience as a bookkeeper for several million-dollar companies and as treasurer for her undergraduate university’s student government. She pledged to create a “transparent inclusive environment,” working with the administration when possible and standing up to them when necessary. Fraher told the crowd about her positive relationship with Dean Davies, who oversees SBA spending. 

Fuqua also pointed to a wealth of relevant experience as treasurer for three student organizations in undergrad, including as head of the head of the programming committee of the student government, which oversaw $760,000 in student funding. As President of the SBA First-Year Council this year, Fuqua said she coordinated 1L involvement in various Law School events, including Foxfield and the Halloween Carnival. Fuqua proposed looking into making the SBA a 501(c)(3) or (4) non-profit organization to facilitate fundraising.

On the question of administrative oversight, both Fraher and Fuqua emphasized their commitment to standing up for students, even if that meant tussling with Student Affairs. Fuqua noted that “we’re all adults,” and said the administration should be flexible in allowing students to put on the events they want, so long as those events are reasonable. Fraher agreed, mentioning that the administration can play a helpful role in helping to maintain institutional knowledge. When asked what they would do about conflicts like the unexpected rise in ticket prices for Barrister’s Ball, both candidates emphasized the importance of transparency, and both pledged to be open and honest with the student body.

The other contested position is SBA Secretary. Candidates are 1Ls Muskan Mumtaz and Toccara Nelson. Mumtaz, speaking first, pledged more visibility, more connectivity, and more transparency. She proposed a weekly SBA column in the Law Weekly to connect readers with what is happening with the SBA. She also stated her hope to expand the SBA’s student engagement efforts. Nelson focused on her experience, which includes working as a legal assistant for law firms, promoting events and social justice dialogue at her undergraduate university, and involvement with a plethora of UVa Law student organizations, including BLSA, Lambda, Libel, and the First-Year Council. 

Both candidates expressed bemusement with the lack of student engagement in SBA activities, and pledged to try to improve it. Nelson suggested an organizational spotlight that lets students in on what student groups are doing around North Grounds, and a new, “Say Hey, SBA” program to solicit student concerns with their SBA while Mumtaz proposed a dedicated TV screen advertising organizational events and placing hyperlinks in the bi-weekly events emails to better enable students to connect with events they are interested in attending.

Polls for the election open Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. on 2/21 and remain open until 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday on 2/22. Emails will be sent to student email accounts with further instructions.

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jmv5af@virginia.edu

Virginia Law Women Produces Second Annual Vagina Monologues

Sarah DeStafano '19
Guest Columnist

For those of you who missed it, I’ll give you a little taste:

“My vagina’s angry. It is. It’s pissed off. My vagina’s furious and it needs to talk. It needs to talk about all this shit. It needs to talk to you. I mean what’s the deal — an army of people out there thinking up ways to torture my poor-ass, gentle, loving vagina. Spending their days constructing psycho products, and nasty ideas to undermine my pussy. Vagina Motherfuckers. All this shit they’re constantly trying to shove up us, clean us up — stuff us up, make it go away. Well, my vagina’s not going away. It’s pissed off and it’s staying right here. Like tampons — what the hell is that?” –Eve Ensler, The Vagina Monologues

Now that the ice is broken and you’ve read the word vagina a couple of times, I think we’re good to start this thing. So, The Vagina Monologues. What is it about? The Vagina Monologues is an episodic play consisting of individual monologues, usually each performed by one woman. There are some that involve multiple women, and in some performances, the cast is so big that all the monologues have more than one woman. The monologues cover a variety of topics, many pertaining to female sexuality, empowerment and violence against women. Eve Ensler wrote The Vagina Monologues in 1996, after conducting interviews with 200 women about their experiences with sex, relationships, and violence. Shortly after, the monologues first debuted at the Off-Broadway Westside Theatre in Manhattan. The play began as a source of body and feminist positivity initially, but after only a few years the goal of the play shifted primarily to ending gender based violence. The Vagina Monologues is the cornerstone of the V-Day movement, which is a non-profit started by Eve Ensler to raise money for initiatives to end gender based violence. Eve Ensler founded V-Day after witnessing women’s reactions to The Vagina Monologues. 

Every year, The Vagina Monologues is performed at college campuses across the nation as well as at community centers and local theaters. There are even international performances, which I learned when I was living in Lima, Peru and had to opportunity to see the show there. The performances are supposed to be almost uniform. What I mean by that is that there are a couple of rules that are typically recognized at the performances. The show must take place within a specific window of time close to V-Day, the entire cast must wear all black with a red accent and there are certain rules about substituting out monologues. The Vagina Monologues has received criticism over the years for being too reductionist and narrow in its presentation of what it means to be a woman and a feminist. This criticism has been met with more efforts to include women of color and transgender women. Some performances, like those of my undergraduate university, met this criticism by opening up the stage for original monologues written by students that wanted to share their own experiences. 

Now that you have some background information on what the monologues are, we can move on to the performances that were at the law school last Thursday and Friday. The cast included ten women, most of whom were law students at UVa, and seventeen monologues were performed. Of the law students in the cast, most were 1Ls. The event was co-sponsored by four different UVa Law organizations: The Domestic Violence Project, Women of Color, Feminist Legal Forum, and Virginia Law Women. The show was free, with donations encouraged, and all proceeds went to the Shelter for Help in Emergency (SHE) in Charlottesville. This was the second annual performance of The Vagina Monologues at UVa Law, and we are hoping to have many more shows in years to come. 

For anyone interested in joining next year, the time commitment was minimal—it really just consists of memorizing your lines. One of the best parts about The Vagina Monologues is that, because it is simply supposed to be women talking about their experiences, the scenes involve minimal props and blocking. The roles are equally perfect for women that have had theater experience and women that have never set foot in a theater. It is a very casual performance, as far as theatrics go, but the messages in the monologues pack a powerful punch. In my opinion, the juxtaposition of the minimalist set and the candor of the words add to the genuine quality of the show. 

If you are a woman, I would consider being a part of the show next year or at least seeing it. If you do not identify as a woman, I would still highly encourage you to see the show. Seeing the performance and being involved in the show is moving, entertaining, and empowering. This performance was my fifth time in The Vagina Monologues, and before that I had never acted outside of my sixth-grade mandatory school play about teamwork. Being involved in The Vagina Monologues throughout my undergraduate experience was a particularly empowering piece of my college career; it is truly amazing what surrounding yourself with strong women committed to ending violence can do for your experience anywhere. I would highly recommend it.

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sed8xc@virginia.edu

Finding Common Grounds: A New Student-Faculty Initiative

Eric Hall '18
Producation Editor

Violent student protest shutting down an inflammatory college speaker. Senate minority members refusing to hold hearings for a Supreme Court nominee. A Facebook user deleting an old friend for posting a pro-Trump message. These events are hardly the fallout from Donald Trump’s election. They are the symptoms of an unprecedented division in our political culture. Although the election results quantified it, to many, including Professor Deborah Hellman, the tear in our nation’s fabric was apparent long before November 8th, 2016. 

“I first started thinking about Common Grounds when two students, one from Fed Soc and one from Virginia Law Women, approached me to moderate an event,” Hellman told me when we sat down last week to discuss her student-faculty initiative aimed at reinitiating thoughtful, civil discussion between politically diverse students and faculty. It occurred to her that there were very few law school events that direct participants to understand each other’s positions. Student groups often host debates, a mode of interaction that, according to Hellman, “only encourages finding what’s wrong with the other side and arguing against it.” Although debates can be helpful, Hellman’s initiative seeks to supplement them by taking residents of opposite ideological houses and facilitating their interaction in a way that builds consensus. The initiative seeks to identify points of agreement on which both houses are built. Hence the name, Common Grounds.

“I think that’s healthy. Our students are going to go out and play leadership roles in society,” Hellman said. She describes Common Grounds’ purpose as a “process goal” that “inculcates in students habits of mind of interacting with people in trust-building ways.” A typical event might resemble a debate but with a moderator whose goal is not to foster controversy but elicit understanding, to have speakers express their opinion and then reason down to basic principles on which both agree. Another exercise, suggested by Professor Kimberly Ferzan, would have student and faculty participants with opposing views discuss their opinions with one another, and then attempt to explain the other side’s view to the group. Hellman also hopes to recruit a speaker from the psychology department here at UVa to describe the challenges in bringing together people with profoundly divergent views. Potential topics for the first few events would include those most familiar (and divisive) to the law school student body such as micro-aggressions, safe spaces, and affirmative action policies. 

The organization is still very much in its nascency, and what it becomes will be in the hands of the brave students and faculty who are willing to cross the aisle. But already Hellman foresees some substantive proposals that could emerge. For example, Common Grounds could partner with the Political Science department on Main Grounds to develop a sort of ranking system for politicians based on their ability and willingness to compromise similar to what certain partisan organizations do for issues like environmentalism or gun rights. For those political disagreements that are empirical in nature, Common Grounds could help certify data as nonpartisan. 

Aside from the usual challenges of starting a new student group, Common Grounds also faces some unique hurdles.  Hellman recognizes the difficulty in today’s political climate of getting, for example, Clinton and Trump voters to talk about anything let alone seek common ground. But she supposes that the law school community may be the best place to open that channel. “There’s already a reservoir of goodwill” that we have towards one another within the law school because of our shared experience. More specifically, UVa’s Southern culture breeds a civility and collegiality that might make it the perfect incubator for such a cross-partisan effort. UVa is also a more politically diverse law school that many of its piers. This feature mitigates another challenge: finding and retaining an ideological diverse membership. “It shouldn’t be a centrist organization,” Hellman emphasized. Already the organization has attracted a handful of professors and students that span the liberal-conservative palette, including professors Kimberly Ferzan and Charles Barzun. 

Notwithstanding these advantages, Hellman has no illusions about how difficult the task will be. Having these discussions without poisoning the reservoir of goodwill will be hard, she freely admits when I press her on the risk that friendships will be strained. But the payoff will be worthwhile. “Our society depends on a constitutional culture” that requires us to engage with one another and compromise where we can, she says. “That is being challenged by the polarization that we have.” Common Grounds seeks to reverse that trend. Now more than ever, we need inititiatives to salvage political discourse, to de-villainize opponents, and ultimately, to save democracy. 

Open-minded students and faculty interested in joining the vanguard of the Common Grounds movement should attend an information session at 12 PM on Monday, February 13th in WB 104. For more information, contact Professor Hellman at dh9ev@virginia.edu.

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ech8vm@virginia.edu

SBA State of the School Address

Alex Haden '17
Editor-in-Chief

Monday’s SBA meeting comprised two parts. In the first part, SBA President A.J. Collins presented his State of the School Address for the SBA and all members of the school who wished to attend. The second part consisted of a normal SBA meeting approving the final voting rules for the first Law School election cycle apart from the undergraduate University Board of Elections (UBE). 

Turnout for the State of the School Address was relatively high, although Collins was disappointed that no members of the administration nor members of Student Affairs attended. Collins’ presentation mirrored his campaign slogan from last year: YOUR SBA. The slogan is an acronym: Your ideas, old and new; Openness and transparency; Unifying groups for progress; and Reforming and restructuring.

Collins first discussed the Goluboff Cup, a competition for 1Ls similar to the House Cup at Hogwarts. Collins admitted that the participation in the Cup was lower than expected, but for a first attempt at the competition, it went fairly well. Collins expects next year to be even better with more partnerships between SBA and other groups for point calculations.

Collins also discussed the Wahoos for the Bayous campaign, which raised money for relief funds after the hurricane last year, and the accompanying food drive. The SBA’s Dean-a-Week program was also lauded as a success, as various administrators at the school came in to SBA meetings to discuss their offices and responsibilities.

One of SBA’s most active committees, Health and Wellness Programming, has been very busy this year with all of its activities. They have provided healthy snacks, put on the Health and Wellness Fair that brought many businesses into the school, put on Mental Health Week, and brought therapy puppies to the school. Kudos to Ali Mulry and Christine Sherman, chairs of Wellness Programming, for successfully leading the committee.

Collins then discussed the various projects that are still in progress for the SBA. First on the agenda was the GradFest event, a sort of collaborative fair for graduate students across UVa’s campus. There are some obstacles in place regarding scheduling and communication among the various schools. Second, SBA is still tackling the complicated issue of undergraduates in the library. There seem to be some communication issues among the Law School administration, library staff, and student representatives, but the SBA is determined to find the optimal solution for students. 

The SBA is still looking into the possibility of getting longer cafeteria hours from Aramark, especially given that Darden has longer hours and (apparently) better food. There are a lot of stakeholders at play in this issue, and negotiating this contract may prove tougher than initially thought. Finally, the Wednesday keg still remains an issue for SBA, especially regarding which day of the week it should occur and whether Main Grounds policy should apply to us.

The SBA also hopes to continue improving its technology, including its website and outline bank. They are also looking into creating an SBA app and a more unified communications system.

The more technical part of the meeting was the SBA’s discussion of the new voting procedures for the upcoming Law School election. The measures passed unanimously, and the rules are now in effect. Some of the more substantive changes that are different from past years include:

Student mailboxes may be used during campaigns. The Election Committee felt that the previously-existing ban did not serve an important purpose and therefore, are fair game.

The email policy has completely been revamped. People may send direct emails to any person, regardless of whether they have a personal connection. The old policy was difficult to enforce and hard to properly sanction. Additionally, list-serves may be used for campaign emails so long as the sender is a part of that list-serve. Candidates may not join list-serves for the purpose of sending campaign materials. Candidates may still create their own private list-serves for campaigning purposes.

The Election Committee retains the power to create an appropriate sanction for any violation of the rules. The Elections Committee felt that rules for specific violations would be too inflexible and controversial to pass. All sanction decisions are immediately appealable to an appellate board consisting of two members of the Elections Committee, an Honor Rep, a UJC Rep, and the SBA President. 

The Elections Committee kept the 20-signature petition requirement for candidates to submit before they can appear on the ballot. The Committee explained that they felt it was important to have at least some hurdle to clear in order to appear on the ballot; otherwise, people could just apply for any position with very little cost. In addition, the Elections Committee has imposed a maximum of two positions that a candidate may run for.

The instant runoff voting system from UBE was abandoned in favor of simple plurality voting. In the case that more than two candidates run for a position, a candidate must get a plurality of at least 40% of the vote to be elected; in the event no candidate receives this amount, a separate runoff between the top two candidates will occur right after the main election.

The SBA used its power to enact these rules. One such rule says that these election rules may only be amended by a 70% majority of the SBA voting to change them. This higher bar was implemented in order to ensure that changes could not be made by a simple majority once the voting had gone underway. 

    The Elections Committee is hosting a meeting for candidates to go over these rules on Wednesday, February 1st, at 5PM. Candidacy statements and petition signatures are due on Monday, February 6th, at 11:59pm. Candidates may begin campaigning on Monday, February 13th, at noon. The Law Weekly will host the annual SBA debate on February 20th at 11:30am. Voting opens at 12:01am on Tuesday, February 21st, and closes at 11:59pm on Wednesday, February 22nd 11:59pm. Results will be announced on Friday, February 24th at 5pm.

    Editor’s note: Alex Haden, the Editor-in-Chief of Virginia Law Weekly, is one of the three members of the Election Committee. Therefore, to remain impartial, all future Law Weekly coverage of the Law School elections will be created, edited, and produced without Alex’s input or advice.

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ach7pa@virginia.edu

THE FIRST SEVEN DAYS

Jenna Goldman '18
Executive Editor

With thousands more than expected marchers spilled into many of the side streets. Photo credit: David Markoff

With thousands more than expected marchers spilled into many of the side streets. Photo credit: David Markoff

While we were away, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the forty-fifth President of the United States. The day following the Inauguration, over 2.25 million people marched in the Women’s March on Washington and in sister marches around the world. In a firestorm of tweets about the comparative size of the Inauguration crowd to the March, the term “alternative facts” was coined by Kellyanne Conway in response to President Trump’s description of his inaugural crowd as “the largest ever.” After a tweet by the Department of Interior comparing an aerial image of Trump’s Inauguration to Obama’s Inauguration in 2009, the new administration directed the Agency to shut down all Twitter platforms until further notice. 

A crowd size expert reported to the New York Times last week that the inauguration audience was approximately 160,000 people, compared to the 470,000 individuals who participated in the Women’s March a day later. 

The Women’s March brought together millions in a stand of solidarity on dozens of progressive, intersectional issues. From Women’s rights and reproductive healthcare, to LGBTQ+ rights, Black Lives Matter and other race relations issues, the environment, and immigration, the organizers applauded the turnout and the notion that the causes are stronger and advanced when advocated together. Speakers at the Washington rally included America Ferrera, Janelle Monae, Michael Moore, and Gloria Steinem, along with Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards and National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) President Rhea Suh. Hillary Clinton tweeted her support for the march. The actual marching was cancelled due to crowd’s size. 

Now, nearly two weeks since both the Inauguration and the Women’s March, the fight over inaugural crowd size seems trivial compared to the slew of executive orders coming out of the White House. At press time, the most controversial is called “Protection Of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States” and was signed Friday, January 27th. The order blocks citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) from entering the United States, regardless of visa or resident status; indefinitely bars refugees from Syria from entering the United States; and suspends all other refugee admissions for the next 120 days. The effect was immediate, as individuals entering back into the United States at major airports were detained this weekend as they passed through customs. 

U.S. District Court Judge Ann Donnelly of the Eastern District of New York halted the enforcement of the executive order in a ruling Saturday night. Later the same night,, Judge Leonie Brinkema of Virginia’s Eastern District ruled in favor of three legal permanent residents and sixty other individuals detained at Dulles International Airport, blocking immigration officials from deporting lawful permanent residents detained at the airport and ordering immigration officials to allow lawyers to access detainees. 

Jasmine Esmailbegui, a 3L, is personally feeling the effect of the executive order. Esmailbegui’s father immigrated to the United States from Iran in the 1970s and she holds dual American and Iranian citizenship. Her family was in the process of sponsoring her uncle and his family to move to the United States from Iran. Although her uncle and his family were interviewed for their green cards in December, she is unsure of their current status since the executive order was signed.  

“I’m confused as to the logic of this executive order,” Esmailbegui said. “It is effectively punishing people for the actions of their government and militaries. We must be able to separate the people who are fleeing from their oppressive governments.”  Esmailbegui was planning on visiting Iran after taking the bar later this year, but with the potential retaliation from the Iranian government she says those plans are in limbo. 

Sami Al-Marzoog, 3L, who holds dual Saudi and American citizenship, is also impacted by the uncertainty of the executive order. “My dad still lives in Saudi Arabia, but visits us on a visa. This is a big year for my family; my sister and I are graduating law school, we have a brother graduating medical school, and my sister is getting married, so we are worried that a change of mood with Saudi Arabia may keep our dad from coming to the United States to witness these milestones.” 

Al-Marzoog was a member of the Immigration Clinic last year and says the vetting process is already extremely rigorous and worries what the lack of notice has already done to refugees in transit. “Families sold everything to buy a plane ticket to the United States, now what are they going to do?” Al-Marzoog echoed Esmailbegui’s point, “The administration is talking about how they want to eradicate radical terrorism, but everyone coming here as refugees is trying to get away from that same threat in their home countries.”

Al-Marzoog referenced a study conducted by the Cato Institute which concluded that no person accepted to the United States as a refugee has been implicated in a major fatal terrorist attack since 1980. Before 1980, the only notable attack committed by refugees was by three Cuban refugees. 

An emergency march for “Muslim, Immigrant, and International Students’ Rights” was held on Sunday at the Rotunda, where a number of law students attended, including 2L Joanna Kelly. Kelly, a Middle Eastern Studies major, worked abroad in both Jordan and Egypt before coming to law school and finds the executive order particularly offensive. “I have underlying concerns as to why did they these countries were chosen. It feels like the ban is just an extension of Trump’s fear mongering.”  

Kelly attended both the Women’s March in Washington and the March in response to the order last weekend and felt the tone of encouragement, solidarity, and engagement was apparent at both events. For Kelly, the highlight of the march was hearing Charlottesville’s Vice-Mayor Wes Bellamy speak. “His message was that this order isn’t about politics anymore; it’s about what is right and what is wrong. He urged us to remember how we feel today, and that we need to come out with this force and passion every day.”

In an email to the University, President Theresa Sullivan stated the administration is in contact with UVa students and scholars from the seven countries impacted and international students more broadly. Sullivan affirmed the school’s commitment to supporting international students, faculty, and staff, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students on Grounds. 

Per President Sullivan’s email, if you have questions or are in need of support contact UVa’s International Studies Office at 208 Minor Hall or call (434) 982-3010.

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jmg3db@virginia.edu

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1 http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/01/21/more-than-million-people-attend-womens-marches-worldwide/96885970/
2      http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/wh-spokesman-gave-alternative-facts-inauguration-crowd-n710466
3 Id.
4     https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/22/us/politics/womens-march-trump-crowd-estimates.html?_r=0
5  http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2017/01/19/the_women_s_march_has_announced_its_official_route_and_list_of_speakers.html
6     http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2017/01/29/world/middleeast/29reuters-usa-trump-immigration-courts.html
7     http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-pol-trump-immigration-court-order-20170128-story.html
8     https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/terrorism-immigration-risk-analysis
9     http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/29/us/refugee-terrorism-trnd/

SBA OVERHAULS ELECTION PROCESS

Law Weekly Staff Article

Last Monday, the SBA’s Constitutional Committee submitted its proposed edits to the SBA Constitution to the Voting Members. For a list of those proposed changes, see the article in the November 16, 2016 edition of the Virginia Law Weekly. The SBA adopted the changes through a unanimous roll call vote on Monday, officially amending the Constitution. The majority of the changes that were adopted were related to the elections process at the Law School. These election changes were proposed by another SBA committee, the Election Rules Committee, chaired by SBA Vice-President Sami Al-Marzoog.

    The most immediate changes to the elected positions involve the direct election of the Treasurer and the removal of the SBA voting power of the Ex Officio Members. For the past few years, the Treasurer has not been directly elected by the Law School population. Instead, the newly elected SBA elected a Treasurer from its own Senatorial body in a subsequent election. This secondary election of the Treasurer was meant to insulate the Treasurer from the political influences that would come from answering directly to the student body. However, political influences are not really present in the SBA nor its elections, and any such influences are not particular to the role of Treasurer. Therefore, the Treasurer will now be directly elected like every other position.

    In addition, all Ex Officio members will be unable to vote on SBA issues. Under both the previous and current SBA Constitutions, four enumerated positions were listed as Ex Officio members: UJC Representatives, Honor Representatives, Student Council Representatives, and the ABA Representative. These Ex Officio members were elected by the student body but held their positions on other bodies and had voting power in those respective bodies. However, the previous Constitution allowed some of these members—specifically, the ABA Rep and the StudCo Reps—to have a vote on the SBA, while the remaining Ex Officio members could not vote on the SBA. There was no explanation for this inconsistent treatment of the various Ex Officio members, so to treat them consistently and prevent conflicting votes with their respective bodies, none of these members shall have a vote on the SBA.

    The largest and most significant change made to the elections process at the Law School was the decision to separate from the University Board of Elections (UBE), the Main Grounds Special Status Group that ordinarily administers elections. Most of the 12 schools of UVa use UBE to run elections for student government, UJC/Honor roles, and other school-wide positions; notably, Darden does not use the UBE for its election process. One of the primary reasons that the Law School decided to examine its relationship with the UBE was last year’s election process and its lack of customization to the Law School’s needs.

    The UBE requires a relatively tough process to even appear on the ballot in the first place. First, all applicants must complete a quiz about the election rules. While this quiz isn’t overly difficult, it is an extra procedural step, and the rules that it tests are often inapplicable to the Law School. For example, regulations on chalking are not really relevant for the Law School, since chalking isn’t really used on North Grounds. 

Secondly, the UBE also requires candidates to get the signature of a requisite number of future constituents to even appear on the ballot. While getting somewhere between twenty and fifty signatures isn’t that hard, it isn’t super easy; additionally, candidates would just pass the sheet around a large lecture class instead of speaking with future voters, defeating the purpose of getting the signatures in the first place. Perhaps most annoying was the fact that the signature sheets had to be turned in on Main Grounds, requiring a trek over to Newcomb Hall during business hours and paying for parking just to get on the ballot.

Another frustrating aspect of UBE’s electoral process is its strange rules and lack of ability to enforce them or provide a remedy for candidates. UBE prohibits the use of mailing lists, including email lists, to solicit votes, either by a candidate or any other person on that candidate’s behalf. However, it’s a hard rule to enforce, and it requires candidates to have absolute control over not only themselves and their campaign staff, but also every single enthusiastic supporter who might send an email inadvertently. It’s also hard to craft a remedy for such a violation; is it fair to disqualify a candidate entirely because of an email sent by a staff member? If not, should a certain number of votes be discounted? How many?

The changes to the Constitution do not answer the questions above. However, they do move in the right direction by taking Law School elections out of UBE’s jurisdiction and into the Law School, where we will have more direct say into how these sorts of questions should be answered, and how future issues can be fairly resolved. One issue that still remains to be resolved is how to count Law School votes for school-wide referenda from the Honor Committee or UJC that requires a minimum number of student votes, since most Law Students will not log onto the UBE system to vote.

The new Constitution allows the Election Rules Committee to create a proposed slate of rules for the upcoming election, including various rules, remedies, and requirements to get elected. This proposed slate of rules will be presented to the full SBA for an approval vote. These approved rules will be enforced by the newly created Election Committee, which will run the election itself and handle any issues that the candidates run into. 

The Constitution specifies that the Election Committee shall be comprised of three members, none of whom are allowed to run for an elected position to prevent any conflicts of interest. There shall be one 2L member and two 3L members. To strike the right balance between having an elected official on the Committee and having members who are properly insulated from SBA influence, at least two of the three members must not be current SBA members. The members shall be appointed by the SBA President and confirmed by the SBA.

Upon passage of the new amendments to the Constitution, SBA President A.J. Collins presented his slate of appointments to this year’s Election Committee: Shannon Rice, Alex Haden, and Jennifer Lee. The SBA approved these selections, and now, the Election Rules Committee will have to finish its rules for the elections coming up in February. 

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editor@lawweekly.org