A Method to the Madness

Katherine Mann '19
Columns Editor

My father was a sportswriter –all sports, but later in his career, primarily horseracing – and used to take me to the track when I was a kid. Mostly I read the Babysitter’s Club while he worked, but we sometimes went to the paddock to look at the horses before a race, and he occasionally let me pick a horse for a two-dollar bet. He taught me how to look at a racing program and made modest attempts to introduce me to odds and pedigrees. But I was immune to any of that; I only ever picked the prettiest horse. A classic Bay is second only to a true Roan, in case you’re wondering about my preferences. I didn’t win a lot.

Almost thirty years later, my March Madness methods are barely more sophisticated. I understand how unlikely it is for a sixteen seed to beat a one seed. I’m not naive enough to pick whatever the hell MSM is over Villanova. But I feel compelled to treat the whole process like a “whodunit.” One-seeds are way too obvious. Sure, they may have motive, means, and opportunity, but no crime writer worth her salt would have UNC turn out to be the perp. Anything that obvious is totally devoid of entertainment value. We’re looking for someone stealthy and below the radar, but not so unlikely that you wouldn’t recommend the book to a friend. No one (except me) predicts a four seed like, say, Florida, to win it all. But even those who picked Villanova (maybe next year, Wildcats) can appreciate such a plot twist.

Suffice it to say I’m a sucker for an underdog and will reach for any reason to pick one. Why not Bucknell over West Virginia? I mean, I know someone who went there, so…clearly a good choice (except not at all). Those of you who picked Xavier can relate. Although, that only worked out because Maryland decided to wear hideous uniforms. Not the prettiest horse, am I right?  Even as I write this, Creighton is being embarrassed by URI, bolstering my underdog theory. And nine-seeds, well, you’re as good as picked, because in my mind, you’ve got the best underdog chance. (Somehow Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, and Seton Hall didn’t get the memo.)

Sometimes my underdog theory just isn’t up to the task, however, and I have to rely on drama and personification to get the job done. Butler and Winthrop are clearly just two British blokes slapping each other with white gloves. Obviously, Butler’s going to win. My fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Baylor was pretty badass, so Baylor ought to be able to take out SMU and Duke. And Purdue is just some poor, scared, naked chicken ready to go to the fryer. Enough pluck to beat Vermont, but no match for carnivorous Iowa State. (Or so I thought.)

Other stupid reasons for making picks include: Miami is warmer than Kansas; Marquette has a “q” in it and South Carolina does not; Saint Mary’s is too pious; UCLA is close to where my brother lives; Villanova sounds like “villain” and therefore must lose to Florida (the hero of my story); Louisville has horses (you knew we’d come back to that); and Iowa has corn. Corn never wins. (Except corn syrup, of course. It’ll beat all of us in the end.)

I am not a sports person. I don’t play softball, so I don’t know why they still let me go here. I have never, in fact, played any sport to speak of that didn’t end in tears, face bruises, or possibly flower-picking (think soccer at seven years old). Football is just extended brain research (thanks for the knowledge, NFL), and baseball has way too much spitting for a classy dame like me. I only care about basketball when I have a bracket, and five bucks makes me care exactly the right amount: as soon as I know I’m out, I can quit watching and return to Golden Girls on Hulu.

By the time this goes to print, the first two rounds will be history, and my status as worst bracket-picker will be immortalized on ESPN.com. I’ll be rooting for Florida, Louisville, and UNC to carry me through to the Final Four, since Maryland has decided to suck (seriously, was their strategy to frighten the other team with all that yellow?). In all likelihood, my bracket will just end up as a marked-up piece of paper that distracted me from my Con Law reading. (Not nearly as bad as, say, being distracted from Con Law during Con Law by the Princeton-Notre Dame game. You know who you are.) But if Florida somehow wins, or even gets close, my eccentric style of picking teams will be vindicated, and I’ll have every incentive to repeat this nonsense next year.



Admissions of an Admit: As told to Greg Ranzini

Greg Ranzini '18
News Editor

You gotta say something about the roast beef sliders. They kept it together until the bitter end, but that last reception on the second day was really where the whole Open House fell down. The former Supreme Court clerks introduced themselves with, “I don’t want to interrupt your important conversations, but . . .” and they should have just stopped right there. I just wanted to drink some beer, which was the only thing vegan on a table piled with shrimp wrapped in chorizo and chat with my new friends, rather than pretend that talking to these unicorns was going to land me a clerkship. The only thing I felt like asking was whether they had been allowed to touch the famous shelf of medieval dictionaries that Scalia used to rifle through in search of politically convenient definitions, like a definition of “factual innocence” that still leaves such a person subject to North Carolina “carrying out a death sentence properly reached.” But what was funny was that these folks were standing around being asked the most naive questions imaginable, such as “how many hours a week should I study?” Everybody ought to know how these guys got the job—they got straight A’s in 1L. Everyone equally should know they’re not going to make those grades, try as they might, because it’s like winning the lottery. It should have been another opportunity to stand around, make friends, and say, “I’ll see you in August,” but it was the end of the day, I was tired, I’d just been told I was staring down six-figure debt . .

. “Networking” wasn’t high on my list of priorities.

The student life panels, though, were spectacular—I really appreciated the attitude that nothing said in there would leave the room. There was more than boosterism, especially in that actual reservations and regrets were aired by the panelists. They made small admissions that made it clear that these were real people with real issues, but that they were still glad that they went to UVa. They should definitely do that next year. The panels made the rest of the weekend seem more credible. In contrast, the cornball alumni network speech felt like they were writing checks they couldn’t cash. It was led by this guy who wouldn’t shut up about how “genuine” the network is, in a way that made it sound very fake. It was accompanied by a minimum-effort PowerPoint, in Arial on a white background, that just said “genuine” a bunch of times, and ended with a rhetorical strategy heavily reliant on saying “just ask [so-and-so] who said . . .” over and over again. It was like the world’s lamest State of the Union. No one doubts that this school’s alumni are enthusiastic, because everyone I met seemed like a genuinely interested and nice person; it didn’t seem like there would be any reason for that to change once they graduated. But the way it was presented in the end was pretty dumb. Perhaps justifiable puffery, but on the “fake-and-lame” scale just short of literally making an acrostic out of A-L-U-M-N-I.

That speech made me, right there, at the eleventh hour, question my judgment and feel like the rest of the event was diminished. But it couldn’t overcome the fact that there were people like Cordel and the numerous students, most of whom just happened to be there snagging free dinner at the buffets, who were unprompted in their expressions of affection for UVa. I never did manage to find my designated liaison, but everyone I met in the halls seemed like somebody I wanted to get to know better. The professors, too, seemed very knowledgeable, focused, and sincere in their desire to produce great lawyers and to help everyone who was admitted on that path.

The financial aid talk with Jennifer Hulvey was very helpful—she explained the implications, such as which loans were preferable, and she managed to make it seem daunting without being terrifying. She was genuinely there to help. Kevin Donovan, too, sold it. Just nailed it. If I had any doubts about where I was going, he nixed them. He did a fantastic job of laying out the stakes, but made it clear that Career Services was going to be there and behind me 100%. Ruth Payne did the same. I left convinced that if I wanted a clerkship (not Supreme Court, LOL) she would help me find one. Contrast, say, Michigan, who looked at me like I had six heads when I asked them how they would support me in getting a 1L summer job. 

Other random observations: I had a tour of Monticello by a guy named Horace who had an alarmingly good radio voice. Somebody needs to hire this guy, because unamplified, his voice was NPR-tier. I would buy literally anything he sold me in his dulcet baritone. The house seemed smaller in life than it looks on the back of the nickel, though.

Phrases of the day: “You’re going to love it here,” and “We don’t admit applications; we admit people.”



Far Right Falls Short

Max Wagner '19
Guest Columnist

2016 ended not with a whimper, but with a bang. It was the year the global Leftism saw two significant defeats with the approval of Brexit and the election of President Trump; it also set the stage for 2017. 2016 did not begin in a way that signaled what would happen. As the Leftist Establishment looked forward they liked their prospects for the next two years: five elections they expected to win, beginning with the two elections about which they felt most comfortable: Brexit and the U.S. Presidential Election. The Leftist Establishment looked on in horror as first, the British demanded their independence from an unelected council of oligarchs in Brussels, and then they could not believe their eyes as the second of the five pins fell over, with the election of President Trump. President Trump’s election forced them to realize there is a popular unrest across the West, directed at them. It was with newfound urgency the world turned its eyes toward the Dutch general election for control of the 150-seat Dutch House of Representatives.

Coming into the election, the center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) held the largest number of seats but did not command a majority of the seats in the House.[1] The party with the second most seats coming into the election was the center-left Labor Party (PvdA).

The Dutch people voted on Wednesday; Geert Wilders, the far-right candidate of the Party for Freedom (PVV), lost to current Prime Minister Mark Rutte, leader of VVD. PVV came in second, receiving 13% of the vote, gaining five seats for a total of twenty, compared to VVD’s 21%, losing eight seats for a total of thirty-three. The PvdA, however, fell from second to seventh, from 24.8% to 5.7%, and from thirty-eight seats to nine (a loss of seats).

The Left was quick to announce a victory. The Dutch did what Britain and America could not; the wave of populism has broken! The tide is being rolled back![2] Right?! Wrong.

The Left is thrilled that Wilders will not become the new Prime Minister, as well they should be . . . unless they paid attention to the news that was coming out of the Netherlands for the last several weeks. First, it was clear that whether PVV or VVD won the election, the other party was going to take second place.[3] Rutte has also been very vocal that he would not work with Wilders to form a coalition government, and other parties have also agreed not to work with Wilders.[4] This means that even if Wilders had won the election and become the largest party in Parliament, there was a good chance that Wilders would still not have become Prime Minister. Considering it a “win” because PVV did not become the largest party is missing the point. The important feature here is the significant movement for the party. The gains made by PVV are significant, and are ignored at great peril.

Taking this election as a complete win, and a sign that the anti-globalist, anti-Leftism sentiment would be a larger mistake than thinking Brexit was a fluke. Thinking anything other than that there is a long hard fought road ahead is what will lead to President Le Pen, and a toppling of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

There are also those on the Left lamenting that Prime Minister Rutte had to resort such gross tactics as defending his country’s sovereignty against Turkey, and promising a stronger immigration policy.[5] Some people call this listening to the concerns of the people, The Guardian calls it racism.

Those who are perturbed by the move right by Rutte to secure his base and maintain his party’s standing should get used to it, or make their peace with President Le Pen, and former Chancellor Merkel. Merkel has already pivoted to the right to secure her base ahead of the election.[6] Merkel and Rutte, while not solving the problem of far-right nationalism, have taken the first step: listening to the disenchanted. These are people who have been hurt and feel abandoned. When a voice comes to represent them, they cling to it. Sometimes that voice also brings along things they don’t want.[7] Wilders is a great example of this. While there are riots across Europe, other Western leaders are silent. While there is an enormous culture clash, anyone caught up in it who dares to speak is branded a racist. These people want their concerns heard. It is this recognition of their problems that drives the PVV. When Prime Minister Rutte pivoted to the right, and started making it clear that he was willing to listen, the wind fell from Wilders’ sail, though not entirely. This is the tactic that center-right candidates will need to win the next two elections: listening to the people. While The Guardian will lament this act of democracy, it is the only way to prevent the dangers that will accompany the far-right, like Wilders.[8]



[1] The elections are proportional, meaning the percent of the vote received for a party is the percent of seats in Parliament the party receives. There has never been a single party with a majority.
[2] #rolltide
[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_Dutch_general_election,_2017
[4] http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2017/01/vvd-leader-mark-rutte-says-zero-chance-of-coalition-with-geert-wilders/
[5] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/17/geert-wilders-racism-netherlands-far-right
[6] http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/dec/14/angela-merkel-turns-on-refugees-as-backlash-boosts/
[7] http://www.businessinsider.com/geert-wilders-pvv-manifesto-2017-2
There is truly terrifying authoritarian rhetoric in this extensive 1 page manifesto.
[8] Seriously, read the manifesto…

Kim's Last Stand

Kimberly Hopkin '19
Columns Editor

Before we start this conversation, let’s get on the same page. Nothing written in the article is the official opinion of the US Air Force or the Department of Defense; it’s my personal story. Which brings me to my other big caveat: this is my personal truth. I’ve listened to many women who have had similar experiences – and many who haven’t. I can’t speak for them, but I am going to speak up for myself. So, please don’t interrupt, because we need to talk. 

I recently went out downtown with two other women and a man that I respect highly. He was complaining about a trip to Australia where he learned that the bar backs collect drinks if they are sitting on the bar without anyone holding them– regardless of how much is left in the glass. He thought it was a clever ruse to force people to buy more drinks and said, “Can you believe it? The WHOLE night I had to have my hand on my drink and was watching it constantly. It was so annoying.” When we gave him inquisitive looks, he became defensive and looked at our drinks. All of us had our drinks in our hands in our direct eyesight. His sat on the bar about a foot and a half away in his periphery. After saying, “Well, it’s a crowded bar – that makes sense,” he dropped it. 

Later that night, the subject of “Angel Shots” came up. He thought it was the dumbest idea, and, when we disagreed, he did something that I encourage everyone to do: he asked questions. In the ensuing discussion, we realized that all three females had been “roofied” at one point in our lives. All variations on a similar theme: if someone hadn’t been looking out for us, something terrible could have happened. When he said, “So, you literally think about this the entire time you go out? Just to feel safe?” The look on his face made me hug him. 

There are realities that women face that men don’t often have the opportunity to think about. Some people insist that mansplaining doesn’t exist, or that the women are being too sensitive. To me, “mansplaining” feels like starting a road trip by setting your GPS, beginning your playlist, backing out of the driveway… and having the GPS interrupt your song continuously to tell you how to exit your own neighborhood… every day. True, it’s not as bad as genocide or hate crimes, but it is mildly infuriating when it happens regularly. Here at UVa Law, I’ve had men who have never joined the military tell me what it’s actually like in the Air Force. A guy I was dating told me he knew as much as I do about military discipline because he played sports in college, “and it’s the same thing.” In responding to a question a female officer asked me about my experience at the Air Force Academy, another male officer joined the conversation to insist that’s not what his wife said it was like. I use these examples because my intimate understanding of a topic, which was immediately obvious to both parties, was still not as important as their unproven opinions on the matter. It seems harmless until women start to believe it. 

When applying for law school, a Major pulled me into his office the night before my interview to chastise me for not sending him my personal statement to read (which in his mind meant no one had proofread it) and not having my application packet fully together. There was some truth in his assertion that I wasn’t ready yet; I was applying for a prestigious Air Force scholarship program and several law schools while trying to maintain my full workload as a finance officer. But then, he told me, and I quote, “Kim, you’re not going to get anywhere by batting your eyelashes and giggling.” I was working nine to ten hours every weekday and coming in on weekends to tie up loose ends. I had won awards at the Major Command level. I had multiple wing commanders tell me I was the best lieutenant they had, and I had won over the affection of my troops and motivated them to success through sequestration and a government shutdown. And I did all of that without flirting my way to the top. I didn’t need to – I’m a competent military officer. But in that moment, his comment had cast all of that aside. I wondered if I should even bother applying for the program because I felt irreversibly inadequate. Apparently, this was what three years of hard work looked like from the outside. I called my mom in tears on the way home and, knowing I would laugh, she quoted Legally Blonde: “If you’re going to let one lousy prick stand in your way, you’re not the person I thought you were.” By the way, when the rest of the JAG office celebrated my Funded Legal Education Program selection with me, the Major had “a meeting he couldn’t cancel.”

That’s one of many frustrating experiences that I’ve had on my way here. And I know it’s not every woman’s experience – I wish it wasn’t mine. I’m a bright, bubbly, optimistic woman who doesn’t like sharing these stories. Compared to the challenges impoverished women, transgender women, or women of color face, my complaints seem minimal. But I also feel like not sharing gives my male friends permission to say that everything is absolutely perfect for women in this country, and it isn’t

If your first reaction to this article is to remind me that women are being physically assaulted around the world and that I should get over it, then I’ll remind you that other women becoming victims of gender violence does not make what happened to me okay. Another woman telling you that she’s never experienced gender discrimination doesn’t mean my story no longer exists. Overcoming these cultural obstacles does not take away from anyone else’s success; this isn’t an attack on any man. The men in this article are not “misogynistic pigs.” They simply could benefit from a real conversation about how even some of the most confident, privileged, educated women are still marginalized in everyday situations. We could all benefit. So, let’s have a real conversation about implicit sexism and its impact. 



1 Angel Shots are part of a campaign to make women feel safer in public bars. If they are alone with a man, say on a first date, and feel unsafe, then they can order an “Angel Shot” from a bartender who will call a cab and make sure they get into it alone.
2 A two-ton truck running someone else over doesn’t mean it’s okay for me to slap you across the face.

Finding the Best of the Worst: Sharknado IV

Nick Rutigliano '18
Film Critic


Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens [hereinafter Sharknado IV] was an educational experience for me in several respects. First, I was surprised to learn that there even was a Sharknado IV. I remember watching the original Sharknado during undergrad with a few friends who had heard how perfectly bad the movie was. I just thought it was bad, so I chalked the experience up to a waste of ninety minutes of my life and hadn’t thought twice about the Sharknado franchise since. Second, I was surprised to learn that Sharknado IV is the only installment that meets the threshold requirements for my project. As a reminder, I can only watch and review movies streaming on Netflix with less than a 20% rating on RottenTomatoes.com. Not only did Sharknado I–III have scores greater than 20%, the original film actually obtained a respectable/incomprehensible score of 82% on the site. For reference, Ocean’s Eleven and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets also have scores of 82%. Third, I learned that I probably shouldn’t allow two weeks to lapse between watching a movie and writing a review for it. In between the viewing and typing this up I had legitimate law school stuff to attend to and a spring break. This probably means I am completely unqualified to write this review and should consider re-watching before proceeding, but I remember enough to know that Sharknado IV was a unique brand of terrible, and I refuse to subject myself to it for a second time. So, basically I am going to summarize what I remember and then close the Sharknado chapter of my life for good. 

Five years have elapsed since the last sharknado. A sharknado is, of course, a portmanteau of the words “shark” and “tornado” and describes a phenomenon whereby many sharks are entrapped in a vortex that leaves havoc and destruction in its wake. I will assume that this means that Sharknado IV takes place five years after the events of Sharknado III, but I didn’t actually see either Sharknado II or III so I cannot say so definitively. This may mean that I missed out on some plot points, including why Tara Reid’s character has been brought back from her (apparent) death as some type of half-robot, half-human, RoboCop-esque character. The film’s protagonist, Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering), and his family travel to Las Vegas for a vacation. A tech company, Astro-X, has developed technology that will supposedly prevent sharknados from forming, but predictably, this technology fails and Vegas is soon terrorized by a large sharknado. Many perish. It is gruesome and sad. 

As if a garden-variety tornado of sharks was not terrifying enough, new “’nados” are encountered throughout the film. A sharknado passes through an oil field to become an oilnado, which then ignites to become a firenado. There is also a hailnado, lavanado, and for some reason, a cownado. In a disastrous and unfortunate turn of events, a sharknado even passes through a nuclear power plant to become a . . .nukenado, naturally. Gilbert Gottfried supplies the commentary as a weatherman reporting on these events (seriously). Watching the characters fight and succumb to these sharknados is obviously over-the-top, but occasionally funny, as morbid as that sounds. I will not report on how or if the crew is able to eventually defeat the sharknados because no one likes spoilers. I also forgot how the movie ends. 

The best part of this film is the product placement for Xfinity’s new voice remote in the first thirty minutes of the film. That’s all I have. This may be because, as I said, I waited two weeks to actually write this review, or it could be because there were virtually no redeeming qualities to report on. I would guess the latter. 

I suppose if you liked the original Sharknado, and watched installments II and III for some reason, you may enjoy Sharknado IV. I did not fit either of those criteria, so I thought this was pretty awful. I should have known better. 

Tomatometer: 17%
Audience Score: 26%
Nick Score: 5%



In Support of Ed Gillespie

Baruch Nutovic '19
Guest Columnist

Virginia is at a crossroads. The state’s economy has been underperforming for years, its fiscal standing has been marred by budget shortfalls, and far too many of Virginia’s children attend substandard schools. This year’s Virginia gubernatorial race offers the Commonwealth a choice between political grandstanding from the extreme left and Ed Gillespie’s bold agenda for education reform, job growth, and restoring the Commonwealth’s finances. 

Amid the never-ending furor that is today’s national political scene, state and local politics are often overshadowed. Yet in many ways, state politics has a more direct impact on our daily lives through policies impacting job creation, education, and public safety. It’s vitally important that Virginia’s politics not be dragged into the morass of D.C. politics, with its endless partisan political games that distract from the real job of our elected officials: serving the people. 

Unfortunately, D.C. politics has infected the Democratic primary, which has devolved into a shameless pandering contest. Instead of putting forward a positive vision for our state’s future, former Congressman Tom Perriello and Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam are competing to prove they are more extreme than the other. In their efforts to sway the hardline left-wingers who have gained power in the Democratic Party’s primaries, they’ve been tripping over each other in their efforts to bash President Trump the most aggressively.

Both are trying to make the election about Trump. Northam said the campaign is a referendum on the President, and claimed, “I’ve been in this for ten years really fighting for progressive values in Virginia against the very things Mr. Trump and his administration stand for,” referring to his tenure as a state senator and lieutenant governor. Perriello has described himself as a “firewall” against the Trump Administration. His comparison of Trump’s election to “a political and constitutional September 11,” probably takes the cake for the most extreme comment yet. He subsequently had to apologize.

There’s a problem for Perriello and Northam: their records belie their claims to be consistent anti-Trump progressives. Perriello now claims to be an abortion advocate, but when he was in Congress, he voted against federal funding for abortions. Northam may claim to have championed progressive causes for ten years, but he has long had a reputation as a fiscal conservative, so much so that Republicans were once actively courting him to switch parties. By his own admission, he voted for George W. Bush twice.

Perriello and Northam are also trying to make political hay out of vocal opposition to Trump’s immigration policies. But not so long ago, both were immigration hawks. Perriello famously said—in a debate at the University of Virginia no less—that illegal immigrants should be made to start “self-deporting.” Northam’s electioneering now has him backing radical measures like drivers’ licenses for illegal immigrants, but just over a decade ago, he backed increased funding for local police to detain illegal immigrants. What lies behind much of the anti-Trump rhetoric is not principle, but political expediency of the kind that makes people cynical about politics. 

Ultimately, this election is not about Donald Trump. It’s about the issues that affect ordinary Virginians’ lives: issues like education, the economy, and public safety. Virginia does not need a governor focused on getting into juvenile political food fights or Twitter wars with the President. Virginia needs a governor focused on dealing with the issues that matter.

Ed Gillespie will be that kind of governor. He has been focused squarely on how to improve our state for years. For instance, last April, more than a year and a half before the election, he set up nine policy working groups to seek input from around the Commonwealth as he develops policy ideas. In a political world dominated by fluff and simplistic slogans, it’s refreshing to see a leader dedicate himself to substance. 

Gillespie’s focus on substance is badly needed because Virginia faces a number of pressing problems. In 2011, CNBC ranked Virginia the best state in the nation for business. By last year we had fallen all the way to 13th on the same metric. In the last three years, Virginia’s state business tax climate has dropped from 25th to 33rd in the nation according to the Tax Foundation. So it’s no surprise that in four of the last five years, Virginia’s economic growth has been anemic, at less than two percent. The state’s flagging economy, combined with government waste, has resulted in Virginia facing budget shortfalls of more than two billion dollars over the last two years. Far too many of Virginia’s kids from low-income backgrounds go to failing schools that lock them into poverty for life. 

Gillespie’s working groups are developing innovative approaches to fixing these and other vexing issues our state faces. He will help job creators by lowering taxes, getting rid of red tape, eliminating our chronic budget shortfalls, and making government more efficient. He has condemned the lack of educational opportunity in struggling areas of Virginia as “a failure at all levels of government,” and pledged greater school choice so that kids aren’t forced to attend bad schools just because of their zip code. 

Gillespie is passionate about expanding opportunity because of his own background as the son of immigrants. His father was a janitor, but through the opportunities America gave him, Ed rose to become a counselor to President Bush and a successful businessman. He wants all Virginians to have the chance to achieve their dreams, just like he did. Ed Gillespie is the kind of leader Virginia needs.  





Lile Moot Court Semi-Finals

Adrianna ScheerCook '17
Guest Columnist

On Saturday, February 27, four teams of third-year law students competed in the semifinal round of the 88th William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition. To get to this moment, the teams had advanced through three previous rounds of the Competition, which had taken place during their second year and the fall of their third year of law school. In each of the rounds, the students wrote a brief and then presented an oral argument before a panel of judges on a problem written by a fellow law student.

Third-year law student Kevin Palmer wrote the problem for the Semifinal Round of the Competition. Palmer has been responsible for writing all of the problems the competitors have briefed and argued throughout the course of the 88th William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition. In the Semifinal Round, the teams presented arguments on two issues related to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The problem was set in 2018 and asked the competitors to imagine that Congress had amended the Voting Rights Act “to prohibit voter discrimination on the basis of ‘belief’ in addition to race, color and language minority status.” Against this backdrop, the legislature of the fictional State of Hamilton enacted a gerrymandered redistricting plan in order to allow one party to have permanent control over the majority of its districts; however, the governor of Hamilton challenged the legislature’s redistricting plan as violating both the Constitution of the United States and the amended Voting Rights Act.

In writing the problem, Palmer focused on two legal hurdles that the governor of Hamilton would have to overcome in order for her claim to succeed, and these were the two issues the competitors addressed. The first issue the competitors argued related to standing. The question was whether the governor, who was a resident of a non-gerrymandered district, had standing to sue, or whether the Constitution imparts a cause of action for political gerrymandering. The second issue involved the meaning of the word “belief” in the amended Voting Rights Act. The competitors had to address the question of whether “belief” meant only religious belief or also encompassed political belief.The arguments took place before a panel of distinguished judges that was composed of Judge Raymond M. Kethledge, Chief Justice Donald W. Lemons, and Judge Amul Thapar. Judge Kethledge serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He was appointed to this judgeship in 2008. He received his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and clerked for Judge Ralph B. Guy, Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and Justice Anthony Kennedy of the United States Supreme Court. Chief Justice Lemons serves on the Supreme Court of Virginia. He was appointed to this judgeship in 2000, and he started his term as chief justice in 2015. Chief Justice Lemons is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, and he spent several years as an assistant dean and assistant professor at the Law School. Judge Thapar serves on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. He clerked for Judge S. Arthur Spiegel on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio and Judge Nathaniel R. Jones on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He also worked as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky and as an Assistant United States Attorney in both the Southern District of Ohio and the District of Columbia before assuming his current position. Judge Thapar has the distinction of being the first South Asian Article III judge.

The first set of arguments took place in the morning between Danielle Desaulniers and Adam Stempel, who represented the Appellant, and Harry Marino and Chet Otis, who represented the Appellee. After the judges’ deliberations, Danielle Desaulniers and Adam Stempel were named the vwinners. 

The second set of arguments took place in the afternoon between Alex Nemtzow and Zach Nemtzow, who represented the Appellant, and Tuba Ahmed and Kyle Cole, who represented the Appellee. Tuba Ahmed and Kyle Cole were named the winners of the afternoon arguments.

The two teams that won their semifinal arguments will advance to the Final Round of Competition, which will be held on March 25, 2017. Please join us on that date to see these competitors demonstrate their impressive oral advocacy skills in front of a distinguished panel of judges!



You’re in BLSA? But . . . You’re White

Jeremy Lofthouse '18
Guest Columnist

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked this question in the last year and a half. From job interviews to family get-togethers to casual conversations in ScoCo. I usually give a brief, but truthful response: “When I started Law School, I decided I wanted to invest myself in a group that was very different from my background.” Other questions follow. Invariably, I am asked whether I have been welcomed into BLSA (answer: YES!) and what I have learned (answer: MUCH!). If we ever meet, feel free to ask me these questions and more, but, for now, I’ll give you a teaser. 

Why Did I Join BLSA? (and why you should too!)

My motivation for joining BLSA was multifaceted, but it can probably be summed up by one fact about me: I’ve lived a fairly monochromatic life. I grew up in Utah, where Mormons make up around 60% of the population (I’m Mormon) and nearly 90% of the population is white (I’m white too, in case you missed that!). I understand the desire of many students to seek out groups in law school that share your background, values, and experiences. I knew I would be able to find strong, valuable groups here at UVa Law that reflected my background, but I’d spent my whole life so far within those groups. I decided to leave my comfort zone and enter a new world of experience. 

Lessons Learned from Being the White Guy in BLSA

Being the white guy in BLSA should not be considered abnormal for any reason besides statistics. Being black is clearly not a requirement for membership. I joined for the selfish reason listed above (i.e., diversifying MY life), but also because I believe in racial equality, and that your skin color should not determine the breadth and depth of your experience in life. While the other members of BLSA and I don’t share the same skin pigmentation, we share this value. That shouldn’t be a particularly shocking or difficult-to-maintain value in this world, hence why I don’t believe being a white man in BLSA should be considered abnormal. BLSA gives me a means to define and utilize this value. And I thank my friends for including me in the dialogue. 

So, here’s the lesson: people of different skin colors coming together to connect and work toward greater equality can (and should) be the new normal at UVa Law (and elsewhere!). One way to move in that direction? Join BLSA! Or APALSA! Or JLSA! Or LALO! Or LAMBDA! Or Women of Color! Or SALSA! Or FLF! The list could go on!

One last bit of advice. Don’t overwhelm yourself with feelings of inadequacy when it comes it your allyship. The fear of offending stops many from defending. I have had missteps (and you will too), but rely on your friends to offer you correction and guidance. In this endeavor of allyship, perfection is a direction, not a destination. 




Hardship is Relative

Julie Dostal '19
Guest Columnist

Each week there is some academic or extracurricular obligation that seems to challenge the notion of how much one human being can really do in a week’s time. Especially during 1L year, it seems rather impossible to stay afloat, much less get ahead. This point is made abundantly clear by how much law students enjoy talking about our overwhelming workloads, lack of free time, and ever-looming fears about finals. I am just as guilty of being consumed by my own “hardships” as the next law student, maybe more. My first two days of orientation I’m not sure I spoke more than five sentences without finishing at least one of them ending with “what the hell?” or “how am I going to do this?” Over the coming months, I lost perspective on what hard work and hardship actually meant. I thought spending hours at the library or a coffee shop poring over textbooks and frantically trying to keep up with typing my notes meant that I was not only working hard, but also that I was entitled to complain. 

I was wrong. One of my classmates wisely pointed out to me that hardship is relative. More so, it really is human nature to understand our societal position through a largely relative lens. At the law school, we are a population of highly intelligent and well-educated people. We are taught by some of the most accomplished and revered legal academics in the country, if not the world. Relative to the intellect prowess and work ethic of our peers, it is quite easy to feel constantly stressed, behind, or even inferior. While all of these thoughts and stress-induced conversation/rants seem justified, this justification only stems from a lack of relativity in our perspective or, to be more generous, a lack of consistent exposure to the realities of our privilege. 

As a graduate from the University of Virginia School of Law, (fingers crossed that I and the rest of planet Earth makes it to May 19th, 2019), we will be in the top two to three percent of the most educated Americans living in the United States. The first time I heard that statistic I felt shock, stemming purely from my own ignorance. In the U.S., only 43 percent of students earn a high school diploma. Further, 32 million Americans currently are functionally illiterate. 19 percent of American high school graduates fall within this category. One in seven adults falls into the category of “Prose Literacy” – defined as possessing no more than the most simple and concrete literacy skills. In some of the most rural and impoverished communities across the U.S., the illiteracy rate skyrockets past 30 percent. A large number of Americans feign the ability to read to obtain employment and continue the farce throughout their careers. 

On the topic of employment, the great privileges associated with a law degree from the University of Virginia only become more apparent. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average graduate from this Law School will make $80,000 more at an entry-level position than the median income of an American HOUSEHOLD. During the great financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent recession, when job opportunities in the legal market decreased, a law school graduate was still twice as likely to find employment than an individual with a Bachelor’s degree. Due to the generalized nature of the U.S. Census Bureau data, this statistic is also not wholly representative of the impact of a UVa Law education. 

All problems are relative. More importantly, the problems we face as UVa Law students are temporary. Very few people remember the first cold calls of fall semester. There are only so many assignments listed on our syllabi. Finals period ends. The stresses of 1L fade by 2L and are (hopefully) a distant memory by 3L. What has a much greater longevity, by far, is the worth of a UVa Law education. We will never live in fear of losing our jobs because we have trouble reading complex or even simplemaintain a better chance of employment at a relatively high-earning position than even a college graduate. Concerns of everyday Americans about buying back to school clothes for their children or putting dinner on the table do not seem to apply to us anymore. In short, it may be helpful to think of law school as one great tort. It may inflict bodily injury, most likely from having to get a higher prescription for your glasses, or the more likely scenario of pain and suffering. Either way, the payout from attending UVa is not a single recovery. The opportunities and station that we achieve when we graduate from this school far out way the pain of even journal tryouts, from which I procrastinated to write this article. 



1   https://www.census.gov/newsroom/cspan/educ/educ_attain_slides.pdf
2   https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/10/08/us-adults-rank-below-average-global-survey-basic-education-skills
3   https://www.census.gov/newsroom/cspan/educ/educ_attain_slides.pdf
4  https://www.census.gov/newsroom/cspan/educ/educ_attain_slides.pdf

A Farewell Address

A.J. Collins '17
Outgoing SBA President

I’ve been thinking for a while now what I wanted to say in this address. Many other SBA Presidents use this space to discuss what they’ve accomplished during their term. But as that would be redundant to the State of the School Address, I figured I would do something else.

I see a lot of parallels between my election and Trump’s (procedurally, not substantively). You see, I was elected in a narrow, bitter election by a quirk of the electoral system my opponents underestimated. I was considered to be more of an outsider with a new “energy” to bring to the position.

A.J. Collins at the 2016 SBA Debates. Photo courtesy David Markoff. 

A.J. Collins at the 2016 SBA Debates. Photo courtesy David Markoff. 

Having won by one vote, the post-election fallout weighed on me heavily. I thought I had to please every person who voted for me because I didn’t want them to regret their choice. And if they regretted their choice, it felt like I retroactively lost.

So I set out to do the thing I thought was most necessary to achieve student progress. I had to befriend people that, just a few weeks prior, were throwing sometimes heinous accusations my way. Part of this was a necessity – Sami, Laura, and Will were not supporters of mine in the election – but part of it was because I was committed to not let division stand in the way of success.

As the year progressed, I faced a number of issues that I think are difficult and complicated. What is the appropriate balance between free speech and unity? How do you balance the men who have sex with men (MSM) ban on blood with a need for service? I wanted to serve as a moderate voice in each of these deliberations – reprimand, not expel; pause, but proceed.

Unsurprisingly, whenever I made these tough decisions, I had slanderous and hate-filled things thrown my way – you should’ve seen my inbox! But I told students I wanted to meet in person, and most of them just brushed it off. I think as law students and future lawyers, we should recognize that communication in the face of complication is our job; we cannot hold court from a keyboard.

I bring my experience forward for the purpose of making a greater point. At UVa, we sometimes use the term “collegiality” to gloss over the fact that we are afraid of confrontation. We ironically use “inclusive” as a way to ignore other opinions. Yet in doing so, we shrug off our burden as advocates by excluding those with whom we are uncomfortable and divergent.

There is an odd contrast, in the wake of the 2016 Presidential election, between having two friends who refuse to speak to each other over a social media post and its fallout and a Muslim refugee and Trump supporter remaining incredibly close friends. Given the choice between these two UVa’s, I choose the latter – wouldn’t we all? But often we simply neglect to do that. In this respect, I think it is important that we remember that it is often necessary to sacrifice our own expression, our own platform, and our own comfort for the sake of ensuring the best outcomes, whether it be friendships or programs.

The degree to which individuals have empathy certainly varies. But, along with any degree of empathy should come sacrifice. It often took a great deal of sacrifice to remain stoic in conversations because I knew that being SBA President often came with the toll of surrendering certain personal opinions in order to maintain a neutral SBA. And it too takes a great deal of sacrifice to sit down face-to-face with people who call you a homophobe, ableist, and sexist.

I do not exempt the faculty and administration from my premise here. Sacrifice, at times, might require standing up to Main Grounds at risk of discord to ensure the best interests of your students. While we are part of a greater Academical Village, the job of leaders is to serve those whom they lead. 

A favorite quote of mine is that we “often judge others by their worst examples and ourselves by our best intentions.” Perhaps that speaks to sacrifice. Perhaps it speaks to empathy. I do not know. But I think this community often sorely lacks this perspective in its workings with others. In all fairness, most of humanity does too, but there is no reason we cannot be a trailblazer in this regard.

I wish everyone could serve as SBA President for one day. The dissonant pressures between competing groups and interests is perhaps the best way to build empathy, the best catalyst for sacrifice. It’s also the best real world training to be an associate, caught between your clients, the students, and your partners the administration.

At the end of it all, I say this: find a way to build others up, especially those with whom you disagree.

I conclude by wishing Steven the best of luck in his role, and I hope he finds it as significant and impactful as I did. To Toccara and Frances, you are both wonderful people and I’m thrilled to see the changes you’ll make for this school over this year and the one following it.

And to Sami, Will and Laura (well, you’re staying on for a second term, but), I say – we made it! I’m so glad for what we accomplished together this year and honestly I think we had a blast while doing it. Let’s keep #SnacksBeerandArtsandCrafts slash #FiftyShadesofWill slash #ThatOneArabicWordWeCouldNotTranslate alive. Thanks for being a great team.

As they say, mic drop. A.J. out.



Response to John Kurtz

Muskan Mumtaz ’19
Guest Columnist

Two weeks ago, John Kurtz defended Trump’s Muslim Ban in his piece “Three Fictions About Trump’s Immigration Order.” I argue that Trump’s executive order is in fact discriminatory against Muslims, and that comparing this ban with Obama’s anti-terror efforts is like comparing a hammer with a scalpel.


Trump’s Executive Order is a Muslim Ban


            Kurtz argues that the executive order is not a Muslim ban because because the act “does not come even close to preventing all Muslims from entering the United States.” It is a well established principle of constitutional law that an equal protection violation does not need to extend to an entire group of people. That has never been the equal protection standard. If, for example, a government-run national park decided it wanted to cap how many African Americans it let in, that would be a clear equal protection violation. If a park ranger denied one African American entry, and then allowed five African Americans in, that does not change the fact that the first African American was subjected to discrimination. The same goes for this ban. The language and intent of the ban indicate that Muslims are the targeted group of this act.


            Kurtz also argues that the ban is based on national origin and not religious identity. This is false. Trump has made clear that Christian refugees from Syria are welcome, while Muslim refugees are not.[1] The prioritization of one group of Syrians over another group based solely on their religious beliefs makes clear that this ban is about religion, not national identity. Furthermore, Trump and the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel also released a statement that Jews from the banned countries are exempt from the ban.[2] So Yemeni Jews are allowed in, but Yemeni Muslims are not. The baseline here is not how many Muslims are still allowed, but how Muslims immigrants are being treated compared to non-Muslim immigrants.


            Finally, Trump made his intentions clear time and time again throughout his campaign as he called for a “complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”[3] You can only argue that this act is facially neutral to a certain point--and that point is Trump’s statements and tweets calling for a ban based on religious identity. Even Giuliani has gone on record and said that “President Trump wanted a ‘Muslim ban’ and requested he assemble a commission to show him “the right way to do it legally.”[4] Instead of recognizing the act for what it is and what is was promised to be, my fellow Americans are going to great lengths to justify a blatantly un-American, discriminatory act that will surely be remembered as a dark moment in our history.




These restrictions on immigration are unprecedented and unconstitutional


            Kurtz also argues that Obama’s immigration policies set the precedent for Trump’s Muslim ban. What we have here is the difference between a hammer and a scalpel. Obama did call for a slowing down of immigrants from Iraq and Iran in response to a discrete set of episodes, but he never called for a ban on a specific religious group nor did he prioritize refugees based on their religion. The 9th Circuit Court halted Trump’s ban for that very reason--the order is not a response to acts, and it has been implemented with no ground in facts.


            The difference between Obama’s policies and Trump’s policy is not a difference in degree, but a difference in kind. Trump is calling for an absolute ban on refugees who have been subject to years of vetting, and in the wake of the order, even Muslim green card holders were denied entry into the U.S. Furthermore, the American Embassy in India denied Muslim Indian athletes visas to attend a tournament, citing “current policies.”[5] While Obama’s policy played out by halting and then slowing down immigration based on national origin from Iraq and Iran, Trump’s policies are affecting Muslims worldwide—including green card holders who have lived in the U.S. for years. We cannot equate the two.


            Although I am limiting my discussion of executive order to the legal aspects here, I am more than happy to discuss the act in the context of America-Middle East relations and how it plays into the age old Orientalist narratives of other-ing, war mongering, and xenophobia. Feel free to email me at mm7yy@virginia.edu.



[2] http://mondoweiss.net/2017/02/executive-christians-welcomed/

[3] http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/wild-donald-trump-quotes/3/


[5] https://www.facebook.com/fahadshah.pz/posts/10209961632216028?pnref=story

“Empowered 55” runs contrary to constitutional purpose

"Empowered 55" is a proposed amendment to the Honor Committee Constitution that would lower the threshold required to make future amendments to the Honor Constitution from 60% to 55%. It has been billed as a means to accomplish previously unsuccessful change to a multi-sanction system, but we believe that this amendment is shortsighted and imperils the integrity of the Honor Constitution.


In 2005, the Consensus Clause[1] amendment to the Honor Constitution narrowly failed to pass ratification by the student body, garnering 59.5% of the popular vote. This result was even more successful than last year’s multi-sanction vote of 58.9%[2]. The Consensus Clause would have required a majority of the entire student body[3] to vote in favor of constitutional changes affecting sanctioning. This would have effectively locked the single sanction in stone, as the largest voter turnout in recent history[4] failed to even reach 41% (because not all authors uniformly support the single sanction, we will not comment on the merits of the Consensus Clause).


Why does a failed amendment in 2005 matter in 2017? If "Empowered 55" had been the status quo in 2005, a multi-sanction system would now be a practical impossibility, despite being increasingly popular within the student body. The "Empowered 55" amendment seeks to align the Constitution with the popular will of a small minority of students, but its nature is dangerously misguided in not accounting potential impact on the system in the long term. As law students, we know the purpose of designating a document a “Constitution” is so that it may serve as “a superior, paramount law, unchangeable by ordinary means.”[5] This amendment threatens to render our Constitution’s designation obsolete. From the viewpoint of constitutional construction, a Constitution is meant to preserve a small subset of fundamental rights and principles above other mere laws. While some constitutional scholars recognize the inherent tension between countermajoritarian constitutionalism and populist democracy (see, e.g., Richard Albert, Constitutional Handcuffs, 42 Az. St. L.J. 663, 664 (2010)), a balance must be struck to avoid “frequent reference[s] of constitutional questions to the decision of the whole society”[6] driven by populist passion over reason and understanding.[7]


While 5% may seem like a minimal change at first, it is a definitive step towards delegitimizing Honor. The current 60% threshold is already lower than comparative institutions on campus—UJC requires two-thirds supermajority to ratify an amendment—and lowering it further risks repeatedly disenfranchising ideological minorities in the face of a smaller majority, separated by a large swath of the indifferent. Our concept of democracy must not fail to recognize and protect minorities in decision-making. The sponsors cite “egalitarian[ism]” as a value and “injustice” as something to eschew, but isn’t it true that this amendment allows a smaller majority to impose their will?


In addition to stripping minority protections, “Empowered 55” will lead to destabilization. Inviting continual change to a Constitution raises grave issues of notice (both legal and conceptual) and reliance, eroding the function and value of Honor. Focusing on amendments, what is to stop future student bodies from resetting the minimum to a simple majority? A plurality? Removing the “10% of all students” floor? Every decision students make in reliance on a document that will become the “so-called Constitution” will be in question. Why would anyone trust the current consequences in the face of unending change? This does not result in a “health[y] and…robust” system. It erodes it away to nothing more than “cavalier language.”


Using the current supermajority to moderately entrench formal amendment procedures does not immunize Honor from change. The data do not support this contention. Out of the eight referenda proposed since 2010, six have been ratified by the student body (2010,[8] 2011,[9] 2013,[10] two in 2015,[11] and 2016[12]). The argument that one or more of these amendments were not controversial does nothing to delegitimize their passage.


A vote for “Empowered 55” signals that we no longer value the governance of our system. A vote for “Empowered 55” signals that we no longer value Honor.


No matter your opinion, we encourage law students to exercise their right to be heard by voting at www.uvavote.com no later than Thursday, February 23, at 4:00PM.


Austin Sim, LAW ‘17, MED ‘17, Vice Chair for Hearings, Honor Committee, 2016-Present

Maggie Rowe, LAW ‘18, Law Representative, Honor Committee, 2016-Present

Owen Gallogly, LAW ‘19, CLAS ’13, Honor Support Officer 2019-2013, 2016-Present

Lindsay Fisher, LAW ’19, Honor Support Officer, 2016-Present

Thomas Howard, LAW ‘19, EDUC ‘14, CLAS ’13, Honor Support Officer, 2009-2013, 2016-Present

Humza Salim, LAW ’17, Honor Support Officer, 2014-Present

James Billard, LAW ’17, Honor Support Officer, 2014-Present


[1] http://www.virginia.edu/honor/history/

[2] https://www.bigpulse.com/pollresults?code=5383cNu78ZKBwDVSWikBzcwC

[3] http://www.cavalierdaily.com/article/2005/02/a-wise-consensus

[4] https://issuu.com/cavalierdaily/docs/cavalierdaily_030413

[5] https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/5/137/case.html

[6] http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed49.asp

[7] http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/163223

[8] http://www.cavalierdaily.com/article/2010/03/university-elects-honor-representatives

[9] http://www.cavalierdaily.com/article/2011/03/referenda-gain-approval

[10] https://issuu.com/cavalierdaily/docs/cavalierdaily_030413

[11] https://www.bigpulse.com/pollresults?code=4547ryRNS9LgXZJfdJnhUKE2

[12] https://www.bigpulse.com/pollresults?code=5383cNu78ZKBwDVSWikBzcwC

Finances After Law School

Kimberly Hopkin ’19
Staff Columnist

It’s officially “that time” again. That time when you look at your bank account as the end of the month approaches and wonder, “Wait, I spent how much on grapefruit scented candles this month?!” If you know exactly what I’m talking about, you are not alone; however, you need to take advantage of our in-house UVa Law Financial Counseling Services. Even if you only want a little financial tune-up, this is your sign. Since we’re all busy, I thought I would save us some time by writing out the excuses in your head, and then explaining why they don’t make sense. 

“But I don’t accept financial aid from UVa Law, so I can’t receive counseling from the Office of Financial Aid.”

This is less of an excuse and more of a false statement. Every single student here at UVa Law can take advantage of the extensive group and one-on-one counseling opportunities offered regardless of who pays your tuition or how. Actually, even that statement isn’t broad enough because, after graduation, they offer lifetime counseling services for graduates of UVa Law, too. You don’t need loans, scholarships, or financial aid to qualify. 

“I’m not necessarily struggling; I just have issues predicting and controlling how much I spend.”

You need a budget, but that’s okay because everyone needs a budget. When you are gaining control over your resources, it may feel like you’re making big, sweeping changes. Usually, that’s because you are changing how you think about money and spending. Once you set a budget and learn to stick to it, it will feel as natural as your current spending habits. 

If you’ve never had a budget before, this transition period might feel uncomfortable. Many people feel like planning and executing a budget makes them feel anxious and worried. The truth is, they are anxious and worried because they don’t know about their financial health. When you do know the state of your finances, you don’t have to worry. Building a budget and sticking to it makes personal finances less stressful. 

 “I missed the last ‘Real World Finances’ series, and those topics seemed so broad that I don’t think I’ll benefit. I need help just budgeting week to week – forget about trying to buy a house or invest.” 

Well, there’s another ‘Real World Finances’ series coming up. And you’re in luck, because UVa Law offers one of the most extensive individualized, financial counseling services at any law school. They can teach you different budgeting techniques – including the acclaimed “envelope method” – and give you tips for how to stay on budget throughout the year. There are over 100 years of financial counseling service sitting at our fingertips – why would you not take advantage of that?

“Okay, I have a budget for the school year, so I don’t think I’ll need broad generalized help budgeting… but I do have a summer internship coming up, how do I pay for that?”

Our counselors have not only been working in personal finances for a long time, they have also been helping law students for a long time. For popular markets, they can tell you what to expect for rent and bills just by knowing the zip code you plan to work in. Do yourself a favor and book an appointment. At the very least, it’ll save you time looking it up yourself. 

“Look, between you and me, I’ve dug myself into a hole. It’s embarrassing how much debt I’m in and I think people who work in finance will judge me.”

Other people might judge you, but not this office. This team prides itself on advocating for each and every person sitting across the desk from them. The worst you’ll get is some tough love. Asking for help can be hard, but no one needs to know why you are meeting with the Financial Aid Team. Plus, all information is kept confidential. 

Ask yourself which is easier: struggling financially while constantly worrying or asking a paid, caring professional to guide you to financial security. That’s what I thought. 

“I don’t know how to reach out to the team to get help.” 

Email lawfinaid@virginia.edu with dates and times that work for you. It’s that easy. 



Farewell from the Editor

Alex Haden '17

I am still a little shocked that I am writing this goodbye column. The Virginia Law Weekly has been a part of my life here at UVa Law practically since day 1, and it is crazy to me that this issue will be my last as Editor-In-Chief. One of the most important functions that the newspaper serves, in my opinion, is a historical record of UVa Law; to that end, I’d like to use this piece as a means of reflection on my small window of time in the length of this publication, and also as a way to say thank you to those who have made this paper a reality.

On September 17th, 2014, I received an email from Sarah Brown, the then-Editor-in-Chief of the Virginia Law Weekly. Apparently, the Law Weekly was one of the 500 clubs that I had signed up for at the Activities Fair. The email invited me to an open house event in the newspaper’s office, with pizza and soda. A friend of mine from my section got the same email, and together, we convinced ourselves to gather up the courage and hunt through Slaughter to try to find Room 279.

My undergraduate student newspaper was, as some people lovingly called it, “really fucking intense.” Walking up those steps to Slaughter, I pictured dozens of people running around a crowded office, frantically editing, writing, printing, reviewing, and goodness knows what else. I was a little surprised to open the door and find a room with four or five people eating pizza, listening to Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse,” and laughing at a Buzzfeed article.

This was the opposite of what I expected. The first month of law school is intense, rough, hard, and stressful, but these people were having fun. They were laughing and smiling, which I hadn’t done for the last month because Civil Procedure. They were warm and friendly and laid-back. I was instantly hooked. There were a couple of other 1Ls there, who had the same look on their faces that I did: a look that said “What is going on here?”

And thus, the Monday night ritual began. Every week, we’d head up to the office, grab a bunch of pizza, and edit article after article. Slowly and gradually, we absorbed knowledge from the 3Ls: which professors to take, what the job market was like, and which martini at Sedona is the best. In September, I wrote my first ever article. When the issue came out, I took four copies of the paper from the Library, shared it on Facebook, and sent it to my mom, who responded by asking, “Why did you write about throwing up?”

In October, I became the News Editor, which essentially meant that I sat in on SBA meetings and took notes on what happened. As evidence that I had literally no clue what was happening, I was unaware that you had to be elected to be able to vote on SBA; I therefore raised my hand to vote for some budget appropriation, causing then-President Alex Matthews to stare at me in confusion for a few seconds. Ironically, I don’t think I wrote a single news piece that entire semester, so I’d call my tenure as a News Editor a resounding success.

I would be remiss not to give thanks to the people who have made my time on this paper such a wonderful experience. At the outset, I want to thank all of the Law Weekly staff members who have worked tirelessly to produce a newspaper every week; similarly, anyone who has ever written an article or column has my thanks as well. I also wanted to give a few special shout-outs for some people who have guided me along the way.

I gained an appreciation for the meaning of teamwork when I became an Executive Editor in 2015. Week after week, I worked very closely with then-EIC, Christina Albertson, as she began a revitalization of the paper. Her dream for the paper was to make it a more reputable and interesting news source, while still maintaining its roots as a comedic, tongue-in-cheek publication. That dream, while easily stated, required an extraordinary amount of work on her part—and, of course, help from a dedicated staff—in revamping our columns, focusing our news stories, and reestablishing the paper’s reputation in our community. As I noted in my first column as Editor-in-Chief, much of what the paper is today comes from the changes and effort that Christina made to the paper, and I hope that we have properly enshrined that fact in our editions.

When I became Editor-in-Chief, the Executive Editor-EIC relationship stayed equally important, and I was lucky enough to be joined by Jenna Goldman as EE. While all members of the paper have worked exceedingly hard to make our publication a success, Jenna has gone above and beyond her call of duty. The pieces she solicited, the hard-hitting articles she crafted, and the long hours she put into editing the paper have all made producing a weekly paper a far easier task than I imagined. As our next Editor-in-Chief, I have no doubt that Jenna will continue to improve this paper and continue the success that it has achieved already.

I also want to thank a certain member of the faculty who has provided me with good advice and perspective about many things, including this paper. I remember telling this faculty member about a prospective controversial article, and vehemently defending my First Amendment right to publish it. I was wisely advised that there is a difference between “I can publish it” and “I should publish it.” For that and other pieces of advice, I am very grateful.

Last, but certainly not least, I have to thank the other five Law Weekly staff members in the Class of 2017: Ashley Angelotti, David Markoff, Caroline Catchpole, Ryan Caira, and Carly Coleman. From that first day in 2014 where we stepped into the office together, we became a wonderful little family. We have been through more crazy news stories, columns, journalistic judgment calls, and—of course—cartoons than any of us could have anticipated, but we made it through, and I am so lucky to have made it through with you. Not only did you all make publication of the Virginia Law Weekly possible, you made it a wonderful experience for me with your friendship.

And finally, thank you to all of the readers of the paper. Your readership gives our publication meaning, and I am so grateful to have been a part of that meaning for my time at UVa Law.



Response: Myths and Misdirections

David Markoff '17
Technology Editor

Last week John Kurtz wrote an article attempting to dispel some “myths” he perceived were being spread around social media regarding the new administration’s “Muslim Ban.” Mr. Kurtz holds himself to be above the obnoxious poster and misleading hashtaggers and hopes to help us overcome our polarization by addressing supposed fictions. Yet, Mr. Kurtz’s article appears less like mythbusting and more like the sharing of the latest Tomi Lahren video, filled with its own myths and misdirections.

Trump’s Executive Order is a Muslim Ban

A favorite argument of the ban’s defenders is that it can’t possibly be a Muslim ban because it only covers twelve percent of the global Muslim population. There is no disputing that the ban does not cover the majority of the Muslim world, but that is irrelevant! The focus should not be on the global Muslim population, but on the portion that is actively seeking to come to the United States. When we begin to look at the seven nations as a proportion of Muslims actually seeking to come to the United States, the numbers are drastically different. For example, in 2016 there were 38,901 Muslim refugees admitted to the United States. Out of those, more than half come from just two nations: Syria and Somalia, which are both on the list. Another twenty percent came from Iraq, also on the list. Add in the other countries on the list, and we are looking at a ban that applies to eighty to ninety percent of the Muslim population that seeks to come to America as refugees.  The numbers are not as drastic when it comes to other form of visits and immigration. However, the ban narrows in on the countries that have large numbers of people coming to the United States. There are about twice as many grants of lawful permanent resident status to Iraqis than to the citizens of Indonesia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon combined. So, no Mr. Kurtz, if the President wanted to ban Muslims he would start with the seven countries listed, and not Indonesia. 

Mr. Kurtz asserts the ban is clearly motivated by national security concerns. Clear to whom? Not to Mr. Kurtz who says “[t]here is, however, good reason for many Americans to doubt the sincerity of the president’s motivations in signing this order,” nor to me. Both the executive order and Mr. Kurtz cite the tragic events of 9/11, carried out by Saudi, U.A.E., Egyptian, and Lebanese nationals (all not on the list) coordinated largely out of Afghanistan, (also not on the list). Perhaps, the ban is better justified by the Boston Bombings carried out by brothers of Chechen descent or the San Bernardino shooters with ties to Pakistan, also not on the list. Perhaps, justification could be found in Bowling Green or Atlanta, because why not make up the attacks as well? Even if there were an attack by a refugee from one of the listed nations (there hasn’t been), and we ignore how absurd it is to judge a whole group of people, including some of our classmates and their families, based on the action of individuals, it is still unclear whether this ban improves national security. In fact, this ban may do more harm to our national security than any benefit it may hypothetically provide. The ban is possibly one of the best recruitment tools the US has given ISIS since the invasion of Iraq. Further, the ban hinders our ability to prevent attacks because gathering intelligence from allies and people on the ground will become more difficult as the ban undermines what goodwill we have in the region, as well as one of the best promises we can make to allies: that they will be able to come to America.

When a ban, with what appears to be minimal at best security justifications, affects the majority of Muslim refugees seeking to enter our nation, when the President promised a ban on Muslims during his campaign, when the President’s advisors say they sought to find a legal way to have a ban, and when the President says in the order that the government will, in the future, favor religious minorities and then the next day says that he wants to favor Christians, let us call the ban what it is, a Muslim ban. The fact that it is temporary is no defense; we all know that temporary things can easily become permanent when it comes to the government. 

These restrictions on immigration are unprecedented.

I agree with Mr. Kurtz that the United States is no stranger to turning away refugees in need, like when it sent a ship full of Jewish refugees back to Europe where many would later perish at the death camps. However, Mr. Kurtz does not argue in such negative light but instead yells “But Bush; But Obama!” in hopes to distract us from the real issue, and in doing so, takes great liberty with the accuracy of his statements. 

Mr. Kurtz argues, “If the data show any one immigration policy to be a historical aberration, it is President Obama’s expansion of refugee admissions in 2016.” However, Mr. Kurtz’s own source, the Migration Policy Institute, states that the peak of refugee immigration was in 1993, when the U.S. allowed over 140,000 refugees into the nation. Further, Mr. Kurtz likens the new administration’s action with that of Obama. In doing so, Mr. Kurtz omits three key piece of information detrimental to his argument. First, Obama was responding to evidence of a direct threat, which the current government has admitted in court that it does not have.  Additionally, Obama’s actions were far more limited, neither voiding multiple types of visas already issued, preventing legal residents from returning home, nor actually banning anyone from filing and proceeding with the application process. Instead, as Mr. Kurtz correctly notes, Obama’s action only suspended visa waivers, meaning that people could no longer show up and expect to be rapidly admitted in the way an American citizen is when they visit Canada or the U.K. Additionally, and unlike the new administration, Obama’s action was a response to Congressional pressure and actions, not just a solo action of the executive branch.

So, while there is truth to the argument that these restrictions are not unprecedented, instead of using it to justify the ban or distract us from the issue by inaccurately focusing on past, we should learn from our nation’s mistakes and strive to make America greater than it already is.

Trump’s executive order is clearly unconstitutional.

There is one point on which I truly agree with Mr. Kurtz, the ban is not clearly unconstitutional. Constitutionality will not be clear until a final ruling is made and both sides either exhaust their appeals or simply concede. However, Mr. Kurtz’s argument as to why the order is not clearly unconstitutional seems to conveniently skim over a number of arguments and evidence that may weigh against the administration. Neither Mr. Kurtz nor I are constitutional law scholars, so I will be brief, as this discussion is much better had with any of the numerous experts that reside within the halls of our school. I will, however, note that Mr. Kurtz seems to completely ignore the possibility that a court may look at the motivations behind facially neutral actions (Yick Wo v. Hopkins 118 U.S. 356 (1886); Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993)). The statements of the President, his aides, and the orders surprisingly large effect on Muslim immigration, which I mentioned earlier, will give the courts plenty of reasons to look at the order through a religious lens. Even if the courts look only at national origin, there is plenty to separate this from Obama’s action. Mr. Kurtz would have you believe that “[e]ither the Obama and Trump administrations are both breaking the law, or the Obama-era statute, which President Trump’s order explicitly invokes, has amended the 1965 statute to allow the president to implement immigration restrictions that discriminate based on nationality in the interests of national security.” However, Obama’s order was in response to a direct and concrete threat, which would add to the strength of the government’s interest. Additionally, as both Mr. Kurtz and I have already mentioned, Obama’s action was far more narrowly tailored in the nations and people it affected. As a result, it is easily conceivable the Obama’s action is legal while the New Administration’s is not. All of this does not even begin to touch on the potential Due Process concerns that arise when visas and green cards are stripped away from people. Yet I admit that I am no expert in constitutional law and that Mr. Kurtz is right that it is unclear whether a court will find this order unconstitutional. 

I also agree with Mr. Kurtz that there is cause for concern about this executive order. However, it should not be limited to how green card holders were treated. It is concerning that our friends, colleagues, and classmates no longer feel comfortable visiting their families for fear that they may suddenly be banned from returning. It is concerning that this order may alienate our allies and embolden our enemies. It is concerning that the new administration seems so willing to turn its back on American values, despite little to no evidence of a threat. 

I am, however, glad that this great nation refuses to take this lying down. I was glad to see thousands rush to the defense of others and to see some of our alumni work tirelessly as pro bono lawyers for those affected. I am grateful that people with attitudes like those of the lawyers and protesters at the airports were in charge of this nation when my family came, and were welcomed here from a nation capable of annihilating the United States with the push of a button.  


Pew Research Center, U.S. admits record number of Muslim refugees in 2016 (Oct. 5, 2016), http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/10/05/u-s-admits-record-number-of-muslim-refugees-in-2016.
2Dept. of Homeland Sec., Table 3. Persons Obtaining Lawful Permanent Resident Status By Region And Country Of Birth: Fiscal Years 2013 To 2015 https://www.dhs.gov/immigration-statistics/yearbook/2015/table3
3CNN, Trump ban is boon for ISIS recruitment, former jihadists and experts say, (Jan. 31, 2017) http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/30/politics/trump-ban-boosts-isis-recruitment/.  
4New York Time, Immigration Ban Is Unlikely to Reduce Terrorist Threat, Experts Say, (Jan. 27 2017) https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/28/us/politics/a-sweeping-order-unlikely-to-reduce-terrorist-threat.html. 
5Washington Post, Trump asked for a ‘Muslim ban,’ Giuliani says — and ordered a commission to do it ‘legally’ (Jan, 29, 2017) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/01/29/trump-asked-for-a-muslim-ban-giuliani-says-and-ordered-a-commission-to-do-it-legally/; NPR, Christian Leaders Question Trump’s Promise To Favor Christian Refugees (Jan. 31, 2017) http://www.npr.org/2017/01/30/512451711/christian-leaders-question-trumps-promise-to-favor-christian-refugees. 
6USHMM, The Voyage of the St. Louis, https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005267
7Washington Post, Trump’s facile claim that his refugee policy is similar to Obama’s in 2011(Jan. 29, 2017)https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/01/29/trumps-facile-claim-that-his-refugee-policy-is-similar-to-obama-in-2011/ .

Three Fictions About Trump's Immigration Order

John Kurtz '19
Guest Columnist

Over the past two weeks, America has been buzzing with discussion about a controversial executive order signed by President Trump. The order, issued on January 27, places an indefinite ban on the admission of Syrian refugees into the United States and temporarily suspends entry by nationals of seven countries: Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The travel ban imposed on citizens of these nations is to last for 90 days while the Trump administration develops protocols for heightened vetting.

Since the order was signed, the news media has dedicated a significant amount of time and energy to discussing the motivations, implications, and constitutionality of the order. Social media is no longer a safe space to look at videos of cute puppies and evil Kermit memes during a five-minute study break. Instead, everyone has seemingly become an expert in political science and constitutional law overnight, writing obnoxiously long political posts accompanied by misleading hashtags. But if one good thing has come from all of this, it is that America has been presented with a golden opportunity to learn a valuable lesson: you cannot believe everything you read on Facebook. 

While social media has its benefits, one significant drawback is that misinformation can spread much faster than it ever could when the news was broadcast exclusively by the big three television networks. The reaction to President Trump’s executive order has been no exception. The United States has become extremely polarized over the past several years, thanks in no small part to the divisive rhetoric of our current president. These wounds will never begin to heal, however, if we fall prey to the fictions being put forward about President Trump’s executive order. Presented below are three of the most prominent.


Trump’s executive order is a Muslim ban.

While the seven countries covered by the order have majority-Muslim populations, this order does not come even close to preventing all Muslims from entering the United States. According to the Pew Research Center, there are 49 countries in the world with majority-Muslim populations, and the seven countries listed in the executive order have only about twelve percent of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Turkey are all excluded from the order. If President Trump truly wanted to keep Muslims from entering the United States, he should have started with Indonesia, which has as many Muslims as the seven countries covered by the order combined. Furthermore, this order prohibits people of all religions who are citizens of these seven countries from entering the United States, including Christians and Yazidis. The test for entry is not religious, but one of national origin.

The inclusion of these seven countries is quite clearly motivated by national security concerns. The seven countries listed have been designated as countries of concern by both the Obama and Trump administrations. Each of these nations has been war-torn or compromised by the threat of violent jihadism or has a national government hostile to the United States. Invoking the memory of 9/11, the executive order states that it seeks to prevent this threat from reaching the shores of the United States. ISIS is the largest and wealthiest terrorist organization the world has ever seen, and the gravity of the jihadist threat has already been felt in major Western cities like Brussels and Paris. It should come as no surprise that a Republican president who campaigned on a promise of protecting Americans from the jihadist threat would sign an executive order to do just that. 

There is, however, good reason for many Americans to doubt the sincerity of the president’s motivations in signing this order. During the campaign season, then-candidate Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” It is no surprise that many Americans view this executive order as a Muslim Ban, but the facts simply do not support that belief. President Trump’s executive order preventing immigration from these majority-Muslim countries is no more Islamophobic than President Obama’s routine drone strikes on majority-Muslim countries. Both policies were designed to prevent the spread of jihadist extremism, not to discriminate against all Muslims. If President Trump were to implement a policy that banned all Muslims from entering the United States, he should be opposed. But for now, that is not what has been implemented. 


These restrictions on immigration are unprecedented.

This accusation focuses primarily on three specific provisions of the executive order: the indefinite ban on admission of Syrian refugees, the 120-day halt on all refugee admissions followed by an annual 50,000-person cap on refugee admissions, and the use of national origin as a basis for discrimination in immigration policy.

Not only have these restrictions been used before, each of them was implemented to some degree under President Obama. Based on data compiled by the Migration Policy Institute, President Obama only admitted an average of 377 Syrian refugees per year from 2011 to 2015, with fewer than 100 of those refugees being admitted from 2011 to 2014, the height of the Syrian Civil War. In regards to the 50,000-person cap on refugee admissions, President Bush only admitted more than 50,000 refugees in four of his eight years in office, and President Obama capped refugee admissions at 70,000 from 2013 to 2015 with barely more than 50,000 being admitted in 2011 and 2012. It was not until 2016 that President Obama greatly increased the number of refugees. Finally, it was President Obama who enacted 8 U.S. Code § 1187(a)(12), which provides that no immigrant is eligible for the Visa Waiver Program if they have been present in Iraq or Syria after March 1, 2011, or if they have been present in any country that DHS has designated as a country “of concern.”

Like President Trump, Presidents Bush and Obama were concerned about immigration from countries where ISIS or other terrorist organizations have significant ties. If the data show any one immigration policy to be a historical aberration, it is President Obama’s expansion of refugee admissions in 2016.


Trump’s executive order is clearly unconstitutional.

This is perhaps the favorite fiction among aspiring lawyers. There is no doubt that there will be much litigation regarding President Trump’s executive order, but it is not so clear that the outcome will inevitably be against the administration. According to Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor who specialized in terrorism and national security cases, the Trump administration will have both constitutional authority and statutory law to support its position. 

First, he argues, our very own Thomas Jefferson wrote that, under the Constitution, “The transaction of business with foreign nations is Executive altogether. It belongs then to the head of that department, except as to such portions of it as are specifically submitted to the Senate. Exceptions are to be construed strictly.” The Supreme Court also recognized in United States v. Curtiss-Wright (1936) that the President has plenary and exclusive power in the field of international relations, a power which does not require an act of Congress to exercise. 

Critics of McCarthy’s position have pointed out that Trump’s order contravenes a 1965 immigration law, now 8 U.S. Code § 1152(a), which prohibits discrimination in granting immigrant visas based on nationality or place of residence. This statute is often invoked as evidence that § 1182(f), which authorizes the President to indefinitely suspend the entry of any immigrants he deems detrimental to the interests of the United States, has been amended to prevent the President from discriminating based on national origin. However, this argument gets complicated when considering the aforementioned Obama-era statute, § 1187(a)(12), which plainly discriminated against Syrian and Iraqi citizens attempting to immigrate to the United States. 

Either the Obama and Trump administrations are both breaking the law, or the Obama-era statute, which President Trump’s order explicitly invokes, has amended the 1965 statute to allow the president to implement immigration restrictions that discriminate based on nationality in the interests of national security. 

It is quite possible that the courts will rule against these arguments. But it is simply a fantasy to argue that the Trump administration is running afoul of such clear constitutional and statutory law and that the courts will find no grounds to rule that the executive order is legal.

While each of the above fictions may not be true, there is still cause for concern regarding this executive order. There was initially much confusion about whether this order applied to green card holders, and it took some time before the administration came to the sensible conclusion that it did not. As of this writing, CNN is reporting that the Trump administration is complying with a Seattle federal judge’s order suspending implantation of the executive order, but the administration is already preparing its legal case. Should he lose, President Trump must abide by the decision and respect the separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution. While we may disagree on the wisdom and legality of his executive order, we must stand united in our support of the rule of law. The stability of our government, and our nation depend on it.



Op-Ed: Gorsuch Nomination

Greg Ranzini '18
News Editor

Photo Credit: Slate.com

Photo Credit: Slate.com

Let us observe a moment of silence for Merrick Garland. He was a Supreme Court nominee that no right-thinking conservative could oppose; a Harvard valedictorian who in his youth clerked for two Eisenhower appointees, and a judge who has been consistently measured and moderate. He has infuriated progressives with his indulgent treatment of prosecutors and frustrated libertarians with his reluctance to reschedule marijuana, but on the whole he simply tacks straight down the middle of most issues. He rarely dissents, and he is rarely dissented against. Orrin Hatch once championed him as “a fine man.” He was the compromise option that no second-term Democrat would choose, the unmovable rock of the D.C. Circuit, Anthony Kennedy on decaf. And then, President Obama called Hatch’s bluff, and Judge Garland became unacceptable by association. Senate Republicans pretended that they had never praised him and acted as if Obama had never nominated him. Judge Garland waited in the wings for 293 days without a hearing.

This past Tuesday, President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch in Garland’s place. He, too, is a Federal Appellate judge and an accomplished academic. In 2002, he even came to Judge Garland’s defense, bemoaning in an op-ed that Garland and his then-colleague on the U.S. Court of Appeals, John Roberts, “among the finest lawyers of their generation,” were being “grossly mistreated” by delays in the Senate. Nearly fifteen years later, he is strangely silent as he stands to benefit from those same, unjust delays. This selective amnesia is regrettable, but not unexpected, for beneath his veneer of respectability, Neil Gorsuch is nothing like Merrick Garland.

Neil Gorsuch is an ideologue. He favors “religious freedom” when it means denying women contraception, but he believes that city governments may make “content-based judgments” to place Christian symbols in public parks. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius, 723 F.3d 1114 (10th Cir. 2013); Summum v. Pleasant Grove City, 499 F.3d 1170, 1174-75 (10th Cir. 2007) (McConnell, J. and Gorsuch, J. dissenting). He rejects Chevron deference, the dormant commerce clause, and net neutrality. He campaigns against euthanasia and supports the death penalty. He is, in essence, a more prosecutor-friendly Scalia, with enough years left in him to skew the Court to the right for potentially the next half-century. 

Under normal circumstances, pushing Garland aside in favor of Gorsuch would be a headline-making scandal: a shameless partisan power-grab against the nation’s most storied nonpartisan body, coming as the culmination of an eight-year-long campaign to erase the legacy of our first Black president. But these are not normal times. Indeed, by the standards of the Trump administration, Gorsuch seems an outlier for his normalcy. He is not openly racist and no more vocally sexist or homophobic than any other member of the Christian Right. In the context of the last two weeks, he appears to be the ringmaster in a tent full of clowns. Democrats in the Senate seem eager to accept a Justice Gorsuch as the best they can hope for from President Trump. And so they lower their resistance to the most consequential of his nominees: a decades-long blot on the American judiciary.

Sure, Gorsuch has never, to our knowledge, branded the Council on American-Islamic Relations “cultural jihadists,” advocated America’s joining the “church militant” in a holy war, declared that he intends to destroy the state from the inside, or terrorized his ex-wife in an attempt to keep her from sending their children to a particular prep school because he objected to how many Jews attended. But if “he’s not as crazy as Steve Bannon” has become our litmus test for whether a nominee’s views are too extreme, we are in severe trouble as a country. The GOP spent the last eight years demonstrating that shameless obstructionism—shades of Harry Byrd’s “massive resistance”—carries much milder political repercussions than conventional wisdom suggested. Much of this success can be attributed to how the Democratic Party responded under Obama: always turning the other cheek, always extending an olive branch and a conciliatory compromise, in the vain hope that the Republicans would come to the table and bargain like adults. Instead, progressives have watched aghast as their representatives grovel and scrape down the high road like broken currs, as the mirage of “truth in the middle” recedes constantly in front of them.

Now, in Trump’s age of “American carnage,” we see this strategy of anchoring and adjustment in its crystallized, post-truth perfection. The Republicans have pulled the country so far to the right that they have taken all the slack out of objective reality. Now that even the most audacious spin is insufficient to support their agenda, they have launched an assault on truth itself: braiding in “alternative facts,” racist falsehoods, and imaginary massacres and demanding that the Left again meet them in the middle. Renouncing their past support of Merrick Garland and erasing his nomination is a comparatively easy deception. Perhaps, finally, they have overplayed their hand. Confronted more directly than ever with reality’s “well-known liberal bias,” to borrow Stephen Colbert’s indelible phrase, Americans may yet come to realize that the midpoint between a truth and a lie is still a lie. I do not hold out much hope, however.

When the street protests subside, and the fatigue of constant vigilance and simmering outrage sets in, the Republicans will have their stolen Supreme Court seat. The Democrats, seeing Judge Gorsuch’s conventional credentials and buttoned-up appearance, are on the verge of breaking already. Facing the unspoken threat that Trump might counter with a Justice Spencer or Thiel or Yiannopoulos, they will once again fold. But, whatever sliver of bargaining room they get out of this sacrifice will not begin to compensate the millions of Americans that Justice Gorsuch will harm in his decades on the bench. And even in the shorter term, as long as this strategy continues to work, Republicans will remain keen on keeping Trump around—no matter how uncomfortable they may find it to tie themselves in knots defending his behavior.



Tom Periello: Gubernatorial Candidate

Campbell Haynes '19
Guest Contributor

Tom Perriello speaking to law students. Photo courtesywww.nbc29.com

Tom Perriello speaking to law students. Photo courtesywww.nbc29.com

Donald Trump’s ascension to the Presidency prompted visceral reactions across the country. His supporters felt jubilation and pride that their vision of America had been electorally endorsed. Hillary Clinton supporters woke up on November 9th angry, confused, and saddened by this new reality. Those same supporters have spent the months since the election marching in cities, big and small, across the country, fighting Trump’s executive order at our nation’s airports, and pressuring their legislators over Trump’s cabinet appointments. The election, for many of them, changed everything. 

The election changed everything for Tom Perriello, too. Perriello, a former Congressman from the Charlottesville area, spent 2016 working as a diplomat at the State Department. Politics at home appeared stable, with Hillary Clinton poised to win Virginia and the Presidency, and home state Senator Tim Kaine headed to the White House with her as the Vice President. A Clinton victory would have given Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe the opportunity to appoint someone to replace Kaine in the Senate. All signs pointed to Rep. Bobby Scott as the likely pick. Scott’s appointment would begin to heal wounds from an ugly past (he would have been the first black Senator in the commonwealth’s history) and help steer Virginia toward a more progressive future. 

And then, against the odds, Trump won. For Tom Perriello, the future of Virginia suddenly looked more precarious. So he quickly—and belatedly—jumped into the Democratic primary for Governor. Perriello is the underdog in the race, as most of the establishment support has already gone to the current Lieutenant Governor, Ralph Northam. But Perriello is no stranger to long odds or difficult fights. In 2008, he upset long-time incumbent Congressman Virgil Goode in the deep-red Fifth District of Virginia. Perriello overcame a double-digit deficit by campaigning on a platform of pragmatic populism and conviction politics. He lost that same seat in the Tea Party wave of 2010, but he ran nearly ten points ahead of other Democrats nationally in part by honestly and painstakingly defending his record and his votes on health care reform, “cap-and-trade,” and the stimulus. 

    Last week, Perriello came to the Law School for an event hosted by the Law Democrats on the future of progressivism in the age of Trump (note: the Law Democrats do not endorse candidates before the conclusion of Democratic primaries). During the event, Perriello fielded an array of difficult, thorny questions from audience members with poise and progressive conviction. He defended a difficult vote he made on abortion as a Congressman and explained his learning process on the issue. He articulated a path forward for Virginia on education that gets the basics right (he pointed to rural schools with leaky roofs) while dreaming big on career and technical education and free community college. He stood up for political compromise, noting that while he is both a progressive and a populist, his career as a diplomat taught him that, sometimes, incremental progress is most achievable. 

     Perriello’s version of populism suggests that one common post-election talking point—that Democrats focused on identity politics too much, at the expense of bread-and-butter issues—is a myth. Perriello speaks the language of the young, diverse, progressive future of the Democratic Party (and of America): his talk featured discussion and dialogue on intersectionality, feminism, the important of the Black Lives Matter movement, and even a reference to the musical, Hamilton (although he’s much more of a fan of Madison). He acknowledged that race and racial politics drove much of Trump’s support, while refusing to give up, as some would have the Democratic Party do, on appealing to the white working class. He supports gun rights and background checks, and his faith motivates his political participation and shapes his worldview. In short, Perriello knows that all politics is identity politics, and will excel at appealing to voters of all identities. 

The Virginia Democratic gubernatorial primary election will be the first referendum of Trump’s presidency. It will also be the first test of whether a new brand of left populism like Perriello’s can compete with Trump’s xenophobic nationalism. Many believe that it cannot. That Medicare-for-All cannot possibly compete with “Build That Wall!” Others believe that, in order to compete going forward, Democrats must become (again) the party of people that hate Comcast, not those who live down the block from Comcast executives. Ultimately, it is refreshing to see a progressive of conviction like Perriello stand up for what many Americans believe in. Virginians—and many Americans—will be watching this primary election eagerly in the months to come. 


2     https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/bobby-scott-the-congressman-who-could-make-history-again/2016/09/07/26822154-6bb6-11e6-ba32-5a4bf5aad4fa_story.html?utm_term=.35be997c06b0
3     http://prospect.org/article/how-tom-perriello-showed-virgil-goode-door
4     http://www.newyorker.com/news/george-packer/tom-perriellos-lonely-battle
5     https://medium.com/@rortybomb/would-progressive-economics-win-over-trumps-white-working-class-voters-43f78cc7f005
6     http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/10/how-democrats-killed-their-populist-soul/504710/

Putin's Pending Pet Project

Jansen Vander Meulen '19
taff Columnist

Since President Donald Trump’s surprise victory in November’s presidential election, commentators and politicians have sounded the alarm about Russia’s malicious involvement in American politics. Often abbreviated simply as “Russian hacking,” the Russian effort to undermine Americans’ confidence in the recent election was much more than that. It amounted to a sophisticated campaign of disinformation and strategic hacks, with the aim, according to a report compiled by the Director of National Intelligence, of electing President Trump and “undermin[ing] the US-led liberal democratic order.” Moreover, according to the same report, Russian involvement in the 2016 election was personally ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Unfortunately for fans of the US-led liberal democratic order, Mr. Putin is just getting started. This year alone, several major American allies will hold national elections. Most importantly, France will elect a new president and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will seek a fourth term. In both of these countries, friends of Mr. Putin will seek office, and Mr. Putin’s propaganda machine promises to be active. 

Putin and nominee for French PM, Fillon. Photo courtesy ofwww.spectator.co.uk.

Putin and nominee for French PM, Fillon. Photo courtesy ofwww.spectator.co.uk.

In France, the main center-right party has nominated for president former Prime Minister François Fillon, a rock-ribbed conservative and friend of Mr. Putin’s from their concurrent terms as prime ministers of their respective countries. Mr. Fillon is thought likely to make it to the final round of France’s election. If polling is to be believed (a big “if” in the Age of Trump), it is quite possible he will face off against the leader of the far-right National Front, Marine Le Pen. Ms. Le Pen has effectively rehabilitated the image of her formerly Holocaust-denying, anti-Semitic party, but she remains on the fringe of European politics. Her party supports withdrawal from the European Union, stripping “extremist” Muslims of their French citizenship, and an end to multiculturalism.  In an election between Mr. Fillon and Ms. Le Pen, the once-dominant French center-left would face its Scylla and Charybdis, forced to choose between a Thatcherite budget-slasher and a nationalist demagogue. Worse, both are sympathetic to Mr. Putin, and may contribute to his main European project: the weakening of the European Union.

Germany’s prospects are not so dire, but trouble is brewing for the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Ms. Merkel has held power since 2005, and seeks a fourth term in this spring’s elections. As Germany’s first Chancellor born in the formerly-communist east, Ms. Merkel is the champion of Europe’s liberal order. When the Syrian migrant crisis began, she announced Germany would welcome refugees. Welcome them it has. In 2015 alone, Germany accepted more than one million Syrian refugees. While still widely popular with the German people, Ms. Merkel’s popularity has taken a serious hit since the beginning of the refugee crisis. On the electoral front, she faces a new challenge from the right-wing populist Alternative for Deutschland (AfD), which rose to prominence in the wake of Ms. Merkel’s decision to open Germany’s borders to Syrian refugees. In local elections in late-2016 in Ms. Merkel’s home state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the AfD pushed the long-dominant Christian Democrats into third place. Worryingly for fans of the Merkel-led European liberal order, the AfD has made strong overtures of friendship to Mr. Putin. Marcus Pretzell, the party’s leader in North Rhine-Westphalia and a member of the European Parliament, recently traveled to Russian-annexed Crimea and sat on a panel with numerous Russian leaders under European and American sanctions for their role in the annexation of Crimea, widely-regarded as illegal by most American and European observers. There is talk that Mr. Putin’s Twitter trolls, most recently engaged in pro-Trump, anti-Clinton activity, have converted to anti-Merkel accounts, a sign that Mr. Putin’s disinformation machine will next target Europe’s Iron Chancellor. While the AfD lacks the electoral strength of America’s Republicans, opponents of Mr. Putin ought not to underestimate him. A year ago, very few thought Mr. Trump would become President of the United States. It is not absurd to think Putin could topple Ms. Merkel, too.

Having achieved his objectives in the United States and the British referendum on European Union membership, Mr. Putin has now set his sights on the core engines of the European project: France, Germany, and their alliance that brought Europe together. Should he succeed in electing an ally to head either or both states, Europe and the West should beware. An invasion of one of the Baltic states cannot be far over the horizon, and with it comes the great test of the Western alliance.



2     http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-38321401
3     http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/15/politics/marine-le-pen-interview-donald-trump/
4     https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/05/04/germany-welcomed-more-than-1-million-refugees-in-2015-now-the-country-is-searching-for-its-soul/?utm_term=.02a3a7364b68
5     http://www.dw.com/en/nationwide-german-poll-merkels-popularity-dips-to-five-year-low/a-19521704
6     http://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-election-idUSKCN1190XG
7     http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-populists-forge-deeper-ties-with-russia-a-1089562.html
8     http://observer.com/2016/12/angela-merkels-2017-re-election-kremlins-next-full-scale-assault/