CARE Takes a Look at America’s Future

Michelle Chang '19
Guest Columnist

In this politically and ideologically divisive era, at least we can all agree that children are our future, right? Wrong. Here are some problems and misconceptions surrounding the education system and the juvenile justice system, and their undeniable connection to race, mental disabilities, and poverty. Systemic problems require systemic solutions. I ask that you put yourselves in someone else’s shoes and try to empathize with their struggles. 

The United States locks up more kids than any other developed country. All three branches of the government agree that, because children are different from adults, the motivation behind the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate, not incarcerate. If putting kids in jail cells was effective, we should have the lowest juvenile crime rate. So, does it work? Absolutely not. CARE (Child Advocacy Research and Education) screened a documentary on April 6, 2017 titled Prison Kids: A Crime Against America’s Children, which exposes a wide array of issues within the juvenile justice system, ranging from excessive hours in solitary confinement, inability to treat mental disabilities, and the disproportionate number of African-American and mentally disabled children in the system.

The documentary begins with the tale of Zion, a 7-year-old Hispanic boy residing in Broward County, Florida. He has ADHD, anxiety, and occasional seizures. Just in the first grade, Zion earns twenty-five write ups. Think back to your elementary school self. How confused and discouraged would you have been, if you got sent to the office every time you threw a tantrum? Zion’s mom is anxious that the school will contact the police and Zion will be arrested.

Her worries are not unfounded. School incidents involving minorities, particularly African-Americans, Hispanics, and children with mental disabilities, are overwhelmingly more likely to be reported to the police. Incidents such as cursing in the school parking lot have led to police involvement. Furthermore, not only are minorities more likely to be reported to the police, they are also more likely to be charged as adults, accompanied by mandatory minimum sentences. 

The “no crimes are juvenile” movement began in the 90s when the media brought into the spotlight a series of violent crimes committed by juveniles. In thirty-three states, there was no minimum age by which the state could charge children as adults; in eleven states, sixteen and seventeen-year-olds were charged as adults. States enacted “zero tolerance” policies in schools that led to the rise of the “school to prison pipeline.” 

As Judge Elijah Williams, sponsor of the PROMISE program in Broward County, Florida, points out, there is a huge difference between “kids that scare you” and “kids that make you angry.” Most kids do stupid things that make people angry. The majority of delinquents are not charged with violent crimes. In fact, most of the offenses are not crimes for adults, such as missing curfews or skipping school. Some kids have severe mental disabilities that the communities (school and parents) do not have the resources to handle. Instead of trying to figure out why kids are misbehaving, calling the police is the easier and faster way for schools to get rid of the problems.

Imagine your middle or high school self, writing on the wall or skipping school because, well, why not? Next thing you know, you’re with the wrong people and the police shows up and you’re charged as an adult. Congratulations, you just earned yourself a 10-year minimum stay in jail. You will be in juvie and then adult jail until you’re 26 just because you made a mistake but people are worried you will become a violent predator. 

Many kids that end up in the juvenile justice system are living with PTSD. They have been shot at, bullets in their bodies, or have seen people die in their arms. Think back to the last car accident you drove by or the last funeral you attended; can you imagine seeing grave injury and even death right in front of you? I cannot imagine the pain, sorrow, and fear these kids experience in their own neighborhoods at a young age. Unfortunately, some kids resort to gangs for protection and a support system.

The problem persists inside the juvenile correctional facilities. The documentary follows Savannah as she recounts experiencing and witnessing severe depression, cutting, and suicide attempts in an Ohio juvenile facility since she was fourteen. Many facilities use solitary confinement as a disciplinary tool. In theory, solitary confinement functions like time-out. If you misbehave, they put you in time-out so you know not to repeat this behavior. However, recall that a disproportionate number of delinquents have mental disorders. These kids are put in a tiny cell with just four walls, alone with their thoughts for twenty-three hours per day. This can lead to hallucination, depression, and other problems that cause children to behave even more erratically when released, which puts them at a higher risk to return to solitary confinement. According to the Campaign for Youth Justice, juveniles are nineteen times more likely to commit suicide when in solitary confinement. 

Alternatively, programs such as the PROMISE program in Broward County refer students to counseling programs that address the underlying problems, instead of perpetuating the “school-to-prison” pipeline by contacting the police. Teachers and counselors in these programs help identify the causes of behavioral problems and create action plans to help students get back on track. Its success in Broward County has earned national recognition; no one doubts its success.

But why don’t we see more of these programs around? Money. Although the Supreme Court has identified education as an important right, there is no constitutional right to quality education. The Supreme Court leaves all education decisions up to the states. Like all issues deferred to the states, effective policies come from legislators with great incentives, but ineffective policies come from states in which many people see education as a zero-sum game. It’s my kids versus your kids. Why should I use my money to fund your child’s education? The more they give to your kids, the less they give to my kids. These assumptions ignore the social and economic benefits that could result from all kids having access to quality education. Every kid will be better off in the long run if all kids are given the same opportunities. 

One of the most frustrating misconception about poverty is that poor people are poor because they are not trying hard enough. That cannot be further from the truth. I highly encourage everyone to go on playspent.org and attempt to “live in poverty.” This game gives you a budget and you have to make life decisions accordingly. As Professor Coughlin’s Law and Public Service class discussion points out, poverty is about the lack of choices. The things you and I take for granted, such as shelter, food, parents, and access to medical attention, are the reasons we have choices. 

Our parents had the choice to attend our school functions so we were motivated to excel. Our parents could afford healthcare when we were sick so we didn’t have to suffer long-term medical conditions. Our parents were supportive of us attending college because our family wouldn’t starve if we didn’t work full-time. We grew up with choices and opportunities. Because we can choose to be lazy and unproductive, we label people on welfare or social benefits as second-class citizens without understanding why they can’t get out.

The game on playspent.org highlights the difficulty of maintaining a job, raising a family, and balancing one’s mental and physical health when one lacks the basic necessities. How do you acquire the skills for a better job when your family needs you to work full-time? How do you stay healthy when healthy choices are more expensive? How do you keep a job when the initial expenses of uniforms and transportation are more than you can afford?

When I was working in Miami, I mentored and tutored both inner-city high school students and nationally-ranked private school students. I saw many underrepresented students with potential and intelligence that surpassed their counterparts in private schools. This is in addition to facing starvation, violence, and sexual assault. However, many of them will not go to college because their parents need them to work. Some of us are lucky to have been born into families with more resources. While not discounting the effort and hard work we’ve all put in to get here, the very least we can do is to acknowledge that not everyone’s starting point is the same. As I stated in the beginning, it starts with understanding the struggles someone else is going through. The next step is to consider giving every child at least the opportunity to succeed. 

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mc3qu@virginia.edu

So Long to Professor Sayler

Caroline Catchpole '19
Editor Emeritus

Photo courtesy of content.law.virginia.edu

Photo courtesy of content.law.virginia.edu

During my 1L year, a 2L named Christina Albertson (the former Editor-in-Chief of the Law Weekly) took me under her wing. One of the organizations she was involved in was this paper, another was the Lile Moot Court Competition. Having been invited to step into her role planning the Lile receptions as a 2L, I was invited to the Lile Final Round Reception during the spring of my 1L year. The reception is where the judges, competitors, board members, and UVa Law professors gather to mingle, celebrate the end of the competition, and network. It was at this event that I first met Professor Robert Sayler, and his wife, Marty. 

Professor Sayler graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Law School before going on to practice at Covington & Burling in 1965, where he was made partner in 1973. During his time at the firm, he oversaw successful multi-million-and billion-dollar insurance claims, litigating over topics such as asbestos, pollution, and defective breast implants, as well as corporate insurance cases. He began his career at UVa Law teaching insurance law as an Ewald Distinguished Visiting Professor with Professor Ken Abraham in 1995 and returned on a permanent basis in 2003 to teach oral advocacy.

Having had the chance to get to know Professor Sayler, I was eager to take an oral advocacy class with him if I had the chance. This past fall semester, I was able to take Hallmarks of Distinguished Advocacy with Professors Sayler and Molly Shadel, and as I reflect on my time at UVa (and mourn that my time as a staff member on this paper has come to an end1) I can say quite truthfully that Hallmarks was one of the most useful classes I have taken during my time at UVa. The improvement I have seen in my classmates and myself is truly impressive.2 

Professor Sayler developed his rhetoric and oral advocacy classes while training young lawyers at his firm. He was also instrumental in bringing Professor Shadel from Covington to develop the public speaking program. Professors Sayler and Shadel co-authored the book Tongue-Tied America and they continue to write about American rhetoric together, including a series about the rhetoric of the most recent election campaign. 

At the end of this semester, Professor Sayler is retiring from the UVa Law School Faculty, and he will be sorely missed. For those of you who have not had the opportunity to take a class with him, there is a chance he will return in a adjunct capacity, so keep your fingers crossed! Professor Sayler, thank you for your contributions to UVa Law and for helping to grow the oral advocacy skills of generations of young lawyers.

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 cnc5kf@virginia.edu

1 The paper staff is amazing and I couldn’t write my last ever article for the paper without saying that they have enriched my time at UVa more than I can ever say. Thank you, Law Weekly for being an amazing group of dedicated and talented people, and the best group I could imagine spending my Monday nights with for the last three years. 
2 Seriously, if you can take this class, do it. I also took Advanced Verbal Persuasion (which is essentially Hallmarks Part II) and it’s awesome. Rising 3Ls, I urge you to take both; you can pick them as skills classes during the first round sign ups!  

Clearing the Air on the Broadband Privacy Repeal

Greg Ranzini '18
News Editor

There's been a lot of fear, uncertainty, and doubt swirling around lately about Congress's repeal of last October's FCC broadband privacy rules. If you spent any time on Reddit in the last month, you probably read blaring headlines about how this spells the END OF PRIVACY ONLINE, because your ISP will now be legally permitted to sell your browsing history to the highest bidder. In the hours after the vote, crowdfunding campaigns cropped up, pledging to buy and publish the browsing histories of the bill’s sponsors, of FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, and of various members of the Trump administration. Other pages appeared shortly thereafter, denouncing the crowdfunding campaigns as scams. Max Temkin, one of the co-creators of Cards Against Humanity, vowed to pony up and buy the data himself, although, for the moment, no ISP has yet come forward offering to sell customer data on an individual basis. At press time, the crisis has entered the Third Phase of Internet Grieving as smug pedants come forward to remind you that the rules never took effect in the first place, and so your ISP was always allowed to sell your data, and will now continue to be able to sell your data—sweet dreams, sheeple.

This is not to say that fear, uncertainty, or doubt are unwarranted under the circumstances, however. If anything, the situation as it stands is worse than most understand. Sure, it's not like Comcast is going to let Joe Schmoe PayPal them fifty bucks and find out about all the freaky things you search for on YouPorn—you sick bastard—but it's not because they can't. It's because that's chump change. The real money is in selling bulk data to advertisers. Moreover, the optics are better for them this way: when it's just your data getting sold off to the highest bidder, that's personal. When it's everybody's data, that might just be the new normal. Just ask Mark Zuckerberg.

Or, hell, ask former-Representative-turned-telco-lobbyist Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). In an astonishingly disingenuous editorial last October, he wrote what emerged as the definitive argument against the then-draft rules:

“What it means is that consumers’ private data collected online will be protected by one set of standards when collected by an ISP and different standard [sic] when collected online by other internet [sic] parties, such as Google, Amazon and Facebook.”  

Ah, yes, consistency. See, it’s just terribly unfair that Google, Amazon, and Facebook get to pry into every detail of your daily lives online, but ISPs can’t get in on that game too! I, for one, sleep better at night knowing that my privacy is being consistently violated. That said, Waxman is talking about a somewhat funny kind of “consistency” here. After all, it’s not like everything you look at online goes through a Google, Amazon, or Facebook server, as much as it sometimes seems that way. Your ISP, however, passes along every single bit, so even if they can’t read the bits protected by website encryption, they are uniquely situated to discover what servers you’re connecting to and, consequently, whom you’re associating with. And unless you’re Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), who admonished an angry constituent last Thursday that “Nobody’s got to use the Internet”  if they value their privacy, you probably can’t switch ISPs just for a sec the way you can go to DuckDuckGo to search for “early cirrhosis symptoms” instead of Bing. 

That’s not to say that there’s absolutely nothing to do, however. Savvy netizens still have a range of options available, which provide more or less effective protection against certain kinds of surveillance. Here are a few that, honestly, you should already be using:

Step 1: Encrypt everything

HTTPS Everywhere

https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere

This is the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s signature browser plugin. It accomplishes something very simple: whenever you would connect to an insecure HTTP page, it redirects you instead to the encrypted HTTPS version of that page, if available. This doesn’t do anything to keep your ISP from figuring out what sites you’re going to, of course, but it does have the effect of protecting whatever you actually do on those domains. Spend lots of time posting on /r/gonewild? This one’s for you.

Step 2: Hide from ad tracking

uBlock Origin

https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock

Adblockers. If you’re living without them, you’re missing out. This time two years ago, I would probably have recommended perennial favorite AdBlockPlus, but ABP decided that they’d rather make money letting ad networks pay to be unblocked. uBlock Origin is a significantly nicer piece of software, anyway. Don’t use “uBlock” (without the “Origin,”) by the way. One of the former developers hijacked the name, started soliciting donations, eventually lost interest, and left the software unmaintained. 

Adblocking is important for more than just cosmetic reasons. One of the many salutary effects of keeping ads from loading is that it makes it that much harder for ad networks to follow you from site to site. Moreover, online advertising is one of the main ways that viruses get spread these days. Block the ads, and you block the malvertising, too.

Step 3: Lock out your ISP

VPN services

https://www.privateinternetaccess.com

https://nordvpn.com

Etc.

These cost money, which is unfortunate, but they’re also the only practical way to make the broadband privacy repeal a moot point. Also, they’re generally super cheap, for what they are. A VPN service provides you with a sort of encrypted ‘tunnel,’ through which you access the broader Internet. At the other end of the tunnel is a VPN exit server, the IP address of which is shared with all the other VPN customers using the same node. The upshot is that your data is encrypted, and, provided that you’ve picked a reputable VPN provider, nobody can tell who is connecting where. From your ISP’s perspective, you’re spending a lot of time sending gibberish to a random server farm in New Jersey or wherever—not terribly much for them to glean from that. A pleasant side-effect of this is that you can make your computer appear to be anywhere in the world, thereby bypassing those stupid country-by-country region locks on YouTube. A not-so-pleasant side-effect of this is that Netflix won’t let you connect through a VPN, because they don’t want you bypassing their region locking. Good thing you can just turn off your VPN whenever you want to watch Netflix.

Picking a VPN can be pretty tricky, however, because you ultimately are placing a lot of trust in your particular provider. Luckily, a blog called TorrentFreak does the requisite due diligence and publishes their findings annually: https://torrentfreak.com/vpn-services-anonymous-review-2017-170304/. Who better to listen to than people who have a really good reason to be paranoid, right?

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gpr7qx@virginia.edu

 

An Earth Day Conversation with Professor Cannon

Jim Dennison '18
Guest Columnist

The first Earth Day in 1970 marked the beginning of the modern environmental movement. Horrified by environmental disasters like the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill and the burning of the severely polluted Cuyahoga River, and inspired by the student anti-war movement, Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisc.) launched Earth Day as a nationwide day of teach-ins, clean-ups, and demonstrations. Twenty million Americans joined together to demonstrate and volunteer for a healthy environment. Participation took many forms, including some rather colorful ones: “Oil-coated ducks were dumped on the doorstep of the Department of the Interior . . .  A student disguised as the Grim Reaper stalked a General Electric Company stockholders’ meeting . . . Demonstrators dragged a net filled with dead fish down Fifth Avenue, and shouted to passers-by, ‘This could be you!’”1

The event transformed thousands of localized efforts to curb pollution and environmental destruction into a unified movement made up of citizens with widely varying backgrounds, circumstances, and political views. For many of its participants, Earth Day was the first realization that so many others throughout the country and the world shared their concerns for public health and sustainable interactions with nature, which society inevitably depends on for food, resources, recreation, and inspiration. 

In 1990, Earth Day was expanded to include events in 141 countries worldwide, in recognition of our interdependence and the global nature of environmental issues. Earth Day 2017 events include the March for Science on April 22 and the People’s Climate Mobilization on April 29, both to be held in Washington, D.C. with solidarity demonstrations throughout the country.

The first Earth Day was a formative and galvanizing moment for the founding generation of modern environmentalists, who include influential activists, scientists, lawyers, and politicians like John “Planetwalker” Francis, Rachel Carson, Dr. Robert Bullard, and Rick Middleton. We are fortunate to have a pioneer of modern environmentalism here at UVA Law. Professor Jon Cannon served as general counsel to the Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton Administration. He wrote a groundbreaking memorandum that led to the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Massachusetts v. EPA that greenhouse gas emissions are regulable under the Clean Air Act. VELF interviewed Professor Cannon to learn how the spirit of Earth Day 1970 can continue to inspire the next generation of environmentalists.

Q: You participated in the first Earth Day in 1970. What was that experience like?

A: Well, I picked up trash on the Potomac River near where I lived at the time. We lived in Williamsport, Md., which is right on the Potomac, and I used to go running on the Potomac C&O towpath. There was a group that was going down to the river to pick up trash, and I was with them, and that’s what I did. Nothing dramatic.

Q: How did your experience at Earth Day influence your outlook on the environment and your career?

A: It had a huge impact on my career. I think prior to Earth Day I, like a lot of other people, had concerns about the environment, about pollution, about land use changes, about degradation of areas that I thought were important to protect. But those registered as private grievances. That is, they were things that concerned me, but I didn’t connect them with a broader movement or political response. And what Earth Day showed me, and I think it showed everybody who participated, was that there were a lot of people out there who had similar concerns and that a collective recognition of those concerns could lead to political action and positive change.

Q: How do you think the state of the environment, the environmental movement, and environmental law and policy have changed since the first Earth Day?

A: Well, all of those things have changed. I think after the first Earth Day there was an apparent consensus and support of relatively strong federal environmental legislation, which produced the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and most of the other laws that we have today. There was a sense then that the movement had changed the configuration of national politics. Those laws made a big difference. I think we have an environment that’s cleaner and higher quality than we would without them. But things have happened in the meantime that make our present situation difficult, I think. One is that the apparent consensus that existed in the early ’70s and extended really into the mid ’80s has eroded so that now we have polarized views on environmental policy that are roughly identifiable to major political parties. And we have also, while successfully dealing with some of the more conventional problems that we faced in the 1970s, encountered new problems that we have not yet come up with adequate solutions to, like climate change. In our present polarized political environment, it’s very difficult to do that.

Q: What direction do you see environmentalism heading in from here?

A: I think for a long time, environmentalists were identified with folks who thought we should do with less, that we needed to sacrifice in order to protect the environment. I think the conventional view of environmentalism also included a notion that there was some sort of pristine nature that needed to be protected, at least in substantial portions, from human development or influence. There was also an anti-technology component, I think, to some environmentalist thinking as well. The idea that large, industrial scale technology could be expected to have adverse effects on the environment. 

My own view, and this is shared by many other people, is that the movement needs to make, and is already making, some changes to meet the current challenge. I think it’s clear now that there’s probably not any such thing as pristine nature in the sense of nature not influenced by human activity. And so the question becomes less about preserving that ideal and more about managing effectively the environment that we have, and that in significant part have created or are creating. That changes the emphasis from protectionism to more of a management focus. And I think as part of that there’s a greater recognition that technology, while it’s the cause of a number of our environmental problems, also offers solutions to those problems, and that to deal with issues like climate change and the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions we’ll need new technologies, deployed at an industrial scale, and taking full advantage of the power of markets to deploy. So in that sense, to be effective in the modern circumstance the movement has to be more accepting of technology and markets and active management of the environment.

Q: What do you think the value of Earth Day and similar events is, in terms of keeping the environmental movement strong and keeping folks educated and motivated?

A: I think Earth Day remains important, maybe because it happens every year. People aren’t as excited about it as they were on the first Earth Day, but I think as new problems come forward and new circumstances occur that make these issues fresh, that Earth Day has a potential to renew excitement and commitment about environmental issues, and to galvanize action. 

Q: Perhaps we saw some of that when 175 countries signed the landmark Paris Climate Agreement on Earth Day 2016.

A: Yes, there was sort of a symbolic portion of that. And, you know, there are going to be activities on or around Earth Day this April that I think will be important as collective expressions of ongoing concern. There’s a demonstration of scientists on April 22, and a climate change march in D.C. on the April 29.

Q: Do you have any advice for students or aspiring environmental lawyers on Earth Day 2017?

A: My advice is follow your star. If you’re interested in environmental issues and you want to make a difference, I think the law is a good instrument to do that. And the law doesn’t operate by itself—it needs lawyers to make it work, across the spectrum from private practice to government service to nongovernmental organizations. So people who have a sense for these issues and a basic engagement can find a very satisfying career doing environmental law.

Q: I talk to a lot of people who value the environment and are interested in issues like climate change, but who have other career aspirations or are unable to commit their careers to environmental law. Are there good ways for folks in this situation to make a difference?

A: Oh absolutely. We have lives as professionals, but we also have lives as citizens, and people can participate in all kinds of ways. They can join groups that advance positions on the environment or make concrete contributions to environmental protection. They can participate in local politics or state politics or politics at the national level on these issues. They can talk to their congresspeople. They can grow vegetables in their back yard without pesticides. There are all sorts of ways to express environmental concerns that don’t involve making a career in environmental law. So I would encourage anybody who is so inclined not to feel that they have to devote their lives to this. They can devote a portion of their lives to this and still make a big difference.

Earth Day is this Saturday, April 22. To celebrate and participate in Earth Day’s tradition of civic engagement, VELF has organized a volunteer trip to UVa’s Morven Kitchen Garden from 2 to 4 p.m. The Morven Kitchen Garden is a living laboratory in sustainable market farming that features a community supported agriculture program and a robust set of student-led research projects. All are welcome, and you can contact Courtney Koelbel at clk5nw@virginia.edu if you are interested.

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jad2zh@virginia.edu
1 Jack Lewis, The Birth of EPA, http://classic-web.archive.org/web/20060922192621/http://epa.gov/35thanniversary/topics/epa/15c.htm

Exams: A Survival Guide

Katherine Mann '19
Columns Editor

It’s that time of year again! Spring exams are upon us, and everyone is delighted to be balancing the desire to enjoy beautiful weather with the crippling burden of being graded against our peers. It was fine living in the gunner pit in December, when no one wanted to be outside anyway. But the ice-cap-melting warmth of this April has been particularly seductive. If you’re clever and current with your allergy meds, you might be able to kill two birds with one stone by studying outside. My son, for example, thinks I take him to the park so he can play with his friends. He only sort of gets that I can read Con Law in the sun while still appearing to be a passably decent parent.1

Supplements are flying off the bookstore shelves almost as fast as outlines are being emailed, and we are all starting to realize how much we don’t know compared to the smarties in the first row. Beloved Peer Advisors are giving us their best strategies, and those of us who know an A-plus isn’t in the cards are forming study groups. Depending on your strategies for dealing with stress, you’re either cutting back on alcohol in order to focus, or drinking daily to cope with your inadequacies.2

Do not mistake this column for anything involving study tips (unless you like living dangerously). I am writing only to communicate the wonders of exam time and how we cram in our different ways. Far be it from me to question the wonders of caffeination, but I am limited to one cup of tea and one cup of coffee a day before I get jittery, each precisely timed so that I can sleep at some point. While my position is potentially fatal to my GPA, I fall squarely in the camp of folks who think sleep is important. There’s the ambitious voice in my head telling me to stay in the library till midnight, and the lazy old-lady voice reminding how soft my pillow is. The latter always wins. 

But the seduction of the Keurig machines is real, and I tip my hat to the legions of students staying up all night in the library. I guess it’s good practice for the Big Law life, as is giving up your weekends. Law school parents generally have less time to study, though many of us wish we were studying instead of breaking up sibling fights or potty-training during exams. My son is eight, so my battle with him is convincing him to go outside instead of playing Minecraft, and my will crumbles during exams. It’s fair to say he gets a lot of screen time these days.

Finding a decent place to study can be a challenge, because it often seems like one’s home or bedroom is inadequate. I have given up on my own bedroom (the only home study space available to me), due to the extent of available distractions. I should be outlining for Property, but instead I’ve just wrapped up the fifth season of Buffy and I’m too emotionally wrecked to look at my notes. I study much better at the library, except when I find myself glaring at the couple3 two tables over “whispering.” Apparently, the notion that the library is supposed to be a quiet space is one mistakenly held over from my youth, kind of like democracy.

Music can drown out some of the noise, but it’s not really a substitute for silence. I find it too distracting, but I admire those of you who can slip on the Beats and totally focus. I’ve tried all the study stations on Spotify, but I get pretty distracted by the phrase “this is crap” constantly going through my head. And if I listen to what I actually like, I get distracted because I like it. Or I just spend twenty minutes picking an artist or station and I’ve lost the battle before I’ve begun. As a result, I tend to go with earplugs. I enjoy making a point of putting in my earplugs while staring at the noisy couple two tables over, my eyes narrowed judgmentally, taking my time, while thinking, “this is because of you.” I don’t think it registers.

At any rate, since we all know our entire futures totally depend on our grades,4  the panic is starting to creep in. It’s time to find your preferred space and noise-canceling apparatus and get to work. Block Facebook, ignore the news, neglect your family, pets, and significant others. You can be human again when it’s summertime, and that’s not too far away.

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kmm2bb@virginia.edu

1 Technically this is three birds: studying, parenting, and enjoying the weather. I win.
2 Come on now, youíre at UVa Law. Youíre at least adequate.
3 Not necessarily romantic. You donít have to be a romantic couple to be annoying.
4 Iím told this might not be entirely true. Source declined to be named.

Op-Ed: Democrats to Blame for Politicization of the Supreme Court

Max Wagner '19
Guest Columnist

Since November, there has been one refrain repeatedly heard from all Democrats and Mainstream Media Outlets (but I repeat myself): Gorsuch simply cannot be allowed a vote because the Republicans “stole” the seat from President Obama. Is this the case? Is there more to the story? What was really stolen: the SCOTUS seat, or the narrative?

The narrative that is being told, again and again, is that the seat was “stolen” and that nuking the filibuster is particularly destructive. 

This is a question that has no real definitive answer, since there have not been many Supreme Court vacancies that have occurred during an election year; but I would maintain that it has not. The last vacancy that opened in an election year (or was announced to be opening) was in 1968, when Chief Justice Burger announced his retirement from the bench, although he would not retire until the next summer, when the new president nominated a replacement. When the Chief Justice announced his retirement, then-President Johnson nominated Associate Justice Abe Fortas to the Chief Justice Seat, and nominated Judge Homer Thornberry to fill the seat which would be left by Justice Fortas. Both Republicans and Democrats had significant reservations about this move. Within a week of his nomination it seemed unlikely that Justice Fortas would receive the necessary votes to become Chief Justice, so President Johnson changed his plan; instead of trying to get Justice Fortas confirmed, he would try and get a majority of the Senate to vote for cloture. A task he barely managed to accomplish. While this was technically a Filibuster of a Supreme Court pick, it was both bipartisan, and several of the Senators voting no on cloture were adamant they were not permanently voting against cloture, they just wanted more time to debate the candidate. Shortly after this, President Johnson, at the request of Justice Fortas, withdrew the nomination to the Chief Justice seat. This led to the withdrawal of Judge Thornberry’s nomination since Justice Fortas’ seat would not be open. 

The next most recent vacancy during an election year occurred on October 15, 1956, when Justice Milton retired from the Court. The Senate was in recess, and President Truman exercised his authority to make a recess appointment. In January of the following year the nomination became official, and on March 19, 1957, Justice Brennan was confirmed by voice vote. 

Prior to Brennan’s confirmation, the last time a vacancy that arose in an election year was filled by the sitting president, was 1932. Justice Holmes retired in January of that year, and President Hoover nominated Benjamin N. Cardozo, confirmed – you guessed it – by a voice vote. 

While there are some examples of Supreme Court appointments in election years, they are nearly universally nominated late in the year preceding the election year or early in the election year, and usually result from a vacancy the year before. Because there hasn’t been a nominee confirmed for a vacancy that has occurred in an election year before the election since 1932, it is reasonable that conclude that such vacancies should be campaign issues, as was the case last year. 

Additionally, it is important to realize Supreme Court nominations were largely nonpartisan and were largely approved by voice vote… until Robert Bork.

Robert Bork’s confirmation hearings sparked what have become known as “The Judicial Wars” of action and retaliation when it comes to the Judiciary. Most nominees have not been present in front of the Senate; the Senate would convene and discuss the qualifications to the post and then vote (with the exceptions where the name was withdrawn). With Robert Bork and the subsequent nomination (and barely successful confirmation) of Clarence Thomas, there were two new terms that were introduced to the American political lexicon: “Borking” and “high-tech lynching.” These two new terms and the nominees who were being so targeted to create these terms showed that there was a new eagerness to politicize the Supreme Court. The days where qualifications were the main consideration were numbered, but not yet gone. 

Two and three years after the confirmation hearings of Justice Thomas, respectively, the Republicans tried to go back to business as usual, when President Bill Clinton nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer to the Supreme Court. These were two eminently qualified candidates for the court, with a specific philosophy, which was particularly disagreeable to the Republicans at the time and now. How did the Senate Republicans react in the wake of two of the worst personal attacks on Supreme Court nominees ever? They not only allowed the vote to get to the floor, the votes were nearly unanimous. It was an offer of a truce.

This was a short-lived truce, however. So short lived, the next President, George W. Bush, had to deal with a failed filibuster attempt of one of his two approved nominees. John Roberts was confirmed by a vote of 78-22, but then-Senator John Kerry, joined by then Senator-Barack Obama, attempted to filibuster the nomination of Samuel Alito. The filibuster failed, but its meaning was clear: the Republicans’ attempts to move past the nomination hearings of Bork and Thomas, and get back to the precedent of approving qualified candidates, even if their philosophy was different than the Senators voting, was being rejected. The Supreme Court was going to become even more politicized.

Finally, there is an argument that, while the Democrats nuked the filibuster for the “inferior” federal courts, this is particularly egregious because the Republicans nuked the filibuster for the Supreme Court, and that is just worse. This argument is wrong. If anything, there should be a filibuster on the lower federal judgeships and not for Supreme Court nominees. This is because a vast majority of the jurisprudence of the country is handled by the lower federal courts. The Supreme Court hears around eighty cases a year, whereas the lower federal courts hear tens of thousands of cases a year. While the Supreme Court is important, the entire country pays attention when a seat opens up, and we pay attention to the nominee, this is not the case with the lower federal court judges, who also sit on the bench for life. The filibuster for lower federal court judgeships is important because the inherent check on the majority party from the voters is non-existent, because the nomination and approval of lower judgeships is not a noteworthy event in most people’s lives.

The narrative being sold to the American public is not a narrative based in fact, and designed to try and keep their base fired up for the midterm elections. It is a narrative that ignores the fact it was eighty-five years ago when a vacancy that occurred in an election year was filled in the same election year. It is a narrative that sinisterly ignores the politicization of the Supreme Court by the Democrats since 1987. This was the first real response by the Republicans in the Judicial Wars, and it was less significant that any of the actions taken by the Democrats. 

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mjw5pt@virginia.edu

1 In the 90th Congress there 64 Democratic Senators and 36 Republican Senators. The Cloture vote was 45 Aye (10 Republican and 35 Democratic Senators) to 43 Nay (24 Republican and 19 Democratic Senators) with 12 Democratic Senators missing from the vote. 
2 Justice Kennedy was nominated November 30, 1987 and approved February 3, 1988. 
3 63.6% of approved nominations before Robert Bork were confirmed by voice vote.
4 Justice Ginsburg 96-3. Justice Breyer 87-9.
5 Not that it stopped the Republicans from allowing a vote on President Obama’s two nominees.

Not the Belle of the Ball

Alex Haden '17
EIC Emeritus

So I’ve seen people talking a lot about Beauty and the Beast, and I just have to get something off of my chest: Belle is actually really mean. I know, I know: “How can you say that? She’s the best! She’s so great! She is so sweet! She sees people for who they are! She has brown hair and reads books and I used to have brown hair and read books before law school caused premature graying and destroyed my free time!” But the truth of the matter is that Belle is probably not like you. Belle is not a nice person, and if you lived in Belle’s village, you would not like her. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the opening number.

Open on a beautiful, big, gorgeous home outside of a French village. This house is very nice and clean; there is a well right in front of it; and there are at least two stories to this house. Out comes a girl in a PRISTINE white and blue dress and white apron. Like, not a speck of dirt on her. Nowhere. To live in a house this nice and have that clean of an outfit leads us to only one conclusion: Belle is rich. She’s the Kim Kardashian of this town.

And then, she begins to sing! About birds, or true love, or friendship, or about being grateful for your lot in life? Nope. About the people she lives around who she considers to be common peasants. “Little town, full of little people.” Seriously? You’re gonna walk into town singing about how you think you’re so much better than everyone else? If Kim Kardashian walked into Walmart and started telling people how basic they are, people would not like it. Yet for some reason, Belle gets a pass. Okay. I see. But this town is full of decent people. They still say hello to her, despite her lyrics, even the guy in the stockades who is being punished for adultery.

“There goes the baker with his tray like always.” Yeah, that’s his fucking job. It’s how he feeds his family. Sorry he doesn’t get to walk into your living room and yell at you about your crusty bread. And that is not “the same old bread and rolls.” Those are freshly baked. And people like them, okay? If he is making them every day, then people are clearly buying them. But sorry that the bread has been boring you since you came to this “poor provincial town.” BTW, “poor” is another reference to her being richer than them.

Then, she decides that her two-minute walk has tired her, so she jumps on the back of another person’s wagon to hitch a ride. Seriously? If some stranger jumped on the back of your car, you’d freak out. But for Belle, everyone is just there to get her from Point A to Point B. And they’re so boring about it!

Then, she heads to the bookstore. Let’s be real clear here: it’s a store. The sign out front says “Bookseller.” Not “book lender.” But of course, for Belle, everything is free. She returns a book that she has borrowed and asks for something new. The poor bookseller tries to drive her away by telling her that there have been no new deliveries, but Belle responds by recklessly playing with the ladder. Honey, that’s expensive, and you’re gonna break it, and we know you’re not gonna pay to fix it.

Then, she says, “That’s alright, I’ll borrow this one.” SHE DIDN’T EVEN ASK! SHE JUST INFORMED THE OWNER THAT SHE WAS TAKING A BOOK! THAT’S WRONG! And she’s already read it twice! There must be over 50 books in that shop, and she’s read all of them some of them twice, and hasn’t paid for a single one! And the bookseller knows exactly how many times she’s read each one, so he is clearly counting and is mad about it. To get rid of her, he lets her keep the book so she gets out of his shop and stops playing on the ladder.

Let’s be honest: if the town is as provincial as she says it is, a lot of people probably aren’t buying books. So that bookshop is probably in dire financial straits. AND SHE HAS MONEY! But she gets books for free because Belle apparently has some sort of godlike legal immunity.

Then she heads to the town square and sits on the fountain. A woman behind Belle is quietly doing her laundry, while Belle is singing loudly around her. The woman is clearly irritated with Belle, and storms off. But Belle doesn’t notice. Seriously, go watch that scene. There is no other explanation.

Belle continues to sing to sheep, and shows them pages of the book as if they can read. In her head, Belle is secretly thinking “There’s no difference between these horrible people I live around and these sheep, who probably smell really bad.” While she’s showing the book to the sheep, one of the sheep eats a page. Duh. Sheep cannot read, and they like to eat things. What did she think would happen? Good think the bookseller didn’t want that book back, because Belle does not take care of her personal belongings. I wonder how many of the bookseller’s other books have bite marks in them?

Then she walks onto a work site where men are loading goods onto a cart. She literally walks on the cart while they are working and doesn’t care if she is interrupting. No one just walks into an office and interrupts normal activity there, but, for Belle, exceptions must be made. As if that weren’t enough she balances badly on the cart and SMASHES one of the guys in the face with the cart. Teeth go flying, he spins around unconscious, and Belle doesn’t even notice or care. That dude will likely have severe medical consequences as a result of her careless intrusion into a loading zone, and she doesn’t even stop reading a book that she has already read twice.

One more refrain of “this provincial life” in the middle of the town square (where people notice that she’s being super rude to them). In fewer than five minutes, Belle has already been cast as a rich, snobby person who is rude to people around her for no reason, insulting their livelihoods and stealing from them despite her wealth.

I’m not trying to say that all Disney princesses have to be nice, sweet, kind, caring robots. I’m just interested in the truth. Belle may still be your favorite, but you have to acknowledge that if she is your favorite, it isn’t because she is overly sweet and kind and gentle and blah blah blah. Because she knocked a cart into a guy’s face and almost killed him. 

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ach7pa@virginia.edu

1 For tradition’s sake, I am looking at the 1991 version of the opening, but very few (if any) of these problems are any different in the remake.
2 You have to read between the lines, people.

Don’t Fall for “Leggings-Gate”

Kimberly Hopkin '19
Columns Editor

If you’re looking for a social controversy to throw your weight behind, the two leggings-clad girls who were not allowed on a United flight aren’t worth your time. Why on Earth would I not stand up for these girls, you ask? After all, they were ten years old, body shamed, and held to a non-publicized dress code. United Airlines doesn’t hold men to a dress code to fly, so it’s clearly sexist. For instance, the man they were flying with was allowed on wearing shorts. They are paying customers, why would United treat them this way? Simple. Because nothing in that narrative is true. If you want to know the real story, stick around.  

On Sunday, March 26, 2017, two teenaged girls were prevented from using their travel passes to board a flight from Denver to Minneapolis. The gate agent explained to them that the leggings they were wearing were not within the dress code required by United for free pass travel. The teen girls were not upset by this news. A family within earshot misunderstood the situation, thinking it applied to all passengers. Because their ten-year-old was in leggings, they became distressed. They didn’t ask the teenaged girls or the gate agent about this ‘rule.’ Instead, they retrieved a dress from her carry-on luggage and boarded the flight after throwing it over her leggings. The other two girls did not have any spare clothing in their carry-ons and stayed behind as the flight boarded. 

Shannon Watts, who witnessed the event, who had never met any of the girls before, misunderstood and thought the dress code applied to all customers. Reacting, Watts sent out three tweets over her popular social activism twitter account, @ShannonRWatts: 

“1) A @united gate agent isn’t letting girls in leggings get on flight from Denver to Minneapolis because spandex is not allowed?”

“2) She’s forcing them to change or put dresses on over leggings or they can’t board. Since when does @united police women’s clothing?”

“3) Gate agent for flt 215 at 7:55. Said she doesn’t make the rules, just follows them. I guess @united not letting women wear athletic wear?”

When United responded asking her if she was talking with the passenger, she responded, “@united They just boarded after being forced to change or put dresses on over the top of their clothing. Is this your policy?”

Shortly after, the tweets went viral and people began to voice their opinions. Celebrities like Chrissy Teigen, Patricia Arquette, and Moby, swiftly chimed in via Twitter, criticizing United Airlines for not letting customers wear leggings, blissfully unaware that these girls were not paying customers. Once United got the facts about the situation, they tried to explain the pass traveler situation via Twitter to no avail; the condemnation of United based on a narrative of an uninformed witness was swift. In fact, Shannon Watts reached out to The Washington Post while aboard the flight in question, bashing United for “sexualizing little girls.” 

On Monday, March 27, 2017, Shannon Watts admitted that she misconstrued the situation before tweeting, thinking the girls were normal paying customers. As for the man in khaki shorts that was reportedly let on the plane, well, he was a paying customer that was not related to the girls in any way. This is another mistake that has been attributed to Watts.

United Airlines, like most commercial airline companies, offers travel passes to dependents of United employees under a strict set of conditions. In exchange for dressing and behaving as representatives of the airline, friends and families can travel for free on any flight with an empty seat. To understand how important this entitlement can be, I’ll explain through my own personal experience. My father has been a Delta pilot since 1998, and my family has traveled using these passes. When he first started, the airlines had much more strict dress codes: no denim material of any kind, no shorts, no sandals, and no children in first class. Yes, sometimes my mom and dad would split up; one would take my older brother and the other would stay behind with me until seats in the economy class opened up. It took some flexibility, but because of the pass entitlements system, my family was able to take deeply discounted family vacations opening up my world to the excitement of travel. Why do they have rules for this system? Because they have customers paying for the services you are getting for free. That’s right, my mom and dad took a free trip to Sweden last summer flying in Delta One Business Class (where they have the fully reclining beds, Bose noise-reducing headphones, and gourmet meals). The customers around them paid between $4,500 and $7,000 for their tickets. 

United’s dress code is slightly more formal than Delta’s new “relaxed” dress code, but it specifically lists “form fitting Spandex/Lycra pants, tops, and dresses” as inappropriate clothing. Both sexes may wear longer shorts; neither sex may wear flip-flops or torn jeans. This is well known by the employees who use and administer the pass travel system. United has turned away a male dependent for wearing shorts and flip-flops. Other airlines go even further in forcing pass travelers to cover tattoos and take out piercings.

The teenaged girls were being held to a widely known, unambiguous employee dress code that applies equally to both sexes in exchange for completely free travel. No one even spoke to the ten-year-old about her leggings. Someone overheard the exchange, and, without asking a single question of anyone involved, decided to tweet and give press interviews on the subject alleging several wrong facts. It’s a less appealing narrative, but it has the advantage of being the truth.

Why am I taking the time to clarify this situation since it seems to have dried up in the news? Because, unfortunately, the people who have suffered because of Ms. Watt’s ignorance and bluster have done nothing wrong. United employees were reprimanded; the teenaged girls (who politely exited the gate to change and catch a later flight) no longer have pass privileges. And, even worse, girls who do suffer from overtly sexist public school dress codes for the benefit of “hormonal” teenaged boys are less likely to be taken seriously.  

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knh3zd@virginia.edu

1 http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/28/how-two-teens-in-leggings-became-a-pr-mess-for-united-airlines.html (United spokesperson explained that the girls were aware of the rule).

2 http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2017/03/27/united-leggings-false/.

3   While waiting for a different flight to Mexico City. (http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2017/03/27/united-leggings-false/)

4   https://twitter.com/united/status/845999380024836097.

5 Id

6 http://www.nationalreview.com/article/446146/united-airlines-girls-wearing-leggings-banned-pass-travelers.

7 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2017/03/26/two-girls-barred-from-united-flight-for-wearing-leggings/?utm_term=.f8d2a9b4954a.

8 http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/28/how-two-teens-in-leggings-became-a-pr-mess-for-united-airlines.html.

9 http://nypost.com/2017/03/28/fliers-still-at-war-with-united-over-leggings-debacle/.

10 http://nypost.com/2017/03/26/united-doesnt-let-teens-on-flight-because-they-were-wearing-leggings/.

11 http://www.nationalreview.com/article/446146/united-airlines-girls-wearing-leggings-banned-pass-travelers.

12 http://nypost.com/2017/03/28/fliers-still-at-war-with-united-over-leggings-debacle/.

13 http://www.marketwatch.com/story/most-travelers-say-people-wearing-inappropriate-clothes-shouldnt-be-allowed-to-fly-2017-04-08?siteid=yhoof2&yptr=yahoo.

14 http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2017/03/27/united-leggings-false/.

Women in Public Service

Daniel Bever '17
Guest Columnist

The second annual Women in Public Service event occurred last week. This year, the event included several features, most notably a panel, several roundtables, a reception, and an insightful keynote address by State Senator Jennifer McClellan (’97).

History and Purpose of Event

The annual event was founded last year by outgoing Virginia Law Women President Casey Trombley-Shapiro Jones (Law ’17), who wanted to create a public service counterpart for Virginia Law Women’s “Women in Big Law” event that would correspond with student ambitions relating to public service.  

The event enabled law students to interact and network with alumni in public service. It performed the function of disabusing law students of the notion that there is only one route into public service: entry directly after graduation.  Finally, it offered a valuable opportunity for law students to meet, interact, and network with alumni in public service.

Overall, the event left students invigorated and more knowledgeable about what it takes to enter a career in public service. They are several gateways of entry. If addressed correctly, attorneys can grow professionally and engage in a collegial bar. There are numerous ways to practice law, and, as the event demonstrated, numerous ways to practice in public service.  Public service attorneys expressed their support for events like Women in Public Service, which highlight career alternatives to the traditional law school-to-private firm pathway many students elect to take.

One Event, Two Parts

The components of the event came in two parts. The first component featured a panel and several roundtable discussions. The second included the keynote address and reception. 

While the event did not officially commence until 4:00 p.m., several panel speakers arrived earlier, interacting with other law students and practitioners over coffee and light refreshments. Building relationships and promoting interactions between law students and practitioners proved to be, as planned, one of the event’s greatest boons.

Panel and Round Tables

The panel, “Private Pathways into Public Service,” was well-attended. It was one of the event’s biggest draws in 2016, and the trend continued. The panel included five attorneys: Elisbeth Bennett (Clearly Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton); Sarah Hall (Securities and Exchange Commission, formerly Covington); Sarah Dearing Johns (Associate Counsel at Virginia Commonwealth University); Jennifer Klar (Partner at Relman, Dean & Colfax); and Lisa Lorish (Assistant Federal Defender, Federal Public Defender’s Office, formerly of McGuireWoods).  Trombley-Shapiro Jones, having launched the event in 2016, served as the panel’s moderator. Notably, the panel brought a broad swath of experiences from across the legal field: government, large-firm practice, and specialized private practice—in the immediate context, civil rights law. Particular areas addressed included the benefits and drawbacks of beginning with private practice and transitioning into public practice and strategies for overcoming obstacles from taking a private pathway into public service.

The roundtables are a new feature of the event that offered a relatively intimate environment for interaction. The groups included three or four attorneys and five to ten law students apiece. For their part, the law students certainly did not let the opportunity to engage in a frank discussion pass by, and collegially engaged attorneys with questions on each of the respective topics. Responding in kind, the practitioners did not miss the opportunity to offer valuable insight. Each roundtable had a distinct theme, “Getting Started in Public Service,” “Networking and Relationship-Building,” and “Professional Development.”  

Reception and Keynote Address

The second portion of the reception, beginning at approximately 5:30 p.m. included a networking reception and keynote address from State Senator Jennifer McClellan.

Dean Risa L. Golubuff offered an introduction to the keynote speaker, noting her ability to demonstrate that a private practice and public service need not be dichotomous. Sen. McClellan (Law ‘97) began her career in elected office in 2005, on election to the Virginia House of Delegates.  Some of her key legislative accomplishments include statutes addressing stalking and reforming underage marriage laws. She worked on several committees, including Courts of Justice and Education. In her keynote address, she noted the importance of pursuing a career in public service, when that is the earnest desire of the law student, rather than capitulating to a perceived obligation to pursue a career in private practice.  She went on to discuss the important role women play in leadership positions and lamented common-sense errors that can occur in policy-making when policy-makers are exclusively male.  She also noted the importance of claiming every issue as a woman’s issue, in particular noting the importance of women speaking out on matters such as energy rather than curtailing themselves to issues such as women’s health.

Contributors to Success

The event would not have been successful without generous efforts from several members of the Virginia Law community. Virginia Law Women organized the event with the help of its co-sponsor, the Public Interest Law Association. The Public Service Center and the Program in Law and Public Studies also significantly supported the efforts of the organizers. Finally, while not an official sponsor, Career Services offered valuable assistance by getting event coordinators and alumni together.

The Virginia Law Women’s Women in Public Service event was held at the Law School on April 6, 2017.

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dab8ru@virginia.edu

Macron on the Move

Jansen VanderMeulen '19
Executive Editor

The first round of France’s presidential election takes place later this month, and the stakes are high for all of Europe. The first round is a free-for-all: eleven candidates from across the ideological spectrum will appear on the ballot. The two candidates who receive the most votes will advance to a runoff, the winner of which will be declared President of the Republic. In the face of miserable approval ratings, incumbent President François Hollande of the Socialist Party declined to seek re-election, setting off a wild, unpredictable race to take his place in the Élysée Palace. The French Presidency has rotated for decades between the center-left Socialists and the center-right Republicans of Mr. Hollande’s predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, whom Mr. Hollande defeated in 2012. Though bitter political enemies, the Socialists and Republicans are both pro-European Union, pro-NATO, and broadly agree on the secular, welfare-state model of post-War France. 

Of the eleven candidates in the first round, the three thought to have the best chance of advancing to the runoff are Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front (FN), François Fillon of the Republicans, and Emmanuel Macron, who is running a centrist campaign under the auspices of En Marche!, a political movement of his own creation. Ms. Le Pen, the daughter of notorious Holocaust denier and 2002 presidential election-runoff loser Jean Marie Le Pen, has taken the National Front from the despised fringes of French politics to its very center; the FN took first place in the last round of European Parliament elections, shocking the French establishment. The party’s platform is a sign of resurgent European nationalism. It calls for an eclectic mix of left-wing economic policies (protecting the treasured 35-hour work week and increasing pensions for the elderly)  and right-wing populist foreign policy (holding a referendum to leave the EU and enforcing strict limits on immigration) that has proved popular with France’s depressed, ex-industrial north and its affluent, Catholic south alike.

Many observers (including your correspondent) thought, with the Socialist Party crippled and the left divided among many competing candidates, the best chance to stop Ms. Le Pen could be found with Mr. Fillon, a former prime minister in the government of Mr. Sarkozy with a right-wing ideology along the lines of that of Margaret Thatcher. That initially looked to be true; after he won the Republican nomination, polling showed that Mr. Fillon looked to be a lock to make the runoff. But a series of expense and personal scandals have dimmed his star. It is possible he will drop into fourth place behind the hard-left, perennial candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who has outstripped the Socialist Party nominee, Benoît Hamon. Mr. Macron, a former economy minister in Mr. Hollande’s beleaguered government, has roared into the contest’s lead with a counterintuitive platform. While the nationalist-populist wave consumes Britain, the U.S., and threatens German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr. Macron has become the favorite to become France’s President on a familiar platform of further European integration, cuts to France’s bloated deficit, and labor market reforms. Though a former Socialist, Mr. Macron hopes to capitalize on Mr. Fillon’s ethical difficulties and curry favor with center-right voters uncomfortable with Ms. Le Pen’s radical platform, but unwilling to support a candidate of the hard-left.

So far, Mr. Macron’s “radical centrist” movement seems to be paying off. He leads several recent first-round polls, and he leads by a daunting margin in a hypothetical head-to-head contest with Ms. Le Pen. For a European establishment that just a few months ago faced the very real prospect of a President Le Pen, Mr. Macron’s rise is welcome indeed. Ms. Le Pen is a toxic figure to mainstream Europeans. Her association with her father’s neo-fascist party, her deeply-held animus to the European project, and her blatant xenophobia have long disgusted figures across the European political spectrum, but it is her newfound affection for Russian President Vladimir Putin that is causing the most recent consternation. Ms. Le Pen visited the Kremlin last month and has claimed she “admire[s]” the authoritarian adversary of the west. More threateningly, Ms. Le Pen has spoken approvingly of Mr. Putin’s aggressive annexation of Crimea and has called for Western sanctions imposed against Russia after the territory grab to be removed. Should Ms. Le Pen manage to win the French presidency, another of the key players in the Western alliance will be led by a friend of Mr. Putin’s.

Mr. Macron presents an entirely different path. Beleaguered and bruised by Brexit, the Trump election, and rising extremes on all ends of the political spectrum, the advocates of the European project see in Mr. Macron hope for a moderate, liberal future. Critics and allies alike have compared Mr. Macron and his movement to the center-left wunderkinds of the 1990s, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. Mr. Macron does not hide his affection for the European Union or for globalization, both of which are fiercely criticized by the hard-left and hard-right alike. A Macron victory in May would give hope to liberal Europeans that, despite a recent spate of losses, their core projects remain intact. More than just hope, a victory by Mr. Macron could present liberal Europe with a roadmap for the future. Mr. Macron’s sunny, non-defensive, unabashed pro-Europe attitude is in stark contrast with battle-worn figures like Ms. Merkel or Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission. After liberal-conservative Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s re-election in the Netherlands last month, a Macron victory could give liberal Europe its mojo back. With threats like an aggressive Russia, a disengaged America, and continued economic malaise, Europe’s leaders could use all the mojo they can get.

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jmv5af@virginia.edu

1 http://www.euronews.com/2017/02/09/what-do-we-know-about-marine-le-pen-s-policies

2 Id.

3 http://www.politico.eu/article/emmanuel-macron-platform-news-election-analysis-france-reforms/

4 http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/22/frances-macron-seen-winning-presidential-vote-poll.html

5 http://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-election-poll-idUSKBN1702HZ?il=0

6 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/24/world/europe/marine-le-pen-of-france-meets-with-putin-in-moscow.html

7 Id

8 http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2016/09/why-emmanuel-macron-france-s-answer-tony-blair

9 https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/10/world/europe/emmanuel-macron-france-en-marche.html

Lessons from Across the Pond

Baruch Nutovic '19
Guest Columnist

In a momentous June referendum last year, Great Britain decided to leave the European Union. On March 29, the British government triggered Article 50, formally announcing its decision to leave the European Union and starting a two-year period for a negotiated exit. At the same time, the United Kingdom is threatened with disunity. There is a renewed push for Scottish independence, and there are calls for independence referenda in Wales and Northern Ireland as well. It’s an incredibly exciting time in British politics, and it’s worthwhile examining the British partisan landscape, the backdrop against which these developments are taking place. Moreover, a glance at the British partisan landscape can provide perspective on politics here in America. 

Changes are afoot in British politics. Parties usually lose popularity the longer they have been in government, but instead the governing Conservative Party is garnering increased support as it approaches its eighth year in power. Its poll lead over Labour, the leading opposition party, has been above ten percent for months, significantly greater than the Conservatives’ margin of victory at the 2015 general election. Prime Minister Theresa May enjoys a strong net approval rating of +13, with voters appreciating her businesslike personal style, centrist policies, and focus on expanding opportunities for the underprivileged. The Conservatives look like they are headed for a landslide reelection in 2020, which is remarkable considering that they entered government in 2010 almost 20 seats short of a parliamentary majority. 

Of course, the Conservative Party’s success is made possible by Labour’s failure. Labour is deeply divided between the moderates who dominated the party from the mid-1990s through the 2010 election, and the radicals who want Labour to be a hard-left socialist party. In two recent party leadership elections, one of the radicals’ leader, Jeremy Corbyn, prevailed. As an almost seventy-year-old white man with impeccable leftist credentials, Jeremy Corbyn is like a British Bernie Sanders, with somewhat less impressive political skills.

The story of Labour under Corbyn is a cautionary tale for those who think the Democratic Party should embrace Sanders-style radicalism. Not only has Corbyn’s weak leadership been incapable of bridging the divides in his factious party, the extremist positions he has adopted have alienated moderates in their millions. Corbyn is about as unpopular in Britain as Donald Trump.   

The result is that Labour’s poll ratings are Labour’s worst as an opposition party in the era of modern polling, at a time in the parliamentary political cycle when opposition parties are usually peaking. Labour under Ed Miliband—Corbyn’s none too popular predecessor as Labour leader—was five-to-ten points ahead in the polls at this stage, and went on to lose the general election regardless. Under Tony Blair’s moderate leadership in the mid-1990s, Labour was generally fifteen-to-twenty points ahead in the polls. It was winning by-elections—elections held to fill seats vacated during a parliament—with historic swings like the almost thirty percent swing achieved at Dudley West in December 1994. This was the prelude to the greatest electoral victory in Labour’s history: its landslide majority of 179 in 1997. 

Today, by contrast, Labour is suffering historic by-election swings to the Conservatives. In the recent Copeland by-election, they suffered a six-and-a-half percent swing to the Conservatives, and lost a seat they had held since 1935. Governing parties generally do very badly in by-elections, since by-elections are an opportunity to express dissatisfaction with the status quo. So for an opposition party to be hemorrhaging support in by-elections is nothing short of catastrophic.  Not since 1982 had a governing party even gained a seat at a by-election, and not since the Worcester by-election of 1878 had a governing party taken a seat with a swing greater than that the Conservative Party achieved in Copeland. 

Labour seems determined to turn the page forever on its most successful chapter. Tony Blair is a hated figure on the British left, partly owing to his partnership with George W. Bush in the Iraq War, but mostly because of his centrist domestic policies. It’s highly ironic since he’s the most effective leader the Labour Party has ever had. Labour has never won two successive full terms in office—except under Blair’s moderate leadership, when it won three. Jeremy Corbyn’s radicalism, by contrast, looks set to deliver a third consecutive Conservative term, with a greatly increased majority to boot. America’s Democrats would do well to consider the lessons of Labour’s struggles. 

In the context of this UK-wide party dynamic, developments in Scotland are all the more interesting. The main divide in Scottish politics is between secessionists and unionists. Naturally, the Scottish National Party (SNP) commands support from almost all secessionists. Historically, Labour was the leading unionist party. At the 1997 general election, Labour took 56 of Scotland’s 72 seats in Parliament. In recent years, due to weak leadership and rising support for independence, Scottish Labour has cratered. At the 2015 general election, the SNP took all of Labour’s seats in Scotland except one. Labour has lost support in every Scottish Parliament election since the parliament was established in 1999.  In the 2016 Scottish Parliament Election, the unthinkable happened: the Conservatives overtook Labour to claim second place behind the SNP. 

The last time a party actually won a majority of the vote in Scotland was when the Conservatives won slightly more than fifty percent in 1955. From that high-water mark, the party began an almost sixty-year decline. Margaret Thatcher was deeply unpopular in Scotland, and her legacy helped bring about the wipeout of 1997, when the Conservatives lost all their seats in Scotland. Their share of the vote in the Scottish Parliamentary Election of 2011 was in the low teens. 

The remarkable Scottish Conservatives revival has been brought about by their leader Ruth Davidson, a veteran, lesbian, and moderate who has done wonders for their image. No longer seen as an essentially English party standing for selfishness and bigotry, the Scottish Conservatives have made major inroads among erstwhile Labour voters. Unionists increasingly prefer Davidson’s strong pro-union stance to the wishy-washy unionism of the Labour Party, which is still trying to win back former supporters who defected to secessionism and the SNP. Ruth Davidson’s success is a testament to the power of personal appeal, centrism, and good strategy in politics. If the United Kingdom is saved, she will have arguably done more than anybody else to save it. 

Conservatives in America would do well to reflect on the stunning success of their ideological brethren in Britain, particularly with respect to women. Britain’s Conservatives have embraced female leadership without giving special preferences to women in their selection of female candidates, as the Labour Party has done. The result: the Conservative Party is on its second female prime minister while the Labour Party has yet to have a female leader. There is practically no gender gap in British elections, which helps explain why Britain’s Conservatives have been so successful. 

There is much to learn from today’s British political landscape. And for political junkies, following British politics can be as addictive as cocaine in times as dramatic as these.

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byn9by@virginia.edu

Feel Free to Disagree

Daniel Natal '19
Guest Columnist

Thank you for disagreeing with me. It is not an easy thing to do, I know. I am human, and we humans have fragile thoughts. We treat our ideas like children, often playing the role of the careful parent. We trust each other with the nebulous constellations in our minds and have every instinct to take offense when others fail to treat them gently. It takes a tremendous internal courage to take criticism and disagreement well—and even more to give it.

What could be more daunting, after all, than speaking your mind to contradict the thoughts of another? It is one thing to have the mettle and bravery to bare the abstractions in your head for all to hear and see, and an entirely different thing to be the person, often in the minority, to point out the flaws and imperfections within that construct. How many acquaintances have been offended, ill-feelings birthed, and friendships lost from the direct consequences of our outspoken disagreements? It is human nature to be wounded by an opposing voice, and yet we often choose to brave the risk of hurting others to offer our own dissent. 

What we must implicitly realize, and what we are inclined to ignore when it is our turn to have our opinions disputed, is just how useful disagreement can be. The world would be dramatically different if people kept their disagreement to themselves. Ideas would be furthered on one, often imperfect perspective. The devastating inefficiency of trial and error would become our only practical critique in a world full of nodding heads. The foundations of our society would be built on flawed premises. Indeed, the foundation of our profession is built on disagreement: without it, lawyers would find themselves without a cause in an already amicable and agreeable world.  

Perhaps the most important dissents come from the unpopular or contentious opinions that contravene a majority-held belief. Too often we adopt opinions because of their popularity and make them our own without ever developing the rationale or logic behind them. In a world in which we are constantly surrounded by people who similarly hold a belief, we are sometimes never asked to substantiate our opinion. Absent any challenge, the details that made up the groundwork of our belief become obscure; our opinion morphs into an intuition, based not in logic but in feeling, and incapable of being either expressed or defended from those who would seek to test it. 

Intellectual disagreement provides a forum to improve our thoughts, and provides an opportunity to cultivate our opinions and ideas. When someone confronts the logic behind our opinions, we are forced to think through them. No longer are we permitted to allow logic and reason to disappear into the foreground in such instances—dissent forces us to preserve the original reasons behind the formulation of our opinion, and share them with another. If the challenge is met, and we come to reinforce our reasoning through verbalization, then we are more prepared to support our opinions in the future. 

Dissent from a commonly-held belief has the added benefit of forcing us to reassess societal norms. It is a healthy and necessary thing in our world to question what we have otherwise come to take for granted. There is no harm to be found in being open-minded to such ventures; if we find the norm to be validated and demonstrably worth supporting, we can continue believing it, developing it, and urging people to join in it. Should the opposite be true, however, and the idea be antiquated or otherwise outdated, we are shaken loose from the self-reinforcing cycle of approval and acceptance that encourages potentially harmful customs. Disagreement with a popular outlook is, in this way, an invaluable societal safeguard. 

Voicing a different view is a thankless responsibility. There are few things as difficult and as necessary as providing a dissenting voice. As law students, we should be mindful of this persisting truth, and make every effort within ourselves to resist the temptation to exhibit hostility towards people who disagree with us—their objections will, ultimately, do us a service by providing us an opportunity to solidify and tangibly articulate the otherwise undeveloped ideas in our mind. No useful purpose is served when we deter future disagreement with our in-class arsenal of whispered rebukes, exasperated sighs, and condescending eye-rolls.

Fear of backlash from the classroom often suppresses free thought and leads people to qualify and marginalize their own opinions when they differ from someone else’s. Consistently negative responses to disagreement inspire a general reluctance to disagree with one another in a classroom environment. Dissenters are forced to tiptoe, adopting gentle, neutral phrases like “pushback” to mask a difference of opinion under a placid veil, hoping to avoid triggering their peers’ sensitivities. Many of us have, at some point, villainized another student for their academic and intellectual discourse when it deviates from our own point of view. Perhaps our student body could do a little better to keep our minds open to the harmless nature of disagreement. Civil disagreement should be viewed as a continuation of our thought process, not an attempt to destroy it.  

We could all learn a thing or two from Ralph Waldo Emerson, who once said, “let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.” It wouldn’t hurt for many of us to remind ourselves of the truth behind Mr. Emerson’s words. And to those of you who do choose to speak up, have the nerve to say what nobody else might be thinking, andswim against the current of popular thought and directly into the maws of widespread criticism: thank you. You are appreciated, even if it often goes unsaid. 

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dan2rf@virginia.edu

Populist Wave Hits Dutch Breakwater

Jansen Vandermeulen '19
Executive Editor

The right-wing populist wave sweeping across the Western world hit an unexpected floodwall last week. In elections in the Netherlands on Wednesday, far-right Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom (PVV) came up short in their quest to become the Netherlands’ largest party in the Dutch parliament. The Trump lookalike Mr. Wilders, running on a one-page platform that included such pledges as “Close all mosques and Islamic schools, ban the Koran,” and “The Netherlands independent again. Leave the EU,” had long led polls in the election, though few expected him to eventually form a government given the Dutch system’s insistence on multi-party coalitions. Still, the specter of a man who compared the Koran to Mein Kampf coming in first in Europe’s most famously liberal nation was enough to preoccupy European leaders looking worriedly to France’s upcoming presidential election, in which the far-right National Front is looking competitive. 

Defying expectations, the Netherlands’ mainstream parties largely contained Mr. Wilders’ rise. While the PVV gained seats, moving from fifteen seats to twenty in the 150-seat House of Representatives, the mainstream center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) of Prime Minister Mark Rutte won the day. The party’s thirty-three seats are eight fewer than in the past election, but Mr. Rutte is expected to be able to find the seats for a governing coalition among the other large parties, including the center-right Christian Democratic Appeal, the liberal Democracy66, and the left-wing GreenLeft. The liberal European establishment breathed a sigh of relief. “The centre holds,” The Economist declared, while German newspaper Der Spiegel headlined its story on Mr. Rutte’s victory with the phrase “A Triumph of Reason.” 

Columnist Max Wagner wrote in the March 22nd edition of Law Weekly of the Dutch elections as a defeat of the so-called “Leftist Establishment.” That view grossly oversimplifies the dynamics. First, placing European parties on a simple left-right spectrum ignores the significant differences therein on almost every issue. The left-of-center, in particular, has two distinct factions. One, exemplified by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, might be termed the “liberal left.” It is pro-European Union, pro-NATO, and less skeptical of free markets than traditional European leftists. The other group, epitomized by German party Die Linke (“The Left”) and the British Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn, is more traditionally left-wing. It opposes Western adventurism in foreign affairs, is deeply skeptical of free markets, and sees the European Union as inappropriately neoliberal in its favor of free trade. Mr. Wagner points out that the center-left Dutch Labor Party (PvdA) struggled mightily in last week’s election and attributes their disappointing result to the failure of the global left. What he fails to mention is that the party that increased both its vote percentage and seat total the most was GreenLeft. While not as anti-West as the former communists of Die Linke or as stridently anti-NATO as Mr. Corbyn, GreenLeft is dramatically more left-wing than the PvdA. Its dominance represents a triumph of the West-skeptical left, and should not be celebrated by right-wingers such as Mr. Wagner.

Mr. Wagner is right to point out that Mr. Rutte made right-wing gestures in his battle with Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and thereby strengthened his hand with PVV-favoring voters. A diplomatic kerfuffle with the Muslim-majority country responsible for a large portion of the Netherlands’ foreign population bolstered Mr. Rutte’s standing with voters on the right tired of immigration. The well-timed episode, with Mr. Rutte refusing Turkey’s foreign minister entry into his country’s airspace and being called a Nazi by Mr. Erdogan, robbed Mr. Wilders of needed momentum and made Mr. Rutte look strong and decisive just in time for polling day. But the long-term consequences of the dispute are not yet clear. In his victory speech, Mr. Rutte condemned “the wrong kind of populism,” as if to say there was a right kind. His victory may, as Mr. Wagner believes, hail a rightward shift among Europe’s traditionally pro-immigration center-right parties. 

Threatened by populists (often aligned with Russia) on the hard right and facing a disintegrating or directionless center-left, center-right figures like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May have found it to their advantage to co-opt some of the far-right’s immigration rhetoric. After taking millions of Syrian refugees and facing a revolt from more conservative members of her Christian Democrats, Ms. Merkel has tightened Germany’s refugee policy in advance of her bid for a fourth term this autumn, even as the Euroskeptic far-right, Alternative for Germany (AfD) has won key elections on Ms. Merkel’s home turf. Ms. May, an opponent of Brexit prior to her premiership, has determined that the UK will break cleanly with the EU, enacting a so-called “hard Brexit” that severs ties with the European single market as a means of controlling immigration. The poll standing of the right-wing, anti-immigrant United Kingdom Independence Party has fallen by about a third since Ms. May made clear that the UK would end its formal relations with the EU. 

Mr. Rutte has shown that there is electoral success to be found in taking a harder line toward immigration from outside Europe. Expect other conservatives, especially in Germany, to follow his lead. If they can win election in the face of an emboldened far-left and a menacing far-right, mainstream conservatives will look to Mr. Rutte’s method in this election as their textbook for survival. Mr. Rutte’s skepticism of immigrants and outsiders may have been politically successful, but whether it is healthy for European politics and society is another question entirely. Should other right-of-center, traditionally liberal parties adopt the approach, the face of Europe is likely to change, and its longstanding consensus regarding openness to immigrants is likely to wither.

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jmv5af@virginia.edu

1 http://www.geertwilders.nl/index.php/94-english/2007-preliminary-election-program-pvv-2017-2021

2 http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21718929-nonetheless-new-type-identity-politics-emerging-netherlands-geert-wilderss

3 http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/why-mark-rutte-won-election-in-the-netherlands-a-1139055.html

4 http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/angela-merkel-tightens-germany-s-rules-for-migrants-1.2481503

5 http://time.com/4636078/theresa-may-hard-brexit-single-market/

6 http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/voting-intention-2

Alternative Spring Break: Pro Bono in the Big Easy

Shannon Lane '18
Guest Contributor

Instead of spending their spring break on vacation or relaxing at home, nine groups of students joined Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trips. The ASB program, run by PILA, facilitates trips to serve for a full week with a public service organization. This year, students contributed over 1,000 pro bono hours to organizations in areas including public defense, children’s rights, immigration, environmental law, and general legal aid work. Students get another line on their resume, but they also have the opportunity to learn about new practice areas, get practical experience, and establish professional connections, all while knowing that the work they do goes a long way towards helping these organizations serve their clients. 

Photo courtesy content.law.virginia.edu

Photo courtesy content.law.virginia.edu

The trips were designed to give students a wide variety of options concerning the type of work and the location, and the pre-arranged trips ensure that students are easily able to find pro bono opportunities. Students applied for the program in November and have been preparing for the trips since then as they fundraised and got to know their teams. For those wishing to stay in Charlottesville, both the Legal Aid Justice Center and Central Virginia Legal Aid Society hosted students. Alternatively, students could head to DC to work with the public defender’s office or Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services. Students could also go to Norfolk’s federal public defenders or the Appalachian Citizen’s Law Center in Kentucky to work on health and environmental issues.  Other students spent the week doing immigration work with Church World Services in Greensboro, NC, at the Council for Children’s Rights in Charlotte and at the New Orleans public defender’s office. 

Participants had opportunities to do critical work in interesting areas. The students working with Catholic Charities in DC spent the week trying to get a client’s bond reduced, researching asylum cases, translating legal documents, and working with client intake. I personally spent a large part of my week drafting a brief for an appeal in a minor’s deportation case, which involved researching jurisdiction issues, examining and distinguishing adverse precedent, and looking for multiple avenues to protect our client’s procedural due process rights before the Board of Immigration Appeals. Another group, working with the Council for Children’s Rights, assisted the lawyers there by researching issues, including the role of attorneys assigned for a child’s best interest and how to use litigation to ensure that children can get mental health care and foster care placements. They also had the opportunity to observe several proceedings and were inspired by the dedication to protecting children show by everyone in the legal process. 

The trip to New Orleans to work with the Orleans Public Defenders was by far the largest ASB trip this year. Students were each assigned to work with an attorney and spent the week reviewing body camera footage, working on procedural documents including interrogatories and discovery requests, joined attorneys on jail visits and in the courtroom, and researching anything the attorneys needed. For example, 1L Andrew Papa described his work looking for different ways to exculpate a client, including determining if the client’s Miranda rights were violated, researching possible defenses the attorney could raise, and drafting an investigation report to question witnesses. 

Still, it was spring break, and students made sure they had a good time. After work, students were free to explore their cities and spend time with friends. Students in DC made time for museums. The New Orleans group explored the city’s famous live music and food scenes, and even made it to a Pelicans basketball game. Some students were able to join a trip headed to their hometown. Despite the work involved, it wouldn’t be a spring break trip without some vacation. 

ASB, and pro bono work in general, present unique and valuable opportunities for law students. “What was a means to reach the fifty-hour pro bono requirement to qualify for the New York Bar (hours I had put off so far during law school) turned into so much more. On my first day, I put direct lessons from law school to work. I watched two hours of police body camera footage looking for Fourth Amendment violations. I was able to propose arguments and counterarguments that could potentially lead to the suppression of illegally obtained evidence. Most importantly, I could ensure that a client’s constitutional rights were secured. It felt amazing,” said Gannam Rifkah, a 3L who went on the New Orleans trip. 

As any student who has done pro bono work in law school knows, it gives students a chance to explore new fields, get practical experience, and give back to communities in ways that only lawyers and law students can. With an ASB trip, students can spend a full week immersed in the operations of some incredible public service legal organizations, work closely with staff and other volunteer attorneys, and grow their understanding of the law. As the ASB program grows each year, students will have expanded options and can find just the trip that they are looking for. 

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skl2tb@virginia.edu

Trump and Gorsuch Would Like You to Know that You Do Not Exist

Greg Ranzini '18
News Editor

“Nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated.” It’s generally a pretty bad idea to spend too much time thinking about anything that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth, but something about that particular statement stuck in my craw. Such is the zeitgeist, I suppose, that such an inane comment not only demands attention but lingers for a month as a familiar, subconscious distraction, like a television left on in the next room or a skin tag. It’s one thing to know that the GOP is hell-bent on scrapping the social safety net and that there’s nothing you can do about it; that’s sadly nothing we haven’t seen before. The bewilderment and petulant “stop hitting my fist with your face” frustration, though? That’s a new wrinkle. 

It’s safe to say that some people other than Donald Trump were aware of healthcare’s complexity. Rather, as we’re learning to our chagrin, when Trump asserts a fact, more often than not it is something else, whether an aspiration, delusion, confabulation, or deception. That goes double when he’s stating core tenets of Trumpism, such as: “Donald Trump is the only conscious being in the universe,” “nothing exists apart from that which Donald Trump comprehends,” and, naturally, “object permanence is fake news.” His is a pseudo-Cartesian skepticism, expounded by an illiterate. 

The problem for Trump is that the world is largely made of “other people,” and at last count, approximately zero of them like his healthcare plan. Some, notably the fire-eaters in the House, won’t accept anything short of a total repeal. Or, perhaps, they simply can’t, having noted that, while the Affordable Care Act is popular, “Obamacare” is not, and made the cynical decision to stake their seats on the support of the 45% of Americans (at last count) who don’t know that the two are the same thing. On the other side, Trump also faces opposition from House and Senate Democrats who, while distressingly willing to hedge and triangulate under normal circumstances, have at least decided that it would be bad politics to sign their names to undoing President Obama’s signature achievement. Their front has been so superficially unified that one might almost be forgiven for believing that the Democrats have grown spines—a happy enough fantasy until one remembers that their refusal, with the Presidency and a two-house supermajority at their fingertips, to enact a first-world healthcare system instead of a cruel, bureaucratic, and uselessly compromised insurance company giveaway caused this mess in the first place. You know your ideas suck when you create a law that saves thousands of lives, but half the people you save are still out for your blood.

Rounding out the roster of “other people” are the millions of Americans who still don’t know whether they’ll have health insurance this time next year. Trump may be able to hide away in his golf resort on the weekends, but those GOP politicians who still bother to have public town hall meetings have been seeing plenty of them lately. Whether they matter at all in the present political situation is still up for debate, however. When “Trumpcare” crashed and burned last Friday, it still did so mostly on party lines. Although the Republicans may harbor some concerns about electoral fallout in the abstract, that wasn’t enough to stop the vast majority of them from trying to take away their constituents’ healthcare. That said, they were at least unwilling to put the question to a roll-call vote. Democracy in action?

The result, for the Affordable Care Act, can only be described as a “stay of execution.” Certainly, the attempt to neutralize it through the budget reconciliation process has failed for the moment, as has every other vote on the issue since the GOP regained the House in the 112th Congress. It remains to be seen whether Trump will follow through on last week’s threat to abandon the idea should this attempt fail. Even if he were to try again, however, his party is unlikely to play ball for the moment: his “threatened” outcome affords them a vital opportunity to save face. Still, expect them to return to the issue just as soon as their President’s goldfish-like attention span scuttles their tax reform plans.

Over in the Senate, meanwhile, we were properly introduced this past week to what a Trump Supreme Court nominee looks like. It wasn’t pretty. On the occasion of Neil Gorsuch’s nomination seven weeks ago, I remarked that, with his conventional mien, “he appear[ed] to be the ringmaster in a tent full of clowns.” That analysis remains accurate as to aesthetics, but does not fully capture the profoundly repugnant human being that we saw smirking and yukking it up on C-SPAN. Asked repeatedly to defend the indefensible, Gorsuch did so with evident gusto. 

Consider Judge Gorsuch’s dissent in TransAm Trucking, Inc. v. Admin. Review Bd., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13071 (10th Cir. July 15, 2016), and his defense of that dissent when asked about it during his hearing. If you haven’t read it already (and you should), here are the facts in TransAm in a nutshell: Alphonse Maddin, a trucker, found himself stranded on the side of the road in subzero temperatures. The brakes on his trailer were frozen solid, and the heating unit in his cab had failed. He radioed for assistance and was told by his company that a repairman was on the way and he was not to leave the cargo. So he waited for two hours, eventually falling asleep, until his cousin fortuitously called him on the phone. Here’s what happened next, according to the majority in the Tenth Circuit:

According to [Maddin’s cousin, Gregory] Nelson, Maddin’s speech was slurred and he sounded confused. When Maddin sat up, he realized his torso was numb and he could not feel his feet. He called Road Assist again and told the dispatcher his bunk heater was not working. He also told the dispatcher about his physical condition and asked when the repairperson would arrive. The dispatcher told Maddin to “hang in there.”

About thirty minutes after his second call to Road Assist, Maddin became concerned about continuing to wait in the freezing temperatures without heat. He unhitched the trailer from the truck, pulled the truck about three feet away, and called his supervisor, Larry Cluck. Maddin told Cluck he couldn’t feel his feet and was having trouble breathing because of the cold. Cluck repeatedly told Maddin to turn on the APU even though Maddin told Cluck several times it was not working.

When Maddin told Cluck he was leaving to seek help, Cluck told Maddin not to leave the trailer, instructing him to either drag the trailer with its frozen brakes or remain with the trailer until the repairperson arrived. Maddin did not follow either instruction but, instead, drove off in the truck leaving the trailer unattended.

Id. at *3.

TransAm subsequently fired Maddin. The Department of Labor Administrative Review Board (ARB) found that this termination violated the Surface Transportation Assistance Act, because it constituted retaliation against Maddin for reporting an equipment failure. Two judges of the Tenth Circuit agreed, and declined to second-guess the ARB. Judge Gorsuch, however, disagreed. By his reckoning, Maddin had a choice: 

“He could drag the trailer carrying the company’s goods to its destination (an illegal and maybe sarcastically offered option.) Or he could sit and wait for help to arrive (a legal if unpleasant option). The trucker chose None of the Above, deciding instead to unhook the trailer and drive his truck to a gas station.”

. . .

In [the majority’s] view, an employee should be protected not just when he “refuses to operate a vehicle” but also when he “refuses to operate a vehicle in the particular manner the employer directs and instead operates it in a manner he thinks safe.” Yet those words just aren’t there; the law before us protects only employees who refuse to operate vehicles, period. Imagine a boss telling an employee he may either “operate” an office computer as directed or “refuse to operate” that computer. What serious employee would take that as license to use an office computer not for work but to compose the great American novel? Good luck.

Id. at *23-*23, *26.

In other words, given the choice between “defy[ing] the laws of physics,” Id. at *16, pointlessly risking his life, and saving himself, Maddin picked his life over the directives of his employer. How dare he. Think back to a time that you were cold and stranded. Can you remember how it felt? If you’ve never experienced a winter weather emergency, can you at least imagine yourself in Maddin’s situation and get an idea of how you might have acted? Congratulations! You have a greater capacity for empathy than the man who will probably be our newest Supreme Court Justice. How do you feel about that? If you’re Neil Gorsuch, you probably think that’s beside the point. After all, as he complained at one point during his hearing, it really is just so hard being Neil Gorsuch: “When Byron White sat here, it was ninety minutes. He was through this body in two weeks. And he smoked cigarettes while he gave his testimony.” What kind of barbarians, indeed, would have have the temerity to delay and obstruct a Supreme Court nomination?

Perhaps it should not come as a surprise that a man hand-picked by Donald Trump would share some of his pathologies, but the openness with which Neil Gorsuch rejects the equal humanity of everyone not named Neil Gorsuch still astounds. That he expresses that malignant character through a legal philosophy based on callous pedantry is all the more disqualifying, although it does bring his temperament that much further in line with that of the former occupant of his presumptive seat. Still, Judge Gorsuch should not rest assured of his confirmation. Senate Democrats might yet succeed in forcing Trump to withdraw his nominee, and if last Friday was any guide, we have a pretty good idea of how he will react: scrub his plan, pretend that he’s gotten what he wants, and turn his limited attention elsewhere. It’s anticlimactic, but hey—nobody knew being President could be so complicated.

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gpr7qx@virginia.edu

Libel's Day Off: A Preview

Joe Baerenz '17
Libel Director

For those of you that don’t know what “The Libel Show” is (and no one really does until they attend it once), Libel is a sketch comedy musical parody show of law school, law culture, law professors, law firms, law students, and the law generally. The show started as some kind of fraternity hazing ritual held on the Rotunda steps over a century ago (lol @ our not-so-shocking ancestry), and has since morphed into a full-scale production with a live band, a ninety-member cast, and flowing keg(s). This is the 109th Libel Show, which makes the show the oldest organization at UVa Law. It has not operated continuously, as it took a break for WWII (serious reason) and was banned for a number of years in the 1920s, apparently because students performed a skit in which a professor who was later to become the Dean participated in a shotgun wedding (he was in the process of marrying a much younger woman at the time). Gods willing, the show will not get permanently banned this year, but it is some small comfort to know that law students were definitely crossing the line some 90 years before my tenure as director. 

I have always seen the show as a sort of cathartic conversation between various parties. For example, last year Professor Kim Ferzan performed “Give An ‘F’” to the tune of “Let it Go,” expressing the feelings that professors have when dealing with students who clearly didn’t give an “F.”  Fortunately, professors are bound by the rules of the curve and strongly discouraged by the administration from actually failing people who turn in an exam, no matter what kind of detritus is sprawled over the ten-twenty pages that the indifferent students have produced. On the other side of it, the premise of “Cold Call Ninja” was an APALSA mentor teaching his 1L how to pretend to be an LL.M as a means of avoiding cold calls, and was based on Teddy Toyozaki’s real experiences. Incidentally, Teddy, Kevin Benedicto, and Andrew Chen (all Libel alumni) were not only confused for LL.M students, presumably owing to their Asian heritage, but were on multiple occasions confused for each other on the law school website. When a life in the law provides that kind of material, it is truly a blessing that Libel is here to satirize it.  

Libel is also in conversation with the Law School administration. Last year we really went after Dean Dugas’ instructional emails, which included a lot of screenshots, no clickable links, and tended to utilize…wait for it…arrows and circles in Microsoft Paint (throwwwbaccckkk!). In a truly sporting manner, not only did Dean Dugas attend the show and laugh, but he bought the entire cast shot glasses with the word “screen” on them. Though Libel’s interactions with the administration do not always have such amicable endings, we try to restrain ourselves from being too unkind in the name of humor—you can decide how well we succeed in that. Dean Davies undoubtedly catches the worst of it (because what’s a play without a villain?) but this year we have tried (a little) to give voice to her perspective. We also go after each other pretty hard, so we at least spread the love evenly. 

Libel is also a contributor to our much-lauded UVa law culture. Because it is a fairly large and random cross-section of moderately talented 1Ls, 2Ls, and 3Ls who are dedicating their time and energy to satirizing the Law School, Libel tends to have a longer institutional memory than most of the organizations in this transient place. For instance, I never would have known that the grades of everyone who applied for a clerkship in 2014 were inadvertently sent to the entire 3L class that year, or that Student Health had somehow accidentally sent out social security numbers a few years before that, or that once upon a time Dean Geis brought his classes ice cream, probably as a ploy to get good course evaluations when he was just a visiting professor from Alabama. See what kind of vitally important information Libel keeps alive? 

Most of all, Libel is just plain fun. Putting 900 high-achieving twenty/thirty-somethings in a small-ish foodie town in the middle of Virginia for three years is a recipe for hijinks. I’ve often told admitted students or new 1Ls in the context of coming from a city with lots of things to do that we “make our own fun.” Libel is at once one of the ways we occupy ourselves in our spare hours and a comment on the rest of the things we manage to come up with. So expect it to be replete with references to PILA, Barristers Ball, Foxfield Races, The Biltmore, Softball Weekend, Feb Club, etc. More than just referring to those large-scale Law School events though, I would rank Libel amongst them. Even if we’re not funny (and, biased as I am, I think that we are) we are most certainly having fun, and as an audience member you should too. Despite the fact that, in the words of former Dean John Jeffries, “I’ve never seen a Libel Show that was too short,” there is baseline good value in seeing your professors impersonated well, your classmates dance around the stage, and a bunch of muscular straight dudes prance around in women’s clothing. So come to Libel 109: Libel’s Day Off, and meet (or reacquaint yourself) with the weirdest, craziest, and most amusing institution at the University of Virginia School of Law. At the risk of sounding unduly sentimental, I instantly fell in love with the show as a 1L. Whether you’re a professor, an administrator, a Law School employee, a law student, or a guest of one, I hope all of you do too. 

Ever Yours,

—Joe Baerenz, Director, The 109th Libel Show

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fjb9aj@virginia.edu

 

How to Choose a Journal

Eric Hall '18
Managing Editor

Congratulations! You got an offer (or two) to join a journal. Now you have some decisions to make; first, whether to accept your offer, and if you were lucky enough to get two, which one to take. There’s a lot of misinformation around North Grounds about journals, their importance, and the differences between them. With this article, I seek to clarify some of that. I won’t say which journal is the best or the most prestigious (I’m plainly biased). And I don’t seek to answer every question for every person. I can only give you my suggestions for criteria that might matter to you speaking as someone who got on a journal, achieved a leadership position, and found a good job at OGI. 

Should I Join a Journal?

Too often 1Ls overlook the most basic question they should be asking: is it even worth it to join a secondary journal? The answer, I think, is usually yes, but not for the reason you’ve often heard parroted. You should not join a journal if you’re only doing it because you heard employers will “think you’re weird” if you don’t have one of our 10 journals printed on your résumé. Of the dozens of law firms I interviewed with at OGI, only one associate ever asked about VLBR, and only because he was an alumnus of the journal. The reality is that by your interviews next fall, you won’t really have a clue about how a journal is run. At best, you’ll have done one cite check. Certain journals do offer 1L leadership positions, but even if you take on one of these, your responsibilities won’t kick in until after OGI. Come OGI, you won’t have a lot to say about your journal. If you find yourself discussing your 1L journal experience, something has gone terribly wrong in that interview. You should have something on your résumé that is more interesting to talk about. That might be a student organization or a pro bono activity; if you find it more interesting than working on a journal, that’s a perfectly legitimate, non-weird reason to have no journal on your résumé. 

Don’t mistake me, journals are helpful for OGI. If there’s an area of the law that is lacking on your résumé, journals serve as a strong signal of your commitment to the topic. Over the tryout weekend, you committed a huge chunk of time so that you could, purportedly, immerse yourself in business law, or tax law, or law and politics. This goes doubly if you manage to get a leadership position. You show employers that you’re not just on a journal because “this is Virginia, and everyone’s on a journal.” But these benefits are no greater than taking on leadership in most other student organizations. 

The real benefit of being on a journal comes from meaningful engagement with the process of legal scholarship. Legal scholarship is unique in that we let students—often with nearly zero experience in the field—choose and edit the articles that define the cutting edge of law. This bizarre arrangement is evidently built on a social compact that entrusts law students with incredible power in exchange for our free Bluebooking services. This is great for us! We get to work with powerful thought-leaders at law schools across the nation and we produce a real marketable product with our names on it that will (hopefully) be cited time and again. For anyone committed to studying the law, there are few more rewarding activities in law school. 

Which Journal Should I Join?

The extent to which you will have the above experience can vary tremendously, however, depending on which journal you choose and what position you hold. The same position on different journals will have vastly different opportunities to engage like this. If you want to understand how a journal works, interact with authors, and have a hand on the helm, you’ll want to choose a journal that offers 1L leadership. Getting involved early is the best way to get involved deeply. VLBR, for example, offers Articles Editor positions to certain 1Ls, which puts them in a position of ownership over an entire article. Ask the upper managing board of the journal you’re considering what roles they served when they were 1Ls, and then ask what the selection process was for their jobs.

Your ability to shape and direct legal scholarship also depends on the strength of your journal. If you have a strong interest in one particular area, such as environmental law or technology law, this point may be less important. But if you’re more or less indifferent, you’ll want to choose a journal that is stable and respected. You can gauge how well-respected a journal is by inquiring about its peers and the credentials of the authors that typically publish in the journal. Stability comes from the journal’s ability to attract top talent from the journal tryout year after year, the journal’s ability to maintain subscriptions and solicit articles, and—perhaps most important—its ability to publish on a regular, timely schedule. Be sure to ask about these features at your journal’s office hours and open houses this week. In particular, ask when the journal published last. This year, with impending audits and the administration limiting funding to journals, stability is more important than ever. Choose a journal that will be here next fall and after you graduate. 

Finally, it’s worth asking about what is expected of you as an editorial board member on the journal. Most journals will only tell you how many cite checks you’ll do, but not how many footnotes per cite check are expected of you. Having only three cite checks means nothing when each one is 50 footnotes. Will there be a note requirement? If so, can you submit a paper written for one of your classes? A good rule of thumb is that a larger journal requires less work from each individual editor. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t responsibility available to those who want it. Although it may be true that you can ascend more quickly in a smaller journal, larger journals allow for more direct leadership early on as well as a greater likelihood that you’ll actually see your name on a published product.

There are plenty of peripheral considerations that may influence your decision more personally (e.g., does the journal still print? Will it have a symposium?). But the criteria I’ve named here should be central to your decision. Don’t worry too much about which journals have the best food or the fanciest office. Those are irrelevant. Instead pay attention to features that will let you leave your mark on legal scholarship.

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ech8vm@virginia.edu  

1 Haven’t received an offer yet? Pocket this article. It’ll come in handy when you do.
2 I serve as the Editor-in-Chief of the Virginia Law & Business Review.
3 VLBR received 127 applications this year, 33 more than the next most popular secondary journal.

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Events

Julia Schast '17
Guest Columnist

In recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW), taking place April 2–8, 2017, the Domestic Violence Project (DVP) at the University of Virginia School of Law is hosting a series of events both on and off grounds. Students and faculty are welcome, and indeed encouraged, to attend. 

The 2017 NCVRW theme is “Strength. Resilience. Justice.” This theme reflects a vision for the future, in which all victims are strengthened by the responses they receive, organizations are resilient in responding to challenges, and our communities are able to seek collective justice and healing. 

DVP is specifically focused on inclusivity and helping people find common ground at the intersection of their varied personal interests and concerns. To that end, DVP will be sponsoring the following events during NCVRW:

(1) Community Day Booth

Where: Sprint Pavilion at the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville

When: Sunday, April 2nd 1–4pm

What: Local and state organizations involved with different aspects of victims’ rights will gather as part of an annual Community Day held during NCVRW to show their solidarity with the community and support awareness for victims’ rights. These groups include the Sexual Assault Resource Agency, Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, Offender Aid and Restoration, and the UVa and Albemarle Police Departments.

DVP will attend to pass out informational materials to adults about local resources for victims and will provide face-painting for their accompanying children. 

Admission to the event is free and the afternoon will include music, games, food, contests, and prizes. 

(2) NCVRW Awareness Tabling and Raffle Entry

Where: Table #3 in Hunton & Williams Hallway outside of Scott Commons in UVa Law School, Charlottesville

When: Monday, April 3rd – Friday, April 7th from 10:00am–3:00pm

What: DVP will be selling raffle tickets ($2 each), T-shirts, and other awareness merchandise (e.g. pins, bracelets, temporary tattoos). All proceeds will be donated to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). 

Since January 1st 2017, there have been 145 domestic violence gun-related fatalities. That is approximately one death every fourteen hours, committed by a spouse, ex-spouse, or dating partner. That doesn’t even account for violence committed without the use of a firearm. In response to these extremely troubling statistics, the NCADV is committed to serving as a voice for victims of domestic violence by adopting the following mission: “We are the catalyst for changing society to have zero tolerance for domestic violence.  We do this by affecting public policy, increasing understanding of the impact of domestic violence, and providing programs and education that drive that change.”

Current raffle prizes include:

two leather laptop bags from Lo & Sons (worth $428 each); two gift cards to Cville Coffee ($15 each); two gift cards to Greenberry’s ($25 each); two gift cards to Sedona Taphouse ($25 each); one gift card to Mudhouse ($20). 

Make sure to stop by the table during NCVRW to receive an updated list of available prizes and enter the raffle for a chance to win. There is no limit on the number of tickets each person can purchase. Winners will be announced on Friday, April 7th. 

 (3) Profit-Share Fundraiser at Mezeh Mediterranean Grill

Where: Mezeh Mediterranean Grill at 2015 Bond Street in the Stonefield Shopping Center, Charlottesville 

When: Tuesday, April 2nd from 5:30–8:30pm

What: Mezeh will donate 15% of each meal purchased by customers who mention DVP’s name at check-out and add their receipt to the fundraiser basket. All proceeds will go to the Charlottesville Shelter for Help in Emergency (SHE). In addition to providing temporary housing, SHE provides comprehensive social services, including legal referrals, to both adult and child victims of domestic violence. All details and a link to commit to eat at Mezeh during the fundraiser can be found on DVP’s Facebook Page. 

(4) Beyond Gender: Combating the Effects of the Traditional Gender Narrative on Domestic Violence

Where: Purcell Reading Room in UVa Law School, Charlottesville

When: Wednesday, April 5th from 10:30-11:45am

What: DVP is hosting a panel discussion about how gender stereotypes and heteronormative perceptions of domestic violence have impacted efforts to both prevent and respond to instances of interpersonal violence. The panelists will address these issues in the context of the factors that lead to under-reporting by victims, the recently implemented Lethality Assessment Protocol (LAP) being used by Charlottesville police, the evidentiary challenges that arise during prosecution, and the warning signs of an abusive interpersonal relationship. 

Panelists include:

Major Laura O’Donnell (JAG School); Robin Jackson (Legal Advocate/Outreach Counselor at SHE); Jon Zug (Albemarle Circuit Court Clerk; former Assistant
Commonwealth Attorney); Neal Goodloe (Client Services Consultant at Northpointe, Inc. for
correctional systems)

Light refreshments will be served to all attendees, including vegetarian and gluten-free options. All details can be found on DVP’s Facebook Page.

(5) National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Intersectionality Lunch

Where: Caplin Pavilion in UVa Law School, Charlottesville

When: Wednesday, April 5th from 12:00-2:30pm

What: DVP is hosting a luncheon for all UVa students and faculty to discuss the legal and social struggles facing victims of different crimes. The purpose of this event is to provide a forum for students to interact with professors and visiting practitioners about intersecting aspects of victimization. 

The event will begin with a welcome from Dean Risa Goluboff, followed by an address from keynote speaker Tim Heaphy, a current partner at Hunton & Williams and former United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia. Students will then have the opportunity to move freely among the professors and guest speakers stationed throughout the room to discuss the interplay among different types of crime and victims, in accordance with each speakers’ area of expertise. Topics of interest will include sexual assault, police misconduct, government corruption and white collar crime, juvenile justice, wrongful convictions and the death penalty, and discriminatory crime based on gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and both physical and mental disability. 

A buffet lunch will be provided to all attendees and will include vegetarian options. Students interested in or committed to attending are encouraged to RSVP by Monday, April 3rd through the following link: https://goo.gl/forms/UlH5t5deAsu17eNH2.

That link, along with event details, can also be accessed on DVP’s Facebook Page. 

DVP is so pleased to be offering such an exciting array of opportunities for students to get involved with this year’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Questions about attending any of the above events can be directed to Julia Schast (jes9hg@virginia.edu). 

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jes9hg@virginia.edu

 

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.

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kmm2bb@virginia.edu

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.”

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gpr7qx@virginia.edu