A New Dawn for UVa Law?

Phoebe Willis '18
(she/her/hers)
Guest Columnist

Despite my best attempts to write the open letter to the Student Records Office in a collaborative and positive tone, I can imagine that it would be off-putting for any administrator to read a letter to them in the Law Weekly without the student first approaching their office. However, instead of being upset, Dean Dugas sent an email inviting SBA president Steven Glendon and me to come discuss the letter with him. Admittedly, Steven and I didn’t know what to expect from this meeting. Higher education is known for being a bureaucratic nightmare that is often slow-moving in adopting student input. 

To our delight, Dean Dugas not only welcomed the suggestions in the letter, but he even went about immediately implementing them. Within thirty minutes of our meeting and continuing for a few days, Dean Dugas sent and Steven and me a bunch of different mock calendar invites because he wanted to make sure that he found the one that was compatible with all types of calendars and would be easiest for students to use. Taking his willingness to work with students one step further, Dean Dugas asked the SBA for a student liaison who would meet with him monthly to discuss student feedback and new ideas. Steven Glendon will be acting as the interim liaison until a permanent representative can be appointed.

At first, I was in a state of shock after the meeting, but then, I couldn’t stop talking about it. By 3L, many student leaders have experienced a less-than-positive interaction with an administrator, and this can color their perception of that person, maybe even unfairly, for the rest of their law school experience. See my own experience missing the 3L deadline to register for classes this summer. But I have to say, working with Dean Dugas to find a solution that worked for all students (and not just complaining about my own situation) was one of the most positive and enjoyable experiences I’ve had in law school.

Dean Goluboff, often characterized as a “how-can-we-do-this” instead of a “no” style administrator, just recently completed her first year as the leader of the Law School. Could she be behind this new attitude from administration for openness and collaboration with students? Only time will tell, but regardless of why my experience working with Dean Dugas was so wonderful, all I can say is his colleagues should take a page from his book. Kudos to you, Dean Dugas.

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paw2vg@virginia.edu

 

Pittsburgh Not Paris: The Cost of Choosing Coal

Julie Dostal '19
(she/her/hers)
Features Editor

Photo courtesy of Business Insider.

Photo courtesy of Business Insider.

During his campaign, President Trump promised to put American coal miners back to work. The reversal of decades-long decline in coal production was the central tenant of Trump’s environmental policy. As a Pennsylvanian, this promise left me anxious and angry. Coal was foundational to the success of the Pennsylvania economy, from settlers’ first discovery of the resource in 1791 into the present day. Pennsylvania is the third-highest coal-producing state and the only state still producing anthracite coal. Anthracite coal mining dominates the eastern side of the state, while bituminous coal mines provide employment to thousands living on the western side of Pennsylvania. Coal in Pennsylvania was and, for many, still is the way of life. Thus, the promises of President Trump to reinvigorate the coal industry and put miners back to work in my home state contributed to it going red in 2016 for the first time in six elections. Based on these promises, the fading coal communities of Pennsylvania and other states like it cast their ballots with dreams of the past in mind. But President Trump’s promises were an illusion. 

In June of this year, President Trump announced his decision to leave the Paris Climate Accords stating, “I was elected to represent the people of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” To the city of Pittsburgh, the comment was an affront, but to the generational coal mining towns of Western Pennsylvania, it rang with a tone of salvation. Since the inauguration, one new coalmine has opened in Pennsylvania. The Acosta Deep Mine, located an hour east of Pittsburgh in Jennerstown, PA, employs about seventy people. The mine aims to be open fifteen years and will serve an economically depressed community still reeling from the unprecedented decline in the coal industry. But in many ways, this hope is a false one. The Acosta Deep Mine, similar to many of the additional of mines planning to open in West Virginia, Ohio, Alabama, and Wyoming, will extract metallurgical coal. “Met” coal is a special type of coal used in steelmaking. The price of “met” coal is currently at an all time high, due to astronomical demand from China and disruptions in key supply chains from Australia, the leading producer of “met” coal. Favorable market conditions for “met” coal are independent from the Trump Administration’s environmental policies and may change at any time.  

One may posit that the repeal of Obama Administration regulations on coal and coal-fired power plants may be enough to save the coal industry. Yet it only takes a road trip through Pennsylvania to know these rollbacks on past environmental policies will not be enough to save communities long dependent on coal. While President Obama’s EPA aggressively regulated the coal industry, no regulation could have affected the industry in a manner as severe as the introduction of natural gas into the market. The fracking industry is booming, powering electrical grids with inexpensive natural gas. Consumers prefer the cheaper prices, and natural gas surpassed coal for the first time this year as the largest source of electricity in the country. A recent Columbia University study found that regulations accounted for approximately 3.5 percent of coal’s decline, while natural gas accounted for around 49 percent. The changing energy industry foreshadows the likely failure of the Trump Administration to fulfill the campaign pledges that so many Pennsylvanians, and other Americans, are desperately waiting to come to fruition. 

What does the failure of the coal industry mean in the long term? Coal production experienced a swift decline, reaching an all time low in 2015. The impacts of this depression are still devastating many communities in the United States. 40,000 miners lost their jobs. Suicide rates skyrocketed. Opioids are commonplace to numb the realities of unemployment. Businesses dependent on the presence of laborers in mining towns shuttered their doors. Aging miners floundered in the face of a job search for a profession not involving coal. The thought of not continuing a familiar or regional legacy of coal mining is an afterthought. To Pennsylvanians, coal was the past, present, and future. So how can American environmental and energy policy move forward to counteract what seems to be the eventual, yet inevitable death of the coal industry? The answer may be found in the rapidly evolving policies of the world’s leading polluter, the People’s Republic of China.

Perhaps the most prominent signatory of the Paris Climate Change Accords, the Chinese government signaled an unprecedented pivot away from its coal-based economy. For decades, China has depended on coal as its primary source of energy. Coal still makes up the largest part of China’s energy consumption. The coal industry has provided generations of Chinese citizens with employment and financial security. In many cities across China’s northern and western regions, coal signifies a way of life. The sentiments expressed by Chinese miners regarding their reliance on the coal industry differ very little from the testimonials of Pennsylvanians or West Virginians concerning the centrality of coal in their everyday lives. These communities have also experienced similar economic downturn over the past five years resulting in widespread unemployment and looming concerns about the future of such communities.

In response to growing distress over the future of Chinese coal mining, the government in Beijing took action. Instead of empowering the coal industry further, the Chinese government shuttered coalmines and set out plans to cut roughly 1.3 million jobs in the industry. It also moved to restrict the construction of new coal power plants. In January, China’s National Energy Administration set its first ever target for reducing coal energy consumption. While the decision to transition away from coal warms my environmentalist heart, the Chinese government was not necessarily “thinking green” in the traditional sense. Rather, the People’s Republic of China chose to aggressively pursue renewable energy, believing in the future economic payout of the burgeoning market. 

At the beginning of 2017, the Chinese government pledged to invest 367 billion dollars in renewable power generation—solar, wind, and nuclear—by 2020. The pledge may be a result of the considerable economic benefits experienced by the Chinese since entering into the realm of renewable energy. China currently produces 2/3 of the world’s solar panels and nearly half of the world’s wind turbines. The clean energy sector currently boasts 3.5 million jobs, while 10 million more are anticipated as a result of the continued investment into renewable power. China’s solar power sector alone employs 2.5 million, while the solar sector in the United States provides employment for 260,000 Americans. The Chinese regions experiencing the greatest growth in jobs from solar panel production in 2016 were those formerly dependent on coal. The Chinese government has developed new solar panel technology to help service the depressed former coal communities. Just this year, Sungrow Power Supply, a Chinese solar company, constructed a floating solar energy farm. Covering approximately 100 square miles, the farm provides power to 15,000 homes and rests atop the flooded area that was once the location of a coal-mining factory.

In the face of a declining coal industry, China turned towards renewables. This pivot in policy had immediate effects on the global market.  The solar power sector in China is so productive and inexpensive, the United States was forced to place tariffs on the import of Chinese made solar panels in a bid to protect American producers. The future promises much of the same failure for the United States to compete with China’s renewable exports. As China continues to build its renewable sector, America falls further behind. As former Chinese coal miners try their luck at new solar panel or wind turbine manufacturing factories, American coal miners sit idle waiting on the impossible promises of President Trump.  

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jpd5pd@virginia.edu

 

Album Review: Taylor Swift, reputation

Tom Kinzinger ‘18
(he/him/his)
Guest Columnist

First, a word about my credentials as a Swiftie. I’ve been on the Taylor Swift train since Fearless dropped in 2008, before most of you reading this were even born. I have spent literal actual money to buy her albums (unlike everything else I listen to, which I stream or YouTube like a normal person). I have her discography on my phone at all times, the official calendar hanging on my kitchen wall, and many square feet of my living space converted into a shrine at which I perform weekly sacrifices of the merchandise of whoever she’s been most recently feuding with. (Incidentally, burning Katy Perry vinyls can cause releases of toxic chemicals. Remember to make sure your sacrificial altar is located in a well-ventilated antechamber of your sanctum.) With all this in mind, light your incense, don your cat-ears headbands and heart-eyes sunglasses, and let’s take a deep dive into Taylor Swift’s latest studio album, reputation.

Former teen witch and current regular witch, Taylor Swift, is out with her sixth album reputation. Photo courtesy of Billboard.

Former teen witch and current regular witch, Taylor Swift, is out with her sixth album reputation. Photo courtesy of Billboard.

Okay, so this album is…fractured. If 1989 represented a dalliance into the pop world, reputation is a full-on drink-the-kool-aid conversion, the Transfiguration of Taylor into Pop Goddess, Destroyer of Katy Perries and Eviscerator of Spotifies. However, the album’s fatal flaw is its attempt to give everybody what they want rather than just choosing a style and sticking with it, and the result is a half-hearted album whose first third sounds like rehashed early-00’s EDM, transitioning into a middle third that’s even more rehashed late-80’s pop, then shifting into—well, we’re getting to that. Moreover, I couldn’t help but think that most of these songs had been or could have been done better by some other artist. Let’s consider each third of the album in turn.

 

Part the First: I Almost Cut Myself on that Edge

Here we find the album opener “…Ready For It?” with its throbbing bass smacking you right in the face and hammering home the fact that you are entering the dark, gritty reboot of the Taylorverse. America’s Pop Goddess is now a Nolanesque avenger of internet slights. We barely have time to wonder how much better this would sound as a Rihanna or Demi Lovato track before we hit “I Did Something Bad,” in which New Taylor claims to have “done something bad” and enjoyed it, sounding for all the world like a college freshman taking that first shot of tequila, launching into a fifteen-minute coughing fit, and then insisting that the experience was in fact enjoyable. Hmm, maybe this Dark Queen of Dancepop shoe does not quite fit the foot. If you had any doubts that New Taylor is going for edgy, then the following track “Don’t Blame Me” confirms it: for the first time in recorded history, Taylor Swift says the word “shit” on a recorded song.

The front end of this album gives us also “End Game,” with its nice percussive beat and lyrics mostly consisting of languid “ooooooohs” and “aaaaaaahs.” Future phones in 22 seconds of banalities before presumably cashing his check and getting out of there as fast as possible, while Ed Sheeran, notable English crooner, swoops in to…hang on, is he attempting to rap? Oh man, this is the most cringeworthy interlude in a Taylor Swift song since the spoken-word segment of “Shake It Off,” and that one was pretty egregious.

Part the Second: And Now for Something Completely Different

Moving right along, the middle third of the album is reminiscent of 1989 and contains many of the same poppy themes and melodies, here reflected through the three years of sulking, revenge-plotting, and browsing through the dark corners of the internet New Taylor must have been doing since that album dropped.  “Look What You Made Me Do” is a banger of the first order in which New Taylor commandeers Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” beat to remind us that we collectively drove the Old Taylor into madness. The good vibes left after I’m done nodding along to this song are almost immediately soured by the horrendously misconceived “Gorgeous,” which would be an endearing confession of being besotted if the melody over which it was sung was not so—there’s no other word for it—annoying.  

“Delicate” is one of the unambiguously good songs on the album, with its mellifluous pop melodies accompanied by New Taylor’s repeated inquiries as to whether something she said was “cool” or “chill” (as if New Taylor needs our approval anyway). If you turn up the volume and play this track backwards, you can actually hear the Old Taylor straining against the walls of the New Taylor persona, struggling to burst out of the mind prison and strum along on a Bedazzled guitar. Ditto for “Getaway Car,” which flirts with being a good song: it’s another wistful recapitulation of a bad relationship gone south, but this trope has been done to death in much better ways by better artists, including Old Taylor herself. See, e.g., “Back to December,” “The Way I Loved You,” etc.

The less said about “King of My Heart,” the better. At eleven tracks in, nothing has really stood out; most of these songs would have been better converted into some other genre or done by someone else. Let’s hop right ahead to “Dancing With Our Hands Tied,” which sounds like it could have been decent EDM-infused dance-pop if it didn’t sound so half-hearted and…and…wait a minute…hang on…no, it can’t be…Goddess forbid…is this album actually…BAD?!?

 

Part the Third: All Hope Abandon, Ye Who Enter Here

I can’t really categorize the songs on the latter third of the record (namely, “Dress,” “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” “Call It What You Want,” and “New Year’s Day”), even though they would all probably fit into the above-two categories, because at some point during “Dancing With Our Hands Tied” I’ve realized that Taylor Swift has made her first bad record and I undergo a complete and total breakdown of faith. When I hear the bass thuds of “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” they sound as rolls of distant thunder on some faraway ocean because at this point I’m lying catatonic on the floor with my hands clamped firmly over my ears as I plead for someone to make it stop. I understand suddenly how the Millerites must have felt at the Great Disappointment of October 22, 1844, a date when William Miller predicted the occurrence of the Second Coming but which in fact turned out to be a run-of-the-mill nineteenth-century Tuesday. Taylor Swift, the One True Pop Goddess, has let us down, Old Taylor is not coming back for us, and lol nothing matters.

In sum, this album is not good. In fact, in certain spots it’s actually pretty bad. I loved 1989 and am probably listening to it whenever you see me in the hallway with earbuds stuffed in my ears so that I can avoid doing the stop-and-chat with you, but reputation took all of 1989’s pop experimentation and learned precisely the wrong lessons from it. Simply giving the people what you think they want cannot be the key to artistic and commercial success. There’s nothing really original in this album and, with the exception of “Look What You Made Me Do,” there’s nothing I would stomp my feet and shout along to at the Virginian the next time I’m drunk enough to voluntarily walk in there. Oh, well, at least we’ll always have the Old Taylor, and I’ve heard rumors an acoustic version of “Delicate” will be included on the reputation deluxe edition coming out early next year. Now excuse me while I go back and listen to “All Too Well” on repeat to make sure I can still feel things.

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tpk4es@virginia.edu

For Your (Panicked) Viewing Pleasure

Alison Malkowski & Kim Hopkin ‘19
(they/them/theirs) 
Television Critics

As we head into exam season, the need to retreat to mindless entertainment for breaks increases exponentially. Some of us will ignore that urge and work for hours on end.1 Others will insist that they “really do” enjoy physical exercise to fill the gaps.2 But for the rest of us mere mortals, we require something to watch as we burrito in a blanket during our semi-regular periods of existential crisis. Or maybe you’re just a 3L. This article is for those who want to branch out from their regular binging and watch something new. 

Tried and True Favorites: The following are sitcoms or dramedies popular among the binging crowd. You’ve probably heard of them, but just in case.

Parks and Recreation: This ensemble sitcom follows the Parks and Recreation office in small-town Pawnee, Indiana, and the statute of limitations for knowing about it really expired two years ago. Expert tip for re-watching: skip the first season. The show truly comes into its own in the second season, and you don’t miss anything you can’t pick up quickly in later seasons. Highlights include a low-key obsession with a miniature pony, high-key obsession with binders and pancakes, and Chris Pratt in the only role you will ever be able to picture him in.

The Office: This one should also be relatively self-explanatory; a show about an office and the different personalities who work there. The first few episodes are not consequential, but they help develop the characters for maximum enjoyment in other seasons. Reasons to keep watching: the love connection between Pam and Jim is one for the ages.

Grey’s Anatomy: This hour-long dramedy begins by following the lives of surgical interns struggling to survive at a prestigious hospital in Seattle. Shonda Rimes dialogue and catchy song selections make the early seasons incredible and witty. As usually happens in long-running television shows, the seasons involve a slow transformation into a completely different kind of show. As usually happens in Shondaland television shows, that slow transformation is accompanied by a series of unbelievable and yet somehow gut-wrenching plot twists and entirely too many lingering stares. I think this show is still engaging during later seasons, but many lose interest around season six. Reasons to keep watching: boredom and investment in the (few) characters who don’t die off. 

Arrested Development: This started as an underrated classic and has earned its place among the must-sees of the golden age of television. The new Netflix revival tries a little too hard, but the original series is always worth a watch (or re-watch). This is the story of a highly dysfunctional family and the completely implausible situations they get themselves into. The humor swings between easily recognizable slapstick, nuanced intellectual humor, and some weird creature of the in-between that involves Liza Minelli, magicians, yachts, and banana stands. Reasons to keep watching: you will understand a lot more internet memes. 

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: This is an AMAZING show.3 It’s an ensemble comedy about a police precinct in Brooklyn. Although the first few episodes focus a little too heavily on Detective Jake Peralta and Captain Raymond Holt (and Detective Boyle’s cringe-inducing crush on Detective Diaz), they set up extremely important character arcs and motifs. Reasons to keep watching: the annual Halloween and Doug Ross episodes get funnier each year as they outdo the previous year’s hijinks. 

Classics: These shows are favorites from back in the day. However, watch with an enormous grain of salt – American culture has changed considerably. 

I Love Lucy: This classic follows Lucy and Ricky Ricardo and their landlords as Lucy finds new ways to get into trouble. Lucille Ball’s physical comedy is unparalleled, but some of the ‘issues’ the show tackles are removed from today’s sensibilities.4 Reasons to watch: feel-good comedy that doesn’t force you to think. 

Mary Tyler Moore Show: After Mary leaves her boyfriend who doesn’t want to get married after graduating medical school, she moves to Minneapolis and becomes an associate producer for a local nightly news show. The show holds up well and was a trailblazer for modern shows like 30 Rock, Girls, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Lesser Known Gems: These shows are famous among their viewers but don’t enjoy the wider audience that some of the above shows draw. 

A Crime to Remember: This Investigation Discovery re-enactment show takes old crimes from before modern forensic science and describes them through multiple lenses. Some are familiar stories, like the murder of Kitty Genovese, and some are forgotten horrors, like the University of Texas mass shooter, Charles Whitman. Each story is punctuated by narration from a “friend” of someone involved in the crime which adds a layer of cultural understanding or outrage to the crimes. 

QI: A British panel show hosted by Stephen Fry (and later by Sandy Toksvig) where British comedians tackle historical or scientific trivia topics with questionable levels of skill and more often than not, a quasi-related anecdote instead. This show, however, doesn’t just take away points for wrong answers (although the scoring system is at best made up and arbitrary); it also sounds an alarm when a comedian makes a joke answer or common misconception that producers had previously identified. Reasons to keep watching: special guests like Daniel Radcliffe, Hugh Laurie, and David Tennant, and the fact that many contestant answers mirror the exact internal dialogue you have during exams (e.g. “Is the answer…neither?”).

American Housewife: If you temporarily suspend your expectations for any kind of serious social statement, this show is hilarious. It follows the middle-class Otto family living in a very affluent Connecticut neighborhood with an overly honest stay-at-home mom, a passive, intellectual father, and three comically flawed kids. Reasons to keep watching: Katy Mixon’s excellent comic timing and flair. 

Schitt’s Creek: This show has everything: Eugene Levy’s eyebrows, Eugene Levy’s son, Eugene Levy’s daughter, and the mother from the Home Alone movies (she has finally located all of her children). The Schitts are tossed unceremoniously from their home when all of their assets are seized by the IRS5 and their only remaining asset is a town that Eugene Levy’s character bought “as a joke” to “teach his son a lesson.” Reasons to keep watching: Daniel Levy and Emily Hampshire’s unconventional friendship is every sarcastic mood you’ve ever been in, and the show only gets better with each season. 

Moone Boy: In the role he was born to play (with an honorable mention to the hapless IT guy of IT Crowd – “Have you tried turning it off and turning it back on again?”), Chris O’Dowd stars as a 12-year-old boy’s imaginary friend in a small town in Ireland. Highlights include either of the two sisters and quotes like “He’s very enigmatic for a man who doesn’t own drinking glasses.”

Rosemary and Thyme: Rosemary Boxer and Laura Thyme are just two enchantingly grumpy biddies who met, fell in BFF, and promptly started a landscaping business, through which they repeatedly happen upon and then solve a series of incidentally plant-related murders to the astonishment of somehow no one. No further description necessary.

iZombie: This show is written and produced by the same team that made Veronica Mars happen. If you didn’t watch Veronica Mars, then you may not have been a teenage girl in the 2000s looking for a role model in early onset sarcasm, and that is ok. iZombie is delightful, combines a procedural mystery format with an overarching plot about zombies, and is also a little gross.6

Dear White People: Full disclosure: this is a remake of the original movie, and there are far more detailed and wonderful critiques comparing the two and their social commentaries available across the internet, but I just include here to note that the remake as a television show is extremely worth watching. It is in turns hilarious, familiar, and heartbreaking, and always beautifully formatted. 

To Look Out For: This show won’t be released until 2018, but is worth mention here because (a) it sounds amazing and (b) we all know you won’t get to any of these until you hit that beginning-of-the-semester procrastination binge period anyway.

Making It: A craft show, hosted by Nick Offerman and Amy Poehler from Parks and Recreation. In other words, the American answer to The Great British Bake Off. You’re welcome. 

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acm4ae@virginia.edu
knh3zd@virginia.edu

1 But if that’s your jam, why are you taking time to read the Law Weekly? Get back to work and leave us underachievers alone. 

2 While the author respects these individuals, she also places them alongside people who just don’t prefer desserts and refuses to trust them. 

3 Let it be known one of the authors has the BIGGEST crush on both Jake Peralta and Andy Samberg. 

4 See the “Equal Rights” episode where a wife being treated as an equal apparently means being treated like a male stranger.  Also, the constant jokes about being Cuban at the expense of Ricky.  #differenttime

5 The show is filmed in Canada, so presumably the Canadian equivalent. But since it is unclear to me which will be in place after the Kordana-predicted Canadian invasion, let’s call it “IRS” for simplicity.

6 There is a lot brain-eating because that is how she solves mysteries. Do not overlap with dinner, especially pasta.

 

 

"Family Freak Out" Favorites

 

Kendall Burchard '19
(she/her/hers)
Guest Columnist

In 2015, Saturday Night Live correctly pointed out that Adele’s “Hello” was the cure to most, if not all, family feuds during the holidays. With few topics safe from heavy politicization, here’s a playlist for talented, critically acclaimed artists to express your frustrations about our society to your family members without directly involving yourself in what will surely be an uncomfortable conversation. 

When Explaining How Law School is Going – Ozzy Osbourne, “Crazy Train” 

You think you have a cognizable claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress against most members of the faculty, and if you think you’ll win it, you haven’t outlined Torts yet. Let the song speak for you

When Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, or Roy Moore Come Up - Beyoncé’s “If I Were a Boy”

Because when your family suddenly becomes very invested in the presumption of innocence after a man has been accused of making sexual advances against a 14-year-old, sometimes you just gotta let Bey speak truth for you. 

When Someone Asks if You are Dating Someone - Daya, “Sit Still, Look Pretty” 

No. I’m in law school. Do you know anything about the distribution of marital property after divorce? Do married people really know what they’ve gotten themselves into?1

When You’re a Victim of “The Turkey Dump” – Miranda Lambert, “Mama’s Broken Heart” 

Your well-meaning family members may want to console you after a break up. It’s sweet. But emotions are high. Law school is hard. Grab a glass of wine, remind yourself that limiting distractions before finals is for the best, and remind your family that you’ll bury their sorry butt on the curve.

When You are Doing the Turkey Dumping - The Pussycat Dolls, “I Hate This Part”

Explaining why you broke up with your significant other can be as exhausting as explaining why you aren’t in a relationship and why you just got dumped. There’s no winning. 

So How Bout That Election in Virginia? - Imagine Dragons, “Believer,” and/or R.E.M, “It’s the End of the World” 

Maybe you’re pumped. Maybe you’re pissed. Maybe your family feels similarly, or maybe they don’t. Maybe play whichever song sums up your feelings quietly…with headphones in. Maybe you should avoid anything that broaches politics like the plague. Maybe that’s just me?

When Your Family Asks About Your Law School Friends – twenty one pilots, “Heathens” 

Depending on your Crim class and who among your classmates have designated as the murderers/murder victims in your professor’s hypos, you may be “lovin’ on the murderer sitting next to you” or be located next to a “psychopath.”2 Or maybe your friends are still insufferable after OGI, and they are the heathens “ask[ing] you who you know.” Sound about right? 

When Climate Change Comes Up - Toto, “Africa” 

Yes, “bless the rains down in Africa.” Apparently Charlottesville also needs some rain. Houston and Puerto Rico, however, need less. Play “Africa” and hope that everyone begins to sing along to arguably one of the best songs of all time and forgets their personal grudges against Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, and the majority of the scientific community. 

When the NFL Comes Up - Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now” 

Knee-d…you now. Get it? Get it? 

…I’ll see myself out. 

When Trump’s Twitter Comes Up - Elton John, “Rocket Man”

Because if Trump continues to pick a fight with the “short and fat”3 leader of North Korea Rocket Man may answer with a bang. 

When The Russian Probe Comes Up – Who Freaking Knows, “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” 

Because Mueller = UVa Law = collegial = softball. Hey, let’s talk about softball instead!

When a “Did You…Did You Just Say THAT?!” Moment Occurs - Mariah Carey, “All I Want for Christmas Is You” 

This song will thoroughly confuse your family and is sure to provoke an alternate discussion about the proper time to begin to celebrate other upcoming winter holidays, be it Christmas, Hanukkah, or what have you. Someone will also probably start dancing. Distractions can be a blessing. 

When, Despite Your Best Efforts, You Tell Off a Family Member and Immediately Regret It - Taylor Swift, “Look What You Made Me Do” / Demi Lovato, “Sorry Not Sorry” 

Less about avoiding the discussion, more about how to make yourself feel better after. Whoops. But you were justified, right? 

When You’ve Made It Through the Meal – Queen, “We Are the Champions” 

Family still intact? No one’s lives taken/seriously threatened? Convinced the people who have otherwise stormed out of the room to come back to the table? You’ve accomplished what many before have failed to do, and your efforts should be generously rewarded. 

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ktb4xe@virginia.edu

1 Cf. Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S.Ct. 2584, 2600 (2015) (“Marriage responds to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there.” So can dogs, Justice Kennedy. And good friends. And coworkers because BigLaw hours. Shush). 

2 Do psychopaths qualify for the insanity defense? Anyone in Bonnie’s class know? § G? §A?

3 His words, not mine. @realDonaldTrump, Twitter (Nov. 11, 2017 4:48 PM), https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/929511061954297857 (“Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend - and maybe someday that will happen!”).

 

You (Yes, You Specifically) Need to Get Out the Vote

Joe Charlet '18
(he/him/his)
Guest Columnist

Right now, control of the Virginia House of Delegates may be determined by just nineteen provisional ballots. The Virginia Department of Elections reports that in the House of Delegates’ Ninety-Fourth District, encompassing Newport News, incumbent David Yancey (R) is currently winning by just thirteen votes over Shelly Simonds (D). This .06% difference is remarkable given that, in 2015, Simonds lost to Yancey by 15.2% in a race that had almost 10,000 fewer votes than this year’s. Now, there are two major differences between the 2015 off-year election and the 2017 off-year election, one being the raging dumpster fire of endless controversy and senselessness that is the Trump presidency and the second being that 2017 included the gubernatorial and other executive statewide races in Virginia. However, I do not want to focus on why different stimuli created an uptick in voting, but rather on voting itself and why getting out the vote matters so much, even in higher turnout years. 

Virginia delegate districts contain approximately 80,000 constituents. In the Ninety-Fourth District, 78.6% of these constituents are of voting age. Almost 88% of the approximately 63,000 possible voters in this district are registered. Yet, even in 2017, only 23,878 people voted, 43.1% of registered voters. Compare that to the Commonwealth as a whole where, according to the Virginian Pilot, 47% of registered voters exercised their franchise this year. That sad figure is actually a record turnout for gubernatorial elections not seen in twenty years. Similarly, the 43.1% voting rate in the Ninety-Fourth District is impressive historically. In 2015, only 27.5% of voters turned out. Thousands and thousands of possible votes were never cast at all. 

Low voting rates inherently create legitimacy issues in representative government on a conceptual level. Does a representative who wins a plurality of less than half of the electorate really have a claim to be a representative of their constituents? The way election results are reported completely obscures conceptual legitimacy concerns by only focusing on percent of the turnout. This obfuscation is not due to any malevolence or negligence. Turnout and the votes cast are simply the measure for election that our system is built around. Still, it is disconcerting to know how few people are determining the outcomes in our elections, particularly in non-presidential years. In the last three presidential elections, the percentage of the total Virginia electorate that voted was in the low 70s, and the only way to know how few are voting is to look at the absolute numbers. 

Practically speaking, this low level of voting does not just affect elections; it affects governance. The current governor, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, broke the record for most bills vetoed in Virginia history after just three years in office. This is not simply due to the fact that the General Assembly is controlled by the Republican Party, because McAuliffe only vetoed 18 of 880 bills that made it to his desk between March 2016 and March 2017, but those bills he did veto, as the Washington Post characterizes them, consisted of “cutting support for Planned Parenthood, imposing more requirements on voter registration, restricting absentee voting and expanding access to handguns.” I do not want to get into the merits of these bills, but I do want to point out that according to most of the available polling on these issues the majority of Virginians did not and continue not to support them, though slimmer majorities oppose these policies depending on the exact framing of each issue.

This brings us back to the Ninety-Fourth District. For the next four years, Virginia will again be led by a Democratic administration. Yet, whether Governor-elect Ralph Northam has to veto an absurd number of bills that the majority of Virginians do not support, or merely a normal number of bills that is more representative of the normal push-and-pull of legislative politics, may be determined by an incredibly thin margin. There are actually three other delegate races that are close enough for a state-funded recount, but the Ninety-Fourth District’s razor thin margin highlight the fact that your individual vote does not just help determine who represents you, but also the amount of concrete power all representatives of your political persuasion may have.

Last Tuesday the Democrats were able to organize effectively enough to win state-wide races by huge margins. Northam won the governor’s mansion by almost nine points. Even without the four still contested districts, the Democrats won an unprecedented shift in legislative power by winning fifteen seats outright, up to forty-eight seats after only holding thirty-three of the 100 before the election. Many of these individual votes were not the “one” vote that decided the race, but I think the framing of voting efficacy as first past-the-post efficiency is inherently ridiculous because the margin of votes itself expresses legitimacy in various ways. Nevertheless, concrete power rather than expressive support in Virginia may be decided by somewhere between one and thirty-two votes in the Ninety-Fourth District—a district, like many others, where literally tens of thousands of additional votes could have been cast but were not.

This is why getting out the vote matters. A small group of dedicated people of both parties organized get-out-the-vote (GOTV) operations in the Ninety-Fourth District, just like small groups did in every district across the Commonwealth. Even just a small amount of additional work on either side would decide the election in the ninety-fourth district, almost certainly would affected the three other recount races, and could have generated more comfortable leads for winners in all the other delegate races across the state. This year, dozens of UVa Law students were part of those small groups working for the party or independent candidate that best aligns with them and spent the past two months canvassing. 

I was one of those law students. Personally, I hate canvassing. There are few things I dislike more than knocking on the doors of strangers and interrupting their lives to talk about something as personal and potentially antagonizing as politics. But this is how elections are won on the ground level; not by changing minds door-to-door, which is not supported by the data, but by actively ensuring your own supporters get out and vote. Looking back, I probably spent fifteen to twenty hours spread over the past two months going door-to-door in various neighborhoods around Charlottesville and Albemarle County. Fifteen to twenty hours over the course of two months is an unbelievably small sacrifice for someone with as flexible a schedule as a law student has. Others did way more and spent all of Election Day providing rides, directing people to their polling places, and any other manner of supportive activities. The aggregate result of all this work was a historic sweep for Democrats. If the Ninety-Fourth District had just a few more people getting out the vote on either side, the future balance of power in the Commonwealth of Virginia would be much clearer. Even just one or two people spending a single afternoon going door to door or phone banking could have gotten out enough votes to determine the Ninety-Fourth District.  

There are a lot of post mortems being written about this election in Virginia and what it means for the Commonwealth and the nation as we move into congressional midterms elections in 2018. Some of those are interesting, and some of them may even turn out to be correct. But the only true take away one can glean from any election is that voting matters. You must vote. You should tell everyone you know to vote. But, if you really want to do more than just hope that an appropriate aggregate of other voters express your voting preferences, then you need to get out the vote. 

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jmc3hf@virginia.edu

 

Running From the Law, and How You Can Too

Wade Foster '19
(he/him/his)
Guest Columnist

Badass who moonlights as a law student, Wade Foster, puts everyone else to shame. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Badass who moonlights as a law student, Wade Foster, puts everyone else to shame. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

First, I will admit, I’m biased—I find sick joy in running long distances. However, I would like to offer this modest proposal—that you, too, can and should be a runner. To demonstrate, I would like to offer a totally “objective” list of the pros and cons of running. 

Pro: Running improves your fitness level. Studies have shown that regular running improves bone density, strengthens joints, and improves aerobic endurance. Improved aerobic endurance means that you will have an easier time doing other vigorous activities (escaping zombies, racing to class, etc.). 

Con: Running hurts. There are two kinds of pain associated with running, the good kind and the bad kind. The first is general muscle fatigue and soreness, this is the good kind, pain is weakness leaving the body. The second kind is the bad kind—it’s the kind that feels like you sprained something, bruised something, or pulled a muscle. If you rolled an ankle you have a pretty good idea where this pain comes from. If you have shooting or sharp pain when you run any variety of things could be wrong (muscle imbalance, shoes, inflammation). Normally this can be addressed with better shoes and a visit to the physical therapist—but it needs to be taken seriously. 

Speaking of shoes: Pro: You get an excuse to buy new shoes, and who doesn’t love new shoes?! Depending on the type of shoe and your running form, you need to replace your shoes every 300–500 miles. Run more, get more shoes! Running also gives you an excuse to buy other brightly colored articles of clothing—shirts, socks, shorts, hats—the options are endless! As an aside, brightly colored clothing is encouraged not just for the fabulous fashion statement you make wearing it, but also to help drivers see you and not run you over (this is especially important as the days get shorter—consider adding reflective items to your obnoxious neon mix). 

Con: Running shoes are expensive! But when you amortize the cost of the shoes they are cheaper than a lot of the alternatives, like double bypass surgery.

Pro: Running burns calories. The exact number is a function of your body weight, your fitness level, your level of effort, and the distance you run. There are multiple calculators online to help you figure out how many calories you are burning,1 but a general rule is about eighty calories per mile.  So two miles burns a beer, ten miles burns five beers! That will almost make up for your night at Bilt. And the calorie burn doesn’t stop when you stop running, running increases your metabolism throughout the day. 

Con: Running a lot means being hungry a lot and that leads to eating a lot. Eating a lot takes time and money. But, is an excuse to eat really such a bad thing? 

Pro: Running gives you a reason to get out of the library and go commune with nature. There are miles and miles of trails and farm roads close to the Law School. Running gets you out into the fresh air and gives you a chance to be one with the squirrels. 

Con: Running is boring. When you run on a track or a dreadmill, running IS boring. You can alleviate boredom by finding better scenery or listening to music. If you are still bored, you might need to lower your standards for entertainment. 

Pro: Running improves mental health. Running has been shown to have a variety of positive effects on mental health, including improving focus and creativity, improving ability to learn and retain new information, alleviating anxiety and reducing symptoms of depression. They don’t call it a runner’s high for nothing! Running also helps you sleep better and we all know that law students can use more and better sleep. 

Con: It takes time. Running, eating, and sleeping all take time, but so does checking in on Facebook, but Facebook doesn’t make you svelte and improve your mental focus. Given the myriad of benefits running provides dedicating an hour out of your otherwise busy day will be worth it. 

*Disclaimer: There is no right or wrong way to run; fueling, shoes, distance, and exertion level all need to be tailored to your personal preference. There are many sects of the running community that think their way is the right way. The only right way is the way that works for you. 

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wcf3hy@virginia.edu

1 https://www.runnersworld.com/tools/calories-burned-calculator

A Letter to the Editor

Jessie Conover '20
Disgruntled Reader

Dear Virginia Law Weekly,

I have LRW in one hour and should be working on my major memo outline, yet I instead take the time to write to you about a petty issue in [last] week’s Virginia Law Weekly.

I wish to call attention to an inaccuracy in the article titled “Young Children Terrorize North Grounds.” The reporter referred to the apples in the Community Fellows’ apple bobbing tub as “Honeycrisps,” which is worthy of correction for three reasons:

(1) They were not Honeycrisps. They were Empire apples. Honeycrisps are larger, juicier (owing to their larger cells), and ideal for eating raw. Empires are a much more standard, old school “lunch box apple” that is perfectly fine but not great. They are also smaller, on average, than Honeycrisps. This factual inaccuracy alone would be enough to issue a retraction, but I will continue nevertheless.

(2) Do you know how much Honeycrisps cost? We* appreciate the compliment, but we are not about to spend upwards of $3 per child for a little fall-themed fun. Even Section G with their full-size candy bar wheel didn’t spend that much.

(3) Honeycrisp apples, while more delicious to eat, are a terrible bobbing apple. Their large size and firm skin make grasping them with one’s teeth nearly impossible. Combine that with the small aperture of a child’s mouth and the frigid water temperature of the bobbing water and you are practically accusing the Community Fellows of torturing young children. Shame on you.

I read-skim the Virginia Law Weekly at least once a month and I am astounded at the uncharacteristic lack of professionalism on display here. For the love of print media please factcheck your articles, particularly when it’s an issue of high import such as a terrorism exposé.

Faithfully yours,

Jessie

*This is a rhetorical “we.” I have no authority to speak on behalf of the Community Fellows.

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jec2tf@virginia.edu

**Editor’s note: The Law Weekly apologizes for the error, we guess, but also applauds this diligent reader for her knowledge of apples and willingness to confront others about apple-based ignorance. The world needs more Jessies.**

 

Doing the Rounds: Golfing in Charlottesville

Taylor Huse '19
Guest Columnist

At the University of Virginia, we are blessed with the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors in a manner that most at nationally ranked law schools cannot due to our location in Central Virginia. Not only can you hike the Shenandoah or compete on the softball field, you can also get out and enjoy several great golf courses within a short drive of the school. As a lifelong golfer, I played three of these courses and provide my thoughts on them here.

A lonely bridge extends accross a hazard at Birdwood Golf Course. Photo courtesy Virginia Golf Vacations.

A lonely bridge extends accross a hazard at Birdwood Golf Course. Photo courtesy Virginia Golf Vacations.

Birdwood Golf Course

Partially private and home of UVa’s golf team, Birdwood is a solid track that will challenge you with elevation changes and several water features. The signature hole is a downhill par three to an island green that is characteristic of the course in that it is both challenging and fair. This is not a long course, especially by modern standards, measuring only 6,316 yards from the men’s tees and 5,073 yards from the women’s tees. Experienced golfers can also challenge themselves by trying out the back tees which play at 6,907 yards. The design provides a mixture of long and short holes that will force you to hit most of the clubs in your bag with some reachable par fives on the front nine and lengthy par fours on the back nine. 

Located only two miles from the Law School and one mile from Ivy Gardens, Birdwood is a great place to go for a quick nine after classes on a weekday. It’s also pretty affordable for the quality of the course. Green fees are $25 on weekdays and $40 on weekends. Cart fees are an additional $12 for 9 holes and $22 for 18 holes. Birdwood also provides a student membership option that runs at approximately $450 a semester and $1,200 for the year. Here is a link to their website for more information: https://www.boarsheadresort.com/golf.

 

Keswick Golf Club – Full Cry Course

In a word, Full Cry is breathtaking. Built in 2014 and rated number three in Golfweek’s 2016 list of “Best Courses You Can Play in Virginia,” this Pete Dye design will have you feeling like Tin Cup at the US Open (they even provide Titleist golf balls on the range). Though the course is private, the PILA auction usually includes one or two certificates granting a round to a lucky foursome, and who knows, you may meet a member during your 2L summer at a D.C. firm who will invite you to play. Too far from D.C. you say? Don’t worry, this place has a helipad for easy transportation (you’ll see it on your left when you get through the security gate). 

Being exclusive has its perks, mainly that the course is in pristine shape. Bent grass greens roll as true as Augusta National, but good luck hitting them consistently. They are small and surrounded by litters of bunkers, which are a small mercy since the bluegrass rough around the greens is deep. However, Dye characteristically leaves closely mown bail-out areas on at least one side of the green, so your score will depend on how well you control your misses. The fairways are more forgiving. When I played, I couldn’t hit a driver onto a landing strip, but the rough was manageable—this coming from a guy with a physique more like Jim Furyk than Tiger Woods. If you get to play this course, take time to soak in the natural beauty of the perfectly manicured Virginia landscape, and don’t worry about holding anyone up, there will be no one playing behind you. If nothing else, check out the pictures on the website: https://www.keswick.com/golf-club.htm.

 

Meadowcreek Golf Course

Meadowcreek is the typical municipal golf course with a laid-back atmosphere and easier layout. It’s perfect for golfers on a budget or who are new to the game. It’s the shortest course in the area, playing at only 6,073 yards from the back tees and 4,595 yards from the women’s tees; however, it’s only a par seventy with three par fives and five par threes. The layout features mostly tried and true hole designs, but a few holes play awkwardly (especially the first hole), so an experienced golfer might want to steer clear. When I played it in the spring, the bent grass greens were in surprisingly good shape, but the fairways were pretty beat up.

The course is located at Pen Park on the northeast side of town. On weekdays, eighteen holes costs $24 and nine holes costs $16. On weekends, eighteen holes will be $29, and nine holes is $20. Carts are $11 for nine holes and $18 for eighteen holes. Here is the website for more information: http://www.meadowcreekgolf.org/.

With so many great course options within a short distance from the school, this is the time to learn how to play golf or sharpen your skills, especially if you’re a 2L or 3L.1 Get out and play; you’ll be glad you did.

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th4wk@virginia.edu

1 However, as a 2L, I dispute the claim that we are supposed to have significant free time. Lies.

 

Top Three Local Vineyards

Carly Crist '19
(she/her/hers)
Guest Columnist

Name: White Hall Vineyards (Rank #3)

When you went: Weekend afternoon

Best for small or big groups? Small

General vibe: The employees were phenomenal and did everything they could to have us enjoy our tasting experience. 

Favorite wine from that vineyard: Gewürztraminer, as that is not common to have at a tasting

Anything interesting about the vineyard that makes it different from others? They brought out the actual grapes for us to try while we were doing the wine tasting. Right outside, they also have trees that grow pawpaws. A pawpaw is a fruit that has the texture of an avocado but tastes tropical, like a mango. The guy pouring our tasting brought one in for us to eat and before we left we were able to go outside and collect as many as we wanted to take home with us. 

Quality of “free” wine tasting glass (1 to 5): I don’t believe the glass was included, but at $5 for the regular tasting and $10 for the reserve tasting, paying a few dollars for a glass is not bad at all!

Name: Horton Vineyards (Rank #2)

When you went: Friday morning/afternoon 

Best for small or big groups? Either, can accommodate large groups easily for tasting

General vibe: The employees were extremely friendly and knowledgeable about the wines. They handled a very large group with ease and were fun with us, especially as they gave us additional wines to try during the tasting. However, there were a handful of fruit flies in the room.

Favorite wine from that vineyard: The fruit and dessert wines; most vineyards don’t have them, but Horton has many of both to try and all are delicious. 

Anything interesting about the vineyard that makes it different from others? With the tasting, you get to choose which ten wines to try out of more than forty, and not everyone in the group has to try the same ten. When I was there, they actually gave us more than ten, as they kept asking if we wanted to try different ones. Next to each wine and its description on their list is a nickname, like “Pizza Wine,” “Sippin’ Red,” “White Burgandy,” or “Spanish Delight.” 

Quality of “free” wine tasting glass (1 to 5): The glass is not free, but the tasting was significantly cheaper than most at $6, making a $3 glass very reasonable

Name: Veritas Vineyard & Winery (Rank #1)

When you went: Weekend afternoon 

Best for small or big groups? Either; it can accommodate large group with its large outdoor area, so it is easy to hang outside with a large group to drink wine.

General vibe: Large open tasting room with the word “LOVE” made out of wine corks hanging from the ceiling, an enormous lawn with vineyards in sight, and a beautiful view of the mountains.

Favorite Wine from that vineyard: I really can’t choose. This is my favorite winery because it is the only one where I liked every single wine at the tasting (white, red, and in between). However, I would recommend the Viognier, because while it is made with the Virginia grapes— and so almost every vineyard here has it—it is better at Veritas than many of the others. 

Anything interesting about the vineyard that makes it different from others? On the second Saturday of each summer month (June, July, August, September) they host an outdoor concert on the lawn, and people bring picnics and enjoy wine while listening to music. This August, I attended when they hosted the Legwarmers. 

Quality of “free” wine tasting glass (1 to 5): 5, you get a free glass with each tasting and some events held there. I currently have a set of four Veritas glasses.

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cac5gs@virginia.edu

 

A Message of Unity

 

Joint statement by the Virginia Law Democrats and the Virginia Law Republicans

After the events of August 11 and 12, leaders of both the Law Democrats and the Law Republicans were unsure about whether we could meaningfully add to the cadre of voices sharing their experiences on the horrors that shook our community. The labels “Democrat” and “Republican” were not the targets of those bearing torches, perpetuating violence, and carrying messages of hate and bigotry. We cannot, therefore, speak to what it must feel like to be threatened in the manner so many were on those awful days. 

We can, however, speak to the shared pain the events of those days have caused our community. We can say with confidence that we all felt it then and we all feel it now. After discussions between leaders from both organizations, we decided to offer our community this: In a time of division and uncertainty, we want to offer an example of unity and direction, a statement of commonality connecting two sides that too often today seem diametrically opposed. 

The following is therefore a statement made on behalf of both the Law Democrats and the Law Republicans, sharing our unified perspective on the events that occurred in Charlottesville on August 11 and 12 and our shared hope for one part of the path forward for our community.  

First, we wish to state, unequivocally: We renounce neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and any other group who would seek to use violence, hatred, bigotry, or fear as a tool of suppression of the rights of any member of our community. Such groups have no place in our party membership nor, we believe, in our political discourse. 

Second, we express our support for those who may feel ostracized or fearful as a result of the events of August 11 and 12 or any other expression of violence against them because of their identity or belief, including race, religion, nationality, gender, or creed. We stand with you today and always. We renew our commitment to your protection and full inclusion in our community. 

Third, we make two requests: First, a request for democratic engagement. The second is a call for civility. 

That so many felt comfortable publically advocating such a reprehensible message on August 11 and 12 undeniably shows how far our society still has to go to eliminate hate and injustice. Though our parties may sometimes disagree regarding policy on how to achieve that goal, we share beliefs that reveal our unity. We can all agree, for example, that the events of August 11 and 12 reveal the need for strong public leadership. Now, more than ever, our community—in Charlottesville and across the country—is in need of leaders who will actively and unequivocally seek to expel forces of evil and injustice. To get leaders like that into power, no matter which party label they bear, we have to vote. We have to participate in state, local and national governance. We have to read the news—beyond just our friends’ Facebook statuses—and we have to actively seek out perspectives that challenge our existing beliefs. Whichever side we support, we must tenaciously engage in the peaceful exercise of democracy. It is the most powerful rebuke we can give to those who would seek to undermine it. 

Further, when we exercise our right to participate in a thriving democracy, whether it be through voting, campaigning, issue advocacy, or simply discussions of the day’s issues, we request that our community join us in attempting to do so with civility. Civility means respect and tolerance for those different from ourselves. Civility means judging a person based on their humanity and character, not for whether they lean right or left. Civility means doing the hard work of putting ourselves in our neighbor’s shoes, to learn from them, and to see the world in a way we might not have considered only a moment before. Choosing civility is not an easy task, particularly when wounds are deep and the stakes are high, but it is absolutely essential to preserving the core of democracy, where humility and tolerance serve to keep the forces of demagoguery and hate at bay. 

In six days, Charlottesville will enter its first test of democracy since the events of August 11 and 12. That is, in six days, it is election day in Virginia. If you don’t know who is on the ballot, we ask that you learn (ask any of us, we’d be glad to chat with you). If you weren’t planning to vote, we hope that you will change your mind. If you are planning to vote—or canvass or poll-watch or phone bank or debate or whatever—we ask that you aspire to do so with civility. Before you vote, we ask that you take the time to get to know the nuances of the civic forum, to understand the perspectives of all its members, and to ask the tough questions. 

The events of August 11 and 12 were disgusting. They represent the darkest corners of our community and we must all do our part to ensure that they, or anything like them, never happen again. But the events of August 11 and 12 cannot, by any means, define our community. Rather, days like November 7, when we come together to engage as a community in the lofty tradition of collective self-governance, are what define us—and what will continue to define us, should we continue to rise to the challenges this process necessarily entails. We believe in our members and we believe in our community, we are ready to get to work defining both as a peaceful, civil, and thriving democratic community where the rights of all are respected. 

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cat5af@virginia.edu

tsj7dn@virginia.edu

 

Opinion: A Return to Process in the AG’s Office

Charlie Beller '18
(he/him/his)
Guest Columnist

It’s Time for a “Virginia”1 Lawyer. As the past year has made all too clear, we live in a divided political climate.  UVa Law seems exceptional within the larger national, state, local, and University environments in its commitment to facilitating dialogue among varying viewpoints.  Two instances last week offer great examples:  the Virginia Environmental Law Journal’s symposium on “progressive” federalism under the Trump administration and the Common Law Grounds event on democratic dialogue in a polarized media landscape.  These events are just two examples of the rich discussion occurring at the law school that transcends and challenges political and ideological categories.  In a very real sense, our community seems intent on engaging differing viewpoints and seeking “common ground.”  

John Adams, Virginia Law '03, a candidate for Virginia Attorney General.

John Adams, Virginia Law '03, a candidate for Virginia Attorney General.

As a 3L, this all seems normal at UVa Law.  Yet when we look at the national, local, and even University communities, mutual respect and civility seem to disappear.  What makes the law school community special?  There are many things.  But one that deserves appreciation is a respect for process that we learn here at UVa Law.  The term “thinking like a lawyer” gets thrown around without much specificity.  Yet on some level, it conveys a special respect we learn as law students for the legal process as a mechanism for translating cultural norms and ideas into legal rules.

It should come as little surprise to students of this law school that alumnus John Adams’s campaign for Attorney General of Virginia is defined by a commitment to legal process and separation of powers.  As with all campaign slogans, these principles are empty without reference to how these principles manifest themselves in policies and courses of action.  The duty to defend the laws of the Commonwealth is one issue Adams has emphasized a commitment to legal process that would lead him to different results than incumbent Mark Herring.2

Our own Professor Saikrishna Prakash has noted in recent scholarship that the duty to defend state laws raises myriad legal issues that are highly susceptible to political exploitation across the partisan divide.3  In short, there are many considerations, including state and federal constitutional obligations, a state officer must consider in evaluating his or her duty to defend a state law.  Adams’s position is that it is not a blind “duty to defend,” but a commitment to defending validly enacted laws, with emphasis on state constitutional provisions.4  This stands in stark contrast to incumbent Mark Herring, who has declined to defend even laws he supported as a state legislator.

At the federal level, the Department of Justice has a longstanding practice of defending the constitutionality of duly enacted statutes if “reasonable arguments can be made in their defense.”5  Importantly, however, the “department in the past has declined to defend statutes despite the availability of professionally responsible arguments, in part because the Department does not consider every plausible argument to be a ‘reasonable’ one.”6  Accepting former Attorney General Holder’s permissive standard of reasonableness, Mark Herring has some explaining to do.

In 2006, Professor A.E. Herring supported Virginia’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and woman.  In 2014, he declined to defend the very same law he supported and voted for.7  Under the permissive standard outlined by Holder, either Herring’s judgment as a Virginia state senator lacked any “reasonable” justification or Herring declined to defend Virginia law for political reasons.

Professor Howard has argued that Herring was within his constitutional authority to decline to defend a state law he perceived to violate the federal Constitution.8  But even if declining to defend a state constitutional amendment is within the discretion of the attorney general under the Virginia Constitution, Holder’s description of standard executive practice (at least at the federal level) highlights that Herring should have considered whether he could make a “reasonable” argument in defense of the law.  Herring might have had a profound personal change of opinion, but his executive decision to nullify a Virginia law he presumably thought lawful and correct, at the least “reasonable” (one only hopes) when he voted for it, reflects a disregard for his duty to serve as Virginia’s lawyer.

All persons in private and public life, including the attorney general, should reconsider personal positions following reflection and dialogue with differing views.  Indeed, strong executive leadership often requires reevaluating prior beliefs in light of additional information or further study.  But a radical shift in personal opinion should be accompanied by a level of intellectual and political humility—especially for public officials whose decisions have the potential to affirm or undermine the rule of law.  If Herring thought he was fulfilling his public duty by voting in support of the Virginia marriage amendment, it strains credulity to believe that he could marshal no reasonable arguments to defend the law he supported as a legislator.

Should we worry about process if ultimate outcomes align with our sense of justice? Yes.  Particularly in a divided political environment and in a politically “purple” state like Virginia, respecting process is essential to the stability and legitimacy of changes in the law.  In periods of political uncertainty, a commitment to process also provides security against the risk that legislative victories will be nullified by the executive whim of future administrations.  As many progressives have come to appreciate, executive power is a double-edged sword.  For those intent on changing the law, respect for legal process and the separation of powers are principles that provide stability to legal and social progress.

You might disagree with Adams on the substance of certain issues, but his campaign message is an important reminder that legal process matters to good government, now more than ever.  For many, outcomes are all that matter.  In our heated political environment, elevating results over process might seem like the only way to ensure that we achieve our perceived sense of justice.  But if we “think like lawyers,” we recognize the separate and unique value of the law making at the legislative, executive, and judicial stage.  As Lawhoos, we’ve learned to respect the process of debating, legislating, litigating, and adjudicating the law.  If you want a “Virginia” lawyer for the Commonwealth, consider fellow Hoo John Adams next Tuesday.

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gcb4be@virginia.edu

1 UVa, of course.  See United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515, 584 n.4 (1996) (Scalia dissenting) (“there is only one University of Virginia.”).

2 “As your Attorney General, I would never disrespect the will of Virginians by refusing to defend perfectly valid Virginia Constitutional amendments in court.” John Adams for Attorney General, Issues, http://www.johnadamsforva.com/issues (last visited Oct. 30, 2017).

3 See Prakash, 50 States, 50 Attorneys General, and 50 Approaches to the Duty to Defend (with Devins), 124 Yale L. J. 2100 (2015).  

4 Supra, n. 1.

5 See Letter from Eric H. Holder, Jr., Att’y Gen. of the United States, to John A. Boehner, Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives (Feb. 23, 2011).

6 Id.

7 See Bostic v. Rainey, 970 F. Supp. 2d 456 (E.D. Va. 2014).

8 Bill Sizemore, Author of Va. Constitution backs AG on Marriage, The Virginian-Pilot (Apr. 14, 2014).

 

Auction Time: PILA Approaches

Jason Boyle '18
(he/him/his)
Lead Auction Director

Photo courtesy of Jason Boyle.

Photo courtesy of Jason Boyle.

On Saturday, November 4 at 9 p.m., law students from each class—ranging from fresh 1Ls to seasoned 3Ls—will get dressed up and come together at the Omni Hotel on the Downtown Mall to attend the annual Public Interest Law Association (PILA) Auction.

The event is promising to be a great one, complete with hors d’oeuvres and with bar services provided by the Omni. There will be a dancefloor with a DJ. There will be items and services available in the silent auction that were donated from a wide variety of sources, including faculty members, current students, student organizations, and local businesses. Professors George Geis and Cale Jaffe will host a live auction starting at 10:30 p.m. to auction off some select special items. There will even be a mystery item in the silent auction which is only revealed after the event to the winning bidder. The auction date is approaching fast, but with less than two weeks until the event, there are still opportunities to get involved and to attend. 

But what exactly is the PILA Auction and how can you get involved? Below are some basic questions with answers to explain this traditional event and how you can help to make an impact on future law students and support service to the public.

What is PILA? PILA is a student-run organization that got its start at UVa in 1981 as a student-funded fellowships sub-committee of the Student Bar Association, which raised enough money to cover expenses for six students to work in public service that summer. Since then, the sub-committee broke away from the SBA and formed its own organization known as the Public Interest Law Association. PILA kept its goal of raising funds to provide law students with grants to allow them to pursue public interest careers during their summers and beyond. The organization also provides networking opportunities and mentorship programs for students interested in careers and opportunities focused on service to the public.

Why is the PILA Auction important? While PILA organizes multiple forms of fundraising, including trivia nights and book sales, the auction is the primary source of funds that PILA raises for the summer grants. PILA has been raising funds for grants for decades, but with support from the Law School Foundation, PILA has now guaranteed that every student who applies for a summer grant to work in public service will receive one. PILA has the responsibility to raise funds for these grants, while the Law School Foundation provides support to help make the grant guarantee a reality. Therefore, the annual auction is just as important as ever to ensure that future UVa Law students will be able to pursue careers in public service and make a much-needed difference in the lives of many.

How do I attend the PILA Auction? Tickets are being sold at a PILA table in Hunton & Williams Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mon.-Fri. until Monday, October 30. Tickets cost $35, which covers admission to the event and bus transportation from the Law School D3 lot to the Omni Hotel Water Street bus stop from 8:45 p.m. to 12:45 a.m.

How can I get involved with the auction? We encourage everyone to donate to the auction. And you can donate pretty much anything. Examples of items include your own artistic creations, autographed books, or a homemade meal during exam time. Examples of donated services range from babysitting and dog-walking to singing happy birthday to someone or even providing a journal cite check. There are some items and services that are consistent year-to-year, but there are always creative students who come up with unique ways to participate and support PILA. The possibilities are endless. Contracts for donations are available on the bulletin board by the PILA office SL158d and by PILA’s organization board in Hunton & Williams Hall. SBA sent out a copy of the donation contract attached in a school-wide email announcement last week. And PILA volunteers will be tabling in Hunton & Williams this whole week with contracts for donations. The deadline for receiving donations to the PILA Auction is this Friday, October 27.

How can I get involved with the PILA Auction leadership next year? Running the annual auction event is a lot of fun. From getting to work with great people on the auction team to seeing all of the donated items arrive in the PILA office, being involved with the auction is a unique and personally rewarding experience. If you have any interest in organization or event logistics, I highly recommend applying to be on the auction team next year when the PILA board applications are open. There is no requirement that you have to be a PILA grantee. We only ask that you bring a passion for the work of PILA to ensure that our track record of success continues to change the lives of public interest law students and the greater community they serve.

How can I ask more questions? Please reach out to me (Jason Boyle) at jmb3ck@virginia.edu with any questions or concerns. 

We would love to see you at the PILA Auction on November 4 and thank you for supporting PILA and the vital work of our public servants!

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jmb3ck@virginia.edu

The Art of the Swipe

Kim Hopkin '19
(she/her/hers)
Columns Editor

Fall means Pumpkin Spice Lattes, cozy sweaters, football, and cuffing season—yes, the inevitable search for a relationship before the cold weather and love-life inquiries at family gatherings. But between lengthy reading assignments and softball games, we’re all strapped for time. It only makes sense that we, therefore, search for the most efficient methods to complete all tasks—even dating.1 These days, there are too many dating apps and websites to count, but my favorite for speed and overall results is the original—Tinder. Not the world’s best Tinderella/Tinder-fella? No worries, I’ve got your back.2 Success on Tinder can mean happiness for a moment or a lifetime; you just need to decide what you want from the app and follow simple instructions. Please note that the following advice is not all-inclusive, nor is it black letter law.

You want to find a friend with benefits:

First of all, congratulations on recognizing that you shouldn’t subject anyone else to the mess that is you. Or, for deciding on what you deem a more enlightened, less monogamous lifestyle. Congrats either way because, if you follow the guidelines, you’re about to have a lot of fun. 

First rule of using Tinder for its intended purpose: know your angles. You want to post photos of yourself that showcase your best physical assets. This is priority numero uno. If you secretly hit the gym every morning and have an eight-pack, this is not the time to hold back. Ladies, channel Kim K., use your fridge lighting if necessary, and put your best out there.3 You don’t need to be the hottest person on the app—you just need to be the hottest one who responds above a monosyllabic level. 

If you don’t want to leave anything to chance, I would suggest adding a quote in the About Me section. Preferably something you would feel comfortable yelling out loud at a party. Also, if you don’t want to waste your time declining coffee dates, then I strongly suggest stating your intentions upfront in this section.4 Have fun, and swipe away, my darling!

You want to find a relationship:

Well, congratulations on having your life together enough to consider a relationship. Or maybe your life isn’t together at all, but you recognize that everyone needs love. Either way, you’ve signed up for the road less traveled on Tinder—the search for committed monogamy. 

Your photos should display your personality and be properly clothed. While one or two group photos can be included,5 we should still be able to pick you out easily. Otherwise, we think you are trying to convince us that you’re actually your cute friend—and relationships shouldn’t start with lies. When I swipe, I look at the About Me section for a few hints about your personality. Be aware that you are actively talking to people you are interested in with this section! A quick statement like, “If you want to know about me, ask!” can be a turn-off.6

Including your Instagram can add some legitimacy to your profile as long as you’ve maintained a decently curated aesthetic.7 When you swipe, resist the urge to swipe right on people who’ve set up profiles described in the first section. This isn’t because they’re bad people; it’s because you’d be wasting your time convincing someone that they want a relationship when they don’t. I have faith that you’ll find someone who WANTS to be in a relationship—WITH YOU. 

Unlike those who search for “friends,” your work is just beginning when you get a match. Through possibly the least scientific survey conducted, I’ve concluded that relationships start best when the man is the first to engage in a conversation.8 So, men, think of an opener that will evoke a positive response. While overbearing compliments are creepy, a sincere compliment that doesn’t use the words “cutie” or “lil mama” can be effective. The .gif function can also help show your sense of humor when used within reason.9 I recommend setting up a date within two days to ensure that you won’t have to hire Nev to get to the bottom of why it’s been five years and you still haven’t met your fiancé. Congrats! You already seem so happy it makes me want to puke. 

You want to find your future spouse – right. now. 

Exit Tinder. Click and hold the app until all the apps start to wiggle. Click the small x in the upper left corner. Your chances of happiness have just doubled, if not tripled. 

But don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging. Relocate to a public area, and engage in an activity that interests you.10 When you find someone who strikes your fancy, and it’s appropriate,11 start a low-threat conversation. Asking someone about their opinion on a topic can garner real dialogue that makes the other person feel like you’re interested without being creepy. This is an iterative process, and you won’t find your spouse right away. But when you do, you’ll be a lot happier and won’t have to brainstorm lies about how you met to tell your parents—win! I’ll see you at your wedding!12

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knh3zd@virginia.edu

1 Or desperate attempts to date.

2 One-on-one app tutoring costs one free library coffee. What can I say? I love love! 

3 Well, not everything. Save SOMETHING for the imagination because you are literally posting these photos on the internet. 

4 #HereForAGoodTimeNotALongTime works really well for my friends. 

5 “Having friends means I won’t have to entertain you seven nights a week!”

6 “Why did I spend the half a second to click on your picture and read it? This guy is already wasting my time” – LEFT SWIPE.

7 If it’s all just bro memes, I’d suggest deleting the entire account, but at the very least don’t attach it to your dating profile. 

8 All of my gay friends are already in perfect relationships that didn’t use Tinder, so I’m afraid I don’t know the etiquette required. 

9 My ex-boyfriend sent me 10 .gifs in a row that formed a story and a Tupac quote – I mostly responded to get him to stop. So, if she’s the one you want, a creative – you may get lucky. 

10 Drinking counts.

11 If you find yourself yelling from a sidewalk at a stranger—stop. Not appropriate. In fact, if you have to ask, “Is this appropriate?” Spoiler alert: it’s not.

12 If you find yourself yelling from a sidewalk at a stranger—stop. Not appropriate. In fact, if you have to ask, “Is this appropriate?” Spoiler alert: it’s not.

 

Trumpcare Strikes Again

Greg Ranzini '18
(he/him/his)
News Editor

Regular Law Weekly readers may recall my comment back in March that the Affordable Care Act had received a “stay of execution” with the failure of the Trumpcare vote:

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.

Gregory Ranzini, Trump and Gorsuch Would Like You to Know that You Do Not Exist, Va. L. Wkly., Mar. 29, 2017, at 2.

Three weeks ago, in the wake of the collapse of the Graham-Cassidy bill and the GOP’s return to agitating for tax cuts, I semi-seriously considered seeing whether the Law Weekly editorial board would let me get away with running a lightly-edited version of that same column, in the manner of The Onion’s recurring mass-shooting response, ‘No Way to Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens. Ah—the heady days of, uh, last week!

This loathsome-but-familiar state of affairs proceeded as scripted until, in the pre-dawn darkness of 2:36 a.m. this past Friday the 13th, a particularly large plaque of β-amyloid in the President’s brain spoke up to remind him that he hates scripts:

Photo courtesy of Twitter.

Photo courtesy of Twitter.

Yep, it’s that other tragic motif in American society: an embittered and disillusioned white man stews in extremist media until he lashes out, hell-bent on killing as many of his perceived enemies as possible before They can take him down.

If you enjoy “pure applesauce” with your free Chick-fil-A, you’re likely to take exception to this metaphorical jiggery-pokery—surely we can’t compare gun violence, which everybody knows is the result of an incomprehensible evil which is completely out of the power of government to mitigate or control, to the spiteful executive orders of a man who has to be periodically talked down from pushing the nuclear button, whose own Secretary of State calls him a “fucking moron”?  After all, it’s not like any mechanism exists by which Congress could—

Never mind.

So let’s look at the numbers. The Affordable Care Act reduced the uninsured rate among nonelderly Americans from a high of 18.2% in 2010 to a low of 10.4% last year. Kaiser Family Foundation, Key Facts about the Uninsured Population (2017), available at https://www.kff.org/uninsured/fact-sheet/key-facts-about-the-uninsured-population/. In 2009, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that almost 45,000 deaths per year could be directly attributed to lack of health insurance in the United States. See Wilper, et. al., Health Insurance and Mortality in US Adults, 99 Am. J. Pub. Health 2289, 2294 (Dec. 2009). A 2002 consensus study report by the Institute of Medicine placed the number at about 18,000. Committee on the Consequences of Uninsurance, Institute of Medicine, Care Without Coverage: Too Little, Too Late 162 (2002). A researcher for the Urban Institute, applying the IOM’s methodology to newer data, estimated the 2006 as 22,000. Stan Dorn, Uninsured and Dying Because of It: Updating the Institute of Medicine Analysis on the Impact of Uninsurance on Mortality 3. Yes, there is a great deal of variation in these estimates, in large part because it is difficult to pick apart the correlated effects of economic inequality, geography, and racism on trends in insurance availability. But the bottom line is, reversing the ACA will leave a lot more people without insurance and, if you don’t have insurance, it is around 20% to 40% more likely than otherwise that you will die within a year. Beyond a doubt, a great many people will die. Denying that taking away people’s health insurance substantially increases mortality is like denying that climate change exists: the unfeeling, actuarial math doesn’t care who you voted for in 2016.

Donald Trump, by contrast, does care. Indeed, he’s still stinging from his win and looking for ways of punishing his political, racial, and class enemies. So it is that, somewhere between establishing a taskforce to address a completely imaginary wave of voter fraud through voter suppression, issuing a succession of racist orders on immigration, and encouraging his attorney general to roll back what modest gains the Obama Administration made against police brutality, he has found the time to work on dismantling the Affordable Care Act. On his watch, the Department of Health and Human Services has cut open enrollment for exchange plans in half, from ninety to forty-five days, and scheduled twelve-hour healthcare.gov downtimes on each Sunday during that period. They have also slashed the advertising budget for the program, diverted HHS funds to film anti-ACA testimonials, and removed entire categories of public-facing information on the program from their website. Trump’s decision to skive off cost-sharing reduction payments is part of a larger plan to break as much of the ACA as possible and let somebody else clean it up. Or, in Trump’s words: “As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned!”

It is unclear how Congressional Democrats plan on addressing this threat. For the moment, they still seem to be mostly intent on fending off each individual repeal bill as it is introduced, and leaving the President’s executive overreaches to the judiciary. They would be well-served to consider the events of this past week a lesson. When you’re still playing defense against adversaries like Trump and the GOP, celebration is always premature.

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gpr7qx@virginia.edu

A Moveable Feast

Allie Hemmings '18
(she/her/hers)
Guest Columnist

I discovered the joy of food trucks when I moved to Portland, Oregon for college, and I have been an ardent fan ever since. Food is inexorably tied to memory, with certain foods vividly evoking a moment or place with just one simple taste.1 I have always found food trucks to be particularly poignant creators of this type of recollection, and I could draw you a map of my time in Portland based on the trucks I ate at. Given my long-standing love of food trucks, I am delighted to review some of the trucks that Charlottesville has to offer so you can start your own exercise in culinary cartography.

Côte-Rôtie:

I was intrigued by the initial description of Côte-Rôtie as a yakitori/rotisserie truck. The owners of Côte-Rôtie, Peter and Merrill Robertson, met in culinary school and opened a restaurant together in the Hamptons before moving to Charlottesville in 2015.  The truck has no set menu and the offerings are incredibly diverse—the day we went they were serving sesame chicken and pork empanadas. However, the unifying theme is roasting and grilling (the truck’s name means “roasted slope” in French).  It is kitted out with a custom yakitori grill imported from Japan and a rotisserie. 

The day we visited them they were behind the JAG school,2 but they are regularly at Champion Brewing and other breweries and wineries around Charlottesville. The prices were quite reasonable at $8-12 for a healthy portion and a drink. Everything we ate was delicious, but one drawback was that the vegetarian options were limited due to the small menu.   

I tried the crispy crunchy chicken with Japanese BBQ and sesame noodles as well as the pork empanadas with a mild chili sauce. The chicken was, in fact, both crunchy and crispy and quite delightful. Sesame chicken can be a bit oily or over-seasoned, but this chicken had the perfect blend of flavor with a nice texture. Several of the folks who tried the dish were a big fan of the perfectly cooked chilled noodles and found them quite refreshing given how hot it was that day. My favorite of the two dishes was the empanadas. The pastry was perfect: thin, slightly flaky, and very buttery. It practically melted in your mouth.  The filling was basically smoked pulled pork, which I was 100% here for, but some of the tasters who were expecting more veggies were a bit disappointed.

Overall, the consensus about Côte-Rôtie was overwhelmingly positive. You can keep up with Côte-Rôtie by following them on Facebook, where they post their weekly schedule and menus. 

El Tako Nako:

I had heard about this truck from several friends, and I was eager to check it out for myself.  I totally missed the truck the first time I drove past; it is at 2405 Hydraulic Road, behind the Stonefield Shops in the same parking lot as a laundromat. The gentlemen running the truck were friendly, and the service was lightning fast—we got our order about five minutes after placing it. The prices are also great at $2.50 per taco. For me, three was a good portion. 

The tortillas were OK, and I appreciated that they were doubled up to prevent leaks. The toppings and the meat were where these tacos really shined. Each taco comes topped with cilantro and a blend of caramelized and chopped onions.  I loved the mix of the two types of onion, as the caramelized onion was a nice counterpoint to the slight bite of the chopped onion. The taco also came with your choice of guacamole sauce, green sauce, and red sauce. It is worth pointing out that the guacamole was a true sauce, not a dip, but it added a lovely, almost creamy flavor to the tacos. I personally love salsa made with tomatillos, so the green sauce was perfect for me.  My friends with a slightly higher spice tolerance described the red sauce as “optimally spicy.”

We tried the pollo, asada, and pastor taco fillings. Chicken can so easily be too dry, so I was really pleased with how moist the pollo taco was.  Likewise, the asada taco was tender and flavorful. My favorite was probably the pastor. The meat itself had a nice kick to it, and was well seasoned. I was disappointed that they were out of the beef cheek filling, as the reviews about it online had been very positive. 

La Michoacana is probably still going to be my go-to for tacos in Charlottesville, but I would definitely go back to El Tako Nako. Thank you to Ashley Finger, Katarina Siefkas, Hannah Sowell, Jonathan Babcock, Cory Sagduyu, and Natasha Pereira for agreeing to be guinea pigs and giving me their feedback. 

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ajh3qc@virginia.edu

1 I’m not making this up, see “The Omnivorous Mind” by John Allen.

2 Side Note – the JAG school has food trucks come every few weeks when there are special seminars. All the JAGs we talked to were super friendly, and encouraged us to come over to check out the food trucks anytime. 

 

Symposium to Tackle Environmental Federalism

Tyler Jerrell '18
(he/him/his)
Guest Columnist

On January 1, 1970, Richard Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) into law.  NEPA’s stated purpose was to “declare a national policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment . . . .”  

NEPA was not the first federal law to address environmental concerns.  The Conservation movement won federal legislative victories in the early 20th century through the establishment of national parks and passage of land protection laws like the Antiquities Act.  Additionally, earlier laws such as the first Clean Air Act of 1963 and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948 brought regulations to specific environmental concerns in a more piecemeal fashion.  

In contrast to these previous laws’ limitations, NEPA’s broader policy declaration would become the beginning of a series of environmental controls by the federal government throughout the 1970s, including creation by executive order of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, amendments to the Clean Air Act in both 1970 and 1977, and passage of the Endangered Species Act of 1973.  These laws, and the popular environmental movements that supported them, helped promote a paradigm of environmentalism that focused on strong, uniform federal protections that applied throughout the country.

Since the beginning of this year, however, the new administration has signaled through rhetoric and action that it will move away from this paradigm and towards deregulation of federal environmental protections.  In only its second executive order, issued on January 24, the administration directed federal review and approval of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL Pipelines.  Two months later, a March 28 executive order emphasized deregulation of energy development on federal lands.  This was followed later, in June, by the public announcement to withdraw the United States from the climate goals of the Paris Agreement.  More recently, the EPA announced its intention to repeal the 2014 Clean Power Plan. 

In response to these policies, other groups have pledged to uphold environmental protections in the absence of federal oversight.  Attempts to deregulate the energy sector are being met with legal challenges by non-profit groups and are being opposed by some state and local governments.  Additionally, governors of fourteen states, including Virginia, have joined the bipartisan United States Climate Alliance and, together with pledges from nine other states, remain committed to fulfilling the aspirations of the Paris Agreement.  

Meanwhile, private businesses have risen to satisfy consumer demands for renewable energy despite the absence of federal regulatory mandates to do so.  Walmart’s “Project Gigaton,” announced in April, aims to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of its supply chain, while Facebook recently announced plans to construct a datacenter in Henrico County that will rely on renewable energy for its operation.

Although the success and impact of these actions remains to be seen, they nevertheless lead one to ask: if state and local governments, with the cooperation of non-profits and private business, could have the means and capability to protect the environment on their own, would federal laws and regulations toward that same end be necessary?  

On Thursday, October 19, the Virginia Environmental Law Journal will host its symposium Whose Mess Is It? Federalism and Environmental Regulation in a New Political Climate to consider this potential paradigm shift through issues that impact closer to home.  

One panel, co-sponsored by the, will focus on the Center for Oceans Law and Policy Chesapeake Bay Program, an agreement between six states, the EPA, and the District of Columbia to cooperate on reducing the pollution of the waters feeding the Chesapeake Bay.  The panel will examine how the program’s specific requirements, including the role played by the EPA, and successes have varied since it was first created in 1983.

A second panel, co-sponsored by the Virginia Environmental Law Forum, will discuss the federal leasing and exploration of offshore fossil fuel resources.  While this program occurs under federal waters, as was seen by the 2010 BP oil spill, negative externalities associated with environmental degradation are felt most acutely on state-controlled coasts.  Coastal cities and states in the southeast have seen growing opposition to expanding these leases as the environmental and economic impacts of offshore energy development become more fully known.

A final roundtable will bring together legal scholars to discuss these issues: Caroline Cecot of the Antonin Scalia Law School, Michael Livermore of the University of Virginia School of Law, and Hannah Wiseman of the Florida State University College of Law.  These scholars will build on prior topics as well as the history, politics, and policy of environmentalism and federalism in order to consider the most effective role the federal government should play in protecting the environment.

Lunch will be provided by Brazos Tacos.

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tmj3aw@virginia.edu

ABA Presents: Marshall

Jenna Goldman '18
(she/her/hers)
Editor-in-Chief

What else could possibly be discovered about the nation’s most famous lawyer? Turns out, quite a lot.1

The American Bar Association and Open Road Films sponsored an exclusive pre-screening of Marshall for UVa Law students and faculty at the Regal Stonefield in Charlottesville last Thursday, September 14. The film, directed by Reginald Hudlin, writer of Marvel’s Who is the Black Panther? and producer of Django Unchained, the film has been dubbed a “biographical thriller” about Justice Thurgood Marshall’s early days as a criminal trial lawyer for the NAACP.   

Chadwick Boseman portrays Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Chadwick Boseman portrays Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Chadwick Boseman is tasked with playing a suave, energetic Marshall, by now well seasoned in portraying larger-than-life historical figures (he played Jackie Robinson in the 2013 film, 42, and James Brown in Get on Up in 2014). Boseman also played T’Challa/Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War and will reprise the role in the 2018 film The Black Panther.

The movie centers on one criminal case assigned to Marshall as a 32-year-old while working for the financially struggling NAACP, which is searching for a show-stopping win to attract high profile donors. 

In Connecticut v. Spell, Marshall is tasked with defending a black chauffeur named Joseph Spell (played by Sterling K. Brown, who gives a gut-wrenching testimony on the stand—so good I wished Brown was given more of a speaking role). Spell is accused of sexual assault and attempted murder by his white, socialite employer named Eleanor Strubing (the dark, “damsel in distress” played by Kate Hudson) in Greenwich, Connecticut. 

The 1941 case was one of the most scandalous of the time, and coverage of the case shared the front pages of The New York Times with the start of the Second World War. The notoriety of the case sent shockwaves through the white upper class in the North, and cost black domestic workers their jobs.

The NAACP sends Marshall to Bridgeport where fumbling Connecticut attorney Sam Friedman—played by Josh Gad—reluctantly agrees to sponsor him for special admittance to the Connecticut bar. In a dramatic, not entirely shocking turn of events, the judge merely allows Marshall to act as second seat, and bars him from speaking at trial. An exasperated Friedman, who now is on the hook to defend Spell, exclaims, “But Mr. Marshall just argued before the United States Supreme Court!” To which the judge responds, “I do not see how that is pertinent to this case.”

Predictably, the vicious, slick-haired prosecutor on the case—played manically by Dan Stevens—is preparing for a Senate run, and the judge—stoically played by James Cromwell—is an old law partner of the prosecutor’s father. Even outside the Jim Crow South, the buddy-buddy Connecticut bar and the alleged rape of a white woman make Bridgeport seem awfully like Birmingham. The racism is apparent, yet subverted, perhaps in a statement to viewers about the current state of this country. 

The choice to highlight this case, where one of the most famous orators of the century is not allowed to utter a single word at trial, was a surprising one. As the story unfolds it becomes clear that the film was meant to focus on the brilliance of Marshall’s trial strategy, a strategy that enthralled our audience of law students.

For those generally reluctant to watch courtroom dramas because of an obsession with searching for errors in criminal procedure, fear not. Prominent Connecticut trial lawyer Michael Koskoff wrote the screenplay with help from his son, Jacob Koskoff (screenwriter for the 2015 film adaptation of Macbeth). Koskoff has handled major race discrimination cases in Bridgeport and New Haven, and at age seventy-three, he decided to bring the story of this major Connecticut case to the world. 

Hudlin directed the film with all of the excitement and fervor of a classic superhero movie. The story had a sniveling villain, a plain-clothes savior (I wouldn’t have been surprised if Marshall tore open his dress shirt to reveal a giant “S” and cape),2 and a trusty sidekick3 out to right the injustices in a town that doesn’t see the impending storm forming around them. This courtroom thriller keeps viewers on the edge of their seats with a twisting plot, from voir dire to verdict.   

The film was more than just legalese; it pays homage beautifully to the era in which it was set (from the roaring music to the fabulous cars—one of which plays an important role in the trial). In a side scene, real-life friends Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston make an appearance in a dazzling New York City jazz bar. The scene was not necessarily in furtherance of the greater plotline, but it provided a glimpse into Marshall’s exciting outside-the-courtroom life. 

Outside of mild flirtations and a couple of stiff drinks, Marshall’s personal life is cast in a decidedly angelic light, as the film focuses almost exclusively on his legal practice. And I’m glad it did: Marshall’s brilliant lawyering provided plenty of intrigue and drama.  

As far as critique, I was left wanting many of the actors to go just one step further in their portrayal of the striking figures. Boseman had some large, frankly impossible, shoes to fill. To his credit, during the major climactic moments Boseman unleashed Marshall’s power and presence, but at other points he seemed reluctant to fully step into the part. Similarly, the conflicted Hudson could have been even nastier on the stand, and the conniving prosecutor could have been . . . more conniving. 

Casting Gad, best known for voicing Olaf the snowman in Frozen, was an interesting choice. He stepped into the dramatic role and captured the essence of a bumbling new lawyer. I was convinced by his performance most of all. 

However, my complaints are as follows: First, after researching4 further, I am not sure Friedman was given enough credit as an attorney in his own right. If historical accuracy was not the point and his character was meant to be a foil to the impressively skilled Marshall, then I concede. But Samuel Friedman was a far more accomplished lawyer, and a more willing participant, than the tongue-tied and insecure Gad portrayed him to be.

Second, and no offense to Gad, but generally Hollywood casts actors who are better looking than the real-life character; the real Samuel Friedman was actually a very handsome and slender man (I wondered if the physical choice to cast Gad was to play up a certain stereotype—but I digress). 

The partnership between the Jewish immigrant Friedman and the black, self-made Marshall, both ostracized by their profession, is one that was critical both during the Civil Rights Era and now—as protesters marched through Charlottesville they chanted racist and anti-Semitic slurs interchangeably. Marshall evokes language from the Torah and compared their shared struggles to convince Friedman to take the case. The seemingly rag-tag duo drives home an important point. 

Despite my critiques, I not only enjoyed the movie for the entertainment (I cannot emphasize the excitement in the film enough), but I felt the story was adeptly told at just the right time. There were so many components and comparisons to chew on; the theater was abuzz with discussion after the curtain fell. I will likely see the movie again, and I look forward to hearing the interviews and analysis when the film is officially released on October 13, 2017. 

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jmg3db@virginia.edu

1 I won’t spoil the ending, but the statute of limitations on spoilers of a case decided in 1941 has probably passed. 

2 I am aware that Superman is a DC comic, thanks for asking.

3 Id. 

4 https://www.legalaffairs.org/issues/March-April-2005/feature_sharfstein_marapr05.msp

 

The Sad Decline of Nelson Mandela’s Party

Jansen VanderMeulen '19
(he/him/his)
Executive Editor

In April of this year, South African President Jacob Zuma survived a vote of no confidence in the National Assembly, the lower house of the Parliament of South Africa. Mr. Zuma is no stranger to votes of no confidence; he has now survived eight since his election to the presidency in 2009. Throughout his political career, Mr. Zuma has been dogged by an unceasing stream of allegations of impropriety and corruption. Claims including ones of rape, arms dealing, use of taxpayer money for home improvements, and illegal business collaboration with the shadowy Gupta brothers.1 A few weeks prior to his election in 2009, prosecutors dropped 786 counts of corruption against Mr. Zuma, though South African courts have since ordered that at least some of the counts should be reinstated.2

Photo courtesy of The United States Department of State.

Photo courtesy of The United States Department of State.

How, in a period of less than twenty years’ time, did South Africa’s presidency go from being occupied by the late statesman and Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela to its degradation under Mr. Zuma? The answer lies with the state of the party Messrs. Zuma and Mandela share: the African National Congress (ANC), a left-wing, African nationalist party with support from South Africa’s Communist Party but a moderate governing record. The ANC, outlawed throughout much of the apartheid regime, negotiated an end to the state-sanctioned regime of segregation and black disenfranchisement with the government of State President F.W. de Klerk in the early ’90s, and went on to win South Africa’s first free elections in 1994 with nearly 63% of the vote. Freed from the embargoes and condemnation that haunted South Africa prior to desegregation, the nation’s economy boomed throughout the ’90s and the first decade of the 2000s.3 The South African people rewarded the ANC with increased parliamentary majorities every election until 2009. 

The ANC also benefited from a divided opposition. In the election of 1994, Mr. Mandela’s main opponent was Mr. de Klerk’s National Party, the main party of government during the apartheid era. After those elections, in which Mr. de Klerk took around 20% of the vote, the National Party’s vote share steadily declined until it disbanded in 2005. In its place rose an opposition split mostly between the centrist, liberal, primarily white Democratic Alliance (DA) and, in recent years, the firebrand leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), led by ex-ANC youth-wing leader Julius Malema, who was once convicted of inciting racial hatred for singing a song encouraging the killing of white South Africans.4 Earning just shy of 70% of the vote in the 2005 general election, the ANC reached the peak of its power, winning enough seats to unilaterally amend the Constitution.

The story since then has been one of graft and decline. A fight between Thabo Mbeki—Mr. Zuma’s predecessor—and Mr. Zuma, then Deputy President, led to Mr. Mbeki’s early resignation and triggered allegations that the South African government’s charges against Mr. Zuma were politically motivated. Mr. Zuma’s election in 2009 was the first time since the end of apartheid that the ANC’s percentage of the vote declined from the prior election. It declined further in 2014, as the ANC sunk from nearly 66% of the vote to just over 62%, and more dramatically in the municipal elections of 2016, in which the ANC received less than 54% of the vote. The DA, traditionally confined to Cape Town and its Western Cape province, gained municipal control of Johannesburg, Tshwane (which contains South Africa’s executive capital, Pretoria), and Nelson Mandela Bay, three of South Africa’s largest municipal areas. The EFF, meanwhile, made its debut with more than 8% of the vote, entering into municipal coalitions with the DA against the ANC across the country despite their ideological differences.

While the ANC has continued to bleed support, the opposition has to contend with a host of hurdles that will prevent it from dislodging Mr. Zuma’s party for the foreseeable future. First, the country’s history of racial divisions remains contentious and visceral. The DA is a primarily white party—though it is now led by a black man, Mmusi Maimane—and despite roots in the anti-apartheid movement,5 it has struggled to win the votes of black South Africans.6 After its 2016 municipal breakthrough, the party was mired in controversy when its former leader, Western Cape province Premier Helen Zille, was sharply criticized for arguing in a tweet that the legacy of colonialism was not “ONLY bad,” noting South Africa’s “independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water, etc.,” comments for which she later apologized and was suspended from all party leadership positions.7

The EFF, meanwhile, is thought to have limited appeal under Mr. Malema’s bombastic leadership. Mr. Malema was once a close ally of Mr. Zuma; when Mr. Zuma was accused of rape, Mr. Malema brought up the alleged victim’s “breakfast and taxi money” to show that she had “a nice time,”8 comments which earned him a conviction under South African hate speech laws. But he turned against Mr. Zuma, and was expelled from the party after another hate crime conviction. The firebrand Marxist typically dons a red beret, and is known to engage in heated shouting on the floor of South Africa’s National Assembly. While he has been successful in peeling off support from the ANC’s left, and his alliance with the DA shows an unexpected pragmatism, it is difficult to conceive of a man who advocates for the nationalization of South African industry9 and the Zimbabwe-style expropriation of white-owned property10 being elected to the South African presidency.

As Mr. Zuma approaches the ten-year limit placed on South African presidents, the ANC faces a crossroads: the leadership of the ANC will likely come down to Mr. Zuma’s Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, and Mr. Zuma’s ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (Mr. Zuma, a polygamist, is currently married to four women, with two additional ex-wives, including Ms. Dlamini-Zuma). If Ms. Dlamini-Zuma, an ally of her former husband, wins the leadership with Mr. Zuma’s backing, the party can expect to lose more ground on its right to the DA in the cities, and more to the EFF in its rural heartlands. Even short of losing power, the ANC presents western democracies with a cautionary tale about parties in power for too long. If the party of Mandela’s triumph can wither and slink into the party of Zuma’s shame, no political party is exempt from the one immutable rule in democratic politics: no party wins power forever.

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jmv5af@virginia.edu

1 http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/08/political-scandals-president-zuma-survived-170808082727236.html

2 http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-17450447

3 http://www.focus-economics.com/country-indicator/south-africa/gdp

4 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/13/world/africa/13southafrica.html?mcubz=0

5 http://www.sahistory.org.za/organisations/democratic-alliance-da

6 http://www.reuters.com/article/us-safrica-election-race-analysis/anc-shaken-to-core-as-south-african-voters-look-beyond-race-idUSKCN10G1BJ

7 http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-40258949

8  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-14718226

9 https://mg.co.za/article/2010-02-19-malema-nationalisation-will-become-anc-policy

10 https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2017-03-01-malema-if-you-see-a-beautiful-piece-of-land-take-it/#.WbYM_siGM2w

 

Hunkered Down for Irma

Hannah Fraher '19
Guest Columnist

Tampa, Florida is my hometown. My family still lives there, so when I saw the sudden westward shift of Hurricane Irma on the Friday before it made landfall in the U.S., I was afraid. Afraid for my family, afraid for my childhood home, and afraid for the city I love most. Late that night, I purchased a one-way ticket home for Saturday morning, to be with my family, help them prepare, and assist with the impending aftermath. I then ran down to the Wal-Mart in Charlottesville and bought supplies, as Tampa had effectively been cleared out since the Wednesday prior, including duct tape, walkie-talkies, a weather radio, and landline phones. 

Photo courtesy of Hannah Fraher. 

Photo courtesy of Hannah Fraher. 

Upon flying in Saturday, I was immediately put to work covering all the windows of our home and moving valuables and breakables to inner hallways in case the windows didn’t hold and wind tore through the house. We cleared out the closet under our stairs and set it up to be as comfortable as possible in case we didn’t feel safe sleeping upstairs. We stocked the pantry with canned and boxed foods that didn’t need to be cooked before eating, and froze water-filled baggies in order to have as much ice as possible – fully expecting that we would lose power, and possibly for many days. I filled every jar and jug I could find with water, having been warned of the likelihood that we could lose sewer service and be put under a boil-water ban. 

After all of our preparing we sat back and watched and waited for Irma to arrive. By Saturday night the eye of the hurricane was projected to pass right over our house as a Category Three the following evening, which means sustained winds of up to 130 miles per hour. Reports also came flooding in around that time of the devastation in the eastern Caribbean, and we began to lose communication with the Florida Keys, as the hurricane was beginning its landfall in the US. We didn’t get much sleep that night.

The next day, we were glued to the television, watching the bi-hourly updates from the hurricane center on the latest projected path. As the day progressed, the hurricane swerved a bit east and began to unravel. By the time the hurricane got to Tampa, it was a Category One. We slept soundly through the night and awoke to mostly superficial damage in our neighborhood. Some large limbs fell from the tree next to my house and scraped the façade on the way down, but there was no major damage done. Within a day, landscapers had cleaned up all of the branches and leaves strewn about, and our neighborhood appeared to be back to normal. 

Photo courtesy of Hannah Fraher. 

Photo courtesy of Hannah Fraher. 

We were lucky. Many people throughout Florida are still without power and water. Some of them live just a few minutes down the road from my family. Our house had never lived through a hurricane before, and stood up well on this occasion. Even though my family has lived in Florida for more than thirty years, none of them had ever lived through a hurricane before, and they also stood up well. 

People will complain that Hurricane Irma was over-hyped, since the actual outcome wasn’t nearly as bad as projected for Florida, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. This hurricane broke several records, and there are still several weeks left in hurricane season this year. The worst may still be yet to come.

 

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hef8ep@virginia.edu