Archive for August, 2011

Prof. Wilson on Sharía Law

August 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Robin WilsonLast Week, Professor Robin Wilson, the Class of 1958 Law Alumni Professor of Law, commented on The Volokh Conspiracy, a popular legal blog frequented by many of today’s top legal scholars.

In the post, which can be read in its entirety here, Professor Wilson discusses the Greek Family Law reforms that, among other things, abolished the practice of allowing Sharía law to govern family matters for a Muslim enclave of over 110,000 living in Western Thrace. Before this change, fundamentalist religious rules were given the force of law by delegating jurisdiction to religious groups to decide family disputes, with nominal State oversight. Under Islamic law, if a wife wanted a divorce, she “must compensate her husband for the termination of the marriage … by returning the dower … and by waiving her right to alimony or even her right to the custody of the children.” If the husband did not agree to the divorce, the wife could terminate the marriage only for important reasons pertaining to the husband’s fault. This led to many women remaining trapped in a non-function marriage.

Professor Wilson also touched upon this practice, which occurs in Great Britain. There are currently has eighty-five Sharía courts operating within its borders, affecting its more than 1.5 million Islamic residents. These Islamic tribunals capitalize on Great Britain’s Arbitration Act, pursuant to which the judgments reached in binding arbitration are civilly enforced.

Prof. Wilson ultimately concludes that the movement to introduce religious fundamentalism into the family can have dire consequences for women and children who are deserving of the State’s protection, as Greece recognized this week.

Prof. Fraley on Constitutional Change

August 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Professor Jill M. Fraley, Assistant Professor of Law, recently posted on Professor Jack Balkin’s blog, Balkinization.

The post discusses the history of the Appalachian Regional Commission, which developed from John F. Kennedy’s campaign visit to West Virginia. It possesses a unique structure. State governors or their appointed representatives govern the board. The president appoints one co-chairman as a federal representative. State governors elect the second co-chairman. Proposals may be initiated at the local level, but must be officially proposed by a state. No proposals can originate at the federal level. Various constitutional protections were put into place to allay fears that a federal group would be controlled by the states. Slowly, however, these safeguards were eroded, the last one falling in 1998.

Ultimately, Prof. Fraley believes this constitutional history is a strong cautionary tale.  When we focus on the judiciary and narrow our constitutional questions to violations, we neglect a broader view of trajectories and drifts. When we focus on narrative history, we illuminate the successes and failures of powerful social movements without interrogating their potential for the unanticipated and unintentional: stealth constitutional change.

You can find the post here.

Prof. Wilson on Marriage Equality

August 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Robin WilsonYesterday, Professor Robin Wilson, the Class of 1958 Law Alumni Professor of Law, posted on SCOTUSblog, a popular Supreme Court forum.

In the post, which can be read in its entirety here, Professor Wilson discusses the constitutional challenges presented by Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Perry v. Brown) and Windsor v. United States and that they leave little doubt that a U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage is inevitable. She recognizes that every state that has passed same-sex legislation has afforded religious protections for those who do not wish recognize gay marriage. She argues that a decision from the Court, no matter which way it should fall, should take care to accommodate individual states’ legislation.

The post can be found here.

Prof. Spencer on Ashcroft v. Iqbal

August 11, 2011 Leave a comment

A. Benjamin SpencerProfessor A. Benjamin Spencer had his article, Iqbal and the Slide Toward Restrictive Procedure14 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 185 (2010), published in the Lewis & Clark Law Review.

The article addresses the Supreme Court case, Ashcraft v. Iqbal, where the Court affirmed its commitment to more stringent pleading standards for the ordinary federal civil case. Prof. Spencer finds two disconcerting elements in Iqbal. First, he claims the Court treated Iqbal’s factual allegations in a manner that erodes the assumption-of-truth rule that has been the cornerstone of modern federal civil pleading practice. Thus, judges may exercise their own subjective, malleable standards to reject pleadings based on their own predilections or “experience and common sense.” Second, Prof. Spencer finds that the Court struck a blow against the liberal ethos in civil procedure by endorsing pleading standards that will make it increasingly difficult for members of societal out-groups to challenge the unlawful practices of dominant interests such as employers, government officials, or major corporations. Ultimately, Prof. Spencer concludes that Iqbal is “an important milestone in the steady slide toward restrictiveness that has characterized procedural doctrine in recent years.”

Professor Spencer’s article can be found here.

Prof. Millon SEALS President-Elect

August 5, 2011 Leave a comment

David MillonProfessor David Millon, the J. B. Stombock Professor of Law and Law Alumni Faculty Fellow at Washington and Lee University School of Law, was named president-elect of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) at its recent annual meeting. Millon will serve in this position during 2011-12 and will become president of the organization for the 2012-13 term.

Started in 1947, SEALS is comprised of 65 institutional member schools, 23 affiliate member schools and several foreign member schools. The primary activity of the organization is an annual legal conference held during the summer at a family-friendly venue. SEALS just completed its 64th annual meeting, which was attended by more than 500 scholars, the largest attendance in the history of the conference.

W&L Law faculty are very active within SEALS. This year Professors Christopher Bruner, Johanna Bond, Mark Drumbl, Jim Moliterno, Tim MacDonnell, Joshua Fairfield, and Robin Wilson all joined distinguished panels to present their research. In addition, John Keyser, Associate Dean for Administration and Technology, presented on teaching empirical methods, outcome measurement compliance and was also named chair of the conference technology committee.

The full press release can be found here.

Prof. Drumbl on Income Taxation

August 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Michelle DrumblProfessor Michelle L. Drumbl, Associate Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Tax Clinic, recently published her book, Skills and Values: Federal Income Tax. It is part of a series of books published by LexisNexis that focus on practical, exercise-based legal education.

The book follows the growing trend in legal education of practical-based learning rather than the traditional casebook. In this spirit, Prof. Drumbl’s book takes an integrated approach, seeking to help students capture the “big picture” of the tax system through exercises in each chapter that present hypothetical client situations. Students can actively participate in the learning process through the use of an online interactive companion with exercises.

Congratulations to Professor Drumbl on her publication.