Archive for October, 2011

Prof. Bhuta on Human Rights

October 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Nehal BhutaIn the fourth installment of the Fall 2011 Faculty Workshop Series, sponsored by the Frances Lewis Law Center, Professor Nehal Bhuta, Assistant Professor of International Affairs at The New School for Public Engagement, came to speak today about his article, Rethinking the Universality of Human Rights: A Comparative Historical Proposal for the Idea of “Common Ground” with Other Moral Traditions.

In the article, Prof. Bhuta discusses his approach to finding common ground between Islamic legal thought and practice and the law and practice of international human rights. A common approach is to start from premises about the underlying rationale or purposes of the rules and identify common values and purposes by deduction or induction. The danger, however, is that these premises may be marred by contemporary political thought, skewing the results of the comparison. Therefore, Prof. Bhuta suggests that rather than start from a comparative axiological list of values and norms, the exercise should engage in comparative histories of the present configurations of norms and values. This will relativize both sets of values by trying to grasp their meaning and social significance within specific formations of politics, place and power.

Professor Bhuta’s article will be a chapter in the forthcoming publication, Islamic Law and International Human Rights Law: Searching for Common Ground?, to be published by the Oxford University Press in 2012. Many thanks to Professor Bhuta for visiting W&L and sharing his paper with the faculty.

Prof. Peppers on the Supreme Court

October 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Todd PeppersProfessor Todd C. Peppers, Lecturer in Law, recently published his article, Till Death Do Us Part: Chief Justices and the United States Supreme Court, which he co-authored with Chad M. Oldfather, Professor of Law at Marquette University. The article was published in excerpt in the Marquette Lawyer and will be published in full in a forthcoming issue of the Marquette Law Review.

The article looks at the institutional rules and norms surrounding the illness and retirement of U.S. Supreme Court Justices, with a special emphasize on the recent illness of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. The excerpt picks up after the authors’ account of Chief Justice Rehnquist’s death in office and concludes before their focus on the administrative role of the Chief Justice of the United States, which is unique among members of the Supreme Court, and their proposals for reform.

You can find the excerpt here.

Prof. Tomlins on Critical Legal History

October 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Christopher TomlinsIn the third installment of the Fall 2011 Faculty Workshop Series, sponsored by the Frances Lewis Law Center, Professor Christopher Tomlins, the Chancellor’s Professor of Law at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, came to speak Friday about his article, After Critical Legal History.

In the paper, Prof. Tomlins outlines his distinct statement of theory and practice for legal history. He starts by supplying a short history of Critical Legal History and critiques its central claims. He then situates his critiques in more general critiques of current modes of critical theorizing and their product. Ultimately, he develops three points of conceptual purchase: scope, scale, and structure.

Many thanks to Professor Tomlins for visiting W&L and sharing his paper with the faculty.

Categories: Speaker, workshop series

German [Dis]Integration

October 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Immigration and Integration are two of the most difficult problems facing German society – and Europe more broadly.  European countries are trying to understand, and adapt old legal regimes to, a wave of eastern, mostly Muslim immigrants, who constitute the majority of immigrants in Europe, “including in Belgium, France … and the Netherlands, and the largest single component of the immigrant population in the United Kingdom. . . . [I]t is estimated that between 15 and 20 million Muslims now call Europe home and make up four to five per cent of its total population.”  (Robert S. Leiken, “Europe’s Angry Muslims,” 84 FOREIGN AFFAIRS 120, 122 (2005)).  Germany is no exception to the trend, with more than 16 million residents of foreign descent, of whom 7 million are not citizens.  Many of these foreigners can be counted as “non-German” only in a strictly formal sense.  Most represent the second or third generation to be born and lawfully reside in Germany.  There are 4 million Muslims in Germany, almost all of whom have immigrant backgrounds.

The assimilation of these immigrants in Germany and elsewhere in Europe has not always been trouble-free – especially as the phenomenon implicates the thorny intersection of Europe’s Christian, although now largely secular, cultural and legal tradition and many Muslims’ attempts to honor the tenets of Islamic law (Sharia).  This cultural negotiation has been described by some in the west as a “clash of civilizations.”  A number of headline-grabbing developments seem to confirm this view.  In 2004 France banned “conspicuous” religious symbols in a move that was patently aimed at Muslim women wearing the traditional headscarf.  In 2005 a Danish newspaper’s publication of political cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed in unflattering terms triggered incendiary protests by Muslims around the world and led Denmark to reconsider and retrench free speech and free press rights.  In the last decade legal systems across Europe have had to come to grips with an increasing number of so-called “honor-killings”, murders perpetrated by orthodox Muslims—usually against women relatives—for perceived Western sleights of traditional values.  In 2008 the Archbishop of the Church of England was embroiled in controversy after suggesting that Muslims in Brittan should be able to have Sharia norms applied to a discrete number of concerns by independent Islamic courts.  In 2009 nearly 60 per cent of those who participated in a national referendum in Switzerland voted to ban the construction of minarets.  In 2010 a prominent member of Germany’s center-left SPD political party published a run-away bestseller entitled “Germany is Doing Itself In” in which he brashly complains about the rising birth-rate amongst Germany’s uneducated immigrants.  Anders Behring Breivik is accused of a murderous rampage in Norway, in the summer of 2011, that seems to have been motivated by his hatred for Muslims and his belief that Norwegian politicians had not done enough to defend the country from Islamic influence.

As part of their annual comparative law research program, W&L law students serving as editors of the German Law Journal are exploring the German legal regime linked to questions of immigration and integration.  The program is called “German [Dis]Integration:  The Image of the Immigrant in German Law and Culture”.  In a series of seminar discussions, film screenings, and guest lectures, the students will examine German constitutional law, administrative law (including immigration and asylum policy) and private/anti-discrimination law.  They will closely assess German Constitutional Court cases involving a ban on the headscarf in the civil service, a ban on hilal slaughter, and the deportation to Turkey of juvenile offender who was a Turkish citizen despite the fact that he had been born and raised in Germany.  In fulfillment of the German Law Journal’s commitment to understanding law in its social context, the students also will screen two award-winning Turkish-German films and hear lectures on the image of the immigrant in Germany film and literature.

German [Dis]Integration Program (pdf)

Prof. Dayna Matthew on Implicit Bias

October 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Dayne MatthewIn the second installment of the Fall 2011 Faculty Workshop Series, sponsored by the Frances Lewis Law Center, Professor Dayna Matthew, Professor of Law at the University of Colorado Law School, came to speak today about her book proposal, entitled Heal Our Land: A Behavioral Realist’s Proposal to Reverse Health Disparities in America.

Social science has demonstrated that African-Americans are more likely to receive different and inferior medical treatment from physicians. In the case of a patient presenting chest pains, Prof. Matthew points to studies that indicate they are less likely to receive thrombolysis, adequate pain medication, and a heart transplant. African-Americans are also more likely to be denied insurance coverage for the treatment. She hopes to offer a body of social science evidence in order to understand how the law can better address the injustice of racial and ethnic health disparities. Ultimately, she wants to open the discussion and shape the law to employ regulatory, judicial, and statutory measures that can better respond to the implicit biases.

Many thanks to Professor Matthew for visiting W&L and sharing her ideas with the faculty.