Category: Administrative Announcements


Sex change and inmate rights

And now, from the Department of Most-Likely-to-Make-Your-Conservative-Cousin’s-Head-Explode, comes this one. The headline pretty much says it all: “Convicted Killer Asks Judge to Force State to Pay for Sex Change.” The news story delivers on the promise of the headline, too:

A man serving a life sentence for the murder of his wife is asking a federal judge to order the state to pay for a sex-change operation for him, saying that denying him the surgery amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. . . . Kosilek sued the Department of Correction for the second time last year, saying that numerous psychiatrists who had examined him — including two of the DOC’s own experts — had determined that a sex-change operation is “medically necessary.” “We ask that gender identity disorder be treated like any other medical condition,” said Kosilek’s attorney, Frances Cohen.

What do we think of these kinds of accounts? As someone who considers himself a left-leaning moderate, I haven’t yet arrived at any consensus on this story.

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Extended Stay

My guest stint has been extended for a couple more weeks (thanks everyone!). You’ll see more from me on employment law, contracts, information markets, some law and literature, and other sundry and assorted topics. Don’t worry, there will be plenty more bad puns too.


Introducing Guest Blogger Francesca Bignami

francesca-bignami.jpgJoining us for a very brief guest stint is Professor Francesca Bignami of Duke Law School. Francesca writes about international and comparative law issues, and her work focuses on rights and democracy in the European Union.

Francesca receceived has an A.B. from Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges; an M.Sc. from Oxford; and a JD from Yale, where she was an editor of the Yale Law Journal. She clerked for Judge Stephen F. Williams, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit; and served as a stagiare for Advocate General Philippe Léger of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. She also was a Fulbright Scholar at the European University Institute.

Francesca is Chair of the Rulemaking Advisory Group of the ABA Project on EU Administrative Law and is on the academic advisory board of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Francesca will be visiting us very briefly to post about the NSA surveillance program from an international law perspective. This is a dimension of the NSA surveillance issue that I have not yet seen addressed, and I’m really looking forward to Francesca’s insights.


Comment Spam Deluge

spam1a.jpgWe’ve been receiving a deluge of comment spam recently, and we’re in the process of experimenting with using more aggressive settings on our junk comment filters. If your comment doesn’t appear after you go to post it, please let the author of the post know so it can be fished out of our junk comment bin.

Spam is a technological rat race, and sadly, the bad rats seem to be winning lately. SiliconBeat reports that Russian spammers have attacked the anti-spam company Blue Security to the point where it has been forced to shut down. We beat the Russians in the Cold War; but we’re not faring as well against them in the Spam War.

Anyway, we’re raising our defenses, and we hope that this won’t have effects on legitimate comments. Please let us know if it does.


Glad to Be Here

Thanks, Dan S., for the warm Concurring Opinions welcome! I’m happy to be here, writing whatever I want, I mean, advancing the intellectual legal dialectic of this most scholarly blog. Enough filler for now (no offense, Dan F.), more about contracts, employment, law and popular culture (and dinosaurs) to come.


Introducing Guest Blogger Miriam Cherry

cherry-miriam1a.jpgWe are delighted that Miriam Cherry will be joining us for a guest visit over the next few weeks.

This fall, Miriam will be joining McGeorge-University of the Pacific School of Law. She is currently a law professor at Cumberland Law School, and she is finishing a visit at Hofstra Law School. She received her B.A. from Dartmouth College, and her J.D. from Harvard Law School. Miriam teaches business associations, employment law, and sales.

Prior to entering law teaching, Miriam clerked for Justice Roderick Ireland of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, and for Judge Gerald Heaney of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. She was a corporate attorney at Foley Hoag in Boston, and, in the wake of Enron and Worldcom, litigated accounting fraud cases on behalf of pension funds at Berman DeValerio & Pease, also in Boston.

Some of Miriam’s recent publications include: Whistling in the Dark? Corporate Fraud, Whistleblowers, and the Implications of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act for Employment Law, 79 Wash. L. Rev. 1029 (2004); How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Cases): Gender Stereotypes and Sexual Harassment Since the Passage of Title VII, 22 Hofstra Labor & Employment L.J. 533 (2005) (invited symposium contribution); A Tyrannosaurus-Rex Aptly Named “Sue”: Using a Disputed Dinosaur to Teach Contract Defenses, 82 N.D. L. Rev. 295 (2005). She also has two forthcoming articles on the subject of information markets in the Nw. U. L. Rev. and Rutgers L. Rev., and two forthcoming articles on employment topics in the U.C. Davis L. Rev. and the Berkeley J. of Labor & Employment Law. More publications are at Miriam’s SSRN page.

I was going to write that one of Miriam’s claims to fame is that she has penned the only law review article with “Tyrannosaurus” in the title, but surprisingly there are two other articles. Who would have thought that there are three law review articles about Tyrannosaurus Rex? You learn something new every day.


Michelle Anderson’s New Deanship

CUNY.jpgThere is terrific news to report. Our current guest blogger, Michelle Anderson, was just appointed as the new dean of CUNY Law School. This news is proof that if you blog at Concurring Opinions, great things will happen to you. From the CUNY Law School press release:

Prominent legal scholar Michelle J. Anderson, Esq. has been appointed by the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York as Dean of the CUNY School of Law, effective July 1, 2006.

An academic leader with a passion for social justice, Professor Anderson is a graduate of Yale Law School where she was Notes Editor of the Yale Law Journal and Editor of the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism. A member of the faculty of Villanova University School of Law since 1998, she has taught criminal law, criminal procedure, children and the law, and feminist legal theory and received top rankings as a classroom teacher. . . .

Professor Anderson is one of the nation’s leading scholars on the legal aspects of sexual assault. Widely published, her articles have appeared in the University of Southern California Law Review, George Washington Law Review, University of Illinois Law Review, and Boston University Law Review, among other journals. Recently, in Commonwealth v. King, a case involving the admission of a first complaint of child sexual abuse, the Massachusetts Supreme Court, the state’s highest appellate court, cited two of Professor Anderson’s published pieces. . . .

Opened in 1983, CUNY School of Law, located in Flushing, Queens, is the only law school which, from its inception, has defined its mission as training law students for public service. In addition to its unique educational mission, the Law School takes pride in its national leadership in clinical education, its affordable cost, and its distinction as the nation’s most diverse law school. The School is a national leader in progressive legal education with the highest rate of placement of graduates in public interest and public service careers.


Hat tip: As usual, Brian Leiter had the breaking news. In fact, he probably knows whether you’re moving before you do.


Reefer Madness At The FDA

marijuana-leaf.jpgOne of the most troubling behaviors of the current administration is its repeated willingness to manipulate the distribution of empirical data with which it disagrees. From global warming to crime, the government seems more interested in promoting its policy preferences than transparently reporting the results of the research it performs or supports. The administration has a legitimate right to advocate for its positions. But if it wants to argue that marijuana ought to be illegal, as the FDA did last week in its Inter-Agency Advisory Regarding Claims That Smoked Marijuana Is A Medicine, it seems to me the better policy – both from an honesty and a credibility point of view – is to concede the facts that cut against you, and make your case anyway. In its press release last week, the FDA asserted that:

A past evaluation by several Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), concluded that no sound scientific studies supported medical use of marijuana for treatment in the United States.

True as this may be, a 1999 review of studies by the National Institute of Medicine suggests that marijuana offers potential therapeutic value for pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation. Also, it notes that “until a non-smoked, rapid-onset cannabanoid drug delivery system becomes available…there is no clear alternative” to smoking. Why can’t the administration concede the existence of this data review by another federal agency?

It seems to me that the administration is driven by a decision, ex ante, that marijuana ought to be illegal. If it were truly interested in investigating the utility of the drug, it wouldn’t make serious research into its value exceedingly difficult. So the federal government ignores data suggesting the value of marijuana. It makes it hard to generate more research on marijuana. And it is therefore able to rail against the many states that have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. There are reasons to believe that, if the government allowed the debate to flourish – by sharing data that does exist and promoting the production of new data – its position might become weaker. But if marijuana is in fact effective as a medicine, perhaps the FDA should legalize it. And if the government’s real argument is something other than efficacy – that it is very likely to be misued, for example, or that its increased availability will lead to a rise in DUI cases – then it should make that case instead.

In some respects, this approach to policy debate reminds me of an argument made by death penalty opponents who argue that the death penalty is bad policy because it is expensive. But why is it expensive? Because opponents litigate these cases very aggressively. There are many good reasons why some people may oppose the death penalty. But it seems to me that when the people complaining about the cost of capital punishment are the people generating this expense, one should at least be skeptical. I’m not denying that the expense argument might mask a a deeper claim: perhaps these cases are so expensive, and require so many appeals, because the state fails to provide excellent counsel in the first instance. But if this is true, wouldn’t a more logical solution to the cost problem be a requirement that states spend money on quality counsel up front, to save in the long haul? In the end, the real claim underneath cost is fairness: the quality of a person’s lawyer should not determine whether he receives a death sentence. That may not “sell” as well to certain voters, but it is the more honest argument.

As for reefer, when government is making the arguments, I think we have a right to expect honesty. The FDA’s dubious pronouncement appears driven primarily by the administration’s emotional hatred of marijuana. Personally, I’d prefer FDA decisions to be grounded in evidence-based research rather than simply madness.


Introducing Guest Blogger Michelle Anderson

anderson-michelle1a.jpgMichelle J. Anderson is a law professor at Villanova University School of Law, where she teaches criminal law, criminal procedure, children and the law, and feminist legal theory. She attended the University of California at Santa Cruz and Yale Law School, where she was Notes Editor on the Yale Law Journal. After law school, Michelle clerked for Judge William A. Norris on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Michelle has been a Fellow and Visiting Professor in the Appellate Litigation Program and the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center. She has also been a Visiting Scholar at the University of Cape Town, South Africa and a Visiting Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Michelle’s scholarly focus is rape law. Recent publications include: Negotiating Sex, 78 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1401 (2005), The Legacy of the Prompt Complaint Requirement, Corroboration Requirement, and Cautionary Instructions on Campus Sexual Assault, 84 B.U. L. Rev. 945 (2004), Marital Immunity, Intimate Relationships, and Improper Inferences: A New Law on Sexual Offenses by Intimates, 54 Hastings L.J. 1464 (2003), and From Chastity Requirement to Sexuality License: Sexual Consent and a New Rape Shield Law, 70 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 51 (2002). For more publications, visit Michelle’s SSRN page.

Michelle co-chairs the Pennsylvania Assessment Team of the American Bar Association’s Death Penalty Moratorium Project. She is also a member of the Board of Directors and Policy Chair for the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.