Author: Solangel Maldonado


Introducing Guest Blogger Janai S. Nelson

I am delighted to welcome Professor Janai S. Nelson who will be blogging with us this month.  Janai is an Associate Professor of Law and the Associate Director of the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development at St. John’s University School of Law.  Janai’s scholarship focuses on structural barriers to democratic participation, including voting rights issues, democratic theory, racial discrimination and disparate impact.  Her recent research explores the intersection of the First Amendment and equal protection clause in reconsidering the constitutionality of felon disfranchisement.  She teaches election law, comparative election law, and professional responsibility and, in addition to the Ronald H. Brown Center, is affiliated with St. John’s Center for International and Comparative Law.

Before joining St. John’s, Janai was a Fulbright Scholar at the Legal Resources Center in Accra, Ghana, where she researched the political disfranchisement of persons with criminal convictions.   Prior to receiving the Fulbright award, Professor Nelson was the Director of Political Participation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. Professor Nelson began practicing law as a litigation associate at the law firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson and was the 1998 recipient of the NAACP LDF/Fried Frank Fellowship. She received a B.A. from New York University and a J.D. from UCLA School of Law, where she was an Article Editor of the law review.  Janai clerked for the Honorable Theodore McMillian on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and the Honorable David H. Coar on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Janai’s publications include:

The First Amendment, Equal Protection, and Felon Disfranchisement: A New Viewpoint, ___ Fla. L. Rev. ___ (forthcoming)

Fair Measure of the Right to Vote: A Comparative Perspective of Voting Rights Enforcement in a Maturing Democracy, 18 Cardozo J. Comp. & Int’l Law 425 (2010).

Defining Race:  The Obama Phenomenon and the Voting Rights Act, 72 Alb. L. Rev. 899 (2009).

White Challengers, Black Majorities: Reconciling Competition in Majority-Minority Districts with the Promise of the Voting Rights Act, 95 Geo. L.J. 1287 (2007).

You can find Janai’s SSRN author page here.


Introducing Guest Blogger andré douglas pond cummings

It is my pleasure to introduce Professor andré douglas pond cummings of West Virginia University College of Law as a guest blogger.  Professor cummings teaches and writes about investor protection and corporate law; race, affirmative action and social Justice; and entertainment and sports law.  In addition to teaching at West Virginia where he has been named Professor of the Year numerous times, he has taught at the University of Iowa College of Law, the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, Temple University Beasley School of Law, Tokyo Japan Campus, and Syracuse University College of Law.

Professor cummings received his J.D. from Howard University and his B.S. from Brigham Young University.  He clerked for Chief Judge Joseph W. Hatchett, United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and Associate Chief Justice Christine M. Durham, Utah Supreme Court.  He was also an associate at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Chicago where he focused on complex business transactions and public securities offerings.

His recent publications include:

Reversing Field: Examining Commercialization, Labor, Gender and Race in 21st Century Sports Law, Editor (West Virginia University Press) (with Anne Marie Lofaso)

Hip Hop and the Law: The Writings That Formed the Movement, Editor (forthcoming 2012) (with Donald Tibbs)

Coyotes on Wall Street: The Surprising Motivations of Mortgage Meltdown CEOs (forthcoming 2012)

Families of Color in Crisis: Bearing the Crushing Weight of the Financial Market Meltdown, 55 Howard L.J. (forthcoming 2012)

“All Eyez on Me”: America’s War on Drugs and the Prison Industrial Complex, 15 Iowa J. of Gender, Race and Justice (forthcoming 2012)

“It Takes a Nation of Millions”: The Transformative Potential of Hip-Hop, 1 Southern U. Journal of Race, Gender, and Poverty (forthcoming 2012)

Racial Coding and the Financial Market Crisis, 2011 Utah L. Rev. 141 (2011)

Post-Racialism?, 14 Iowa J. of Gender, Race and Justice 601 (2011)

The Associated Dangers of “Brilliant Disguises,” Colorblind Constitutionalism and Post-Racial Rhetoric, 85 Indiana L.J. 1277 (2010)

A Furious Kinship: Critical Race Theory and the Hip Hop Nation, 48 Louisville L. Rev. 499 (2010).

Thug Life: Hip Hop’s Curious Relationship With Criminal Justice, 50 SANTA CLARA L. REV. 515 (2010).

You can find his author page here.



Introducing Guest Blogger Nicole Huberfeld

I am delighted to welcome Professor Nicole Huberfeld who will be blogging with us this month. Nicole is the Gallion & Baker Associate Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky College of Law and Bioethics Associate at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.  Before joining the UK faculty in 2005, she was the Health Law Faculty Fellow at Seton Hall Law School.  Nicole teaches structural constitutional law and a variety of healthcare law classes.  Her scholarship focuses on the cross-section of constitutional law and federal healthcare programs with a particular interest in federalism and Spending Clause jurisprudence.  Her article, Federalizing Medicaid, will be published this month in the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law.  She has been the recipient of the Duncan Teaching Award, a nominee for the University of Kentucky Great Teacher Award, and a nominee for the ALI Young Scholars Medal.  Prior to academic life, she practiced regulatory and transactional healthcare law in New York and New Jersey.

Nicole’s recent works include:

Post-Reform Medicaid before the Court: Tension between Reinvention and Path Dependence (forthcoming symposium issue, Annals Health L.)

Challenging the Stakeholders: A Review of Laura Katz Olson, The Politics Of Medicaid (forthcoming, J. Legal Med.)

Federalizing Medicaid, 14 U. Pa. J. Const. L. ___ (forthcoming 2011)

Conditional Spending and Compulsory Maternity, 2010 U. Ill. L. Rev. 751

Bizarre Love Triangle: The Spending Clause, Section 1983, and Medicaid Entitlements, 42 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 413 (2008)

Clear Notice for Conditions on Spending, Unclear Implications for States in Federal Healthcare Programs, 86 N.C. L. Rev. 441 (2008)

You can find Nicole’s SSRN author page here.


Introducing Guest Blogger Gilbert A. Holmes

I am delighted to welcome Gilbert A. Holmes, Professor of Law and former Dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law, as a guest blogger.  Professor Holmes joined the University of Baltimore School of Law in the summer of 2001, serving as Dean until 2007.  He previously served on the faculty of Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, where he was associate dean for academic affairs and budget (1999-2001). Professor Holmes also served on the faculties of Southern Methodist Law School (1995-1996), and Seton Hall University School of Law (1990-1994).  Professor Holmes’ principal teaching has been in family law, contracts, and property.  He was twice named Day Division Teacher of the Year at Texas Wesleyan, and was nominated for Teacher of the Year by the Seton Hall Law Student Bar Association on three occasions.

Professor Holmes has published articles on a range of family law and constitutional issues in such journals as The Maryland Law Review, The University of Miami Law Review, Temple Law Review and the Texas Wesleyan Law Review, and has presented on a host of topics at conferences and symposia across the country. He is a member of the American Bar Association, the National Bar Association, and the Association of American Law Schools. He is admitted to practice in New York and before the United States District Court, Eastern and Southern Districts of New York, the United States Court of Appeals Second Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court.

Selected Publications

Conversations About the Intersecting Institutions of Marriage, 4 Texas Wesleyan L. Rev. 143 (1998)

The Extended Family System in the Black Community: A Child-Centered Model for Adoption Policy, 68 Temple L. Rev. 1649 (1995)

Student Initiated Prayer: Is It Speech or Religion, and Does it Matter Which, 49 U. Miami L. Rev 301 (1995)

The Tie That Binds: The Constitutional Right of Children to Maintain Relationships with Parent-Like Individuals, 53 Md. L. Rev. 358 (1994)



Introducing Guest Blogger Jennifer Hendricks

It is my pleasure to introduce Professor Jennifer Hendricks of the University of Tennessee College of Law as a guest blogger.  Professor Hendrick teaches and writes about constitutional family law, gender, and federalism. The main focus of her current work is sex equality in parenting and reproduction. Her article Essentially a Mother, proposing a relationship model for pregnancy, won Honorable Mention in the AALS Scholarly Papers Competition in 2007. Her most recent work in this area, developing the relationship model as a woman-centered basis for a theory of reproductive and parenting rights, appears in the Harvard Civil Rights—Civil Liberties Law Review and in an international collection of feminist constitutional theory forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.  Professor Hendricks has also written about topics ranging from preemption of tort claims to reform of the electoral college.

Professor Hendricks received her J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard; clerked on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals; and practiced law in Helena, Montana, where she specialized in constitutional, employment, and discrimination cases. In her practice, she successfully challenged illegal voter-redistricting and vote-counting, helped high school girls win equal sports opportunities, won access to government documents for reporters and private citizens, and defended several newspapers and ESPN against defamation claims. She also represented victims of harassment and discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation. She received her B.A. with honors in mathematics and women’s studies from Swarthmore College.

Her recent publications include:

In Defense of the Substance–Procedure Dichotomy, 89 WASH. U. L. REV. _ (forthcoming 2011) (Selected for the University of Illinois Junior Faculty Federal Courts Workshop).

Teaching Values, Teaching Stereotypes: Sex Ed and Indoctrination in Public Schools (with Dawn Howerton), 13 U. PENN. J. CONST. L. 589 (2011).

Pregnancy, Equality, and the U.S. Constitution, in FEMINIST CONSTITUTIONALISM (Beverly Baines, Daphne Barak-Erez & Tsvi Kahana eds., Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2011).

Teaching Controversial Topics (with Beth Burkstrand- Reid and June Carbone), 49 FAM. CT. REV. _ (forthcoming 2011).

Converging Trajectories: Interest Convergence, Justice Kennedy, and Jeannie Suk’s “Trajectory of Trauma,” 110 COLUM. L. REV. SIDEBAR 63 (2010), reprinted in WOMEN AND THE LAW (Tracy Thomas, ed., West 2011).

Body and Soul: Pregnancy, Equality, and the Unitary Right to Abortion, 45 HARV. C.R.–C.L. L. REV. 329 (2010).

Contingent Equal Protection: Reaching for Equality After Ricci and PICS, 16 MICH. J. GENDER & L. 397 (2010).

You can find her author page here.


Introducing Guest Blogger Margaret Lewis

I am delighted to welcome my colleague, Professor Margaret Lewis, who will be blogging with us this month.  Professor Lewis’s research focuses on the intersection of Chinese legal studies with criminal procedure, criminal law, and international law. She joined Seton Hall Law School as an Associate Professor in 2009.

Professor Lewis is a Public Intellectuals Program Fellow with the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and travels frequently to Asia. Her recent publications have appeared in the NYU Journal of International Law and Politics, Columbia Journal of Asian Law, and Virginia Journal of International Law.

Most recently before joining Seton Hall, Professor Lewis served as a Senior Research Fellow at NYU School of Law’s U.S.-Asia Law Institute where she worked on criminal justice reforms in China. Following graduation from law school, she worked as an associate at the law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in New York City. She then served as a law clerk for the Honorable M. Margaret McKeown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Diego. After clerking, she returned to NYU School of Law and was awarded a Furman Fellowship.

Professor Lewis received her J.D., magna cum laude, from NYU School of Law, where she was inducted into the Order of the Coif and was a member of Law Review. She received her B.A., summa cum laude, from Columbia University and also studied at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing, China.

Her recent publications include:

Presuming Innocence, or Corruption, in China, 50 Colum. J. Transnat’l L. __ (forthcoming 2012)

Controlling Abuse to Maintain Control: The Exclusionary Rule in China, 43 N.Y.U. J. Int’l L. & Pol. 629 (2011) (awarded Jerome A. Cohen Prize for International Law and East Asia)

The Tension Between Leniency and Severity in China’s Death Penalty Debate, 24 Colum. J. Asian L. __ (forthcoming 2011) (invited submission)

The Enduring Importance of Police Repression: Laojiao, the Rule of Law and Taiwan’s Alternative Evolution, in The Impact of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Massacre (co-authored with Jerome A. Cohen) (Routledge, 2010)

Taiwan’s New Adversarial System and the Overlooked Challenge of Efficiency-Driven Reforms, 49 Va. J. Int’l L. 651 (2009)

China’s Implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, Asian J. of Criminology, Vol. 2, No. 2 (2007)

You can find Professor Lewis’s SSRN Author page here


Launch of the Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network

Readers interested in interdisciplinary work in feminist legal theory will be pleased to learn of the launch of the Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network, a newly-constituted group that seeks to bring together scholars across a range of fields.  The inaugural meeting of the Feminist Legal Theory CRN took place at the Law and Society Association meeting in June 2011.  The next meeting will be held at George Washington University Law School on Wednesday, January 4, 2012, the day before the AALS annual meeting.  Paper proposals on any topic pertaining to legal feminism are being accepted until September 23, 2011. For instructions on registering, submitting a proposal, or participating in this and other activities of the Feminist Legal Theory CRN, please see the detailed information posted here.




Law Schools and the Curve

The New York Times has published yet another article accusing law schools of misleading students, this time of failing to inform admitted students with merit scholarships contingent on maintaining a certain grade point average of the possibility of losing their scholarships. I agree with many of the article’s points and the comments in response.  For example, I completely agree that law schools should inform admitted students of the curve (it varies from a 2.67 at some schools to a 3.4 at others)  and provide them with their grading guidelines.  I found the following information on the websites of four law schools:

Law School 1

A+      1%

A         8%

A-       15%

B+      25%

B         20%

B-       12%

C+      7%

C         4%

C-       4%

F        4%

Law School 2

A or higher No more than 10 percent

A- or higher No more than 25 percent

C+ or lower At least 15 percent

C- or lower At least 6 percent

Law School 3

A+      0-2%

A         7-13%

A-       16-24%

B+      22-30%

B        Remainder

B-       4-11%

C         2-5%

D/F    0-5%

Law School 4

At least 20% of grades are A- or above and at least 20% of grades are C+ or below.


Given that grading guidelines vary from school to school, knowledge of a law school’s grading system may help merit scholarship recipients assess their likelihood of retaining their scholarships.  However, I disagree with the article’s suggestion that the curve is the main reason why many students lose their scholarships. The curve is generally not the reason why a student who never had a grade lower than a B+ in college may earn a B- or C in law school. In my experience, the curve does not lower a student’s grade but instead bumps the grade up or has no effect at all. In other words, in the absence of a curve, many more law students would earn B minuses and Cs in their first semester (or first year). The reason is that few first semester law students write good exams. This is understandable. Law school exams are generally very different from the exams students took in college or other graduate programs, and it takes a while to figure out how to take a law school exam. A student may have memorized the “black letter” law, but lack the skills to apply it to a complex fact pattern with numerous legal issues.  As the article acknowledges, law students, especially those with merit scholarships, assume that because they performed well as undergraduates, they will automatically perform well in law school—even in their first semester.  However, this is not the case.  Many students do not learn how to apply the law to a new fact pattern or how to advise a client of “all the potential claims and defenses” (a common law school exam question) until after their first round of exams when they meet with their professors individually to review the exam. Maybe law schools need to do a better job of providing students with feedback before they take exams and with formative assessments, as the Carnegie Report on Legal Education recommends, that focus “on supporting students in learning rather than ranking, sorting and filtering them.”


Introducing Guest Blogger Courtney Joslin

I am delighted to introduce Courtney Joslin who will be blogging with us this month.  Courtney is an Acting Professor of Law at UC Davis School of Law, where she teaches Family Law; Employment Discrimination; and Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and the Law. Courtney’s areas of interest include family and relationship recognition, particularly focusing on same-sex and nonmarital couples.

Prior to joining the faculty at UC Davis, Courtney served as an attorney at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), where she litigated cases on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families. She received her undergraduate degree from Brown University and her law degree from Harvard Law School.

Her recent publications include:

Searching for Harm: Same-Sex Marriage and the Well-Being of Children, 46 Harv. C.R.-C.L. Law. Rev. 81 (2011)

Protecting Children(?): Marriage, Gender, and Assisted Reproductive Technology, 83 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1177 (2010)

Travel Insurance: Protecting Lesbian and Gay Parent Families Across State Lines, 4 Harv. L. & Pol’y Rev. 31 (2010)

Interstate Recognition of Parentage in a Time of Disharmony: Same-Sex Parent Families and Beyond, 70 Ohio St. L.J. 563 (2009)

You can find Courtney’s SSRN Page here.

Welcome, Courtney!


Introducing Guest Blogger Kevin Noble Maillard

I am delighted to welcome Professor Kevin Noble Maillard as a guest blogger this month.  Professor Maillard is an Associate Professor of Law at Syracuse University where he teaches Family Law, Trusts & Estates, Children and the Law, and Adoption.  His research focuses on civil liberties within the family and society. His interests include nontraditional families, racial intermixture, and the role of marriage in America.   He is the author of the forthcoming book, Loving v. Virginia in a Post-Racial World (with Rose Villazor, Cambridge 2010).

Professor Maillard received his B.A. in Public Policy from Duke University, his law degree from Penn Law School, and his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan.  Originally from Oklahoma, he is a member of the Seminole Nation, Mekesukey Band.

His recent publications include:

Rethinking Children as Property, 32 Cardozo L. Rev. 225 (2010) 

The Color of Testamentary Freedom, 62 SMU L. Rev. 101 (2009)

The Multiracial Epiphany, 76 Fordham L. Rev. 2709 (2008)

The Anatomy of Grey: A Theory of Interracial Convergence (with Janis McDonald), 26 Law & Inequality 305 (2008)

The Pocahontas Exception: American Indians and Exceptionalism in Antimiscegenation Law, 12 Mich. J. Race & L. 107 (2007)