Category: General Law

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New Op-ed by Donna Lenhoff: Major reforms needed to make the “Me Too Movement” viable

Over the past few months, the #MeToo movement has exposed an epidemic of sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace. But without substantial reforms to our legal system, that movement may be all for naught.

So begins an important new op-ed in today’s Washington Post.  The piece is titled: The #MeToo movement will be in vain if we don’t make these changes.

Donna Lenhoff

The author is Donna Lenhoff (more about her in a moment). This op-ed brings to the forefront legal issues central to the success of the “Me Too Movement.”

“What has become all too clear,” writes Lenhoff, “is that [Title VII and the mechanisms for enforcing it] — designed decades ago to redress and deter harassment and retaliation — are woefully inadequate, for four significant reasons.”

  1. First, while the threat of large damages can be effective in getting management to take preventive action, under Title VII, pain-and-suffering and punitive damages combined are capped. . . “
  2. “Second, many companies insist that harassment settlements be confidential. . . .”
  3. “Third, the agencies that enforce Title VII have never had the necessary resources . .  .”
  4. “Fourth, private litigation is quite rare considering the prevalence of workplace harassment. . . .”

There is more, much more, but you’ll have to read the entire op-ed. Suffice it to say that Lenhoff’s no-nonsense brand of progressive thinking is needed if real change is to occur.

Meanwhile, here is some info about Donna Lenhoff:

Lenhoff has worked for strong enforcement of laws against workplace discrimination from both inside and outside the federal government.  She served as Senior Civil Rights Advisor in the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs during the Obama Administration, where she was responsible for updating 35+-year-old sex-discrimination regulations. 

As a staff attorney at the then-Women’s Legal Defense Fund, she was the first person to testify in Congress about sexual harassment. 

She lobbied for EEOC Guidelines on harassment and oversaw women’s groups’ amicus briefs in every major Supreme Court case involving harassment from 1978 to 2000. 

Lenhoff also lobbied for legislative changes to strengthen civil-rights and labor laws that help workers, including the 1991 Civil Rights Act, and led the coalition that advocated for the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. 

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FAN 175.1 (First Amendment News) More from FIRE — New Podcast Series Charts History of Free Speech

“The podcast provides an engaging and inspiring history of free speech that is accessible to anyone interested in a topic that is fundamental to every human being and society. If you want to understand what’s at stake and know about the battles that our predecessors were engaged in the fight for free speech there can be no better place to start than with Jacob Mchangama’s podcast.”  Flemming Rose 

The folks at FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) are on fire when it comes to almost anything having to do with free speech. They

And now, they have just released the first installment (an introduction) to an incredible podcast series on the history of free speech. It is titled: 

The series is spearheaded by Jacob Mchangama, a Danish lawyer, human-rights expert, and social commentator and the founder and director of Justitia, a Copenhagen think tank focusing on human rights and the rule of law. For six years he served as chief legal counsel at CEPOS. This year Mchangama is a Visiting Fellow at FIRE.

Why have kings, emperors, and governments killed and imprisoned people to shut them up? And why have countless people risked death and imprisonment to express their beliefs? Jacob Mchangama guides you through the history of free speech from the trial of Socrates to the Great Firewall.

Jacob Mchangama

Description

A prologue introduces the background of the podcast series and is being released today. The first official episode will be aired on February 1st. Subsequent episodes will be released on a bi-weekly basis.

Each episode focuses on a particular historical era or theme, providing listeners with a deeper understanding of how, where and why free speech has developed over time.

The first episode takes listeners back to ancient Athens focusing on the trial of Socrates and the crucial role that equal and uninhibited speech played in the world’s first democracy.

“We mustn’t allow free speech to fade into a feel-good slogan. It is an unintuitive principle with a rationale that many don’t appreciate and a history that many don’t know. Mchangama’s lucid history of free speech fills that gap and deepens our understanding of this precious concept” Steven Pinker 

The following episodes will visit places and eras such as Ancient Rome, Central Asia’s Golden Age, the Abbasid Caliphate, The Renaissance, Enlightenment and beyond.

The podcast will also feature “Expert Opinions,” interviews with leading historians and experts.

You can follow the podcast on the website (www.freespeechhistory.com), Facebook (www.facebook.com/freespeechhistory) and on Twitter (@CAPD_freespeech).

Disclosure: I work on FIRE’s online First Amendment Library and am also working with them on a forthcoming e-coursebook on free speech (stay tuned!).

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FAN 175 (First Amendment News) Seattle University Law School to host Conference on Artificial Intelligence — includes panel on Robotic Speech

Be sure to have Alexa, or Echo, or Seri, or your Google Mini save the date for an important upcoming conference on artificial intelligence. On Saturday, February 17, 2018, from 9 am to 5 pm, Seattle University Law School will host a conference titled:

Singularity: Artificial Intelligence & the Law    (Casey Commons, Seattle University)

Welcome Remarks from Dean Annette Clark

Keynote Speaker: Ryan Calo, University of Washington School of Law

Panel 1, Robotic Speech and the First Amendment: David Skover, Seattle University School of Law; Helen Norton, University of Colorado Law School; Bruce Johnson, Partner, Davis Wright Tremaine. (This panel will discuss the issues raised in the forthcoming Collins & Skover book Robotica: Speech Rights & Artificial Intelligence (Cambridge University Press, May 2018), and will be moderated by Seattle University Law Professor Gregory Silverman.)

Panel 2, Accountability for the Actions of Robots: Ryan Calo, University of Washington School of Law; Elizabeth Joh, UC-Davis School of Law (This panel will focus on Professor Calo’s research into the liability consequences when robots cause harm; a third panelist confirmation is still pending.)

Panel 3, Ethical Considerations in Artificial Intelligence: Justin Tiehen, University of Puget Sound; Ariela Tubert, University of Puget Sound; Mark Van Hollebeke, Director of Privacy, Microsoft. (This panel features will consider discreet issues in AI with an emphasis on the ethical issues in evaluating new technologies, including where ethical and legal considerations intersect.)

Cato to host panel on Janus v. American Federation Read More

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The Travel Ban Case as a Per Curiam Opinion

There will be plenty of time to assess the arguments in the travel ban case that the Supreme Court will take up this Spring. Right now, I want to make a point about how the majority might style its opinion.

One thing we can say for certain is that IF the Court rules against the Trump Administration, the President will throw a tantrum. Knowing that is likely, you wonder if the majority in that scenario will choose to write its opinion as per curiam. There are two main reasons for leaving a lengthy appellate opinion unsigned. One is that the decision is genuinely the joint product of many members of the Court, thus no single person is truly the author. The other, as a judge explained to me long ago, is that in some cases involving the Mafia or other organized criminals judges would sometimes leave the opinion unsigned to avoid becoming targets. The latter might be something that the Justices in the majority will consider, unfortunately.

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The Normalization of Government Shutdowns

One unfortunate feature of the current budget standoff  is that Democrats appear to have accepted the idea that threatening or causing a partial government shutdown is a valid tactic. While there are precedents for government shutdowns from the 19th century, the modern use of that plan was initiated by congressional Republicans in 1995. Since then, Democrats have routinely attacked the idea of shutting down the government to achieve some political end as illegitimate.

Not anymore. Sadly, this means that this will became standard operating procedure. Granted, the more partial you make the shutdown the more symbolic it becomes.  I do not understand, for instance, how the national parks can be kept open while the government is closed, as a national park is definitely not an essential service, but there are reports that the Administration may keep them open this time in the event of a shutdown.

Democracy means caring more about the rules than about the partisan results. Alas.

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FAN 174.2 (First Amendment News) Floyd Abrams Institute: Call for Abstracts for Scholars’ Conference

Call for Abstracts & Participants: Freedom of Expression Scholars Conference

The Floyd Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression invites applications to participate in the sixth annual Freedom of Expression Scholars Conference (FESC).

 Conference Date: The conference will be held at Yale Law School in New Haven, Connecticut from April 27–29, 2018.

→ Response Date: All those interested in presenting a paper or commenting on a paper respond by February 23, 2018.

At FESC, scholars and practitioners discuss works-in-progress on the freedoms of speech, expression, press, association, petition, and assembly as well as on related issues of knowledge and information policy. FESC has become a fixture on the calendar of leading First Amendment thinkers and scholars nationwide.

The paper titles and attendees from prior conferences are available here:

→ Workshop Sessions: Each accepted paper is assigned to a discussant, who will summarize the paper for the workshop audience, provide feedback, and lead a discussion. Workshop sessions are typically lively discussions among authors, discussants, and participants. Sessions run from Saturday morning through Sunday afternoon, with a welcome dinner on Friday evening. Conference participants are expected to read the papers in advance and to attend the entire conference.

Papers are accepted on a wide array of freedom of expression and information policy topics. Although participation at the conference is by invitation only, we welcome paper proposals from scholars, practitioners, and free speech advocates all over the world. Please feel free to share this call for submissions widely.

→ Abstract Submissions & Due Date: Titles and abstracts of papers should be submitted electronically to Heather Branch no later than February 23, 2018.

→ For Additional Information: Those interested in attending the conference or acting as a discussant should also contact Heather Branch no later than February 23, 2018.

→ Due Date for Completed Papers: Workshop versions of accepted papers will be due on March 30, 2018, so that they can be circulated to discussants and other conference participants.

→ Travel & Accommodations: Participants will ask their home institutions to cover travel expenses. However, thanks to a generous donation from the Stanton Foundation, we are able to offer Abrams Travel Fellowships to cover some of the costs associated flights, lodging, and reasonable travel expenses for presenters and discussants who would not otherwise be able to attend. This fellowship is intended to encourage submissions from junior faculty and lawyers. Should you be invited to participate as an author or discussant, please inform us in your response whether you will require Abrams Travel Fellowship funding.

→ For Additional Information: Re questions: contact Heather Branch.

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Vanderbilt Law Review, Volume 71, Number 1

The Vanderbilt Law Review is pleased to announce the publication of our January 2018 issue:

ARTICLES

Andrew Keane Woods, The Transparency Tax, 71 Vand. L. Rev. 1 (2018).

Erik Encarnacion, Contract as Commodified Promise, 71 Vand. L. Rev. 61 (2018).

Yonathan A. Arbel, Adminization: Gatekeeping Consumer Contracts, 71 Vand. L. Rev. 121 (2018).

Jennifer Daskal, Borders and Bits, 71 Vand. L. Rev. 179 (2018).

ESSAY

Matthew R. Ginther, Francis X. Shen, Richard J. Bonnie, Morris B. Hoffman, Owen D. Jones, & Kenneth W. Simons, Decoding Guilty Minds: How Jurors Attribute Knowledge and Guilt, 71 Vand. L. Rev. 241 (2018).

NOTES

Zoe M. Beiner, Signed, Sealed, Delivered—Not Yours: Why the Fair Labor Standards Act Offers a Framework for Regulating Gestational Surrogacy, 71 Vand. L. Rev. 285 (2018).

Margaret Wilkinson Smith, Restore, Revert, Repeat: Examining the Decompensation Cycle and the Due Process Limitations on the Treatment of Incompetent Defendants, 71 Vand. L. Rev. 319 (2018).