Faculty in the News

Ohio State law professors are sought out for their expertise by a number of news media outlets and blogs with large audiences. Topics range from the death penalty to voter ID laws to artificial insemination – and our faculty members’ quotes and analysis can be found everywhere from small-town and national newspapers to radio broadcasts to cable news programs. The following is a selection of media coverage for Moritz College of Law faculty.

To request an interview, media should click here for more information.

2017 Media Hits

On Medical Marijuana, Ohio And Justice Department Move Down Divergent Paths

June 16, 2017

Featured Expert: Douglas A. Berman

Professor Doug Berman appeared on WOSU Public Media to discuss the riffs between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and medical marijuana advocates, as well as the fate of medical marijuana in Ohio, which is in the process of being legalized.
 
“Lots of industry interests, lots of beliefs that this will be a robust marketplace for medical marijuana running up against the possibility that federal officials will be expressing an inclination to crack down on that," Berman said. "How that will play out both for the industry and for state officials trying to thread the needle in the months and years ahead remain to be seen.”
 


President Trump Can’t Just Fire Robert Mueller

June 13, 2017

Featured Expert: Peter M. Shane

An op-ed by Professor Peter Shane, “President Trump Can’t Just Fire Robert Mueller,” appeared in The New York Times
 
"The latest attention-grabbing trial balloon to be floated by a White House staffer or apparent surrogate for President Trump is the suggestion by Christopher Ruddy, a longtime friend of the president, that Mr. Trump is 'considering, perhaps, terminating' Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel appointed to investigate the Trump campaign’s links to Russia,” Shane writes. “President Trump cannot legally do so.”


Death-penalty trial to begin after tricky process of selecting Franklin County jury

June 12, 2017

Featured Expert: Douglas A. Berman

Professor Doug Berman was quoted in The Columbus Dispatch about jury selection for a death penalty case in Columbus. The process is unusual, as potential jurors must disclose their views on the death penalty before hearing any evidence.

Concerns also exist regarding whether jurors will adhere to the death penalty sentencing process and if determining potential punishments in advance is fair to the defendant, Berman said.
 
“But I struggle to figure out how you can do it any other way,” he added.
 


Donald Trump: Comey's leak of memo 'totally illegal?'

June 11, 2017

Featured Expert: Peter M. Shane

Professor Peter Shane was mentioned in PolitiFact in an article about former FBI director James Comey and whether he broke the law—as President Donald Trump claims—by leaking a memo written during his tenure with the FBI about a private meeting he had with the president.
 
Executive privilege has to be expressly invoked in order to apply to a testimonial setting, like Comey’s hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Additionally, according to the 1974 U.S. Supreme Court case, United States vs. Nixon, other branches of government can still demand disclosure should the information in question outweigh the executive branch’s need for confidentiality, Shane said.

 


US Strikes in Syria: 'Trump Seems to Be Supporting a De Facto Partition'

June 9, 2017

Featured Expert: John B. Quigley

Professor John Quigley was quoted in Sputnik International about U.S. strikes and military operations in Syria.
 
"The problem is that the United States is operating in Syria without consent of its government," Quigley said.
 


Did Trump’s actions amount to obstruction of justice and could he be impeached?

June 9, 2017

Featured Expert: Joshua Dressler

Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in The Times of Israel about whether President Donald Trump’s requests to former FBI director James Comey to drop investigations into former national security adviser Michael Flynn amounted to an obstruction of justice.
 
According to Dressler, obstruction of justice requires proof that one has “corruptly influenced, impeded, or endeavored to influence or impede, the due administration of justice.” It remains unknown whether Trump was “fully aware that he was acting wrongly or whether he was oblivious to proper, established protocol,” Dressler added.
 


President Trump's Lawyers To File Complaint Against James Comey: Reports

June 9, 2017

Featured Expert: Peter M. Shane

A blog post written by Professor Peter Shane for Take Care, “Executive Privilege(s) and the Testimony of James Comey,” was mentioned in Patch, in an article about reports that President Donald Trump is preparing to file a formal complaint against the former FBI director.
 
"There is no law prohibiting someone in conversation with the President from revealing that conversation to third parties without the President's consent," Shane writes. "Of course, one could well imagine that the unauthorized disclosure of a confidential presidential conversation would be a fireable offense if committed by any federal officer serving at the pleasure of the President. Unfortunately for the President, he had fired Mr. Comey before the unauthorized disclosure."
 


Without executive privilege protections, intel chiefs may have to talk

June 9, 2017

Featured Expert: Peter M. Shane

Professor Peter Shane was quoted in ThinkProgress about the role of executive privilege in preventing intelligence chiefs from testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
 
“When privilege is claimed in relation to a conversation or communication directly involving the president, what we’re talking about is presidential communications privilege,” Shane stated in an email. “That’s what was at stake in U.S. v. Nixon and what would be at stake regarding any conversation or communication directly with Trump.”
 


Voting software firm not used in Ohio

June 7, 2017

Featured Expert: Daniel P. Tokaji

Professor Dan Tokaji was quoted in The Toledo Blade about a Florida elections software company that was allegedly hacked by Russia. The company, VR systems, is not certified for use throughout Ohio. A phishing attack against election or voter registration software could lead to an “enormous” amount of damages, Tokaji said.
 
“I’m not saying that either of these things happened, and I can’t in any kind of reliable way estimate the risk of their happening,” he said. “But there’s no doubt in my mind that the state and local election officials, as well as vendors, must look at this very carefully.”
 


Ohio senators announce commission to recommend federal judge nominees

June 5, 2017

Featured Expert: Christopher J. Walker

Professor Chris Walker was mentioned in Cleveland.com. Walker was picked to join a 28-member bipartisan commission that will make recommendations for filling two vacant federal judge seats in Ohio.


Congressional Redistricting Reform On The Way In Ohio?

June 4, 2017

Featured Expert: Daniel P. Tokaji

Professor Dan Tokaji was quoted in WVXU about congressional redistricting reform in Ohio.
 
"The fact is we don't have competitive districts in the state of Ohio,'' Tokaji said. "If we know what the result of every single (House) election is going to be before a single vote is cast, then there is no real accountability. And that is exactly what we have now."
 


Could Trump Muzzle Comey? A Look at Executive Privilege

June 1, 2017

Featured Expert: Peter M. Shane

Professor Peter Shane was quoted in The New York Times about the possible use of executive privilege to block former F.B.I. director James Comey from testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
 
According to Shane, executive privilege could apply to conversations between President Donald Trump and Comey, but that a judge would have to weigh the president’s interests with those of Congress, for example. A request for a restraining order may also prove difficult, as Trump has already been public about his conversations with Comey. In general, presidents tend not to invoke executive privilege in cases involving corruption allegations, Shane added.
 
“It would look like the president, in a self-serving and self-protective move, was trying a relatively unprecedented judicial proceeding to keep information about his own conduct from becoming public,” Shane said.
 


NATO's Pledge to Fight Daesh Means Bloc 'Will Operate Separately From Russia'

May 27, 2017

Featured Expert: John B. Quigley

Professor John Quigley was quoted in Sputnik International about NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg’s announcement that NATO will join the campaign against Daesh, or the Islamic State.
 
“I don’t think that the new NATO commitment will make a significant difference in anti-IS [Daesh] efforts,” Quigley said. "The thrust of his statement is that NATO will operate separately from Russia.”
 


The Regulatory Accountability Act Is a Model of Bipartisan Reform

May 18, 2017

Featured Expert: Christopher J. Walker

An op-ed by Professor Chris Walker about why the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017 is needed to modernize the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) appeared in The Regulatory Review.
 
“It has been over 20 years since Congress amended the APA at all—a FOIA modernization amendment in 1996—and about 40 years since the last significant statutory change. Modernization of the APA is needed. And the current political climate may present an ideal opportunity for such bipartisan legislative action,” Walker writes. “Like the APA itself, the Regulatory Accountability Act is the product of bipartisan compromise. Indeed, this legislation is what bipartisan regulatory reform should look like.”
 


How Many Drug Offenders Benefited From the Holder Memo That Sessions Rescinded?

May 17, 2017

Featured Expert: Douglas A. Berman

Professor Doug Berman was quoted in Reason magazine about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to rescind a 2013 memo from former Attorney General Eric Holder. In the memo, Holder encouraged federal prosecutors to avoid mandatory minimum sentences and prior felony enhancements in nonviolent, low-level drug cases.
 
"The tone/attitude of DOJ ultimately matters even more than the particulars of the memo," Berman said. "Things got a lot more lenient during Obama's second term in part because a signal was coming from everyone that federal prosecutors should be a lot more lenient, and the Holder memo was most essential piece of this story for prosecutors. Things are likely to get tougher during Trump's first term, but how much tougher is going to depend a lot on whether others formally and informally jump on the toughness bandwagon."
 


What Does The Law Say About Tampering With Police GPS Trackers?

May 17, 2017

Featured Expert: Ric Simmons

Professor Ric Simmons was quoted in WOSU Public Media about the legality of meddling with police GPS trackers.

James Manley—the brother of one of eight people killed last year in Pike County, Ohio—currently faces felony charges of tampering with evidence. According to prosecutors, Manley destroyed a GPS device officials planted on his truck.

“[Prosecutors] have to prove he did know what that device was, and that it was collecting information for an investigation, and that he destroyed the device with the intent to impede that investigation," Simmons said. "So they’ll have to prove that in court if they want to win the case.”
 


Attorney General Sessions Charts Course Back to Long Drug Sentences

May 13, 2017

Featured Expert: Douglas A. Berman

Professor Doug Berman was quoted in NBC News about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ guidelines to federal prosecutors to resume mandatory minimum sentencing. The new guidelines rescind a 2013 memo from former Attorney General Eric Holder which encouraged federal prosecutors to avoid mandatory minimum sentences and prior felony enhancements in nonviolent, low-level drug cases.
 
"My sense is that Sessions will not only be proud of this change back to what had been the pre-Holder tradition, but he will likely work harder to ensure it's implemented and enforced effectively around the country," Berman said.
 


In Backpack Decision, Ohio Supreme Court Rules Against Student Privacy

May 12, 2017

Featured Expert: Ric Simmons

Professor Ric Simmons was quoted in WOSU Public Media regarding the Ohio Supreme Court’s unanimous decision that a Columbus high school student’s constitutional rights were not violated during a search of an unattended backpack.
 
In 2013, school officials found a gun in a student’s backpack after finding bullets and an item with the student’s name on it in a separate backpack left unattended on a school bus. The student subsequently faced charges for possession of a gun on school property. Although the student’s lawyer tried to have the search of the second backpack thrown out (the second search was ruled unlawful in two other lower court rulings) the Ohio Supreme Court ruled otherwise. In an unanimous decision, the court ruled in favor of searching unattended bags in the best interest of protecting students.
 
"It could have a very serious impact in public schools," Simmons said. "Public school officials generally want more authority to search backpacks, lockers. Students themselves, and of course civil libertarians, believe that students should have the same rights as everyone else."
 


Sessions tells U.S. prosecutors: Push for more, harsher punishments

May 12, 2017

Featured Expert: Douglas A. Berman

Professor Doug Berman was quoted in The Washington Times about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ guidelines to federal prosecutors that urge resuming mandatory minimum sentencing.
 
The number of drug crimes given mandatory five- or 10-year sentences dropped from about 14,000 between 2011 and 2013, to approximately 10,000 in 2014, according to data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
 
The decline in charges reflects how prosecutors “felt comfortable deviating from whatever the most serious provable offense was,” Berman said. “This says, ‘Don’t feel so comfortable about that.’”
 


Kobach Floats Voter Roll Probe As Part Of Trump’s Shady Elections Commission

May 12, 2017

Featured Expert: Daniel P. Tokaji

Professor Dan Tokaji was quoted in Talking Points Memo about President Donald Trump’s “Elections Integrity” commission. According to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, vice chair of the commission, the group may compare federal data on green card holders to states’ voter rolls in order to study alleged voter fraud.  
 
Under such a practice, it is “very easy to generate false positives–i.e., identify people who appear to be identical to a green-card holder, but really [aren’t],” Tokaji said in an email.
 
“Also, even if it were reliably confirmed that someone who is not a citizen is on a registration list, that isn’t the same as voting fraud,” he added. “We don’t know how they get there and, even if they improperly registered themselves, it doesn’t mean they illegally voted.”
 


4% decline in jobs requiring bar passage for law class of 2016, ABA employment data shows

May 11, 2017

Featured Expert: Deborah Jones Merritt

Professor Deborah Merritt was quoted in the ABA Journal about employment data for the law class of 2016.
 
As Merritt notes on the blog Law School Cafe, about 14 percent of 2016 graduates had JD-advantage positions. Long-term, full-time JD-advantage jobs declined 7.9 percent between 2015 and 2016. Long-term, part-time JD-advantage positions increased by roughly 16 percent, while short-term, part-time JD-advantage positions increased by approximately 73 percent (with less than 800 graduates).
 
“I think the number of long-term full-time JD-advantage jobs supports what people have been saying—some graduates want those jobs, but many take them only when they can’t find jobs that require a JD,” Merritt said.
 


Your MD may have a phony degree

May 9, 2017

Featured Expert: Creola Johnson

A 2006 paper published by Professor Creola Johnson in the Hofstra Labor & Employment Law Journal was quoted in a CBS News article about diploma mills and the prevalence of phony degrees among physicians, lawyers, engineers, and other occupations.
 
Citing congressional testimony and data from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, Johnson notes that as many as one in six education doctorates are fake.
 
"Even more disturbing, an extrapolation of the percentage of people holding fake diplomas in the medical field revealed potentially 2 million 'bogus practitioners' in the United States," Johnson wrote. "The testimonial evidence concluded that at least 500,000 Americans hold fake degrees."
 


Proposals To Change How Congressional Districts Are Drawn

May 8, 2017

Featured Expert: Daniel P. Tokaji

Professor Dan Tokaji appeared on WVXU to discuss redistricting reform efforts in Ohio. Mike DeWine, Ohio’s attorney general, recently rejected language in a proposal that would have changed how congressional districts are redrawn across the state.


US President Donald TrumpTrump's Decision to Fire Comey May Pose Threat to US Civil Liberties

May 5, 2017

Featured Expert: John B. Quigley

Professor John Quigley was quoted in Sputnik International about President Donald Trump’s decision to fire James Comey, director of the FBI.
 
“The replacement of James Comey by a new person appointed by President Trump does not bode well for civil liberties," Quigley said. 
 


Neil Gorsuch Breaks Precedent, Opts Out Of Supreme Court Labor Pool

May 3, 2017

Featured Expert: Douglas A. Berman

A post by Professor Doug Berman on his Sentencing Law and Policy blog was requoted in Western Journalism.
 
The Supreme Court’s cert pool was established in 1973 to help review the thousands of petitions received each term. The petitions are divided among law clerks who then recommend a grant or denial in a memo that is circulated among Supreme Court Justices. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch recently declined to join the cert pool, joining Justice Samuel A. Alito, the only other justice who is not a part of the pool either.
 
“Perhaps if the Justices spent more time personally reading cert petitions and lower court rulings—and not just summaries from one clerk in the pool—they might directly discover areas of the law in need of extra attention and also might better appreciate the mess they sometimes make by issuing fractured rulings,” Berman wrote in 2007.
 


Power Move: Gorsuch Opts Out Of High Court Labor Pool

May 2, 2017

Featured Expert: Douglas A. Berman

A post by Professor Doug Berman on his Sentencing Law and Policy blog was requoted in The Daily Caller. 

The Supreme Court’s cert pool was established in 1973 to help review the nearly 8,000 petitions received each term. The petitions are divided among law clerks who then recommend a grant or denial in a memo that is circulated among Supreme Court justices. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch recently declined to join the cert pool.

According to Berman, cert pools may prevent justices from reviewing lower court rulings and as a result, write longer and oftentimes confusing opinions. 

“Notably, the growth of the cert pool has not only paralleled the shrinking of the docket, but also the proliferation of long fractured opinions,” Berman wrote in his Sentencing Law and Policy blog in 2007. “Perhaps if the Justices spent more time personally reading cert petitions and lower court rulings—and not just summaries from one clerk in the pool—they might directly discover areas of the law in need of extra attention and also might better appreciate the mess they sometimes make by issuing fractured rulings.”
 


Pres. Trump’s tax plan cuts top rate from 39.6 to 35 percent

April 26, 2017

Featured Expert: Stephanie Hoffer

Professor Stephanie Hoffer appeared on NBC4 to discuss President Donald Trump’s proposed tax reform package. While officials from the Trump administration say that the proposal will lower the debt-to-GDP ratio, close key loopholes in the tax code, and pay for itself in growth, some experts say that the proposal could add trillions of dollars to the deficit and is still lacking in specifics.

“I think the ‘how is it going to be paid for’ question is a huge question that has the potential to split the Republican Party,” Hoffer said.


Columbus School Violated Rights Of Leafleters, Law Professor Says

April 26, 2017

Featured Expert: Ruth Colker

Professor Ruth Colker appeared on WOSU Radio to discuss the First Amendment rights of leafleters who gathered peacefully on a sidewalk outside of a Columbus elementary school.

Following an alleged report that a parent was picked up by ICE agents after dropping their child off at school, the group assembled to pass out fliers that detailed immigration rights in Spanish. The school’s principal threatened to call security, but the school currently does not have a leafleting policy in place and did not have a constitutional right to dismiss the group. Colker plans on aiding the school district in developing a leafleting policy that also upholds constitutional rights.

“There's a Supreme Court case that says that the public sidewalk adjacent to a public school is what we call a public forum," Colker said, citing Grayned v. City of Rockford, which held that "the public sidewalk adjacent to school grounds may not be declared off limits for expressive activity by members of the public."


Nearly all Ohio Medicaid expansion enrollees would lose coverage if program is repealed

April 25, 2017

Featured Expert: Micah Berman

A new study coauthored by Professor Micah Berman and Eric Sieber, an associate professor of health services management and policy at Ohio State, was featured in Modern Healthcare.

If Medicaid expansion is eliminated following a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, about 95 percent of Medicaid expansion beneficiaries in Ohio would subsequently have no insurance options available to them, according to the study, published in the American Journal of Public Health. Additionally, the study also found that most newly enrolled Medicaid members in Ohio qualified because they didn’t have private health insurance, became unemployed and lost their private insurance, or were not eligible for their employer’s health plan. These findings contradict claims from opponents who believe Medicaid encourages enrollment in taxpayer-funded insurance instead of private insurance.

"That's just not what the data show," Berman said.


Columbus schools to ‘refresh’ principals on city sidewalk rights

April 25, 2017

Featured Expert: Ruth Colker

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted in The Columbus Dispatch regarding the First Amendment rights of leafleters who gathered peacefully on a sidewalk outside of a Columbus school.

The school’s principal threatened to call security on the group, who were passing out fliers in Spanish about immigration rights, Colker told a Columbus City Schools board meeting. “Both times the people cooperated and left,” Colker said. “They did not want to create an incident.”

By threatening to call security, the principal violated the group’s free-speech rights, she believes. According to a 1972 Supreme Court case, Grayned v. City of Rockford, “the public sidewalk adjacent to school grounds may not be declared off limits for expressive activity by members of the public.” Although Colker is legally representing the leafleters, they do not have plants to sue the school district. She advised the school board to develop a constitutional policy that doesn't interfere with free speech rights, instead. 


Arkansas set for new round of executions; 2 moved near death chamber

April 24, 2017

Featured Expert: Douglas A. Berman

Professor Doug Berman was quoted in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette regarding an unprecedented number of lethal injections scheduled throughout the state.

While one lethal injection was carried out last week (the first in more than a decade), stays and appeals for the remaining executions are intensifying. Such legal battles often stretch into the eleventh hour, Berman said, and last-minute stays are common occurrences.

"A scheduled execution always precipitates the defense attorneys throwing everything they can at every possible court," he said.
 


Syrian regime change isn’t likely to succeed

April 23, 2017

Featured Expert: John B. Quigley

In an op-ed syndicated through the Tribune News Service, Professor John Quigley describes how a regime change in Syria is unlikely to succeed.

“The Assad-must-go argument, which is touted by former Secretary of State John Kerry, is that with so many opposed to Assad and his continued rule of the government in Syria, stability can only come once he is gone,” Quigley writes. “And although Assad is certainly on no one’s short list for sainthood, the problem with Kerry’s line of thinking in favor of removing Assad is that there is no democratic-minded, America-loving, Iran-hating group waiting to take the reins of power in Syria after he is gone.”


Civil rights groups challenge registration deadline in Georgia House race

April 21, 2017

Featured Expert: Daniel P. Tokaji

Professor Dan Tokaji was quoted in the Los Angeles Times about recent challenges to voter qualifications in Georgia.

Following last week’s election, Democrat Jon Ossoff now faces a run-off election in June for a coveted House seat. According to Georgia’s constitution, however, residents are only qualified to vote in a run-off election if they registered to vote in the general election as well. In a complaint filed in federal court in Atlanta, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law alleges that the law violates the 1993 National Voter Registration Act.

“I don’t think that Georgia has much of a legal leg to stand on,” Tokaji said. “Georgia has an obligation to follow federal law, period.”

 


Gerrymandering Is Headed Back to the Supreme Court

April 21, 2017

Featured Expert: Edward B. Foley

Professor Edward Foley was requoted in Mother Jones about a gerrymandering case in Wisconsin on its way to the Supreme Court. Other legal actions on partisan gerrymandering in Maryland and in North Carolina may be bound for the Supreme Court as well.

While previous Supreme Court cases have noted that partisan gerrymanders are “incompatible with democratic principles,” The New York Times originally reported, the court has never officially struck a case down. While it remains unseen how the Supreme Court will rule in the upcoming cases, a 2004 ruling from a previous gerrymandering case could play a pivotal role in how the court stands in the future. 

“The ordered working of our Republic, and of the democratic process, depends on a sense of decorum and restraint in all branches of government, and in the citizenry itself,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote in 2004. Kennedy’s statement is “the most important line” in the decision, Foley told The New York Times, adding,  “He’s going to look at what’s going on in North Carolina as the complete absence of that. I think that helps the plaintiffs in any of these cases.”


 


Key Question for Supreme Court: Will It Let Gerrymanders Stand?

April 21, 2017

Featured Expert: Edward B. Foley

Professor Edward Foley quoted in The New York Times about a gerrymandering case in Wisconsin on its way to the Supreme Court. Other legal actions on partisan gerrymandering in Maryland and in North Carolina may be bound for the Supreme Court as well.

While previous Supreme Court cases have noted that partisan gerrymanders are “incompatible with democratic principles,” The New York Times reported, the court has never officially struck a case down. While it remains unseen how the Supreme Court will rule in the upcoming cases, a 2004 ruling from a previous gerrymandering case could play a pivotal role in how the court stands in the future. 

“The ordered working of our Republic, and of the democratic process, depends on a sense of decorum and restraint in all branches of government, and in the citizenry itself,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote in 2004. Kennedy’s statement is “the most important line” in the decision, Foley told The New York Times.
 


U.S. states considering alternative execution methods face legal hurdles

April 19, 2017

Featured Expert: Douglas A. Berman

Professor Doug Berman was quoted in Reuters about the legal challenges awaiting states that are considering alternative execution methods to lethal injection.

Citing ethical concerns, global pharmaceutical companies enacted a sales ban on lethal injection drugs five years ago. As a result, states with capital punishment face shortages of the drugs.

While seven states allow secondary methods of execution should lethal injection drugs not be available or if the practice is ruled unconstitutional, six other states allow death-row inmates to choose their preferred method of dying, like by electrocution or hanging.

"If we shift to another method, that guarantees litigation," Berman said.


Spelman College names Sharon Davies Provost, Vice President of Academic Affairs

April 16, 2017

Featured Expert: Sharon L. Davies

News of Professor Sharon Davies’ new position at Spelman College as Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs appeared in CBS46. Davies officially assumes the role in June.

"Ms. Davies joins Spelman at an exciting time in the college’s history as we are formulating a strategic plan that will profoundly impact Spelman's academic future and assesses the 21st century skills and knowledge our students require to be leaders in the global community,” Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell said.


Local woman sues 5 businesses over ADA violation claims

April 9, 2017

Featured Expert: Ruth Colker

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted in a Times Herald-Record article about a quadriplegic woman who is suing five local businesses claiming that they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Among her claims: inaccessible soap and paper towel dispensers and exposed hot drain pipes under sinks at several restaurants.

“These accessibility rules are not especially onerous—they’re common-sense stuff like making sure a hot pipe is covered under a sink so someone in a wheelchair doesn’t get burned, which isn’t trivial,” Colker said. “But businesses have been sitting on their hands for 27 years [since the ADA was passed in 1990].”

The ADA was designed with lawsuits in mind as the primary means of enforcement, Colker added, noting that without damages, fee reimbursements would be an attorney’s only incentive to take an ADA-related case.

“The statute has not been a cash cow. It’s difficult to make a living doing ADA work,” she said. “Courts are often hostile to the underlying claims, and there are not a lot of people out there handing out a business card saying they do this for a living.”
 


Jury convicts gambler Billy Walters of insider trading

April 7, 2017

Featured Expert: Douglas A. Berman

Professor Doug Berman was featured in an ESPN article about William Walters, a Las Vegas sports gambler who was found guilty of insider trading charges, including 10 counts of conspiracy, securities fraud, and wire fraud. According to prosecutors, Walters made more than $40 million illegally between 2008 and 2015.

Walters will likely face a sentencing guideline range upwards of 10 years in prison, Berman told ESPN.
 


Northern Kentucky University wants federal judge booted from sexual assault case

April 7, 2017

Featured Expert: Douglas A. Berman

Professor Douglas Berman was quoted in WCPO about a sexual assault case in which a student at Northern Kentucky University is accusing the university of mishandling her rape allegations.

 

According to the university, the firm representing the unnamed woman hired the grandson of U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman while the case was still pending. Citing a potential conflict of interest, the university wants Bertelsman disqualified from overseeing the case.

 

"The simple story is that judges not only have an obligation to avoid actual conflict of interest but also to avoid the perception," Berman said. "The prospect that a lawyer in a case has hired a judge's grandson raises red flags."


SCOTUSblog: Thursday round-up

April 6, 2017

Featured Expert: Douglas A. Berman

Professor Doug Berman’s Sentencing Law and Policy blog—in particular, a post about Dean v. United States—was mentioned in SCOTUSblog. In its decision, the court held that trial courts are permitted to consider mandatory minimums for possessing firearms when sentencing a defendant for an underlying drug offense.

Dean seems to me to be a substantive ruling that applies retroactively,” Berman writes, adding it is likely that there will “be many more than just a handful of ‘Dean resentencing’ efforts.”


Metro Toledo water panel to eye facilitator proposal

April 6, 2017

Featured Expert: Sarah Rudolph Cole

Professor Sarah Cole was mentioned in article by The Toledo Blade detailing how leaders from Toledo, Ohio and eight other neighboring communities are considering hiring a mediator to help form a regional water authority.

Local representatives have spent months debating how to equalize water rates and how to include input from the eight other communities that depend on the Collins Park Water Treatment Plant (owned by the city of Toledo). Officials are also concerned about the safety of the plant following a 2014 incident in which toxic algae rendered water from the plant unfit to drink.

Cole is being considered as a possible mediator.


Metro Toledo water panel to eye facilitator proposal

April 6, 2017

Featured Expert: Joseph B. Stulberg

Professor Joseph B. Stulberg was mentioned in article by The Toledo Blade detailing how leaders from Toledo, Ohio and eight other neighboring communities are considering hiring a mediator to help form a regional water authority.

Local representatives have spent months debating how to equalize water rates and how to include input from the eight other communities that depend on the Collins Park Water Treatment Plant (owned by the city of Toledo). Officials are also concerned about the safety of the plant following a 2014 incident in which toxic algae rendered water from the plant unfit to drink.

Stulberg is being considered as a possible mediator.
 


Brian Golsby enters not-guilty plea in connection to Reagan Tokes’ murder

April 3, 2017

Featured Expert: Ric Simmons

Professor Ric Simmons was quoted in NBC4 about the role GPS monitors play in discouraging parolees to commit other offenses.

GPS coordinates from an ankle monitor worn by Brian Golsby (the man accused of the rape, kidnapping, and murder of Ohio State University student Reagan Tokes) link Golsby to the scene of the crime. According to Simmons, GPS monitors are only so effective in preventing such serious crimes from occurring.

“There is no way to watch him 100 percent of the time and that would also raise certain concerns if the government is watching people all of the time,” Simmons said. “There are Fourth Amendment concerns about that—whether or not that’s going to be an overly broad search. The GPS is not going to be able to tell you what he’s doing when he’s out. Again, you can restrict his movements—put him under house arrest so he can’t leave, but that’s a different level of restriction than GPS.”
 


Justices to Consider Trump Request to Delay Water Case

March 29, 2017

Featured Expert: Peter M. Shane

Professor Peter Shane was quoted in The National Law Journal regarding a request to the U.S. Supreme Court from the Trump administration to indefinitely delay briefing on a critical issue in challenges against the Waters of the United States rule.

In February, an executive order signed by President Donald Trump directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to revise the Waters of the United States rule, a mandate from the Obama administration that increased environmental protections across the country’s waterways. Organizations who challenged the Waters of the United States rule, including the American Farm Bureau, National Association of Home Builders, and National Mining Association, all object to the Trump administration’s request to delay resolution of the issue.

“The idea that you should hold up a little while we figure out what we’re doing is not so appealing here,” Shane said. “They certainly will regard as sincere the Trump administration’s representation that they are rethinking these rules with an eye to rescinding them. In the case of the Clean Power Plan, the executive order makes clear what the president would prefer. But it does sort of cut both ways.”


Throwing more money at the military won't solve anything

March 24, 2017

Featured Expert: John B. Quigley

An op-ed written by Professor John Quigley was syndicated through the Tribune News Service.

Quigley criticizes President Donald Trump’s federal budget blueprint, specifically, how the budget carves out one of the largest increases in national defense spending in the country’s history.

“The budget explains that the increase in military spending will be balanced by cuts in other programs, many of them domestic. Nancy Pelosi, who leads the Democrats in the House of Representatives, says that the projected boost in military spending would cause ‘far-reaching and long-lasting damage to our ability to meet the needs of the American people,’” Quigley writes. “Donald Trump was pressured by critics to stop being a businessman when he took the oath of office. Maybe those critics were wrong. Maybe President Trump needs to put his business hat back on.”

 


Talking with the taxman about pot

March 21, 2017

Featured Expert: Douglas A. Berman

Professor Doug Berman was quoted in the Financial Times about the conflicts between marijuana dispensaries and federal tax laws.

Marijuana is legal in a handful of states, yet U.S. tax code prohibits businesses involved with “trafficking in controlled substances” (like licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, for instance), from taking any tax deductions common to most businesses. The code, which went into effect before medical marijuana was first legalized in California in 1996, is threatening dispensaries like Harborside Health Center, a dispensary in Oakland California with millions of dollars in sales. Now under audit by the IRS, the dispensary is taking legal action to avoid going out of business. 

“It’s a hard slog in any setting to best the government on its interpretation of how tax laws ought to be applied,” Berman said. “It’s going to be a particularly hard slog on something that is still federally prohibited.”


(Not) Normalizing a Stolen U.S. Supreme Court

March 21, 2017

Featured Expert: Peter M. Shane

Professor Peter Shane appeared on an episode of BradCast to discuss the filibuster that Democrats waged against Judge Neil Gorsuch and the “nuclear option” invoked by Republicans in order to confirm Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
 


Neil Gorsuch Faces the Senate

March 20, 2017

Featured Expert: Peter M. Shane

An essay written by Professor Peter Shane for the American Constitution Society, “A Principled Reason to Oppose the Confirmation of Neil Gorsuch,” was quoted in The New York Times.

Responding to Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, the editorial board describes the blockade Senate Republicans took against Judge Merrick Garland, former President Barack Obama’s nominee for Supreme Court in 2016.

“Senate Republicans’ behavior last year set a new standard for bad faith,” the editorial board writes. “The question, as the constitutional law scholar Peter Shane wrote last week, is ‘whether there remains any institutional penalty for sabotaging constitutional norms.’”


Federal Judges Stop Trump's Muslim Ban for a Second Time

March 16, 2017

Featured Expert: Amna Akbar

Professor Amna Akbar was quoted in Colorlines about the orders given by federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland to halt President Donald Trump’s second executive order on immigration.

“This is anti-Muslim bias plain and simple, no matter what gift wrap the Administration tries to put on it,” Akbar said. “It’s heartening to see courts exercising judicial review in a manner that recognizes that there is no neutral intent in President Trump’s executive orders.”


Former DOJ mediator describes ‘active’ neutrality, at HLS symposium

March 9, 2017

Grande Lum, director of the Divided Community Project, was quoted in Harvard Law Today regarding the keynote address he delivered before the Harvard Negotiation Law Review’s 22nd Annual Symposium, “Reflections on the Intersection of Alternative Dispute Resolution and Activism.”

“Activism creates leverage. Activism creates power. Activism changes the status quo. And change happens when in addition to legislative and litigation victories, people work out solutions on their own,” Lum said. “That’s where those of us in ADR can play an important GPS-navigational role.”


Sessions likely pushing law enforcement to seek longer prison sentences

March 9, 2017

Featured Expert: Douglas A. Berman

Professor Doug Berman was quoted in The Week Magazine. He originally appeared in POLITICO.

In a recent memo from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to all federal prosecutors, Sessions suggests that he may be advocating for policy changes that would result in longer prison sentences. This would include backpedaling on former Attorney General Eric Holder’s guidelines that allow prosecutors to avoid making charges that lead to mandatory minimum sentences.

"My take is the Holder [policy] is toast," Berman told POLITICO. "Holder said you don't have to charge mandatory minimums and it looks like [Sessions is] going to say, 'Oh, yes, you do have to.'"


No: Anti-immigrant approach stokes hate, solves no pressing problems

March 2, 2017

Featured Expert: Ruth Colker

An op-ed by Professor Ruth Colker about President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration executive orders was syndicated through the Tribune News Service, reaching more than 7 million estimated readers.

“Like building a wall along the Mexican border, devoting additional resources to deporting people who pose no risk to American security is expensive and wasteful. Rather than squander money on a huge deportation force, we need to find a constructive path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, who are the backbone of the farming, construction and high-tech industries,” Colker writes. “More fundamentally, the executive orders fly in the face of the bedrock American value of offering refuge to those ‘yearning to breathe free.’”

Colker’s op-ed, “No: Anti-immigrant approach stokes hate, solves no pressing problems,” was published in more than 10 news outlets nationwide, including USA TODAY, The Sacramento Bee, and the Post-Bulletin. 


Amazon Echo and the internet of things that spy on you

March 2, 2017

Professor Margot Kaminski was quoted in Popular Science about the First Amendment rights of Amazon Echo owners.

In December 2015, following the death of Victor Collins, Arkansas police filed a search warrant with Amazon for audio recordings from an Amazon Echo (a robotic personal assistant) located at the scene of the incident. Because the device is always on and listening to its surroundings, officials believe access to the recordings could offer valuable insight into their investigation. In February, the tech company filed a motion to quash the warrant, however, arguing that the search is a violation of First Amendment and privacy rights. 

“What Amazon’s doing is drawing on a line of cases that say there is a connection between freedom of expression, which is protected by the First Amendment, and privacy,” Kaminski said. “That connection is that when you have government surveillance—especially of intellectual activity, let’s say listening to music or reading books or buying books or even using the search engine—that surveillance implicates intellectual freedom in a way that’s important for free expression.”
 


What Privacy Do Students Have? Ohio Supreme Court Hears Backpack Seizure Case

March 1, 2017

Featured Expert: Ric Simmons

Professor Ric Simmons was quoted in WOSU Public Media about a recent Ohio Supreme Court case regarding the rights of students at public schools to have their personal property searched.

The case involves a then 18-year-old student whose backpack was searched by a Columbus high school security guard after it was left unattended on a bus. Believing that the student was a gang member, the guard took the bag to the principal’s office, where 13 bullets were subsequently found inside. When school officials tracked the student down, they found that he had brought a gun to school after searching a separate bag.

Two lower court rulings found that the security guard did not have responsible suspicion to search the bag in which the gun was found. Although the student faced charges for possession of a gun on school property, the gun was thrown out as evidence after the courts ruled that it was discovered unlawfully. If the Ohio Supreme Court rules differently, “it could have a very serious impact” across public schools, Simmons said.

"Public school officials generally want more authority to search backpacks, lockers,” he said. “Students themselves, and of course civil libertarians, believe that students should have the same rights as everyone else. It's all about balance, and how you want to balance what the school's rights are to keep the school safe, and the rights of the students to have the same rights that we all do."


White House drops Obama-era discrimination claim against Texas voter ID law

February 27, 2017

Featured Expert: Edward B. Foley

Professor Edward Foley was quoted in The Christian Science Monitor in an article about how the Trump administration dropped a discrimination claim against a Texas voter ID law. Viewed as one of the strictest voting requirements in the country by voting rights advocates, the law required voters to show one of seven valid forms of ID.

A federal appeals court ruled last year that the law disproportionately impacted minorities and those living in poverty. The court required the state to adjust its requirements before the general election. According to court testimony, Hispanic voters were twice as likely to lack proper ID under the law, while black voters were three times as likely.

“Voting litigation is increasing, not decreasing,” Foley said. “The main impression … is that when a law looks like it’s engaging in outright disenfranchisement of a valid voter, even conservative judges have been stopping that. [But] the judiciary is more tolerant with state legislatures adjusting issues of convenience and accessibility, if the adjustment is not outright disenfranchisement.”
 


Pro&Con: Pre-emptive strike would trigger global disaster

February 24, 2017

Featured Expert: John B. Quigley

An op-ed written by Professor John Quigley was syndicated through the Tribune News Service. Quigley discusses Iran’s ballistic missile test in January and subsequent rumors that Israel is planning a military strike against Iranian missile sites.

“Iran, regardless of what its leaders might boast from time to time, is not on a course to attack Israel. Even if they wanted to, Iranian leaders know such an attack would bring counter-action Iran could not sustain,” Quigley writes. “Hopefully, Trump is savvy enough to see through Netanyahu's long-standing effort to depict an existential threat that doesn't truly exist.”


OSU Law Professor Looks at Nuances of 'Pastor Protection Bill'; Pastors Turn Out in Force in Support

February 21, 2017

Featured Expert: Marc Spindelman

Professor Marc Spindelman appeared before the Ohio House of Representatives Community and Family Advancement Committee to give interested party testimony on the constitutionality of House Bill-36—referred to by its sponsor, Rep. Nino Vitale (R-Urbana), as the “Pastor Protection Act.” Spindelman’s testimony was featured in The Hannah Report. 

Among its key provisions, H.B. 36 would permit ordained and licensed ministers and religious societies statewide to refuse to solemnize same-sex civil marriages when doing so would conflict with their sincerely held religious beliefs. In addition, the Act also would authorize religious societies not to host marriage ceremonies on their property in accordance with their faith. Importantly, the Act creates various immunity provisions to ensure that those who exercise the prerogatives that it supplies will not be held legally liable, either civilly or criminally, for their acts.

“Interested party witness and constitutional and family law professor at Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law Marc Spindelman led off the day’s three hours of testimony, telling the committee that there is validity to the concerns raised by pastors regarding their potential liability over refusing ‘to solemnize a same-sex civil marriage that they are authorized by state law to celebrate ...’ under the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges regarding same sex marriage,” The Hannah Report writes. “However, he maintains, the solution to those concerns does not lie with the state Legislature. Rather, he explained, when conflicts arise between civil liberties—in this case the right to marry and the right of clergy ‘to practice their faith even when acting ... as agents of the state’—it becomes the purview of the U.S. Supreme Court for final resolution.”
 


Experts: GPS monitors couldn't save OSU student's life

February 17, 2017

Featured Expert: Ric Simmons

Professor Ric Simmons was quoted in The Columbus Dispatch about Brian Lee Golsby, the convicted sex offender charged with aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, kidnapping, and rape in the death of Reagan Tokes, a student at The Ohio State University.

Data from a GPS monitor Golsby had been wearing at the time confirmed that he was at the scene of Tokes’ murder. GPS monitors are not watched in real time, however, and authorities are not always notified immediately if parolees leave their designated areas.

“There are times when it's obvious who the worst of the worst are. But we didn't know at the time that he was one of the worst of the worst. For those terrible, terrible people, nothing works. Even GPS," Simmons said.

“[GPS monitors are] certainly not to be watched all the time. Frankly, that would be unrealistic,” he added. "You can say the system broke down in a lot of ways, but this was not one of them."


Arizona to death-row inmates: Bring your own execution drugs

February 17, 2017

Featured Expert: Douglas A. Berman

Professor Doug Berman was quoted in the Associated Press about a recent policy in Arizona allowing death-row inmates to provide their own lethal drugs for execution.

Executions in the state have been postponed since 2014, after Joseph Rudolph Wood took almost two hours to die following 15 doses of the sedative midazolam. They will remain on hold until an ongoing lawsuit questioning the state’s discretion during executions is resolved.

Overall, it has also been more difficult nationwide to procure the drugs necessary for lethal injections, as many European pharmaceutical companies have since prohibited their use. Berman views Arizona’s policy as opposition to the lawsuit and to the scarcity of lethal injection drugs across the country.

“I think the idea is to say in the protocol, ‘You guys want pentobarbital? Then get it. If you can get us the drugs, we’ll use them,’” he said.


Sharon Davies Named Spelman College Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs

February 14, 2017

Featured Expert: Sharon L. Davies

Professor Sharon Davies was mentioned in a Marketwired press release regarding her recent appointment to provost and vice president of academic affairs at Spelman College, effective in June.

Davies is currently vice provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer for The Ohio State University, as well as director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity. She has spent 22 years on the faculty of the Moritz College of Law and currently serves as the Gregory H. Williams Chair in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

"Ms. Davies' distinguished record of scholarship and leadership in higher education and beyond will further advance the College,” Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell said. “As we seek to heighten the intellectual experience, global impact of Spelman women, and career horizons for our students, her experiences will allow her to effectively lead the College's academic functions with insight, creativity, and innovation in the dynamic and rapidly changing higher education environment."


Suspect in OSU student's murder arrested three months after getting out of prison

February 13, 2017

Featured Expert: Ric Simmons

Professor Ric Simmons was quoted in WSYX about the man arrested and charged with the recent murder of Reagan Tokes, an Ohio State student. The suspect, Brian Lee Golsby was arrested three months after he spent six years in prison for robbery and attempted rape in 2010. Although he faced 16 years in prison for the previous crimes, he took a plea deal for six years instead.

Jail time in a plea deal varies depending on the strength of the case, the age of the defendant, and their criminal history, according to Simmons. In 2010, Golsby had no prior history of violent crime. If he is found guilty for Tokes’ murder, Simmons said the prosecution could make a case for a life sentence or the death penalty.

"As a former prosecutor I think, 'what if I had been that prosecutor that did the sentence for the prior crime?'" Simmons said. "A rape case is going to be very hard to prosecute. Rape victims may not want to testify. You might not want to put them through that and there's a chance always you'll get an acquittal."
 


Separation of Powers, Explained

February 10, 2017

Featured Expert: Peter M. Shane

Professor Peter Shane was quoted in Moyers & Company in an explainer of the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution.

“The idea is to give each branch enough authority to be effective in the discharge of its functions. But they are also given powers that make the other branches partially dependent on one another,” Shane said. “It is that balance of independence and interdependence between the branches that is the distinct organizational characteristic of our federal government.”
 


Nazareth Restaurant owner feels relief that White House called machete attack ‘terrorism’

February 7, 2017

Featured Expert: Dakota S. Rudesill

Professor Dakota Rudesill was quoted in The Associated Press regarding a list of terrorist attacks recently released by the White House that are believed to be “executed or inspired by” ISIS. Rudesill, who worked in the office of the Director of National Intelligence during the Obama administration, said investigators exercise considerable caution before declaring an incident an act of terrorism.

“[T]he way that you depict something will then shape the way that you investigate it and if you’re wrong about your sense of motive for an attack, you can then be wrong about unraveling what actually happened,” he said.


Trump: Mike Pence to lead voter fraud probe

February 6, 2017

Featured Expert: Edward B. Foley

Professor Edward Foley was quoted in The Christian Science Monitor in an article about the investigation into voter fraud that will be led by Vice President Mike Pence. More than a dozen lawsuits nationwide regarding voting rights and access await federal court.

“Voting litigation is increasing, not decreasing,” Foley said. “The main impression … is that when a law looks like it’s engaging in outright disenfranchisement of a valid voter, even conservative judges have been stopping that. [But] the judiciary is more tolerant with state legislatures adjusting issues of convenience and accessibility, if the adjustment is not outright disenfranchisement.”


Trump's Sloppy, Unconstitutional Order on 'Sanctuary Cities

January 30, 2017

Featured Expert: Peter M. Shane

Professor Peter Shane was quoted in The Atlantic in an article about the legality of President Donald Trump’s executive order that threatens to pull federal funds from sanctuary cities should they refuse to cooperate with the federal government to deport undocumented immigrants.

“There is nothing to the idea of state sovereignty if state and city officials are not entitled to direct how their subordinates exercise their lawful discretion to advance state and local interests,” Shane said.


Trump’s Executive Order On Ethics Pulls Word For Word From Obama, Clinton

January 29, 2017

Featured Expert: Peter M. Shane

Professor Peter Shane was quoted in NPR about President Donald Trump’s executive order that imposes a five-year lobbying ban on executive branch employees. Despite declaring his distance from the Democratic party, Trump “borrowed heavily” from language in similar executive orders signed by former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, NPR reports. 

“When a new president’s executive order deals with a subject of operational concern to multiple administrations, it’s not surprising that the president’s lawyers would look to previous iterations as models,” Shane wrote in an email to NPR. “For a Republican president, reiterating the restrictive obligations prior Democratic presidents imposed on their appointees has the double advantage of using provisions vetted by other lawyers and apparently deemed acceptable to the political opposition.”


Trump Calls for Voter Fraud Probe: A Look at Past Inquiries

January 28, 2017

Featured Expert: Edward B. Foley

Professor Edward Foley was quoted in Voice of America about President Donald Trump’s plans to launch a “major investigation” into voter fraud. Trump claims he lost the popular vote because as many as 5 million non-U.S. citizens may have voted illegally.

“As I understand the latest allegations, somewhere between 3 to 5 million improper ballots were cast this past November nationwide, which Trump claims accounts for why Hillary Clinton won the popular vote,” Foley said. “Even if there were 3 to 5 million invalid votes nationwide, we can’t jump to the conclusion that the election result was tainted, because we don’t know who they voted for.”

The odds of a non-U.S. citizen successfully casting a ballot are “extremely low, extraordinarily low,” according to Foley. Instances in which invalid ballots are cast or when voters’ names appear on multiple state voter rolls also don’t necessarily indicate voter fraud either, he added.

“Just because a ballot was cast that was invalid, which is a problem, doesn’t necessarily mean there was a conspiracy to commit voter fraud,” Foley said. “Fraud is a pejorative term that implies intentional deception and manipulation, as opposed to there being mistakes in voter registration lists.”
 


 


National “Vote by Mail” Could Add Millions of Votes in 2018

January 27, 2017

Featured Expert: Steven F. Huefner

Professor Steven Huefner was quoted in Yes! Magazine about whether vote by mail systems have a measureable effect on voter turnout.

Vote by mail has led to “some marginal increase in turnout” during local or off-year elections, Huefner said, but ultimately has a relatively low impact during presidential elections.

“In high-profile elections … people who are going to vote are going to vote,” Huefner said.“And they’ll do that whether it’s voting by mail from their kitchen table or going to the polling place on the designated Election Day.”


Do Business Leaders Make Good Presidents?

January 19, 2017

Featured Expert: David Stebenne

An essay by Professor David Stebenne was quoted in a TIME article about whether business leaders are fit for the presidency.

Before Donald Trump, Dwight Eisenhower was one of the most outspoken presidents to embrace Big Business in his administration. Eisenhower, Stebenne writes, “felt government would be well served by successful men, who tend to be rich. If the leaders of successful businesses were excluded from consideration, [Eisenhower] wrote in his diary, the result would be an inability ‘to get anybody to take jobs in Washington except business failures, political hacks and New Deal lawyers.’”


Defend it, don’t defund it: Planned Parenthood does good work

January 18, 2017

Featured Expert: Ruth Colker

An op-ed written by Professor Ruth Colker about Congressional Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood was syndicated through the Tribune News Service. She examines the potential ramifications of denying federal funds to the organization. 

“This morally bankrupt strategy imperils a basic lifeline for health care services in many poor communities, because Planned Parenthood has an outstanding track record in providing life-saving health care screenings,” Colker writes. “It also imperils many women’s access to contraception, even though the overwhelming majority of Americans believe contraception should be legal and readily available. Moreover, this strategy is blatantly unconstitutional. Congress cannot constitutionally single out one health care provider as ineligible for any federal reimbursement for its services merely because Congress disapproves of the provider also spending non-federal dollars on abortions.”

Colker’s op-ed, “Defend it, don't defund it: Planned Parenthood does good work,” was ultimately published in more than 25 publications around the country including The Arizona Republic, Detroit Free Press, The Sacramento Bee, The Indianapolis Star, and The Tennessean.
 


Anti-Trumpers’ Most Futile Effort Yet to Stop Trump from Being Sworn In

January 16, 2017

Featured Expert: Edward B. Foley

Professor Edward Foley was quoted in Law Newz about efforts to persuade Chief Justice John Roberts to decline conducting Donald Trump’s Oath of Office on Inauguration Day. Even though the U.S. Constitution requires the President to take an oath of office, the the Chief Justice is not required to administer it. It is unlikely that such attempts will prevent Trump from being sworn in, Foley said.

“I think the main point is that the oath doesn’t need to be administered by the Chief Justice,” he said. “After Kennedy’s assassination, a federal district judge in Texas administered the oath to Johnson.”
 


National security, media professors analyze November campus attack

January 9, 2017

Featured Expert: Dakota S. Rudesill

Professor Dakota Rudesill was quoted in The Lantern about the November attack on Ohio State’s campus. Although the FBI has not officially declared the attack an act of terrorism, the federal agency reports that it may have been inspired by the Islamic State.

“Certainly, some of the early indications do point in the direction of this being a terrorist attack,” Rudesill said.
 


YES: Israel has abused the negotiation process

January 8, 2017

Featured Expert: John B. Quigley

A recent column written by Professor John Quigley was syndicated by the Tribune News Service. Quigley describes the Obama Administration’s recent decision not to veto a resolution passed by the United Nations Security Council condemning Israel’s settlement activity in Palestinian territory.

“The United States should sponsor a Security Council resolution to put teeth into the December resolution,” Quigley writes. “The council has the power to adopt diplomatic, financial and military measures against states that pose a threat to the peace. Israel’s occupation of Palestine, not to mention its construction of settlements there, qualify as a threat to the peace.”


Prominent prisoners’ supporters pin pardon hopes on Obama

January 7, 2017

Featured Expert: Douglas A. Berman

Professor Doug Berman was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle about the clemency decisions before President Barack Obama as he prepares to leave office in January.

Several notable clemency requests await review from prisoners including Leonard Peltier, an activist with the American Indian Movement who was convicted of murdering two FBI agents in 1975; Chelsea Manning, a former Army private who was convicted by court-martial of disclosing 700,000 classsified documents to WikiLeaks about U.S. conduct in Afghanistan and Iraq; and Ethel Rosenberg, who was executed with her husband for espionage in 1953.

Although Obama has avoided controversial clemency requests, “now that he’s shown a commitment to reduce sentences that he thinks are unjust or excessive, maybe his last few batches will include some high-profile folks,” Berman said.
 


Man serving life without parole in KC firefighters tragedy gets resentencing hearing

January 6, 2017

Featured Expert: Douglas A. Berman

Professor Doug Berman was quoted in The Kansas City Star about the case of Bryan Sheppard, one of five defendants convicted for the arson deaths of six Kansas City firefighters in 1988. Sheppard was sentenced to life in prison without parole, but will request his immediate release next month.

Because Sheppard was a juvenile at the time of the crime, he has the right to seek a shorter sentence owing to a 2012 Supreme Court case, Miller v. Alabama. According to the ruling, sentencing juveniles to mandatory life sentences without parole violates the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the Eighth Amendment.

Several states have since passed legislation offering juvenile offenders serving life sentences a chance for release or parole after serving 20 years in prison.

“That may put some wind at the back of his defense attorney,” Berman said.


Voter ID Laws Are So Last (Election) Season

January 6, 2017

Featured Expert: Edward B. Foley

Professor Edward Foley was quoted in Bloomberg BNA about voter ID laws implemented during the last election cycle. The “voting wars will continue,” Foley said, as incoming state legislators start to reconsider new election laws.

He also discussed the number of last-minute, conflicting court decisions made throughout the election cycle that struck down voting restrictions in some states, while upholding them in others. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to dismantle part of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 created a “hunger for clarity” in regards to how lower courts consistently determine the legality of voting restrictions, he said.

 

 


This Law Could Still Stop Donald Trump, Says This Constitutional Expert

January 5, 2017

Featured Expert: Edward B. Foley

Professor Edward Foley was quoted in Bustle about the federal law permitting members of Congress to challenge Electoral College ballots. The law was enacted in 1887 -- as part of the Electoral Count Act -- in response to the 1876 election, Foley explained.

“We came much closer to a genuine constitutional crisis over the 1876 election,” Foley said. “Inauguration Day back then was on March 4, and we still didn’t know who was President until the early hours of March 2. Ulysses Grant was considering declaring martial law.”

The law requires the president of the Senate to call for any challenges as electoral ballots are counted. Any objections must be submitted in writing and also must be signed by one senator and one representative. Even with the law in place, it is unlikely to disrupt an election's outcome, Foley said.

“First, we’ll need to see if a senator signs on to any of these objections,” he said. “Then, under the statute, each house deliberates for up to two hours on the objection. It would take both houses to sustain the objection in order to disqualify that electoral vote.”
 


https://www.byuradio.org/episode/a808bfae-c68f-41f4-8a93-fe534ae8ebbe/the-matt-townsend-show-presidential-cabinet-selection-help-pregnant-workers

January 5, 2017

Featured Expert: David Stebenne

Professor David Stebenne was interviewed on BYU Radio’s The Matt Townsend Show. Stebenne discussed the history of cabinet selection as it relates to President-elect Donald Trump’s recent picks.

Former presidents Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Herbert Hoover and Dwight D. Eisenhower -- who were also all elected without previously holding a political office -- also all made similar cabinet selections to Trump’s, according to Stebenne.


Ohio judge’s death sentence rejection highlights rare trend

January 1, 2017

Featured Expert: Douglas A. Berman

Professor Doug Berman was quoted in The Associated Press about the rare occasions in which judges have overridden death penalty sentences in Ohio.

Since Ohio’s death penalty took effect in 1981, more than 320 death penalty sentences have been handed down across the state, compared to just nine judicial overrides. More recently in December, a Cleveland judge overruled a jury’s death penalty sentence, citing that the physical and mental abuse sustained by the defendant as a child, as well as the defendant’s history of mental health issues and incarceration, warranted a life sentence without parole instead.

Cases with strong mitigating evidence against the death penalty -- like a history of abuse -- are typically resolved with plea bargains, according to Berman.

“It’s relatively rare a case will get to a jury verdict if it looks like there’s a pretty significant possibility that the mitigators will outweigh the aggravators,” he said.