Professors Ruth Okediji and Hari Osofsky have received three-year appointments as resident fellows of the University’s Institute on the Environment (IonE). They will maintain their Law School appointments but receive additional funding for interdisciplinary projects on environmental challenges. Okediji plans to work on climate change issues, environmental standards, and green and other environmental technologies. Osofsky’s focuses will be energy-justice policy, geoengineering and smart-grid application, and environmental sustainability. They join 12 additional resident fellows from across University disciplines.
Professor Michele Goodwin wrote an article entitled "Paying for Fraud, Abuse, and Extortion as the Cost of War" for the Chronicle of Higher Education's Brainstorm blog on September 6, 2011. Fighting terrorism at any cost translates to spending $12 million per day on extortion, fraud, and abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as misappropriations of U.S. funds. According to Goodwin, the U.S. philosophy in fighting these wars was to defeat terrorism at "any cost," which has translated to frenetically awarding grants from projects that don't make much sense and seemingly writing blank checks in some instances.
Professor David Weissbrodt spoke on CBS Minnesota's "Good Question: How Are War Criminals Punished?" on August 22, 2011. The world has had a permanent International Criminal Court since only 2002, and it has been criticized because, "they've had relatively few cases and no convictions yet," Weissbrodt said. "There are now 116 nations that have become members of the [ICC]," he said. The United States is not one of those members.
On August 10, 2011, Professor Amy Monahan addressed the National Conference of State Legislatures at the organization's Annual Legislative Summit. Monahan presented her research on the legal protections for state and local retirement plans, as part of a series of talks that focuses on the public pension issues facing the states. The National Conference of State Legislatures is the bipartisan voice of the states serving the legislators and staffs of the nation's 50 states, its commonwealths and territories.
Everett Fraser Professor of Law Robert A. Stein ('61) was elected to the ABA House of Delegates, the group’s governing and policy-making body, by attorneys attending the 2011 annual meeting in Toronto on August 9, 2011. He was elected to a three-year term as a delegate-at-large.
Professor Brett McDonnell was interviewed by Benzinga Radio, an online service focused on business and financial news, on the state of financial regulation one year after the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act. The interview discussed McDonnell's recently published article "Of Mises and Min(sky)," where he focuses on the severe uncertainty facing both markets and regulators and argues that the act strikes a mostly reasonable balance between under- and over-regulation.
Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin has been selected to be a consultant on a study commissioned by U.N. Women and the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, entitled "Reparations for Conflict-related Sexual Violence." She is concurrently the Dorsey & Whitney professor at the Law School and a professor, co-founder, and associate director of the Transitional Justice Institute, University of Ulster, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Professor Claire Hill published an article entitled "Think Globally, Rate Locally" in The European magazine on rating agencies' recent downgrades in Europe. Hill argued, "Whatever we may conclude as to how their misratings in the preceding decade contributed to the crisis now, Europe's current turmoil will exist whatever the rating agencies do; focusing on downgrading deflects attention from where it is far more urgently needed."
Professor John Matheson presented his paper, "Common Law Veil Piercing in the USA: An Empirical Examination," at the 8th Annual International Conference on Law, July 18-21, 2011. The conference was hosted by the Athens Institute for Education and Research. The Institute was established in 1995 as an independent academic organization with the mission to become a forum where academics and researchers from all over the world could meet and exchange ideas on their research and discuss the future developments of their discipline. Matheson's paper was the subject of discussion and questions at the conference and will ultimately be published in the conference proceedings.
Professor Myron Orfield, Executive Director of the Institute on Race & Poverty (IRP), spoke at a White House summit entitled "Forum on First Suburbs, Inclusion, Sustainability, and Economic Growth" on July 18.
On July 12, 2011, Professor Ralph F. Hall joined a panel of experts on Capitol Hill to discuss legal policies and the effectiveness of the laws passed to counter health care fraud. The forum, "Health Care Fraud and Abuse Enforcement: What’s at Stake?," focused primarily on the pharmaceutical sector.
Professor Prentiss Cox was a guest on Minnesota Public Radio's Midmorning broadcast on July 12, 2011. The show detailed how Minnesota foreclosures keep the economy from recovering. Since the recession began, the state has surpassed 100,000 foreclosures, and now sustained unemployment is causing a new wave of mortgage defaults nationwide.
On July 1, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, sitting en banc, agreed with the conclusion asserted and arguments raised in an amicus brief authored by Professor Kristin Hickman. In Cohen v. United States, the court considered whether to allow the district court to consider the merits of an Administrative Procedure Act (APA) challenge to IRS Notice 2006-50, and particularly whether language in Internal Revenue Code 7421(a) and the Declaratory Judgment Act precluded judicial review. Hickman's brief argued in favor of interpreting the Internal Revenue Code and the Declaratory Judgment Act coterminously and narrowly, allowing the taxpayers' APA challenge to proceed on the merits. In a 6-3 decision, the court agreed and justified its conclusion in part using arguments raised in Hickman's brief.
Professor William McGeveran testified before the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board on June 30, 2011, about proposed disclosure rules for contributions to ballot question campaigns. McGeveran, who specializes in internet and privacy law and has written about disclosure in election law, warned of resulting privacy costs. He told the Board, "When blind dates Google you, when employers conduct background checks, when advertisers target sales pitches, when neighbors visit websites that mash up campaign finance records with maps, they discover your political beliefs." Although the proposed rules had been opposed primarily by backers of an upcoming ballot initiative to ban gay marriage, McGeveran said he supported gay marriage and urged the Board to consider the structure of disclosure independently from "hot political topics."
Professor Fred Morrison published an opinion piece entitled, "Shutdown Funding Explained," on June 24, 2011, for the Star Tribune. "In a nutshell, the Minnesota Constitution provides that no money can be spent without a legislative appropriation (Article 11, Section 1)," Morrison wrote. "The provision seems absolute, but as with most things, it's not that simple."
On June 21, 2011, Professor Richard Painter was called to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform at a hearing that covered the Hatch Act and political activity inside the White House, where Painter served as chief ethics lawyer from 2005-2007. He recommended that Congress enact new legislation sharply curtailing the range of permissible partisan political activity by White House staff. Click here to read Painter's testimony.