SALT Blog

From Detainees to Surveillance: Is one allowed to demur to Matthew Waxman's nomination at NSA

By Benjamin G Davis, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toledo College of Law According to the below article a certain Matthew Waxman is being bruited for the General Counsel job at the NSA. http://www.lawfareblog.com/2015/05/matthew-waxman-to-be-the-new-nsa-general-counsel/ His Columbia Law School bio is more circumspect about his prior government service then the one at the Hoover Institute. Over there it is stated that: “He also served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs (2004–5), director for contingency planning and international justice at the National Security Council (2002–3), and special assistant to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice (2001–2).” Per John Rizzo’s Company Man book, the Senate Torture Report, and what we know of Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, he was present at the creation of the torture regime and its implementation in… Continue »

SALT Expresses Academic Freedom Concerns About Recent Actions of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors

March 25, 2015 — The Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) today released a statement regarding recent actions of the University of North Carolina (UNC) Board of Governors to close three centers in the university system, including the Center for Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the UNC School of Law.  In the statement, SALT expresses concern about the impact of the closings on student learning opportunities and academic freedom.  The full statement is available here:  SALT STATEMENT ON UNC BOG Final. Continue »

Diversity, Inequality, and ISDS

By Benjamin G. Davis, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toledo College of Law Much ado has arisen in recent months about the investor-state dispute settlement provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership international trade agreements being negotiated. Sources one might look to are http://isdsblog.com/, Senator Elizabeth Warren in the Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kill-the-dispute-settlement-language-in-the-trans-pacific-partnership/2015/02/25/ec7705a2-bd1e-11e4-b274-e5209a3bc9a9_story.html), an extended segment on John Oliver’s program Last Week Tonight (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UsHHOCH4q8), and an Alliance for Justice brief description of the issue and the letter at http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/6539/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=19342. Said multilateral trade agreements are inserted into a rich tapestry of bilateral investment treaties, regional one’s (NAFTA as an example), and the overarching world trade system under the auspices of the World Trade Organization.  A common feature of all these types of agreements is to have a dispute settlement… Continue »

Seattle University School of Law Hosts Conference on Poverty Law: Academic Activism, Feb. 19-20, 2016

Poverty Law: Academic Activism Seattle University School of Law Feb. 19-20, 2016 Call for Proposals:   We invite proposals for presentations at a Spring 2016 conference, “Poverty Law: Academic Activism” to be held on Feb. 19-20, 2016, hosted by Seattle University School of Law.  The conference will focus on the connection between academics and activism, broadly understood.  Just as “poverty law” is a broad category that includes everything from welfare and education programs to immigration and tax policy, so too, “academic activism” includes a wide range of activities.  This conference will explore how members of the legal community directly engage with activists to effect social, legal, and policy changes; how scholarship can help improve the lives of the poor;... Continue »

Arkansas Muslim Prisoner Wins Case, Adds to Legal Legacy

  By SpearIt Last week, the Supreme Court struck down an Arkansas prison policy that restricted inmates from sporting a half-inch beard.  The prisoner-plaintiff, Gregory Holt, aka Abdul Maalik Muhammad, is particularly interesting since he confounds cultural stereotypes, looking more like someone from Duck Dynasty or the movie Deliverance than anything Muslim; as a white inmate, he is a statistical minority in a place where whites are only a tiny fraction of Muslim followers, making him a double-minority of sorts, and perhaps the perfect plaintiff. This lawsuit pitted Muhammad’s sincere religious beliefs in growing a beard against the claim that beards on inmates breach institutional security.  In unanimously striking the policy, a skeptical court found little merit in the prison’s concerns, and included statements of a magistrate judge who spoke to Muhammad:… Continue »

Restore Pell Grants for Prisoners

By SpearIt   Last month the Department of Education clarified the eligibility rules for Federal Pell Grant funding. Although Congress barred Pell Grants in 1994 for those confined in “Federal or State Penal institutions,” according to the clarification, these are distinct from “juvenile justice facilities” and “local and county jails, penitentiaries, and correctional facilities.” Although, this ruling will effectively increase the number of incarcerated individuals applying for and receiving Pell funding, the vast majority remain ineligible. Prisoners first became eligible for federal funding in 1972, when federal legislation directly allowed for imprisoned individuals to apply for Pell Grants. The push to include prisoners for Pell eligibility was consistent with the grant’s design to assist economically challenged Americans work toward post-secondary study and training. For over two decades, prisoners were treated as a part… Continue »

SALT Testifies at Public Hearing on Uniform Bar Exam

SALT will testify at a public hearing on the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) on January 20, 2015 at CUNY School of Law, making the points outlined in this letter. SALT will testify: 1) that New York attorneys have long critiqued the utility and disparate impact on racial minorities of the New York Bar Exam as it is currently administered; (2) more study is needed to determine whether adoption of the UBE will exacerbate the disparate impact that the bar exam has on particular subgroups of test takers;  3) instead of adopting the UBE, New York officials should encourage the National Council of Bar Examiners to reform the bar exam as it currently exists so that it more accurately tests... Continue »

Did Religious Profiling Allow Paris Terrorists to Proceed Undetected?

By Sahar Aziz Terrorism aims to invoke mass havoc and fear. Recent attacks in Western cities involved bombings of public buildings, transportation, and marathons, or mass shootings of civilians, conducted by amateur lone wolves. For this reason the calculated assassination of France’s best satirists raises serious concerns about the focus of French counterterrorism strategy. As they enlarge the blanket scrutiny of Muslims without individualized suspicion, French law enforcement is more likely to waste resources investigating innocent people. Meanwhile, the guilty have more opportunity to plot undetected. That French officials were unaware of this premeditated murder plot, notwithstanding numerous threats to Charlie Hebdo cartoonists over the years, evinces a breakdown in anti-terrorism enforcement. Specifically, one cannot help but wonder if the conflation of Muslims with terrorism may have distracted law enforcement from focusing on the… Continue »