All posts filed under: Faculty Commentary

Dear Justice Barrett

Dear Justice Barrett, I hear that you will be asked to recuse yourself in the upcoming voting litigation about the presidential election. Here are my thoughts on how to rule on those requests: You have received an appointment for life. Now is the time that you start to prioritize your independence, your role in protecting the Court as an institution held in great respect among our citizens and the rest of the world, and yes, selfishly–your own legacy. *Independence: Your own view of whether you lack personal bias or prejudgment in these voting cases is only part of your consideration. The self-proclaimed independence of Justices does not fully satisfy the importance of judicial independent decision making. The public’s view of your independence is crucial. You were selected from the sea of hopeful qualified candidates by a man who announced that you would likely decide cases assisting him with holding onto the presidency. I understand that you did not have control over what this man was saying. But his announcement is part of the facts that …

Unpacking the Race, Gender, Disability and Class Implications of Juvenile Detention Decisions

Race, gender, disability and class based injustices happen to our nation’s teens every day, in the mundane decisions that probation officers, caseworkers, and judges make, usually out of public view. An article in Pro Publica documents a judicial decision to detain a 15-year-old Black girl for violation of her probation. The violation involved her failure to properly attend her online school program and keep up with her assigned homework. The judge, citing a “zero tolerance” for probation violations, incarcerated her in May, 2020, in the midst of a massive disruption to the school lives of every American teenager. The decision was made without testimony by the girl’s special education teacher, who had to leave the online hearing to fulfill her other teaching duties. Studies make clear the disproportionate impact of race in all aspects of the juvenile justice process. Those involved in the process tend to see Black teens as more mature and therefore more culpable for their behavior than white teens of the same age. Juvenile detention also disproportionately impacts teens diagnosed with ADHD …

Temple Law Reacts to the June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo SCOTUS Decision

On June 29, 2020, Supreme Court Justice Breyer delivered the 5-4 opinion in June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo, holding that Louisiana’s Unsafe Abortion Protection Act, requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, is unconstitutional. Rachel Rebouché Associate Dean for Research Professor of Law Generally, this is a win for abortion supporters, and a decision many did not expect. Justice Breyer relied heavily on the factual record developed by the District Court and ruled that the law was the same in its effect and purpose as the Texas law struck down in 2016. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote a concurrence, ruling on grounds of stare decisis and providing the 5th vote needed to strike down the restriction. His concurrence is quite narrow, though, and it suggests that the Chief Justice interprets prior caselaw as giving far more deference to states than the Court’s 2016 ruling did. Adrienne R. Ghorashi, Esq. Program Manager Center for Public Health Law Research This SCOTUS decision reaffirms what was already established 4 years ago …

Temple Law Faculty React to the Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of Univ. of California SCOTUS Decision

On June 18, 2020, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr delivered the 5-4 opinion in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of Univ. of California,  holding that DHS’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act. Jennifer J. Lee Associate Clinical Professor of Law For the over 600,000 DACA recipients across the country, the Supreme Court’s decision is essential in providing them with a temporary reprieve. While eventful, today’s decision solely ruled that the Trump administration’s rescission of the program was improper based on procedural grounds. The reality, therefore, is that any presidential administration in the future can wipe out the DACA program so long as it does so with proper procedure. For this reason, DACA recipients are continuing to fight for a more permanent pathway to citizenship. As DACA recipients have ample support, the challenge is not in getting such a law enacted. Rather, they want a “clean” law that does not otherwise include harsh enforcement provisions against the immigrants …

Temple Law Faculty React to the Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia SCOTUS Decision

On June 15, 2020, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the 6-3 opinion in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, holding that employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited under Title VII. The landmark decision is widely viewed as an historic moment in the movement for LGBTQ equality. Leonore F. Carpenter Associate Professor of Law Don’t underestimate the enormous power of this decision. Everyone loved the marriage decisions because everyone loves love. But frankly, not everyone has any desire to get married. However, in a nation with a fraying social safety net, job security is absolutely critical to all of us, particularly those on the economic margins. In my mind, this decision is at least as important as Windsor or Obergefell.   Ellie Margolis Professor of Law The Bostock decision is a huge victory for legal equality in this country. It will provide a measure of security to countless LGBTQIA workers who no longer have to fear losing their jobs because of who they are or who they love. The …

Law & Morality

Judging the immorality of the four police officers charged with the death of George Floyd is easy. Mr. Floyd was handcuffed and on the ground, with four armed officers over him. All the police had to do was listen and stop – he would still be handcuffed, he would still be unable to harm them; but he could be permitted to breathe anew. Ignoring that, or not intervening or at least protesting a fellow officer’s behavior, is indisputably inhumane. But the criminal law and morality lack a perfect overlap. What warrant examination are the charges that have been brought and whether and how they can justly apportion legal blame. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, after announcing charges against the four officers, cautioned that “[w]inning a conviction will be hard…because history shows that trying and winning a case like this one is hard.” General Ellison was referring to the historic reluctance of jurors to convict police acting in the line of duty in what are often fraught circumstances, especially where the deceased is a racial minority. …

We Sustain Each Other

We are living in the most worrisome, uncertain and swiftly changing time in our lives. Many of us find it hard to take a break from the unfolding pandemic, even for an evening. All of us have been personally affected in some way — if only by shelter-in-place orders and endless hours online. Others are coping with illness, grievous loss and worry about this month’s rent and future economic security. While no one is exempt, some members of our Temple community have been and will be hit much more severely than others. How can our Temple Law community to come together and not only survive, but thrive? Two key values can help us through. First, we can each take responsibility to our collective well-being. Reach out to support each other, if only to listen. Second, we need the courage to be vulnerable. We can let others know that we need their aid. Responsibility and vulnerability further each other. I’ve learned first-hand the power of support from the Temple Law community. In the past few years, …

Parental Visitation Rights and Tragic Outcomes

The outcry over a decision that let a child have a weekend visit with her father, an action that led to the child’s death, includes cries for the judge’s removal and a call from the Governor for an inquiry by the Judicial Conduct Board. As we show below, this response misses the boat in two regards – the protection of judicial independence and the need to change the law.   Professor Jules Epstein addresses the former; Professor Sarah Katz the latter. JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE We live in a world where the judiciary is under attack, with cries that “our legal system is broken” and that judicial decisions put our country “in peril.”  But we want and need judges to make tough decisions without looking over their shoulders.  And we want lawyers to be able to go into court on new cases without fearing that the judge will make a harsh decision to ‘look tough’ and appease the critics. Judicial misconduct warrants sanctions.  Lying, stealing, doing favors; not showing up for work; or being racist, sexist or otherwise hostile …

As a Lawyer and a Citizen

Like so many of my fellow citizens, I have been deeply troubled by the “family separation” policy recently enacted by the Trump administration in furtherance of its stated goal of curbing illegal immigration.  The vast majority of these families arrived at our southern border seeking asylum from unspeakable violence, persecution, and poverty in their home countries.  That they are then subjected to an official policy of our government that is callously indifferent to their suffering, or to the harm visited upon children from being forcibly removed from their parents, has been conscience shocking to me as an American. As a lawyer, however, I am equally aghast that the government has apparently separated these families without any semblance of due process as guaranteed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.   After all, the right to the parent child relationship is a fundamental one, and has been described by our Supreme Court as “essential,” the “basic civil rights of man,” and a right “far more precious . . . than property rights.”  Stanley …