Learn more about Peltz-Steele v. UMass Faculty Federation at Court Listener (complaint) and the Liberty Justice Center. The case is now on appeal in the First Circuit as no. 22-1466 (PACER paywall). Please direct media inquiries to Kristen Williamson.
Showing posts with label political science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label political science. Show all posts

Friday, January 29, 2021

New England poli sci group announces virtual meeting, extends CFP deadline for faculty, grad students

NEPSA art
The New England Political Science Association (NEPSA) has decided that its spring 2021 annual conference will be all virtual.

The call for proposals (CFP) deadline has been extended to February 19, 2021. NEPSA will convene on April 23 and 24, 2021.  The CFP is open to faculty and graduate students.  I have tremendously enjoyed this conference in past years and found it to be a collegial, inclusive, and supportive environment for scholars both junior and senior, and both political science and interdisciplinary, including law students. 

NEPSA subject-matter sections are: American Politics, Comparative and Canadian Politics, International Relations, Political Theory, Politics and History, Public Law, Public Policy, and Technology and Politics.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Knowles, Metroka enter the fray on free speech today

My friend and colleague Dr. Helen J. Knowles, SUNY Oswego Political Science, has just published, as co-editor with Dr. Brandon T. Metroka, the compelling and timely collection, Free Speech Theory: Understanding the Controversies (Peter Lang 2020) (Amazon).  The editor-authors gave me an advance look at this one, and my well earned endorsement humbly graces the back cover.  Here is the prĂ©cis:

The rallying cry of "Free speech!" has long served as a touchstone for liberals and conservatives, alike, engaged in political polarization conflict and discourse. The democratization of media and the feverish pitch of political polarization, however, have contributed to the weaponization of free expression. From Colin Kaepernick to "fake news," boycotts of partisan television programming to removals of Confederate monuments, internet neutrality to the silencing of college professors and all points between, citizens and pundits all too frequently wield the slogan of "Free speech!" as the sword and shield of political discourse. Oftentimes, ironically they do so with little regard for the views of their opponents. As a result, society risks trading a substantive value for an empty slogan or, far worse, blind authority.To rediscover the underlying assumptions and social values served by free expression, and to move current controversies beyond rhetorical flourishes, Helen J. Knowles and Brandon T. Metroka assemble an impressive group of legal and political scholars to address one overarching question: "Why should we value free speech?" Through analyses of several recent controversies invoking concerns for free expression, the contributors to this volume make complex political theory accessible, informative, and entertaining. Beginning with internet neutrality and ending with an overview of developing free expression controversies in comparable western democracies, experts reestablish the link between free expression and the underlying values it may serve. In doing so, this volume unearths values previously unexamined in our modern—but increasingly impoverished and bitter—political discourse.

I can't heap enough praise on Dr. Knowles, whose work in law, history, and political science is uniformly superb.  I featured another book of hers just one year ago.  And in the spring of 2019 (back when I was allowed to be around other people), I had the privilege of seeing firsthand how she inspires passion in her students in the classroom and on campus.  It is evidence of her talents as a teacher that I have in the last year counseled several of her students in their desire to pursue graduate studies. 

Coincidentally!, I was wearing my SUNY Oswego shirt just last week, when I learned about this book's appearance.  Below is me with Park Ranger Jordyn Steele (no relation) in Glacier National Park.  Woe to the persons who asked me, "Where is that?," and then got an unsolicited nonfiction book recommendation.


Sunday, September 8, 2019

CFP: New England Political Science Association to meet in Mystic, Conn., April 2020

The New England Political Science Association has released its CFP for the annual meeting in April 2020, which will take place in Mystic, Connecticut.  The NEPSA program always offers a buffet of intriguing work in political science and public policy.  Though attendees are overwhelmingly PhDs and PhD candidates, they've always warmly welcomed me and my modest JD.  Find this call and read more about NEPSA at its web home.



2020 ANNUAL MEETING
Hilton Mystic, Mystic, Connecticut
April 23-25, 2020

CALL FOR PROPOSALS
The New England Political Science Association invites proposals for papers, panels, and roundtables to be presented at its 2020 Annual Meeting, which will convene April 23-25 at the Hilton Mystic in Mystic, Connecticut. Panels will be offered on Friday, April 24, and Saturday April 25; a pre-conference welcome event will be held on the evening of Thursday, April 23.
In NEPSA’s 72nd year, we continue to welcome a broad array of panel and paper proposals reflecting the various subfields of our discipline.  NEPSA has the following dedicated sections:
• AMERICAN POLITICS
• COMPARATIVE AND CANADIAN POLITICS
• INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
• POLITICAL THEORY
• POLITICS AND HISTORY
• PUBLIC LAW
• PUBLIC POLICY
• TECHNOLOGY AND POLITICS
Proposals from undergraduates will once again be considered for presentation.  Undergraduate proposals will be evaluated on a competitive basis by a special Undergraduate Proposals Committee.  Accepted proposals will present on panels dedicated to undergraduate research; presenters must be accompanied at the conference by a sponsoring faculty member.
Proposals for individual papers, full panels, and roundtables – as well as offers to serve as panel chairs and/or discussants – may be submitted via the NEPSA website: www.nepsanet.org. Please scroll to “2020: CONFERENCE” in the menu bar for the drop-down links to submit proposals. Except in special situations, individuals are restricted to two paper presentations.
The deadline for submissions is Friday, November 29th, 2019.
Questions about the conference and requests for further information may be directed to NEPSA’s Executive Director and Program Chair, Steven Lichtman (Shippensburg University): sblichtman@ship.edu.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

'Lights, Camera, Execution!': Political scientist Helen Knowles co-authors new book on capital punishment and popular culture

A new book by poli sci prof and legal researcher extraordinaire Dr. Helen Knowles, SUNY Oswego, has hit the shelf.  It explores the dark edge of the border where popular culture and criminal justice meet.  In this sense it is partly reminiscent of John D. Bessler's unsettling Death in the Dark: Midnight Executions in America (Northeastern 1997) (Amazon).  Supreme Court followers will remember Dr. Knowles for her landmark study of Justice Kennedy in The Tie Goes to Freedom (2009 & updated 2018) (Amazon).

In Lights!, Camera!, Execution!: Cinematic Portrayals of Capital Punishment (Lexington Books 2019) (Amazon), Knowles and co-authors Bruce E. Altschuler and Jaclyn Schildkraut explore the interplay of popular portrayal of the death penalty with the real thing, considering the implications of mass media for policy-making when, literally, lives are on the line.  Here is the publisher's abstract:
 
Lights, Camera, Execution!: Cinematic Portrayals of Capital Punishment fills a prominent void in the existing film studies and death penalty literature. Each chapter focuses on a particular cinematic portrayal of the death penalty in the United States. Some of the analyzed films are well-known Hollywood blockbusters, such as Dead Man Walking (1995); others are more obscure, such as the made-for-television movie Murder in Coweta County (1983). By contrasting different portrayals where appropriate and identifying themes common to many of the studied films – such as the concept of dignity and the role of race (and racial discrimination) – the volume strengthens the reader’s ability to engage in comparative analysis of topics, stories, and cinematic techniques.Written by three professors with extensive experience teaching, and writing about the death penalty, film studies, and criminal justice, Lights, Camera, Execution! is deliberately designed for both classroom use and general readership.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Teaching Trump: Four Thoughts for Faculty

Saturday morning, at the annual meeting of the Law and Society Association (LSA) in Washington, D.C., I served on a panel about "Teaching Law in the Trump Era."  My thanks to panel chair John Bliss, University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Swethaa S. Ballakrishnen, UC Irvine School of Law, and other founders and leaders of the new LSA Collaborative Research Network #19 on legal education, for organizing this program.  Here is the panel abstract:

The Trump presidency has reportedly attracted a new wave of law school applicants who are motivated by issues ranging from sexual assault, to racial justice, to the rights of immigrants, to the basic foundations of the rule of law. In this context, how do U.S. law teachers address legal and political headlines that many faculty and students find disconcerting? This session offers diverse perspectives on this question from accomplished law faculty who teach a wide range of legal curriculum.
Trump in the classroom.  Literally.  White House photo.
For my bit, I focused on President Trump-related materials I used to teach defamation in Torts II in March 2019.  In class, I assigned as reading the complaint in Zervos v. Trumpbefore the New York Appellate Division at the time—alongside Justice Thomas's opinion on cert. denial in McKee v. Cosby.  The pairing of a pleading and a scholarly judicial opinion allowed a study first of tort doctrine, and then of constitutional and policy dimensions, all the while with a running contemporary thread of "#MeToo," which ran back to our fall 2018 study of intentional torts.  Outside of class, in review sessions, I used Melania Trump's 2017-settled complaint against blogger Webster Tarpley (Variety).  These "Trump cases" afford ample opportunity to explore skills and practice collateral to the law of torts, such as litigation strategy, legal professionalism, and client counseling.

Professor Bliss suggested that we fashion our presentations around student feedback and reactions to Trump-related materials.  To that end, I solicited input from my class (and from colleagues in academic support).  Five students generously took time from their after-exams pursuits to oblige with deeply thoughtful, sometimes moving, and thoroughly informative feedback.  I am grateful to them.  I extracted their words, anonymized, for use in my panel time.  I won't reiterate them here as to further protect their anonymity. But I'll share four conclusions about "teaching Trump," drawn from this feedback. 

(1) Plan well and stay on course.  Because this content tends to evoke strong emotions, it is important for the teacher to map out an agenda about where the class discussion should go, in consonance with what the materials offer.  Then the class must be kept on task.  This might require more involved moderation of class discussion than is the norm for some teachers.  Students will sometimes make observations driven by emotion and supposition, and that's OK.  But those observations need to be responded to with channeling into constructive analysis.  If for example a student says that the plaintiff is grubbing for money, that's a great springboard for legitimate questions, without having to challenge or verify the premise: How does tort doctrine safeguard, or not, against disingenuous claims?  What are the incentives or impediments for plaintiffs and their lawyers, born of transaction costs?  How does a lawyer counsel a client about uncertainty of recovery?

(2) Avoid assumptions and keep an open mind.  The teacher should not suppose that she or he knows what the students are thinking, whether as a group or to an individual.  Someone in the class is a Trump voter and believes he is America's only way forward.  Someone else regards Trump as a source of post-traumatic stress.  They're not always showing you these reactions, for various reasons.  And they're not necessarily who you think they are. Take care not to make assumptions about where people stand.  One student who wrote to me really forced me to turn over the immigration "wall" issue in my own mind, and I learned a great deal from her different perspective.  Isn't the great thing about being a professor that continuing education is part of our job?

(3) Model professional skills.  When a teacher leads a law school class, students are learning doctrine, but they're also "meta-learning" lawyering skills such as leadership and dispute resolution.  How a teacher manages conflict in the class and moderates discussion will be as important and memorable a lesson for some students than the subject matter being taught.  For this reason, teachers need to be deliberate in and thoughtful about pedagogical methodology.

(4) Lighten up.  Yes, our content in law school can be heavy.  We have to talk about things in the classroom that reveal the absurdity of "trigger warnings," because life doesn't come with a warning label, and law is about life.  But it is possible—if hard—to engage with heavy issues and to do so with a light heart.  Guidance can be drawn from some recent developments in comedy—think Hannah Gadsby and Ellen DeGeneres—to show that humor can be accomplished without it being at anyone's expense.  Don't get me wrong; I love a good insult comic.  Just not at the front of the classroom.  One student who wrote surprised me with the observation that a light joke I made diffused tension over the fraught subject and made students feel comfortable participating.  Now if only I could remember what I said.

These conclusions entail work for any teacher, no matter how experienced.  I am far, far from excellent in realizing these lessons.  But feedback from my students has given me goals.

Thanks also to excellent co-panelists at LSA, and to all the teachers and scholars who contributed to the roundtable discussion.  I have appropriated many of their insights and ideas for further exploration and experimentation.  Co-panelists were Scott Cummings, University of California, Los Angeles; Rashmi Goel, University of Denver Sturm College of Law; and Gwendolyn Leachman, University of Wisconsin Law School.




Attention faculty!

 Dean Peltz-Steele and I are collaborating to produce an open-source resource for faculty in law and related fields to teach law and policy through "Trump case" materials.

Stay tuned for more information about "Trump Law."



Monday, April 29, 2019

Poli sci panels span U.S. con law, Tunisian Arab Spring, Japanese ag reg, Chinese investment in Africa

On the final day of the annual meeting of the New England Political Science Association, Saturday, April 27, I was treated to more intriguing papers and especially enriching discussion on constitutional law with co-panelists and discussants in the Public Law Section.  For the time being, I'm skipping presentation of my own work with Polish attorney Gaspar Kot—and my thanks to Kevin McGravey, Merrimack College, for his thought-provoking feedback—and sharing highlights of colleagues' work.

Right to education.  A common theme on our late-morning panel was probing the line between civil rights as passive protections and civil rights as affirmative entitlement.  Michael Paris, College of Staten Island CUNY, is working on a book that will consider the problem of race consciousness/race blindness relative to the right to education.  That's the same lately embattled right that rests at the heart of the federal court claim to civics education pending against the State of Rhode Island; the Government filed its motion to dismiss a scant few weeks ago.  Compare A.C. v. Raimondo, No. 1:18-cv-00645 (D.R.I. complaint filed Nov. 28, 2018) with Sheff v. O'Neill, 678 A.2d 1267 (Conn. 1996) (holding, 4-3, state bound by affirmative duty to provide equal opportunity of access to education for Connecticut schoolchildren).

U.S. Supreme Court in politics.  Kyle Morgan, Rutgers University, has coded, on various bases, no fewer than 11,000 U.S. congressional press releases about U.S. Supreme Court decisions.  He reports that this feat has caused more than one laptop crash.  Morgan is prepared to demonstrate that the way Republicans and Democrats frame disapproval of Supreme Court rulings differs fundamentally.  In short, Republicans bemoan the Court as anti-majoritarian, while Democrats frown on perceived abuses of democratic process.  As a result, the two sides talk about Court rulings without actually talking to each other in comparable language.  Morgan promises that his subsequent work will look at how the two sides might be brought together, that is, whether they can be made to care about the other's perspective.

This 1917 Louisiana poll tax receipt (public domain) well post-dates the 1870
15th Amendment.
'Resistant compliance' under the 14th and 15th Amendments.  My runaway favorite paper of the morning came from Lauren Foley, Western Michigan University, who is studying what she has termed "resistant compliance" with constitutional law.   That's when an actor complies with the law but takes a course of action that undermines its implementation—maybe openly, maybe quietly; maybe intentionally, maybe carelessly.  In this piece of her work, Foley compares white supremacist resistant compliance with the 15th Amendment, specifically the use of devices such as poll taxes and literacy tests to undermine black access to the polls while technically complying with the law, with University of Michigan resistant compliance with the state affirmative-action ban in an effort to prioritize diversity while without focusing on race.

Take a second to think that over.  "There are many reasons not to equate literacy tests with affirmative action," Foley conceded in her paper.  Motive matters, I thought.  But I admit, by the end of it, she had me.  Foley's interest is not in the policy priorities, no matter whether "revered or reviled," she wrote, but in the tools of resistant compliance.  Her comparison in that vein is not only apt, but illuminating.  Foley's work is informed by anonymous sources within Michigan higher ed and casts an unfamiliar light on how admissions officials have used technology to approach the diversity problem.  Those evidentiary revelations alone have the makings of an intriguing book.

Protesters march on Avenue Habib Bourguiba in downtown Tunis, angry
over unemployment, rising prices and corruption, January 14, 2011
(VOA photo by L. Bryant).
Tunisia's Arab Spring.  In the early morning hour, I hit a comparative session on Asia and Africa and learned a great deal from and Ann Waldemar, University of Bridgeport, and Nicole L. Freiner, Bryant University.  Waldemar is investigating the unusual success of the Arab Apring in Tunisia (home of RightsCon 2019), in contrast with its MENA neighbors (at least to date).  (See James M. Dorsey writing on Libya and Egypt just Saturday.)  Especially interesting from a comparative-law perspective, incorporation of Islamic law into the new Tunisian regime has been a piece of the puzzle in public acceptance, Waldemar reports.

Rice law and policy.  Freiner is investigating the surprisingly compelling story of rice in Japan, or, more broadly, the development and regulation of agriculture relative to priorities as far-ranging as GMOs, public health, and foreign development.  She had some fantastically illustrative visual from the rice fields, and her research has been on the ground, talking with farmers.  Her new book from Palgrave is Rice and Agricultural Policies in Japan: The Loss of a Traditional Lifestyle (2019).  (Law school programs on food law and regulation, take note: Freiner would be a great guest to bring in from Ph.D. world, and U.S. food law and policy studies could benefit from an infusion of eastern comparativism.  Freiner is a neighbor of mine from Barrington, R.I., so invite me, too, and I'll drive.)

Chinese legitimacy in Africa.  In the afternoon, Drake Long, Georgetown University, talked about China in Africa.  For his master's work, he's taking a deep dive into China's vigorous strategy for international legitimacy, countering a historic deficit in international communications.

China's Belt and Road Initiative (CC BY-SA 3.0 by Tart)
Perhaps needless to say, this move coincides with a trend of waning U.S. influence, or "crisis of U.S. legitimacy."  East Asia has been circumspect of Chinese influence, Long explains, but Africa has been receptive.  Long has traced the history of Sino-African relations from the 1940s to China's post-Mao economic reconstruction, to Angola oil investment, to Xi Jinping's pledge of tens of billions of dollars to African development amid the Belt and Road Initiative.  Belt and Road will cost $900bn according to China, Long says, or from $1tn to $8tn according to observers.  The ties to Africa meanwhile multiply.  For example, more Anglophone African students now go to China than to the United States or United Kingdom.

Does this mean an inevitable careening arrival at Chinese hegemony?  Well, there is an enduring debate within in China, Long explains, in trying to sell African development as worthwhile relative to unmet social and economic needs at home.  Whereas Americans will sign up for the foreign inculcation of democracy, no exceptionalist ethos so clearly dominates Chinese popular opinion.  Recent maneuvering within Chinese party leadership and propaganda machinery suggest awareness of this domestic ideological deficit and emerging strategies to address it.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Dirty talk at SUNY Oswego


I had a profound privilege the week before last to visit and speak at SUNY Oswego.  I am indebted to the Political Science Department and the Pi Sigma Alpha (PSA) chapter there, especially Dr. Helen Knowles and PSA chapter officers Nicholas Stubba and Kristen Igo.  Oswego is a charming town, and the warmth of the people at SUNY more than made up for the lake effect snow.


Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honor society, inducted a new class of members from among juniors and seniors, based on their coursework and academic achievement.  The students' faculty in the Political Science Department and friends and family joined the ceremony.  I made remarks on the subject of PSA's 1920 founding and similarities and differences in our contemporary political landscape as we approach the organization's 100th anniversary.







The evening after the induction, SUNY Oswego kindly hosted me to present my research on "dirty language" and censorship.  In the talk, titled "WTF? Proliferating Profanity Under a Conservative FCC," I examined indecency doctrine in FCC television and radio regulation, especially in the three most recent presidential administrations.  The talk was held in a beautiful conference room of the Marano Campus Center, with windows overlooking the campus ice hockey rink (above).  Faculty and students from various departments attended, including a journalism student reporter for the campus newspaper, The Oswegonian.






In the course of the visit, I had ample time to meet, and be impressed by, dedicated SUNY Oswego students, who don't let a little lake-effect snow keep them from class.  Here I am with Dr. Knowles and her civil liberties class.  They are lucky to have a seminar led by Dr. Knowles, an expert on various topics in civil rights, especially the jurisprudence of Justice Kennedy and the Lochner-era history of economic due process. She is the author of The Tie Goes to Freedom: Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on Liberty (2009, updated 2018) and co-editor (with Steven B. Lichtman) of Judging Free Speech: First Amendment Jurisprudence of Supreme Court Justices. She is at work currently on four more books, all under contract: Making Minimum Wage: Elsie Parrish v. The West Coast Hotel Company (U. Okla. Press), Lights, Camera, Execution! Cinematic Portrayals of Capital Punishment (co-authored with Bruce E. Altschuler and Jaclyn Schildkraut, Lexington Books), Free Speech Theory: Understanding the Controversies (co-edited with Brandon T. Metroka, Peter Lang), and The Cascadian Hotel (co-authored with Darlene L. Spargo, Arcadia Publishing).

Particular thanks to Mr. Stubba, who indulged my desire to brave the bitter wind and see Lake Ontario from the shoreline.  Watch how the ice undulates on the waves!