News

February 23, 2015

Crawford Addresses Farrah Law Alumni Society Banquet

Jan Crawford, CBS News chief legal correspondent, said Justice Clarence Thomas is “the most misunderstood and misreported figure in modern political and legal history.”

Crawford served as the keynote speaker at the Farrah Law Alumni Society Banquet in Birmingham, where the society honored Justice Janie L. Shores with the Sam W. Pipes Award for distinguishing herself through service to the bar, The University of Alabama, and the School of Law.

After Justice Thomas arrived at the U.S. Supreme Court, a narrative quickly developed, painting him as an understudy of Justice Antonin Scalia.

“That narrative is demonstrably, emphatically, unequivocally false,” Crawford said. “Justice Thomas, from his first conference, his first week on the bench, was staking out opinions completely and independently of Scalia, on his own, showing that he was willing to be the sole dissenter.”

Using notes at the Library of Congress penned by Justice Harry Blackmun and other court memos, Crawford traced Justice Thomas’s actions early in his career. She pointed to a Louisiana case where each of the nine justices had planned to cast a vote for an inmate and against the state of Louisiana. The next day Justice Thomas changed his vote, becoming the sole dissenter. After circulating his dissent, three other justices said that Thomas’s argument had persuaded them to change their vote. Ultimately, the decision was 5-4.

“Justice Thomas, by the force of his views, in his first week on the court, persuaded three of his colleagues that their original position was wrong,’’ said Crawford, the author of Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court. “But again, that was not the story line that was reported, and this, to me, is a cautionary tale for people in my business and also for people who read what’s being reported.”

Justice Thomas, she said, is perhaps one of the most forceful conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court, and it is a disservice to him and the court to portray him as an understudy.

“I believe we should be talking about – not whether he’s following Scalia, which he is not – but talking about what Justice Thomas is saying. You can disagree with him; you can agree with him. But you cannot make the assertion that he is the lackey of Antonin Scalia.”

Justice Thomas, like all justices, has had an effect on the U.S. Supreme Court, but the most dramatic shift may come after the 2016 election.

“When the next president takes office, four of the justices by the end of the term – a fifth soon – will be in their 80s, so I think that there is no question that the 2016 election will have an enormous impact on the shape and the future of the Supreme Court.”

February 20, 2015

Professor Joyner Weighs In On CIA’s Strategy Of Misleading Iranian Scientists

Information from a 15-year-old Central Intelligence Agency sting emerging from a U.S. court case may prompt United Nations monitors to reevaluate some evidence about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.

The CIA’s strategy of providing misleading design information to Iranian scientists is an example of how the U.S. and its allies have worked against Iran, Professor Dan Joyner recently told Bloomberg.

“The falsification of nuclear-related documents is a very real part of such states’ efforts to frustrate Iran’s nuclear program,” said Joyner, who has written extensively on nuclear proliferation risks. “This revelation highlights the dangers of reliance by the IAEA upon evidence concerning Iran provided to it by third party states whose political agendas are antithetical to Iran.”

For more, read CIA’s Nuclear-Bomb Sting Said To Spur Review In Iran Arms Case.”

February 19, 2015

Professor Elliott Analyzes U.S. Supreme Court Actions In Blog Post For The London School of Economics And Political Science

Prof. Heather Elliott says the U.S. Supreme Court’s actions on gay marriage suggest it will rule in favor of marriage equality.

“The United States Supreme Court will decide before Independence Day – July 4th, 2015 – whether same-sex couples have the right to marry throughout America,” Elliott wrote in a blog post for the London School of Economics and Political Science. “The Court’s recent actions suggest that it will rule in favor of marriage equality: the Justices have permitted marriages between same-sex couples to proceed in the more than twenty states in which lower federal courts have struck down laws banning so-called ‘gay marriage,’ rather than holding off those marriages pending the Court’s decision.”

For more, read “Alabama’s Resistance to Marriage Equality Will Be Short Lived.”

February 11, 2015

Professor Krotoszynski Comments On Gay Marriage Ruling In National And International Media

U.S. District Court Judge Callie V.S. Granade, who struck down Alabama’s ban on gay marriage as unconstitutional, has scheduled a hearing that could determine whether Alabama probate judges must issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

Prof. Ronald Krotoszynski says ultimately Alabama probate judges will have to follow the federal court’s ruling.

“We’ll see same-sex marriage throughout the state,” Krotoszynski told Bloomberg. “That’s pretty much inevitable.”

Officials in some of the state’s 67 counties quickly issued marriage licenses, while others, including Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis, refused. Attorneys have filed a legal challenge to order Davis to issue licenses.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments on whether same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry or whether states are allowed to ban gay marriage. A ruling is expected in June.

For more, read “Same-sex Marriage Divides Alabama As Top Judge Defies U.S. Court.”

“Most Alabama Judges Likely To Comply With Gay Marriage Ruling”

“U.S. Orders Alabama To License Gay Unions”

“Who Is Roy Moore? The Judge At The Center Of Alabama’s Muddled Gay Marriage Situation”

“Gay Rights Advocates In Alabama Sue For Right To Marriage Licenses”

Alabama Gay Marriage Allowed After Supreme Court Order

No State Has Fought Harder Against Gay Marriage Ruling Than Alabama, Expert Says

“Alabama Gay Marriage Rolled Out Amid Dissent”

“Has The Supreme Court Tipped Its Hand Toward Gay Marriage?”

February 9, 2015

Professor Krotoszynski Analyzes Attacks On Federal Judiciary In Washington Post Op-Ed

For weeks, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has been urging state court judges to ignore a federal court order lifting the ban on gay marriage, and on Sunday he ordered the state’s probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

Prof. Ron Krotoszynski writes in a Washington Post op-ed that it’s not the first time an Alabama public official has attacked the federal judiciary.

“Moore’s conduct echoes the shameless judge-baiting that George C. Wallace used, to great political effect, during the civil rights era against Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr., who served with great distinction on the federal district court in Montgomery. While a state circuit judge, Wallace feigned defiance of Johnson’s order to deliver county voting records to federal voting rights commissioners.”

For more, read “A Judge Alabama Can Be Proud Of.”

February 5, 2015

Professor Fair Weighs In On Chief Justice Roy Moore’s Comments On Gay Marriage

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore says Alabama’s probate judges are independent constitutional officers and should not be affected by the federal court’s decision to lift a ban on gay marriage.

But University of Alabama School of Law Professor Bryan Fair said Moore is disregarding federal law. Fair told FOX6 the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution says that states must adhere to federal orders.

“And under our Constitution, which Chief Justice Moore says he respects, it is absolutely clear that the federal judicial powers are vested in the Supreme Court and inferior courts created by Congress. And Judge Granade sits on a federal court created by Congress,” Fair said.

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade recently issued an order prohibiting Attorney General Luther Strange from enforcing Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage, but she placed a two-week stay on the ruling while Strange’s office crafts an appeal. The stay is set to expire Feb. 9.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments on whether same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry or whether states are allowed to ban gay marriage. A ruling is expected in June.

For more, read “Law Professor Confirms Lower Federal Court Power Supersedes Ala. In Same Sex Marriage Ruling.”

February 4, 2015

Professor Krotoszynski Comments On Alabama Lawyers Face-Off With Chief Justice Roy Moore

As a stay on the federal ruling striking down the state’s ban on gay marriage is set to expire, Alabama lawyers and Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore continue to disagree on same-sex marriage.

Moore recently told Alabama’s probate judges they are not required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the stay expires. At first, the Alabama Probate Judges Association agreed, arguing for a narrow interpretation of the court ruling that struck down the ban, according to The Huffington Post. After a clarification from the judge who issued the ruling, the association said it will encourage its members to comply with the decision.

“I think it’s quite telling that the Alabama Probate Judges Association has reversed its position,” University of Alabama School of Law Professor Ron Krotoszynski Jr. told The Huffington Post. “Like Chief Justice Moore, these judges are subject to popular election; yet, unlike the incumbent Chief Justice, they clearly recognize that they have a legal duty to honor a binding order of a federal court that invalidates a state constitutional provision because it violates the federal Constitution.”

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade recently issued an order prohibiting Attorney General Luther Strange from enforcing Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage, but she placed a two-week stay on the ruling while Strange’s office crafts an appeal. The stay is set to expire Feb. 9.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments on whether same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry or whether states are allowed to ban gay marriage. A ruling is expected in June.

For more, read “Alabama Lawyers Face Off Against Chief Justice In Gay Marriage Fight.”

February 3, 2015

Second Harper Lee Novel To Be Published In July

More than 50 years after “To Kill a Mockingbird” was published, a second Harper Lee novel is set to be released in July.

“Go Set a Watchman,” a novel completed in the 1950s, will be released July 14. Rediscovered last year, the work is essentially a sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird,” although it was finished earlier, according to The Washington Post.

“In the mid-1950s, I completed a novel called ‘Go Set a Watchman,’” the former Alabama law student said in a statement issued by the publisher. “It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman, and I thought it a pretty decent effort. My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout’s childhood, persuaded me to write a novel (what became ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’) from the point of view of the young Scout.

“I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told. I hadn’t realized it (the original book) had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it. After much thought and hesitation, I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication. I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years.”
HarperCollins Publishers plans a first printing of 2 million copies of the 304-page book.

Five years ago, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of “To Kill A Mockingbird” and to honor Lee, The University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal partnered to award the first Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. Past winners were: The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly, Havana Requiem by Paul Goldstein and Sycamore Row by John Grisham.

For more, read “Second Harper Lee Novel To Be Published In July.”

January 28, 2015

Professor Dillbary To Address Second International Law and Economics Conference

Professor Shahar Dillbary has accepted an invitation to serve as a keynote speaker at the Second International Law and Economics Conference (ILEC), which will take place in May in Turkey. Last year the U.S. keynote speakers were Professors Robert Cooter (Berkeley) and William Kovacic (George Washington University and former FTC Chairman).

January 28, 2015

Professor Delgado Defends Use Of His Book In Course, Criticizes Fox Network

After a Fox News host said an Arizona State University course studies whiteness and stokes anti-white resentment among students, Professor Richard Delgado, whose book is listed on the syllabus, criticized the news network.

“I think Fox’s main criticism is absurd,” Delgado recently told HuffPost. “Critical race theory — at least in my view of it — is not fixated on white people. Fox should realize it is just not about them and their favorite audience.”

Delgado said critical race theory aims to provide a better understanding of race relations.

“It’s about racism, it’s about power, it’s about influence, it’s about law — about how law shapes and instructs racism and racial relations in this country, what causes it to change,” Delgado said.

For more, read “Scholars To Fox News: Writing About White People Doesn’t Make You Racist.”