Winner of AALS Scholarly Papers Competition Announced

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From the AALS, here:

2016 AALS Scholarly Papers Competition for law school faculty members who have been teaching for five years or less. The competition’s selection committee chose Jill M. Fraley, associate professor at Washington and Lee School of Law for her paper “An Unwritten History of Waste Law.” Established in 1985, this marks the 30th edition of the award.

Congratulations, Professor Fraley!

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Survey on Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, & Policing

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National Survey Finds That Police Hostility and Bias Remain Problems for Survivors of Sexual and Domestic Violence

By Sandra Park, Donna Coker, and Julie Goldscheid

reposted from Move to End Violence

The shooting deaths by police of unarmed African-American men and the violent treatment of Sandra Bland have focused national attention and outrage on the problem of police racial bias and brutality. A new national survey finds that the same kind of police bias often affects police responses to sexual assault and domestic violence.

Over 900 advocates, service providers, and attorneys who work with survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence responded to a national survey regarding policing and domestic and sexual violence.  Responses from the Field: Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and Policing describes what they shared with us.

Advocates identified police inaction, hostility, and bias against survivors as a key barrier to seeking criminal justice intervention.  Eighty-eight percent (88%) said that police sometimes or often do not believe victims or blame victims for the violence. Over 80% of respondents believed that police relations with marginalized communities influenced survivors’ willingness to call the police.  Respondents told us that many police are biased against women of color, immigrant women, and poor women. They are biased against lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender survivors. They are biased against young survivors of sexual assault, believing that rape is really just “regret sex.” They are biased against sex workers and those who suffer drug addiction.

Victims are also concerned that police involvement will trigger negative collateral consequences. Nearly 90% of survey respondents said that contact with the police sometimes or often resulted in the involvement of child protective services, threatening survivors with loss of custody of their children. Sixty-one percent said that contact with the police sometimes or often results in charges that could lead to deportation, and 70% said police involvement sometimes or often results in the survivor losing housing, employment or welfare benefits. Some reported that victims themselves face arrest when reaching out to the police, particularly if they have a criminal record.

Advocates also said that many survivors’ goals do not align with those of the criminal justice system or how it operates. Some survivors were looking for options other than punishment for the abuser, while others feared that once they were involved with the criminal justice system, they would lose control over the process. Still others were reluctant to engage the system because they believed that it was complicated, lengthy, and would create more trauma.

It wasn’t all bad news. Respondents identified projects that they believe improve police response in their communities. Most advocates (70%) reported that community meetings between social service providers, police, and prosecutors were sometimes or very helpful. Respondents urged more collaboration of this kind between advocacy programs and the police. They also said that police needed better training, including anti-bias training, and departments should hire more women and people of color. They urged changes in police culture, policy and practice, such as prioritizing domestic violence and sexual assault cases and ending victim-blaming. And, not surprisingly, they urged more police accountability for misconduct in sexual assault and domestic violence cases.

While respondents described collaborative efforts between police and advocates as a key means of creating more accountability, they were largely unaware of independent   mechanisms of monitoring the police. For example, 72% did not know whether civilian complaint boards or other types of independent, community-based police oversight mechanisms exist in their communities. A similarly large majority (61%) were unaware of the Department of Justice’s ability to investigate gender-biased policing – a process that has successfully instigated reforms in many police departments.

What does all this boil down to? First, we must support efforts to institute more robust accountability for law enforcement misconduct in domestic and sexual violence cases, including guidance to law enforcement from the Department of Justice on how gender biased policing violates survivors’ civil rights. This is sparking change in Puerto Rico, New Orleans, and Missoula, Montana where the DOJ investigated claims of gender bias, resulting in the adoption of new policies and the appointment of an expert monitor to oversee police reforms. In Puerto Rico and elsewhere, women’s rights, anti-violence organizations, and police reform groups, such as the ACLU, are working together to change the police response.

Police bias in these cases is surely anti-woman, but it is largely anti-certain women:  women of color, immigrant women, lesbian and transgender women, poor women, sex workers. Solutions to police bias must focus on these intersecting biases. The racially biased police violence that has shocked the country and sparked renewed activism also infects police response to domestic and sexual assault cases. Training, accountability mechanisms, and research must take this intersectional approach. Responses must also recognize the problem of violence perpetrated by police – violence on the street and violence against intimate partners.

Second – and this may seem contradictory – we should concentrate less of our resources on policing. Why? Because we need to put more attention on changing policies that make people more vulnerable to sexual and domestic violence and changing police conduct won’t fix those problems. This will remain true as long as survivors risk deportation if police are involved; as long as survivors risk losing custody of their children; and as long as housing, welfare, and job training programs provide meager benefits completely inadequate to the need. And we should add mass incarceration to that policy list. We need to better understand the ways in which concentrated incarceration in low income communities of color may make women more vulnerable to domestic violence and makes contacting the police all the more dangerous.

Third, many survivors do not want a punitive criminal justice response to their partners’ violence. We must investigate programs that provide an alternative to criminal prosecution, including restorative justice programs and community-based transformative justice responses, as well as other approaches.

Our hope is that this report, and the insights from hundreds of advocates who work with survivors daily, will support the ongoing debates and re-thinking of the role of the criminal justice system within efforts to end gender-based violence.

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Joint Scholars & Scholarship Workshop on Feminist Jurisprudence, Jan. 6, 2016

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Joint Scholars & Scholarship Workshop

on Feminist Jurisprudence

11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Skadden Conference Center, Fordham Law School

Sponsored by the Legal Writing Institute (LWI), the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD), the Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research Section of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS-LWRR), and Fordham Law School.

Registration is open at Joint Workshop Registration. There is no charge to attend. Please register (even if you are a panelist) by December 1, 2015, to help us plan the workshop. The full Joint Workshop Program is here.

The conference organizers thank the generous hosts at Fordham Law School and ​to ​the planning committee: Bob ​Brain​, ​Robin Boyle, ​Kim Chanbonpin, Mel Weresh, Nantiya Ruan, Shailini George, Emily Grant, Kathy Stanchi, ​Jessica Clark, Mary-Beth Moylan, Teri McMurtry-Chubb, Jennifer Romig, Linda Berger.​
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Why I Love(d) Barbie, Summarized in this Ad

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Feminists have made trenchant critiques of the Barbie doll.  I appreciate those critiques on an intellectual level, but the critiques never resonated on an emotional level, precisely because Barbie was an imagination gateway for me (mine read Ms. Magazine and lived alone in her townhouse). This ad resonated with me (it’s a little long, but completely worth watching):

This Barbie ad reminds me of Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards’ discussion in Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism and the Future (2000).  They wrote:

Barbie stands as a symbol of the lack of understanding between the leaders of the girls’ movement and the girls themselves….The traditional feminist distaste for Barbie has also kept many young women closeted about their dolly-loving past….[T]he lessening of Barbiphobia finally acknowledges that most girls don’t want to be Barbie; they want to use Barbie to explore what they can be.

Mattel is tapping into this understanding of Barbie with its new ad.  I like that take on Barbie much better than the “Math is hard” Barbie.

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Southern University Law Center Seeks New Law Chancellor

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The Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is searching for a new law chancellor (what the school calls the dean).  The announcement is here.

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What Adults Don’t Understand About Teen Sexting

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The local public radio station in New York City, WNYC, ran this interesting story about the teen sexting scandal in Colorado: Schools, Cops Take Notice as Teen Sexting Becomes New Norm:

There are many thought-provoking ideas presented in the story.  Familiar to lawyers will be the notion that child pornography laws were developed in an era prior to the advent of smart phones, and thus, the laws do not always apply easily to situations involving teens who share nude photos of each other.  The radio story mentions the seemingly illogical conclusion that a teen who takes and sends a nude picture to a fellow teen (assuming no coercion or bullying) is both simultaneously the perpetrator and the victim under child pornography laws.  The story also suggests — although more subtly — the possibility that adults simply don’t understand the role that sexting (including the sharing of nude photos) plays in the lives of teenagers.  That is, some teenagers use this form of communication to build and express intimacy, and that teens don’t have the same sense of shame (or protectiveness) about their bodies as adults have about teen bodies.

This isn’t a topic I’ve thought much about, and I definitely need to reflect more.  At this point, I’m just passing on the story as one that I thought worthy of a wide audience.

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Are You a Lawyer Who Has Had an Abortion? Your Story Needed

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From the FLP mailbox, this request from the Center for Reproductive Rights:

As you may know, the Center for Reproductive Rights has two cases that are being conferenced by SCOTUS this month involving challenges to restrictive abortion laws in Texas and Mississippi. We are hoping that lawyers who have had abortions will be willing to speak out (or lend their names) about the importance of the Court protecting constitutional rights meaningfully; and how their abortions enabled them to fully participate in the “economic and social life of the Nation” as discussed in 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

If you are interested in participating, please contact Erica Smock, Director of Judicial Strategy at

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Lisa Pruitt’s Impact on Major Genocide Conviction

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The work of Lisa Pruitt (UC Davis) is the subject of this story in the Sacramento Bee about the importance of Professor Pruitt’s work to securing a genocide convinction against Rwandan mayor Jean-Paul Akayesu:

Pruitt moved to London in her 20s to pursue a doctorate in feminist legal theory. Enamored with Europe, she later took a job with the United Nations in The Hague, Netherlands. Though the job was unrelated to human-rights law, “I was hanging in the same social circles as the people who worked for the international tribunals,” she said.

The Hague pipeline led Pruitt, who also had been a rape crisis counselor, to take a position as gender consultant with the International Tribunal. * * *

When Pruitt began her two-month post in Rwanda, “the broad task was to see what could be done to improve the investigation of sexual assault,” she said. “But also specifically to look at the Akayesu case, and the evidence that had already been collected, to see if there was a way to amend that indictment.”

Once on the ground, Pruitt encountered resistance from fellow U.N. staff members. “Mostly I heard the ‘boys-will-be-boys’ mentality – a real resistance to seeing the widespread (sexual assaults) as part and parcel of the genocide,” Pruitt said. “It is sort of summed up by ‘We had a genocide down here; we can’t be concerned about some women who got raped.’ ”

It was an attitude too reminiscent of one that has pervaded accounts of war for time immemorial, that “women are the spoils of war,” Pruitt said. But that had started to change after World War II, Pruitt said, and its postwar tribunals – the last before the U.N. set up tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda in the 1990s.

U.N. staff members could be clumsy and ineffective in interviewing abuse survivors, Pruitt said, and sometimes dismissed accounts too quickly, deeming one woman who had lost her train of thought during an interview “unreliable.”

“I argued that we needed to understand the fact that these women had just survived a genocide,” Pruitt said with a rueful grin. “I thought they were being a bit too critical.”

But Pruitt still was able to collect sufficient material to support what she believed was a solid argument, in her memo, for amending the Akayesu indictment. But when she returned to the Hague, “it became very clear the political will was not there, either,” she said. “I could only conclude that my having been sent there was a ruse, so they could say, ‘We had a gender consultant, but we still decided not to amend the indictment.’ ” * * *

Not until [filmmaker Michele] Mitchell called in 2013, to inform her how – as Mitchell put in it a recent interview – the memo “kind of won the case” against Akayesu. [A new documentary film] “The Uncondemned” follows the case from start to finish.

Read the full story here.


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Craig & Woolley on Rape & Consent In Canadian Law

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Elaine Craig, Assistant Professor of Law at Dalhousie University, and Alice Woolley, Professor of Law, University of Calgary, have contributed this important piece to the Globe and Mail. They analyze a recent Alberta Court of Appeal holding that rejects the stereotype that a woman who does not resist her rapist sufficiently actually wants to have sex with him. In effect, she consents. Professors Craig and Woolley note that the Canadian appellate court thus upholds existing Canadian jurisprudence. They write that the trial judge stated that “the woman had failed to explain ‘why she allowed the sex to happen if she didn’t want it.'” The accused weighed more than 100 pounds than did the complaining witness. They also reveal that the trial judge referred to the complaining witness as “the accused” in his ruling.

In its opinion the appellate court wrote that the lower court ruling “gave rise to doubts” about the trial court judge’s understanding of the law in this area and raised concerns that he “misapprehended the evidence.”

This sort of writing makes legal principles and the workings of the law accessible to the public efficiently and effectively. Excellent article.

The case is R. v. Wager,  2015 ABCA 327.

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Aloni on Ending Tax Breaks for Marriage

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Erez Aloni (Whittier) has published an op-ed in the (UK) Guardian, Married People Tend to be Wealthier, So Why Give Them Tax Breaks?  Here is an excerpt:

If marriage is increasingly the preserve of those who are already better off, we should stop attaching many benefits to the institution. Beyond the issue of marriage as a mechanism for amassing and retaining wealth within a certain segment of the population, marriage’s economic incentives often profit those who are already better off.

The US government is taking very small steps in the right direction. President Obama’s budget deal, signed into law on 2 November, for example, eliminates a social security filing strategy that allowed (typically) upper-middle-class married couples to claim up to $50,000 extra in benefits – a massive tax saving that was not an option for unmarried people.

Read the full piece here.

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Harvard J. of Law & Gender Accepting Submissions

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From the FLP mailbox:

The Harvard Journal of Law & Gender is seeking to fill its Spring volume with one or two more pieces. To that end, we want to encourage people who have pieces ready, or nearly ready, to submit as soon as possible for our review. We are especially interested in receiving pieces that take an intersectional approach to law and gender, broadly construed.

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Research Grants at Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture at Duke

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The Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, part of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University, announces the availability of Mary Lily Research Grants for research travel to its collections.

The Sallie Bingham Center documents the public and private lives of women through a wide variety of published and unpublished sources. Collections of personal papers, family papers, and organizational records complement print sources such as books and periodicals. Particular strengths of the Sallie Bingham Center are feminism in the U.S., women’s prescriptive literature from the 19th & 20th centuries, girls’ literature, zines, artist’s books by women, gender & sexuality, and the history & culture of women in the South.

Anyone who wishes to use materials from the Bingham Center’s collections for a project related to women’s history or the history of gender and sexuality is eligible to apply, regardless of academic status. Writers, creative and performing artists, film makers and journalists are welcome to apply for the research travel grants. Research Travel Grants support projects that present creative approaches, including historical research and documentation projects resulting in dissertations, publications, exhibitions, educational initiatives, documentary films, or other multimedia products and artistic works. All applicants must reside beyond a 100-mile radius of Durham, N.C.

Grant money may be used for: transportation expenses (including air, train or bus ticket charges; car rental; mileage using a personal vehicle; parking fees); accommodations; and meals. Expenses will be reimbursed once the grant recipient has completed his or her research visit(s) and has submitted original receipts.

The deadline for application is January 29, 2016 by 5:00 PM EST. Recipients will be announced in March 2016. Grants must be used between April 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017.

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Michelle Anderson Stepping Down as CUNY Dean

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Feminist Law Prof Michelle Anderson has announced that she will be stepping down as the Dean at CUNY Law School at the end of this academic year.  Here is an excerpt from the email she sent to the CUNY community:

After 10 years at CUNY Law, I have decided to step down as dean at the end of this academic year. It has been an honor to serve this great institution alongside you—the faculty, staff, students, and alumni—and I count the extraordinary work we have done together as the highlight of my professional life.

When I was appointed, you told me of your dreams for the law school’s future. You said the school needed a new building in a more strategic location, a part-time program, a higher New York State Bar Exam pass rate, a stronger reputation, and a deeper commitment to our mission of diversifying the legal profession and serving the underprivileged. Together, we have accomplished much.

In 2012, we moved to a gorgeous building in an accessible location, and this year we launched a robust part-time program. Over the last five years, CUNY Law graduates reached a high of 84% and an average of 77% on the Bar. We enhanced our mission with terrific new courses, clinics, and centers, but I want to highlight our Pipeline to Justice Program, inaugurated in the fall of 2006, which continues to enhance the diversity of our student body today.

All the while, we have maintained our outstanding, top-10 U.S. News & World Report annual rankings for “Best Clinical Training.” (This year, we are third in the nation, a high water mark.) Over the past nine years, we have also been ranked as the best public interest law school in the nation, the second most diverse law school student body, and among the top 10 in the nation for best law professors, most diverse faculty, and highest percentage of public service and public interest employment. These accolades, embodying the spirit of CUNY Law, would not have happened without your deep commitment to the school. That commitment is one of the things that makes CUNY Law special, and it will be as valuable to the next dean as it has been to me.

To make the transition as seamless as possible, CUNY Board of Trustees Chair Benno Schmidt and CUNY Chancellor J.B. Milliken are convening a search committee to find a new dean before I step down in June. As with all decanal searches, the committee will seek input from our community, particularly from the faculty.

I am looking forward to joining the faculty to write and teach. The chancellor has also asked me to consider some assignments in the future that will provide an opportunity for me to continue to contribute to university-wide initiatives to which I’m committed. For now, though, I am focused on working with you to solidify our part-time program and expand our curricular offerings, including new experiential opportunities and joint degree programs. There is much to do, and I have no doubt we will accomplish it together.

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Save the Date: SNX-LatCrit on Theory, Culture and Law, May 19-21, 2016

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From the FLP mailbox:

The South-North Exchange on Theory, Culture and Law (SNX) – LatCrit would like you to SAVE THE DATE for its 2016 Conference: Leading From The South: Politics Of Gender, Sex And Sexualities to be celebrated in Santo Domingo, República Dominicana from May 19-21, 2016.

We seek to discuss how the global South has been leading current shifts in the politics of gender, sex and sexualities. We will examine, among other topics, South-North relations or North-South polarities regarding: marriage, families, adoption, labor, child rearing, children’s rights, reproductive rights, poverty, migration, sex and gender discrimination, transsexual communities and sexual identities.

The South-North Exchange on Theory, Culture and Law (SNX) celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2013 and is designed to bring together critical theorists from various disciplines and regions of the hemisphere (and beyond) to discuss problems in the application of theory to current social problems and policy issues.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at:

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Joshi, “The Respectable Dignity of Obergefell v. Hodges”

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Yuvraj Joshi, the Peter and Patricia Gruber Fellow in Global Justice at Yale Law School, has posted to SSRN his essay, The Respectable Dignity of Obergefell v. Hodges, forthcoming in the California Law Review’s Circuit (online publication).  Here is an abstract:

In declaring state laws that restrict same-sex marriage unconstitutional, Justice Kennedy invoked “dignity” nine times – to no one’s surprise. References in Obergefell to “dignity” are in important respects the culmination of Justice Kennedy’s elevation of the concept, dating back to the Supreme Court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The “dignity” of Casey expressed respect for a woman’s freedom to make choices about her pregnancy. Casey laid the foundation for Lawrence v. Texas, which similarly respected the freedom of choice of homosexual persons. Yet, as Lawrence paved the path for US v. Windsor and later Obergefell, the narrative began to change. Tracing the usage of dignity in these cases reveals that the “dignity” of Obergefell is not the “dignity” of Casey.

This Essay demonstrates how Obergefell shifts dignity’s focus from respect for the freedom to choose towards the respectability of choices and choice-makers. Obergefell’s dignity is respectable in three ways. It depends on same-sex couples (1) choosing the heterosexual norm of marriage; (2) being and showing themselves to be worthy of marriage; and (3) being socially acceptable and accepted. As importantly, I show that Obergefell’s reasoning inflicts its own dignitary harms. It affirms the dignity of married relationships, while dismissing the dignitary and material harms suffered by unmarried families. It demands that same-sex couples demonstrate the same love and commitment that are taken for granted for heterosexual couples. And, it implies that legal protection of dignity depends on the prior social acceptance of gay persons and relationships. Put together, Obergefell disregards the idea that different forms of loving and commitment might be entitled to equal dignity and respect.

A draft of the essay is available here.

You can follow Mr. Joshi on Twitter @yuvrajjoshi

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Merle Weiner’s New Book: “A Parent-Partner Status for American Family Law”

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Cambridge University Press has published a new book by Merle Weiner (Oregon), A Parent-Partner Status for American Family Law (2015).  Here is the description:

Despite the fact that becoming a parent is a pivotal event, the birth or adoption of a child has little significance for parents’ legal relationship to each other. Instead, the law relies upon marriage, domestic partnerships, and contracts to set the parameters of parents’ legal relationship. With over forty percent of American children born to unwed mothers and consistently high rates of divorce, this book argues that the law’s current approach to regulating parental relationships is outdated. A new legal and social structure is needed to guide parents so they act as supportive partners and to deter uncommitted couples from having children. This book is the first of its kind to propose a new ‘parent-partner’ status within family law. Included are a detailed discussion of the benefits of the status as well as specific recommendations for legal obligations.

The publisher’s website is here.

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CFP: Joint Scholars and Scholarship Workshop on Feminist Jurisprudence

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Joint Scholars & Scholarship Workshop on Feminist Jurisprudence

January 6, 2016

Fordham Law School

Sponsored by the Legal Writing Institute (LWI), the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD), and the Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research Section of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS).

LWI, ALWD, and the AALS Legal Writing Section are excited to collaborate with Fordham Law School in celebration of feminist scholars and scholars of feminist jurisprudence by offering a half-day workshop.   The Scholars & Scholarship Workshop will take place at Fordham Law School on January 6, 2016, the day prior to the beginning of the 2016 AALS Annual Meeting in New York City.

The Workshop is focused on scholarly writing and teaching in the field of feminist jurisprudence. Our goal is to encourage and support the work of scholars, including jurists and practitioners, as they challenge patriarchy and other hierarchical structures, critique existing jurisprudence from multicultural feminist perspectives, and share strategies and techniques for bringing a feminist perspective into the classroom.  It extends the conversation of the more than 50 scholars involved in the creation of the edited volume, Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Opinions of the United States Supreme Court (Kathryn  Stanchi, Linda Berger & Bridget Crawford eds., Cambridge University Press 2016).  We hope to more broadly support the work of feminist scholars in the academy, regardless of their subject area of study.

If you are interested in presenting a draft paper to receive feedback from an audience of informed scholars in a safe and supportive environment, please submit an abstract to the Scholars & Scholarship Workshop by October 5, 2015.  Abstracts should be no longer than 500 words in length and should be emailed to Professors Nantiya Ruan at and Shailini Jandial George at  Those submitting abstracts will be informed of whether they were chosen to participate by October 31, 2015, and drafts will be sent to readers in mid-December.

If you are interested in attending the workshop, you can register here:


Posted in Call for Papers or Participation, Upcoming Conferences | 1 Comment

Areheart on “Accommodating Pregnancy”

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Bradley Areheart (Tennessee) has posted to SSRN his forthcoming article, Accommodating Pregnancy, __ Alabama Law Review __ (2016).  Here is the abstract:

Courts have interpreted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) not to affirmatively require accommodations for pregnant workers. This has generated protest and led all three branches of the federal government to address the issue of pregnancy rights. The “Pregnant Workers Fairness Act” is pending in Congress and has drawn strong vocal support from President Barack Obama. The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided Young v. UPS, which found the PDA does not affirmatively require pregnancy accommodations. Finally, many commentators have argued in support of considering pregnancy a disability under the ADA.

This Article agrees substantively with the end of accommodating pregnancy, but disagrees with the various proposals commentators have advanced. In contrast to those who favor a pregnancy-specific right to accommodations, this Article argues that such proposals create risks to women’s long-term equality in the workplace. In particular, characterizing pregnancy as a “disability” or pregnant women as a class in special need of accommodation poses a danger of expressive harms. Currently proposed measures may revitalize exclusionary and paternalistic attitudes toward pregnant employees, signal incapacity to work, or actually increase sex discrimination. We should thus consider the potential expressive impact of pregnancy accommodation schemes in light of current social norms in which pregnant women are generally seen as capable of productive work. This Article concludes by suggesting alternative approaches to securing pregnancy accommodations that would avoid expressive harms and employ a gender symmetrical approach.

This Article’s critique and the question of how best to accommodate pregnancy resonate across several areas of the law. For those who study civil rights, Accommodating Pregnancy illustrates the expressive perils of rights claiming. For historians and scholars interested in gender issues, this Article provides a chance to reconsider the consequences of gender-asymmetrical laws. For family law scholars, Accommodating Pregnancy highlights the current capacity of the law to reshape work/family balance. To assume that implementing gender-asymmetrical rights is the best way to help women in the workplace overlooks the potential of the law to ameliorate broader social issues. These include the way in which employment is typically structured to accommodate the most privileged employees and how everyone would benefit from more accommodating workplaces.

The full article is available for download here.


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CFP: Applied Feminism Today

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From colleagues at the University of Baltimore:

The University of Baltimore School of Law’s Center on Applied Feminism seeks submissions for its Ninth Annual Feminist Legal Theory Conference. This year’s theme is “Applied Feminism Today.” The conference will be held on Friday, March 4, 2016. For more information about the conference, please visit

This conference seeks to explore the current status of feminist legal theory. What impact has feminist legal theory had on law and social policy? What legal challenges are best suited to a feminist legal theory approach? How has feminist legal theory changed over time and where might it go in the future? We welcome proposals that consider these questions from a variety of substantive disciplines and perspectives. As always, the Center’s conference will serve as a forum for scholars, practitioners and activists to share ideas about applied feminism, focusing on the intersection of theory and practice to effectuate social change.

The conference will be open to the public and will feature a keynote speaker. Past keynote speakers have included Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, Dr. Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, Senators Barbara Mikulski and Amy Klobuchar, NOW President Terry O’Neill, and EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum.

To submit a paper proposal, please submit an abstract by Friday October 30, 2015 to Your abstract must contain your full contact information and professional affiliation, as well as an email, phone number, and mailing address. In the “Re” line, please state: CAF Conference 2016. Abstracts should be no longer than one page. We will notify presenters of selected papers in November. We anticipate there will be eight paper presenters during the conference. About half the presenter slots will be reserved for authors who commit to publishing in the annual symposium volume of the University of Baltimore Law Review. Thus, please indicate at the bottom of your abstract whether you are submitting (1) solely to present or (2) to present and publish in the symposium volume. Authors who are interested in publishing in the Law Review will be strongly considered for publication. For all presenters, working drafts of papers will be due no later than February 26, 2016. Presenters are responsible for their own travel costs; the conference will provide a discounted hotel rate as well as meals.

We look forward to your submissions. If you have further questions, please contact Prof. Michele Gilman at

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Group Culture and Sexual Harassment In the Workplace

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Marie McGregor, University of South Africa, has published Justifying Sexual Harassment Based on Culture? Never, Never, Never at 78 Journal of Contemporary Roman-Dutch Law 121 (2015). Here is the abstract.

This note focuses on UASA obo Zulu and Transnet Pipelines 2008 ILJ 1803 (ARB), an older award which had attracted few comments. Maybe the case has said it all. Or has it? It dealt with sexual harassment in the workplace, a common phenomenon in South Africa. The applicant (of Zulu culture) persistently sexually harassed a female colleague and when disciplined merely stated that his conduct was part of his Zulu culture.

Download the note from SSRN at the link.

Posted in Feminism and Culture, Feminism and the Workplace, Sisters In Other Nations | Comments Off on Group Culture and Sexual Harassment In the Workplace

A New Blog Devoted To the History of Women Lawyers

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Bari Burke, University of Montana School of Law, has launched a new blog, Montana’s Early Women Lawyers: Trail-Blazing, Big Sky Sisters-In-Law.  Each post focuses on an interesting (and unknown) story about a female lawyer from the past, which Professor Burke has unearthed from cases, newspapers, and other publications. Fascinating to see the number of mentions (and the depressing sameness of observations about women attorneys).  From the August 12th, 2015 post, this excerpt from a letter published August 12, 1907:

‘Possibly men are afraid to pay court to a woman lawyer, from the knowledge that she has too many brains for him, and can see further into his subterfuges and little evasions than most women could. It may be that the legal atmosphere is chilling to affection. It may be that women lawyers are too smart to tie themselves down. I do not know. I only cite the facts.

One of the happiest households that I know, is composed of two lawyers, one the husband, and the other the wife. But he was a lawyer and she was not when they got married. She studied under him, and is his legal assistant rather than his partner. Perhaps that is why they get along so happily together.’”

Oh, dear.

[Cross-posted to the Law and Humanities Blog]



Posted in Academia, Employment Discrimination, Feminist Blogs Of Interest, Feminist Legal History, Feminist Legal Scholarship, Feminists in Academia, Law Teaching, Legal Profession | Comments Off on A New Blog Devoted To the History of Women Lawyers

A Legislative History of Illegitimacy In British Columbia

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Susan B. Boyd, University of British Columbia Faculty of Law, and Jennifer Flood, Thorsteinssons LLP, have published Illegitimacy in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Nova Scotia: A Legislative History. Here is the abstract.

Over time, provincial legislation in Canada modified the common law position on the “illegitimacy” of children born outside marriage. They first imposed liability on parents for the support of illegitimate children. Second, they provided for the legitimation of children whose parents subsequently married. Finally, they abolished the concept of illegitimacy. This article describes and compares the legislative histories in four Canadian provinces, which all took somewhat different approaches: British Columbia (BC), Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. Part II traces the complex history of the legislation dealing with the financial support of illegitimate children; Part III addresses the legislation dealing with legitimation; and Part IV reviews the short history of the abolition of distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate children in all Canadian provinces and territories, except for Nova Scotia. We take a chronological approach within each Part. The article is co-authored with Jennifer Flood.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Posted in Feminism and Families, Feminism and Law, Feminist Legal History, If you're a woman | Comments Off on A Legislative History of Illegitimacy In British Columbia

Alabama Same-Sex Marriage Rulings, 2015

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Howard M. Wasserman, Florida International University College of Law, has published Crazy in Alabama: Judicial Process and the Last Stand Against Marriage Equality in the Land of George Wallace at 110 Northwestern University Law Review Online 201 (2015). Here is the abstract.

This essay examines the ongoing litigation battle in Alabama over the constitutionality of its ban on same-sex marriage, where one district judge invalidated the state ban and subsequent confusion over the meaning and scope of that injunction has drawn unfortunate and erroneous comparisons to George Wallace and Massive Resistance to integration. In fact, this essay argues, the controversy in Alabama is about judicial procedure and the scope of injunctive relief in constitutional litigation; it reveals how judicial decision making and judicial remedies actually function in a geographically divided and hierarchical federal judiciary. Rhetoric aside, the judicial process in Alabama has functioned largely as it should.

Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

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CFP: Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network LSA Meeting 2016

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From Jessica Clarke (Minnesota), Jill Hasday (Minnesota), Jessica Knouse (Toledo), Elizabeth Kukura (Temple), Seema Mohapatra (Barry), and Marc Spindelman (Ohio State):

We write to invite you to participate in panels sponsored by the Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network at the Law and Society Annual Meeting in 2016.

Information about the Law and Society meeting (including registration and hotel information) is here.

Within Law & Society, the Feminist Legal Theory CRN seeks to bring together scholars across a range of fields who are interested in feminist legal theory. There is no pre-set theme to which papers must conform. We would be especially happy to see proposals that fit in with the LSA conference theme, which is the role of law and legal institutions in sustaining, creating, interrogating, and ameliorating inequalities. We welcome proposals that would permit us to collaborate with other CRNs, such as the Critical Research on Race and the Law CRN or the Gender, Sexuality and the Law CRN. Also, because the LSA meeting attracts scholars from other disciplines, we welcome multidisciplinary proposals.

Our goal is to stimulate focused discussion of papers on which scholars are currently working. Thus, while proposals may reference work that is well on the way to publication, we are particularly eager to solicit proposals for works-in-progress that are at an earlier stage and will benefit from the discussion that the panels will provide.

A committee of the CRN will assign individual papers to panels based on subject. Our panels will use the LSA format, which requires four papers, but we will continue our custom of assigning a chair for the panel and a commentator for each individual paper. As a condition of participating as a panelist, you must also agree to serve as a chair or commentator for another panel or participant. We will of course take into account your scheduling and topic preferences to the degree possible.

The duties of a chair are to organize the panel logistically, including registering it online with the LSA, and moderating the panel. The chair will develop a 100-250 word description for the session and submit the session proposal to LSA before their upcoming deadline on October 15, so that each panelist can submit his or her proposal, using the panel number assigned. Chairs will also be responsible for assigning commentators but may wait to do so until panels have been scheduled later this winter. The duties of a commentator are to read one paper and provide verbal comments as well as brief written (email is fine) comments.

If you would like to present a paper as part of a CRN panel, please email an abstract or summary, along with your name and a title, to Jessica Clarke at There is no need to upload the document to the TWEN site this year. Note that LSA is imposing a new requirement that your summary be at least 1,000 words long.  Although a shorter summary will suffice for our purposes, you will be required to upload a 1,000 word summary in advance of LSA’s deadline on October 15. If you are already planning a LSA session with at least four panelists (and papers) that you would like to see included in the Feminist Legal Theory CRN, please let Jessica know.

In addition to these panels, we may try to use some of the other formats that the LSA provides: the “author meets readers” format, salon, or the roundtable discussion. If you have an idea that you think would work well in one of these formats, please let us know. Please note that for roundtables, organizers are now required to provide a 500 word summary of the topic and the contributions they expect the proposed participants to make. Please also note that LSA rules limit you to participating only once as a paper panelist or roundtable participant.

Please submit all proposals by Friday, September 18. This will permit us to organize panels and submit them prior to the LSA’s deadline on October 15. In the past, we have attempted to accommodate as many panelists as possible, but have been unable to accept all proposals. If we are unable to accept your proposal for the CRN, we will notify you by early October so that you can submit an independent proposal to LSA.

We hope you’ll join us in New Orleans to discuss the scholarship in which we are all engaged and connect with others doing work on feminism and gender.


Posted in Call for Papers or Participation, Upcoming Conferences | Comments Off on CFP: Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network LSA Meeting 2016

Converge! conference follow up projects

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Announcing the Completion of Two Converge! conference projects!

Donna Coker

The UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI RACE & SOCIAL JUSTICE LAW REVIEW published Converge! Reimagining the Movement to End Gender Violence symposium.  The  publication includes 11 articles, 18 edited panel transcripts, and the transcript of Beth Richie’s keynote. You may download the entire volume or jump to the articles you find of interest.   The publication is available at

Media for Change Hosts Reimagining Multi-media Project– The Reimagining website is a collaboration with Media for Change (MfC), a non-profit organization committed to connecting “media change makers who use the power of visual storytelling to build a better world.” The website offers the comments of thoughtful activists and scholars about how to refocus our work to stop gender violence. The interviewees are Mimi Kim, Leigh Goodmark, Donna Coker, Dorothy Roberts, and Joan Pennell. (We expect to add more interviews and other content in the near future.) Thank you to Sanjeev Chatterjee, MfC Founder and Director, and to Ahjané Macquoid, U.M. Ph.D. student, for their work to make this project a reality. Thank you to the interviewees for their inspiring work and generosity.

Reimagining website-

What is Converge? In February, 2014, more than 200 activists, scholars, and students gathered in Miami to share their strategies for refocusing the movement to end gender violence. Converge! Reimagining the Movement to End Gender Violence focused on changing U.S. priorities in funding, activism, legal responses, and social services in ways that better address the intersecting inequalities that create and maintain gender violence. The call was to move away from investing heavily in criminal systems responses and to focus instead on changing the social conditions that create violence. The call was to recognize the commonality of struggles for racial justice, economic justice, immigration justice, and sexual identity and sexual orientation justice. For more information about the strategy of Converge! see For information about the conference see

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Hasday Op-Ed on Marital Rape

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Jill Hasday (Minnesota) published an op-ed in today’s Washington Post:
Donald Trump’s lawyer Was Right: In Some Places, Raping Your Wife is Still Treated Like a Minor Offense. Here is an excerpt.

All states prosecute some forms of marital rape in theory. But in reality, statutes criminalizing marital rape are often inadequate. They also remain dramatically and disproportionately under-enforced.

This injustice has deep historical roots. For centuries, husbands were absolutely exempt from criminal prosecution for raping their wives. In the eyes of the law, marital rape was a legal impossibility.

That is no longer true. Starting in the 1970s and 1980s, every state eliminated husbands’ absolute immunity from prosecution. Most states accomplished this reform through legislation. A few achieved it through judicial opinions. * * *  Yet modified forms of the marital rape exemption survive in at least 23 states. Legislatures in these states continue to treat rape in marriage more leniently than rape outside of it. Some  criminalize a narrower range of conduct if committed within marriage, others impose less serious penalties on the marital rape they do recognize or create special procedural obstacles to marital rape prosecutions.

The full piece is available here.

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Feminist Legal Studies Seminar, June 2016

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From the introduction to the most recent issue of Feminist Legal Studies, here:

FLS will host an international and interdisciplinary seminar in London, UK, on 30 June and 1 July 2016 to consider the relationship between feminism, legality and knowledge. We hope that the journal, alongside related projects and publications, will go on to address some of the insights that emerge from that seminar.

We’ll pass on info if/as/when we receive it.

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CFP: “New Directions in Poverty Law”

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AALS Section on Poverty Law

Call for Papers for 2016 AALS Annual Meeting

The AALS Section on Poverty Law is seeking abstracts or drafts of papers to be presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting in New York, NY.  This year’s program is entitled “New Directions in Poverty Law,” and it will be held on Friday, January 8, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Program Description:  This program will focus on emerging ideas, problems, arguments, and strategies related to poverty law.  The field of poverty law encompasses a wide range of legal issues that affect the lives of Americans living in poverty.  Much interesting work in this area is being done by academics who may not identify themselves as poverty law scholars, but who are nonetheless writing about issues that inform and intersect with the core concerns of poverty law.  This program will provide a forum for discussing some of this scholarship, and for considering the current state of poverty law as a field.  Panelists—including one chosen through a call for papers—will present recent works on a variety of topics that relate to poverty law.  An open discussion will follow.

Submission Instructions:  Eligible law faculty wishing to be considered for the program must submit an abstract or draft paper by September 1, 2015, to Jason Parkin, Chair-Elect of the Section on Poverty Law, at  The Section encourages submissions from pre-tenured and recently tenured scholars, as well as scholars whose work may not be widely known to members of the Poverty Section.  All panelists, including speakers selected from this call for papers, are responsible for paying their own Annual Meeting registration fee and travel expenses.

Posted in Call for Papers or Participation | Comments Off on CFP: “New Directions in Poverty Law”

“Short Takes” by Signs

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The feminist journal Signs has added an on-line feature called Short Takes.  Here’s the description:

Short Takes: Provocations on Public Feminism is a new open-access, online-first feature of Signs that examines books that have shaped popular conversations about feminist issues. This new section will examine a book that has had wide-ranging impact and reach (for better or worse!) and solicit short commentaries from leading feminist public intellectuals and activists. Rather than traditional book reviews, commentators are asked to ponder broader questions of reach and resonance: Why this? Why now? And what does this say about the state of the feminist zeitgeist?

The first “Short Take” is a series of essays on Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist.  The essays are:

The online collection is here.


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NY Gay Couple Not Married Couldn’t Have Been Divorced…Duh

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A very strange case got some attention in the New York Law Journal this week.  New York County Surrogate Nora S. Anderson has (sensibly) ruled in the Matter of Leyton, 2013-4842/A/B, NYLJ 1202730202742, at *1 (Surr., NY, Decided June 16, 2015) [hyperlink is to a subscription site-sorry] that the New York statute (EPTL 1.4) providing for the automatic revocation upon divorce of bequests and fiduciary appointments in favor of a former spouse could not apply to a same-sex couple who has never married in the first place.

Reading between the lines of the decision, it appears that the decedent’s mother and sister were upset that the decedent appointed as executor and made substantial death-time gifts to his former romantic partner.  The mother and sister tried to argue that because the couple had a commitment ceremony in 2002, but later broke up, the couple was “divorced” for purposes of New York law.  Surrogate Anderson did not agree, and the bequests to the former partner and fiduciary appointment were upheld.


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Report on AALS Midyear Meeting Workshop on “Next Generation Issues of Sex, Gender, and the Law”

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The AALS’s 2015 Midyear Meeting Workshop on “Next Generation Issues of Sex, Gender, and the Law” concluded Friday in Orlando.  It was one of the best substantive programs I have attended in many years.  The quality of the speakers was excellent.  The speakers represented a full range of seniorities, schools, geographies and subject-matter specialties.

As a point of information, there were 80 people pre-registered for this conference.  (Compare that to 172 people who were pre-registered for the 2011 Workshop on “Women Rethinking Equality” is underway at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C.; see here).  Of those 80, 66 (82.50%) were either speakers or members of the planning committee.  I’m not sure what accounts for the low attendance compared to 2011, or whether 82.50% of attendees as speakers or organizers is a typical number.  (It seems high to me.)  It might be that the location was not especially appealing; the time of year was about the same for the 2015 conference versus the 2011 conference.

In any case, it was a fantastic program.  The full line-up is here.

One panel I found particularly engaging was a plenary session on reproductive rights.  Here is the panel description:

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), the landmark privacy decision for reproductive rights. Although the Supreme Court expanded upon Griswold in Roe v. Wade (1973), constitutionally protected reproductive rights have followed an unsteady path since the 1970s. First, the Supreme Court has retreated from Roe’s framework and implications and has allowed significant curtailment of the right to choose in more recent decisions, notably its decision allowing prohibition of many late-term abortions. Second, the pro-life movement has shifted its focus away from demand-side restrictions on reproductive rights and toward newer and more successful supply-side restrictions, such as heightened institutional and professional requirements for abortion clinics. This turn has created large practical problems of access to facilities and professionals who can deliver effective reproductive assistance. Third, the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (2014) creates an indeterminate statutory authorization for “religious” employers to deny health insurance coverage for many contraceptives (so long as the religious employer believes them to be contrary to its religion). This panel of scholars will consider these questions: What reproductive rights are guaranteed by the Constitution, properly understood? What institutions (legislatures, administrators, judges) are best situated to assure those rights? What substantive as well as institutional strategies should be followed by supporters of reproductive choice?

The moderator was Laura Rosenbury (U of Florida). Speakers were Cary Franklin (Texas), Candace Gibson (formerly of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Rights), Jessie Hill (Case Western), Priscilla Ocen (Loyola LA), Neil Siegel (Duke) and Robin West (Georgetown).

I also heard an excellent paper presentation by Lauren Sudeall Lucas (Georgia State) who talked about her piece, Identity as Proxy, forthcoming in the Columbia Law Review.  Here is the abstract.

As presently constructed, equal protection doctrine is an identity-based jurisprudence, meaning that the level of scrutiny applied to an alleged act of discrimination turns on the identity category at issue. In that sense, equal protection relies on identity as a proxy, standing in to signify the types of discrimination we find most troubling.

Equal protection’s current use of identity as proxy leads to a number of problems, including difficulties in defining the category at issue; the tendency to privilege a dominant identity narrative; failure to distinguish among the experiences of subgroups within larger identity categories; and psychological and emotional harm that can result from being forced to identify in a particular way to lay claim to legal protection. Moreover, because the Court’s identity-as-proxy jurisprudence relies on superficial notions of identity to fulfill a substantive commitment to equality, it is more susceptible to co-option or manipulation by majority groups.

This Essay aims to engage readers in a thought experiment, to envision what equal protection doctrine might look like if it were structured to reflect the values identity is intended to serve without explicitly invoking identity categories as a way to delineate permissible and impermissible forms of discrimination. More specifically, it aims to shift from an identity-based jurisprudence that views race and gender as a collection of individual traits to a value-based jurisprudence that views race and gender as the product of structural forces that create and maintain subordination. Under the latter framework, the primary concern is not to eliminate differential treatment, but instead to destabilize status hierarchies and effectively counter subordination. Therefore, rather than asking whether the challenged government action is based on race or gender, one might ask whether it has the effect of perpetuating or exacerbating a history of discrimination or obstructs access to the political process. Unlike the current model, which focuses on defining categories and determining who falls within or outside those categories, the model suggested herein aims to eliminate identity as an intermediary filter and instead apply substantive rationales for heightened scrutiny directly to claims of discrimination.

The clearest impact of such a model would be in the context of affirmative action, where a majority plaintiff could no longer simply claim discrimination on the basis of race. Yet, the potential of a value-based model extends to other contexts as well — for example, challenges to voter identification laws, in which political exclusion would displace discriminatory intent and disparate impact as the relevant measure for analysis, and the treatment of pregnant women, in which discrimination on the basis of pregnancy would no longer have to align with gender to receive heightened scrutiny.

This shift has several advantages: it allows the law to make important distinctions between groups and within groups; it alleviates the need for comparative treatment and solutions that favor taking from all over giving to some; it is less likely to generate identity-based harms; it is fact-driven rather than identity-driven and thus better suited to the judicial function; and it serves an important rhetorical function by changing the nature of rights discourse.

A copy of Professor Lucas’s paper is available for download here.

There were many other great papers and panels — too many to mention.

Posted in Academia, Feminist Legal Scholarship, Reproductive Rights | Comments Off on Report on AALS Midyear Meeting Workshop on “Next Generation Issues of Sex, Gender, and the Law”


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Image via here.


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18915472726_2a2f63b57c_zPhoto by Stephen Melkiesthian.

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Cohen and Connon, “Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism”

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David S. Cohen (Drexel) and Krysten Connon (J.D. 2012, Drexel University School of Law) have published Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism (Oxford University Press 2015).  Here is the publisher’s description:

Abortion is a legal, common, and safe medical procedure that one in three American women will undergo. Yet ever since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, anti-abortion forces have tried nearly every tactic to eliminate it. Legislative and judicial developments dominate the news, but a troubling and all-too-common phenomenon-targeted vigilante action against individual abortion providers-is missing from the national discussion, only cropping up when a dramatic story like the murder of an abortion provider pushes it to the forefront. Every day, men and women who are associated with abortion care are harassed, threatened, stalked, picketed, sent hate mail, and otherwise terrorized. Those who seek help from the law are sometimes successful, but not always, either because there are insufficient protections built into the law, or because law enforcement officials fail to respond.

In Living in the Crosshairs, the voices of these providers are heard for the first time, through extensive interviews that David S. Cohen and Krysten Connon conducted across the country. Abortion providers are targeted at home, at work, or in community spaces; they can be harassed in person or online. Abortion opponents target not only the providers themselves but also may go after their families, neighbors, and others close to them. This kind of targeting happens anywhere in the country, not just in more conservative areas, and can victimize all providers, not just high-profile doctors. For some, being the victim of targeted harassment inspires significant fear and leads to changes in behavior; for others, it has become a normal part of life; and for yet others, it actively strengthens their resolve. The response of law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels is spotty-though there are some strong laws on the books, especially at the federal level, abortion providers have had mixed experiences when it comes to legal recourse, and effectiveness varies. Drawing on ideas from the interviews, the authors propose several legal and societal reforms that could improve the lives of providers, foremost among them redefining targeted harassment as terrorism rather than protest.

Living in the Crosshairs is a rich and humane portrait of women’s health professionals who persist in their work despite harassment because they believe in what they are doing. These providers’ voices have not been heard in recent debates, leaving the public with a deficient understanding of exactly how abortion is limited in this country, yet their experiences illuminate the truth of the issue and offer us a path to a better policy.

There are reviews at Ms. (here), the New Republic (here) and RH Reality Check (here).  This is an important contribution to the literature.

-Bridget Crawford

Posted in Acts of Violence, Recommended Books, Reproductive Rights | Comments Off on Cohen and Connon, “Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism”

The Gendered Nature of Canada’s Witchcraft Law

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Here’s an interesting piece on Canadian witchcraft law. Natasha Bakht, University of Ottawa, Common Law Section, and Jordan Palmer, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, have published Modern Law, Modern Hammers: Canada’s Witchcraft Provision as an Image of Persecution at 35 Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues 123 (2015). Here is the abstract.

This article examines Canada’s retention and application of the archaic offence of pretending to practise witchcraft in the Criminal Code. The disproportionate effect that the offence has on women and certain religious and racialized groups is highlighted. The historic persecution of women accused of practising witchcraft is discussed in order to provide some background to the history and ideology of the witchcraft offence in Canada. The gendered nature of the offence is considered along with the imperial role of the dominant Judeo-Christian belief structures in curtailing religious deviance and suppressing women’s powerful positions in the community. An analysis of the confused judicial interpretation of the offence and consideration of the social goals achieved in criminalizing such activity when several fraud offences already exist in Canada follows. Finally, the constitutionality of section 365 is examined using a feminist and religious freedom lens. The recent case of R v Persaud provides the modern day backdrop to examine Canada’s witchcraft offence and propose the repeal of section 365.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

See also my post on the subject here at the Law and Magic Blog.



Posted in Criminal Law, Feminism and Law, Sex and Sexuality, Sisters In Other Nations | Comments Off on The Gendered Nature of Canada’s Witchcraft Law

Hollywood and Female Directors

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From the Hollywood Reporter’s Jonathan Handel, a discussion of the ACLU’s call for an investigation of Hollywood’s “failure to hire” women directors and an analysis of how difficult such cases are to win.

Posted in Employment Discrimination, Feminism and the Workplace, The Underrepresentation of Women, Where are the Women? | Comments Off on Hollywood and Female Directors

The Influence of the Internet, Social Norms, and Law On Girls and Young Women

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Jane Bailey, University of Ottawa, Common Law Section, is publishing A Perfect Storm: How the Online Environment, Social Norms and Law Shape Girls’ Lives in eGirls eCitizens (Jane Bailey and Valerie Steeves, eds; Ottawa, University of Ottawa Press, 2015). Here is the abstract.

Considerable scholarly and policy discourse has centred on dichotomous risk/opportunity; utopic/dystopic descriptions and prescriptions around girl’s and young women’s online interactions. Too often uninformed by the voices of girls and young women themselves, these discourses have frequently led to overly simplistic understandings of girls’ and young women’s seamlessly integrated online/offline existences. These top-down perspectives have produced reactive punitive policy approaches that blame girls for their misfortunes and incent parents and other adults to deny them their privacy by monitoring and surveilling them. Grounded in the literature and international legal standards that mandate participation of children in the formulation of policy and programs affecting them, with special attention to the needs of the girl child, this paper gives voice to the situated knowledges of the Canadian girls (ages 15-17) and young women (ages 18-22) interviewed about their experiences with online social networking by The eGirls Project researchers. eGirls participants described a world in which architectures structured to maximize disclosure (and minimize privacy) code high counts of “friends” and “likes” as “popularity”. These architectural constraints combine with social norms and marketing practices that encourage emulation of mediatized representations of female beauty and sexuality as ways of competing for recognition (often, for heterosexual girls, from males). Together these produce a perfect storm incenting self-disclosure that simultaneously promises both celebrity and recognition, but also a gendered risk of shame and harassment that is complicated by the enduring consequences of unnecessarily permanent digital records. These interactions invite policy responses that take into account the difficulty of navigating this complex environment and recognize the ways in which over-reliance on privacy-invasive surveillance based mechanisms undermines girls’ capacities to thrive in our increasingly digitally networked society.

Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

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Bill Would Bar US Entry For Some Foreign Pregnant Women

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That’s the title of this article from Law 360.

Meanwhile, foreign men are free to come here and impregnate as many women as they like, obtaining exactly the same benefit supposedly attributable to US citizen offspring: i.e., in 21 years, should a child wish, s/he could sponsor an alien parent for lawful status (if the parent met all other qualifications).  (No one born in the USA now can trigger the potential Deferred Prosecution non-status for parents of US citizens that Obama has been trying to implement; that window closed the day his policy was announced, in November 2014.)

-Vanessa Merton

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Federal Recognition Of Same-Sex Marriage

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Mae Kuykendall, Michigan State University College of Law, has published Marriage Goals and Government Interests: Handling Complexity, Apportioning Expertise, Using Federalism. Here is the abstract.

This Article argues that the Supreme Court should require that all states recognize legal same-sex marriages rather than mandate under the Fourteenth Amendment that states must issue marriage licenses to couples of the same sex. The briefing that advocates, including most amici, provided to the Supreme Court was generally abstract. The Court did not benefit from a combined answer to the two questions. It therefore did not hear a useful comparison of why a Yes to recognition, with a No to mandating authorization, might be a superior approach. If the Court were to require only recognition, it could avoid constitutionalizing marriage law; it need not decide recognition under the Fourteenth Amendment, despite its having certified the question under the Fourteenth Amendment. Rather, principles of comity draw upon the Court’s expertise in federalism and do not call for a direct intervention in state law-making about marriage. Such an approach could incentivize some states to offer their marriage licensing, and even their substantive law, to couples who do not travel to the state. Gay rights activists could help improve and modernize marriage licensing procedure by encouraging states to provide for the issuance of licenses to couples unable to travel or to be present together. They could also bring energy in the state legislatures and before state courts to the substantive evolution of marriage law that is less defined by beliefs about gender complementarity but not entirely severed from the element of gender in the moral architecture of many marriages.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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Harvard Law School Studies Its Grads: 1975 To Date

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Bloomberg BNA is highlighting a new Harvard Law School study of its grads over the past 40 years. Findings? That:

On the one hand, the number of women entering the profession has increased dramatically in recent decades, and women lawyers can now be found in leadership positions in virtually every major legal institution in the country, including three female justices on the United States Supreme Court…

and also that

the percentage of women in these top positions remains far below their representation in the profession, even when adjusted for the fact that women did not begin to enter legal practice in significant numbers until the 1970s. To make matters worse, even women who have achieved important career success appear to be leaving their prestigious positions — and the profession as a whole — in alarming numbers.

Read the entire report, written by David Wilkins, Bryon Fong, and Ronit Dinovitzer, here.

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CFP: Lavender Law Conference and Career Fair

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Lavender Law® 2015
Chicago, IL
August 5-7, 2015
Invitation and Call for Papers Entry-Level Market Forum for Junior Scholars

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

This year the Lavender Law® Conference & Career Fair will be held August 5-7, 2015 at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile in Chicago. Lavender Law brings together the best and brightest legal minds in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

To celebrate our community of scholars, Lavender Law® is hosting a Junior Scholars Forum again this year. This year, the forum will be devoted to individuals who intend to participate in the AALS annual entry-level hiring conference in Washington, D.C. If you are planning to participate in the entry-level hiring process this year, and your work focuses on the nexus between the law, gender, and sexuality, we encourage you to apply.

To submit a proposal for consideration, please email:

(1) a 5-7 page overview of your job talk; and (2) a copy of your CV to

Alexander Boni-Saenz ( and Courtney Joslin (

The deadline for submissions is Friday, June 5, 2015.

If you are selected to participate, a complete draft of your job talk will be due by July 22, 2015.

Posted in Call for Papers or Participation | Comments Off on CFP: Lavender Law Conference and Career Fair

Frozen Embryos and the Canadian Legal Regime

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Stefanie Carsley, McGill University Faculty of Law, has published Rethinking Canadian Legal Responses to Frozen Embryo Disputes at 29 Canadian Journal of Family Law 55 (2014). Here is the abstract.

This article examines and critiques Canadian legal responses to disputes over frozen in vitro embryos. It argues that current laws that provide spouses or partners with joint control over the use and disposition of embryos created from their genetic materials and that mandate the creation of agreements setting out these parties’ intentions in the event of a disagreement or divorce overlook the experiences of women who undergo in vitro fertilization treatment. It also maintains that these laws do not accord with how Canadian law and public policy has responded to similar conflicts between spouses, or to agreements that seek to control or restrict women’s reproductive choices. This article considers how legislatures and courts in other jurisdictions have sought to respond to embryo disposition disputes, but argues that their respective approaches raise similar issues and would pose additional problems within the Canadian context. It ultimately provides recommendations for how Canadian laws might better support the express objectives of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act and Quebec’s Act Respecting Clinical and Research Activities Relating to Assisted Procreation to protect the health and well-being of women, to promote the principle of free and informed consent and to recognize that women are more directly affected than men by the use of assisted reproductive technologies.


Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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The Debate Over Provocative Dress

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Jessica Wolfendale, West Virginia University, Philosophy Department, is publishing Provocative Dress and Sexual Responsibility in the Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law. Here is the abstract.

Numerous studies have found that many people believe that a provocatively dressed woman is at greater risk for sexual assault and bears some responsibility for her assault if she is attacked. Furthermore, in legal, academic, and public debates about sexual assault the appropriateness of the term ‘provocative’ as a descriptor of certain kinds of women’s clothing is rarely questioned. Thus, there is a widespread but largely unquestioned belief that it is appropriate to describe revealing or suggestive women’s clothing as ‘provocative’ and that women who wear such clothing could provoke sexual assault and harassment from men. Yet it is rarely noted that only women’s clothing is described as sexually provocative. Men’s clothing, no matter how revealing, is never described as provocative. Why is this the case?

This Article challenges the assumption that it is appropriate to describe women’s clothing as provocative. Drawing on on models of the legal defense of provocation and research on objectification and responsibility, this Article demonstrates that continued use of ‘provocative’ term normalizes and entrenches deeply problematic attitudes about women’s responsibility for men’s sexual behavior. The social interpretation of women’s clothing as provocative arises from the privileged social and legal status of men’s sexual arousal and the objectification of women’s bodies. Describing women’s clothing as provocative thus reinforces a problematic conception of women’s bodies and sexuality that is connected to women’s experiences of their bodies, their clothes, and shapes their vulnerability to sexual assault and social and legal attitudes to such attacks.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Posted in Acts of Violence, Coerced Sex, Feminism and Law, Sex and Sexuality, Sexual Harassment | Comments Off on The Debate Over Provocative Dress

CFP: Female Perspectives in Commercial and Consumer Law

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AALS Section on Commercial and Related Consumer Law

AALS Section on Women in Legal Education

 Call For Papers

 Female Perspectives in Commercial and Consumer Law

The AALS Section on Commercial and Related Consumer Law is pleased to announce a Call for Papers for its program co-sponsored by the Section on Women in Legal Education during the AALS 2016 Annual Meeting. The papers from the program will be published in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law.

Female scholars have made pivotal contributions to the development of commercial and consumer laws and scholarship in the United States, especially in the past few decades. Not only have specific women’s voices played an important role, but distinctively feminist concerns have engendered changes in legal theory and policy. This panel will discuss the contributions that specific female legal academics have made to the field (as just a few examples, Elizabeth Warren and Jean Braucher). Also, it will reflect on how feminist concerns have influenced commercial and consumer law scholarship. Finally, it will also include scholarship focused on women’s experiences with consumer and commercial law.

The Committee invites submissions from scholars interested in presenting at the program and in publishing their papers with the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law. Two speakers will be selected from this call for papers. The panel is focused on “female perspectives,” broadly construed. The Section strongly encourages proposals from all genders.

There is no formal requirement as to the form or length of proposals. Preference will be given to proposals that are substantially complete and to papers that offer novel scholarly insights.

Per AALS rules, only full-time faculty members of AALS member law schools are eligible to submit a paper to a Section’s call for papers. Fellows from AALS member law schools are also eligible to submit a paper but must include a CV with their proposal. All panelists, including speakers selected from this Call for Papers, are responsible for paying their own annual meeting registration fee and travel expenses.

Deadline: AUGUST 15, 2015. We will make decisions shortly after that date. Please email submissions, in Word or PDF format, to the Program Committee c/o Jim Hawkins at with “AALS Submission” in the subject line. Before sending, please remove all identifying information from the Word or PDF document.


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Equality and Non-Discrimination under International Law

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Equality and Non-Discrimination under International Law

For those who might be interested, here is a link to the introductory chapter in a volume of collected works on the subject published this year by Ashgate, part of a five-volume series on International Human Rights:

Equality and Non-Discrimination under International Law

Issues discussed in this chapter include:

  • theories of equality;
  • formal versus substantive equality;
  • structural and institutional inequality;
  • the drafting history of human rights treaty provisions on equality and non-discrimination;
  • incisive critiques of how UN and regional human rights bodies have interpreted and applied these provisions;
  • non-treaty instruments that have influenced international law and practice;
  • perspectives on how to determine when difference in treatment is permissible or impermissible under international human rights law;
  • what grounds of discrimination are prohibited under international law and why;
  • the intersection of multiple grounds of discrimination;
  • approaches to determining what special measures, also known as affirmative action, are allowed or even required under human rights law;
  • state responsibility for discrimination by non-state actors;
  • legal requirements to use non-legal measures to address discrimination, such as governmental programs to address root causes of the prejudice that leads to discrimination.
Posted in Employment Discrimination, Feminism and Law, LGBT Rights, Race and Racism | Comments Off on Equality and Non-Discrimination under International Law

On Consent: The Tea Analogy

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From Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess (here), this lesson on consent:

You say “hey, would you like a cup of tea?” and they go “omg fuck yes, I would fucking LOVE a cup of tea! Thank you!*” then you know they want a cup of tea.

If you say “hey, would you like a cup of tea?” and they um and ahh and say, “I’m not really sure…” then you can make them a cup of tea or not, but be aware that they might not drink it, and if they don’t drink it then – this is the important bit –  don’t make them drink it. You can’t blame them for you going to the effort of making the tea on the off-chance they wanted it; you just have to deal with them not drinking it. Just because you made it doesn’t mean you are entitled to watch them drink it.

If they say “No thank you” then don’t make them tea. At all. Don’t make them tea, don’t make them drink tea, don’t get annoyed at them for not wanting tea. They just don’t want tea, ok?

They might say “Yes please, that’s kind of you” and then when the tea arrives they actually don’t want the tea at all. Sure, that’s kind of annoying as you’ve gone to the effort of making the tea, but they remain under no obligation to drink the tea. They did want tea, now they don’t. Sometimes people change their mind in the time it takes to boil that kettle, brew the tea and add the milk. And it’s ok for people to change their mind, and you are still not entitled to watch them drink it even though you went to the trouble of making it.

If they are unconscious, don’t make them tea. Unconscious people don’t want tea and can’t answer the question “do you want tea” because they are unconscious.

Ok, maybe they were conscious when you asked them if they wanted tea, and they said yes, but in the time it took you to boil that kettle, brew the tea and add the milk they are now unconscious. You should just put the tea down, make sure the unconscious person is safe, and  – this is the important bit – don’t make them drink the tea. They said yes then, sure, but unconscious people don’t want tea.

If someone said yes to tea, started drinking it, and then passed out before they’d finished it, don’t keep on pouring it down their throat. Take the tea away and make sure they are safe.  Because unconscious people don’t want tea. Trust me on this.

If someone said “yes” to tea around your  house last saturday, that doesn’t mean that they want you to make them tea all the time. They don’t want you to come around unexpectedly to their place and make them tea and force them to drink it going “BUT YOU WANTED TEA LAST WEEK”, or to wake up to find you pouring tea down their throat going “BUT YOU WANTED TEA LAST NIGHT”.

Do you think this is a stupid analogy? Yes, you all know this already  – of course you wouldn’t force feed someone tea because they said yes to a cup last week. Of COURSE you wouldn’t pour tea down the throat of an unconcious person because they said yes to tea 5 minutes ago when they were conscious. But if you can understand how completely ludicrous it is to force people to have tea when they don’t want tea, and you are able to understand when people don’t want tea, then how hard is it to understand when it comes to sex?

Whether it’s tea or sex, Consent Is Everything.

Check out the full post here.

Posted in Acts of Violence, Sex and Sexuality | Comments Off on On Consent: The Tea Analogy

Corbin on “Intentional Discrimination in Establishment Clause Jurisprudence”

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Caroline Mala Corbin (Miami) has posted to SSRN her paper, Intentional Discrimination in Establishment Clause Jurisprudence, forthcoming in the Alabama Law Review.  Here is the abstract:

In Town of Greece v. Galloway, the Supreme Court upheld a legislative prayer practice with overwhelmingly Christian prayers in part because the Court concluded that the exclusion of all other religions was unintentional. This requirement — that a religiously disparate impact must be intentional before it amounts to an establishment violation — is new for Establishment Clause doctrine. An intent requirement, however, is not new for equal protection or free exercise claims. This Essay explores the increased symmetry between the Establishment Clause, the Equal Protection Clause, and the Free Exercise Clause. It argues that many of the critiques of the intentional discrimination standard made in the equal protection context apply in the establishment context. It also argues that free exercise and establishment jurisprudence still differ substantially despite their superficial symmetry.

The full piece is available for download here.

-Bridget Crawford

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Female Ejaculation Explained, Poetry-Slam Style

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The Association of College Unions International hosts a poetry slam each year.  The final rounds of this year’s College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational was held March 25–28, 2015 at Virginia Commonwealth University.  The final round featured this brilliant performance by student Mikayla Mitchell:

-Bridget Crawford

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CFP: “Creating Excellence in Learning and Teaching for Today’s Law Students”

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“Creating Excellence in Learning and Teaching for Today’s Law Students”

October 2-3, 2015, Phoenix, AZ

Arizona Summit Law School (ASLS) will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary with a conference for legal educators, law students, the legal community, and anyone interested in legal education. The Conference will be opened by Professor Gerald Hess, a leading American scholar on legal education, and founder of the Institute for Law School Teaching at Gonzaga University School of Law. The Conference will include panels and workshops intended to address an array of challenges facing law schools in the early 21st Century.

Possible topics may include, but are not limited to: Applying the latest teaching techniques, methods and technology in the classroom; Integrating practice-ready skills with doctrinal teaching; Teaching the underprepared student; Keeping higher performing students engaged and challenged; Teaching alternative and second career students; Preparing students for the new legal marketplace; Building an excellent academic support program; Preparing students to serve underserved communities


Select papers will be published in the Arizona Summit Law Review, ASLS’s flagship publication, or Accord, the internet-based sub-journal of Arizona Summit Law Review. To submit a paper, please send the following information by July 15, 2015 to

  • Author(s) name, contact information, and school affiliation
  • Author(s) CV
  • Title of the proposed paper
  • A brief description (500 words or less) of the paper


The Conference Committee welcomes proposals for 25-minute conference presentations or panel discussions, and anticipates a limited number of 50-minute slots as well. To submit a proposal, please send the following information by July 15, 2015 to

  • Presenter(s) name, contact information, and school affiliation
  • Presenter(s) CV
  • Title of the proposed presentation
  • A brief (one paragraph) description of the presentation, including a description of the presentation format (lecture with Q&A, interactive, PowerPoint, etc.)
  • A two-sentence summary of the presentation for the conference program, if accepted
  • Length of presentation
  • Technology needs for the presentation

Participants will be notified of their selection by August 15, 2015. Please note that travel assistance is not available. Please direct all questions and final submissions to the Conference Chair, Dr. Marren Sanders, at

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Secular Governments, Religious Courts, and Women’s Rights in Canada, the UK, and the US

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Marie Ashe, Suffolk University Law School, and Anissa Helie, John Jay College of Criminal Jsutice, have published Realities of Religio-Legalism: Religious Courts and Women’s Rights in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States at 20 U. Cal.-Davis J. International Law & Pol’y 139 (Spring 2014). Here is the abstract.

Religio-legalism – the enforcement of religious law by specifically-religious courts that are tolerated or endorsed by civil government – has long operated against women’s interests in liberty and equality. In the 21st century, religious tribunals – Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim – operate throughout the world. Almost all are male-dominated, patriarchal, and sex-discriminatory. Harms to women produced by Muslim or sharia courts have come into focus in recent years, but present realities of religio-legalism operating through Christian and Jewish – as well as Muslim – religious courts in Western nations have been under-examined. This essay documents controversies concerning sharia-courts that have arisen in Canada and in the United Kingdom during the past decade and also looks at concurrent developments relating to sharia and to other-than-Muslim religious courts in the US.

Religious courts – Christian, Jewish, and Muslim – have in common that they assert original or exclusive jurisdiction over certain matters. In calls for “official recognition” of sharia-courts, proponents have advanced a religious-equality argument, claiming that denial of that status to Muslim tribunals would violate the governmental obligation to avoid discrimination among religions. At the same time, sharia-related controversy has raised sharply the question about the implications for women’s liberty and equality rights that are produced by governmental accommodations of the religious-equality and religious-liberty interests asserted by all religious entities enjoying governmental recognition.

While recognizing the legitimacy and weight of the complaint against inequitable treatment of religions, we argue here that whenever governmental action to “resolve” sharia-related conflict adopts the avoidance of discrimination among religions as its single goal and therefore expands its “official recognition” to include additional religious courts, it will have the effect of enlarging religions’ power and at the same time exacerbating harms to women.

Referencing feminist writings that have documented the global spread of religious fundamentalisms from the 1990s to the present and that have exposed capitulations of liberalism to those fundamentalisms, we call for reconceptualization of the law-religion-women nexus. We urge recognition that governmental goals of equitable treatment of religions and protection of women’s rights will together be served not by expansions of governmental engagements with religion, but by retrenchment from religio-legalism. Thus, we urge, in policy and in law, clear prioritization of the protection of women’s rights and concurrent retreat from the formal recognition of all religious courts and of civil-law enforcement of the orders of any such bodies.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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