Dismay Over Schuette decision

The Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) expresses dismay at the United States Supreme Court’s decision April 22, 2014 in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action.  SALT filed an amicus brief supporting the Respondents to the appeal from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down Michigan’s Proposal 2 on the ground that it changed the political structure in Michigan and made it impossible for racial minorities to petition their representatives for affirmative action programs. The brief was drafted by pro bono counsel at the global law firm of Crowell and Moring, in consultation with a committee of SALT members.

Today, the Supreme Court has reversed the Sixth Circuit and reinstated Proposal 2’s ban on race conscious remedies in higher education in Michigan, but the Court’s decision does not affect affirmative action programs (or the lack thereof) in states outside Michigan.

The Schuette case involved Proposal 2, a 2006 ballot initiative approved by the voters of Michigan which prevented state universities from engaging in the kind of admissions procedure that the Court held constitutional in the 2003 case Grutter v. Bollinger.  In that case, the Court upheld the admissions program of the University of Michigan Law School because it was constitutional for the law school to consider race among many factors in making holistic admissions decisions.  SALT also participated as a friend of the court supporting the University of Michigan in that case.

The Schuette decision is certainly a disappointment for the universities and law schools in Michigan in their efforts to enroll a diverse student body capable of meeting the challenges of the 21st Century as leaders in their communities and professions.   As SALT argued in its brief, the enrollment of people of color at the flagship universities in Michigan suffered after the adoption of Proposal 2, and universities and public institutions will have to work ever harder to obtain the educational benefits that a diverse student body and alumni base provide in light of the constraints of Proposal 2.

The decision, however, does not affect Grutter’s holding that schools still can consider race among a number of factors remains the law after Schuette and Fisher v. The University of Texas decision last term, which SALT also joined as amicus in support of the university’s efforts to enroll a diverse undergraduate student body.

SALT will continue to advocate for increased racial and ethnic diversity at all levels of education.  As law teachers, we know the importance of having a diverse pipeline into the legal profession.   To deal with the constraints placed on law school diversity by recent court decisions, SALT has participated in several B.A. to J.D. Pipeline Programs throughout the country over the last three years to encourage and mentor a diverse group of students for successful admission into law school.   SALT will also continue its advocacy for justice, diversity, and academic excellence.

SALT is a community of progressive law teachers, law school administrators, librarians, academic support experts, students and affiliates. SALT has been working for more than 40 years to improve the legal profession, the law academy and expand the power of law to underserved communities.

Click Here for Full Amicus Brief:

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Equal but Separate: Schuette

By Benjamin G. Davis, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toledo College of Law, Visiting Professor Spring 2014, Albany Law School

As we know, Schuette’s 6-2 boys against the girls decision came down today.

A succinct description of it in the wake of Fisher is we have now moved to equal but separate. As long as the methodology can mask sufficiently artfully animus, the Supreme Court is basically saying it is not its business to upset that equality cart.

Alternatives to race-based admissions, as Ginsburg noted in her dissent in Fisher, enshrine spatial segregation of minorities that is inherent in the American fabric. Market based housing value diminution when blacks make up more than 10 percent of the neighborhood (or, put another way, the higher valuing for housing in low black presence neighborhoods) as recently discussed in Forbes shows that the invisible hand of private ordering enshrines a social structure in a way that is of no moment to our Supreme Court as long as it is left unsaid when it is done.

That 90 percent of black Michiganders who exercised the franchise voted against the Proposition is not mentioned at any point as to their evaluation of the implications of the Proposition for them. Platitudes about “more harm than good” of the Chief Justice cannot find words to react to that level of polarization of the electorate on the topic.

Through the federalism structure of our Constitution that enshrined a slavery based status quo over 200 years ago to the present 12 or 13 generations later reinvention of subordination described in all it’s artfulness by Justice Sotomayor, a past that is always with us and even isn’t the past presents Faulknerian challenge to the good “faith” intentions of Kennedy, Roberts and Alito.

Many have engaged in those efforts to seek dialogue and interest convergence  in the manner naively opined about by Kennedy, Roberts and Alito.  But, in return, I have been asked to leave or threatened with the police being called on me. In 2012.  When one’s presence and assertion of one’s agency are seen as an existential challenge, one realizes rapidly that dialogue is not being sought but rather acquiescence to one’s subordination.

That history falls on deaf domestic ears – as one notes the self-satisfaction in many quarters with this accelerating Supreme Court project to enshrine social hierarchy at the expense of the most vulnerable of its citizens in this federalism – particularly those who happen to be black.

At the end of their lives, Justices will express Posner-like regret for the result of their artful dodging of the history. However, as it has for 12 or 13 generations, their mea culpas will continue to leave many of us cold.


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Title VII and The Interplay of Racial and Economic Justice

Cross post from Jurist.org

JURIST Guest Columnists Leonard M. Baynes and David L. Gregory, both of the St. John’s University School of Law, discuss the anniversary of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the interplay of racial and economic justice …

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the enactment of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. This landmark legislation outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, and sex. Since its enactment, there has been dramatic advancement of African Americans in all areas of economic and civic life. In addition, Title VII’s anti-discrimination principle has become an ingrained more in American society and taught Americans that racial discrimination is unacceptable.

As we celebrate this milestone year, it also important to put Title VII in the full context of the Civil Rights struggle, which embodied activism for both jobs and justice. On April 4, 2014, we also solemnly remember the forty-sixth anniversary of the martyrdom of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as he championed striking Memphis sanitation workers’ rights for better working conditions and decent wages. Dr. King advocated for nondiscrimination principles; but his activism also posited economic equality and fairness for all Americans.

Despite the progress that Title VII has generated, the Pew Research Center reports that, for the last fifty years, African American unemployment has consistently outpaced that of whites, sometimes approaching three times the white unemployment rate. Largely due to the disparity in educational opportunities, many African American men are unable to find full-time employment, and instead have to work part-time jobs. This situation is measured by the “underemployment rate.” According to the New York State Department of Labor, African American men have an underemployment rate exceeding 25 percent.

How can this be? Given how courts have heightened the evidentiary requirements necessary to prove Title VII cases, have limited the ability to bring Title VII class actions, and have allowed employers to require arbitration, not court hearings, for Title VII claims, Title VII has become more of a “paper tiger” and is not the ideal vehicle to eliminate race discrimination in the workplace. Moreover, the progress of African Americans is limited by its application solely to racial justice. Title VII does not address economic justice and inequality. Therefore, other inequities in the workplace, such as fair pay, good jobs, fair working conditions, and overall economic inequality affecting the African American community cannot be remedied under Title VII if race discrimination can’t be proven.

Click here to be redirected to the full article.


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(Updated 4/8/14) The Government Misled Me, not the CIA: Release SSCI CIA Torture Report and the Internal Panetta Review and let heads roll

Benjamin G. Davis, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toledo College of Law, Visiting Professor Spring 2014, Albany Law School

“A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years — concealing details about the severity of its methods, overstating the significance of plots and prisoners, and taking credit for critical pieces of intelligence that detainees had in fact surrendered before they were subjected to harsh techniques.”

From today’s Washington Post – http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/cia-misled-on-interrogation-program-senate-report-says/2014/03/31/eb75a82a-b8dd-11e3-96ae-f2c36d2b1245_story.html?wpisrc=emailtoafriend

While the games continue between the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the CIA about the access to the “internal Panetta Review” the above lead in the Washington Post is one of the most confounding phrases to be read in all these years of the torture crimes and impunity wars.

In all of these years of reports about the CIA enhanced interrogation techniques, the only persons that I as the ordinary citizen have had the privilege to listen to about the program are politicians from the Senate and House Armed Services, Judiciary and Select Committees on Intelligence, and high-level Executive Branch officials in the Bush and Obama Administration up to both Presidents.

So I find it exceedingly strange that the above line says that the CIA misled the American public.  Wrong! It was and is the Legislative and Executive persons who put in place and oversaw the program and defended it incessantly on all the air and radio waves (and their echo chambers in authoritarian activist groups and academics primarily on the right) who misled me.

Now I did hear John Rizzo as the CIA Acting General Counsel as he then was blather on to an audience about all this being bottom up requested (and not top down authorized) and I do remember Glenn Sulmasy saying we should not be talking about each other as war criminals to the assembled applause.

Both of their comments and those applauding should make each of us Americans puke.  That is, those Americans who do consider that torture is actually a crime and not a policy difference.

We do get some inkling of internal dissension at CIA from the report and we have replayed the FBI and CIA differences on the approach.  What is not replayed in all this is the detail about who told who to go where and when to do what to whom and why.  We need to know all the who’s and get the chains of command absolutely crystal clear.  Even with the sophisticated ways of trying to blur responsibility to “dull the image” that players in this game love to do, we have the ability to persevere on and not let these additional misdirection efforts divert us from the task at hand – criminal prosecution of the high-level civilians and military generals who put in place and authorized this torture regime.

Now, if each of us in the home of the brave and the land of the free finds it so terribly difficult to point the finger at those who put in place and authorized this torture regime, that may simply mean that deep down inside we would just rather not make waves.  You know the old go along to get along game.  Just curve your back and look away from the crime in front of us.

Reminds me of the scene in “12 years a slave” where Solomon is hanging from a rope with his toes barely on the ground for an afternoon.  We can go play in the field next to him.  We can walk by and ignore him.  Watching that scene of course brought me back to that deep trench of perversion in the American soul from slavery and segregation that still harms us today.  It also reminds me of persons held by Americans and on behalf of Americans and treated in this new 21st century to barbarities at least as bad if not worse as that scene.

Some of us do not avert our eyes.  Some of us cry out again for justice for those tortured by us and through that justice for the American people who have been bamboozled into a War in Iraq and sold so many bills of goods by the national security establishment about the wonderful things they are doing in our names.

When did torturing people become an American pastime that would lead to no recriminations for the elites who put it in place?  With the combination of the release of this report, the release of the internal Panetta review, and the release of information coming from the inquiries in England, Poland, and other places – the ability to keep us in the dark is swiftly disappearing as we watch the desperate efforts of the protagonists of this evil to misdirect us from the difficult task of holding them accountable for their misdeeds.

We shall not be moved into countenancing torture and throw back at the collective powers of the elite the demand of the ordinary citizen for accountability at the highest levels for these abominations done in our name.

Let heads roll as justice flows down like rain.  If I wanted to live in a state where torture was countenanced, I would have moved to the Soviet Union.  Screw that.  Refluat Stercus.

(Updated 4/8/14 – http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2014/04/02/when-cia-tortured-detainees-to-death-and-agents-escaped-accountability-were-granted-promotions/.  Very sick, very sick.)

 


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Univ of Denver Law / SALT BA to JD Pipeline Today

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Thanks to Randy Wagner, Dean Marty Katz, and the wonderful faculty and staff of the Sturm College of Law in Denver for hosting SALT and the seventh B.A. to J.D. Pipeline. After some great introductions we are listening to Dean Camille Nelson, a powerful advocate for modern diversity, who is “poking holes in the wall separating people.” She has given us a strong call to “occupy our space” and be our best selves to achieve our potential. She brought up important words from the Letter from Birmingham Jail; that if we do nothing we are giving ourselves over to the status quo. She called us to build intentional communities that reflect the diversity of the community itself.

She also spoke about the Federal Judiciary and the diversity necessary on the bench. Who can be leaders is a good question; “everyone can lead, some have titles, more do not.” She implores us to remember that the work is never done and we are called to be active. Enormous thanks to Dean Nelson for kicking off what will be an exceptional day.

Dean Nelson, Suffolk School of Law:

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Student and alumni panelists from University of Denver Sturm College of Law:

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Hazel Weiser, Former Executive Director of SALT and Current Assistant Dean for Graduate and Continuing Legal Programs and Associate Director of the American Business Law LLM at New York Law School:

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Associate Dean of Institutional Diversity and Inclusiveness, Sturm College of Law, speaking on opportunities to get involved and stay active:

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BDS: Non-Violent Resistance to Israeli Occupation

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By Marjorie Cohn

Thanks to Scarlett Johansson, the American Studies Association (ASA), and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has entered our national discourse. Representatives of Palestinian civil society launched BDS in 2005, calling upon “international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South African in the apartheid era . . . [including] embargoes and sanctions against Israel.” The call for BDS specified that “these non-violent punitive measures” should last until Israel fully complies with international law by (1) ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the barrier Wall; (2) recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and (3) respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their land as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

Johansson is a spokesperson for SodaStream, a seltzer-making company whose major factory is located in an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank. SodaStream generates the highest volume of settlement exports to Europe. Until recently, Johansson was also an ambassador for Oxfam, which, like many other international organizations, opposes all trade from the Israeli settlements in the West Bank because companies are operating there illegally. Shortly before Johansson’s commercial for SodaStream aired during the Super Bowl last month, Oxfam forced Johansson to choose between SodaStreama and Oxfam. She chose SodaStream, stepping down from her post with Oxfam.

Additionally, the ASA recently endorsed a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, which emerged “from the context of U.S. military and other support for Israel; Israel’s violation of international law and UN resolutions; the documented impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian scholars and students; the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights; and finally, the support of such a resolution by a majority of ASA members.” In its statement of support for the ASA boycott, faculty members at the American University in Cairo cited Israeli policies that “have rendered the Gaza Strip the world’s largest open-air penitentiary.” The ASA is the third major U.S. academic organization – together with the Asian American and Native American and Indigenous Studies Association – to endorse the academic boycott of Israel during the past year.

And, earlier this month, when he delivered the keynote address to the annual meeting of the powerful Israel lobby in the United States, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Netanyahu spent almost as much time attacking BDS as he did explaining why he thinks Iran is a strategic threat to Israel. Clearly disturbed by the proliferation of BDS worldwide, Netanyahu claimed, “Those who wear the BDS label should be treated exactly as we treat any anti-Semite or bigot.”

Is BDS anti-Semitic?

But, in the words of Rafeef Ziadah, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, “The BDS movement is opposed, as a matter of principle, to all forms of discrimination, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.” In January, Palestinian human rights activist Omar Barghouti wrote in the New York Times, “Arguing that boycotting Israel is intrinsically anti-Semitic is not only false, but it also presumes that Israel and ‘the Jews’ are one and the same. This is as absurd and bigoted as claiming that a boycott of a self-defined Islamic state like Saudi Arabia, say, because of its horrific human rights record, would of necessity be Islamophobic.” Barghouti also noted, “BDS doesn’t pose an existential threat to Israel; it poses a serious challenge to Israel’s system of oppression of the Palestinian people, which is the root cause of its growing worldwide isolation.”

Nobel Peace Prize winner South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu concurs. “My voice will always be raised in support of Christian-Jewish ties and against the anti-Semitism that all sensible people fear and detest,” Tutu wrote in the Tampa Bay Times. “But this cannot be an excuse for doing nothing and for standing aside as successive Israeli governments colonize the West Bank and advance racist laws,” he added, noting “Israel’s theft of Palestinian land” and “Jewish-only colonies built on Palestinian land in violation of international law.”

Tutu cited the 2010 Human Rights Watch report, which “describes the two-tier system of laws, rules, and services that Israel operates for the two populations in areas in the West Bank under its exclusive control, which provide preferential services, development, and benefits for Jewish settlers while imposing harsh conditions on Palestinians.” Tutu writes, “This, in my book, is apartheid. It is untenable.” He called on “people and organizations of conscience to divest from . . . Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett Packard,” which profit “from the occupation and subjugation of Palestinians.”

Moreover, if BDS is anti-Semitic, why do so many Jews support it? In her recent piece in Tikkun Daily, Jewish Voice for Peace board member Donna Nevel mentioned that “respected members of the liberal Jewish community” and “a few liberal Zionist groups,” formerly opposed to BDS, are now calling for boycotts of products made in the settlements. She points out that groups like Jews Say No and Jewish Voice for Peace – “a diverse and democratic community of activists inspired by Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social justice, and human rights” – are “resonating with increasing numbers of Jews who support BDS as a natural outgrowth of their commitments.”

Some Jews in Israel have also engaged in non-violent resistance to Israeli government policies. Sixty youth recently signed an open letter to Netanyahu announcing their refusal to serve in the Israeli military due to the dehumanization of Palestinians living under occupation. In the occupied Palestinian territories, they wrote, “human rights are violated, and acts defined under international law as war-crimes are perpetuated on a daily basis.” The signatories cite “assassinations (extrajudicial killings), the construction of settlements on occupied lands, administrative detentions, torture, collective punishment and the unequal allocation of resources such as electricity and water.

How extensive is the BDS movement?

The BDS movement is spreading throughout the world. European pension funds are divesting from banks and companies that operate in settlements, and European markets are labeling Israeli goods made in the West Bank. In January, PGGM, the Netherlands’ second largest pension fund, decided to divest from five of Israel’s largest banks because they financed companies involved in the construction of settlements. PGGM is the second Dutch company to recently break ties with Israeli companies. Also in January, two of Europe’s largest financial institutions, Nordea and Danske Bank, agreed to boycott Israeli banks with branches in the West Bank. Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global, a multibillion operation, has blacklisted Africa Israel Investments and Danya Cebus due to their ties to settlements in the West Bank. Argentine authorities have suspended a proposed $170 million water treatment plant’s deal with Israel’s state water company Mekorot, in response to local trade unions and human rights organizations that connected Mekorot’s role in Israel’s illegal theft of Palestinian water resources. Many Western artists and bands refuse to perform in Israel.

In his final report to the United Nations, Richard Falk, Special UN Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, called on the international community to comprehensively investigate the business activities of companies and financial institutions registered in their own respective countries, which profit from the settlements in Israel and other unlawful Israeli activities. He advocated that they “take appropriate action to end such practices and ensure appropriate reparation for affected Palestinians.” Significantly, Falk wrote, “Member States should consider imposing a ban on imports of settlement produce.”

Israel’s Maariv newspaper reported that the international boycott of Israeli settlement products has already led to financial losses of $30 million. Indeed, last August, Secretary of State John Kerry warned that Israel could face a boycott campaign “on steroids” if it continues to build settlements in the occupied West Bank.

In a recent interview, President Barack Obama asked, “Do you resign yourself to what amounts to a permanent occupation of the West Bank? Is that the character of Israel as a state for a long period of time? Do you perpetuate, over the course of a decade or two decades, more and more restrictive policies in terms of Palestinian movement? Do you place restrictions on Arab-Israelis that run counter to Israel’s traditions?” These are bold words. But it is unlikely Obama will follow them with bold action.

Israel remains the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, over $3 billion a year. And Elbit Systems Ltd., Israel’s largest arms manufacturer, has just been awarded a $145 million contract by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border and Protection to deploy border surveillance technology in southern Arizona. Elbit is the Israeli military’s largest suppliers of drones, which were involved in the killing of 29 children during Israel’s attack on Gaza in 2008-2009, and the ongoing bombing of Gaza.

In light of Israel’s documented human rights violations, U.S. assistance and the Elbit contract are unacceptable. “Those who turn a blind eye to injustice actually perpetuate injustice,” Tutu said. “It doesn’t matter where we worship or live.”

Anti-BDS legislation and blacklisting student groups

Nevertheless, there has been a vigorous campaign to pass anti-BDS legislation, both in Israel and in the United States. In 2011, the Israeli Knesset passed an anti-boycott law which would sanction anyone who declares a commercial embargo on Israel, and label any boycott a civil offense subjecting its initiators to litigation. Several Israeli and U.S. human rights groups asked that the law be annulled and a special panel of the Israeli High Court of Law held a hearing on the bill in February. The New York Times opposed the bill, noting, “this is a fundamental issue of free speech.”

Anti-boycott legislation introduced earlier this year in both New York and Maryland which would punish institutions that endorse the boycott were withdrawn after several educators and legislators criticized the bills as an attack on academic freedom. But a revised version of the New York bill has been introduced that would punish colleges that use public funds for activities that support boycotts of Israel. In early March, the Protect Academic Freedom Act was introduced in the House of Representatives, which would deny government funding to any U.S institution that endorses the academic boycott of Israel.

And bills have been introduced in several state legislatures to penalize universities if their faculty members participate in professional organizations that express a political viewpoint by endorsing a boycott. More than 150 scholars and others signed a statement recognizing boycotts as “internationally affirmed and constitutionally protected forms of political expression.” Columbia Law School Professor Katherine Frank wrote, “A law targeting the boycott today cannot be differentiated from the laws that punished boycotts in the U.S. civil rights movement or those that compelled academics to sign loyalty oaths as a condition of employment.”

In another campaign against the BDS movement, some universities, including Northeastern, have banned Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) from campuses and threatened disciplinary measures against some SJP members. This appears to be “part of a coordinated effort by the Israeli government and the Israel lobby to blacklist all student groups that challenge the official Israeli narrative,” according to Chris Hedges.

Resistance to the banning of student groups that criticize Israeli policies should cite the well-established Supreme Court precedents protecting academic freedom of speech, including Healy v. James (“[t]he college classroom with its surrounding environs is peculiarly the marketplace of ideas”), Keyishian v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. of N.Y. (“the vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools [of higher learning]”), and Snyder v. Phelps (“speech on matters of public concern . . . is at the heart of the First Amendment’s protection”).

But unless and until Israel ends its brutal occupation of Palestinian lands, grants full equality to all its people – including Palestinians – and recognizes the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their land, the non-violent BDS movement will continue to grow and cripple the Israeli economy. A system based on inequality and oppression cannot survive.

Marjorie Cohn, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, is a member of Jewish Voice for Peace.


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Save Sriracha: Save a Beloved Hot Sauce from Smelly Politics

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Local politics in California has ignited fear for fans of Sriracha, an extremely popular hot sauce, created for pho, a Vietnamese soup, and now fancied for Asian, taco and fusion dishes, sushi and street food. Celebrities, home chefs, even workers from the mailroom to the top offices are fans. Sriracha lovers around the globe are closely monitoring the actions of a small Los Angeles suburb that recently went to court to stop its production. The small city of Irwindale, east of Los Angeles, argues that Huy Fong Foods, maker of Sriracha, a hot chili sauce, emits harmful odors from a new plant within the city boundaries.
 
Bon Appetit named Sriracha the Ingredient of the Year in 2010, while Cook’s Illustrated rated it the best-tasting hot sauce. Sriracha demand has no boundaries. NASA astronauts take its green-cap bottles on space missions. For months, the spicy tragedy boiling in California has been called Sriracha-apocalypse, with legions of restless fans. For now, Irwindale has merely delayed moving against Huy Fong.
Irwindale should turn down the heat on the conflict and let environmental regulators work with Huy Fong. Recent city efforts, in court and with polarizing hearings, only prove that local politics smell worse than sauce production. In addition to the legion of Sriracha lovers, the ultimate losers will be Irwindale and its residents. These not-in-my-backyard sentiments (NIMBYism) and city politics reek of disaster. Clearly, Irwindale over-spices its politics. In 1987, it was nicknamed the Raider Crater as it fumbled stadium plans for the Los Angeles Raiders. This was a nightmare for Los Angeles football fans and is an ongoing dilemma that continues to plague the city. Residents were burned with huge legal bills and have had reputational indigestion for decades.
 
Ironically, just five years ago, the city supported Huy Fong’s move to Irwindale. This was a smart move as the city needed new businesses to fill empty quarries and generate taxes. Irwindale is covered with huge craters, memories of gravel mining vital to California’s burgeoning love for suburbs and highways. When Huy Fong outgrew its facilities in nearby Rosemead, it had to move to a larger facility while staying close to vital chili pepper farms, which are perfectly suited to the arid Southern California climate. Sriracha’s secret comes from grinding chilies soon after they’re picked. Irwindale supported Huy Fong’s move with redevelopment funds, allowing the construction of a 600,000-square-foot facility at a cost of roughly $40 million. The Los Angeles Business Journal named it the best industrial project of 2012. This was an impressive accomplishment, especially at a time when cities nationwide slashed budgets and reduced services. In November of 2012, Irwindale’s Planning Commission was “happy to report the scent of chilies” from Huy Fong.
 
The sweet smell of success turned rancid just one year later. In 2013, the city went to court seeking to stop all Huy Fong operations. Panic hit foodies and chefs, fearing the end of Sriracha. Irwindale has not dropped this suit. It complains about the smell as well as burning eyes and coughs. This is odd for many reasons. Residents of Rosemead, a much larger and more densely populated city where Huy Fong was manufactured for decades, never complained. Air quality inspectors did not find any problems in Irwindale. In November, a judge found no credible evidence of health problems associated with odors. Environmental regulators, city consultants and Huy Fong can’t point to the exact problem, much less how to fix anything. Irwindale insists Huy Fong is a public nuisance and continues its march to end sauce production.
Irwindale should let environmental regulators like the South Coast Air Quality Management District work with Huy Fong to create a solution. Communities should not live with harmful fumes or odor, and California law requires that a public nuisance be substantial and unreasonable.
 
But at this point, Irwindale can’t prove either requirement. For years, it knew about Huy Fong’s operations, including the chili grinding. Air quality regulators, not Irwindale, should determine if the plant emits odors. This is especially the case given Irwindale’s mercurial positions. It relies on complaints from less than a handful of households. Since the grievances began, Huy Fong has worked with air quality regulators, a fact affirmed by the air quality management district and community leaders.
 
The scope of the problem might be distorted since Irwindale has less than 1,000 voters. Given the small sample size, even a handful of complaints could create intense pressure for local politicians to create arbitrary policies. City officials, residents, regulators and Huy Fong representatives should work together to calm overreaction on all sides. Irwindale has the power to decide if it will forever be known as the proud home of Sriracha or the place where rank politics drove away a globally loved hot sauce.
This article was originally published in the Chicago Tribune on March 21, 2014.  Read it here.

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Tenure Standard 405 Remains

Dear SALT members:

At its meeting over the weekend in San Diego, the Council of the American Bar Association Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar (“Council”)  declined to make any changes to the current law school accreditation standard, Standard 405, which requires that each ABA-accredited law school should have a policy providing tenure or equivalent security of position for most of its full-time faculty.   The Council is the national accrediting body for American legal education.   The Council had sent proposed changes to tenure and  security of position for notice and comment.  Over 60 law schools, hundreds of law professors, and dozens of organizations filed comments opposing changes to the current requirement.  The Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) has consistently advocated in favor of tenure and security of position in several comments submitted to the Council’s Standards Review Committee.

While the current Standard 405 does not achieve the kind of equity in faculty employment that many would like to see, maintaining the current standard is a major victory for faculty governance and academic freedom in the face of proposed alternatives that would weaken both of those core values.   Further, SALT, sister organizations like the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) and the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD), and the many organized faculty who spoke out against the change have demonstrated the importance of being heard about the changes that the Council is considering.  The volume and quality of the opposition to deregulating these faculty employment standards clearly mattered to the Council.  SALT and other organizations weighed in on other matters before the Council involving experiential education, externships, and bar passage, and there our comments were also considered by the Council.

This Council meeting is not the end of the continued discussion of the future of legal education; and indeed the Council’s recommendations must go forward to the ABA House of Delegates in August.   SALT will stay engaged in debates over the challenges in preserving academic freedom and security of position because we believe that these values enhance the quality of legal education.  In order to make sure that our voice is strong, we need you to renew your membership now.  If it has been more than a year since you renewed your membership, it is time to do so again.  You can do so at www.saltlaw.org at the “Join Now” button at the top left of the home page.

Thanks for all you do to keep SALT an effective voice in legal education.

 


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How the U.S. Turned Three Pacifists into Violent Terrorists

A piece by SALT Member, Professor Fran Quigley at www.uncommondreams.org

In just ten months, the United States managed to transform an 82 year-old Catholic nun and two pacifists from non-violent anti-nuclear peace protestors accused of misdemeanor trespassing into federal felons convicted of violent crimes of terrorism.  Now in jail awaiting sentencing for their acts at an Oak Ridge, TN nuclear weapons production facility, their story should chill every person concerned about dissent in the US.

Here is how it happened.

In the early morning hours of Saturday, July 28, 2012, long-time peace activists Sr. Megan Rice, 82, Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, and Michael Walli, 63, cut through the chain link fence surrounding the Oak Ridge Y-12 nuclear weapons production facility and trespassed onto the property.  Y-12, called the Fort Knox of the nuclear weapons industry, stores hundreds of metric tons of highly enriched uranium and works on every single one of the thousands of nuclear weapons maintained by the U.S. …

Read the entire post at commondreams.org


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Professor Emily Benfer, SALT Board Member Receives Inaugural Albert Schweitzer Leadership Award

HUGE congratulations to beloved law professor, mother, mentor, and SALT board member Emily Benfer, professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

Click here for the full announcement. 

The award will be presented at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum Thursday, February 27th.

 


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