Category Archives: Brooklyn Law School

She is.. She is.. NO, NO, NO, NOTORIOUS (R.B.G.)

Photo Credit: Angie Gottschalk, Ithaca Journal

Thirty years ago, before a sparse audience scattered throughout a cavernous auditorium at Cornell University, a petite woman argued passionately about the meaning of the U.S. Constitution. As her fellow symposium panelists — Cornell professors of law, government, and history — debated the technicalities of the document, she pushed for broader questions to be asked on issues that the Constitution is silent on, including “affirmative rights” and “cultural and social guarantees.”  ‘’ ‘Our Constitution is defective in that respect’ she said. ‘Why should the U.S. Constitution be a model for the world? Who needs freedom of speech when you have an empty belly?’ ” (Yaukey, Ithaca Journal, September 19, 1987, p. 4A)  

Much has changed in the intervening years. That appellate judge and pioneering women’s rights advocate who couldn’t draw a decent-sized crowd at her own alma mater, is now a pop culture icon.  Journalists breathlessly report on her fashion sensibilities (fishnet gloves anyone?) or when she is spotted carrying a tote bag with her own face on it.  Kids dress up as her for Halloween and adore her coloring book.

One thing hasn’t changed though: Ruth Bader Ginsburg still has plenty to say about the Constitution.

A lot has also been said and written about Justice Ginsburg, who holds an honorary degree from BLS.  The following are some relevant titles in the BLS Library collection to consider putting on your summer reading list:

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik (2015). [Call number: KF8745.G56 C37 2015]  The elevation of RBG to her current status as a cultural icon can be traced to the Notorious R.B.G. Tumblr created by Shana Knizhnik, one of the book’s co-authors, in 2013. This title is a colorful and entertaining look at Ginsburg’s life and career.  We get plenty of juicy nuggets about her Brooklyn childhood and nickname (Kiki), her favorite bathroom at Cornell where she could get schoolwork done (in the architecture school), the time she couldn’t check a citation as a Harvard Law Review member (the volume was located in a men-only library reading room), and how her mentor Prof. Gerald Gunther had to “blackmail” federal judge Edmund Palmieri so she could secure a clerkship (Justice Frankfurter flatly said no; Judge Learned Hand refused to hire women as he was “potty-mouthed” and did not want to watch his language around women.)   Notorious RBG remains accessible even when it starts covering the denser legal material from Ginsburg’s time as a law professor, at the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, and her judicial tenure.  Excerpts from the brief she authored in Reed v. Reed (1971), her majority opinion in the VMI gender discrimination case, United States v. Virginia (1996), and the dissent she read from the bench in the equal pay case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (2007) (that helped spur passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009) are all meticulously annotated so as to be readily understood by the layperson. RBG’s loving marriage to Marty Ginsburg shines through: the last note he wrote to her before he died from cancer, reproduced in the original, is especially touching.  Even if you don’t want to read all the material, skimming through the many photographs and illustrations in the volume can be a joy.

My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams (2016)  [Call number: KF373.G565 G56 2016]  My Own Words is a collection of Ginsburg’s writings and speeches which are given context by short introductory essays by her co-authors.  Especially interesting are the early documents: a school newspaper editorial from June 1946 that champions the new United Nations Charter; “One People”, a 1946 article for the East Midwood Jewish Center Bulletin (religious school graduation issue) discussing post-war unity; and a 1953 letter to the editor published in the Cornell Daily Sun titled “Wiretapping: Cure worse than Disease?” We get some insight into Ginsburg’s love for opera, friendship with Justice Antonin Scalia, and why her given name Joan never stuck.  Her family and marriage get some attention: husband Marty was a true partner, did all the cooking, and was the biggest champion of his wife — decades after the fact, he remained annoyed at Harvard Law School for not allowing RBG to be awarded a Harvard degree after completing her third year at Columbia.  Yet My Own Words feels incomplete: despite the many speeches, law review articles, briefs, and judicial opinions contained in the volume, Ginsburg’s personality and character remain elusive.  This is a function of the limited scope of the project: RBG’s co-authors Mary Hartnett and Wendy Williams are her official biographers, and one gets the sense that more personally revealing anecdotes and materials are being held back for the main publication that will follow.

Brief for Appellant, Reed v. Reed

The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Scott Dodson (ed.) (2015)  [Call number: KF8745.G56 L4499 2015]  This volume is a collection of 16 essays from legal luminaries that include Herma Hill Kay, Nina Totenberg, Lani Guinier, Tom Goldstein, and many more.  Linda Kerber’s essay “Before Frontiero there was Reed” vividly traces the history of Reed v. Reed, the first case in which the Supreme Court held that arbitrary discrimination based on gender violated the Equal Protection clause. As Kerber writes, Ginsburg added the names of Pauli Murray and Dorothy Kenyon to her Reed brief; even though neither had written a word, RBG “understood more clearly than anyone of her time the debt that the women of her generation [ ] owed to those of preceding generations.” Many of the essays focus on doctrine — criminal procedure, jurisdiction, federalism — but the closing essays speak to her temperament and approach to life and the law. The closing essay “Fire and Ice: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Least Likely Firebrand” by Dahlia Lithwick is especially revealing. Lithwick describes how Ginsburg’s judicial voice grew exponentially after Justice O’Connor retired and RBG was left the only woman on the court.  Faced with the male Justices’ insensitivities during oral argument in Safford Unified School District v. Redding (2009), a case in which school officials strip searched a teenaged female student, RBG took the unprecedented step of granting an interview while the decision was still pending. In the interview, Ginsburg told Joan Biskupic of USA Today (who was also Justice O’Connor’s biographer) that her colleagues “have never been a 13-year-old girl” and that more women were needed on the court. The student prevailed 8-1 in her claim against the school district.  And perhaps it was no coincidence that just 3 weeks after the USA Today interview was published, President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg went to the Supreme Court and changed the world by Linda Hirshman (2015).  [Call number: KF8744 .H57 2015]  Sisters in Law traces the background of two ostensibly very different women, one a Goldwater Girl, the other a card-carrying member of the ACLU, who ended up as pioneers on the Supreme Court.  Justice O’Connor was known to be a centrist, a “justice-as-legislator” who believed in “playing defense” to protect hard-earned gains and who adhered to incrementalism. In contrast, Ginsburg with her litigation and advocacy background was used to “playing offense.” Nevertheless, once RBG reached the court, she quickly determined that of all the relationships she needed to develop, the most important was the one with O’Connor.  Justice O’Connor, who had over the years been fed many of RBG’s clerks, reciprocated.  Contrary to tradition, RBG’s first assigned majority opinion for the court was not a unanimous decision but rather a complex ERISA case on which the Justices had split 6-3.  After Ginsburg had successfully navigated her way through this first challenge, O’Connor, who had dissented, sent her a note that read: “This is your first opinion for the Court, it is a fine one, I look forward to many more.”  Hirshman also includes an anecdote about how RBG, as the first Jewish justice in a generation, helped change court practices. Upon joining the court, Ginsburg sent a letter to Chief Justice Rehnquist, siding with Orthodox Jewish lawyers who objected to the year on their certificates of admission being worded as “The Year of Our Lord.”  She encountered resistance from an unnamed colleague (the author suspects Rehnquist or Blackmun) “Why are you making a fuss about this? It was good enough for Brandeis, it was good enough for Cardozo and Frankfurter.” RBG’s response? “It’s not good enough for Ginsburg.”  The Court ultimately acquiesced.  There is plenty in this book to chew on about both the differences and shared experiences of the first two female Supreme Court Justices, and how they have changed the dynamic of the Court forever.

 

Spring Break & Third Floor Shifting

With a winter blizzard expected on Tuesday, March 14th and the school planning to close in anticipation of this event — on the  BLS academic calendar it is actually “Spring Recess.”  Listed below are our library hours for the remainder of, as I like to call it, “Spring Break”  — the word “recess” reminds me of elementary school!

Wednesday, March 15th (weather permitting):  9:00am – 10:00pm

Thursday – Saturday, March 16th – 18th:  9:00am – 10:00pm

Sunday, March 19th:  10:00am – 12Midnight

For library hours anytime, you can always check out our daily calendar which can be found on the library homepage, in the lower right corner.

Last week and during this week’s break from classes, much movement is going on on the third floor of the library, as you may have noticed.  We are consolidating our law review collection in the Subin Room and making way for exciting changes to come in the third floor Law Review Room over the summer.  We will keep you posted with more details to follow soon.

Enjoy your break — whether you are in New York in the snow or you traveled to somewhere warm and sunny!

Kindness Chain for the Holidays and Every Day

As the holiday season approaches, law librarians (including this writer), faculty, students and staff at Brooklyn Law School and elsewhere look forward to the end of final exams so they can travel and join family and friends in celebration of the December holidays. From Christmas to  New Year’s Day, from Hannukah to Eid Milad-un-Nabi or the Winter Solstice, many of us will celebrate according to our own tradition. Not all of us will be so fortunate as many people will be working during the holidays to keep the world running while we celebrate the holidays: cab drivers, garage assistants, healthcare workers, carers, police men and women, airline staff, members of the armed forces. All of these people deserve a massive thank you for keeping things going while we sit at home enjoying holiday cooking. So take a minute away from your family and friends and reach out to someone who is working on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. All of us can use a random act of kindness not only during the holidays but every day.

Library Hours & Study Room Reservations During Exams

keep-calmLibrary hours for the reading and exam period, Thursday, December 8th – Thursday, December 22th, are 8:00am – 2:00am.

The circulation desk will close at 12:00am every night during this period.

On Friday, December 23rd we will be open from 9:00am – 5:00pm.

During the reading and exam period study room reservations are mandatory.  All study rooms will be locked beginning at 8:00am on Thursday, December 8th and students must go to the circulation desk at the time of their reservation to obtain the key to the room.  Please remember the following about the use of the study rooms during the reading/exam period:

  • Study rooms are for the use of groups of two or more students.
  • Study rooms may be reserved for the current day and three days ahead.
  • Study room reservations may be made in time slots of 60 minutes.
  • Students may book up to 4 time slots per day.
  • The link to the study room reservations is on the library web page under “Related Links.”

 

Video of Conversation with Rudikoff and Zamfotis

This is an update of the September 23, 2016 post Episode 098 – Conversation BLS Alumni Greg Zamfotis and John Rudikoff. The update adds a video of the conversation to the audio linked in the earlier post. Additionally, John Mackin, Public Relations Manager at Brooklyn Law School, wrote a summary of the conversation which is available by clicking this link.

4thHope everyone will be enjoying the beautiful 4th of July weekend.

The Library will be open its normal hours on Saturday and Sunday and will be open from 9 to 5 on the Fourth.

The Library hours for the weekend are posted below.

Saturday July 2nd 9 am – 10 pm
Sunday July 3rd 10 am – 10 pm
Monday July 4th 9 am – 5 pm

Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks event is scheduled to begin around 9 PM and last for about 30 minutes.fireworks

The show will take place on the East River this year. Fireworks will be set off from the Brooklyn Bridge and from barges in the water below. You can view the fireworks from any area in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn with an unobstructed view of the sky above the East River.

Enjoy.

Brooklyn Law School’s Scholarship & Special Collections

brooklynworks

BrooklynWorks is the online repository of Brooklyn Law School, providing open access to scholarship produced by the law school and to other collections of law school materials. The repository is a service of the Brooklyn Law School Library. Current collections focus on faculty scholarship, the law school’s journals and library special collections.

Within the law Journals collection, you can browse or search issues of the Brooklyn Law Review, the Brooklyn Journal of International Law, the Journal of Law & Policy, and the Brooklyn Journal of Corporate, Financial, & Commercial Law.  Within the faculty scholarship collection, you can browse or search Brooklyn Law School’s faculty publications going back to 2010.

Within the Special Collections, you can browse the papers of David Trager from the 1986-1989 New York City Charter Revision Commissions.  Included in this historic collection are various drafts of the New York City Charter, meeting minutes and letters to the members of the commission.  The digitized documents were selected from materials he donated to the Brooklyn Law School Archives. To access the entire collection, you can contact the reference desk (refdesk@brooklaw.edu) and make an appointment to visit the archives.

World Refugee Day 2016

UNHCRThis week, Brooklyn Law School Library Associate Librarian Linda Holmes created a display of library material marking World Refugee Day. In December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution, A/RES/55/76, designating June 20 as World Refugee Day to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. Among the titles in the display case located on the first floor of the BLS Library opposite the elevator is The UNHCR and the Supervision of International Refugee Law edited by James C. Simeon (Call No. K3230.R45 U54 2013). The 384 page book is an in-depth analysis of the UNHCR’s supervisory role in the international refugee protection regime. It examines the part played by key institutions, organizations and actors in the supervision of international refugee law and provides suggestions and recommendations on Green Card Storieshow the UNHCR’s supervisory role can be strengthened to ensure greater State Parties’ compliance to their obligations under these international refugee rights treaties. Another title in the display is Green Card Stories by Saundra Amrhein and Ariana Lindquist (Call No. JV6455 .A826 2011), a coffee table style book that depicts 50 recent U.S. immigrants—each with permanent residence or citizenship—in powerfully written short narratives and compelling portraits.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in 2016, 65.3 million people are considered refugees, the largest count since WWII. Due to rising conflict in the Middle East and ISIS’ intent to destroy Christians and non-Muslims, the world now has a record number of people who have been displaced from their homes and have nowhere to go. Unfortunately, many countries have no desire to help them, especially displaced Christians from the Middle East. One reason is because many fear that ISIS members are disguising themselves. The UNHCR estimates that 24 persons are displaced from their home every minute due to conflict and persecution with 16 million qualifying as refugees due to persecution. It released its latest analysis of global displacement trends in a 68-page report. To help understand its key findings, see this 90-second video:

Artificial Intelligence in Law and Education

robot lawAn intriguing new title in the Brooklyn Law School Library collection is Robot Law by Law Professors Ryan Calo, A. Michael Froomkin, and Ian Kerr (K564.C6 R63 2016). The 402 page book brings together research on robotics law and policy written by scholars from law, engineering, computer science and philosophy on topics such as liability, warfare, domestic law enforcement, personhood, and other cutting-edge issues in robotics and artificial intelligence. The book is an in-depth look at an area of law that is growing in importance. Like the Internet before it, robotics is a technology that will transform the social and economic landscape of legal research and practice. Robot Law looks at the increasing sophistication of robots and their widespread use in hospitals, public spaces, and battlefields requiring rethinking philosophical and public policy issues, including how AI interacts with existing legal regimes and changes in policy and in law.

Whether artificial intelligence will one day displace human lawyers has become so important that, this past April, Vanderbilt Law School hosted the first legal conference on the topic, “Watson, Esq.: Will Your Next Lawyer Be a Machine”. Speakers included Richard Susskind, author of “Tomorrow’s Lawyers” and “The Future of the Professions,” and Andrew Arruda, whose firm ROSS Intelligence helped build ROSS (which does not stand for anything), the world’s first artificially intelligent attorney, on top of IBM Watson.  Designed by students at the  University of Toronto, ROSS is meant for use by lawyers. Asking it a legal question will yeild an “instant answer with citations and suggested readings from a variety of content sources.” ROSS reads and understands language, postulates hypotheses when asked questions, researches, and then generates responses (along with references and citations) to back up its conclusions. It learns from experience, gaining speed and knowledge the more users interact with it.

A recent Washington Post news piece reports that the law firm Baker & Hostetler announced that it is employing ROSS to handle its bankruptcy practice of nearly 50 lawyers. CEO and co-founder Andrew Arruda, says that other firms have also signed licenses with ROSS and expects more announcements soon. Although still in the prototype stage, ROSS shows great promise as an innovative legal research tool. Tasks that ROSS can do include:

  1. Giving relevant answers – not a list of results – to natural language questions;
  2. Learning from user’s questions – it learns and improves the more it is used;
  3. Providing a consistent, easy-to-use experience on any devices used to access it.

At this week’s CALIcon 16 being held at the Georgia State University College of Law, BLS Reference Librarian Harold O’Grady and Technology Educator Lloyd Carew-Reid will present a session, The Future of Artificial Intelligence in Legal Education, Research and Practice. Also participating will be:

  • Professor Heidi Brown (Director of Legal Writing at Brooklyn Law School);
  • Mikhail Jacob (a Ph.D. student at the Georgia Institute of Technology); and
  • Dr. Mark Riedl (an Associate Professor in the Georgia Tech School of Interactive Computing and Director of the Entertainment Intelligence Lab).

Episode 097 – Conversation with Prof. Heidi Brown

Episode 097 – Conversation with Prof. Heidi Brown.mp3

Heidi BrownIn this podcast, Brooklyn Law School Professor Heidi Brown talks about her article, The Emotionally Intelligent Law Professor: A Lesson from the Breakfast Club, 36 University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review 273 (2014). The article examines the importance of teaching Emotional Intelligence (EI) as part of the law school curriculum and as a component of “professionalism.” In April 2016, Professor Brown joined the faculty at Brooklyn Law School as Director of the Legal Writing Program after serving as Associate Professor of Law at New York Law School, where she helped launch that school’s Legal Practice program. Before that, she was an Associate Professor of Legal Research and Writing at the Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law in Orange, California. A prolific scholar and author on the importance of legal writing, she has published four books on predictive and persuasive legal writing and federal litigation, and other scholarly articles for law journals. Prof. Brown is  working on a forthcoming book The Introverted Lawyer.