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Disinformation Campaigns & Democracy

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As you have undoubtedly read, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign coordinated or colluded with the Russian government in its election interference activities.   What the investigation did establish was that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 Presidential election.  The report described Russia’s two prong approach to election interference: spreading disinformation through social media; and hacking into computers to gather and to disseminate information to influence the election.   If you are interested in learning more about disinformation campaigns and their influence on society, the library has several resources for you. Listed below are a few of those titles.

Robert N. Spicer, Free Speech & False Speech: Political Deception & It’s Legal Limits (or Lack Thereof) (2018).

This book examines the history of the legal discourse around political falsehood and its future in the wake of the 2012 US Supreme Court decision in United States v. Alvarez through communication law, political philosophy, and communication theory perspectives. As United States v. Alvarez confirmed First Amendment protection for lies, Robert N. Spicer addresses how the ramifications of that decision function by looking at statutory and judicial handling of First Amendment protection for political deception. Illustrating how commercial speech is regulated but political speech is not, Spicer evaluates the role of deception in politics and its consequences for democracy in a contemporary political environment where political personalities, partisan media, and dark money donors bend the truth and abuse the virtue of free expression

Authoritarianism Goes Global: The Challenge to Democracy (Larry Diamond et al. eds., 2016).

Over the past decade, illiberal powers have become emboldened and gained influence within the global arena. Leading authoritarian countries—including China, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela—have developed new tools and strategies to contain the spread of democracy and challenge the liberal international political order. Meanwhile, the advanced democracies have retreated, failing to respond to the threat posed by the authoritarians.

As undemocratic regimes become more assertive, they are working together to repress civil society while tightening their grip on cyberspace and expanding their reach in international media. These political changes have fostered the emergence of new counter-norms—such as the authoritarian subversion of credible election monitoring—that threaten to further erode the global standing of liberal democracy.

In Authoritarianism Goes Global, a distinguished group of contributors present fresh insights on the complicated issues surrounding the authoritarian resurgence and the implications of these systemic shifts for the international order. This collection of essays is critical for advancing our understanding of the emerging challenges to democratic development.

Jukka Rislakki, The Case for Latvia. Disinformation Campaigns Against a Small Nation: Fourteen Hard Questions and Straight Answers about a Baltic Country (2014).

Finnish journalist and author Jukka Rislakki examines charges spread by Russian media and provides an outline of Latvia’s recent history while attempting to separate documented historical fact from misinformation and deliberate disinformation. His analysis helps to explain why the Baltic States (population 7 million) consistently top the enemy lists in public opinion polls of Russia (143 million). His knowledge of the Baltic languages allows him to make use of local sources and up-to-date historical research. He is a former Baltic States correspondent for Finland’s largest daily newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, and the author of several books on Finnish and Latvian history. As a neutral, experienced and often critical observer, Rislakki is uniquely qualified for the task of separating truth from fiction.

Paul Todd, Jonathan Bloch & Patrick Fitzgerald, Spies, Lies, and the War on Terror (2009).

This book traces the transformation of intelligence from a tool for law enforcement to a means of avoiding the law–both national and international. The “War on Terror” has seen intelligence agencies emerge as major political players. “Rendition,” untrammeled surveillance, torture and detention without trial are becoming normal. The new culture of victimhood in the US and among partners in the “coalition of the willing” has crushed domestic liberties and formed a global network of extra-legal license. State and corporate interests are increasingly fused in the new business of privatizing fear. The authors argue that the bureaucracy and narrow political goals surrounding intelligence actually have the potential to increase the terrorist threat.

Robert B. Laughlin, The Crime of Reason: And the Closing of the Scientific Mind (2008).

According to Nobel Laureate Robert Laughlin, acquiring information is becoming a danger or even a crime. Increasingly, the really valuable information is private property or a state secret, with the result that it is now easy for a flash of insight, entirely innocently, to infringe a patent or threaten national security. The public pays little attention because this vital information is “technical”—but, Laughlin argues, information is often labeled technical so it can be sequestered, not sequestered because it’s technical. The increasing restrictions on information in such fields as cryptography, biotechnology, and computer software design are creating a new Dark Age: a time characterized not by light and truth but by disinformation and ignorance. Thus, we find ourselves dealing more and more with the Crime of Reason, the antisocial and sometimes outright illegal nature of certain intellectual activities.

Climate Change in the Courts

A recent ruling by a court in Australia is garnering international attention for considering the impact on climate change as a factor in its dismissal of an appeal by a coal mining company against a decision denying its application to establish an open-cut coal mine.

The decision, Gloucester Resources Limited v Minister for Planning [2019] NSWLEC 7, referred specifically to the impact that increased greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) would have on climate change, noting that “the GHG emissions of the coal mine and its coal product will increase global total concentrations of GHGs at a time when what is now urgently needed, in order to meet generally agreed climate targets, is a rapid and deep decrease in GHG emissions. These dire consequences should be avoided.” Gloucester Resources Limited v Minister for Planning [2019] NSWLEC 7, para. 699.

While the impact of GHG emissions on climate change was not the sole factor relied upon by the court in issuing its decision, the inclusion of GHGs’ impact is noteworthy. In an article on Bloomberg, Martijn Wilder, an environmental lawyer at Baker McKenzie, noted that this was “one of the first times a mine has been rejected on climate grounds.” James Thornhill, Coal Developers Take Note: Climate Change Killed This Coal Mine, Bloomberg (Feb. 8, 2019), https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-08/coal-developers-take-note-climate-change-killed-this-coal-mine.

David Morris, the chief executive of the Environmental Defenders Office which had joined the case noted that while this is a “case-specific” judgment that will not be binding on future decisions, “it will weigh heavily on the minds of decision makers [who assess fossil fuel projects]”. Michael McGowan and Lisa Cox, Court rules out Hunter Valley coalmine on climate change grounds, The Guardian (Feb. 7, 2019), https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/feb/08/court-rules-out-hunter-valley-coalmine-climate-change-rocky-hill.

Judge Preston, who authored the decision, also notably rejected the “market substitution” assumption, an argument that was rejected by the 10th Circuit as irrational in WildEarth Guardians v. US Bureau of Land Management, 870 F.3d 1222 (10th Cir., 2017). The market substitution assumption is an assumption that approving the proponent’s coal leases “would not result in higher national GHG emissions than… declining to issue the leases because the same amount of coal would be sourced from elsewhere even if the leases were not issued.” Gloucester Resources Limited at para. 542. Judge Preston noted that

“[There is a] logical flaw in the market substitution assumption. If a development will cause an environmental impact that is found to be unacceptable, the environmental impact does not become acceptable because a hypothetical and uncertain alternative development might also cause the same unacceptable environmental impact.” Id. at para. 545.

For more on climate change litigation, see Alice Venn, Courts can play a pivotal role in combating climate change, The Conversation, (Oct. 12, 2018), https://theconversation.com/courts-can-play-a-pivotal-role-in-combating-climate-change-104727 and check out the following:

Sophie Marjanac, Lindene Patton, Extreme Weather Event Attribution Science and Climate Change Litigation: An Essential Step in the Causal Chain?, 36 J. Energy & Nat. Resources L. 265 (2018).

Marc Zemel, The Rise of Rights-Based Climate Litigation and Germany’s Susceptibility to Suit, 29 Fordham Envtl. L. Rev. 484 (2018).

Daniel Bodansky, Jutta Brunnée and Lavanya Rajamani, International Climate Change Law (Oxford Univ. Press, 2017).

Need help with your seminar paper?

Recently, Prof. Fajans and Librarian Kathy Darvil ran their semi-annual workshop on how to research and write a seminar paper.  Topics covered included sources for selecting your topic, sources for researching your topic, and how to effectively organize and write your paper.  If you were unable to attend the workshop, you can access an online research guide which contains a recording of the workshop, links to and descriptions of all the research sources discussed, and the writing and research presentations.  The online guide is available at guides.brooklaw.edu/seminarpaper.  From the guide’s landing page, you will be able to access a recording of this year’s presentation, Professor Fajans’ slideshow on how to write your seminar paper, and Kathy Darvil’s online presentation on how to research your seminar paper.  If you should need further help selecting or researching your topic, please stop by the reference desk for assistance. 

Library Oodi

The model held in her hand a single red rose.  When the photographer was setting up between shots, she smiled awkwardly at the passersby.  But most people in the vicinity were too wrapped up in what they were doing to gawk.  Students stared blankly at their textbooks with their headphones on.  A couple chatted as they looked out the glass walls toward the Parliament House.  Two women lounged on a beanbag, playing with an infant.  Library staff flitted around in grey vests, shelving books and answering patron questions.  A young girl bounced in her comfortable chair as she flipped through a picture book. 

Many were visiting Oodi for the first time as Helsinki’s new central library had been open to the public for less than two weeks.  They admired the design features that made for a welcoming space: the sloping floor that allowed for intervisibility from end to end of the third floor, the variety of chairs and couches, the lighted bookshelves.  There was a constant flow of patrons up and down the spiral staircase featuring 381 painted words chosen from a selection suggested by the public (a criminal lawyer might appreciate syyttömille.) Nourishment was available at the first floor restaurant, and the café nestled among the books on the third floor was very popular as patrons warmed up with a cup of coffee on a cold December day.  If anyone had come to borrow power tools, it wasn’t apparent.

Study Room Reservations & Library Hours: Fall 2018 Reading/Exam Period

The Fall 2018 reading and exam period starts Thursday, December 6, 2018.  During this period, you must make a reservation to use a library study room. All of the study rooms will be locked; please go to the first floor circulation desk when your reservation time begins to charge out the key to the room. Kindly return the key to the circulation desk when your reservation expires, so the next student can charge out the key.

The link for study room reservations can be found on the library homepage under Related Links. (Please note that the slots for 12 am- 2 am appear on the next day’s calendar.)

Study Room Policies

  • 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 30-minute time slots; the time slots must be contiguous.
  • Students may book up to 8 contiguous time slots per day for a total of 4 hours per user per day.

Library Hours for the Reading/Exam Period 

December 6, 2018 (Thurs.) –  December 20, 2018 (Thurs): 8:00 AM to 2:00 AM

(Circulation Desk closes at 12 midnight on these dates.)

December 21, 2018 (Friday): 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Good luck with studying and on your exams!

Thanksgiving Holiday Hours 2018

2018 Thanksgiving Holiday Schedule – Brooklyn Law School Library

Wednesday, November 21:                                9:00 am – 10:00 pm

Thursday, November 22:                                    CLOSED (Thanksgiving Day)

Friday, November 23:                                          9:00 am – 10:00 pm

Saturday, November 24:                                     9:00 am – 10:00 pm

Sunday, November 25:                                       10:00 am – 10:00 pm

We would like to wish everyone safe travels and a Happy Thanksgiving!

Beautiful Libraries

The librarians from Brooklyn Law School are attending the 2018 conference of the American Association of Law Libraries in Baltimore, Maryland. We are honored to be part of an incredible profession with so many dedicated people willing to help law students, lawyers and legal professionals. Go to your library, speak with your librarians, educate yourself and don’t ignore the advantages that your librarians offer.

Take a look at some of the wonderful libraries listed in a new book from Taschen, Massimo Listri: The World’s Most Beautiful Libraries, withimages taken of the oldest libraries around the world, from medieval to 19th-Century institutions and private to monastic collections. It claims to be ‘a bibliophile beauty pageant’.

Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (The Vatican Library), Rome, Italy
The Vatican Library has its roots in the 4th Century CE, although in its current form it was established in the 15th Century. In the 16th Century Pope Sixtus V commissioned the architect Domenico Fontana to create new buildings to house the Vatican collections, and these are still used today. The decoration is so dizzyingly luxurious that it suggests a sort of fractal geometry. Like most of the vast Vatican complex, the library is a display of the spiritual and temporal influence that has allowed the Vatican to constitute itself as a sovereign state. In addition to documents spanning much of human history, the library possesses the oldest known manuscript of the Bible. When the librarian shushes you, you might want to listen: he has the rank of cardinal.

Stiftsbibliothek Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster Abbey Library), Austria
Kremsmünster Abbey was founded in 777 CE and its library holdings include the Codex Millenarius, a famous 8th-Century manuscript of the Christian Gospels that depicts Saint Luke as a flying ox (Matthew, Mark, and John are a winged man, lion, and eagle respectively). Except for a raid in the 10th Century, after which repairs were made by Emperor Henry II, Kremsmünster for the most part escaped sacking, dissolution, and aristocratic expropriation; little wonder, since it sits on a hill like an intimidating fortress. Like many continental libraries, it was (re)built in the popular Baroque style in the 17th Century, according to which most surfaces (luckily not including the floor) are subjected to exuberant carving, gilding, and frescoes – although this library is positively restrained in comparison to some. Books as intellectual and cultural capital were once considered as valuable as jewels, and it made sense for them to be stored and displayed in gorgeous jewel boxes.

Biblioteca Statale Oratoriana dei Girolamini (The Girolamini Library), Naples, Italy The Girolamini library is part of a large complex founded by the Oratorian religious order. The library hall is an imposing space that rises through three elegant stories: two levels of carved wood shelves, topped with late baroque plasterwork and frescoes. The sheer volume of books on display leaves one in no doubt that this is a place of higher study and research, as well as a warehouse of knowledge. Although it is wide ranging, the collection is particularly strong in music: the Oratorians believe in the importance of music and song in religious contemplation. This was the 18th-Century philosopher Giambattista Vico’s favourite library. It is also, sadly, an instance of a historic library being ransacked in the 21st Century: in 2012 it was discovered that a crime ring had been systematically looting and selling its valuable antique texts on the open market, although many of them have now been recovered. This episode is a valuable reminder, if one were needed, that humanity’s written heritage – the ‘memory of the world’, as Unesco calls it – remains under constant threat of attack.

Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève (Sainte-Geneviève Library), Paris, France
Although we know it is probably older, documentary information about this library first appears in 1148. It was founded as a monastic library, survived the calamitous years of the Revolution intact (although the abbey it was a part of was dissolved and turned into a school), and now serves as the Paris Panthéon-Sorbonne university library. The library’s holdings expanded with the dissolution of other religious institutions and from confiscation of aristocratic collections. The new abbey church, built in the 18th Century, has been turned into the famous Panthéon, the national hall of fame. The current library building was created by the architect Henri Labrouste and opened in 1851. The majestic reading room is like an Industrial Age cathedral; the iron-frame construction brings to mind the other great public cathedrals of the period, the railway stations. In a modern arrangement, desks for readers are at centre stage, with the book stacks standing in graceful attendance. Gas lighting was employed in a monumental hall for the first time.

Klosterbibliothek Metten (Metten Abbey Library), Germany
The Benedictine Abbey at Metten was founded in 766 but was buffeted by the Reformation, war, social unrest, secularisation, and the realpolitik swirling around it. This reached a crescendo in 1803, when the abbey’s property, including its library holdings, were confiscated and auctioned off. However, under King Ludwig I of Bavaria the abbey was reopened and a new library was established; the site once more became a redoubt of knowledge and education. Under Abbot Märkl the monastery was transformed into a prelate’s palace, more in keeping with the prestige it commanded. Among its breathtaking official reception rooms are the library, which is designed along a sophisticated theological scheme. The result is a densely saturated and surprisingly playful palate of beautiful materials. The sculptor Franz Josef Holzinger was commissioned to create the ‘atlantes’ on the central columns to hold up the ceiling (because an ordinary marble column would never do). Christian heroes such as Thomas Aquinas are captured in scenes from their lives in the ceiling frescoes. If there is a problem with this Rococo approach to constructing a ‘temple of knowledge’, it is perhaps that one sometimes has to squint to find the books.

The Premonstratensian Strahov monastery was founded in 1143 and has survived fire, wars, and plundering. Fortunately the holes torn in its collection have been more than made up for over the years by acquisitions and bequests. The library is home to the usual array of religious books, including the exquisite Strahov Evangeliary from the 9th Century, with semi-precious stones embedded in the binding, but its holdings cover a broad range of topics. In design, the library has two monumental halls. The Theological Hall was commissioned by the Abbot of Strahov in 1671; its riotous stucco work and many paintings and inscriptions (illustrating the principles of faith, study, knowledge, and divine providence) place it firmly in the Bohemian Baroque tradition. The fact that its codices are uniformly bound in white give the hall a pleasingly well-ordered feel. The Philosophical Hall (shown here) was built starting in 1783, is more neoclassical in design, and is characterised by its magnificent walnut book cabinets, which were salvaged from the dissolved abbey of Louka, in Moravia. After the Communist coup, the monastery was appropriated by the Czechoslovakian State in 1950 to become part of the Museum of Czech Literature. But after the fall of Communism, the collections were given back to the Premonstratensians, who have been working since to repair decades of neglect.

Stiftsbibliothek Sankt Gallen (Saint Gall Abbey Library), St Gallen, Switzerland For a long time, St Gall Abbey was one of the most important
intellectual centers in Western Europe, and it incorporates one of the largest medieval libraries in the world. The abbey was founded in the 7th Century by the Irish monk Gallus, and followed the Rule of St Benedict – the most bookish of saints, who required of his order the disciplined contemplation of religious texts – for more than a thousand years. A Greek inscription above the library’s entrance calls it a ‘sanctuary for the soul’. Today’s library arose during the Baroque remodelling of the abbey in the 18th Century by the architect Peter Thumb. The decoration befits a place of great cultural capital. There is rich, Rococo ornamentation everywhere, and especially in the stucco work. The carved wooden bookcases completely cover the walls on two levels, while the ceiling paintings depict ecumenical councils and church fathers. The abbey was added to the Unesco World Heritage list in 1983.

Trinity College Library, Dublin, Ireland PIf you still have your sunglasses on, you can take them off now, because the Long Room at Trinity College Library is pleasingly low on ornamentation, and soothingly high on Enlightenment symmetries. Elizabeth I of England founded Trinity College in 1592 as a centre of Protestant scholarship, the idea being to break with the monastic tradition of learning and establish a new framework within the University of Dublin. Because the university outgrew its first library, a new building was planned by Thomas Burgh. Known as the Old Library, it was begun in 1712 and finished in 1732. It includes a spectacular 65m (215 ft)-long central space known as the Long Room; the original flat roof of the single-storey room was raised in 1858 and replaced with the oak barrel-vaulting that exists today. The Long Room’s oak shelves hold 200,000 of the university’s most valuable books. Among the intellectual worthies whose busts are ranked along the bookshelves are Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett, both of whom once used the library. (There are no women.) The library’s treasures include illuminated masterpieces such as the Book of Durrow (c 650–700) and the Book of Kells (c 800).

RBG

Her fans refer to her as the “Notorious R.B.G.” a reference to the legendary rapper “The Notorious B.I.G.” Ruth Bader Ginsburg jokes in an interview that they have a lot in common. They both come from Brooklyn. Through Ginsburg’s history you can track the women’s movement in the United States:  her fight for legal equality (for women and men), her position on an increasingly conservative court. It gives access to Ginsburg, who is interviewed, along with her children, her granddaughter, and her friends.

Starting with various right-wing figures calling Ginsburg “witch,” “very wicked,” “zombie,” the documentary takes us on a tour through Ginsburg’s life: her 1993 confirmation hearing for the Senate Judiciary Committee, recent interviews at Harvard Law School or the Virginia Military Institute, all of which help fill in the blanks of her lengthy career, as a lawyer working on women’s rights issues to her eventual nomination to the highest court in the land. There is information of personal details: her love of opera, her friendship with Antonin Scalia, the diverse collars she wears to court, her lengthy marriage to Martin D. Ginsburg. Once we reach the present day, the memes take over, showing how Ginsburg has captured the hearts of a younger generation. Seeing a class full of high school students as they listen to Ginsburg’s during a visit to their class is especially endearing.

Her husband, “Marty,” was by all accounts a well-liked and gregarious man, and not threatened by his wife’s ambitions. Gloria Steinem refers to her as a “superhero,” but Ginsburg did not spend the 1970s walking in protest marches. Instead, she went about trying to establish legal precedent for gender equality. She did so in a couple of groundbreaking cases, like Frontiero v. Richardson, her first case before the Supreme Court. “RBG” profiles those early cases, where Ginsburg took the opportunity in her arguments not only to plead for her client, but also to teach the existing Supreme Court justices that inequality is real, and why it was wrong to treat women as second-class citizens. In one of her arguments, she quoted 19th century abolitionist and attorney Sarah Grimké,: “I ask no favors for my sex. I surrender not our claim to equality. All I ask of our brethren is, that they will take their feet from off our necks.” The Supreme Court listened. Ginsburg won 5 out of 6 of her cases.

We get to hear a brief sequence dealing with her controversial 2016 comments about then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump, a serious break with the tradition of Supreme Court Justices maintaining poker faces, regardless of who is in power. One of the regular interview subjects is Senator Orrin Hatch, who may disagree with her politics but also admires her, expressing no doubt that she belongs on the Supreme Court. In the film, his is a measured presence, exuding an acceptance of disagreement and the need for compromise. His comments come from an earlier, more civilized world. Ginsburg is now queen of the dissenting opinion, but unfortunately the filmmakers stay far, far away from any “dissenting opinions” themselves.

Memorial Day 2018

Memorial Day festivities are now 150 years old. At the end of the Civil War, Americans faced a formidable challenge: how to memorialize 625,000 dead soldiers, Northern and Southern. As Walt Whitman mused, it was “the dead, the dead, the dead — our dead — or South or North, ours all” that preoccupied the country. After all, if the same number of Americans per capita had died in Vietnam as died in the Civil War, four million names would be on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, instead of 58,000.

In the North, Memorial Day emerged in 1868 when the Grand Army of the Republic called on communities to conduct grave-decorating ceremonies. On May 30, funereal events attracted thousands of people at hundreds of cemeteries in countless towns, cities and mere crossroads. By the 1870s, one could not live in an American town, North or South, and be unaware of the spring ritual. The practice of decorating graves which gave rise to an alternative name, Decoration Day did not start with the 1868 events, nor was it an exclusively Northern practice. In 1866 the Ladies’ Memorial Association of Columbus, Ga., chose April 26, the anniversary of Gen. Joseph Johnston’s final surrender to Gen. William T. Sherman, to commemorate fallen Confederate soldiers. Later, both May 10, the anniversary of Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s death, and June 3, the birthday of Jefferson Davis, were designated Confederate Memorial Day in different states.

Memorial Days were initially occasions of sacred bereavement, and from the war’s end to the early 20th century they helped forge national reconciliation around soldierly sacrifice, regardless of cause. In North and South, orators and participants frequently called Memorial Day an “American All Saints Day,” likening it to the European Catholic tradition of whole towns marching to churchyards to honor dead loved ones.

The ritual quickly became the tool of partisan memory, at least through the violent Reconstruction years. In the South, Memorial Day was a means of confronting the Confederacy’s defeat without repudiating its cause. Some Southern orators stressed Christian notions of noble sacrifice. Others, however, used the ritual for Confederate vindication and renewed assertions of white supremacy. Blacks had a place in this Confederate narrative, but only as time-warped loyal slaves who were supposed to remain frozen in the past. Yankee Memorial Day orations often righteously claimed the high ground of blood sacrifice to save the Union and destroy slavery.

But for the earliest and most remarkable Memorial Day, we must return to where the war began. By the spring of 1865, after a long siege and prolonged bombardment, the beautiful port city of Charleston, S.C., lay in ruin and occupied by Union troops. Among the first soldiers to enter and march up Meeting Street singing liberation songs was the 21st United States Colored Infantry; their commander accepted the city’s official surrender.

Whites had largely abandoned the city, but thousands of blacks, mostly former slaves, had remained, and they conducted a series of commemorations to declare their sense of the meaning of the war. The largest of these took place on May 1, 1865. During the final year of the war, the Confederates had converted the city’s Washington Race Course and Jockey Club into an outdoor prison. Union captives were kept in horrible conditions in the interior of the track; at least 257 died of disease and were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand. After the Confederate evacuation of Charleston black workmen went to the site, reburied the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery. They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

The symbolic power of this Low Country planter aristocracy’s bastion was not lost on the freedpeople, who then, in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers, staged a parade of 10,000 on the track. A New York Tribune correspondent witnessed the event, describing “a procession of friends and mourners as South Carolina and the United States never saw before.” The procession was led by 3,000 black schoolchildren carrying armloads of roses and singing the Union marching song “John Brown’s Body.” Several hundred black women followed with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantrymen. Within the cemetery enclosure a black children’s choir sang “We’ll Rally Around the Flag,” the “Star-Spangled Banner” and spirituals before a series of black ministers read from the Bible.

After the dedication the crowd dispersed into the infield and did what many of us do on Memorial Day: enjoyed picnics, listened to speeches and watched soldiers drill. Among the full brigade of Union infantrymen participating were the famous 54th Massachusetts and the 34th and 104th United States Colored Troops, who performed a special double-columned march around the gravesite. The war was over, and Memorial Day had been founded by African-Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration. The war, they had boldly announced, had been about the triumph of their emancipation over a slaveholders’ republic. They were themselves the true patriots.

Hat tip: David W. Blight, NY Times

 

 

2018 Commencement Speakers at NY Area Law Schools

Graduation season is here and Brooklyn Law School holds its 117th Commencement Ceremony today at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House. The commencement speaker was Hon. Dora L. Irizarry, Chief United States District Judge, Eastern District of New York. Appointed by President George W. Bush in 2004, Dora L. Irizarry is the first Hispanic District Judge to serve in the Eastern District of New York. On April 23, 2016, she became the first Hispanic Chief Judge of the Eastern District of New York, and the first Hispanic woman Chief Judge within the Second Circuit. Born in Puerto Rico, and raised in the South Bronx, she attended public schools, and graduated cum laude with honors and distinction in the major of Political Sociology from Yale University in 1976. In 1979, she graduated from Columbia Law School, where she was a Charles Evans Hughes Fellow, and joined the Bronx District Attorney’s Office Appeals Bureau. Assigned to the New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office, she investigated and prosecuted some of the City’s largest complex narcotics cases. She also served in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, the New York State Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force, and as a special prosecutor in the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Commencement speakers at other area law schools this year are:

New York

  • Albany Law School – Hon.  Michael J. Garcia, Associate Judge of the New York Court of Appeals
  • Buffalo Law School – Terrence M. Connors of Connors LLP
  • Cardozo School of Law — Hon. Patricia Millett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • Columbia Law School — Jeh Johnson, Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security
  • CUNY School of Law — Paul Butler, former prosecutor and law professor of Georgetown University
  • Fordham University School of Law —Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Hofstra School of Law — Ronan Farrow, Pulitzer Prize investigative journalist
  • New York Law School — Hon. Stephen Breyer, U.S. Supreme Court
  • New York University School of Law — Bryan Stevenson, NYU Law Professor and Equal Justice Initiative Executive Director
  • Pace University School of Law — Eric Gonzalez, Kings County District Attorney
  • St. John’s University School of Law — Hon. Preet Bharara, Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
  • Syracuse University College of Law — Hon. Preet Bharara, Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
  • Touro Law Center — Hon. Joseph Crowley, U.S. Representative, 14th District of New York
New Jersey
  • Rutgers University School of Law at Newark — Hon. Gurbir S. Grewal, New Jersey Attorney General
  • Seton Hall Law School — Hon. Jovita Carranza, U.S. Treasurer