Bush's Iraq Battles Among Subjects of New Law Courses
Bush's Battles Over Iraq Among Subjects of New Law Courses
August 13, 2007 – Congress’s battles with the Bush administration over the power to conduct war — against Iraq and against terrorists — are among the subjects of some timely new courses that Columbia Law School will offer in the coming academic year.
Personal responsibility in business practices, the legal issues of Internet-based commerce, and some recent U.S. Supreme Court cases, including same sex marriage and school desegregation, will also be covered in the new courses. Some of the seven new faculty Columbia Law School hired for the 2007-08 academic year will teach several of the courses.
Matthew Waxman, one of those professors, will offer a seminar titled Use of Force in the International System. Some of the issues the course will consider are new. Terrorist organizations, for instance, can now wield violence globally at a level of intensity and sophistication previously achievable only by powerful states.
Arguments For Preemptive War
Other issues have historical parallels. ``Many Bush administration arguments justifying preemptive military action against a country such as Iraq when it seems to be stockpiling weapons of mass destruction resemble the Kennedy administration’s arguments during the Cuban missile crisis,’’ Waxman said. ``And some of today’s congressional efforts to constrain the Iraq war resemble congressional responses to Vietnam.’’
Waxman, who most recently served as the principal deputy director of the policy planning staff at the U.S. State Department, had spent nearly two years in a Pentagon post created to address the problems raised by the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq, and pushed for new Pentagon standards on handling terror suspects based on the Geneva Conventions’ bar against cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment.
Because the course covers such current material, there’s no textbook. Waxman said materials will include U.S. and international court cases as well as close readings of United Nations Security Council resolutions, congressional resolutions and statements, and diplomatic correspondence.
``We’ll also study historical and hypothetical cases through role-playing,’’ Waxman said. ``Students might be asked to play the parts of legal adviser to the Secretary of Defense or Secretary of State at an emergency National Security Council meeting, or to simulate a debate among U.N. ambassadors considering a draft Security Council resolution.’’
Waxman said he hopes to attract students with diverse professional ambitions but with an interest in current national security and foreign policy issues. ``We’ll approach questions from a variety of perspectives – as a lawyer, as a diplomat, as a policy adviser,’’ he said.
Hottest Topics in Law and Politics
Nathaniel Persily, whose forthcoming book examines the effect of court decisions on American public opinion, will offer two new courses. One is called Contemporary Issues in Law and Politics.
``In the course we’ll discuss the hottest topics in law and politics, from same-sex marriage and school desegregation to partial-birth abortion, the war on terror and the Bush administration’s torture memos,’’ Persily said of the seminar, scheduled for the spring semester of 2008.
He said he will leave several weeks of the syllabus open so he can take up current events as they occur, or to address key Supreme Court decisions that might come down in the spring term.
``We might address the legal issues around President Bush’s recent pardon of Scooter Libby, or the U.S. Attorney scandal,’’ Persily said. Bush commuted the sentence of I. Lewis ``Scooter’’ Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, after a federal court convicted Libby of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to investigators probing the leaked name of a CIA operative. Separately, the Bush administration has come under criticism for firing eight U.S. attorneys.
Persily, who comes to Columbia Law School from the University of Pennsylvania, will also teach an advanced constitutional law class titled Freedom of Expression. ``It will cover everything from pornography to racist speech and campaign finance regulation,’’ he said.
He will also look at recent court action affecting journalists, including the case of Judith Miller, the former ``New York Times” reporter, which reaffirmed that journalists have no particular ``press shield’’ protection under the U.S. Constitution. Miller was jailed in 2005 for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating a leak that named Valerie Plame as a covert CIA agent.
Persily has been a court-appointed expert for redistricting cases in Georgia, Maryland and New York, and has served as an expert witness or outside counsel in similar cases in California and Florida. He recently testified before the U.S. Senate judiciary committee concerning the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act.
Electronic Commerce and the Law
New faculty member Ronald J. Mann, a leading expert on electronic commerce and the global credit card industry, will offer a new course titled Electronic Commerce.
Mann said the course is designed to prepare students to join business law firms who specialize in technology companies as clients. The course will look at how to protect domain names, the mechanics of e-contracting, issues surrounding software licensing, the growth and complications of e-payment systems, and issues of consumer data protection for purchases made on the Internet.
Mann, who comes to Columbia from the University of Texas, has written “Charging Ahead: The Growth and Regulation of Payment Card Markets Around the World,” (Cambridge University Press, 2006).
Religious Liberty, Multiculturalism, Trademark Law
Some of the other new offerings this year include Multiculturalism, Society and the Law, offered by Visiting Professor Amnon Rubinstein, and Comparative Trademark and Unfair Competition Law, taught by Visiting Professor Lionel Bentley and Jane Ginsburg, the Morton L. Janklow Professor of Literary and Artistic Property Law.
Professional Responsibility Issues in Business Practice will be offered by William Simon, the Arthur Levitt Professor of Law, and Religious Liberty will be taught by Philip Hamburger, the Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law.
Columbia Law School’s first-year students, members of the Class of 2010, begin a two-day orientation today, then start intensive introductory courses. Regular first-year and upper-year classes for the fall term begin September 4.
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