Faculty in the News: September 16-30, 2016
The Wall Street Journal—September 16
Columbia Law School Professor Merritt B. Fox said the key issue for Mr. Schneiderman in either probe is whether the information Exxon allegedly withheld was, in fact, material in the eyes of the investing world. “If they have evidence Exxon knew about the effects of climate change or falling prices on its assets and didn’t disclose it to people outside, that has the possibility of being a material misstatement or omission,” Professor Fox said.
“The US government is making all of the major investment banks make a settlement for their involvement in the securitizations that went awry,” John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University who studies securities, tells me. The problem, according to Coffee, is that this kind of punishment is not enough to deter bankers from doing something similarly shady in the future. “The only thing that will effectively deter wrongdoing is focusing on individuals,” he says.
"It's very difficult for a company to step away from its union outside of bankruptcy," Columbia law professor Edward Morrison said. "But once it files, it's a very different situation."
The Wall Street Journal—September 17
“Before the case was charged a lot of legal experts were scratching their heads,” said Jennifer Rodgers, executive director of Columbia Law School’s Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity. “There wasn’t an obvious charge for messing with traffic on the GW bridge.”
CNN Money—September 17
"Ailes was putting his self-interest above the company and giving other people the right to escape their contracts or at least cause substantial renegotiation," said Columbia law professor John C. Coffee Jr., the author of "Gatekeepers: The Professions and Corporate Governance." When asked about the clauses by CNNMoney, Coffee said, "It is quite an extraordinary provision. You wonder, who could have approved it?"
It might indeed be a historic meeting for the United Nations, but for the migrants and refugees continuing their perilous routes into increasingly walled-off Europe, Alex Aleinikoff, former U.N. deputy high commissioner for refugees from 2010 to 2015, is skeptical. Aleinikoff is currently a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, and a visiting professor of law at Columbia University.
Bloomberg Government—September 19
While the rulemaking process necessary to formally rescind rules would take time, Trump could quickly order the EPA to shut down all efforts to implement and enforce Obama’s Climate Action Plan and other major environmental regulations, according to Professor Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School. “It’s very time-consuming to repeal a regulation,” Gerrard told Bloomberg BNA. “It’s not at all time-consuming to stop enforcing it.”
The Daily Gazette—September 20
Michael Rebell, professor of law and educational practice at Teachers College, Columbia University and the plaintiffs’ co-counsel in the landmark Campaign for Fiscal Equity case that defined the “sound basic education” requirement and led to the establishment of the Foundation Aid formula 10 years ago, called O’Connor’s decision “rather shocking” and “radically out of sync” with higher court decisions.
U.S. News and World Report—September 20
Columbia University law professor Lori Damrosch, an expert on sovereign immunity, says that in some cases it's already possible to sue a foreign country that is not a designated sponsor of terrorism. Chile, she says, was successfully sued after an agent in 1976 assassinated dissident Orlando Letelier with a car bomb in Washington, D.C.
Asbury Park Press—September 20
“This trail has been used for public recreation and public access … for 40 years," said Edward Lloyd, an environmental law professor at Columbia University who is representing the opposition. "The DEP (state Department of Environmental Protection) strangely enough in 2014 said it wasn’t public open space," he said. "They had said the opposite in 2006 and 2009... We believe this is clearly open space under DEP’s own regulation... We think this trail has been used for years and meets the DEP's definition."
Vice News—September 20
By Nathaniel Frank
Last year, when the Supreme Court made it legal for same-sex couples to marry nationwide, one might have expected the ruling to end thorny questions about the legal status of their 200,000-plus children. But as recent developments in a Tennessee court case have made clear, the religious right and its Republican enablers are now doing their best to deprive such children of legal parental attachments, giving the lie to decades of pious claims that their paramount interest lay with protecting children.
Note: Frank is the director of the What We Know Project at Columbia Law School.
The Wall Street Journal—September 21
“The SEC has been noticeably quiet in enforcing the climate disclosures it called for,” said Michael Gerrard, an environmental-law expert at Columbia Law School.
Climate Central—September 21
“This is much faster than most people had anticipated,” said Michael Gerrard, a professor at Columbia Law School who focuses on environmental law. “It’s a sign of the strong international consensus behind the Paris Agreement.”
The New York Times—September 22
“We should really hold the Department of Justice’s feet to the fire here,” said John C. Coffee Jr., a professor at Columbia Law School who is an expert on white-collar crime. “Do they really mean what they said in that memo? Will they pursue individuals and not just the underlings?”
The Wall Street Journal—September 22
“The people who care a lot about it are the ones who are subject to it or the ones who benefit from it,” said Michael Graetz, a tax-law professor at Columbia University and co-author of a book on the politics of the estate tax. That includes charities, he said, which worry that a repeal of the tax would reduce charitable bequests because some wealthy people use bequests to reduce the taxes an estate owes.
The Washington Post—September 22
To answer this question, legal scholar Jeffrey Fagan of Columbia University and other researchers studied data from specific neighborhoods in which New York police focused their manpower in periodic efforts to control crime, comparing those areas with others nearby that were not saturated with police officers. The researchers found that a high rate of stop-and-frisks was not associated with reduced crime when the practice was indiscriminate. Trump's claim that the stop-and-frisk policy was effective in New York City was "not true, simply not accurate," Fagan said.
Note: Fagan’s study was cited as evidence against Trump’s claim in multiple other outlets, including NBC News, Vice, Yahoo News, The Christian Science Monitor, and BBC News.
The New York Post—September 23
Cooperman’s “best defense will be that there was no payment or promise of a benefit made by him to the insider,” John Coffee of Columbia Law School told The Post.
BBC News—September 23
Five US experts share their thoughts on rebuilding trust between black American communities and the police…Jeffrey A Fagan: Courts routinely award damages totalling hundreds of millions of dollars to citizens who have suffered injuries or rights violations from the police. Taxpayers pay most of those costs. But as the bills pile up, there is no sign that police acknowledge, analyse or learned from their costly mistakes.
"I think it is fair to say that the jury is out and that it would be incorrect to suggest that profiling has been successful in deterring terrorism," said Bernard Harcourt, a law and political professor at Columbia University who specializes in penal law and security.
The Gotham Gazette—September 23
Jennifer Rodgers, executive director of The Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity at Columbia Law School and a former prosecutor who served in Bharara’s office, said that the charges give proof that the state’s economic development system failed. "As shown by the allegations in the indictment, there was a clear failure here in the oversight of the bidding procedures related to these Buffalo Billion projects,” Rodgers said in a statement.
USA Today—September 24
The new report, prepared by Columbia Law School professor Jeffrey Fagan, found only a 0.1% chance that agents could have selected so many minorities by chance, even if they were targeting only people with criminal records that suggested they were likely to be part of a robbery crew, as ATF policies require. Those results, Fagan wrote, show that “the ATF is discriminating on the basis of race” in choosing targets for the stings.
The Wall Street Journal—September 26
Robert Jackson of Columbia Law School also said the move is unfavorable to the insurer. “If MetLife was hoping for this to be affirmed, they’ve got to be disappointed in this panel,” he said.
Law 360—September 26
"Is EPA restricted to narrow regulations of emissions from particular sources, or can it look more broadly at the power system?" said Michael B. Gerrard, director of Columbia Law School's Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. “That's what it comes down to.”
NBC News—September 26
In 2012, legal scholar and Columbia Professor Katherine Franke wrote, "States have come to see that their political power, their legitimacy, indeed their standing as global citizens, are bound up with how they recognize and then treat 'their' gay citizens."
Bloomberg Technology—September 27
Such connections are increasingly common with the convergence of the media and tech worlds -- and help drive M&A activity. Yet they also require close attention by boards to avoid a breach of fiduciary duties, according to Robert J. Jackson, a professor at Columbia Law School. “Dorsey would have to recuse himself from all discussions since he’s in possession of confidential information of both” Twitter and Disney, Jackson said in a telephone interview.
U.S. News and World Report—September 27
"If the Saudi ambassador carried a bomb with him into the State Department and blew up the State Department.... I would say that's the same as the Chilean car bombing,” says Columbia University law professor Lori Damrosch. "Basically all elements of the tort would have to happen in the U.S. [With 9/11] it's a little more complicated.”
New York Law Journal—September 27
Another witness, Columbia Law School clinical professor Suzanne Goldberg, said the state should find a way to direct what she described as an intense interest among law students over police shootings of minority civilians into enhancing civil access to justice. Goldberg said it is natural for students who have been "enraged and charged up by the criminal justice landscape" to channel their "passion and energy" into access to justice programs.
The Baltimore Sun—September 27
“A lot of people think that intersectionality is only about identity,” says Kimberle Crenshaw, the scholar and activist who first coined the term in a 1989 essay. “But it’s also about how race and gender are structured in particular workforces.”
The Journal News—September 28
Jeffrey Fagan, a Columbia Law School professor, noted many prior drug cases against doctors have involved lesser charges. "It's rare to prosecute a doctor for this, which shows how alarmed government, whether federal or local, is about the channeling of legal drugs into illegal distribution networks," Fagan said. "Piling on conspiracy charges on top of the drug charges shows that they really mean business.”
International Business Times—September 28
Over Elizabeth Warren's Objections, Republicans Move To Help Corporations Hide Their Political Spending
After the Citizens United decision in 2010, a coalition of prominent legal scholars -- led by Harvard Law School's Lucian A. Bebchuk, and Columbia Law School's Robert J. Jackson Jr. -- argued that, in the new era of unrestrained corporate donations, shareholders have a right to know how much company cash is being devoted to political causes. They urged the SEC to adopt a new rule to make those disclosures mandatory.
ABC News—September 28
President Barack Obama opposed the bill in part because he feared foreign countries would retaliate by eroding U.S. sovereign immunity. And according to Philip Bobbitt, a law professor at Columbia University who directs the school’s Center for National Security, the president’s concern is well-founded. The U.S. has generally avoided making foreign governments accountable to individual American citizens because of the potential of leading to a disproportionate response, Bobbitt added.
Buzzfeed News—September 29
“If the suit succeeds it will be an important precedent,” Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School, told BuzzFeed News. “America’s coastlines are dotted with oil and chemical tanks and other facilities that are at risk from rising seas.”
“There’s no such thing as a ‘good’ big bank after the financial crisis,” said Robert Jackson Jr., a professor of law at Columbia University. “What we have are big banks that deserve a significant amount of scrutiny in the way that they are run, and Wells Fargo, Citibank, nobody should expect to be exempted from this.”
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