Tag Archive for 'Brandeis University'
This year was one of the most dramatic conclusions of a United States Supreme Court term. In one week, the Court decided crucial questions of same-sex marriage, voting rights and affirmative action, decisions that enter into the lives of millions of Americans in direct and intimate ways.
Yesterday, at the National Constitution Center (NCC) in Philadelphia under the auspices of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), I once again had the honor and privilege of presenting an analysis of these landmark decisions with my friend Erwin Chemerinsky, the founding dean of the UC-Irvine Law School. Erwin and I have led this program together for well over a decade, previously as a national conference call.
This year, celebrating the ADL’s 100th anniversary, we were joined by distinguished Supreme Court commentator Lyle Denniston and the NCC’s new president and CEO, Jeffrey Rosen, my friend and former GW Law colleague, in presenting live at the Constitution Center, with an audience of thousands following the live-stream. There could be no better way to celebrate Independence week than to engage in a careful study of American Constitutional Law in the making, at the very place where in all began.
Watch the video of the panel on the ADL’s website.
I had the pleasure of moving the admission of our alumni to the Supreme Court bar, a program we began last year that I hope will now become a Brandeis tradition. We are the only university in the country without a law school that organizes the admission of alumni before the Supreme Court. We arrived at the Court Monday morning, after a short walk over in a bit of a rain shower. We were escorted to the Lawyer’s Lounge where we met with William Suter, who has served as clerk of the Supreme Court since 1991. He described the admissions process to the applicants and their gathered families. Bill is a great public servant who will be stepping down from his position as clerk this summer. I am grateful that he was present both last year and this year for our inaugural Brandeis Supreme Court admission events.
While we waited for the Court to begin, alumni heard a bit about the International Center for Ethics Justice and Public Life from Professor Dan Terris. We were escorted to the courtroom where — by custom — the spectators sit in silence to wait for the beginning of the session at 10 a.m. As many times as I have seen this, I still get a thrill when the clock strikes 10 and the nine Justices of the Supreme Court take their seats on the bench.
We were fortunate to hear the court read a rather historic opinion regarding the admissibility of DNA evidence taken involuntarily from a cheek swab of a person who has been arrested. Under the process, the DNA sample is used to determine if the defendant in that crime may have been involved in another unrelated crime for which DNA evidence is available. We heard Justice Anthony Kennedy read a summary of the majority opinion, upholding the process. Justice Antonin Scalia read a dissenting option (joined by Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan), decrying this as a suspicionless search, previously deemed impermissible under the Fourth Amendment. I am sure that the case, Maryland v. King, will receive much attention for years to come. We will all remember being in the Courtroom when it was announced.
After the decisions were read, Bill Suter, as clerk of the Court, calls upon those making admission motions. I have to admit that it is quite an experience to be addressed as “President Lawrence” by Chief Justice John Roberts when called to present the motion for admission to the bar of our Brandeis University alumni. The real pleasure, however, is in seeing our distinguished graduates admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States.
After the session was adjourned, we were joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Ginsburg, who graciously answered questions and provided their perspective on the decision we just heard. After discussion, we headed outside to get a picture with the façade of the Supreme Court — impressive even when under renovation — in the background and were joined by our alumni for an informal luncheon and more lively discussion. Louis Brandeis would have been proud.
This morning I had the great privilege to meet the students from Waltham High School who have been selected for Stroum Family Waltham Scholars awards. Leaders in the Waltham community, including Mayor Jeanette McCarthy, attended a breakfast to honor these accomplished young men and women.
With me in the photo above are Michael Humbert, Benjamin Humbert (in case you are wondering, they ARE twins), Hannah Bernstein and Sejal Kotecha.
My sincere congratulations to all of them!
The events of the past week have been challenging, and now we are challenged to frame our response to the bombings and the other acts of violence that have affected our community.
The Justice sent me the following question, which I was not able to answer by its press deadline. However, I think it is an important question that we should all consider, so I am taking the opportunity to answer it here.
The question, posed by The Justice’s Tate Herbert, was:
Over the past few days, details about the Marathon bombings, which culminated in Friday’s wild manhunt, have continued to emerge. After the initial traumatic fear settles and the perpetrators have been apprehended, various outlets have started to talk about ‘responses.’ The Boston Globe, in its editorial published on Tuesday, called for the city of Boston to ‘Confront the worst of human nature…strive to live up to its best.’ The New York Times echoed the message of President Obama who ‘vowed to track down the perpetrators and bring them to justice.’ Moving forward, what do you think is the proper response to this series of events?”
The response to senseless violence is the reassertion of the values of a civil society. We saw this in the very first minutes following last week’s tragedy: first responders reacted immediately in ways that undoubtedly saved many lives that might otherwise have been lost; bystanders became active participants in helping the wounded; marathon runners continued on for several miles in order to donate blood.
Closer to home, the response here at Brandeis was remarkable. Students supported each other, especially on Friday. In the midst of the lock-down, support staff came to campus so that by day’s end, more than 10,000 meals were served to Brandeis students and our public safety officers created a pervasive sense of security on campus. In the darkness of the Marathon bombings, we can fear that there is no limit to the depths of human cruelty. But in the responses, we can see that is also no limit to the capacity for human kindness.
There are society-wide responses of the government and of the criminal justice system. Yet it is in the individual responses, one to another, that we find a profound kind of heroism.
I truly enjoy teaching, and it was a delight to take a few hours on April 9 to present a
“Tuesday Talk” at the Heller School.
My topic was, “Words that stab: Hate Speech under the American Constitution and
the European Convention of Human Rights.” We had a lively discussion comparing
the treatment of hate speech under the U.S. Constitution and the European
Convention on Human Rights and the underlying legal principles that seek to
balance principles of self-expression and defend personal safety.
A video of the entire talk, including the outstanding questions from Brandeis
students, can be viewed on Vimeo.