Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pope Francis Calls for Common Good Before Congress

By: Scott Wood
Professor Emeritus

I join millions of Americans in celebrating the Pope's wise and deeply moving address to the joint meeting of Congress. An hour-long speech, the longest he has every given in English.

He called each of us to be our best selves in the spirit of Lincoln, MLK. Jr., Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. The four Americans that he spotlighted capture the principles of Catholic Social teaching and, at the same time, the best of our American cultural values. The Pope's wide-ranging talk both resonated with and also challenged liberals and conservatives. His call to promote the common good was a major theme that informed his points on caring for refugees and immigrants, for making a positive difference in climate change, for promoting civil dialogue between factions rather than supplying them with arms. He unequivocally condemned the death penalty saying that "Punishment must never exclude hope or rehabilitation."

More than the content of his speech, the Pope communicated a humility and kindness that reminded his listeners that the universal Golden Rule should govern our lives and guide our actions. Consistent with his open-hearted speech, he closed his visit to the Capitol bidding farewell from the balcony where he blessed the children and then asked non-believers and others who cannot pray to send him their best wishes. The Pope spoke to and for a truly universal church.

The Pope's speech connects directly with the LLS mission to educate lawyers who will commit to ethics and service in their practices, to contribute legal services to the underserved pro bono. The Pope's emphasis on the welfare of children is reflected in Loyola's Center for Juvenile Law & Policy; his opposition to the Death Penalty resonates with Project for the Innocent; his championing the cause of refugees and immigrants is mirrored in Loyola's immigration rights clinic. LLS is part of a Jesuit university that teaches students to be persons for others. Each of the Pope's four American exemplars--two non-Catholics and two Catholics--was a person for others.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Pope Francis Spreads Social Justice in U.S.

By Father Luis Arriaga, S.J.
Jesuit Legal Fellow

Those who profess the Catholic faith are rejoicing! Not only is it rare for a pope to visit the U.S., never have we had a visit from a pope with an origin from the Americas. Now, Pope Francis is visiting several American cities.

At a time when religion is in crisis, the Church has a pope who is one of the most important leaders of the world. He is a man who has accepted that the love of God lives within him. He does not believe that the dogma of the Church is as important as that of being human, i.e., the freeing of the poor and those who suffer injustices in this world. Pope Francis has stated that poverty is not eradicated by assistance or charity, but by the public policy of governments that should return dignity to the oppressed and make their citizens autonomous and participatory. In other words, there should be a radical change from the logic of mere financial assistance to the poor to a philosophy that society should provide opportunities for social development for people of all economic levels.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Federalism vs. Individual Rights in Suit Against Court

By Professor Karl Manheim

This op-ed originally appeared in the Sept. 21, 2015 edition of the Daily Journal.

California’s budget crises of recent years had a deleterious effect on state court funding. The same story was repeated around the country as state courts became convenient targets of budget cuts. Unsurprisingly, such cuts adversely affect the administration of justice. Also unsurprisingly, the effect is often uneven, creating special hardship for certain populations.

Los Angeles County Superior Court (LASC) responded to the funding crisis by closing courtrooms around the county and consolidating certain categories of cases into a few “hub” courts. It closed the majority of courtrooms hearing unlawful detainer (eviction) actions, while leaving many other types of civil cases mostly unaffected.

Los Angeles County is the largest in the nation in population and one of the largest in size. Half of its 10 million residents are renters. In 2013, the 26 neighborhood courts that heard eviction actions were “consolidated” into five courts spread across the county. For some tenants facing eviction, now getting to the courthouse became an almost insurmountable obstacle. This was especially true for poor and disabled renters who had to rely on public transportation.

Civil rights groups representing these vulnerable groups filed suit against LASC in federal court under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other statutory and constitutional claims. They cited Tennessee v. Lane, 541 U.S. 509 (2004), which permitted a litigant with disabilities to sue a state court over impediments to courthouse access. Lane rejected state sovereign immunity to such ADA claims.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Bringing Disability into Constitutional Law Discussions

By Professor Michael Waterstone
This was originally posted on American Constitution Society for Law And Policy as part of their 2015 Constitution Day Symposium.

Disability should be included in constitutional discussions. For the most part, it has not been. The doctrinal resting place of disability constitutional law is a bad one – under Cleburne, government classifications on the basis of disability are only entitled to rational basis scrutiny. Especially given that there is a statute, the Americans with Disabilities Act, that in many ways goes further than what constitutional law could require, disability cause lawyers have not brought cases under constitutional theories. And, tracking this, the progressive academic discussions of the Constitution’s future and potential do not usually include any discussion of disability.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Can Birthright Citizenship be Repealed?

By Adjunct Professor Don Warner

This op-ed originally appeared in the Sept. 14, 2015 edition of the Los Angeles Daily Journal.
Several candidates for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election have adopted as a policy the elimination of so-called "birthright citizenship" for children of illegal aliens born in this country. How could this be accomplished? To find out, let’s engage in a thought experiment.

The first barrier, as almost everyone agrees, is this language in the 14th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States."

So we'll pass an amendment modifying that language. Can a subsequent amendment amend an amendment? The 21st Amendment repealed the 18th entirely, ending the "experiment" of alcohol prohibition. So, no problem here.

Our new amendment could modify the language in Section 1 of the 14th to add a proviso: "Provided that, no person both of whose parents, at the time of such person's birth, were…” Illegal aliens? Undocumented workers? Vague and ambiguous. Let's use one of a drafter's best tricks, negative language: "were not legally present in the United States."

Friday, September 11, 2015

Youth Justice Education Clinic Fall 2015 Updates

By Professor Michael Smith, Youth Justice Education Clinic Director

The Youth Justice Education Clinic (YJEC) was originally conceived six years ago to serve the education advocacy needs of the Juvenile Justice Clinic, and that continues as one of our core missions, we are now taking community referrals from families and students who may benefit from our comprehensive education and disability advocacy.  We currently have approximately 50 active clients, from 4 through 20 years old, many with multiple legal issues.  

While much of our legal advocacy focuses on special education law (eligibility, placement, services, and compensatory services awards), we also have the expertise to provide advocacy, and regularly do so, in the following related areas: general education discipline, including suspensions, expulsions, and illegal non-voluntary transfers; school enrollment issues, usually based on illegal denial of enrollment due to homelessness, probation status, disability, and credit deficiency; Regional Center (eligibility, placement, and services) advocacy for the developmentally delayed; school based discrimination based on disability, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, homelessness, religion, and poverty; and, if necessary, federal and state court litigation for monetary damages based on civil rights violations and tortious conduct.  Finally, it is not unusual, in the course of our work, to uncover school district (and other public entity) policies that do not comply with applicable laws.  When faced with the clear illegality of their policies, the school district will change, district-wide, how they deal with all their students.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Prof. Waterstone Comments on State Bar Mentoring Proposal

The California State Bar recently created a State Bar Attorney Mentoring Program designed to "further public protection through mentoring, education and the training of young lawyers to promote the pursuit of excellence, professionalism, and ethics in the practice of law."

Part of the pilot for this program includes asking members of the bar for public commentary in hopes of designing a program that would best fit the needs of California law students and their possible mentors. Professor Michael Waterstone's commentary appears below.

Friday, September 4, 2015

U.S. Dept. of Justice Focuses on Juvenile Justice

By Professor Kevin Lapp
This was originally posted on Juvenile Justice

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has recently been focusing some significant attention on the administration of juvenile justice.

In 2012, it released a report on the Shelby County, Tennessee juvenile justice system, finding that Shelby County’s juvenile justice system failed to provide constitutionally required due process for those accused of delinquency and failed to provide equal protection under law for accused African-Americans. Later that same year DoJ announced an agreement that included a series of corrective measures.