Will Congress Repeal the Law Barring Suits against Gun Sellers?

December 19th, 2012 No comments

In this Slate article, posted earlier this evening, I argue that the 2005 law that banned most suits against gun sellers was a terrible capitulation to the NRA, larding gun manufacturers and dealers with a broad immunity against suit that no other industry enjoys.

My colleague and friend Jean Eggen and I had been critically discussing and evaluating these suits for years, finding some (not all) of them had merit, and trying to construct legal arguments that should prevail. We gave up, I have to admit, after this vile law was passed. Now we have some reason to hope it might be repealed.

Categories: gun policy Tags:

Does Victory Have A Price?

December 10th, 2012 No comments

In this Slate article, I argue that the recent success of same-sex marriage at the ballot box might, paradoxically, make it harder for equality advocates to win at the Supreme Court. But I think they should win, anyway.

Analysis of Yesterday’s SCOTUS Decision to Hear Both Defense of Marriage Act and Prop 8 cases

December 8th, 2012 No comments

Over at The New Civil Rights Movement, I’ve got a piece that ‘splains to layfolk what happened at the Supreme Court yesterday, and what I think it might mean.


Categories: DOMA, Proposition 8, Supreme Court Tags:

SCOTUS takes Prop 8 case and one of the DOMA Cases — Hold onto your Hats!

December 7th, 2012 No comments

In orders issued about one minute ago, the Supreme Court has decided to hear both the Prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act case. I’m surprised they took Prop 8. More soon, as I get details on the details!

Categories: Social Justice Tags:

From SCOTUSBlog: The Outcome on Marriage Equality Would be Clear to History — and to the Future

November 30th, 2012 1 comment

This is an exceptionally wise column by Tom Goldstein on today’s SCOTUSblog, as the Supremes consider which of the same-sex marriage cases to take.

The takeaway line:

The striking feature of these cases – not present in any others I have ever seen – is that that they would have been decided by the Justices’ predecessors one way and would be decided by the Justices’ successors another way.

Isn’t that just obviously right? In the 1970s, in fact, we know it’s true, because the Court dismissed a case challenging same-sex couples’ exclusion from marriage for want of “a substantial federal question.” That was about 40 years ago.

And 40 years from now, do even marriage equality’s most virulent opponents really believe (wheel in the polygraph machine!) that LGBT folks won’t be recognized, at long last, as full citizens — with the right to marry as a vital part of that citizen package?

Categories: Social Justice Tags:

Me, the Civil Unions Guy

June 12th, 2012 No comments
At least that’s how I’m being identified over at the Family Scholars blog, where I’m guest-blogging for the next few months. My first entry, posted this past Friday, drew a nice crowd of commentators. (Although the civility policy has me half-smiling/half-mad.) My second one, on why civil unions matter so much, just went up. Check them out (as well as the whole site, which is kind of cool and generally well-informed) if you’re interested in the bigger questions about the whole family/marriage equality debates. In my view, they’ve been too narrowly drawn, and this site is one needed corrective.
Categories: Social Justice Tags:

Holding Medical Professionals Accountable for Child (Sexual) Abuse

May 23rd, 2012 3 comments

I’ve just posted to the Social Science Research Network my forthcoming article (“Duty Per Se: Reading Child Abuse Statutes to Create a Common-Law Duty in Favor of Victims”).

My argument, for the non-lawyers out there, is that laws that impose a duty on medical professionals to report child abuse should also provide the basis for a tort claim against those same providers. I wrote the piece for a symposium about “Dr.” (ugh) Earl Bradley, a deranged man who molested hundreds of children and even infants over the course of many years. And it became obvious to me that existing laws weren’t doing enough to stop this sort of madness, and that only the threat of tort law could get the medical professionals to speak out against one of their own. (I’m speaking in gross generalities here, of course.)

We’ve learned from the Penn State horror story involving Jerry Sandusky, from the exhausting spectacle of the Catholic cover-up, and from too many other sources that institutions protect themselves. Tort liability won’t stop this, but it might put a dent in it. And that’s well worth doing.

For those who want to get their law geek on, here’s the link, and here’s the abstract (in case this isn’t enough to stop you, you can download and read the whole thing by toggling over there….)

This article examines recent high-profile cases involving the sexual abuse of children. It focuses on a case involving a Delaware pediatrician convicted of sexually molested hundreds of children, and also discusses cases of alleged abuse by priests and by a Pennsylvania State University football coach, Jerry Sandusky. The article proposes that courts use “duty to report” statutes to recognize a common law duty for medical professionals who know or suspect abuse to report it. Failure to discharge that duty should result in liability where the causal connection between that failure and subsequent abuse can be established.

The article introduces the concept of duty per se, and, building on insights from the Restatement (Third) of Torts, distinguishes cases of affirmative duty to act from cases of misfeasance that are considered under a negligence per se analysis. It proposes that courts consider four questions in deciding whether a statutory duty to act should create a corresponding duty under common law: (1) How important is the state’s interest in preventing the harm the statute covers? (2) How closely connected is the class of actors upon whom the duty is imposed to the harm suffered? (3) Is the prospect of tort liability for failure to follow the statutory directive likely to cause unintended consequences for those upon whom the duty is imposed? (4) How likely is it that this harm will be adequately addressed by other means?

In the case of child abuse statutes, the answers strongly counsel courts to recognize a duty by medical professionals to report child abuse, under penalty of tort liability for failing to do so.


This Just In — Obama Announces Support For Marriage Equality!

May 9th, 2012 1 comment

Oh no, he didn’t….

Oh yes! He did! Here is the link to the ABC News story.

Let’s see what happens now….

I’ll have more on this historic event soon. I’m still a bit in shock.

Here’s a great perspective on it from David Badash (citing several sources) over at The New Civil Rights Movement.



Categories: Marriage Equality, Obama Tags:

Trans 101, and the Spiritual Heir of Caster Semenya

May 5th, 2012 No comments

Here’s my post on the transgender panel from Thursday night, over at TNCRM.

I won’t try to summarize it here, but most of the discussion revolved around two topics of enduring interest to the transcommunity:

1. What’s the teaching role of transpeople, and are they allowed to get tired of it? Teaching the same course (“Trans 101”) can get tedious after a time.

2. Are gays and lesbians natural allies of the trans-community? On this, the panelists were not of one voice — but all agreed that there was at least one group that had been a steadfast ally. Read more to find out the secret identity of this mystery group!

As for the Caster Semenya reference — well, read the post!


Categories: Equality Forum Tags:

The Pink Wash? Israeli Activist Panel Disrupted by Pro-Palestinian Protesters

May 4th, 2012 1 comment

First post from Equality Forum is up over at the New Civil Rights Movement. Here’s how it begins:

Well, that was interesting.

About an hour into last night’s Equality ForumFeatured Nation: Israel” panel, four or five protesters barged into the room and began shouting about Israel’s inhumane treatment of the Palestinians. They had a huge banner that they never managed to unfurl, and what looked like a manifesto that they never managed to read — because they were quickly dragged out of the room by the hotel’s security staff.

All but one woman. Inexplicably wearing what looked like a Mardi Gras mask, she moved toward the front of the room and tried to speak. For a minute or so, there was a bizarre stand-off between her and several loud and angry audience members, who shouted (unhelpfully) “Get out.”

What happened next? Toggle on over and find out.

Categories: Equality Forum, Israel Tags: