Category: Academics

Law Professor Wins Record Defamation Verdict For False Rape Claim

downloadUniversity of Minnesota Law School Professor Francesco Parisi has won almost $1.2 million in a defamation case against a woman who accused him falsely of rape.  It might be the largest defamation verdict in history for Minnesota. It is a rare such verdict in a rape case. However, the defendant was never charged with a false charge, a common practice of police even in some of the most notorious false rape cases like the Duke Lacrosse Case.  At the time, Morgan Wright’s false charge destroyed Parisi’s life, including a three-week incarceration which led to his not being with his mother when she died. Continue reading “Law Professor Wins Record Defamation Verdict For False Rape Claim”

Catholic University Professor Reportedly Suspended After Tweets Attacking Obama and Harris

imagesWe have previously discussed the uncertain standard applying to teachers and professors who are subject to discipline for social media postings. It often seems that any termination or discipline is based upon subjective or majoritarian views of the content of postings. The latest such case is out of Catholic University of America where adjunct professor John Tieso has been suspended after tweets ridiculing Barack Obama and Kamala Harris after working for the school since 2013.  Tieso told the site The College Fix that he is considering legal action.

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The New ACLU: The Once Premier Protector of Due Process Has Filed A Lawsuit Opposing Due Process Protections

downloadFor years, many of us who have long supporteded the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have grown alarmed by its abandonment of core principles in the support of civil liberties in favor of support what seems a more political agenda.  Under the leadership of a President Susan N. Herman and Executive Director Anthony Romero, the ACLU has dropped support for unpopular causes while aligning itself more closely with the Democratic Party’s position on issues ranging from immigration to sexual harassment.  I have spent my life supporting the ACLU and speaking at its conferences. It has been very painful for many of us in the “Old guard” as these political advocates have taken over the board and organization. That has been evidenced as the ACLU moved to develop a more nuanced approach to “hate speech” after criticism following the Charlottesville protests.  Free speech protection was once the touchstone of the ACLU which was fearless in its unpopular advocacy. It is now an area of open retreat for the organization as the leadership seeks to appease irate donors. Despite the right to carry being a constitutional right, the ACLU has indicated that it will not vigorously support the right to lawfully carry weapons at protests. That is no more evident than in the truly shocking filing of the ACLU to oppose due process rights for students at our colleges and universities, particularly in the imposition of a higher and more consistent evidentiary standard.  While I found aspects of the brief to raise compelling points, the thrust of the brief is an attack on basic evidentiary protections that would have once been viewed as a position fundamentally at odds with the organization’s mission.

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GW Students Petition To Remove Interim Dean Due To BDS Support

BDS_Movement_logo424px-George_Washington_University_seal.svgWe have been discussing the rising intolerance for free speech and academic freedom at colleges and universities from course material to social media postings to political speech to jokes.  As speech codes and microaggression rules are enforced, various groups are calling for the silencing or removal of those with opposing views.  The latest is at my school where pro-Israeli students are calling on the university to reconsider the appointment of anthropology and history professor Ilana Feldman as the interim dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs. The sole reason is that they disagree with Feldman’s support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

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“I Am Being Serious Here”: Yale Professor Denounces Trump For “Genocide” In Response To The Pandemic

200px-Yale_University_Shield_1.svgIn the last three years, various experts have made what they called dispositive cases for crimes by President Donald Trump ranging from hate crimes to treason to inciting violence.  Now Yale University Professor of Epidemiology Dr. Gregg Gonsalves is adding genocide.  Gonsalves is upset with what he views as the “delayed” response by the Trump Administration to the pandemic. That is certainly a legitimate viewpoint that is shared by many and people of good faith can disagree on when the Administration should have acted.  However Gonsalves insists that such a failure to respond a couple weeks earlier is “awfully close to genocide.”  It is is neither genocide nor close to genocide, but Gonsalves later doubled down to make sure that people understood that this is not just hyperbole but he was “being serious here.” He further suggests that this genocidal strategy could be tied to killing minority voters before the election. Gonsalves has appeared widely as an expert in coverage by CNN, NBC, Politico, Foreign Policy magazine, The Washington Post, and other media outlets.

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Penn Students Toss Out Penn Dems For Endorsing Joe Biden In Light Of Assault Allegations

download-1Many of us have criticized the shifting and incomplete excuses of former Vice President Joe Biden in refusing to open his papers held at the University of Delaware. This includes politicians like Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer who have declared Biden innocent before the start, let alone the completion, of a search of his papers.  However, students at the University of Pennsylvania seem to have taken away the wrong lesson from this controversy.  The school’s Coalition Against Fraternity Sexual Assault (CAFSA) has thrown out the Penn Dems for not supporting former Biden staffer Tara Reade after she claimed Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993. Our point is not that Biden should face the same presumptions of guilt but that both alleged violators and victims deserve to be heard fairly and both deserve due process.

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No, Obama Cannot Be Part Of A Dream Clinton/Obama Ticket

President_Barack_ObamaThere is a new bizarre theory lighting up the Internet that, with Biden continuing to struggle as a presumptive nominee, Democrats are considering the prospect of a DNC engineered ticket of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. We have previously discussed the rumbling over months about Clinton allies pulling off a convention swap to make her the nominee. However, the story has brought back to life a dubious theory put forward a couple years ago by Michael Dorf, a professor at Cornell Law School, that Obama could constitutionally join a ticket as Vice President and even return as president.  I found Dorf’s argument interesting, but this theory has taken flight in the imaginations of many on the Internet. The Washington Post column shows how the media seems to have endless space for any theory that fills a void for liberal fantasies whether it is unsupportable criminal interpretations against Trump or returning a president to power despite clear constitutional prohibitions on such a move.  There is no constitutional foundation for this constitutional urban legend of Obama’s return.  However this is the version of Fantasy Football for liberals. The problem is that many are taking this seriously.

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Biden Offers Limited Release From The Archives While Refusing To Open His Delaware Records

220px-Biden_2013The long-awaited response by former Vice President Joe Biden to the allegation of sexual assault by former staff member Tara Reade occurred this morning on MSNBC Morning Joe.  Biden likely viewed this as a most favorable possible forum but host Mika Brzezinski did an excellent job in questioning Biden who, shortly before the interview, publicly called for the release of any complaint by Reade.  Biden’s release was artificially narrow and, while he started strong, he quickly disassembled under questioning as to why he would not allow the release of material from the University of Delaware, which we discussed yesterday.  The refusal drew objections from advocates for victims of sexual assault. Biden also had missteps like calling the allegation “irrelevant.” The one thing that I will again raise is that this controversy should spark a debate over the privatization or control over what should be public documents by politicians.

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“A Gross Necropolitical Calculation”: Rutgers Professor Charges Trump and White Conservatives With Using The Virus To Kill Black People

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Brittney Cooper, an associate professor in the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Rutgers University, is doubling down on her prior public comments denouncing Trump supporters and alleging a conspiracy to kill black people.  She notably has invoked her tenure status with the latest tweet attacks: “I have tenure. Rutgers won’t be firing me for tweets.”  As many of you know, I have long taken the same position on the free speech rights of faculty on social media and public comments. However, schools have been less than consistent in punishing or investigating faculty based on the content of their views.  Cooper declaring “F— each and every Trump supporter” obviously would include many students in the university.  She blames “white depravity” and claims “when whiteness has a death wish, we are all in for a serious problem.”  As previously discussed, it is doubtful that these same attacks directed against African-Americans or other groups would be treated in the same fashion.

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The University of Delaware Finds Itself At Ground Zero Of Biden Sexual Assault Controversy

imagesIt is rare for a university to find itself at the center of a national political scandal but the  University of Delaware is being pummeled over its refusal to release possible documents related to allegation of sexual assault against former Vice President Joe Biden.  Biden, who graduated from the school and served as Delaware’s senator, gave his paper from the Senate to the university in 2011.  Among the papers may be the formal complaint filed by former Biden Senate staffer, Tara Reade. However, the university is refusing to release the papers.  Papers like the Washington Post have called on Biden to release all of the personnel papers. Years ago, I wrote an academic paper criticizing this control of presidential and official papers – contesting the view of politicians that these papers are personal property. I also testified in Congress against this classification of official papers as personal property. As discussed in earlier columns, this is an example of how abusive this approach can be.

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Phi Beta Casha: Harvard Vows To Keep Stimulus Money . . . Then Vows Not To [Updated]

Harvard-seal-3In yesterday’s press conference, President Donald Trump said that Harvard University “is going to pay back the money and they shouldn’t be taking it.” Harvard however says that it intends to keep the money.  That will set off an interesting legal fight, which could ultimately cost much of the grant’s worth in legal fees. Update: Harvard is now reportedly not going to seek or accept stimulus money. Continue reading “Phi Beta Casha: Harvard Vows To Keep Stimulus Money . . . Then Vows Not To [Updated]”

Florida State University Drops Four Provisions Limiting Free Speech On Campus

Florida_State_University_seal.svgI often post critical or cautionary columns about the erosion of free speech on our college campuses.  It is a pleasure to be able to raise a positive development.  One such story is out of Florida State University which has removed five policies that “clearly and substantially” undermine free speech. The University of Florida has also moved to rescind such anti-free speech measures.

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WA Governor Inslee’s Order Cancelling Remaining School Year Possibly Unconstitutional

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

It is my analysis and view that Washington Governor Inslee’s declaration cancelling the entirety of the remaining school year under the rubric of the COVID-19 situation possibly violates the Washington State Constitution.

The state’s Supreme Court held in McCleary v. Washington that “The word “ample” in article IX, section 1 provides a broad constitutional guideline meaning fully, sufficient, and considerably more than just adequate.

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“I Swear I Hit Them”: Wisconsin Doctor and Spouse Allegedly Executed By Boyfriend of Daughter

Khari Sanford, left, and Ali'jah Larrue face charges in connection with the shooting deaths of a Wisconsin doctor and her husband, authorities say. (Dane County Sheriff's Office)

In any crisis, a strange array of crimes emerge that are shaped by the crisis. We have already discussed a variety of pandemic crimes from assaults over social distancing rules to coughing on vegetables to attempts to surpass purchasing rules. There have also been murder-suicides with people who feared that they had the virus. With business burglaries up 75 percent in New York, some crimes are merely opportunistic and predictable while others add a level of depravity that is especially shocking. Wisconsin now has a particularly sad and bizarre murder to add to this list. A doctor and her husband were apparently dragged from their home and executed in March. One of the two suspects is the boyfriend of their daughter. Dr. Beth Potter, 52, and husband Robin Carre, 57, had paid for their daughter, Miriam (“Mimi’) Carre, and her reported boyfriend to Khari Sanford, 18, (left) to live in a separate apartment to protect against the spread of coronavirus (due to an underlying health condition). Potter was a professor at the University of Wisconsin and her death has shocked the academic community as well as the community at large. Sanford and his friend, Ali’jah Larrue, 18, (right) are now charged in the murder and police say that the daughter’s account stands contradicted on Sanford’s whereabouts at the time of the crime. ABC News has reported that bail is set at $1 million.

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No Joking Matter: Survey Finds Six Out Of Ten Students View Offensive Jokes As “Hate Speech”

We have been discussing the growing intolerance for free speech on our campuses and the ever-expanding scope of both hate speech and “microaggression” definitions. Now, College Pulse has released a survey of 2,000 college students that finds six out of ten view offensive jokes to be hate speech — a view shared by many European countries which now regularly prosecuted people for such jokes.

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