Commentary

Vice Dean Keith Bybee Speaks About the Supreme Court’s Affirmative Action Case in the Daily Orange 

Vice Dean Keith Bybee

Syracuse University plans to continue to pursue diversity and equitable admissions through recruitment in the case the Supreme Court bans affirmative action in college admissions, an SU spokesperson told The Daily Orange in a written statement. The Court heard arguments in early November for two cases against Harvard College and the University of North Carolina, questioning the use of affirmative action and race consideration in admissions processes.

Vice Dean Keith Bybee said the implications of the court’s decisions, which will likely come in June 2023, will differ based on the court’s arguments. He said the court could decide to interpret the Equal Protection Clause and Title VI in the same way, or interpret and apply them differently. 

“You can think of this like a table with rows and columns. It depends what box we land in,” Bybee said. “How do we understand the language in this statute? Are we going to interpret it in such a way that allows for affirmative action or extremely restricted circumstances, or are we interpreting in some way that it’s a across the board prohibition on the use of race and ethnicity?”

Professor Roy Gutterman L’00 Discusses Dominion Voting Systems Defamation Lawsuit with Yahoo! News 

Professor Roy Gutterman, a white man with brown and gray hair, wearing a white collared shirt, smiles in front of a black background.

Election software company Dominion Voting Systems last year filed multiple defamation lawsuits against conservative news outlets, alleging the networks had parroted false claims that Dominion had switched millions of votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden. The eight defamation lawsuits are against various organizations and individuals including Fox News, Newsmax, One America News Network and attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell.

“Live news is challenging,” said Professor Roy Gutterman L’00, Director of the Tully Center for Free Speech, in an article by Yahoo! News. “If this case ends up going in the plaintiff’s side, I think news organizations that do live broadcasts might want to be careful with the things that they put on the air.”

In order to win its cases, Dominion must prove actual malice and show the news organizations knowingly or recklessly disregarded the truth.

Vice Dean Keith Bybee Speaks About the Future of Biden’s Federal Court Legacy at Law 360 

Vice Dean Keith Bybee

A hallmark of the 80 federal judges confirmed so far during President Joe Biden’s time in office is their diversity, both demographically and in career background. That imprint could change if Republicans take control of the U.S. Senate in the midterm elections this week.

According to Vice Dean Keith Bybee in this Law 360 article, “the outcome of the midterm elections is critical. Should Republicans take control of the Senate, we can expect a burst of confirmations to follow in the lame-duck Congress following the election, but then I think you would see Biden’s confirmations in a Republican-controlled Senate grind to a halt.”

Resistance from Republicans to nominees with different career backgrounds than previous federal judicial nominees, such as public defenders, is likely to change the types of nominees if the Senate flips, experts say.

University Professor David Driesen Writes “How the 14th Amendment can reinforce the Jan. 6 committee’s Trump subpoena”

Professor David Driesen

In an opinion piece for The Hill, University Professor David Driesen writes “How the 14th Amendment can reinforce the Jan. 6 committee’s Trump subpoena.” 

On Oct. 13, the Jan. 6 committee voted to subpoena former President Donald Trump. In a previous subpoena of Trump in 2019 to obtain tax returns and information about his financial life, the Supreme Court held that Congress must justify a subpoena of a president’s information as serving a legislative purpose.  The court suggested that the congressional subpoena power might serve as a tool for harassing the president, which it needed to reign in.  

According to Driesen, the committee can greatly increase its chances of having the Supreme Court uphold the current subpoena if it justifies the subpoena as informing the congressional exercise of its power to exclude from office those who participate in or aid an insurrection under the 14th Amendment. 

David Crane L’80 Speaks to AP News About Russian Profits from Stolen Ukrainian Grain 

An investigation by The Associated Press and the PBS series “Frontline” has found the Laodicea, owned by Syria, is part of a sophisticated Russian-run smuggling operation that has used falsified manifests and seaborne subterfuge to steal Ukrainian grain worth at least $530 million — cash that has helped feed President Vladimir Putin’s war machine.

The Russian military has also attacked farms, grain silos and shipping facilities still under Ukrainian control with artillery and air strikes, destroying food, driving up prices and reducing the flow of grain from a country long known as the breadbasket of Europe. 

The Russians “have an absolute obligation to ensure that civilians are cared for and to not deprive them their ability of a livelihood and an ability to feed themselves,” said Distinguished Scholar in Residence David Crane L’80, a veteran prosecutor who has been involved in numerous international war crime investigations. “It’s just pure pillaging and looting, and that is also an actionable offense under international military law.”

Roy Gutterman Speaks About Defamation Cases and the Ruling Against Infowars Host Alex Jones in the Grid 

Professor Roy Gutterman, a white man with brown and gray hair, wearing a white collared shirt, smiles in front of a black background.

The jury in a defamation lawsuit against Infowars Host Alex Jones has ordered him to pay $965 million in damages for what the plaintiffs’ attorney described as “defamation on a historic scale.” Once attorney fees are determined, Jones will owe more than $1 billion in lawsuits stemming from his broadcasts and public statements peddling lies about the shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. Jones claimed for years that the massacre was a false flag staged by the government. 

According to Professor Roy Gutterman L’00, Director of the Tully Center for Free Speech, these lawsuits may open the door for future victims of misinformation-based harassment to turn to the courts for relief.

“Most defamation cases really focus on an individual plaintiff,” said Gutterman. “So, in some ways, these lawsuits against Alex Jones and Infowars are kind of a novel way to rein in this new genre of conspiracy theory-related information.”

Professor Emeritus William Banks Provides Input to AP News on Debunked January 6 Claim About Former President Donald Trump 

Professor William Banks, a white man white short white hair, wearing a brown suit jacket over a white collared shirt, smiles.

In a round-up of popular, but untrue, stories for the week, AP News debunks the claim that former President Donald Trump signed an order to deploy 20,000 National Guard troops before his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, but was stopped by the House sergeant at arms, at the behest of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Professor Emeritus William Banks explained that guard troops are generally controlled by governors, though they can be federalized. The claims “make no sense at all,” Banks added. “The House sergeant at arms, he or she is not in the chain of command. Nor is Nancy Pelosi.” 

While Trump was involved in discussions in the days prior to Jan. 6 about the National Guard response, he issued no such order before or during the rioting.

Professor Gregory Germain Offers Advice in “How Bad Credit Happens and What You Can Do About It” 

Professor Gregory Germain

How does your credit go bad? And what can you do about the problem after it arises?  

Professor Gregory Germain, Director of the Bankruptcy Clinic at the College of Law, was featured in an article by AmOne on what’s on a credit report, the effect of bankruptcy on your credit, what makes a credit score fluctuate, and more. 

“The only thing you can do as a consumer is avoid negative information on your credit report by carefully managing your debts and payments,” Germain said. “What happened in the past, if accurate, cannot be changed.”

Unfortunately, the ramifications of a poor credit history can spread far and wide throughout various areas of your life.

Professor Jenny Breen Moderates “Labor’s Revival: Unions and the Struggle for Racial and Economic Justice” Panel 

After decades of decline, the U.S. labor movement is once again on the rise, as workers turn to collective action to push back against stagnant wages and unsafe working conditions. What will this 21st century labor movement look like? How are workers challenging corporate greed and divide-and-conquer tactics? 

A panel of prominent labor leaders met in Dineen Hall on Monday, October 24 to discuss these topics and the ongoing struggle for dignity and democracy at work in the 2022 Lender Center Conversation: Labor’s Revival: Unions and the Struggle for Racial and Economic Justice

Professor Jenny Breen moderated discussion, speaking with panelists including Jan Brisack, Organizer, Starbucks Workers United; Johnnie Kallas, Director, Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations Labor Action Tracker; and Chris Smalls, President, Amazon Labor Union. 

According to coverage by Spectrum News and panelist’s expertise, unsafe working conditions, long hours and few breaks are just some of the reasons why workers choose to unionize. 

“I’ve seen workers get carried out on stretchers,” said Smalls. “When I see workers get inspired by the efforts that we’re doing, that continues to resonate with myself. I know that there’s a bigger purpose, and that’s what motivates me to continue going.”

Professor Roy Gutterman L’00 Writes Guest Opinion Article on Prince, SU Football and Justice Clarence Thomas 

Professor Roy Gutterman, a white man with brown and gray hair, wearing a white collared shirt, smiles in front of a black background.

Last week, Supreme Court justices heard arguments in a case about copyright infringement and an iconic photograph of the musician Prince that was manipulated by the artist Andy Warhol. Justice Clarence Thomas posed a hypothetical question about the “copyrightability” of a blown-up version of the Prince photo in orange and the slogan, “Go Orange.” 

In his preface to the question, he acknowledged that he was both a fan of Prince’s 1980s music and the Syracuse University Orange football team.

Professor Roy Gutterman L’00, Director of the Tully Center for Free Speech, wrote a guest opinion article featured on Syracuse.com about Thomas’s SU references. Of all the sports teams and college programs, how did Syracuse make it to the top of Thomas’s docket? Perhaps nobody will know for sure, Gutterman claims, later going into detail about Thomas’s 1991 commencement speech at the Syracuse University College of Law.