New Conference: “Reframing the Welfare Queen: Feminist and CRT Alternatives to Existing Poverty Discourse”

New Conference: “Reframing the Welfare Queen: Feminist and CRT Alternatives to Existing Poverty Discourse,” USC Gould School of Law, Apr. 23-24, 2015.

New Article: “The Great Society and the Constitution of Opportunity”

New Article: Joseph Fishkin & William E. Forbath, The Great Society and the Constitution of Opportunity, 62 Drake L. Rev. 1017 (2014).

New Article: “Roadblocks to Access to Justice: Reforming Ethical Rules to Meet the Special Needs of Low-Income Clients”

New Article: Louis S. Rulli, Roadblocks to Access to Justice: Reforming Ethical Rules to Meet the Special Needs of Low-Income Clients, 17 U. Penn. J.L. & Soc. Change 347 (2014).  Abstract below:

The nation’s growing justice gap has left the poor with far too little access to legal representation, even in the most serious of civil matters. With poverty rates approaching their highest levels in the last fifty years, the poor struggle to hold on to their homes, their jobs, and their families, frequently overmatched by superior resources and an abundance of opposing lawyers representing corporations, government, and well-heeled interests. Non-profit lawyers struggle to provide limited assistance to the poor in high volume, community settings, or in courtroom corridors and on telephone hot lines. It is in these non-traditional settings that lawyers should ask whether the Model Rules of Professional Conduct promote or hinder access to justice? Or, stated differently, have the Model Rules kept pace with a rapidly changing legal environment that increasingly departs from the traditional lawyering paradigm upon which our ethical rules are largely based?

Model Rule 6.5, one of the few new ethical rules adopted over the past fifteen years aimed directly at serving the poor, can be seen as proof that certain ethical restrictions on lawyers may be relaxed safely in non-profit settings, without doing any harm to the legal profession or the public. Still, this rule hardly goes far enough. Ethical restrictions on lawyers relating to document assistance, financial assistance to clients, and withdrawal of representation, to name just a few, are grounded on assumptions applicable to a profit-making paradigm. Rather than promoting legitimate interests, these limitations hinder access to justice for the poor. Comprehensive reform of our ethical rules is long overdue. The ABA should form a blue-ribbon commission designed to examine the Model Rules from the perspective of how legal services are increasing delivered to the poor and accessed by low-income communities. The members of a blue-ribbon commission should be drawn heavily from leaders of legal aid and pro bono organizations, along with state court judges, who have deep experience with the delivery of legal services to underserved communities.

Call-for-Papers: “ClassCrits VIII Call for Papers, Emerging Coalitions: Challenging the Structures of Inequality”

Call-for-Papers: “ClassCrits VIII Call for Papers, Emerging Coalitions: Challenging the Structures of Inequality,” University of Tennessee College of Law, Knoxville, TN * October 23-24, 2015.  Proposals due via email to classcrits@gmail.com by May 22, 2015.

Op-Ed: Law schools are in a death spiral. Maybe now they’ll finally change. – The Washington Post

Law schools are in a death spiral. Maybe now they’ll finally change. – The Washington Post.

As an aside but connected with this op-ed, I think it is worth noting that choices made about quality education often can conflict with affordable education (and here, I am focusing on education, not scholarship).  I also think that given the real significance that rankings or at least relative position as understood by employers can have for students in a tough job market just as it is wrong to overly emphasize rankings, it is also wrong to under-emphasize or downplay them.  Student routinely don’t like the grading system because it fails to capture their full effort or understanding, yet the system is largely in place.  Similarly, though schools and some faculty, particularly at schools whose rankings have declined,  like to critique the rankings or treat them as insignificant; like them or not, they matter, esp. to current students and recent alums.  It is only from a position of relative security–such as tenure or senior administration–that a position that they should be ignored makes sense.

New Article: “Two Americas in Healthcare: Federalism and Wars over Poverty from the New Deal-Great Society to Obamacare”

New Article: Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Two Americas in Healthcare: Federalism and Wars over Poverty from the New Deal-Great Society to Obamacare, 62 Drake L. Rev. 981 (2014).

Upcoming Conference: “Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Law Forum: 50 Years of the War on Poverty”

Upcoming Conference: “Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Law Forum: 50 Years of the War on Poverty,” Brooklyn Law School, Mar. 19, 2015.

Ferguson DOJ Reports

Here, at the bottom of the page and links below as well.

Possibly of interest to professors: “Substance Abuse & Mental Health Toolkit”

Possibly of interest to professors: ABA, Substance Abuse & Mental Health Toolkit (2015).

New Article: “Measuring Political Power: Suspect Class Determinations and the Poor”

New Article: Bertrall L. Ross II & Su Li, Measuring Political Power: Suspect Class Determinations and the Poor, 104 Calif. L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2016).  Abstract below:

Which classes are considered suspect under equal protection doctrine? The answer determines whether courts will defer to legislatures and other government actors when they single out a group for special burdens, or intervene to protect that group from such treatment. Laws burdening suspect classes receive the strictest scrutiny possible — and under current doctrine, whether a class is suspect turns largely on whether the court views the group as possessing political power.

But how do courts know when a class lacks political power? A liberal plurality of the Supreme Court initially suggested that political power should be measured according to a group’s descriptive representation in politics. Under that measure, the mostly white, male, wealthy, straight makeup of most of the nation’s decision-making councils would indicate that other groups lack political power. But that measure never received majority support from the Court. Instead, the Court consolidated around a different measure of political power, one that focused on democratic actions favorable to a group. If laws have been enacted protecting the group from discrimination or otherwise advancing the group’s interest, the Court assumes that the group can attract lawmakers’ attention and therefore does not need judicial protection.

In the forty years since the Court introduced this standard, no class has been suspect under it. In fact, it is hard to imagine any class ever meeting the standard of political powerlessness under this measure. Even the most politically marginalized groups (such as the poor, non-citizens, and felons) have benefited from laws favoring their interests. Is favorable democratic action really an accurate measure of political power? Focusing on the poor, we advance the first empirical test of the Supreme Court’s measure of political power. Our findings suggest that legislators’ support for anti-poverty legislation is not motivated by the political power of the poor — implying that favorable democratic action does not always accurately indicate a group’s political power. Given these findings, we argue that the court should rely on a more holistic, and thus more reliable, measure of political power. The measure should include favorable legislative actions, but also indicators of lobbying activity, political responsiveness, voter turnout, and descriptive representation in politics.