In Other Words

Read commentaries by Law Review editors on issues addressed at recent symposia and other events.  Commentaries discuss issues such as the relationship of President Obama and Chief Justice Roberts, the “fiction of fact” in employment discrimination cases, and the legality of targeted killings.


Sharia in America: The (Mis)interpretation of the Islamic Marriage Contract in the U.S. Court System (June 8, 2012)

Danielle Barbuto

At the Sharia in America: Principles and Prospects symposium at New York Law School, Professor Asifa Quraishi discussed how Islamic family law has been addressed in American courtrooms. Specifically, she discussed the Islamic “marriage contract”2 and the various ways American courts have attempted to interpret the contract. She expressed the necessity of being tolerant of Muslims in the United States who wish to live by Sharia principles.3

The Chief Justice and the President: Tracking the Relationship of John Roberts and Barack Obama (April 1, 2013)

Mike Brancheau

At a glance, Chief Justice John Roberts and President Barack Obama, two of the most authoritative figures in the United States, may appear to have a great deal in common. Each has relatively strong ties to the Midwest: John Roberts grew up in Indiana where he excelled in both athletics and academics during high school,1 while Barack Obama began his early career in law and politics as a community organizer and law professor in Chicago, Illinois. Each man went on to graduate magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. And each endured a meteoric rise to great levels of professional success at very young ages: Roberts was a mere fifty years old when nominated and confirmed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Obama was elected President of the United States at the age of forty-seven. Despite having many things in common, however, Obama and Roberts’s political and ideological differences have placed a heavy burden on their relationship.

The Fiction of Fact in Employment Discrimination Litigation (April 1, 2013)

Leah D. Braukman

Merriam-Webster defines a fact as “a piece of information presented as having objective reality.”  However, Professor Ann McGinley says that no fact is truly impartial, especially in the context of employment discrimination cases. At the Trial by Jury or Trial by Motion? Summary Judgment, Iqbal, and Employment Discrimination symposium at New York Law School, McGinley discussed the sociopsychological theory that explains this concept: “naïve realism.”  

In re: Anwar al-Awlaki (June 8, 2012)

John P. Collins

The drone strike on Al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki raises questions about the legality of targeting a U.S. citizen in the war on terror. Before dismissing the suit brought on al-Awlaki’s behalf in the District of Columbia,2 U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates asked the central question: “Can the Executive order the assassination of a U.S. citizen without first affording him any form of judicial process whatsoever, based on the mere assertion that he is a dangerous member of a terrorist organization?”3 President Obama’s answer is, apparently, “Yes, We Can.”

1935’s Black Monday, Ghosts, and 2012 Health Care Reform (April 1, 2013)

 Michael Lengel

U.S. Supreme Courts are “ghosts of presidents’ past.”1  At New York Law School’s Supreme Court Narratives: Law, History, and Journalism symposium,2 Professor Akhil Reed Amar spoke of structural tensions inherent in the working relationships between a sitting President, limited to one or two terms, and the Supreme Court he inherits, where the Justices are appointed for life.  These relationships are made all the more dramatic when a newly elected “change agent”3 President must deal with “ghosts” left behind by a former administration.4 

Global Responsibility: A Lecture by Ban Ki-Moon (June 8, 2012)

Kendra Okposo

As law students, we are constantly reminded of the hefty investment we have made in our careers, whether through loan repayment plan emails or by the dwindling amount of students employed upon graduation. Yet we are also reminded of our elite status as future lawyers in New York City. We stand to make over $100,000 a year as 25-year-olds and, as graduates, become qualified for the highest job titles our country has to offer. Amidst these constant reminders, it is easy to overlook the powerful tools we have been given to help others and the opportunities we have to create positive change in the lives of those who need it most. 

Being Led by Losers: How to Combat the Disproportionate Number of Reported Decisions
Denying Summary Judgment for Plaintiffs in Employment Discrimination Cases
 (April 1, 2013)

Peter Phillips

Employment discrimination claims are “disproportionately susceptible” to dismissal on summary judgment1 and such motions have been on the rise.2  Professor Nancy Gertner proposes that summary judgment decisions are being influenced by the “loser’s rule,” causing the number of employment law cases decided in the summary judgment phase to reach ever higher levels.3 The “loser’s rule” applies when an area of law develops based only on “losing” cases: a disproportionately higher number of plaintiff-loser cases are addressed in reported judicial opinions than plaintiff-winner cases and therefore the only case law for judges to follow in deciding summary judgment motions are the “losers.”4  This essay discusses the need to eliminate the loser’s rule in order to preserve the integrity of the judicial system by enabling justice for employment law plaintiffs and encouraging a robust system of case law for employment law claims by requiring lengthy decisions in both grants and denials of summary judgment motions for employment claims.


Perception vs. Reality: The Legal Implications of the Visual Digital Age (June 8, 2012)

Alex Silverman

As humans we have been interpreting the way images convey meaning since the beginning of time. More recently, however, humans have been thrust into a new age dominated by new, “digital” images, whose meaning is conveyed in a manner that may fundamentally change the way legal meanings are construed. This new “visual digital age” fosters (or should foster) in viewers a certain degree of skepticism. That is, how do observers of digital imagery ever truly know if their perceptions in fact reflect reality?


The Legality of Targeted Killings (June 8, 2012)

Antoinette Worrell

Following 9/11, the United States began using weaponized unmanned drones against al-Qaeda. Drone strikes increased in number throughout Bush’s eight–year term.1 In the first year of the Obama administration, the number of drone strikes exceeded the total number that occurred during the entire Bush administration. It is estimated that U.S. drone programs have killed more than 2000 militants and civilians since 2001. Although the United States and many prominent scholars, including John Yoo, consider the drone program to be a success in the war on terror, not everyone is convinced the attacks are legal under international law.

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