With ICE Raids Expected in Baltimore Soon, UB School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic Shares Resources

News outlets are reporting that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will begin conducting mass raids in select cities across the country, including Baltimore, within days. These raids will allegedly target families with final orders of removal from Central America who are seeking asylum in the United States.

Nickole Miller“Already, these announced raids have begun to sow fear and panic in our immigrant communities,” said Nickole Miller, clinical teaching fellow in the UB School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic. “Together, we can fight these messages of fear by standing in solidarity with our immigrant communities and ensuring individuals know their power and how to exert their rights and defend themselves against ICE.”

Immigrant-rights advocacy groups are a valuable resource for immigrant communities and those who would like to assist them during this time.

Miller says those wanting to help may volunteer to assist targeted families and donate to the efforts to help them through the Sanctuary DMVCapital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, or the Immigration Justice Campaign.

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Maryland Governor Taps UB School of Law Alumna Tiffany Robinson for Secretary of Labor Post

Tiffany Robinson, J.D. ’01, was chosen to become Maryland’s next Secretary of Labor, Gov. Larry Hogan announced July 9. Since 2016, Robinson has been serving as deputy chief of staff in the governor’s office, where she advises on labor, housing, education, health and human services matters.

Tiffany Robinson“Tiffany Robinson has dedicated her career to empowering people and expanding opportunities,” said Hogan in  statement. “Tiffany’s experience as an advocate for Maryland’s workers and small businesses, and her commitment to public service, make her an outstanding choice to be our next Labor Secretary. Tiffany is sure to continue and build on our record of creating jobs, growing the economy, and making our state a great place to live, work, start and grow a business.”

Prior to her appointment as deputy chief of Staff, Robinson served as assistant secretary in Maryland’s Department of Housing and Community Development, and was director of the Community Development Administration, the designated housing finance agency for the state. In that role, Robinson was responsible for almost $1.5 billion in annual programming.

Previously, Robinson was administrator of the Harford County Department of Housing and Community Development, and prior to that position, she was in private practice at The Robinson Law Firm, also based in Harford County. She received a bachelor’s degree in political science from UMBC and a juris doctorate from the UB School of Law in 2001.

“I am beyond excited for this opportunity to build on the incredible progress we have made in growing our state’s workforce and supporting Maryland’s small businesses,” Robinson said in a statement from the governor’s office. Her appointment will take effect at the end of this month and is subject to state Senate confirmation.

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The Nation’s First Post-J.D. Certificate in Family Law — Now Offered Online

Family law is an exploding field, with over 40 percent of trial court filings in Maryland relating to family law. In addition, family law cases are becoming increasingly complex, as they so often involve social and behavioral issues, individuals in crisis, and efforts at alternative dispute resolution.

To help equip lawyers with the in-depth and cross-disciplinary knowledge they need to excel in the field, the UB School of Law created the nation’s first and only post-J.D. Certificate in Family Law in 2017. With the Fall 2019 semester, this innovative curriculum is offered fully online. “Given the extraordinary response students have had to the program, we wanted to make it accessible to students nationwide and to build an expanding community of family law practitioners who bring a holistic and problem-solving approach to resolving to family law matters,” explained the program’s director, Professor Barbara Babb.

Interested students can apply now—applications are reviewed on a rolling basis until classes are filled.

students with laptopsThe certificate program is designed for new attorneys just beginning to practice family law and for experienced practitioners seeking to add this expertise to their practice. The fast-paced curriculum blends theory and practice and offers knowledge and skills that lawyers can use immediately through a hands-on, real-world experiential curriculum.

Financial aid is available to students in the program who meet credit requirements for federal financial aid: 6 credits in spring or fall, 4 credits in summer. Applicants who meet the program’s advanced standing requirements may request a course waiver for “The Craft of Problem-Solving and Advocacy in Family Law.”

The 16-credit, five-course program is administered by the Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts at the UB School of Law. The program can be completed in 12 months. Hands-on and practical, it offers an interdisciplinary education in all aspects of family law, including child development, financial issues, advocacy, and the business aspects of a family law practice . An optional independent study allows students to design a clinical experience, internship, or research project tailored to their unique career interests.

The summer capstone requires students to work through a family law case from start to finish. After completing his capstone in 2018, student Castell Abner said, “This is a great course. This is exactly what I wanted. I am getting my money’s worth. Every lawyer should have this experience.”

The certificate was developed by UB School of Law faculty in close collaboration with an advisory committee of leading practitioners and judges. The law school is widely recognized for the quality and breadth of its family law courses, clinical and experiential offerings, family law center, and the family law area of concentration within the J.D. program.

Please direct questions about the Post-J.D. Certificate in Family Law to Prof. Barbara Babb, director of the Post-J.D. Certificate in Family Law, at 410.837.5661, or bbabb@ubalt.edu.

 

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Michelle Junot, UB Law’s Director of Strategic Outreach and Alumni Engagement, Moves On to New Chapter

Michelle Junot, UB School of Law’s director of strategic outreach and alumni engagement, is leaving UB to become director of annual giving for the Episcopal Collegiate School in Little Rock, Ark. Her last day is July 2.

Michelle Junot“Michelle has been a huge asset to the law school as director of strategic outreach and alumni engagement,” said Dean Ron Weich. “She has helped strengthen our relationship with the alumni community, especially members of the UB Law Alumni Association, the Law School Advisory Council and the Dean’s Development Circle.

“Michelle also played a key role in a series of important law school events, including our celebration of Byron Warnken in May 2018.”

“I am indebted to the University of Baltimore and the faculty and staff, students, alumni and donors of the School of Law for letting me be a part of this loyal and vibrant community over the last three and a half years,” says Junot. “I have loved my time here, and leaving this position has been one of the hardest decisions I’ve made, both professionally and personally.

“I’m excited about this next chapter and role, but the School of Law and University of Baltimore will always hold a very special place in my heart. Thank you, all!”

A search for Junot’s replacement is under way. Until the position is filled, please direct all inquiries to lawalumni@ubalt.edu. Follow the UB Law Alumni Association on Facebook and join the law school’s page on LinkedIn.

 

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UB Law Prof. Gilda Daniels, Voting Rights Scholar, Reacts to June 27 SCOTUS Rulings

UB School of Law Prof. Gilda Daniels is an expert on voting rights. She took a reduced teaching load this past year to work as director of litigation for the Advancement Project. Her book, Uncounted: The Crisis of Voter Suppression in the United States, is due out this winter from NYU Press. The book examines the phenomenon of disenfranchisement through the lenses of history, race, law and the democratic process. Here are her responses to the June 27 SCOTUS rulings on gerrymandering and the citizenship question on the 2020 census.

Gerrymandering Decision

If enough is enough, how much is too much?  The Supreme Court refused to answer that question in the partisan gerrymandering cases, Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek.

gilda danielsOne case involves a Republican-drafted plan in North Carolina and the other a Democratic-drawn plan in Maryland. In both cases, the drafters explicitly stated that they intended to draw a plan that advantaged their political party. The court, however, found that notwithstanding these proclamations, this was not enough to enter into the “political thicket” of partisan gerrymandering.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts.”  Justice Elena Kagan expressed her discontent: “Gerrymandering is, as so many Justices have emphasized before, anti-democratic in the most profound sense. Of all times to abandon the Court’s duty to declare the law, this was not the one. The practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government. Part of the Court’s role in that system is to defend its foundations. None is more important than free and fair elections. With respect but deep sadness, I dissent.”

With that statement, partisan gerrymandering claims are now in the hands of each individual state. A push for redistricting reform must now focus on the state courts and state legislatures to provide safeguards for partisan overreach.

This reliance on the states raises the stakes for the 2020 election. The partisan gerrymandering ruling provides a clear focus on legislative and congressional elections in 2020. Here’s how: Persons elected in the 2020 cycle will draft the districts for elections that will be held throughout the decade. After states receive the census count for their states, counties, cities, school boards and other jurisdictions in 2021, the redistricting process begins.

This time, it will occur without the federal oversight that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act provided and with those elected officials understanding that the federal courts will not review their “undemocratic” efforts to game the system in a way that provides an unrealistic advantage to the elected political party. This makes the election in 2020 extremely important, not just for the presidential election but for democracy.

The partisan gerrymandering cases asked the court to provide guidelines on when enough is enough regarding using partisanship as the primary reason for drafting districts. The court not only refused to provide limits, it essentially gave elected officials the ability to carve districts any way they choose in the name of partisanship. The court has, in the past, issued opinions on when the use of race in gerrymandering rises to a constitutionally inappropriate level, but apparently no such limit exists when it comes to partisanship.

Enough is indeed enough.

Citizenship Question on the 2020 Census

The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision to exclude a citizenship question on the 2020 census, at least for now. The Census is taken every 10 years and used to determine how many persons each election district should include and to distribute federal funds to the states and other jurisdictions.

Without question, including a citizenship question would have a chilling effect on communities of color, Latinx and mixed-status family units. Additionally, the Enumerations Clause requires the Census to count every person, not just those who are citizens. Nonetheless, the Census Bureau argued that it needed the Court to decide whether it could include the citizenship question prior to July 1 in order to include it on the 2020 Census form.

The Census offered that the inclusion was necessary to ensure more effective Voting Rights Act enforcement. It is interesting to note that this administration has not brought any cases under the Voting Rights Act. The Court found that “[a]ltogether, the evidence  tells a story that does not match the explanation the Secretary gave for his decision … we  cannot ignore the disconnect between the decision made and the explanation given.” In other words, they lied.

Notwithstanding this decision, the Court reiterated that federal agencies have broad discretion and gave a blueprint on how to offer a different reasoning in the future. We will see if July 1 was indeed the real deadline. If so, then the question will not be included on the 2020 form. If the Census Bureau was not truthful about the deadline, as it apparently was not about the rationale to include the question, then the fight over the citizenship question will continue in the lower courts, where plaintiffs have obtained additional evidence that the VRA was not the impetus for the question, but excluding people of color. Hopefully, the citizenship question should be down for the count and not resurrected any time soon.

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UB Law Professors Weigh in on Supreme Court Rulings as 2018 Term Winds to a Close

As the Supreme Court wraps up the 2018 term, it issued June 27 rulings in two important cases.

The court ruled 5-4 that it should be up to the states, not federal judges, to address the issue of partisan gerrymandering, the practice of political parties in power to redraw district maps to favor their incumbents. The court was asked to consider when politicians go too far in drawing lines for partisan gain in a set of cases arising from Maryland and North Carolina. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion and sided with the conservative majority that while such a practice might be distasteful, it is one that politicians, not judges, should solve.

Brian Frosh

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh

Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, whose office defended the 6th Congressional District’s constitutionality before the justices, called the decision “a sad day for our democracy.”

Using the state’s westernmost district — once solidly Republican but gerrymandered by the state’s Democratic leadership after the 2010 census — as an example, Frosh’s office had argued that courts can review a redrawn district and find it unconstitutional if the drafters exceeded “permissible political considerations” and engaged in “excessive partisanship” to diminish the influence of the minority party.

“We urged the Supreme Court to adopt a nationwide standard that would prevent extreme partisan gerrymandering,” he added. “The decision today instead prevents voters everywhere from challenging in federal court any redistricting map as excessively partisan. The attention now turns to Congress, which has the power to outlaw partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts.”

Professor Garrett Epps

Professor Garrett Epps

Also today, the court blocked — for now — the addition of a citizenship question on the 2020 census. In Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion, he wrote that there was sufficient reason for concern about why the Department of Commerce wanted to add the question, but insufficient explanation as to why it was needed.

“This is a huge setback for the administration,” wrote UB School of Law Prof. Garrett Epps in The Atlantic. “Let’s understand what the Court, in its fractured opinion, decided. It did not decide there could be no citizenship question on the census, which would have fulfilled all the challengers’ hopes. Instead, it said that a citizenship question might or might not be a good idea, but to include it, the Commerce Department needs to explain its reasoning—its actual reasoning, not something cooked up after the fact.”

Epps provided this excerpt from Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion to show how the majority concluded the agency’s justification was inauthentic:

Altogether, the evidence tells a story that does not match the explanation the Secretary gave for his decision. In the Secretary’s telling, Commerce was simply acting on a routine data request from another agency.  Yet the materials before us indicate that Commerce went to great lengths to elicit the request from DOJ (or any other willing agency). And unlike a typical case in which an agency may have both stated and unstated reasons for a decision, here the VRA enforcement rationale—the sole stated reason—seems to have been contrived.

Epps continued: “We are presented, in other words, with an explanation for agency action that is incongruent with what the record reveals about the agency’s priorities and decision-making process. ‘Incongruent’ is not quite ‘pants on fire,’ but I think even the secretary of commerce can read between those lines.” 

Professor Charles Tiefer

Professor Charles Tiefer

UB School of Law Prof. Charles Tiefer, writing for Forbes.com, suggested that the Trump Administration would continue to fight for the citizenship question to be on the census form.

“The Administration would certainly want to come up with an explanation and seek to preserve the citizenship question. It is hugely politically valuable, and, it is not just Ross, it is Trump himself, who cares about this. They will see Justice Roberts as leaving them a loophole to get through.

“But, there is no obvious candidate for a persuasive explanation for the citizenship question.  It has not been asked for many decades. And, in various cases, the documents from all the suits against Ross make it stark that it was not the Justice Department asking him to help with the Voting Rights Act, it was Ross pushing the Justice Department to send him the letter he needed to rely upon.

“What will happen in the case?” Tiefer asked. “The Trump Administration could throw in the towel and accept the decision and drop the citizenship question. After all, it told the Court it needed a decision by the end of June to send the census questionnaires to the printer. But, it may suddenly discover that it has some more time after all.”

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Professor Kim Wehle Promotes Her Book, ‘How to Read the Constitution — And Why,’ with Media Blitz

Prof. Kim Wehle’s new book, How to Read the Constitution — and Why, officially goes on sale June 25. Her publicists at HarperCollins have lined up a whirlwind of media appearances and book talks to promote the book, which they are touting as “an insightful, urgent, and perennially relevant handbook that lays out in common sense language how the United States Constitution works, and how its protections are eroding before our eyes.”

Professor Kimberly Wehle

On June 25, she will discuss her book on “CBS This Morning” and “MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin.” Later in the week, she will be a guest on “MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle” and “MSNBC Live with David Gura.”

Prof. Wehle’s book tour will encompass invitation-only book parties and public speaking events, including appearances at Politics and Prose at Union Market in Washington, DC, on June 28; the Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg, PA, on July 2, and the Curious Iguana bookstore in Frederick, MD, on July 25. The book also will be distributed to subway riders in New York City this week.

For the academic and library communities, the publisher has created a teaching guide and a readers guide for discussion groups. The book will be promoted to high school students on Facebook.

Prof. Wehle has become a familiar legal analyst on TV and radio programs, providing a constitutional law perspective on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Trump campaign contacts with Russian officials, and other matters involving the Department of Justice and separation of powers. She has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, PBS Newshour and Fox News. In recent months, she has been an on-air and off-air legal expert, analyst and commentator for CBS News; a contributor for BBC World News, and a contributor for The Bulwark and The Hill.

She joined the UB School of Law faculty in 2009 and teaches federal courts and administrative law.

 

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