Two Bills Recently Passed Will Promote Diversity, Low-Income Tax Efforts at The University of Baltimore School of Law

During the 2021 Maryland Legislative session, The University of Baltimore worked with legislators to pass two bills that will have a positive impact at the UB School of Law. The leadership of Sen. Cory McCray and Del. Shaneka Henson helped ensure the passage of the Legal Education Success Collaborative (SB 526/HB 1268). This law provides special funding support to increase diversity in the legal field through the UB Law and HBCU Cooperative, better known as the Fannie Angelos Program for Academic Excellence.     

In addition, Sen. Craig Zucker and Del. Samuel “Sandy” Rosenberg worked diligently to pass Tax Clinics for Low-Income Marylanders (SB 480/HB 421). This bill will allocate state funding to the law school’s Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic to assist in resolving state tax disputes in addition to federal tax disputes. 

Maryland Del. Samuel "Sandy" Rosenberg
Maryland Del. Samuel “Sandy” Rosenberg

Law school Dean Ronald Weich, who testified in the General Assembly on behalf of both initiatives, said he was pleased with their passage.

“Delegate Rosenberg’s bill will enable our low-income tax clinic to represent clients with state tax disputes, not just federal matters. We welcome the chance to serve more Marylanders with this new funding,” Weich said. “UB’s Fannie Angelos pipeline program is already a national model. With the legislature’s support, our efforts to expand opportunity and diversify the legal profession will gain even more prominence.

“With these two bills, the General Assembly has cast a vote of confidence in the work of the UB School of Law and the students we educate. We are grateful for these measures,” said Weich.

For more 2021 legislative session highlights and results, visit the UB Office of Government Affairs webpage, or email ogpa@ubalt.edu.

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University of Baltimore Law Dean Weich Calls End of Filibuster ‘A Nightmare for Progressives’ in Politico Op-Ed

“With astonishing speed, it’s become conventional wisdom on the left that the filibuster must go,” Dean Ronald Weich’s Politico essay begins. “Having seized full control of the White House and Congress — but just barely — many Democrats naturally see the Senate’s 60-vote threshold as an inconvenient obstacle to passing their agenda. They call it a ‘Jim Crow relic’ for obstructing voting rights bills and hope to topple it like a Confederate statue.”

Weich goes on to cite examples in recent history when the filibuster was a benefit to liberal causes, preventing Republicans from pushing through a conservative agenda that, in Weich’s words, “would have made America a far darker place.”

Dean Ronald Weich
Dean Ronald Weich

In 1995, Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich took advantage of the previous year’s gains in the midterm elections by introducing a slew of bills under his so-called Contract with America. Because President Clinton was reluctant to exercise his veto power, Weich writes, “The sturdiest backstop against the Gingrich juggernaut was the 47-member Senate Democratic minority caucus armed with the power of unlimited debate.”

The Democrats’ use of the filibuster prevented efforts to curtail the authority of the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, according to Weich.

Similarly, in 2005, he writes, an effort by the Bush administration to partially privatize Social Security was scotched by the threat of a Democratic filibuster.

“Proponents of filibuster abolition correctly point out that the filibuster has been sometimes deployed to block noble bills such as the mid-20th century civil rights legislation,” Weich concedes. “But obstruction by the minority can eventually be overcome by popular will and presidential leadership, as eventually occurred with civil rights. In contrast, an unchecked majority can wreak havoc.”

Taking the long view, Weich predicts an unending seesaw of legislative power as parties attain majorities. “Without the filibuster,” he writes, “the Senate would become revenge-soaked, Hatfield and McCoy-style, as the two sides take turns passing laws over the futile objections of their adversaries. If Democrats expand voting rights, the next Republican majority will constrict voting rights. If Democrats expand the membership of the Supreme Court, Republicans will expand it further to add GOP appointees.”

As a matter of principle, he writes, “[I]t is unhealthy if the process by which a nation’s policy disputes are resolved is up for grabs. Just as baseball teams don’t get to claim four outs when they come to bat, the ground rules of our democracy must be obeyed. Challenges to the umpires of democracy — calls to disregard state-certified election results, or to fire the nonpartisan Senate parliamentarian for her interpretation of Senate rules, or Trump’s unceasing attacks on our nation’s courts — should be condemned.

“The rule of law is not a mere slogan. It means that laws and rules apply equally to all and can only be changed by legitimate means.”

Weich urges Democrats to give bipartisanship a chance to succeed, and if that fails, to work toward reforms for the filibuster rather than repeal. He closes with this caution: “There is a reason a unilateral rules change is known as ‘the nuclear option.’ Unless the doctrine of mutually assured destruction is respected, the Senate blows up.”

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University of Baltimore School of Law Alumnus Glenn M. Sulmasy Named President of Nichols College

Nichols College has named Glenn M. Sulmasy, J.D. ’97, LL.M., as its eighth president. He will begin his tenure on July 1, 2021.

Glenn M. Sulmasy, J.D. ’97

The school, located in Dudley, Mass., has a $21.8 million endowment and enrolls about 1,144 students on its campus.

Sulmasy, an acclaimed international law and national security expert with experience in academics, law and government service, joins Nichols with 24 years of higher education experience. Most recently, he served as provost and chief academic officer at Bryant University, a private university in Smithfield, Rhode Island.

“I am honored to join the Nichols College community as its eighth president,” Sulmasy said in a news release. “The Nichols reputation of offering a dynamic and results-oriented business and leadership education has grown measurably stronger under the leadership of [current] President Engelkemeyer and is perfectly positioned to continue its trajectory.”

Prior to his tenure at Bryant, Sulmasy was a law professor at the U.S. Naval War College and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, where he led the Department of Humanities. He also has been a lecturer at UConn School of Law, Roger Williams Law School, UC Berkeley School of Law, and Harvard University. He is a visiting fellow at George Mason University School of Law.

Sulmasy is widely published on national security matters and the author of The National Security Court System – A Natural Evolution of Justice in an Age of Terror (2009). He has served as a subject matter expert/commentator for numerous media outlets, including National Public Radio, CNN International, The New York Times, MSNBC and Fox News. 

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April 15 Public Interest and Access-to-Justice Webinar Will Focus on Work of Three University of Baltimore Law Alumni

Venable Professor of Law Michele Gilman
Venable Professor of Law Michele Gilman

Over the past year, systemic issues of race, rights and access to justice were brought to light in new ways through the lens of a global pandemic and demonstrations seeking meaningful police reform. The legal community is at the forefront of enforcing rights, securing benefits, and advancing policy solutions and systemic change, and the work of public interest attorneys has been and will continue to be more important than ever in the coming year.

This special topic will be discussed during an April 15 UB Law in Focus webinar, hosted by the law school’s public interest law student organization, UB Students for Public Interest (UBSPI). Our panel of alumni working in public interest law comprises Caylin Young, J.D. ’16, public policy director for American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland; Julianne Tarver, J.D. ’15, program counsel at Legal Services Corp. and former Pro Bono Program Director at Maryland Legal Aid; and Randi Ames, J.D. ’13, attorney at Disability Rights Maryland. UB Law Prof. Michele Gilman will moderate the discussion, which runs from 5 to 6 p.m.

Our three alumni will discuss the most pressing access-to-justice challenges faced in their work over the past year, what work remains to be done, and what issues they believe will linger in 2021 and beyond. Register here.

About UBSPI

For more than 25 years, the School of Law has inspired students to serve as leaders in the public interest community through UB Students for Public Interest (UBSPI). The UBSPI program provides summer fellowships to students pursuing careers in public service, giving them valuable hands-on experience prior to graduation.

Summer fellowships are made possible through the generosity of the Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC) and donations from alumni and friends. Last year, UBSPI, in conjunction with MLSC, provided $70,000 in summer grants to 14 students who completed over 5,600 hours of legal work at Maryland public interest organizations.

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Baltimore Law’s 12th Feminist Legal Theory Conference, April 22-23, to Focus on Applied Feminism and Privacy

“Applied Feminism and Privacy” is the theme of this year’s 12th Feminist Legal Theory Conference at the University of Baltimore School of Law, April 22-23.

As always, the Center on Applied Feminism’s conference focuses on the intersection of gender and race, class, gender identity, ability, and other personal identities. Keynote speaker will be Fatima Goss Graves , president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center.

Our nation is at a critical time for a broad range of privacy issues. State-level abortion bans have put a spotlight on the importance of decisional privacy to women’s equality. Across America, advocates are fighting for reproductive justice and strategizing to preserve long-settled rights.

Margaret Johnson
Associate Dean Margaret E. Johnson

At the same time, our informational privacy is increasingly precarious. Data brokers, app designers, and social media platforms are gathering and selling personal data in highly gendered ways. As a result, women have been targeted with predatory marketing, intentionally excluded from job opportunities, and subject to menstrual tracking by marketers and employers. In online spaces, women have been objectified, cyber-stalked, and subject to revenge porn.

With regard to physical privacy, the structural intersectionality of over-policing and mass incarceration impacts women of color and other women. And while a man’s home may be his castle, low-income women are expected to allow government agents into their homes – and to turn over reams of other personal information — as a condition of receiving state support. In addition, families of all forms are navigating the space of constitutionally protected family privacy in relation to legal parentage, marriage and cohabitation, and child welfare systems.

In this conference, speakers will explore such questions as: Is privacy dead, as often claimed? If so, what does this mean for women? How can privacy reinforce or challenge existing inequalities? How has feminist legal theory wrestled with privacy and what lessons can we draw from past debates?

Venable Professor of Law Michele Gilman
Venable Professor of Law Michele E. Gilman

What advocacy will best advance privacy protections that benefit women? How do emerging forms of surveillance impact women? Can intersectional perspectives on privacy lead to greater justice? Who defines the “right to privacy,” and what do those understandings mean for women? How is privacy related to other values, such as autonomy, anti-subordination, vulnerability, justice and equality?

The session on Thursday, April 22, from 4 to 6:30 p.m., will examine menstrual justice and activism across employment, homelessness, education and data privacy, and in school settings. Panelists will include Center co-directors Margaret E. Johnson, associate dean for experiential education and professor of law, and Michele E. Gilman, Venable Professor of Law. Register for Thursday’s sessions here.

Topics for Friday, April 23, from 9 to 3:30 p.m., include Controlling Personal Data in The Digital Age and Protecting Decisional Autonomy To Shape Identity And Families. Breakout sessions will be included to address such topics as reproductive justice and data privacy as social justice. Register for Friday’s sessions here.

The conference is offered entirely on Zoom and all are welcome to participate.

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University of Baltimore Law’s Dionne Koller Named Co-Chair of U.S. Olympics and Paralympics Commission

Prof. Dionne L. Koller, associate dean at the University of Baltimore School of Law and director of its Center for Sport and the Law, has been named co-chair of the Commission on the State of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (also known as the USOPC Commission).

The USOPC Commission is a product of the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athletes Act that passed on Nov, 2, 2020. It directs the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate Commerce Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee to each appoint four members to the USOPC Commission. The USOPC Commission must conduct a study reviewing recent USOPC reforms and must submit its findings and recommendations to Congress.

Dean Dionne Koller
Associate Dean Dionne Koller

“The USOPC exists to protect athletes and uphold the integrity of sport,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-WA, commission chair, said in announcing the commission on April 2. “There are many issues that plague sports, from unequal pay and treatment to sexual abuse. Having the right members on this Commission ensures that these issues can be properly addressed and remedied, so that Olympic and Paralympic athletes can feel safe in their sports environment.”

Koller’s scholarly focus is on Olympic and amateur sports law. She is a former chair and current member of the Executive Board of the Association of American Law School’s section on Sports and the Law. Koller also serves as a member of the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s Anti-Doping Review Board and provides pro bono support for Olympic Movement athletes.

Others named to the commission are: Jordyn Wieber, an American Olympic gold medalist gymnast and currently the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks gymnastics team—the youngest individual to currently hold that position; Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, a track and field Olympic gold medalist who currently serves on the International Olympic Committee’s Active Society Commission, is Head of Community and Impact for sports technology company LeagueApps and a member of the board of directors for Athletes for Hope; and Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a two-time Olympic swimmer and three-time gold medalist who is a civil rights lawyer and professor of sports law known for her advocacy for athletes’ rights.

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School-to-Prison Pipeline, and Maryland Legislative Reform Efforts, Will Be Discussed in April 14 UB Law in Focus Webinar

The school-to-prison pipeline occurs when school systems turn over the discipline of their own students to law enforcement, often through the use of school resource officers stationed at schools. While the nation is debating police reform in our communities, what is happening in our schools?

This will be topic of an April 14 UB Law in Focus webinar, part of a continuing series looking at current events through a legal lens. The panel consists of Cara McClellan, assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Monisha Cherayil, staff attorney at Baltimore’s Public Justice Center; Michele Hall, attorney in the Office of the Public Defender of Maryland; and UB Law Prof. Odeana Neal, who teaches juvenile justice. Assistant Dean Alyssa Fieo will moderate the discussion.

Associate Dean Alyssa Fieo
Assistant Dean Alyssa Fieo

The pandemic has perhaps put a pause on referrals to the juvenile justice system due to school-based incidents, but with the return to in-person instruction, students of color and students with disabilities could continue to be at risk for being disproportionality forced out of school and into the criminal justice system.

The panel will discuss the long history of police in schools, the detrimental impact of the school-to-prison pipeline on students, particularly on students of color and students with disabilities, and on the broader community. It will explore alternatives to make school environments safer and more engaging for all young people.

The Maryland legislature is considering two bills that will significantly impact this issue by taking police out of schools and redistributing millions of dollars currently funding law enforcement to fund mental health services and evidenced-based practices.

The outcome of the proposed legislation will be discussed during the webinar. Register here.

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‘Racism is Not a Crime of Hate’: Baltimore Law Prof. Sheldon Lyke Reacts to Attacks on Asian Americans

This blog post by University of Baltimore School of Law Prof. Sheldon Bernard Lyke was first published in the Race and the Law Prof Blog.

Today marks the #StopAsianHate Virtual Day of Action and Healing. The mayor of Dallas, Eric Johnson, proclaimed March 26, 2021 as Stop Asian Hate Day. In the past couple of weeks, everyday people, activists, scholars, celebrities, and companies have filled social media feeds with messages of support for the Asian American community using the hashtag #StopAsianHate.  

These posts respond to the horrible March 16 Atlanta shootings where Robert Aaron Long murdered eight people—six of whom were women of Asian descent. The #StopAsianHate hashtag reveals the widespread belief that hate is the cause of racial violence against the Asian American community. Unfortunately, our collective focus on hate is a severe misunderstanding of the problem of racism in America.

Prof. Sheldon Bernard Lyke
Prof. Sheldon Bernard Lyke

Often, when we discuss racism, our conversations obfuscate the problem of race by discussing a perpetrator’s hate and individual motivation. For example, the national discussion immediately centered on whether the Atlanta shooter’s actions were racially motivated. The police seemed to offer an alternate explanation when they revealed that Long confessed that the shootings were an attempt to eliminate “temptation” caused by his “sexual addiction.” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta used the language of hate to describe the killings, saying that “Whatever the motivation was for this guy, we know that the majority of the victims were Asian…It is unacceptable, it is hateful, and it has to stop.” 

We do two things every time someone kills people of color, and the matter of race is an issue. First, we ask about the killer’s state of mind, “Was the killing racially motivated?” Second, we call for an end to hate. In this second action, we collectively perpetuate the myth that racism is the product of an individual’s hatred. The call to end hate stems from the belief that if we can remove hatred from individuals’ hearts, then racism will be solved. But this is false. Racism is a social problem in society—in our social practices, laws, norms, and collective values.  

We need to stop worrying about individual’s racist motivations and start having conversations about whether the ever-present racism in our society enables violent acts against people of color.  

Instead of focusing on Long’s “sex addiction” explanation for his murderous acts, why are we not more concerned with the racialized ways society has left women of Asian descent vulnerable to violence? For example, we live in a country where former President Trump has fueled anti-Asian sentiment and engaged in race-baiting by repeatedly referring to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” and “Kung Flu.” We live in a world that hypersexualizes the bodies of women of Asian descent. The killer’s supposed sexual addiction is likely related to a fetishization of the Asian woman, which promoted and allowed him to exploit these women (literally) to death. 

There is no denying that racial hatred exists. Individuals hold racist beliefs and views. What we need to remember, however, is that you do not need to know whether someone has racist opinions to ascertain whether their actions are racist. As a society, we should be more focused on naming and stopping racist acts than worrying about their motivation. Therefore, it might be more productive to stop focusing on hate in our conversations about racism. 

Racism does not require hatred to destroy the dreams, futures, and lives of people of color. Yet we keep going back to this same tired trope that we can somehow stop the hate that racism would end. Instead, racism is a problem that exists in the very structures, norms, and laws in our society. When we focus on hate, it distracts us from how racism exists in the big picture and instead fools us into thinking that racism is a problem that exists in individual people. 

Racism occurs when you live in a world that consistently and systematically situates people of color as the victims of exploitation and violence. That exploitation can happen when someone intentionally seeks to hurt people of color. It can occur when people of color fall through the cracks because the government refuses to protect them. It can also happen because we live in a world that sexually exploits bodies in racially specific ways. Each of these instances illustrates racism at work. 

Racism is not a crime of hate. Let’s remember that. Let us practice that when we talk and think about racism. 

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Baltimore Law’s Center for Families, Children and the Courts Celebrates 20th Anniversary with April 8 Event

This year, the Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC) marks two important milestones: the 20th anniversary of the founding of CFCC and the 15th anniversary of CFCC’s Truancy Court Program. Under the leadership of Prof. Barbara Babb, the Center has been dedicated to family justice system reform. 

Professor Barbara Babb
Prof. Barbara Babb

CFCC has successfully advocated for the creation of unified family courts, the application of therapeutic jurisprudence, and the use of an ecological approach in family law matters. These accomplishments and more will be celebrated with a virtual event on Thursday, April 8 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The public is invited; RSVP here.

A number of special guests, law alumni and friends of CFCC will participate in the celebration, including Sayra Meyerhoff, J.D. ’78, M.S. ’04; Hon. Robert M. Bell, retired chief judge, Maryland Court of Appeals; former UB Law dean Laurence M. Katz; and John McCarthy, J.D. ’79, state’s attorney for Montgomery County.

Guests will share recollections and highlights of the Center’s and Truancy Court Program’s history, with several Q&A sessions. The celebration will also be an opportunity to thank and bid farewell to Babb, who is retiring from UB in July after 32 years of teaching and service.

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University of Baltimore Law Partners with State Highway Administration to Investigate Updates to Maryland Laws to Allow Autonomous Vehicles

The University of Baltimore School of Law recently embarked on a joint project with the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) to investigate updates to Maryland law to support the safe deployment of connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technology. Existing laws related to vehicles typically assume that key decisions regarding the operation and maintenance of a vehicle are made by a human, and these laws therefore may be poorly suited to governing vehicles that operate autonomously. Such laws threaten to undermine the future adoption of CAV technologies in Maryland. 

Prof. Will Hubbard
Prof. Will Hubbard

To complicate matters, many diverse areas of law potentially relate to vehicles, including transportation, insurance, criminal, environmental and business law. With the emergence of CAV technologies, some states have revised certain key portions of their laws, but this “patchwork” approach to legal reform can lead to legal inconsistencies, enforcement difficulties, and unintended effects. As such, MDOT SHA and UB Law have launched a comprehensive audit of all Maryland statutes and regulations relevant to automated driving. 

The team at Baltimore Law is led by Prof. Will Hubbard, director of the law school’s Center for the Law of Intellectual Property and Technology. Three additional professors will spearhead the effort – Prof. Michele Gilman, Prof. Nancy Modesitt, and Prof. Colin Starger — while six law students will support the project as research assistants: Taylor Bayat, Michael Blanchard, Christian Coward, Nyari James, Sina Jahanshahi and Molly Shaffer. The students are already hard at work identifying Maryland laws needing reform.

The project will conclude in February 2022 with recommendations for changes to Maryland laws necessary to pave the way for safely deploying CAV technology in Maryland.

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