Georgia Law Professor Durkee presents space law paper at British Columbia

Georgia Law Professor Melissa J. Durkee recently presented her scholarship at the University of British Columbia Allard School of Law as part of the school’s faculty colloquium series.

Durkee, who is a J. Alton Hosch Associate Professor of Law, researches new forms of global governance, particularly interactions between government and business actors that affect the content and success of international legal rules. Her paper, “Interstitial Space Law,” explores these topics in the context of space. Here’s the abstract:

Private space companies have begun to stake massive investments on the prospect of deriving commercial value from objects in outer space. The multinational asteroid-mining company Planetary Resources recently explained to a U.S. Senate Subcommittee that it will “conduct a historic and unprecedented mission to. . . . prospect several near-Earth asteroids.” Amazon’s Blue Origin just launched a collaboration with German space companies to start a “permanent presence on the moon.” Elon Musk’s SpaceX intends to “focus all its engineering talent on building its Mars rocket.” Yet it is unclear whether these companies have a legal right to appropriate outer space materials for private commercial use. The controlling international law is a cluster of 1960s-era treaties, designed for the realities of cold war space exploration. The centerpiece of the early treaties, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, clearly specifies that materials cannot be appropriated for national use, but the treaty is silent on private commercial use. Exploiting the opportunity this silence affords, private companies have begun to advance their own interpretation of the treaty in addresses to lawmakers, press releases, and corporate disclosures. They have also acted as though their interpretation were law, pressing forward with plans to commercialize space, and seemingly content to gamble on the possibility that international law will develop in their favor. The paper argues that this practice merits our attention as one of the diverse ways private companies take roles in international lawmaking. Here, private companies are working on two levels. First, they are shaping the development of international customary law by exploiting the failure of nation-states to shut down their activities. Second, they are creating a body of practice that would constitute the building blocks for customary international lawmaking, if the private companies were governmental actors, raising the possibility of a private common law for space.

 

LL.M. students take professional development trip to learn about accountability courts

LLM courthouseLL.M. students at Georgia Law took a professional development trip to the Athens-Clarke County courthouse for an introduction to the local justice system. Organized by Paige Otwell (J.D.’88), Assistant District Attorney, the students were treated to a panel on Accountability Courts.

In Georgia, voluntary participants in these innovative judicial programs plead guilty to the offense with which they have been charged and agree to enhanced supervision, including mental health or substance abuse treatment measures, in exchange for reduced terms of confinement and sometimes shortened periods of probation. For the large majority of the foreign attorneys present, this approach to criminal justice was unfamiliar.

llm courthouse2The students heard from Nicole Cavanagh, Felony Drug Court Program Coordinator; Will Fleenor, Chief Assistant Solicitor General, who discussed DUI/Drug court and Veterans Court; and Elisa Zarate, the coordinator of the Treatment and Accountability Court Program.

The panelists stressed the high level of success of these courts, both in terms of the decrease in re-arrests among participants as well as anecdotal evidence of the positive impact on participants’ lives. Describing the non-adversarial, team approach of the courts to the LL.M. students, Cavanaugh remarked that prosecutors, defense attorneys, and court personnel are “all trying to work together to get people to succeed in the program.”

The LL.M. students will have the opportunity to visit the courthouse again in the coming months to watch a trial.

Georgia Law Professor Cohen speaks at “Rabbinic Idea of Law” conference

Interrelations of jurisprudence and Jewish law were the focus of a daylong conference whose speakers included Harlan Cohen, who is Gabriel M. Wilner/UGA Foundation Professor in International Law and Faculty Co-Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center here at the University of Georgia School of Law. (photo credit)

Held last week at Pennsylvania’s Villanova University School of Law, the annual Norman J. Shachoy Symposium explored implications of Halakhah: The Rabbinic Idea of Law, a 2018 Princeton University Press book by Villanova Law Professor Chaim Saiman.

Cohen spoke on a panel entitled “The Rabbinic Idea of Law in Conversation with Movements in Legal Theory.” The gathering brought together scholars of legal theory, law and literature, religious law and theology, and religious studies, from institutions including the University of Chicago, New York University, and the University of Texas.

UK Consul General Andrew Staunton addresses Brexit at Georgia Law

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Andrew Staunton, Consul General of the United Kingdom pictured with Kathleen A. Doty, Director of Dean Rusk International Law Center

Last week, the Consul General of the United Kingdom Andrew Staunton delivered a lecture at the University of Georgia School of Law, “Leaving the EU: Impact on U.K.-U.S. Relations.” The event was the most recent installment of the Dean Rusk International Law Center’s ongoing Consular Series. The Consular Series presents students, staff, and faculty with global perspectives on international trade, cooperation, development, and policy.

In his lecture, Consul General Staunton described the political and economic context surrounding the British exit from the European Union and outlined the primary areas currently under negotiation. Describing the situation as “trying to take a raw egg out of a baked cake,” the Consul General nevertheless stressed that the United Kingdom will continue to work collaboratively with Europe and the United States to address international concerns. He emphasized that the United Kingdom will remain a strategic trading partner with the United States, and particularly with the Southeast.

Consul General Staunton has been a part of the United Kingdom’s diplomatic service since 1987. Prior to his current post as the Consul General in Atlanta, he served as Deputy Head of Mission and Economic Counsellor at the British Embassy in Athens, Greece. He was also Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Dublin, Ireland. Prior to these postings, Consul General Staunton served overseas in China, France, Romania, and Canada.

Watch the full lecture, including an introduction by Professor Diane Marie Amann, below:

Georgia Law Professor Cade and attorney Mary Honeychurch (JD18) coauthor immigration essay

The U visa – a visa set aside for nonimmigrant victims of certain crimes who have endured mental or physical abuse and are willing to assist law enforcement – is the subject of a new essay co-authored by scholars here at the University of Georgia School of Law.

The essay, “Restoring the Statutory Safety-Valve for Immigrant Crime Victims: Premium Processing for Interim U Visa Benefits,” appears at 113 Northwestern University Law Review Online 120 (2019). It was written by Georgia Law Professor Jason A. Cade, whose teaching and scholarship focus on immigration law, and one of his former students, Mary Honeychurch (JD’18), who is now an immigration attorney at Seyfarth Shaw LLP in Atlanta.

Here’s the abstract:

“This Essay focuses on the U visa, a critical government program that has thus far failed to live up to its significant potential. Congress enacted the U visa to aid undocumented victims of serious crime and incentivize them to assist law enforcement without fear of deportation. The reality, however, is that noncitizens eligible for U status still languish in limbo for many years while remaining vulnerable to deportation and workplace exploitation. This is in large part due to the fact that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has never devoted sufficient resources to processing these cases. As a result, the potential benefits of the U visa remain underrealized and communities are left less safe. In an era of sustained focus on enforcement and increased instability within immigrant communities, the situation becomes ever more urgent. This Essay introduces and defends a simple administrative innovation that would dramatically improve the process: a premium processing route for interim approvals and employment authorization. Although our proposal cannot resolve all the underlying problems, it is pragmatic, easily implemented, and superior to the status quo.”

The full essay is available here.

Georgia Law’s Elizabeth Weeks on “Healthism,” her new co-authored book about health-status discrimination

Pleased today to welcome a contribution from Elizabeth Weeks, Associate Dean for Faculty Development and J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law. Weeks concentrates her teaching and scholarship in fields of law related to health care. In the post below, she introduces her new co-authored book, which will be of great interest to all concerned about the human right to health. It will be the subject on Wednesday, February 27, of a Georgia Law book panel featuring Law Professors Jennifer Bennett Shinall of Vanderbilt, Stacey Tovino of Nevada-Las Vegas, Ani Satz of Emory, and Nicolas P. Terry of Indiana-Indianapolis.

I am delighted to announce the recent publication by Cambridge University Press of my book, Healthism: Health Status Discrimination & the Law, co-authored with Jessica L. Roberts, Alumnae College Professor in Law  and Director of the Health Law & Policy Institute at the University of Houston Law Center.

Healthism proposes a new protected category – the unhealthy – and examines instances of discrimination against the unhealthy in multiple contexts:

Our book considers these and a host of other examples. It concludes that some operate as normatively wrong – or “healthist” – laws, policies, or practices. Others, however, are not only permissible, but also may be desirable, inasmuch as they encourage or support healthier lifestyles.

This book’s most important contributions are:

  • To introduce the concept of healthism into the lexicon; and
  • To invite ongoing dialogue about the merits and demerits of treating individuals differently based on their health status.

The genesis of our healthism project was the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, or ACA, which largely prohibits health status discrimination in health insurance in the United States.  Specifically, the ACA prohibits insurers from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions or charging higher premiums based on individual risk factors.

In 2010, single-payer health system, or a national health system, or even “Medicare for All,” were (and likely remain) political nonstarters in the United States. President Barack Obama’s signature law, the ACA, instead effected a sort of mandatory mutual aid society, a compelled communitarian approach, to health care.  In order to ensure that coverage for the unhealthy remained affordable, the law required most Americans to obtain health insurance – whether through eligibility for a government program or employer-sponsored plan, or by purchasing on the individual and small-group market – with government subsidies for some.

As of January 1, 2019, however, a critical pillar of that legislative design has been removed:

According to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or TCJA, a law enacted in November 2017 under President Donald J.  Trump, the tax penalty associated with the so-called individual mandate no longer applies.  Americans now again are free to “go bare,” without any health insurance, or to purchase short-term, catastrophic-only, or other high-deductible/low-premium, limited coverage.  Many plans on the market still operate with the antidiscrimination provisions and other protections required by the ACA; however, no one any longer is compelled to purchase them.

The effect may well be to make those plans less affordable for the unhealthy – those who most need comprehensive coverage.  TCJA is just one of several U.S. reforms that threaten to erode legal protections for the unhealthy and so to reintroduce legal and social acceptance of healthism.

Our book stops short of proposing a model law or draft constitutional provision to comprehensively address this problem. Instead, it offers readers a workable rubric to navigating the shifting landscape of permissible and impermissible health-status discrimination.

Georgia Law’s 2019 Jessup International Law Moot team competes in New Orleans

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The 2019 Georgia Law Jessup Team, from left: Hanna Karimipour, Sam Hatcher, Lyddy O’Brien, and Drew Hedin

Members of our University of Georgia School of Law team are competing this week in the New Orleans regional rounds of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. They’re part of a 60-year-old tradition, in which law students enact the presentation of arguments before the International Court of Justice, the Hague-based judicial organ of the United Nations.

Jessup2019_HiRes_PDF_300dpiIn New Orleans and in cities across the globe, teams from more than 680 law schools, representing 100 countries and jurisdictions, are arguing this year’s Jessup dispute, Case Concerning the Kayleff Yak (State of Aurok v. Republic of Rakkab).

We at Georgia Law’s Dean Rusk International Law Center have enjoyed working with this talented team of students throughout this academic year, and we wish them the best of luck in this year’s contest.