Australian Broadcasting Co. features Georgia Law Professor Dennis and new coauthored book, “Rap Lyrics on Trial”

A just-published article at ABC News, a digital publication of the Australian Broadcasting Co., features Georgia Law Professor Andrea L. Dennis (right), who holds the law school’s John Byrd Martin Chair of Law.

The article poses this headline question:  “Can violent rap lyrics be evidence of criminality or does the law misunderstand music’s biggest genre?” In seeking an answer, ABC music & pop culture reporter Paul Donoughue focuses on the new book Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics, and Guilt in America (The New Press 2019), which Dennis, a criminal law expert, has coauthored with University of Richmond Liberal Arts Professor Erik Nielson.

The ABC article notes that the coauthors identified more than “500 cases in the US alone of rap lyrics being used in criminal trials, at times leading to inappropriate or wrongful convictions,” and continues:

“Few would say Johnny Cash’s famous lyric ‘I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die’ was evidence of the country singer’s murderous leanings, they write.

“‘It is quite clear to us that this [rap] is the only fictional art form that is used in this way,’ Professor Dennis said, adding that race was an essential factor in the story.

“There are very limited examples of it being appropriate, Professor Dennis said. For example, when a lyric accurately describes a specific crime.

“‘Usually, what’s happening is the lyrics are somewhat generic — talking about general crime or very common types of behaviour that almost any rap artist might talk about,’ she said.”

Donoghue further compares the U.S. situation to that in Australia, where speech protections are less strong but where no similar prosecution has yet taken place.

The full Australian article is available here; Dennis’ book, here.

Georgia Law Professor Ringhand presents comparative elections law paper on US, UK at Mercer conference

Lori A. Ringhand, J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, presented her comparative elections law scholarship last Friday at the “Contemporary Issues in Election Law” Law Review Symposium at Mercer University School of Law in Macon.

Ringhand, an expert in election law, constitutional law, and comparative law, presented a paper entitled “First Amendment (Un)Exceptionalism: US and UK Responses to Online Electioneering.” It’s a product of her Spring 2019 research as a Fulbright Distinguished Chair at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland (prior posts here and here).

Ringhand is presenting the same paper this semester at other law schools, including George Washington University and Marquette University.

The Mercer symposium also featured a paper by a United Kingdom-based scholar who’d spoken at Georgia Law last Wednesday: Professor Jacob Eisler, University of Southampton Law School.

Georgia Law Professor Bruner presents on comparative corporate governance methods at Fordham Law workshop

Christopher Bruner, the Stembler Family Distinguished Professor in Business Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, took part this past weekend in a 2-day Comparative Corporate Governance Workshop at Fordham Law School in New York.

The  workshop centered around a new volume in progress, Research Handbook on Comparative Corporate Governance (Edward Elgar, forthcoming).

Bruner presented his own draft chapter, “Methods of Comparative Corporate Governance,” and also commented on draft chapters by two other contributors.

Delivering prestigious Gresham College Fulbright Lecture in London, Georgia Law Professor Lori Ringhand analyzes laws regulating online election campaign spending in US and UK

Pleased today to welcome back Lori A. Ringhand, J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, and, this Spring 2019 semester, a Fulbright Distinguished Chair at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. In connection with her US-UK Fulbright award, Professor Ringhand gave a prestigious lecture this past Tuesday, April 2, in London. Her account of that lecture – available on video – is below.

I recently had the pleasure of delivering the Gresham College Fulbright Lecture at the Museum of London. Gresham College has been offering free public lectures to residents of London for more than 400 years, and has been offering Fulbright lectures in partnership with the US/UK Fulbright Commission for decades.  Recent Gresham lecturers include eminent public law scholar Vernon Bogdanor,  historian and author Timothy Garton Ash, and current Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow.

My lecture focused on the challenges faced by lawmakers in the United States and the United Kingdom as they try to ensure that campaign finance laws remain relevant in the age of widespread online electioneering. As both nations have discovered, our existing regimes are not built for a world in which political advertising spreads, rapidly, organically, and often anonymously, through online social media platforms.

Regulators in the US and the UK nonetheless rarely look to each other’s experiences to inform their own thinking in this complex area. The election law systems of each country are seen as so fundamentally different that comparative consideration seems pointless.

As I explained in my Gresham Lecture, I disagree.

The differences in regulatory approaches certainly are real, and significant:

  • In the UK, political spending is limited, and most of it runs through political parties and regulated third-party campaigners, with outside or unregulated groups historically playing little role.
  • In the US, in contrast, political spending is increasingly dominated by outside groups, which can both raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, often entirely outside of the federal regulatory system.

But in regard to regulating online election activity, the similarities between the two nations are much more meaningful than the differences. As I laid out in the talk, the regulatory challenges presented by online electioneering difficult in both principle and practice, but they are fundamentally the same in each country. Consequently, there is a great deal we can learn from each other in this area.

I hope my lecture helps us take a necessary first step in that direction.

Georgia Law Professor Lori Ringhand reflects on faculty exchange in Israel

Pleased today to welcome a contribution from Lori A. Ringhand, J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law. Professor Ringhand concentrates her teaching and scholarship in the areas of constitutional law, election law, and state and local government law – including comparative approaches. She is currently in residence at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, as a Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Spring 2019. She contributes the post below on her recent faculty exchange experience at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

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I recently had the pleasure of participating in the faculty exchange between the University of Georgia School of Law and the Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv, Israel. This initiative lets faculty members from each school teach a mini-course at the other, as well as providing faculty with the opportunity to spend time sharing ideas and working with their colleagues abroad.

I taught Comparative Constitutional Law to a group of about fifteen law students at Bar-Ilan. Each day involved introductory readings, a short lecture, a group project, and student presentations. My students gave presentations on judicial selection methods, judicial review of executive powers in wartime, and the international law of secession. I learned a great deal, and hope they did as well.

df26b686-af56-4ff9-887a-262b0ccbb8e6I also had the opportunity to talk about my work on the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation process. Despite the dismal reputation of confirmation hearings, my empirical work in this area demonstrates that these hearings play an important role in providing public validation of constitutional change over time. Israel is debating its own high court confirmation process, and I was honored to share my views on the U.S. system on Walla! Global! with anchor Oren Hahari, to do an interview with renowned Israeli journalist Ya’akov Ahimeir, and to lead a research seminar with the Bar-Ilan faculty. It was fun – and challenging – to defend my views in the wake of the hotly contested Kavanaugh hearings.

IMG_0036The highlight of the trip, though, was a weekend trip Jerusalem. I had never visited this part of the world, and touring such an ancient city was an unforgettable experience. The religious and cultural significance of the city is obvious, and seeing such a mix of cultures and peoples figuring out how to share their holy lands was an extraordinary experience. History really does come to life in places like Jerusalem, and I am grateful to the Dean Rusk International Law Center and Bar-Ilan University for making my trip possible.

Georgia Law Professor Christopher Bruner takes part in financial regulation conference in Singapore

Christopher Bruner, Stembler Family Distinguished Professor in Business Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, took part in two panels at a conference entitled “Financial Services Law and Regulation in Singapore.” Hosting the February 28-March 1 conference was the Centre for Banking & Finance Law at the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law.

On the conference’s 1st day, Bruner presented on “Development of Financial Services in a Globalising Financial World,” focusing his remarks on the framework developed in his 2016 Oxford University Press book, Re-Imagining Offshore Finance. (prior post). Bruner also participated in the reflections panel that concluded the conference.

Occasioning the conference was the the publication of Financial Services Law and Regulation (Academy Publishing, 2019), edited by Dora Neo, Hans Tjio, and Luh Luh Lan, and featuring Singapore-based contributors. Professor Bruner and others from abroad provided global and comparative context.

Georgia Law Professor Kent Barnett compares administrative law approaches at conference in Poland


Pleased today to welcome a contribution from Kent Barnett, J. Alton Hosch Associate Professor of Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law. Professor Barnett concentrates his teaching and scholarship in the areas of contracts law, consumer law, and administrative law—including comparative approaches. He contributes the post below on his recent collaboration with European counterparts on the panel above, at a conference in Poland.

In what may come as a surprise for many American administrative law scholars, the world extends beyond Washington, D.C.

These scholars rarely consider comparative approaches to administrative law or debates in other legal systems. Perhaps they can be forgiven because of the ever-increasing complexity of domestic administrative law. But as conservative and liberal political and judicial factions contest an increasing number of longstanding tenants of domestic administrative law, comparative inquires may prove more useful and timely than ever.

I confirmed this intuition recently, when I accepted an invitation to participate in a conference concerning “Judicial Deference in Competition Law,” sponsored by the Centre for Antitrust and Regulatory Studies at the University of Warsaw this month. Taking part in a panel that considered general aspects of deference law, I discussed my research into the theoretical and doctrinal foundations of how American courts defer to administrative agencies’ determinations. My co-panelists—Drs. Mira Scholten and Rob Widdershoven, both professors at the Netherlands’ University of Utrecht—discussed deference in European Union courts or theoretical models for understanding deference in most legal systems.

Most of the legal models (whether of the EU, national European courts, or U.S. courts) follow similar paths when approaching how and whether to defer to agencies. In many instances, the terminology differs or the boundaries for similar doctrines may vary slightly. But in the main, these disparate legal systems have largely reached consensus on certain matters: deference to factual findings for technical matters and deference to discretionary decisions.

But my interactions with scholars in Poland confirmed that the European model has some striking differences from the American system—differences that inform two current debates:

► One difference, as numerous panelists mentioned during the conference, is that European models distinguish between civil and “criminal” punishments. “Criminal” matters are significant agency actions, such as large fines, which require significantly more judicial oversight. American law, in contrast, does not meaningfully distinguish between insignificant and significant agency actions against regulated parties. Perhaps doing so, however, would assuage growing concerns over U.S. regulatory agencies’ ability to fine regulated parties or deprive them of necessary business licenses, especially when regulated firms demonstrate good faith attempts at regulatory compliance.

► A second difference is that European courts do not defer to agencies’ interpretations of law. American courts, on the other hand, defer under the well-known Chevron doctrine to agencies’ reasonable interpretations of ambiguous statutory provisions. The European experience suggests that whatever Chevron’s constitutional or statutory demerits, deference to agency legal interpretations is not inevitable. Instead, it is a chosen policy or jurisprudential choice whose benefits or demerits support or cut against it.

In short, the conference represents but the beginning of comparative conversations that U.S. administrative scholars can and should have to inform debates about domestic administrative law.