Georgia Law Appellate Clinic secures at-risk client’s release from immigration detention center

The Appellate Litigation Clinic here at the University of Georgia School of Law has secured the release from immigration detention of a Cuban client who suffers from asthma and a history of cancer.

The 26 year old client, who has no criminal history, had come to the United States to avoid repeated police beatings for his protests against the government in Cuba. He had been held for nineteen months without a bond hearing at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, where as of mid-August 2 inmates had died from COVID-19 and more than 150 had been infected.

Students working through the clinic contended that their client’s medical condition increased the risk that while in detention during the present pandemic, he too would contract the novel coronavirus disease. They litigated his case in many administrative and judicial forums: a hearing on a motion for bond in Stewart Immigration Court; multiple parole requests to ICE, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency; a habeas petition before the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia; and an opening brief and motion to expedite before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Working on the case were Addison Smith and Spencer D. Woody, both of whom earned their Juris Doctor degrees this past spring, along with 3L Steven L. Miller and 2Ls Christopher O. Brock, Destiny J. Burch and Maria C. “Mia” Hughes.

The merits appeal and detention appeal both continue even though the client has been released from ICE custody. Under the supervision of Thomas V. Burch and Anna White Howard, who direct Georgia Law’s Appellate Litigation Clinic, students will continue to pursue an Eleventh Circuit judgment in their client’s favor.

(Credit for photo of the Elbert P. Tuttle Courthouse in Atlanta, home to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit)

Brutal Peace: Lieber Code, NATO mission, and personal journey, by Georgia Law 3L Miles S. Porter


In this item, Miles S. Porter, a J.D. candidate in the University of Georgia School of Law Class of 2021, reflects on his Spring 2020 full-semester externship at NATO HQ SACT in Norfolk, Virginia. Miles’ background includes: B.A. degree in international relations and German, University of South Carolina 2011; U.S. Army active duty 2013-2018, including tour in Afghanistan; and U.S. Army reservist since 2018.

Peace can be brutal. I am reminded of this axiom as an unwelcome silence invades my office space from the street below. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought life to what some have called a “peaceful” and “virtual” standstill. But with an unprecedented 30-plus million Americans claiming unemployment in the last month, “brutal” seems a more appropriate descriptor.

Like many of my peers, I finished my spring semester externship from home, a mere 800 socially distanced miles from my worksite, the NATO headquarters in Norfolk. Early on, I had looked forward to watching the 30th flag raised at Norfolk in honor of North Macedonia’s recent membership, to enjoying the parade of nations at the NATO Festival, and to hearing former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation General James Mattis speak at the Norfolk Forum. Instead I am at home, reflecting.

While America finds itself embroiled in yet another metaphorical war, against COVID,  perhaps it is appropriate then that my thoughts have ultimately turned to war itself. Specifically, they have turned to a theory of war that decries the paradox of a “humane war.” This paradox is explored in the 2012 book I read as part of my externship tutorial: Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History, by Yale Law Professor John Fabian Witt. A compelling narrative about one of the first codifications of the laws of war and perhaps one of the earliest uses of lawfare, Lincoln’s Code is more page-turning adventure story than legal treatise.

The book’s conclusions, far from uncontroversial, initially resonated with me. But they also raised important questions about the role of NATO, the rule of law, and the future of warfare. This post will examine those questions, then end with some thoughts on my NATO experience.

Now to “Old Hundred.”

“Old Hundred”

The U.S. War Department issued General Order No. 100, also known as the Lieber Code, in May 1863, at the height of America’s bloodiest war. Commissioned by President Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, and endorsed by the General-in-Chief of all Union Armies, Henry Halleck—an attorney himself—the “Old Hundred” was a necessary contribution to the Union’s war efforts. First, it helped frame the conflict in legal terms, extending law of war protections to prisoners and proving to foreign states that the Union’s actions were in fact legitimate. Second, it enabled Lincoln to achieve his goal of emancipation.

Lincoln had won the 1860 election on a platform that denounced the expansion of slavery into new states. This precipitated the secession of South Carolina even while James Buchanan was still President, and set the nation on the path to civil war.

The story of The Code is told in tandem with the story of its author, and the maxims within are better read as a story of lessons learned. While Francis Lieber was an academic, a professor first at the University of South Carolina and later at what is now Columbia University, he was also a soldier. He was someone who had his family and his life torn apart by war. His sons fought on opposite sides during the conflict he helped to end. Rather than devote himself to pacifism, however, Lieber thought the call to arms was “the most honorable calling of mankind” and that “when carried on by civilized peoples, just wars were the way civilization spread. … Justice, not peace, [was] the highest ideal.”  (Witt 178). Not only did he believe in the importance of just wars, Lieber had kept slaves himself for a time and had seen firsthand the effects of slavery while living in South Carolina. It is in this context that “Old Hundred” should be read.

A notable characteristic of Lieber’s work was that it ran counter to then-conventional doctrine on the laws of war. Lieber openly spoke out against the end of war advocated by the leading contemporary European thinkers (182), preferring the writings of older theorists like Clausewitz. Humanizing wars, in Lieber’s opinion, had the paradoxical effect of prolonging human suffering.  He urged short and sharp wars because “the more earnestly and keenly wars are carried on, the better for humanity, for peace and civilization.” (184) This became the basis for the last sentence in Article 29 of his Code:

“Sharp wars are brief.”

The principle at the essence of the Code is military necessity. As Witt shows, military necessity became an almost absolute power, remarkable for what it forbade and more remarkable for what it allowed. Torture was expressly forbidden but the starvation of villages, emancipation of slaves as enemy property, and martial law were permitted, even expected. And yet the principle persisted, so that in the present day military necessity is one of the five accepted principles of the laws of armed conflict, or LOAC.

“Old Hundred” quickly gained traction abroad. European lawyers and politicians had been searching to codify their own “enlightened” laws of war after over a century of bloody conflicts. To this end, they concluded the very first Geneva Convention in 1864. Yet delegates at that Geneva Conference, influenced by some of the more pacifistic thinkers of the day, had gone in a somewhat different direction than Lieber. Their Convention outlawed some of the barbarities of war, reforming war in the hopes of one day ending it altogether. This approach foretold advancements in the laws of war that would occur in the wake of the World Wars of the 20th century.

Choosing an Approach

The Charter of the United Nations was signed and entered into force in 1945.  A short five years later, the North Atlantic Treaty, NATO’s founding document, likewise was signed and entered into force. Today, in 2020, Kabul, Afghanistan, has been the site of armed conflict and a nearly two-decades-long military presence by America and its NATO allies. The fact provokes questions:

  • Is the “forever war” a byproduct of the humanization of warfare?
  • Is that result what Francis Lieber had fought so vehemently against? Or is it merely indicative of the progress made towards the abolishment of warfare as an institution, which the United Nations and its progeny were designed to facilitate?
  • By sheathing the short war, have we lost a valuable weapon in our proverbial arsenal, holding ourselves to morals that our less scrupulous foes may not?

These were the questions that I faced after reading Lincoln’s Code.

Initially, I embraced the short, sharp wars advocated by Lieber, Tolstoy, and Clausewitz. Frustrated by a perceived lack of progress in recent war efforts and the absence of defining victories (ignoring a certain shipboard declaration of victory), my inclination was towards a strategy of power, shock, and awe. I thought that .

After further consideration, I think maybe this initial reaction was a bit rash: While I agree with many of the principles and ideals set forth by Lieber and his short-war sympathizers, I believe that he made some key mistakes. Like many who romanticize, he failed to account for the realities of the world.

If we do the same, we do so at our own peril.

Short wars reached their pinnacle with the Cold War. That is ironic since the Cold War was long – nearly a half-century prompted by the threat of the ultimate short war, nuclear war.  The international community has since demonstrated a strong aversion to this inhumane form of short war, to the point that in a near-peer conflict it may be more than ill-advised, it may be a nearly impossible strategy to pursue.  The changing instrumentalities of war, towards weapons of mass destruction, have altered the calculus of war.  As America’s near-peer adversaries retain an interest in a balanced geo-political environment, even short wars with non-nuclear equipped opponents seems unlikely.  The new realities of warfare include nuclear weapons, and as long as this remains true, the possibility of short wars will remain distant.

Post-Cold War NATO, or NATO 2.0, represents the other side of this equation. The military alliance, initially established as a After the USSR fell, NATO endured. It participated in some of the largest humanitarian efforts of the 20th and 21st centuries, in places like Kosovo, Haiti, and Afghanistan.

In truth, globalization, the threat of nuclear warfare, and a determined international effort to outlaw war have changed the face of warfare completely. Warfare today is about competition, about living in the gray areas of the law. It resembles humanitarian aid more than it does Gettysburg or Antietam.

Democracy, liberty, and the rule of law are the conquering tools of warfare in the 21st century. They have enabled the alliance to grow to 30 full-fledged members, to conclude official partnerships with 20 Partnership for Peace nations, as well as to develop relationships with numerous other nations from disparate corners of the earth, from Australia to Colombia to Pakistan. The great deterrents in today’s conflicts are not so much weapons as they are the financial costs of waging expeditionary wars and the potential damaging of financial systems. In this environment, communities of peace built on a common foundation are capable of outlasting more powerful foes.

NATO is also capable of holding its own during armed conflicts when they arise. (Another discussion could be had about member nations’ willingness to uphold their article 5 commitment of mutual defense, but that is a separate issue.) NATO retains flexibility in the deployment of its rules of engagement, which allow member nations to pursue their individual national interests while retaining a unity of effort. Effective management of NATO forces requires mastery of this concept by commanders across echelons. Once achieved, it leaves the alliance with plenty of capabilities to accomplish the mission.

Irish poet Robert Lynd once said:

“The belief in the possibility of a short, decisive war appears to be one of the most ancient and dangerous of human delusions.”

The short wars envisioned by Lieber require justice to be the prevailing value in the pursuit of national objectives, and that in turn requires the actors pursuing these objectives to act justly.  The limited set of circumstances where this is achievable make his theory complicated enough to make unwise policy.  The abuses of the Code’s ideas that took place in subsequent conflicts, like the one in the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century, make this clear.  As Witt demonstrated in Lincoln’s Code, the principle of military necessity acted as a cloak that attempted to legitimize abhorrent acts.

Whether organizations like NATO go too far in their pursuit of peace, whether they are influenced too much by groups trying to humanize an inherently inhumane act, strike me as unnecessary questions in today’s environment. Competition will indeed manifest itself as “forever wars.” I find this outcome preferable to the alternative of a persistent nuclear threat. 

Final Thoughts

I have found that even dream jobs can begin to show their faults after a few weeks. While NATO certainly suffers from its shortcomings, this job never lost its appeal. In fact, most of what I initially saw as shortcomings eventually appeared to have been deliberate components of NATO’s grand design. The endless hours needed to exhaust every opinion on a topic until consensus is reached certainly can be challenging. The fact that every nation gets a voice at all, however, is truly amazing.

One of my mentors at NATO once told me,

“The beauty of NATO is that it is.”

I hope that despite its challenges in the future, it will always continue to be.

Former DHS secretary lauds Georgia Law alumnus Chuck Allen on 20-year anniversary as DoD deputy general counsel for international affairs

An alumnus and member of our Dean Rusk International Law Center Council has garnered well-deserved praise from a fellow public servant and longtime colleague.

In “A Tribute to Charles A. Allen,” published Friday at Lawfare, Jeh Johnson, a partner in the Paul Weiss law firm and the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security from 2013 to 2017, celebrated the 20th anniversary of the day that Allen took up the post of Deputy General Counsel (International Affairs) at the U.S. Department of Defense. Johnson wrote:

“To the benefit of us all, he remains in office today, with the vast responsibility of overseeing the legal aspects of the U.S. military’s operations abroad.

“Put simply: Chuck is one of the finest public servants I know. He embodies the best in federal civilian service.”

Johnson, also former general counsel both of the Department of Defense and of the U.S. Air Force, took particular note of Allen’s service, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, “at the legal epicenter of the U.S. military’s armed conflicts against al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and the Taliban; the Iraq War; the conflicts in Libya and Syria; the maritime disputes with China and Iran; and many other conflicts, treaties and defense issues too numerous to list.”

Allen, Johnson continued, is “an earnest, low-key public official who consistently works long hours, mentors young national security lawyers and grinds out an extraordinary volume of work” – and the recipient of a Presidential Rank Award.

We at the University of Georgia School of Law are proud to call Allen (JD’82) an alumnus, former Research Editor of the Georgia Law Review, and author of two articles published in our Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law: “Civilian Starvation and Relief During Armed Conflict: The Modern Humanitarian Law” (1989) and “Countering Proliferation: WMD on the Move” (2011).

As stated in Allen’s DoD biography, he also earned an undergraduate degree from Stanford and an LL.M. from George Washington University. His service in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General Corps included a stint as Deputy Legal Adviser, National Security Council, and Attorney-Adviser, Office of Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State. In his current position, Allen’s responsibilities include

“legal advice on Department of Defense planning and conduct of military operations in the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq, including the law of armed conflict and war crimes, war powers, coalition relations and assistance, and activities of U.S. forces under international law and relevant UN Security Council Resolutions; arms control negotiations and implementation, non-proliferation, and cooperative threat reduction; status of forces agreements; cooperative research and development programs; international litigation; law of outer space; and multilateral agreements.”

(credit for 2015 International Committee of the Red Cross photo, above, of Charles A. “Chuck” Allen at Minerva–ICRC conference on International Humanitarian Law, held in Jerusalem 15-17 November 2015)

Georgia Law Professor Cohen takes part in AALS roundtable on law, international economic security


Harlan G. Cohen, Gabriel M. Wilner/UGA Foundation Professor in International Law and Faculty Co-Director of Dean Rusk International Law Center, participated in a roundtable on “Changing Concepts of International Economic Security & the Law” at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools.

Organized by Kathleen Claussen (University of Miami School of Law), other participants in the AALS roundtable included: Anupam Chander (Georgetown University Law Center), Jennifer Daskal (American University, Washington College of Law), Kristen Eichensehr (University of California, Los Angeles School of Law), J. Benton Heath (New York University School of Law), Jide O. Nzelibe (Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law), Aaron D. Simowitz (Willamette University College of Law), Anna Spain Bradley (University of Colorado Law School), and Edward T. Swaine (The George Washington University Law School). (credit for photos)

Participants convened to discuss emergent global tensions between economics and national security and how the relevant legal regimes – trade, investment, development, finance, and national security – might respond. Among the topics of discussion were two papers by Professor Cohen:

one that discusses domestic national security delegations to the Executive Branch in the United States; and

another, “Nations and Markets,” that attempts to diagnose the causes of current global conflicts over jobs, data, climate change, and beyond (prior post).

Georgia Law Dean Bo Rutledge, students Katherine Larsen and Miles Porter publish on Cuba sanctions

Recent change in US policy toward Cuba is the subject of a new commentary by the dean and 2 student researchers here at the University of Georgia School of Law.

Coauthoring the Daily Report article, entitled “Lawyers Should Keep Their Eyes on Cuba Sanctions Cases,” were international business law expert Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge, Dean and Herman E. Talmadge Chair of Law at Georgia  Law, along with 3L Katherine M. Larsen and 2L Miles S. Porter.

The article examines the potentially “broad implications for entities that conduct business in or with Cuba” that may follow from the announcement earlier this year that a portion of the mid-1990s “Helms-Burton Act would no longer be suspended, thereby allowing U.S. nationals to file lawsuits against any individual or entity that ‘traffics in property expropriated by the Cuban government.”

The full commentary is here.

Georgia Law trio pens Daily Report commentary on ECJ arbitration ruling

Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge, Dean and Herman E. Talmadge Chair of Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, has co-authored, with 3L Katherine M. Larsen and Amanda W. Newton (JD’19), a commentary on a recent decision related to international arbitration.

Entitled “European Decision Could Have Killed Investment Treaties, Affecting Arbitration and Investments,” the commentary appeared at The Daily Report on June 28.

It discusses the content and the implications of Achmea v. Slovakia, a May 2018 decision in which the European Court of Justice ruled a clause in a bilateral investment treaty to be incompatible with European law. Both that decisions and subsequent interpretation of it in European and US courts, the authors state, leaves “more questions than answers at this point.” (Also see prior post.)

Georgia Law Community HeLP Clinic students aid clients’ citizenship bid

Students in the University of Georgia School of Law Community Health Law Partnership Clinic recently succeeded in assisting 2 clients from Egypt who were seeking to become naturalized U.S. citizens.

Working this year to prepare the clients for interviews and their 2019 naturalization ceremony were 3L Amy E. Buice, above center, and 2L William D. Ortiz, above left. Also working on the case were 3L Sarah A. Mirza and Onur Yildirim (JD’18), who last year helped prepare the clients’ naturalization applications.

The students were supervised by Professor Jason A. Cade, Director of Georgia Law’s Community HeLP Clinic, which assists low-income persons with immigration, benefits, and other health-harming legal needs.

Students in Georgia Law’s Appellate Litigation Clinic win Board of Immigration Appeals case on behalf of asylum-seeker from Russia

Four students in the University of Georgia School of Law Appellate Litigation Clinic have just secured asylum relief for a Russian client, and in so doing earned hands-on experience in practicing law in today’s interconnected world.

The client, Rim Iakovlev, is a Jehovah’s Witness who had fled to the United States after a ruling by the Russian Supreme Court outlawed his religion. A U.S. immigration judge granted his petition for asylum. But the U.S. Department of Homeland Security appealed. It was at this point that the Board of Immigration Appeals, through its pro bono project, appointed Georgia Law’s Appellate Litigation Clinic to represent asylum-seeker Iakovlev. The Board is an administrative appellate agency within the Executive Office for Immigration Review, U.S. Department of Justice.

Drafting the brief in the case, under supervision by Professor Thomas V. Burch, Director of the Appellate Litigation Clinic, were four Georgia Law students: 3Ls Wade H. Barron, C. Daniel Lockaby, and Sarah A. Quattrocchi, and 2L Addison Smith. Their brief stressed consistencies in the accounts given by Iakovlev and his wife, and also refuted the DHS contention that the asylum-seeker was obliged to present a letter from his congregation attesting to his status as a Jehovah’s Witness.

Upon reading the parties’ briefs, the Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed the immigration judge’s decision to grant Iakovlev’s petition for asylum. DHS chose not to appeal the Board’s decision, so that Iakovlev was released from detention last week.

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.