UVA Law Professors Available to Comment on Presidential Campaign

June 12, 2012

As the presidential election season heats up, University of Virginia School of Law professors are available to comment on a wide range of political topics, including the economy, health care, religious liberty, taxes, campaign finance and national security.

The Economy and Politics

Paul Mahoney
Dean, David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law, and Arnold H. Leon Professor of Law

Mahoney can discuss business/corporate law and the economic crisis. He says, "Certainly one very simple point that I hope regulators have learned is that any set of policies or regulations that actively encourages banks not to apply sound underwriting standards when making loans is a bad policy, and ought to be rethought."

Presidential Powers

Saikrishna Prakash
David Lurton Massee, Jr., Professor of Law, Sullivan & Cromwell Professor of Law

Prakash's scholarship focuses on separation of powers, particularly presidential powers. He teaches constitutional law, foreign relations law and presidential powers. He argues that the Troubled Asset Relief Program spending fell within a president's emergency powers under the Constitution, but the bailouts of GM and Chrysler failed the constitutional test. He says, "A candidate's stance on the scope of presidential power often has little bearing on his approach once he's in office."

Health Care Reform

Margaret Foster "Mimi" Riley
Law Professor

Riley, who also has a secondary appointment in the Department of Public Health Sciences at U.Va.'s School of Medicine, teaches food and drug law, health law, animal law, bioethics, regulation of clinical research and public health law.

She says, "Health reform is a likely flashpoint in the rhetoric and debate leading up to the election in November. And there are many uncertainties, the most important of which is probably the expected ruling this summer by the Supreme Court on the individual mandate and Medicaid expansion. But the election may also provide opportunities to explain the legislation comprehensively to the American public in ways that have been elusive up until now. The ACA is very complex legislation — but the health care marketplace is very complex. It affects everyone and is a major engine in the economy. Everyone involved in health care agrees that reform has been necessary. The difference is in the details."

Religious Liberty

Douglas Laycock
Robert E. Scott Distinguished Professor of Law, Horace W. Goldsmith Research Professor of Law, Professor of Religious Studies

Laycock is one of the nation's leading authorities on the law of remedies and also on the law of religious liberty.

He says, "Religious liberty should not be a left-right issue. Like any other basic civil liberty, it should protect all sides in the culture wars — believers and nonbelievers, believers of every faith and variety, theological liberals and theological conservatives. It should, for example, protect churches that perform same-sex religious weddings in red states, and churches that refuse to recognize same-sex marriages in blue states. Religious liberty preserves space for each of us to believe, teach and live some of our deepest values."

Debates, Public Speaking Analysis, Gaffes

Robert Sayler and Molly Bishop Shadel
Law professors


Sayler and Shadel are public speaking experts and oral advocacy professors at the School of Law and the authors of "Tongue-Tied America: Reviving the Art of Verbal Persuasion." They are available to comment on communications strategies, gaffes and successes (in debates, speeches and marketing) during the presidential campaign.

Election and Campaign Finance Law

Michael Gilbert
Associate professor of law

Gilbert can discuss election and campaign finance law. "Requiring disclosure of the sources of political spending provides information to voters, but it also chills speech, and that takes information away. Consequently, it's not clear if disclosure helps voters make better decisions."

Immigration, Secure Communities and Detainee Policy

David Martin
Warner-Booker Distinguished Professor of International Law

Martin is one of the nation's leading experts in immigration and international law. He served as deputy general counsel to the Department of Homeland Security for the first two years of the Obama administration and as Immigration and Naturalization Services general counsel under President Clinton. He also can comment on presidential powers and national security, including detainee policy.

"Let me just emphasize something about Secure Communities," Martin said in an NPR report on the creation of a new program in U.S. immigration policy. "At its heart, it is a matter of sharing information about people who have been arrested for crimes. Most people would agree that these are folks who should be removed from the country."

National Security Law/Law of the Sea

John Norton Moore
Walter L. Brown Professor of Law, director of the Center for National Security Law, and director of the Center for Oceans Law and Policy

Moore is a former U.S. ambassador and an expert on national security law, foreign policy and the law of the sea.

"Soldiers routinely use lethal force against their enemies without the involvement of judges or juries," Moore said. "Press accounts report bin Laden was shot during an extensive firefight between his forces and U.S. Navy SEALs. Based upon the available evidence, the targeting was perfectly lawful under both U.S. and international law."

Tax Law and Policy

George Yin
Edwin S. Cohen Distinguished Professor of Law and Taxation, Thomas F. Bergin Teaching Professor

A former chief of staff of Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation, Yin is a national authority on tax law and policy.

"Depending upon how it is achieved, I think part of the Buffett Rule might make sense," Yin said in response to tax issues surrounding President Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address. "One reason high-income (and middle-income) taxpayers are able to reduce their tax liabilities is because they are entitled to certain special allowances in the tax law, such as the mortgage-interest deduction. These allowances generally have a nontax purpose, such as to encourage and subsidize home ownership.

"In a period of very limited government resources, it would be reasonable to reduce or curtail completely the benefit of these allowances to higher-income taxpayers who have the economic resources to obtain the desired end (home ownership) without the government help. If these allowances were taken away from millionaires or higher-income taxpayers, it would increase their rate of tax."

Voting Rights/Voter ID Reforms

Risa Goluboff
Professor of law and professor of history

Goluboff can discuss voting rights issues, and is an expert on constitutional law, legal history and the Supreme Court.

"Proponents of reforming the voting process seem blind to the fact that all of these seemingly neutral reforms hit poor and minority voters out of all proportion," Goluboff said in a Slate op-ed piece she co-wrote with Dahlia Lithwick.

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