The Year in Quotes

Words of Faculty, Alumni, Students Offer Insight as We Look Back on 2016
UVA Law School
January 6, 2017

The words of faculty, alumni and students offer insights into news from 2016.

“The goal really shouldn’t be to destroy financial institutions. It should be to reform them. The proper way to punish corporations is to hold the individuals and executives responsible. Huge fines just punish the shareholders even more and won’t stop the recidivism we’ve seen at Deutsche Bank.”

—Professor Brandon Garrett on reports that the Justice Department would seek a $14 billion fine to resolve accusations of fraud in Deutsche Bank’s packaging and sale of mortgage-backed securities before the financial crisis (The New York Times)

“That said, there's the downside, which is once those stories are out there in the public on that level, everyone else becomes an armchair detective as well. And they begin becoming part of the investigation, which of course destroys our ability to control it.”

—Professor Deirdre Enright, director of investigation for UVA Law’s Innocence Project Clinic, on the impact of the popularity of “Serial” and similar programs (Rhode Island Public Radio)

“Those responsible for reforming such procedure over the past 40 or so years have been masters at employing neutral-sounding principles in service of rules that in truth restrict the ability of the injured and the wronged from accessing courts to vindicate their legal rights.”

—Professor A. Benjamin Spencer on amendments to the rules of federal civil procedure (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

“The days when [a] loosey-goosey interpretive style was permitted are over. … Originalism is baked in, whatever your political ori­entation, and I think it’s going to be baked in for a long, long time.”

—Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick, discussing Justice Antonin Scalia’s legacy at a Law School event on Feb. 25.

“He took each case as it came to him, and that’s the mark of a conscientious jurist. But I think his whole world view was geared in a way that made him skeptical of the environmental movement in general. He was deeply skeptical of the notion of interconnectedness and the implications that might have for legal doctrines like standing or federalism.”

—Professor Jonathan Cannon on Justice Scalia’s legacy with environmental cases (BNA Bloomberg)

“My parents never indicated that there was anything a woman couldn’t do on account of her gender. So in some ways my up­bringing sent me into the world with a confidence that no one has been able to shake. One message I always try to impart to young women is that confidence, self-assurance, and the willingness to take on people who are wrong or biased is an important part of success.”

Elizabeth Garrett ’88, the first female president of Cornell University, who died March 6  

“The remedy for local corruption or mismanagement is not for state officials to take over those cities but for local citizens to do so — through the po­litical process. Citizens are capable of self-rule. And when they are given the opportunity, they can govern well, even if not perfectly. But first we must trust them.”

—Professor Richard Schragger on the Flint water crisis and how to empower city-dwellers (Slate)

“I did nothing for one month but prepare. I talked a lot to the wall.

Jonathan Sallet ’78 on how he prepared to defend the FCC’s most contentious policy, net neutrality, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (The New York Times)

"There's no legal path to secession. ... You're going to need a constitutional amendment or you're going to need a revolution."

—Professor Cynthia Nicoletti on some Californians' pursuit of secession in the wake of the election of Donald Trump (Business Insider)

“The court’s continued reliance on diversity to justify race-based affirmative action undermines the legitimacy of affirmative action in the long run. … The more persuasive basis for affirmative action is that law and custom, North and South, comprehensively suppressed the economic and educational opportunities of African-Americans and other people of color for hundreds of years and numerous generations.”

—Professor Kim Forde-Mazrui on the U.S. Supreme Court decision Fisher v. University of Texas

“…Litigation in this space seems virtually certain, as federal and state govern­ments struggle for regulatory control of the hazy area between safety and privacy.”

—Professor Ashley Deeks on drone regulations (Lawfare)

“I think we are facing a threat that is even more substantial and more challenging than 9/11 was … You’re dealing with this virus. You’re dealing with a society that’s so highly polarized where there are many, many young people who are angry and disaffected.”

—Professor Richard Bonnie ’69, who has helped shape policy following previous mass shootings, commenting on the mass murder in an Orlando nightclub (NBC 29)

“This is a story that’s always going to be relevant, because there’s always going to be a tension between how much power the police have and how much liberty individuals have.”

—Professor Risa Goluboff on her book, “Vagrant Nation: Police Power, Constitutional Change and the Making of the 1960s” 

“If, as in Germany, renewables subsidies require subsidies for coal-burning power plants, and if, as economics predicts, expectations of a permanent and rising carbon tax generate increases in present day CO2 emissions, then where will be the environmental benefits to justify the enormous burden put on poor and middle class households? It would seem that the case for carbon taxes and renewables subsidies is not so simple after all.”

—Professor Jason S. Johnston (The American Spectator) 

 “We really trust the political process rather than the law to prevent government abuse of power.”

—Professor Darryl Brown, describing what he learned about Americans while writing his new book, "Free Market Criminal Justice"

"The law effectively makes them worse off than anyone else, and that's a violation of equal protection."

—Professor Deborah Hellman on North Carolina’s bathroom bill (NBC News)

“In invoking executive privilege in such a wholesale way — attempting to keep secret over 10,000 documents — the administration has given yet another black eye to the concept of executive privilege. … The Net Worth Sweep smells like rotting fish, and some cleansing is desperately in order.”

—Professor Saikrishna Prakash on litigation filed by shareholders of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (The National Review)  

"We are in uncharted waters here. The law recognizes both privacy interests and a First Amendment right to report on matters of public concern."

—Professor Leslie Kendrick on Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker in April, before the jury ruled in Hogan’s favor (Business Insider)

“It’s time for those supremely talented young football and basketball players to help themselves to a better future.”

—Sports agent Donald H. Yee ’87, writing on why college athletes should be paid (The Washington Post)  

“Colombia is attempting to create an innovative system in order to obtain peace within its borders, and some of the results of the negotiations have led to controversial elements of the transitional justice system. Questions of implementation and international acceptance remain unanswered."

—Human Rights Study Project Cowan Fellow Joshua Burk ’17 on the Colombian peace process, soon after returning from a research trip in January 2016

“What we do not have are the corresponding protections of the criminal law- enforcement system for the accused.”

—Professor Andrew Vollmer ’78, discussing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s use of aggressive civil law enforcement activity (The Wall Street Journal)

“Police fear legally carried weapons as well as illegally carried ones. Since generous carry laws likely mean that police will encounter more armed individuals, even randomly, as in a traffic stop, it’s time to think a lot more about the role gun carry laws might play in police fear and police shootings.”

—Professor Rachel Harmon (Slate)

“[I]ssuing a marriage license to a gay couple is not like being forced into armed combat or to assist with an abortion. Matters of life and death are sui generis. If movants truly believe that providing services to LGBT citizens forces them to ‘tinker with the machinery of death,’ their animus exceeds anything seen in Romer, Windsor, or the marriage equality cases.”

—U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves ’89 in his ruling that a Mississippi law allowing for religious exemptions for services to LGBT community members was unconstitutional

“Once we realized what was inside the bag, I had a difficult time containing my excitement. … I looked over at Professor Givens and whispered that we had just hit the jackpot.”

—Innocence Project Clinic student Sabrine Tribié ’17, describing what happened when the clinic found a PERK kit and other physical evidence after being told the evidence in their client’s case had been destroyed  

“The Republican leadership has surmised that there is no political advantage to be gained by embracing pro-environmental policies. It is impossible for environmentalists to build an enduring coalition if that remains conventional wisdom.”

—Professor Cale Jaffe ’01, director of the Environmental and Regulatory Law Clinic, in an op-ed he wrote (The Virginian-Pilot)

“This is a victory for working women. It sends a clear message to employers that pregnancy is not incompatible with the workplace.”

Christine Tschiderer ’12, an attorney for the Washington Lawyers’ Committee who helped represent a former Chipotle employee in her successful pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against the Mexican fast-food chain (The Washington Post)

“We are not at a point where we should be engaging in this kind of sweeping inquisition of people who want to come to the U.S.”

—Professor Emeritus David Martin on Donald Trump’s proposed “extreme vetting” of immigrants (ABC News)

“Victims of terrorism deserve our full sympathy and complete justice for their injuries. What they should not do, however, is run our national security policy. What the United States wants is to call wrongdoers to account when it can, but always to reduce future risks to the American people.”

—Professor Paul Stephan ’77, writing an op-ed in opposition to the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. The bill passed after Congress overrode President Barack Obama’s veto. (The Richmond Times-Dispatch)

“Once the child entered the enclosure and was picked up by Harambe, there was no choice. I think it’s hard to second-guess the decision here. If you’re wrong, a child may die.”

—Professor Margaret Foster Riley on Cincinnati Zoo employees’ decision to shoot a gorilla after a boy fell into his enclosure (C-ville Weekly)

“Looking at what the constitution does say and doesn’t say, historically the power of conferring pardons, remitting fines, commuting sentences, that cluster of powers is a power [given] by the constitution, both at the federal and state level ... and the only limits to that power are spelled out by the constitution itself.”

—Professor A. E. Dick Howard ’61, explaining Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s right to restore voting rights to felons in Virginia, since the Virginia constitution doesn’t explicitly restrict the governor’s power (The Christian Science Monitor)

“Sometimes a judge emphasizes the resolve of a survivor, and says we’re lucky to have them as part of our country, and that’s really healing. There are things to be idealistic about. It’s part of what keeps you in the mix, on the front lines.”

Heather Axford ’07, Central American Legal Assistance attorney, on helping immigrants seeking legal services (The New Yorker) 

"The death penalty is driving itself to extinction. What remains of the American death penalty is quite fragile and reflects a legacy of racial bias and idiosyncratic local preferences.”

—Professor Brandon Garrett (USA Today)

“The liberal justices are willing to protect religious liberty when their more favored issues are not at stake, or perhaps when the case is clear enough.”

—Professor Douglas Laycock on the U.S. Supreme Court and religious liberty (USA Today)

“The best way to stop police brutality is not, as is sometimes assumed, lawsuits or criminal prosecutions against aggressive officers. … The only effective mechanism for addressing police brutality is top-down, systemic reform of the police organization itself. By stepping up to focus on what the organization can do, police departments have a better chance of saving more lives — both black and blue ones.”

—Professor Barbara Armacost ’89 (Harvard Business Review) 

“It’s particularly important that colleges and universities remain bastions of free speech. Intellectual inquiry requires the freedom to explore any subject, any theme, any idea.”

Josh Wheeler ’92, director of the First Amendment Clinic and director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, in announcing that 50 schools were receiving the center’s annual Jefferson Muzzle Awards (CBS 19)

“The removal may occur before, and in the absence of, a court order sanctioning it, because the president has the authority to independently construe the Constitution and the CFPB director cannot insist that he be allowed to stay in his office following a presidential order to vacate it.”

—Professor Aditya Bamzai on the possible removal of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director when Donald Trump takes office (The Washington Times)

And finally, retiring Hogan Lovells legend Warren Gorrell ’79 on lessons learned throughout his career, reported in Bloomberg Big Law Business:

“Whether you’re a leader of the team or whether you’re the newest member, you can always do more and better by being part of a team. ... Another lesson I’ve learned is that you need to bring your A game to every single thing you do. That is one thing I’ve emphasized to summer and new associates as I’ve met with them on their orientation every year. You don’t know what project will change your life. I can almost literally trace my career to a transaction I worked on in 1986. Growing out of that transaction, those relationships led to new clients and so, you don’t know what’s going to change your life. If you don’t bring your A game to every single thing you do, you might miss out on an opportunity. Last, it’s important to be part of an organization that stands for something more than making money. In the jobs I had, it was important to ensure that the firm had great financial performance and the partners felt well-treated and compensated and thought everything worked fairly. One of the things I’m proudest of, though, is the support I gave to pro bono and citizenship activity over the years. It’s not just that we give it to a few people and they do it for all of us.”

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