University of Pittsburgh

Faculty News

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - 8:54am

Professor Jessie Allen discussed the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Wal-Mart case, in which more than a million female employees sued the company for sex discrimination.  The Supreme Court ruled that these women could not proceed through a class action lawsuit.  In the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Professor Allen explained that the Wal-Mart decision was the latest of a string of cases that has made it harder to sue for employment discrimination.  "[These cases] are gate-keeping decisions about the procedural rules that govern what it takes to get any case into federal court, but together, they tend to keep job discrimination plaintiffs out of the courthouse," she explained.


Link to story

Monday, June 20, 2011 - 10:22am

On June 15, 2011, Professor Ronald Brand participated in the Study Group on implementation of the Hague Choice of Court Convention of the Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on Private International Law, in Washington, D.C.  The Study Group is used by the Assistant Legal Adviser for Private International Law to review and give advice on current proposals.  Its current focus is on the coordination of state and federal law in the implementation of the Hague Convention. The Study Group meeting was led by Assistant Legal Adviser Keith Loken, and the Legal Adviser, Harold Koh, was present to address the group and engage in discussion.

Monday, June 20, 2011 - 10:03am

Professor Nancy Burkoff gave a presentation to an international audience of lawyers and law students on Comparative Civil and Common Law Analysis at the Twenty-First Century Legal Skills Conference in Istanbul, Turkey.  The conference was co-sponsored by the Legal Writing Institute and Bahcesehir University.  Professor Burkoff also participated in a panel discussion on Rule of Law, and in a press conference.


Monday, June 20, 2011 - 9:51am

Professor Jules Lobel told the Washington Post that President Obama needs Congressional approval under the War Powers Act for the U.S. military's involvement in the hostilities in Libya.  Professor Lobel asserted that the Administration's position -- that it needs no approval because it is only engaged in supporting NATO's actions -- is not correct.  “They are involved in a war, and the fact that they are in a support role, that I don’t think is dispositive in the War Powers Resolution debate,” he said.


Link to Washington Post article

Friday, June 17, 2011 - 9:49am

Jules Lobel discusses whether or not the Constitution requires the president to obtain the express consent of Congress to commit troops to war.


Read the full article here.

Friday, June 17, 2011 - 9:22am

Associate Dean of Research, David Harris, worked with city officials, legal experts, and community activists to craft a substantially more-detailed piece of legislation for police accountability.  


Read the full article here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011 - 10:59am

Professor David Harris discussed a civil suit over the invasion of the wrong home by FBI and task force agents.  The agents had an arrest warrant for a woman, but she had not lived at the residence in over a year.  Professor Harris told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that proper execution of a warrant does not require that the police get everything right, but it does require that they make reasonable efforts to avoid obvious mistakes.  According to the complaint, the target of the search had moved out months before the family moved in, and was living in California.  Professor Harris said that "[i]f it was possible for [agents] to know that she was living out in California [by exercising] any reasonable degree of effort, that could matter."


Post-Gazette Story Link

Tribune Review Story Link

Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - 9:56am

On June 6-10, 2011, Professor Ronald Brand lectured on Transaction Planning Using Rules of Private International Law in the International Commercial Contracts Summer School in Ravenna, Italy.  The program was jointly sponsored by the University of Bologna, the Fondazione Flaminia Ravenna, the Port Authority of Ravenna, and Pitt Law’s Center for International Legal Education.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - 10:49am

Professor Jules Lobel's article, entitled "Fundamental Norms, International Law and the Extraterritorial Constitution," has now been published in Yale Journal of International Law, Vol. 36, pp 307-369 (2011).  Abstract: 


This Article argues that the functional test articulated in Boumediene v. Bush, which focuses on the inquiry of whether the Constitution’s Suspension Clause applies to executive detention abroad, is in considerable tension with the fundamental norms jurisprudence that underlies and pervades the Court’s opinion. Drawing on Supreme Court precedent and lower court jurisprudence regarding the extraterritorial application of constitutional rights, as well as comparative and historical practice—including the intent of the Framers—the Article seeks to reintegrate the fundamental norms strands of the Boumediene opinion into its functional test, and thus to normatively ground the opinion. It does so by arguing that the functional test for extraterritorial application of habeas rights should be informed by international law, a consideration that the Boumediene decision omitted from its analysis. The Article concludes that utilizing international law’s substantive, fundamental, nonderogable norms to help determine whether constitutional protections apply abroad would both allay the Court’s practical concerns and ground the Court’s test on the important normative principles that in fact underlie its Boumediene opinion. Applied to the habeas context, this analysis suggests that detainees held by the United States military for a prolonged period of time at a military base or other secure facility without being afforded adequate due process, are constitutionally entitled to habeas review to assert claims that they are civilians and not enemy combatants.

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 2:02pm

Professor Anthony Infanti's book chapter, titled “Dismembering Families,” has now been published in “Challenging Gender Inequality in Tax Policy Making: Comparative Perspectives” (Kim Brooks et al. eds, Hart Publishing 2011).  Here is an abstract:


In this paper, I explore how the deduction for extraordinary medical expenses, codified in I.R.C. section 213, furthers domination in American society. On its face, section 213 probably does not seem a likely candidate for being tagged as furthering domination. After all, this provision aims to alleviate extraordinary financial burdens on taxpayers who already suffer from significant medical problems -- and who, by definition, lack the help of insurance to relieve those burdens. But, as laudable as this goal might be, careful attention to the text and context of section 213 reveals that it does not apply to all taxpayers equally. In fact, section 213 draws sharp distinctions between different types of families. Looking at this provision from the perspective of those who require the help of assisted reproductive technology to form a family, I explain how section 213 furthers the hegemony of the so-called traditional family and concomitantly contributes to the subordination of lesbian and gay families as well as many other nontraditional American families.


Link to the book's web page

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