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2018 in Review: What We’ve Done

December 28, 2018

 The 2018 Out Summit filled the CUNY Law auditoriumProgressive scholarship, published opinions, and online networking are hallmarks of our faculty members. We’re proud to hire law professors who are activists, researchers, organizers, scholars, and grassroots leaders in their own right. 2018 was a year that forced us to engage more deeply, read more widely, and speak more clearly. And our faculty helped us do it all.


Faculty Standouts

This year began with the announcement of nine new tenure-track faculty hires at CUNY Law. They each and together have the combined talents to create the next generation of public interest lawyers; we are tremendously proud of their work.

For the umpteenth year running, Professor Ruthann Robson’s top law blog is a standout on issues in constitutional law. As co-editor, Ruthann’s commentary on the Supreme Court and its justices in 2018 proved vital content. Other notable blog content includes Professor Sarah Lamdan’s report on how legal research companies are selling surveillance data and services to law enforcement agencies, including ICE. Professor Chaumtoli Huq’s blog Law@theMargins launched a Women’s Movement Series with articles written and supported by activists and advocates working to create a more inclusive, global women’s movement.

This year also saw an uptick in Twitter activity with several of our most prominent centers and clinics: thanks to Professors Bahar Ansari ’06, Nicole Futrell Smith, and Steve Zeidman, the Defender Clinic joined Twitter and amplified issues around decarceration; the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) Project’s Professor Ramzi Kassem and attorneys Tarek Ismail and Naz Ahmad were thought leaders in the discourse on the targeting of Muslims in America. And two events’ live-tweeted generated online discussion and a wealth of images including comics and Karamo Brown of Queer Eye fame.

With leadership from Professors Rebecca Bratspies and Sarah Lamdan, the Center for Urban Environmental Renewal (CUER) co-hosted a conference with the CUNY Journalism School for activists, journalists, and lawyers to promote the effective use of the Freedom of Information Act to fight the current administration’s environmental policies. You can find resources and insights by following #FOIAfacts on Twitter. And the 2018 Out Summit filled the house in early December as LGBTQIA advocates and community members came to CUNY Law for a day of panel discussions and workshops (and the aforementioned group selfie with Karamo!).

Professor John Whitlow ’03 invited America to see President Trump as “Just Another Crooked Landlord”in an op-ed published by the New York Times: “I see his type all the time. Here’s what tenant advocates in the city have learned about how to fight him.” CUNY Law faculty also lent their professional opinions and insights to the conversation on the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Prior to the hearings, Professor Julie Goldsheid, along with several other colleagues, submitted a letter with 250 signatories calling into question the Senate Judiciary Committee’s approach to allegations of sexual assault and misconduct raised against Kavanaugh. Professor Goldsheid also appeared on PBS news as part of the coverage of the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.

Amidst a plethora of notable scholarship is Professor Janet M. Calvo’s discussion of the legal issues in creating these pathways for non-citizens, published in The Columbia Journal of Race and Law and featured in CUNY’s new SUM Initiative. Also featured by SUM is the work of Professor Alan White, whose collective work on credit, finance, and bankruptcy calls for policies that address unsustainable household debt, the student loan crisis, housing evictions, and other modern economic disasters. Professor Deborah Zalesne’s thought-provoking article, The Intersection of Contract Law, Reproductive Technology, and the Market: Families in the Age of ART, was reviewed by JOTWELL for its look at the enforceability of agreements to meet couples’ reproductive goals with the growth of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).  In the arena of gender and human rights, Professor Lisa Davis ’08 published an article in William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law calling for holistic accountability for gendered crimes committed by ISIS. In response, and with the support of U.N. Women, CUNY Law School convened a meeting with experts on LGBTQIA rights and international criminal law from around the world.

Starting with an essential question: “What separates the language of law from the language of justice?,” Professor Andrea McCardle’s book review of Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Opinions of the United States Supreme Court draws out the themes in re-written opinions and notes how they “embrace a discourse marked by candor, clarity, and empathy, in which gender is never a deficit, but an attribute connected to human flourishing.” Andrea captures the essence of Feminist Judgments, highlighting the various ways in which the re-imagined opinions contribute to a rich and inclusive vision of justice.


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