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January 22, 2011

"The Offensive Internet: Speech, Privacy, and Reputation"

Stanley Fish actually has a pretty good overview of this new volume edited by my colleagues Saul Levmore and Martha Nussbaum, and to which I am one of the contributors.  One caveat:  Fish overplays the anonymity issue relative to its centrality in the volume (though it is central to Levmore's excellent paper, which I highly recommend, and which I blogged about awhile back).  If there's a general theme, it isn't that anonymity should be eliminated (that isn't my view, for example) but that ordinary tort law, whose constitutional status isn't in doubt, should apply in cyberspace.  Current law, remarkably, exempts cyberspace from large parts of tort law (but not from copyright law, oddly).   My essay and John Deigh's also take up philosophical questions about the value of free speech, and whether and how free speech values are implicated in the regulation of cyberspace (and, in my case, the possible liability of Google for its role in disseminating tortious material).  Martha Nussbaum's essay is the other very philosophical piece in the volume, taking up the cyber-harassment of women and issues of objectification (and even ressentiment).  In any case, some readers might find the volume of interest.

The Boston Globe has an even better account of the book's main themes.

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 22, 2011 in Law in Cyberspace, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

The Mainstream American Right Owns the Rhetoric of Political Violence

A useful reminder.

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 22, 2011 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

January 21, 2011

Breaking News: Right-Wing Crazies Do *Not* Like Liberal Ideas (from law schools or anywhere else)

Who would have guessed?

(For the record, I'm sure I think Mr. Olson is as "crazy" as he really believes liberal social politices have been "catastrophic" for society.  Hyperbole loves company!)

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 21, 2011 in Legal Humor, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

More Thoughts on So-Called "Empirical Legal Studies"

From Joshua Wright (George Mason).

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 21, 2011 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

Wolk v. Volokh

Everyone's favorite passive-aggressive blogger is apparently embroiled in a legal battle with a lawyer not amused by his blogging style:

============from the motion by attorney Wolk============================

Wolk has filed several briefs in this Court which advise that certain internet websites associated with Overlawyered and Amici Curiae Eugene Volokh and Glenn Reynolds have published defamatory statements falsely and maliciously accusing Wolk of bestiality and pedophila.

More specifically, Eugene Volokh and Glenn Reynolds filed a motion in this Court seeking leave to appear as amicus curiae in support of Overlawyered, which was granted on January 14, 2011. Wolk opposed their motion for amici status asserting, inter alia, that these individuals are associated with other webwites against whom Wolk has filed lawsuits seeking equitable relief for publishing false accusations relating to bestiality and pedophilia. 

In apparent retaliation for Wolk’s opposition, Amicus blogger Volokh has taken portions of Wolk’s opposition that quoted the defamatory statements of bestiality and pedophilia (Doc. 03110390553 at pg. 14, 16) and published them on his own blogging website with the effect of inciting his blogging readership to further accuse Wolk of bestiality and pedophilia.  (Ex. A)....The Volokh Blog then led to the publication of a second blog (attached as Ex. B)(filed under seal), appearing on a separate website with a headline directly accusing Wolk of bestiality. (Ex. B.) This second blogger states that he obtained the quote for the headline from a source who requested “anonymity.” The blog links to the original Volokh Blog and claims to have “learned” about the situation from a “Professor Glenn Reynolds,” who is part of the same proposed amici group as Volokh. (Ex. B.)

Wolk has written to request that Volokh and the second blogger remove the defamatory material from their websites (Ex. C, D)(filed under seal), to which Volokh responded by threatening to sue Wolk. (Ex. E.). 

Wolk respectfully submits that time is of the utmost essence to prevent Volokh’s and other Amicus bloggers’ republication of libelous statements against Wolk from reaching the internet search engines which will thrust them to the forefront of cyberspace.   Wolk had previously been successful in persuading others to remove the blogs falsely accusing him of these heinous acts, but Reynolds and Volokh have rendered Wolk’s efforts meaningless by republishing only the portions of the brief which recite these false accusations, thereby letting them loose on the internet once again. By sealing the relevant portions of the briefing which cite to these defamatory statements, the Court can ensure that the Amici bloggers (and any other parties) will refrain from publically disseminating such horrific accusations. Likewise, an order sealing the relevant portions of Wolk’s briefing will compel Amicus blogger Volokh to remove his internet blog, which republished the defamatory accusations that will be placed under seal. 

===============end of excerpt from Wolk motion===================

[Note:  I wasn't able to indent the above excerpt, hence I've marked it off with lines.]

The final exhibit (at the link, above, scroll to the end), not under seal, from Professor Volokh's attorney states Professor Volokh's opposition to the motion clearly.  Mr. Wolk is about to discover, I suspect, why Section 230 of the CDA is the bane of cyber-space.  On the other hand, the morally decent thing to do would, of course, be to remove the comments on the earlier blog postings that make disgusting and defamatory allegations about Mr. Wolk.

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 21, 2011 in Law in Cyberspace, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

January 19, 2011

Empirical Legal Studies, Redux

My New Year's Eve roundup of blog highlights from 2010 included yet more on ELS (which, by the way, isn't even a coherent category, but that's another story), though given the timing it apparently was missed by some interested parties.  So herewith the relevant portion:

Anyone who doubts the power of this blog (I know you're out there, and you will be smitten in due course!), take note:  a blog post in the dog days of summer on "empirical legal studies" has now resulted in an actual scholarly article in rebuttal!  The author is Cornell's Ted Eisenberg, intellectual leader and innovator in empirical studies of the legal system, and the only "concerns" about ELS to which he responds are those in my blog post (see p. 7 of his article).   Professor Eisenberg makes the utterly shocking allegation that "blog posts...often constitute unreflective, on-the-spot reactions provided to promote or provoke discussion," but we shall put that startling revelation to one side.   The truth is I've reflected a lot about ELS, over the course of dozens of hours of job talks and workshops by ELS scholars over the past five years.  Professor Eisenberg misunderstands, alas, my worry about the "skill level"  of ELS scholars:  no one doubts that many ELS scholars have strong empirical, statistical, and experimental skills, of the kinds one would expect from PhDs in various social science disciplines.  (The epistemic robustness of these social science fields is a separate question, but we shall also bracket that issue.)  My claim was that the,

analytical- and discursive-skill level of ELS scholars appears to be, on average, low, or at least lower than the typical law & economics or law & philosophy interdisciplinary scholar of yesteryear.  This isn't surprising, given that the genre rewards technical skills related to number crunching and data analysis, as well as research design, rather than smarts on your feet, the ability to draw conceptual distinctions, or construct and deconstruct arguments.   But the latter intellectual skills are the ones needed in law, both in thinking about law and in teaching law, not the former.   Perhaps this is also why discussion of empirical papers typically follows the same tedious pattern of wondering how one controls for this-or-that variable, with the presenter showing, cleverly, how s/he already controlled for it, or admitting that s/he didn't, so that this is an issue for future work, etc. 

Analytical and discursive skills ("smarts on your feet, the ability to draw conceptual distinctions, or construct and deconstruct arguments") are different intellectual skills than experimental design and statistical analysis.  But analytical and discursive skills are the ones we are honing in our students from the first year of law school onwards, and they are the skills that law professors need if they are to discharge their tasks.  This is why economists and philosophers fit so naturally into the law school world, because both disciplines require those kinds of intellectual skills.  To be sure, the high end of ELS scholars--like the Cornell folks, or my colleagues Malani and Miles--are both skilled in social scientific techniques and analytically acute and discursively agile.  But the parade of over-sold ELS job candidates who are sometimes neither, and rarely both, is long indeed.

UPDATE:   An error of omission on my part:  Professor Eisenberg also offers a response to Josh Wright's earlier and informative comments on ELS, though I'm not sure he responds adequately to them either.  But I trust Professor Wright will take up the matter in due course.

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 19, 2011 in Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink | TrackBack

January 18, 2011

Guess who finally has a personal homepage?

Brian Leiter, that's who--everything you didn't want to know, and then some.   Another Brian Leiter (really, some guy in Maryland) got the .com, so I got the .net.  (It appears the .com has been colonized by advertising connected to the ".net Leiter", however!)

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 18, 2011 in Navel-Gazing | Permalink | TrackBack

Juan Perea, Matthew Sag To Loyola-Chicago

Loyola-Chicago has made two tenured lateral hires.  Juan Perea arrives from the University of Florida.  (He is currently visiting at Villanova.)  Matthew Sag will be moving a few blocks from DePaul.  All eyes will be on DePaul to see if this is a harbinger of things to come.

Posted by Dan Filler on January 18, 2011 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

January 15, 2011

So with 60,000 votes on paired comparisons of 60 law schools...

...and with apologies to Kenneth Arrow, here are the results, which reflect the significant (if not total) influence of U.S. News on even academics and academically-minded readers--though the performance of places like UCLA, Northwestern, Texas, Irvine, FSU, and San Diego, among others, certainly reflects the influence of the kind of data I have put into circulation. 

1.  Yale University (94)

2.  Harvard University (92)

3.  Stanford University (91)

4.  University of Chicago (87)

5.  Columbia University (85)

6.  New York University (83)

7.  University of California, Berkeley (80)

8.  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (77)

8.  University of Virginia (77)

10. Northwestern University (76)

10. University of Pennsylvania (76)

12. University of California, Los Angeles (73)

13. Duke University (72)

13. University of Texas, Austin (72)

15. Cornell University (70)

15. Georgetown University (70)

17. Vanderbilt University (69)

18. University of Southern California (67)

19. George Washington University (59)

19. Washington University, St. Louis (59)

21. University of Wisconsin, Madison (58)

22. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (57)

23. Boston University (56)

23. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (56)

25. University of Iowa (53)

26. Boston College (50)

26. Emory University (50)

28. Fordham University (49)

28. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (49)

28. University of Notre Dame (49)

31. University of California, Irvine (46)

32. Indiana University, Bloomington (45)

33. College of William & Mary (43)

34. Ohio State University (42)

35. University of California, Davis (40)

36. University of California, Hastings (39)

37. Washington & Lee University (36)

38. University of Colorado, Boulder (35)

38. University of Washington, Seattle (35)

40. University of Arizona (33)

40. University of San Diego (33)

42. Florida State University (32)

42. George Mason University (32)

44. University of Georgia (30)

45. Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University (29)

46. Arizona State University (28)

46. Tulane University (28)

48. Brooklyn Law School (27)

49. Chicago-Kent College of Law (26)

49. University of Florida, Gainesville (26)

For those who haven't had their full, Gordon Smith (BYU) has now created another paired comparisons for 185 law schools!  Yikes!  It will take a lot more votes to get meaningful results out of this one, since there will be both fewer close comparisons offered up, and a lot more comparisons between schools about which most will have little information.  Professor Smith has also cast the net more widely in terms of soliciting participation, so I would expect this to look even more like US News in the end, if it isn't captured by ambitious strategic voting. 

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 15, 2011 in Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack

January 14, 2011

Two More Lateral Hires for UC Irvine: Solomon from Yale, Porter from Iowa

NLJ story here.

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 14, 2011 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack