Law Students from Michigan on Alternative Spring Break at Navajo Nation

Michigan State University and University of Michigan law students coordinated an alternative spring break to Navajo Nation through the leadership of MSU Law student Tamera Begay and U of M Law student Hunter Cox. MSU students are working at Navajo Nation and U of M students are at DNA Legal Services. Impressive job.

Tamera Begay, Emily Smith, John Simermeyer, Chantelle Dial, Patricia Jjemba, Mavis Smith, Elise McGowan, Mike Hollowell, Whitney Gravelle

UofM Law:
Samantha Hall, Breeanna Brewer, Andrew Goddeeris, & Hunter Cox

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On Rob Portman and the 2011 Michigan Law School Commencement Protest

Turtle Talk usually looks forward only, but on a few rare occasions we look back into the archives to dig up interesting tidbits. Recall the post we did in 2011 on the silent protest from one-third of the Michigan Law School Class of 2011 of the law school’s selection of Rob Portman as the commencement speaker (60 percent of the graduating class wore rainbow buttons). Many of my spring 2011 Federal Indian Law students organized and took part in the protest. A proud moment, in my view.

An excerpt from the news report:

A small group of the seniors had an audience with the senator on Saturday morning, but in the end, the walkout still went down and it was even bigger than Andrew Selbst, unoffical spokesman for the protesting seniors, had hoped. His conservative estimate was that about 40 students would walk out, but more than 100 students joined him in the lobby while Portman spoke. About 60 percent of the graduates wore rainbow buttons or ribbons on their gowns or rainbow tassels on their caps.

This was a silent protest. The University was prepared for a loud protest. Just inside Hill Auditorium, seconds after guests were handed the pamphlet and the rainbow ribbon, they were handed the official program, which contained a baby blue insert addressing the protest.

Said Selbst, among 100 of his fellow graduates in the hallway during Portman’s speech: “I think we made our point.”

Now that Portman has changed his views, I find this protest even more inspiring, and prescient.

Of course, SBM blog, in its continuing efforts at snidely sarcasm, finds the whole thing worthy of mockery. Who are those people?

Michigan Law Student Protest at Commencement against Anti-Gay Senator

Here (video link also):

In many ways Senior Day 2011 at the Michigan Law School was like any other commencement ceremony. Graduates donned caps and gowns. They discussed their time together and their plans for the future. Families asked passersby to snap photos of themselves with the new lawyer in the clan. Graduates and guests laughed politely at Dean Evan Caminker’s attempts at humor. It was a day of celebration.

But it was also a time for protest.

As families and friends entered Hill Auditorium they were handed a pamphlet explaining how this year’s Senior Day ceremony would be a little bit different than normal. The pamphlet explained the students’ plans to walk out during Senator Rob Portman’s commencement address.

Portman, a 1984 alum of the law school, was a six-term congressman before being tapped by President George W. Bush in 2005 to serve as the U.S. Trade Representative and, later, director of the Office of Management and the Budget, both cabinet-level positions. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2010.

Portman came under fire for his voting record. He has opposed gay adoption in Washington, D.C. and opposes gay marriage. A number of students who took part in the protest said that such views are incompatible with basic, human dignity.

Continue reading

Talk Announcement: “Factbound and Splitless: The Impact of the Certiorari Process on Federal Indian Law” @ UM Law School

Your humble blogger will be giving a talk at the University of Michigan Law School (co-sponsored, I understand, by the U-M NALSA and the Michigan Journal of Race & Law) on November 12, 2007 at 12:20 PM in Room 150 of Hutchins Hall.

My talk will be called, “Factbound and Splitless: The Impact of the Certiorari Process on Federal Indian Law.”

Here’s the blurb I gave the students on this talk:

I have reviewed each of the 144 Indian law-related cert petitions filed in the Supreme Court from the 1986 to 1993 Terms. Tribal interests began losing 75 percent of their cases in the Court starting in 1987, a significantly worse win rate than even convicted criminal petitioners. I argue that the critical factors the Court looks for in deciding whether to grant cert — “circuit splits,” cases of national “importance,” and cases that are not “factbound” — create structural (and yet wholly discretionary) barriers to the vindication of tribal interests in Supreme Court adjudication.

If you want to read the documents I’ve read in this study, check out the Digital Archive of the Papers of Harry A. Blackmun. And bring your docket numbers, because that’s how it’s organized.