October 9, 2018

Kavanaugh Protests; Taylor Swift’s Message to America; and Tuesday Jazz Salons at Loyola’s Multicultural Room!

Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice on Saturday following protests and a dizzying few weeks that sparked a national conversation about the #MeToo movement. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee that an extremely drunk 17-year old Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when she was a 15-year old girl. Ford did not allege that the assault escalated into a rape, but she did testify that she was terrified that she  might die when Kavanaugh held his hand over her mouth to silence her screams. Like many other victims, Ford did not report the sexual assault at the time. In the weeks prior to the hearing, she passed a lie detector test and only agreed to testify after her name and story leaked to the press. Kavanaugh contrarily testified that he did not remember Ford but claimed that her story could not possibly be true. He also generally dismissed questions about excessive drinking during his high school and college years. Following the hearing, numerous witnesses contacted the FBI to corroborate Ford’s account through their personal knowledge of Kavanaugh’s heavy drinking and aggressive behavior while intoxicated. The FBI ignored these witnesses – reportedly at the direction of the Trump administration -- sparking more outcry. Both publically and privately, women across the nation shared for the first time their own stories of sexual abuse. Many of these stories were shared publically under the topic: #WhyIDidn’tReport. Click here for an article discussing the many reasons why women silently endure sexual assaults. These reasons include shaming and the likelihood that a complaint will be ignored.

Taylor Swift did more than just sing this week. Following the Kavanaugh confirmation, Swift broke her long-standing policy of not commenting on politics. Swift posted an impassioned plea on her Instagram account urging millions of followers – make that 112 million followers – to get out and vote in the mid-term elections. More particularly, Swift urged that voters reject politicians who sow hate. Voter.org reported more than 65,000 new voters registered in the 24 hours following Swift’s post. In pertinent part, Swift stated:

I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love.

       Taylor Swift, October 7, 2018

Down for some jazz? Bring your own lunch and stop by on select Tuesdays from 12-1 for a Jazz Salon at the Multicultural Room (Cassasa 304). Liquid refreshments provided. Professor Gary Williams explains that salons flourished in France in the 17th and 18th centuries to “‘refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through music and conversation.’” And now they are flourishing at Loyola! Professor Williams is hosting these delightful musical interludes, along with students Trevor Wynn and Geoffrey Gallegos. Upcoming salons will take place on October 16, October 30, and November 13. What a wonderful way to relax and learn about jazz!

October 2, 2018

1600 Undocumented Children Now Housed in “Tent-City” in Tornillo, Texas; Trump Administration Ends Policy Permitting Visas for Same-Sex Partners of Foreign Diplomats; and Good Luck in Midterms!

The Department of Health and Human Services has relocated 1600 undocumented children to a barren tent city located in a desert in Tornillo, Texas. Reports indicate that many of the children were taken “‘under cover of darkness’” with little or no warning to minimize the chance of attempted escape. The children – most of whom are between 13 and 17 – were yanked from various shelters and foster homes. The tent city provides no formal schooling for the children. There also is only limited access to legal services. Advocates have voiced grave concerns about the effect of the meager surroundings on the children, at least some of whom might be held at the facility for months.

As of October 1, 2018, domestic partners of same-sex diplomats residing in the United States will no longer be entitled to visas. Same-sex couples who are formally married still receive protection, but that necessarily excludes existing and future couples who may not be able to marry under the laws of their home country. Since 2009, visas routinely were issued to permit same-sex couples to stay together when one partner is in the United States. Per an administration official, there only will be “‘limited exceptions.’” Samantha Power, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations denounced the new policy as “‘needlessly cruel.’”

No doubt, there is a lot going on in our country right now. As one of your profs, I witnessed how intently so many of you watched the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Hearing with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Amidst all of the flurry, our first years will go through a rite of passage: their first law school mid-term exam. And that comes on the heels of their first major legal writing assignment! Study hard and good luck to everyone!