Law School Community Mobilizes in Defiance of Donald Trump

Written by Naeem Crawford-Muhammad, Editor-in-Chief

There is one topic of conversation dominating the halls of New York University School of Law – the hectic first days of President Donald Trump’s term in office. Following through on his campaign promise to impose a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslim immigration into the United States, Mr. Trump ordered a “travel ban” on citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations in the Middle East (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen). While much of the law was stayed by multiple federal court rulings, thousands of protesters, including many NYU Law students and alumni, are crying foul.

Posted on Salon.com, 50 members of the Class of 2007 sent an open letter to their classmate, Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior adviser to President Trump, raising “serious concerns regarding Mr. Trump’s stated policies and policy proposals.” Citing Mr. Kushner’s status as the grandchild of a Holocaust survivor, the alumni encouraged their classmate to “use his deep sense of compassion to influence the Trump Administration in a positive way.” According to the posting, an earlier version of the letter sent last December received no response.

The Muslim Law Students Association released a statement condemning a policy that they felt unfairly, and unconstitutionally, targeted individuals based on their faith and country of origin. “This order is very clearly a ‘Muslim Ban.’ During his campaign, President Trump repeatedly promised that he would ban Muslims from entering the United States. The President’s intent to establish a Muslim ban was corroborated by top Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani in a recent interview with Fox News, where he remarked that President Trump asked how to make such a ban legally possible,” said Nealofar Panjshiri.

In a letter to the Law School community, Dean Trevor Morrison raised objection to Mr. Trump’s travel ban, pledging to support the students, faculty members, and their families who hail from the affected countries. “We are committed to doing all we can to keep them safe,” said Dean Morrison. When reached for comment, Law School Public Affairs Director Michael Orey confirmed that no NYU Law students, faculty, or administrators have been refused entry to the United States as a result of Mr. Trump’s executive order.

Although no members of the Law School community have been directly impacted by the travel ban, appeals for students to volunteer their legal services or to participate in protests have proliferated across the campus in recent days.

Freshly returned from a regional meeting in Boston with over 20 chapters of the National Black Law Students Association, where responses to the Trump Administration were discussed, Kayla Vinson of the Black Allied Law Students Association released a statement calling on students to join protests and make their voices heard. “Implementation of this Executive Order will only lead to further harassment and racial profiling of marginalized communities. BALSA strongly opposes the Administration’s attempt to spread fear, racism, and Islamophobia.”

Frances Hartmann of Resisting Injustice and Standing for Equality (RISE), a student advocacy group founded by alumni from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign last December, encouraged students in need to make use of resources available at the Law School. “Students and staff seeking immigration legal advice should contact NYU’s Immigrant Defense Initiative (IDI) at 212-998-6640 or immigrant.defense@law.nyu.edu for a free consultation. The IDI is being coordinated by NYU Law’s Immigrant Rights Clinic in partnership with WilmerHale.”

Professor Alina Das, director of the NYU Law Immigrant Rights Clinic, is providing legal services to those who have been detained at airports and other points of entry, according to Dean Morrison’s statement. Professor Das will also join colleagues Adam Cox and Nancy Morawetz for a forum discussing the impact of the travel ban on Wednesday.

Claudia Carvajal and Nicolas Duque-Franco, co-chairs of the Latino Law Students Association (LaLSA) were concerned that the “travel ban” did not appear to undergo enough scrutiny from within the Trump Administration before it was signed.

“We are appalled that the President would issue a categorical ban on travel, or any such policy based on race or national origin, that violates the Constitution. Reports that (1) [Customs and Border Patrol] officials have, in certain places, ignored Judge Donnelly’s stay, and (2) that the travel ban was issued without [Homeland Security] or [Justice Department] review, are alarming to say the least. This raises serious concerns about the legitimacy of future policies issued by the White House.”

 

Law School Statement on President Trump’s Immigration Executive Order

The below statement was sent from the Office of the Dean to members of the Law School community earlier today. It is reprinted in full below.

Dear NYU Law Community:

As you are all no doubt aware, on Friday, President Trump signed an executive order that temporarily bars all refugees into the United States and indefinitely bars all Syrian refugees, and that temporarily bars nearly anyone from seven specified countries (all of which are majority Muslim), regardless of visa type.  On Saturday night, amidst swelling protests at airports around the country, a number of federal courts issued orders temporarily suspending certain aspects of the executive order, pending further litigation.

The leaders of institutions of higher education across the country—including NYU’s President Hamilton—have raised alarms about the executive order and its potential impact on our students and our schools.  I share that concern for the NYU Law community, which includes students and scholars from the listed countries or who have family there, and Muslim students who feel that the order is hostile to their religion or who fear that their countries of origin may be targeted next.  We are in touch with members of our community who may be immediately impacted to offer our support.  These students and scholars are all full members of the NYU Law community, and we stand behind them.  We are committed to doing all we can to keep them safe.

We at NYU Law know that our strength lies in our diversity, in our promotion of the free flow of ideas, and in our provision of a welcoming intellectual home for all of our members, without regard to religion or viewpoint.  Openness is the heart of our enterprise.  While this may be true at any institution of higher learning, it is especially so at our Law School, whose commitment to global engagement is deep and longstanding.  Having grown up outside this country before coming to the U.S. for graduate school, the potential repercussions of this executive order resonate especially powerfully with me.  Speaking for myself, I simply cannot square it with our core values.

I am proud that members of our community, led by Professor Alina Das, are providing legal assistance to people detained at airports and others whose immigration status is now in doubt.  Our students and alumni likewise are organizing to offer legal assistance to those impacted.  Together, these members of the NYU Law community are helping to ensure that any new immigration policy is consistent with our constitutional values and is implemented lawfully.  We will also provide opportunities to discuss these issues on campus.  This Wednesday’s Forum will focus on the executive order and will feature analysis and commentary by Professors Adam Cox, Alina Das, and Nancy Morawetz.

This is a time of uncertainty and fear for many.  For the time being, we recommend that members of the NYU Law community from the seven countries named in the order who are in the United States on a visa, or who are lawful permanent residents here, do not travel outside the country.  If you have any concern about how the executive order could impact you, please contact our Immigrant Rights Clinic’s Immigrant Defense Initiative or NYU’s Office of Global Services.  Our Office of Student Affairs and Office of Graduate Affairs can also offer guidance and support.  And, as ever, please feel encouraged to call the Wellness Center for counseling if you need it.

Sincerely,

Trevor W. Morrison
Dean

 

Uncommentable: Law Revue Inspires Student; “Effin” Morrison Finds Fame, Frenemies

Editor’s note: Uncommentable is The Commentator’s satirical news imprint. All stories published under the Uncommentable banner are false and intended for entertainment purposes only.

Written by Albert Tawil, Staff Writer

After watching this year’s NYU Law Revue parody video, Jonathan Berg ‘18 was confused – he did not recognize the song. After some research and reading the Above The Law article, he learned that it was a spoof of a musical called Hamilton.

I wonder if Hamilton paid them to make it.

“I’ve been hearing students talk about how excited they are about Hamilton. I figured they were talking about NYU’s new president,” said Berg, referring to New York University President Andy Hamilton.

Berg decided to go see the real thing on Broadway, crediting NYU Law Revue as his inspiration.

“There are probably countless people like me who will go see the play now because of NYU’s video. I wonder if Hamilton paid them to make it,” mused Berg. He was surprised to learn that tickets are sold out until October 2023.

The video also inspired Berg to try and join Law Revue.

“I’m gonna try extra hard during the Writing Competition,” said the confused 1L, noting that his grades may not cut it.  He said that he now finally understands why being on Law Revue is so prestigious.

Typical Canadian bluster.

Dean Trevor “Effin” Morrison, who has already announced a nationwide speaking tour for this summer, has catapulted to D-list fame after the video was featured on legal affairs blog Above The Law.

Eff-Mo is acting as if he’s next in line if Garland doesn’t work out,” said one political commentator. “Typical Canadian bluster.”

Even the Supreme Court itself issued a response to the viral phenomenon.

“Was that supposed to be me?” asked Justice Ginsburg in an official statement.

Shaking his head methodically, Justice Alito was seen mouthing the words, “Not true,” in response to Ginsburg’s inquiry.

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While warmly received by some, sources said the video sparked jealousy among the upper levels of NYU Law’s leadership.

“I thought the video was OK. I think it would have been funnier if it was about a diverse guy who replaced a yoga teacher and made the Law School great again,” said one NYU Law dean, who asked to remain anonymous.

“If any of my colleagues have a problem with the video, I would be more than happy to discuss it with them,” said Morrison, “… in New Jersey.”

“Everything’s legal in New Jersey,” he added.

Trevor “Effin” Morrison by NYU Law Revue

Law Revue a Finalist in Above The Law Video Contest

Written by Cristina Stiller, News Editor

NYU Law Revue is a finalist for Above The Law’s annual Law Revue Video Contest, with its submission, “Trevor Effin’ Morrison,” a parody of “Alexander Hamilton” from the hit Broadway show Hamilton. As of Wednesday morning, their video was in third place, behind Northwestern University School of Law and the University of Texas School of Law.

Trevor Effin Morrison by NYU Law Revue

The video debuted two weeks ago at NYU Law Revue’s 42nd show, Catch Me if NYU Can, a parody of the film Catch Me if You Can.

Voting is open until Wednesday, April 27 at 11:59 p.m. Viewers can vote at Above The Law.

Editor’s Note: Cristina Stiller was part of the cast for Catch Me if NYU Can.

 

Associate Justice Elena Kagan Visits NYU Law

Written by Phil Brown, Staff Writer

Associate Justice Elena Kagan of the United States Supreme Court visited New York University School of Law on Monday for a public conversation with Dean Trevor Morrison. Before an audience of students and faculty, the pair discussed a range of topics, including the passing of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Kagan’s work on the Court, and what law students can do to prepare themselves for a future on the nation’s highest court. The event was sponsored by the Law School’s Supreme Court Reading Group and Moot Court Board.

Initially taking an informal, question and answer format, the conversation turned momentarily somber when Morrison asked Kagan to reflect on how the Court has changed since Scalia’s passing. Kagan, who said she considers knowing Scalia to be one of the “great gifts” she has received in life, noted that the Court is certainly a different place following his death.

“I think we’re less fun,” Kagan said, speaking of Scalia’s absence both within the Court’s chambers and on the bench. “He was a big presence at argument.”

Kagan also observed that the work of the Court has been affected, though not disrupted, as a result.

“There’s a reason courts don’t usually have even numbers,” Kagan remarked, after acknowledging that the justices are especially concerned about reaching agreement now.

Switching topics, the conversation shifted to technology’s impact on the law. When asked whether she thinks the Supreme Court is the branch of government least impacted by technology, Kagan appeared to agree, recalling that, “all the procedures were exactly the same” some 28 years earlier when she clerked for Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Things could be worse, Kagan joked, referring to the Second Circuit, where fax machines are still in wide use.  “[It is] better to use no technology at all than to use a fax machine,” said Kagan.

One of only three, sitting justices to have clerked on the Supreme Court, Kagan also fielded questions about her experiences in the judicial branch. Dean Morrison asked, for example, whether would-be justices should have to have previously served on a federal court prior to their appointment to the Supreme Court. Kagan demurred, opining that possibly the best job that could prepare someone for a position on the Supreme Court would be that of United States solicitor general, a position she held for just over a year before her nomination to the Court in 2010.

Kagan recounted how her job as solicitor general required knowing the Supreme Court inside and out while simultaneously serving as an advocate before it. Kagan quipped that, in effect, her job went, “from persuading nine people to persuading eight.”

Kagan was even more candid describing her preferred methods of persuasion. Although she loved writing, “I’m a schmoozer,” she said.

While most of that schmoozing probably happens far from public view, Kagan noted that she thinks of oral argument “as a forum for persuading people,” even in her role behind the bench.

“We sort of ignore the attorneys,” she mused, wondering if the whole thing would “be more efficient if [the attorneys] just disappeared.”

Kagan also offered the assembled crowd advice on being a persuasive advocate at the highest levels. She told everyone to always be comfortable engaging a judge on their terms, even when they turn the discussion to your case’s weaker points. She also emphasized that there are any number of oral advocacy styles that can be effective, from the firebrand intensity of some, to the cool, reasoned arguments of others. One of the most important themes of oral advocacy, according to Kagan, is to match one’s advocacy style to one’s own personality.

Following her conversation with Morrison, Kagan joined Judge Thomas B. Griffith of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Judge William A. Fletcher of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in hearing the final arguments of NYU Law Moot Court Board’s Marden Competition.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article misstated Justice Kagan’s clerkship on the Supreme Court. She clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall, not Justice Clarence Thomas.