FCIL-SIS Book Discussion Group to Meet Again in Baltimore This Summer

By Susan GualtierKorematsu Cover

Over the past several years, the FCIL-SIS Book Discussion Group, started by Dan Wade in in 2014, has become a popular informal addition to the AALL Annual Meeting’s FCIL conference programming.  Each year, we select a book to read in advance of the conference and meet during the conference to enjoy a book discussion, lunch or snacks, and each other’s fine company.

This year, the group will meet on Monday, July 16, at 12:30.  As in past years, we will meet in the Registration Area, and will find a table or small room from there.  The event will be BYO lunch or snacks.

This year’s book selection is In the Shadow of Korematsu: Democratic Liberties and National Security, by Eric K. Yamamoto.  Professor Yamamoto is the Fred T. Korematsu Professor of Law and Social Justice at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai`i. He is nationally and internationally recognized for his legal work and scholarship on civil procedure, as well as national security and civil liberties, and civil rights and social justice, with an emphasis on reconciliation initiatives and redress for historic injustice.  The following book description appears on the Oxford University Press website:

The national security and civil liberties tensions of the World War II mass incarceration link 9/11 and the 2015 Paris-San Bernardino attacks to the Trump era in America – an era darkened by accelerating discrimination against and intimidation of those asserting rights of freedom of religion, association and speech, and an era marked by increasingly volatile protests. This book discusses the broad civil liberties challenges posed by these past-into-the-future linkages highlighting pressing questions about the significance of judicial independence for a constitutional democracy committed both to security and to the rule of law. What will happen when those profiled, detained, harassed, or discriminated against under the mantle of national security turn to the courts for legal protection? How will the U.S. courts respond to the need to protect both society and fundamental democratic values of our political process? Will courts fall passively in line with the elective branches, as they did in Korematsu v. United States, or serve as the guardian of the Bill of Rights, scrutinizing claims of “pressing public necessity” as justification for curtailing fundamental liberties?

These queries paint three pictures portrayed in this book. First, they portray the present-day significance of the Supreme Court’s partially discredited, yet never overruled, 1944 decision upholding the constitutional validity of the mass Japanese American exclusion leading to indefinite incarceration – a decision later found to be driven by the government’s presentation of “intentional falsehoods” and “willful historical inaccuracies” to the Court. Second, the queries implicate prospects for judicial independence in adjudging Harassment, Exclusion, Incarceration disputes in contemporary America and beyond. Third, and even more broadly for security and liberty controversies, the queries engage the American populace in shaping law and policy at the ground level by placing the courts’ legitimacy on center stage. They address how critical legal advocacy and organized public pressure targeting judges and policymakers – realpolitik advocacy – at times can foster judicial fealty to constitutional principles while promoting the elective branches accountability for the benefit of all Americans. This book addresses who we are as Americans and whether we are genuinely committed to democracy governed by the Constitution.

This year’s book selection promises to foster a rich discussion, and we look forward to welcoming both past book group members and new members interested in joining the discussion.  Again, this is an informal event, and RSVPs are not necessary; however, please feel free to let us know if you are planning to participate, so that we can get a general head count ahead of time.  Any questions or comments can be emailed to Susan Gualtier at sgua@law.upenn.edu.  We look forward to seeing you all in Baltimore for another great book discussion!

Announcement: FCIL-SIS (Informal) Book Discussion Group at AALL Annual Meeting

By Dan Wade

disarray_0The FCIL-SIS Book Discussion Group will meet at the Annual Meeting on Monday between 12:15 and 2:00p.m. We are gathering at the AALL Annual Meeting Registration Desk at 12:15p.m.

The book under discussion this year is A World in Disarray, by Richard Haass (New York: Penguin, 2017). Haass has been President of the Council of Foreign Relations since 2003. After graduating from Oberlin and receiving his M.Phil and D.Phil from Oxford, Haass worked for the Department of State and the Department of Defense. Between 2001 and 2003 he served the George W. Bush Administration by assuming the dual role of Director of Policy Planning at the State Department, where he became a close adviser to Secretary of State Colin Powell, and United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland, for which he received the Department of State’s Distinguished Service Award. The book under discussion is Haass’ twelfth book, and it very much follows the line of thinking set out in probably his best known work, The Reluctant Sheriff,  in which he writes, “what will prove crucial is the ability of the United States to persuade others to adopt and abide by its preferences—and the will and ability of the United States to act as sheriff, to mobilize itself and others to insist on them when resistance emerges.” (p.44). In the present book he mellows some and invokes the principle of sovereign obligation, where a state works towards meeting the interests of other states. In the final chapter he addresses the issue of our country in disarray. (No, it is not about Donald Trump’s foreign policy.) Here he calls for more military spending. You can imagine how that analysis sits with this Connecticut Yankee and ordained minister (emeritus) of a historic peace church, e.g., Friends and Mennonites. The book does have value. I thought the discussion of R2P and United States debt were two of the high points.

I believe our group will be smaller this year, and if you are interested in foreign policy, world order, and international relations, please feel free to join us, even if you haven’t read the book. I will reserve a couple of extra places at the lunch table.

Recap: FCIL-SIS Book Group

By Jennifer Allison

ewstSpearheaded by Dan Wade of the Yale Law School Library, the FCIL-SIS Book Group met again this year at the AALL annual meeting. Of the two finalists, the book chosen by the participants was East West Street: On the Origins of “Genocide” and “Crimes Against Humanity”, by Philippe Sands (published in 2016 by Knopf, ISBN 978-0385350716).

The participants in the book group included:

  • Dan Wade, Yale
  • John Wilson, UCLA
  • Lyonette Louis-Jacques, University of Chicago
  • Loren Turner, University of Minnesota
  • Jennifer Allison, Harvard
  • Daniel Donahue, University of Houston
  • Marilyn Raisch, Georgetown
  • Evelyn Ma, Yale

After a bit of a location mix-up, the group settled on meeting at the conference hotel’s American Craft  Kitchen & Bar.  Over delicious food and drinks, the conversation about this interesting and unexpected book flowed.

Most of the group’s participants gave the book a thumbs-up, although there were definitely mixed reviews regarding the book’s somewhat unusual format.  Although it was a non-fiction account of the development of the crime of genocide, Sands wove this information into the stories of four people from an Eastern European city, that, throughout its history, has had a number of names, including Lemberg, Lwów, Lvov, and as it is known today, Lviv.

One of the four people whose story was told was Sands’ maternal grandfather, a Jew who left his hometown for Vienna in the early 20th century, and then fled Vienna for Paris in the late 1930s.  The book featured extensive descriptions of the grandfather’s early life, the fate of his family in what was, during the war, the Polish city of Lwów, and his later years in Paris, where the author spent time with him.

Sands also told the stories of two men who had studied at the law faculty of the University of Lwów:

  • Raphael Lemkin taught at Duke Law School and worked with the American lawyers who were involved in the Nuremberg trials. In his book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, he offered the first definition of the word “genocide.”
  • Hersch Lauterpacht was an international lawyer who taught at the London School of Economics and Cambridge University. He worked with the Nuremberg Trials’ team of British lawyers.

The book’s fourth biographical figure was the German lawyer Hans Frank, who served the Nazi regime as both a lawyer and the Governor General of occupied Poland.  He was a defendant in the Nuremberg Trials, where he was convicted of the murder of Polish Jews.  He was sentenced to death and executed.

Although biographical information of these four figures was woven throughout the book, the main focus of its second half was the Nuremberg Trials, from the preparation (in which the allies’ legal teams debated whether to use the newly-introduced crime of “genocide” in their prosecution of the Nazi defendants), through the trial proceedings and the outcome.

Some of the members of the book group were not enamored of the book’s extensive use of biographical narrative, and would have preferred that the book focus merely on the earliest development of genocide of a legal norm that could be used by lawyers to prosecute war criminals.  In fact, a few people said that, if they were to read the book again, they would skip its first half entirely.  However, other members of the group felt that the inclusion of the biographical stories made the work more accessible to non-scholars; specifically, “it made it a serious book about genocide that I could recommend to my mom, or sister, one that they would actually read.”

There were other concerns about the book among the group.  As Dan Wade pointed out, “This book likely would not have passed a law school preemption check.”  Perhaps he is correct.  Ana Filipa Vrdoljak, a law professor at the University of Western Australia Faculty of Law, published an article that covered a remarkably similar topic in 2009: Human Rights and Genocide: The Word of Lauterpacht and Lemkin in Modern International Law (20 Eur. J. Int’l L. 1163 (2009)). The article tracked the life paths of these two figures, from their education at the University of Lwów Faculty of Law, through their lives and careers in the United States and England, to their participation in the Nuremberg Trials, in similar detail to Sands’ book.  Of course, Vrdoljak’s article discussed neither Sands’ grandfather nor Hans Frank in any detail, and the presence of the content of those two individuals added a level of narrative complexity and interest to the book that is not present in the article.  Still, Dan’s was a valid point.

Overall, it was a very successful and enjoyable book group meeting.  Hopefully this is a tradition that has been firmly established and will continue at AALL meetings into the future.

The Wart on Russia’s Nose

By Dan Wadecfr-ukraine-generic-cover_350

So Prince Potemkin, Catherine the Great’s general, admiral, statesman, and lover, called the Crimea. (He was originally responsible for Russia’s annexation of it from the Ottomans in 1783.) To understand Russia’s recent appropriation, if not down right annexation, of the Crimea after the Olympic games in Solchi one needs to understand the history of the land and the people of the Ukraine. “The past is never past in Sevastopol. It waves from flagpoles and drapes the parade stand on patriotic holidays. It finds sanctuary in war monuments and in posted signs. Lenin Square, Heroes of Stalingrad Street, Cinema Moscow. It even simmers in a potful of borsch.” (Inside Crimea: A Jewel in Two Crowns: Crimea has been a flashpoint between Russia and Ukraine for decades. Here’s why. National Geographic Daily News, Feb. 28, 2014.)

The first ever FCIL-SIS book discussion group will meet in San Antonio on Tuesday morning to discuss the Foreign Affairs book, Crisis in Ukraine, compiled by Gideon Rose (2014). It is a collection of opinion pieces on the recent history of Ukraine and its relations with it larger neighbor to the East, the earliest dated March/April 2005 after the Orange Revolution.

To gain a glimpse of Ukraine’s long history, I read the entertaining history cum travelogue, now almost twenty years old, Borderland: A Journey Through the History of Ukraine by Anna Reid (London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1997). Another worthwhile read on early Ukraine is the section on Galicia in Norman Davies’ Vanishing Kingdoms: The History Of Half-Forgotten Europe (London: Allen Lane, 2011). More formal histories can be found in the biographical essay in Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (London: The Bodley Head, 2010) (This tear-engendering, sleep-disturbing book is not to be recommended. There is an inverse correlation between knowledge of Stalin’s atrocities in Ukraine in the 1930’s and mental health, and that is only a small part of the horrors found in the book. No wonder we do not teach our school children the heinous history of this past!) One book which seems to have had a premonition of the difficulties ahead is La Crimée entre Russie et Ukraine: Un conflit qui n’a pas eu lieu, by Emmanuelle Armandon (Brussels: Bruylant, 2013.) Another very recent study is Rusia Frente a Ucrania by Carlos Taibo (Madrid: Catarata, 2014), which has a current bibliography. A recent discussion (June 16, 2014) from the Case Western School of Law can be found at http://law.case.edu/OurSchool/FacultyStaff/MeetOurFaculty/FacultyDetail/TalkingForeignPolicy.aspx.

Oxford’s Public International Law Debate Map is really quite marvelous and provides many sources to the various perspectives to the problem. It could use some updating, as it is current only through May 8, 2014, but it is a treasure-trove for those researching the situation. For current updates, one can turn to the quite informative website of the University of College London’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies Library, made known to Int-Law members some months ago by Lyonette Louis-Jacques. In a recent email, Lyo indicated to me that Professor Eric Posner from her university, the University of Chicago, is blogging on the Crisis.

To better understand the Russian perspective(s) on the Crimean situation and that of Eastern Ukraine, one needs to turn to the work of William E. Butler. This can serve as a key to unlocking the world of international law in the Russian tradition. A bibliography of works, many translated by Professor Butler, can be found in his new Russian Law and Legal Institutions (London: Wildy, Simmonds & Hill, 2014). Especially noteworthy are Russian and the Law of Nations in Historical Perspective: Collected Essays (London: Wildy, Simmons & Hill, 2009), and V. Grabar’s The History of International Law in Russia 1647-1917 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990; translated by Butler.) There is some sympathy for Russia in the Western Press (see the CNN op-ed (March 7, 2014) by Simon Tisdall foreign affairs columnist in the Guardian; see also, Jack Matlock’s (former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union) opinion (March 1, 2014).

Russians believe that the referendum that was held in the Crimea regarding which country the citizens wanted to belong legitimates their behavior, but Professor Lea Brilmayer of the Yale Law School argues in an op-ed in the Gaurdian (March 14, 2014) that it was illegal.

Perhaps the Russian common man has sentiments similar to those recounted by Keith Gessen in the recent issue of Foreign Affairs (“What’s the Matter With Russia,” July/August 2014, p. 182):

“The man sitting next to me [on an Aeroflot flight] — Sergei, I’ll call him — was also drunk, and he decided to engage me in a discussion of geo-politics. He said he was a graduate of MEPhi, an elite technical university in Moscow, and that he had made millions in software design. Sergei, was theoretically, the sort of Russian who might be expected of being critical of President Vladamir Putin, but he was not. He was thrilled that Russia had seized Crimea, if only because in doing so, it had extended a big middle finger to the West.”

Please leave comments and questions about Crisis In Ukraine and Tuesday’s book discussion below.