Posted April 5, 2017

Law school discussion series makes sense of legal headlines

Upcoming events will explore refugee and travel orders and federal policy around climate change.

A woman speaking while a man looks at her and listens.
Photography By: 
Ryan Brandenberg
Herman Stern Professor of Law Jaya Ramji-Nogales and Peter J. Spiro, Charles R. Weiner professor of law engage in conversation during the first event in the discussion series.

A discussion series at the Beasley School of Law goes beyond the headlines to share a few surprises about hot-button topics.

Case in point: You probably know that shortly after taking office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order suspending immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, sparking nationwide protests, fierce debates and successful court challenges.

You might not know, however, that two days before that order, Trump signed two other orders dealing with immigration. Among other things, they directed federal agencies to begin constructing a wall on the United States-Mexico border and halted federal grants to sanctuary cities and states.

“Beyond the sanctuary city issue, the other parts of the Jan. 25 orders are less well-known, because they have not yet been challenged in court,” said I. Herman Stern Professor of Law Jaya Ramji-Nogales. “I think they are likely to be subject to litigation in the future.”

We hope the series also provides a space for all Temple community members to engage in dialogue.
-- Jennifer J. Lee, assistant clinical professor of law and co-legal director of the Sheller Center
 
Ramji-Nogales spoke alongside Peter J. Spiro, Charles R. Weiner professor of law, at the first event in the “Making Sense of the Legal Headlines” series, hosted by the law school’s Stephen and Sandra Sheller Center for Social Justice.

Upcoming events in the series will focus on the refugee and travel orders and on federal policy around climate change. A prior event focused on crime and policing.

Each discussion features a talk by Temple professors followed by a question-and-answer session.

Jennifer J. Lee, assistant clinical professor of law and co-legal director of the Sheller Center, said the idea for the series came from discussions students, faculty and staff had after the election.

“A number of students told us that family members and friends looked to them as individuals with legal expertise to explain what was happening at the federal level and how it impacted folks locally,” Lee said. “Since we have numerous expert faculty here at the law school, we decided to create an explainer series to help people understand the current events from a legal perspective. We hope the series also provides a space for all Temple community members to engage in dialogue.”

At the first event in the series, which focused on border security and interior enforcement, Ramji-Nogales and Spiro discussed some of the practical challenges Trump’s two executive orders from Jan. 25 will create.

Ramji-Nogales said the orders resurrect several efforts targeting undocumented immigrants that the Obama administration terminated because they faced constitutional challenges.

She added that many of those programs require congressional approval, as well as funding and staff that the government might not be able to provide.

Spiro said that previous Supreme Court rulings appear to prevent the government from cutting off all funding to “sanctuary” jurisdictions.

Even if the government does succeed in cutting off the funds, Spiro said he believes sanctuary cities and states will continue to protect undocumented immigrants.  

“These communities [are] asserting, holding out, saying they’re going to stand with these individuals because they are members of the community regardless of their immigration status,” Spiro said. “I think that is a reason to expect these sanctuary jurisdictions to hold fast in resisting.”