All posts by Michele Goodwin


It Takes A Cooperative to Raise a Child

More than 30 years ago, Elisabeth Landes and Richard Posner provocatively observed that a “glut” in black babies exists in the United States foster care system. Their controversially framed assessment attracted ardent criticism, including charges of racism. Nonetheless, Posner and his colleague touched on urgent and yet unresolved problems, including how to (a) provide more meaningful life opportunities for child wards of the state by transitioning them into permanent home placements, (b) re…


Hope Emerging From Despair: HIV/AIDS in South Africa

Gail Johnson with a portrait of Nkosi


For the past three years, one stream of my work has involved extensive field research on the sexual trafficking of girls in the Philippines, South Africa, and India.  For some years, my research has involved trafficking generally, including that of organs, children, and even body parts such as human tissues.  However, this project examines trafficking beyond the exploitation and kidnapping women and girls taken against their will and under false consent …


2 Lessons From the Penn State Scandal

Last week, Judge Louis Freeh, a former director of the FBI, released a copiously detailed, lengthy report about Penn State’s role in Gerald Sandusky’s sexual abuse of boys on campus.  The report notes that there was a “total disregard” for the young boys who were the sexually abused victims of Gerald Sandusky—the former coach.  According to Freeh, the most senior members of the university’s governing structure, “failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children f…


A Victory for John Roberts

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act  and the individual mandate, the anchor of the law, which drew the most scrutiny.  Writing for the majority, in  NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS v. SEBELIUS, Justice Roberts opined that the law is constitutional under Congress’ taxing authority.  In a 5-4 decision, Roberts upheld Barack Obama’s signature achievement.  The full text of the decision is here.

The decision is a victory for Barack Obama an…


Rethinking the Bush Legacy

Recently, I posted a column about the decidedly pernicious vitriol against the Obama family, targeting not only the President, but even his children with racialized death threats (to kill his “monkey” children).  Some responses to the column offered provocative, insightful comments. Yet, others succumbed to the reductive, which underscored the message behind the post.  As one law professor told me, “It becomes clear from reading the comments that some Americans become very defensive about th…


Hating the Obamas

(JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images via Flickr/CC/ProgressOhio)

In each administration, there emerges something to mock, caricaturize, and stereotype.   With Bill Clinton, it was his sex addiction and bulbous nose—both issues he has written about or commented on in the press.   With Jimmy Carter, it was peanut farming, and with George W. Bush the list is long: reading children’s books turned upside down, political stunts on aircraft carriers, and the misguided invasion of Iraq in search of wea…


The Hospital Shakedown

This week, Senator Al Franken chaired a field hearing on patient access and privacy.  I blogged previously about the hearings here.  Franken, a member of the U.S. Senate Health Committee, launched the investigation after Lori Swanson, the Minnesota attorney general, filed a law suit (complaint here)  against Accretive Health, an organization that wears many hats, including that of aggressive debt collection. 

The detailed six volume report from Swanson’s office highlights alleged misconduct so…


Stalking Patients at Hospitals

"Yeah, but you can still sign a check with your other hand, can't ya, buddy?" (Photo by Parker Michael Knight via Flickr/CC)

Next week, Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, will chair a field hearing on the effectiveness of federal laws to protect patients’ access to care and privacy.  The hearing comes on the heels of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson‘s accusing Accretive Health–one of the nation’s largest debt-collection agencies–of excessive and possibly illegal tactics, including str…


Elizabeth Warren, Scott Brown, and Race-Card Politics

This week Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown tossed race in the fire of his heated re-election bid against Harvard Law Professor, Elizabeth Warren.  At issue is Elizabeth Warren’s voluntary listing as a “minority” in the American Association of Law Schools’ directory, which reports how law professors self-identify (by race and gender).  For a decade (1986-1996), Warren listed herself as Native American rather than white and felt justified, and in her words, “proud” in doing so because of her grea…


‘Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?’

Rodney King (photo from Wikipedia)

Twenty years ago this week, riots swept through Los Angeles.  Rioters looted stores and then burned them to the ground.  Photographers and journalists attempted to capture the mêlée, but some were physically assaulted in the process. South Central and South East Los Angeles were on fire. The vitriol and violence emerged hours after several white police officers were acquitted by an all-white jury in the infamous Rodney King beating case.  A year before, Ro…


Stand Your Own Ground–Through a Racial Kaleidoscope

John McNeil Courtesy of NAACP

A few weeks before Christmas in 2005, John McNeil, an African American homeowner killed a trespasser, Brian Epp.   McNeil, a middle-class businessman,  claimed that Epp reached in his pocket (where aut

horities found a folded knife) and charged at him.  McNeil shot a bullet in the ground, backed away from Epp, and urged the intruder to stop.  According to an eye witness, Epp charged forward and was shot in the head.

Earlier in the day, McNeil’s son cal…


‘I Didn’t Know She Was A Prostitute!’

Come on guys, really?  The most recent defense trotted out by men of authority who have sex with women other than their wives is the “I didn’t know she was a prostitute” excuse.  It is a clever explanation, because character seems to no longer matter.  Clearly these days, sex with anybody or thing is OK so long as it’s “consensual.”  Forget about good judgment or character.

Remember Former IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s run in with a New York City  maid?  Despite DNA evidence implicating…


Police and Prosecutorial Discretion

Trayvon Martin’s tragic death last month focuses attention on Florida’s “Stand Your Own Ground” self-defense law as well as racial profiling as many people believe that George Zimmerman’s fatal shooting of the boy was out of racial anxiety, if not animus, rather than fear for his life.  Indeed, the enhanced 911 call undermines statements made by Zimmerman’s attorney that race was not a factor in the shooting.  Throughout much of the past two weeks, attention has been on Zimmerman—what was h…


Walking While Black

Trayvon Martin was murdered last month, but this week the case gained national attention.  Martin, an African-American teenager, was gunned down by George Zimmerman, an individual who identifies as a white male.  The controversy in the case involves not only race: Zimmerman apparently left his car, stalked the youth, because he thought Martin looked suspicious and “out of place,” and gunned him down.  Zimmerman’s supporters claim that had Trayvon—who was on his way back to a family me…


The Death of Affirmative Action, Part 2: Education as a Finite Resource

Part 1 of this series addressed gender and the Fisher case, which will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court later in the year.

According to the CIA, Cuba’s literacy rate is 99.8%.  Why does Cuba, an incredibly poor nation, have a higher literacy rate than the U.S.?  Education is regarded as a priority for all; their poorest youth are treated to boarding schools. The same is true in China.  Some of the most attractive architecture in China happens to be its boarding schools—and those institu…


The Death of Affirmative Action, Part 1

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Fisher v. University of Texas, a case brought by a young woman who claims that she was discriminated against in the Texas undergraduate admissions process.  Many commentators on the left and right assume that Fisher marks the death of affirmative action.  Justice Kagan  recused herself; she was US Solicitor General and filed a brief when the case was before the Fifth Circuit.   However, few commentators consider who benefits from the platform and whe…


The Boycott of Rush Limbaugh


Yesterday, more advertisers departed from Rush Limbaugh’s ranks, responding to public pushback and outrage against a man known for vitriolic, uninformed commentary.  Likely others will drop the show today as a public campaign to boycott all who advertise with Limbaugh mounts.


Why? For several days last week, Limbaugh lambasted Sandra Fluke, an articulate, Georgetown law student who urged health insurer coverage for contraception.  Limbaugh took to the air, ridiculing M…


Death, Law, and the Music Industry

Guest post by Patricia Lee*

One of the most beautiful voices during our lifetime was physically and vocally silenced last week. Whitney Houston, entertainer, inspired songstress, and a diva (to many), passed away in Beverly Hills and was laid to rest in Newark on Saturday.

As close friends, her family and pundits reflected on Houston’s amazing lifetime impact during and after her funeral service, one begins to question whether the economic compensation paid through her recording contracts and …


Goodbye, Anthony Shadid…

A dear college friend died yesterday while serving as a correspondent in Syria, reporting on the rebellion against the Syrian president.  He was 43.  The world knows Anthony as a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for International Reporting, whose stories painted a broader picture of the beauty and terror in war-torn countries in the Middle East.  He reported on war and conflicts in lands that now hold vital interest for the world.  Through Anthony’s reporting, we came to learn about the stru…


The Male Chromosome

For quite a while, I’ve been concerned about how norms change in countries where human rights abuses persist despite international interventions, treaties, and the promulgation of laws.  Sometimes cultural traditions are so deeply entrenched that “law” does not seem to matter.

For example, last week, an Afghan woman was found dead shortly after giving birth to her third daughter.  Police believe that her mother-in-law assisted in the murder, by aiding her son as he strangled his wife to death….