Spotlight

Senior Day Speaker Larry Dean Thompson, general counsel of Pepsico, addresses the graduates.

Focus

The Supremes should leave adjustment of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act to our elected representatives in Congress, despite the election of Barack Obama, Ellen Katz argues in National Law Journal op-ed.

Prima Facie

Michigan Law's underground law library has long fooled the eyes of patrons by spilling light through generous aquarium-like window wells. What if that light was actually salt water?


Roots and Branch
Dodgers legend, M Law grad Branch Rickey
honored at Mets' new stadium

In the stately rotunda that bears Jackie Robinson’s name, the New York Mets rolled out the red carpet in celebration of the Law School’s new Branch Rickey Collegiate Professorship.

Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon, LSA ’58, one of the benefactors of the Rickey Professorship, welcomed about 240 people to a reception April 30 at the Mets’ new Citi Field, where Rickey, JD ’11, was remembered as epitomizing Michigan Law’s values.

Wilpon met Rickey when the latter was the Brooklyn Dodgers’ general manager, and Wilpon was a ball-playing teen-ager who pitched batting practice to the team. Wilpon’s wife, Judy, LSA ’58, later worked as an assistant to Rickey.

"Branch Rickey was a giant of a man, not in stature, but with a great intellect, creativity, and total honesty," Wilpon said. "Judy and I learned so much about life from Branch Rickey."

The guests—mostly Michigan Law alumni, family and friends from the Tri-State area—mingled under large black-and-white photos on the rotunda’s walls depicting scenes from Robinson’s career. One image shows him with Rickey, the executive who brought Robinson onto the team 62 years ago to break the sport’s color barrier and permanently change the face of American society.

The star player and the visionary manager were similarly linked in other speakers’ remarks. Bud Selig, commissioner of Major League Baseball, talked about the historical significance of Rickey and Robinson. Major League Baseball is also a principal benefactor of the Rickey Professorship.

"He was baseball’s greatest front-office executive, and more importantly, I believe he was the greatest executive in American sports history," said Selig. "It was Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson together who stood up to the bigots of that day and declared that racial hatred and segregation were things of the past and would no longer be tolerated in our national pastime."

Rachel Robinson, Jackie Robinson’s widow, shared memories of Rickey and of the early days of her husband’s signing with the Dodgers, when the two men "met, strategized, and most importantly, developed a profound and lasting relationship," she said.

"They seemed to understand, as great soldiers do, that there was a crucial interdependence between them," said Robinson. "Thanks to Fred Wilpon, we proudly salute Mr. Rickey and the University of Michigan through the establishment of the Branch Rickey Professorship."

Rickey’s grandson Branch B. Rickey, also a baseball executive, commended Dean Evan Caminker for accepting the challenge of being the first Branch Rickey Collegiate Professor.

"On behalf of the Rickey family, I can tell you that we are very, very proud that he is challenged with this, and accepting that responsibility," said Rickey.

Rickey said his grandfather refused to accept any awards for signing Robinson.

"He did not believe he was due any recognition," said Rickey. "It was a longstanding wrong that needed to be righted. He would be proud, though, of this chair. I think it’s a reminder of what can be achieved by the coming together of persons who are committed to overcoming racism, bigotry, and wrongness, however prevalent."

Dean Caminker, who was named to the professorship last year when the chair was created, spoke of how his life and career have been touched by the values espoused by Rickey. A constitutional scholar, the Dean has a particular interest in civil rights.

"Branch Rickey was an exemplary champion of civil rights, both by word and by deed," the Dean said. "He served our institution, Major League Baseball, and this country exceedingly well."

The Dean acknowledged one of his boyhood heroes, Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax, a lifelong friend of Wilpon, who attended the reception with his wife, Jane.

Professor Rich Friedman was master of ceremonies for the program. Afterwards, guests toured the stadium, courtesy of the Mets, as the Michigan Law logo blazed from the Jumbotron.

View footage from the event.


Purple Haze

LAYING THE GROUNDWORK: Trays of brightly colored powders are set up on the Quad April 17 in preparation for a celebration of Holi, a springtime Hindu festival of colors brought to the Law School by the South Asian Law Students Association.

CAUGHT IN A CLOUDY CROSSFIRE: Michigan Law students use bright color to engage in mutual combat on the Quad.

GREEN AND PURPLE MAKE ... A MESS: Powder rains from on high as Michigan Law students celebrate spring, Hindu style.


Moot Court champs
exultant – and exhausted
Team of 2Ls takes top honors

The champions of the 2009 Henry M. Campbell Moot Court Competition could hardly have afforded not to win.

Because if 2Ls Frances Lewis and Usman Ahmed had come up short, Lewis says they would have felt compelled to try again in 2010.

"Now we don’t feel the need to come back and compete again next year," said an only partly joking Lewis, who also captured Best Oralist honors. The Best Brief award went to the other team that reached the finals -- Isabel Daniels and Dan Hipskind, both third-year students.

The Campbell Moot Court Competition, established in 1926, honors the 1878 Michigan Law graduate who went on to found the prominent Detroit law firm that later became known as Dickinson Wright. Competition is open to all second- and third-year students, as well as to LL.M., visiting, and dual-degree students. Final arguments took place last month before a panel of federal judges comprised of Judge Debra Ann Livingston of the Second Circuit and judges Jeffrey S. Sutton and Raymond M. Kethledge of the Sixth Circuit.

Lewis said the intensity of the competition made her feel almost as if she were carrying an extra class between October and April. But she quickly added that the pressure was a positive thing – especially since she and Ahmed were already friends when they came into the contest.

"In a competition like this, the most important element is who you’re working with," Lewis said. "It helped that Usman and I were friends from last year, because it meant we could argue with each other and not take it personally. We were also able to joke around and have fun with it."

And winning the competition, which involved the race-conscious admissions policy at a private academy, didn’t hurt either, she said.

"We’re just on cloud nine," Lewis said. "We’re only 2Ls, so it’s a huge honor to get to make arguments in front of federal circuit court judges at such a young age. And the support we were shown throughout this process from our professors, friends and family – we really owe our success to them."

For video of the judges’ post-competition commentary, click here.


In the News

Clap on that white 10-gallon hat and cinch up that bolo tie -- Jon Stewart interviews 1981 grad and new Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Comedy Central’s "The Daily Show."

The New York Times uses analysis by Michigan Law Prof. Ellen Katz to introduce its front-page story about a complicated Voting Rights Act case now before the Supreme Court.

Prof. Richard Primus writes in The New Republic on how future presidents can avoid the increasingly requisite cradle-robbing that goes on when picking Supreme Court justices.

It’s hard to believe, but some people – such as 1975 graduate Timothy P. O’Neill, now a professor at John Marshall Law School – think there are already enough Ivy Leaguers on the Supreme Court.

Joshua Clause, returning as a 3L this fall, elected national president of National Native American Law Student Association, the Buffalo News reports.

2001 grad Adam Wolf argues recent school strip search case before U.S. Supreme Court, The New York Times reports.

The Wall Street Journal notes, with help from Prof. Jessica Litman, contributions made to American intellectual property law made by U.S. Register of Copyrights Barbara Ringer.

President Barack Obama nominates 1969 graduate Robert S. Adler commissioner on updated, tougher Consumer Product Safety Commission, according to The Detroit News.

Law.com reports Aaron McCree Lewis, ’05, named to Justice Department post.

1995 Michigan Law grad Jasbina Ahluwalia, fascinated by matchmaking, falls for the love biz.

In Sunday New York Times, Nicholas Kristof argues, with help from 1988 grad Elisa Massimino, that White House needs to confront the legacy of Bush Administration interrogation techniques. Massimino makes similar point for herself on NPR’s Diane Rehm show.

You could look it up: Chicago Tribune profiles "Dictionary Man" Theodore Utchen, ‘58.

The Dallas Morning News examines Hispanic Heresy: What Is the Impact of America's Largest Population of Immigrants?, co-authored by 1991 graduate Angel Reyes.

1976 grad Pamela Hyde, head of New Mexico’s Human Services Department, receives prestigious AMA award.

The Los Angeles Times quotes Prof. David Uhlmann in story mentioning Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as potential Supreme Court pick.