Legal Commentary - Michael Dorf Archive

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DRUG TREATMENT COURTS AND OTHER PROBLEM-SOLVING INSTITUTIONS:
AN IDEA WHOSE TIME IS COMING

FindLaw columnist and Columbia Law School Vice Dean and professor Michael Dorf discusses an innovative new idea that is changing the concept of what lawyering is: the problem-solving court. As Dorf explains, problem-solving courts have had significant success in areas including drug treatment -- with their mandatory remedies sometimes even more effective than voluntary programs.
Monday, Dec. 24, 2001

SECOND THINGS FIRST:
ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT'S PROTECTION OF THE RIGHTS OF POSSIBLE TERRORISTS TO POSSESS FIREARMS

FindLaw columnist and Columbia Law School Vice Dean and professor Michael Dorf challenges Attorney General John Ashcroft's claim that the Brady Act forbids the FBI from cross-checking the names of aliens detained on suspicion of terrorism against a federal database containing information about persons who attempted to purchase firearms. Dorf contends the only source of this prohibition is not a statute, but rather a regulation the Bush Administration could quickly rescind.
Monday, Dec. 10, 2001

THE SUPREME COURT CONSIDERS THE LATEST LEGISLATION CREATING ADULTS-ONLY ZONES IN CYBERSPACE
FindLaw columnist and Columbia Law School Vice Dean and professor Michael Dorf discusses a case to be argued today before the Supreme Court. The case raises the question whether the Child Online Protection Act, Congress' latest attempt to compel websites to limit access by minors, violates the First Amendment. Dorf discusses, among other issues, whether obscenity law's local community-based standard makes any sense in cyberspace, and how the September 11 terrorist attacks may affect the way the case is decided.
Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2001

ASHCROFT V. OREGON:
TELLING THE STATES WHAT TO DO IN CASES OF PHYSICIAN-ASSISTED SUICIDE

FindLaw columnist and Columbia Law School Vice Dean and professor Michael Dorf discusses Attorney General John Ashcroft's decision to direct the Drug Enforcement Administration to investigate and prosecute Oregon doctors who prescribe life-ending medication to terminally ill patients. Ashcroft construes these prescriptions as a violation of the Controlled Substances Act; Oregon, however, has expressly made physician-assisted suicide legal.
Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2001

A FEDERAL COURT OF APPEALS SAYS THE SECOND AMENDMENT PLACES LIMITS ON GUN CONTROL LEGISLATION
FindLaw columnist and Columbia Law School Vice Dean and professor Michael Dorf discusses a recent federal appeals court ruling stating that the Second Amendment's right to bear arms is an individual, not a collective, right. Dorf explores Supreme Court precedent on this issue, and explains three different possible models of how the Second Amendment works.
Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2001

WHAT AN AUTO ACCIDENT DECISION TEACHES ABOUT FEDERALISM
FindLaw columnist and Columbia Law School Vice Dean and law professor Michael C. Dorf explains how a recent Washington state case -- about a federal statute governing the admissibility of evidence relating to car accidents -- may put the Supreme Court's federalism jurisprudence to the test.  Dorf explains why, if the Court grants review, the case may show whether the Court's federalism is a matter of principle or a matter of convenience, as many contended after Bush v. Gore.
Monday, Oct. 15, 2001

THE SUPREME COURT RETURNS, TO A CHANGED LEGAL LANDSCAPE
FindLaw columnist and Columbia Law School Vice Dean and professor Michael Dorf discusses the Supreme Court's upcoming term. Dorf surveys three types of legal issues that will likely arise before the Court in the wake of the terrorist acts: equality issues for Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans, issues of balancing and privacy, and due process issues. Dorf also explains two conflicting forces at work on the Court: a tradition of deference to the executive branch and a trend of increasing Court power.
Wednesday, Oct. 03, 2001

WHAT LAWYERS CAN DO IN THE WAKE OF THE TERROR
FindLaw columnist and Columbia Law School Vice Dean and professor Michael Dorf discusses what lawyers can do to contribute after the terrorist attacks -- including volunteering for New York's Legal Aid Society, which has lost its offices, and otherwise helping preserve civil liberties.
Wednesday, Sep. 19, 2001

THE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA AFFIRMATIVE ACTION RULING POSES A FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION:
WHAT IS BINDING PRECEDENT?

FindLaw columnist and Columbia Law School Vice Dean and professor Michael Dorf comments on the recent ruling striking down the University of Georgia's affirmative action program -- which follows a trend of federal courts striking down such programs at colleges and law schools. Some commentators believe these decisions violate binding Supreme Court precedent; others contend they do not; Dorf notes that the decisions raise a fundamental question as to what binding precedent means.
Wednesday, Sep. 05, 2001

HOW TO "THINK LIKE A LAWYER": ADVICE TO NEW AND PROSPECTIVE LAW STUDENTS
As first-year law students across the country prepare to start classes, FindLaw columnist and Columbia Law School Vice Dean and professor Michael Dorf provides some insider advice -- demystifying the Socratic Method, and explaining what "thinking like a lawyer" really means.
Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2001

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