At a time in our nation’s history when falsehoods and scapegoating have become the norm in everyday conversation in America, the BC Law community reflected in these pages continues to be a touchstone of honesty, temperance, and right effort. Alumni are adept at applying their law school lessons about working for the greater good, a goal that is, at its very heart, apolitical.
That truth is evident everywhere in this issue of BC Law Magazine. Law School men and women from every walk of legal life are accepting challenges they believe will make society better. The stands they are taking, the cases they are handling, the issues they are confronting are not easy. Such things rarely are. But these advocates are determined—and effective. They are making law, changing law, and conceiving new pathways to justice.
For example, John Montgomery ’75, Penney Venetis ’89, and Debra Steinberg ’79 are closing in on the problem of internet child trafficking from three directions (“Dirty Little Secret”). Montgomery has gone as far as the US Supreme Court with a case against “dating” site Backpage.com, and captured the US Congress’ attention by doing so. Venetis has devised the novel claim that social service agencies treating survivors are being harmed. And Steinberg has helped pass a law that de-criminalizes victims and has now set her sights on disrupting traffickers’ business model.
On another social justice front, Professor Kari Hong, who runs BC Law’s Ninth Circuit Appellate Program, has made it her mission—in her scholarship, in the media, and in the Ninth Circuit cases her clinic students craft—to repeal the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act because of how it links certain crimes to deportation (“Crime-Based Deportation Is Absurd”). She argues that by forcing judges to deport immigrants convicted of an aggravated felony rather than allowing them to weigh an immigrant’s likelihood of contributing to society, the law is worsening America’s immigration woes.
In his declaration that the War on Drugs is unwinnable (“Ode to a Lost Cause”), student Brendan McKinnon ’19, who spent five years in the Coast Guard chasing smugglers, says that criminal justice reform is the only way out of the mess created by failed policy.
Finally, there’s the headline-making saga of the Standing Rock Sioux’s effort to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline (“Awakening the Great Spirit”). Wouldn’t you know it—a BC Law alumnus is at the center of that struggle, too: Jan Hasselman ’97 of Earthjustice.
VICKI SANDERS, Editor
Photograph by Adam DeTour