Shortbursts: The summer catch-up (and more!) edition!

Shortbursts is an occasional feature of Lawfire® designed to provide quick updates on a variety of matters. Lots to catch up about in this one!

Base name changes finally happening

In early June, Ft. Bragg was renamed Ft. Liberty as part of an ongoing effort to remove the names of Confederate soldiers from U.S. military bases.  Lawfire® readers may recall that action was advocated in this 2020 post “Rename our military installations…and do it now.” 

Supreme Court rejects student loan plan that would have harmed national security.

On July 30th the Supreme Court rejected the President’s loan forgiveness plan.  Here’s a key part from the 6-3 decision:

The Secretary asserts that the HEROES Act grants him the authority to cancel $430 billion of student loan principal. It does not. We hold today that the Act allows the Secretary to “waive or modify” existing statutory or regulatory provisions applicable to financial assistance programs under the Education Act, not to rewrite that statute from the ground up.

This is the right result, and one that serves the interests of national security.  Why?  You may wish to take a look at this  Lawfire® post from September of last year Four Reasons Why the Student Loan ‘Forgiveness’ Program Harms National Security.

Incidentally, in an ABC News/Ipsos poll, “45% of Americans support the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, while 40% disapprove of the decision.”‘ 

Unfortunately, the Administration is working to get around the effect of the Court’s decision, so there is more litigation.  Here’s an interesting extract from a Wall Street Journal opinion piece by a young person who would benefit from loan ‘forgiveness’ but whose organization is suing to stop the circumvention:

“The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan dismissed our case Tuesday, but we will likely appeal the decision. If the suit succeeds, I’ll have to spend more time and money paying off my debt. I’m OK with that. It’s what I signed up for when I took out my college loans. Why should my friends who made different choices—like living with their parents while attending a commuter school or working full-time—have to pay for my decisions? What about the millions of taxpayers who didn’t attend college?”

Duke Law grad named Army’s Outstanding Young Lawyer!

with Gabs at her commissioning in 2017

Gabrielle (“Gabs”) Lucero, Class of 2017 was selected by the American Bar Association as the Army’s Outstanding Young Military Lawyer.  

Gabs is, in a word, awesome!  If you want to learn a bit more about her, check out this 2020 post: Duke Law grad’s letter from the battle against ISIS: public service in uniform,  Since then, she’s continued that pattern of excellence and gone on to accomplish many wonderful things as an Army JAG!

Way to go Gabs!

Jens Stoltenberg extended as NATO Secretary General

Former Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg had his term as NATO Secretary General extended for a year.  Given the ongoing war in Ukraine I think this is a wise decision as stability in NATO is key to Ukraine success against Russia.   

A couple of years ago I had the chance to speak with him briefly about military conscription.  You can read that interesting (albeit short!) discussion here.

Two Duke Law students with a military connection publish in The Hill!

Ms. Cole and CPT Crisman

Ms. Chandler Cole ’25 and CPT Johanna Crisman ’25  wrote a thoughtful essay in The Hill “in support of the military exception for race-conscious admissions” (see here).  If their names sound familiar, check out this post. (and CPT Crisman is one of my research assistants!)  (My own view on the issue is found here).

Congrats to both!

Cluster munitions proving their worth to Ukrainians

You may recall that we recently hosted a mini-Lawfire® forum regarding cluster munitions and strongly endorsed the President’s decision to supply them to Ukraine.  Evidently the Ukrainians have been using the weapons to good effect.  In an August 8 story entitled “U.S.-Made Cluster Munitions Fuel Ukrainian Counteroffensive” the Wall Street Journal reports:

Newly delivered, American-made cluster munitions have given fresh impetus to Ukraine’s campaign to retake territory captured by Russia, after weeks of little progress.

Ukrainian soldiers say they have used the cluster bombs—which release dozens of smaller bomblets and can cause devastation over a broader area than ordinary artillery shells—to hit concentrations of Russian infantry, groups of vehicles and other targets, clearing the way for ground advances.

LENS research assistant gets credited!

3L Riley Flewelling, co-president of the National Security Law Society (and one of my excellent Research Assistants!), contributed to very timely ‘client alert’ for her firm that illustrates the kind of work a national security law practice involves these days: “New U.S. Department of Defense Policy Imposes Security Reviews for Universities and Labs Engaging in Fundamental Research”

Well done Riley!

Lawfare book! 

Lawfire® contributor Dr. Kate Dent has just published her book, Lawfare and Judicial Legitimacy: The Judicialization of Politics in the Case of South AfricaIn January of 2022 she published an essay on Lawfire® (here) that outlines her fascinating ideas. In introducing her post, I cited an article about her work in the University of Cape Town News and said:

The News adds:

“She describes lawfare as “a growing reliance on adjudicative means for clarifying and settling highly contentious political questions”. This has become part of the South African zeitgeist, she said. Although her thesis focuses on the years between 2009 and 2020, the topic is red hot; and a moving target for a Constitutional Law researcher.”

As the News points out, this is a “red hot” topic in South Africa, but as you read Kate’s essay, ask yourself these questions: is this form of lawfare unique to South Africa?  Or is it something we may be seeing elsewhere, even in the U.S.?   

Congrats to Kate!!! 

Some upcoming activities for LENS and Duke’s National Security Law Society

September 8:  The National Security Law Society will participate in the annual Student Activities Fair, Duke Law.

September 13:  The National Security Law Society will hold its General Body Meeting from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in Room 4042.

November 1: The National Security Law Society will host a “Summer Experience Panel” from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in Room 4045

Pre-ABA Conference Dinner ’22

November 16-17: The Center on Law, Ethics and National Security (LENS) hosts a trip for selected law students to Washington, DC for the ABA’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security annual conference.  LENS has been conducting this event for several years, and it’s a highlight for students. See here and here for posts from last year). 

Students interested in learning more about these activities should contact NSLS co-presidents Riley Flewelling or Madison Cash for information.

Ms. Heather Huntley to speak! 

October 9: Ms. Heather Huntley of the Centers for Disease Control General Counsel office will speak from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. about current issues in health law, especially as they intersect with national security. (Location Duke Law; room TBD)  (The National Security Law Society is joining LENS to co-sponsor).

Ms. Huntley has been very generous with her time, and always has interesting things to say.  It is fascinating to hear how health law can intersect with national security issues!

Duke Law grad (and former LENS Research Assistant) weds!

Ms. Gina Bianchi, Class of 2022 and former LENS Research Assistant, wed Jon Richards July 28th in a beautiful wedding ceremony at the historic Army and Navy Club in downtown Washington, D.C. Gina is finishing up her clerkship with the United States Tax Court before heading to private practice.  Jon is an Army officer who is deploying with Civil Affairs under Special Operations Command Europe to work with allied partners in Poland.

All the best for Gina and Jon Richards; what a wonderful couple!!!

Speakers confirming for LENS 2024!

As we begin to look ahead to the 29th Annual National Security Law Conference here at Duke Law, I’m pleased to tell you a number of speakers are confirming.  Brigadier General Linell Letendre, the Dean of Faculty at the U.S. Air Force Academy, will deliver our annual ethics presentation.  I have known General Letendre for many years (we served in the Pentagon together) and I could not be happier that she’ll be sharing her knowledge and experience.  

In addition, Maj Melissa Ken will participate in the presentation.  I was on a panel about drone warfare with Major Ken last May and I know she’s top notch!

Given issues in the Taiwan straits, potential blockades in the Black Sea, a resurgence of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, and more, the 2024 LENS conference will feature developments in maritime law. 

Fortunately, two of the nation’s top experts have signed on, including Professor James Kraska, chair and Charles H. Stockton Professor of International Maritime Law in the Stockton Center for International Law at the Naval War College.

Joining him will be Raul (“Pete”) Pedroza, the Howard S. Levie Professor of the Law of Armed Conflict and professor of International Law in the Stockton Center for International Law at the U.S. Naval War College.  If Pete’s name sounds familiar to you, check out his Lawfire® posts here.

In addition, retired Air Force colonel Dawn Zoldi will speak to us about drones and their national security implications.  Dawn has been a long-time LENS supporter (see here)

Perennial conference favorite Dean Cheng will return to give us an update about China (and take a look at his recent Lawfire® post China and Space: The Next Frontier of Lawfare“).

Stay tuned for more speaker announcements and mark your calendars for 23-24 February 2024!

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