CUNITY Conversations: One Condo, One Vote: Democracy and Local Government in New York City

Come join us for the second installment of our new discussion series, CUNITY Conversations!

As you recall, CUNITY Conversations is a discussion series designed to create discussion around a particular topic.   The discussion leaders are the Law Review’s Note and Comments student authors, along with professors and practitioners.  It is an informal time to get together, hang out, and talk about a relevant social justice issue.

The next installment of the CUNITY Conversation series is Wednesday, October 8, from 6-8pm, in the Community Room, 3/116.

The Law Review’s Notes and Comments author and 3L, Brett Dolin, and CUNY Law Prof. Andrea McArdle will be co-leading this month’s conversation, revolving around the topics of Brett’s law review article:

Can a plan to pay for an underfunded public park lead to unchecked privatization of city services and threaten to compromise voting rights under the Equal Protection Clause? Brett’s Notes and Comments article, “One Condo, One Vote: The New York BID Act as a Threat to Equal Protection and Democratic Control” examines the role of an obscure city government device, the Business Improvement District, in the privatization of city services and restriction of district voting power to property owners.

The CUNITY Conversation will begin with a discussion of one proposed BID, designed as a funding source for Manhattan’s Hudson River Park, and focus on issues of privatization of government services and democratic control over local government.

Brett Dolin is a 3L at CUNY Law School. His article examines the role of an obscure city government device, the Business Improvement District, in the privatization of municipal services and restriction of fiscal decision-making power to property owners. While in law school, Brett has interned with the Economic Justice Project and Elder Law Clinic at CUNY, with the Government Benefits Project at MFY Legal Services, and with a Justice of the New York Supreme Court. Before law school, Brett worked as assistant curator of a private art collection.

Andrea McArdle, Professor of Law at City University of New York School of Law, teaches a variety of experiential courses, including seminars she designed in judicial rhetoric and in urban land use and community lawyering. Andrea begins her sixth year as chair or co-chair of the Law School’s Curriculum Committee, and, as Director of Legal Writing, has shaped the development of CUNY’s writing-intensive curriculum. In 2013 she received a teaching award from the graduating class. Before joining the CUNY Law School faculty, she taught in the Lawyering Program at NYU School of Law, served as Lawyering Faculty Coordinator and, as NYU Lawyering Theory Workshop Coordinator, developed an interdisciplinary faculty workshop series to provide a framework for thinking about how lawyers work.

Vol. 17.1

Explore the digital version of our most recent print edition, Volume 17.1.

Public Interest Practitioners Section (PIPS)

Natural Disasters, Access to Justice, and Legal Services by Jordan Ballard, Julia Howard-Gibbon, Brenda Munoz Furnish, Staff Attorneys in NYLAG’s Storm Response Unit., and Aaron Scheinwald, Staff Attorney in New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG)’s Mobile Legal Help Center.

Fighting for Educational Stability in the Face of Family Turmoil by Michael R. Mastrangelo, SSES Project Coordinating Attorney, The Children’s Law Center. J.D., Brooklyn Law School.

 Executive Articles

“He Got In My Face So I Shot Him”: How Defendants’ Language Impairments Impair Attorney-Client Relationships by Michele LaVigne, Clinical Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin Law School, and Gregory Van Rybroek, Director/CEO, Mendota Mental Health Institute, Madison, Wisconsin.

Single-Room Occupancy Housing in New York City: The Origins and Dimensions of a Crisis by Brian J. Sullivan, Senior Staff Attorney, MFY Legal Services, Inc., SRO Law Project. J.D., Georgetown University Law Center, and Jonathan Burke, Staff Attorney, Community Legal Aid. J.D., New York University School of Law.

Fostering the Human Rights of Youth in Foster Care: Defining Reasonable Efforts to Improve Consequences of Aging Out by Ramesh Kasarabada

Considering the Individualized Education Program: A Call For Applying Contract Theory to an Essential Legal Document by Bonnie Spiro Schinagle, J.D., LL.M., Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Notes & Comments 

Male Asylum Applicants Who Fear Becoming the Victims of Honor Killings: The Case for Gender Equality by Caitlin Steinke, J.D. 2013, Hofstra University School of Law.

If I Marry a Man in New York, Could I Marry a Woman in Kentucky?: The Problem of the Fundamental Right to (Straight) Marriage by Philip R. Hsiao, Graduate Fellow, J.D. Candidate 2014, CUNY School of Law.



CUNITY Conversations: Reproductive Justice and the Foster Care System

The CUNY Law Review is excited to introduce a brand new discussion series called CUNITY Conversations. This series is designed to be an informal space for students and professors to discuss a particular guided topic each month.

The September installment of CUNITY Conversations is this Wednesday, September 10, from 6-8pm in the Community Room (3/116).

The Law Review’s Notes and Comments student author and 3L, Kara Wallis, will be co-leading a discussion on reproductive justice and the foster care system with Farah Diaz-Tello, CUNY alum and staff attorney at National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAWP).

Kara’s Notes and Comments article, “No Access, No Choice: Foster Youth, Abortion, and State Removal of Children,” tracks the way systems fail to provide a youth in foster care with resources necessary to make autonomous choices about her reproductive life. The CUNITY Conversation around this piece will focus particularly on legal and social barriers to terminating pregnancy, including judicial bypass proceedings, and remaining a parenting youth while being a ward of the state.

Please attend for a riveting discussion with your peers and colleagues. This series is not a question-answer panel, but a DISCUSSION, so attend, eat snacks, and feel free to speak up, ask questions, or suggest your own ideas and thoughts on this month’s topic at the event next week.

Kara Wallis, student author, is a 3L at CUNY Law. Through  the narrative of the life course of a foster youth, her piece tracks the way the system fails to provide foster youth with resources necessary to make autonomous choices about their reproductive lives, focusing particularly on barriers to terminating pregnancy and remaining a parent after giving birth. Before law school, Kara worked at National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) as a program associate, and has since interned at the Bronx Defenders and Brooklyn Family Defense Practice, defending low-income parents against accusations of abuse and neglect, work she dreams of continuing after graduation. Kara is a co-chair of CUNY Law’s Law Students for Reproductive Justice, and a student member of the New York Bar Association’s Sex & Law Committee.

Farah Diaz-Tello, JD, is a staff attorney at National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW), a 501(c)(3) that works to secure the human and civil rights, health and welfare of all women, focusing particularly on pregnant and parenting women, and those who are most vulnerable to state control and punishment – low income women, women of color, and drug-using women. Farah is a graduate of CUNY Law, where she was a Haywood Burns Fellow in Civil and Human Rights. Her work at NAPW has focused on the rights to medical decision-making and birthing with dignity, and on using the international human rights framework to protect the humanity of pregnant women regardless of their circumstances. A proud Texan, she is an alumna of the University of Texas at Austin.

Event: Back to School Bash

For a fun time and to learn more about the CUNY Law Review’s fall issue theme, to meet and greet new and old staff members, and to hear about future events for this semester, join us at the Creek and Cave for our Back to School Bash!

This event is for EVERYONE, not just Law Review staff members!

The Creek and Cave is a Cal-Mex restaurant just down the street from school, within walking distance. They offer an entire menu of food and drink, including non-alcoholic beverages. Feel free to purchase food, or just a soda, during this event too. If you choose to purchase and drink alcohol, please also bring your CUNY student ID for the happy hour $5 margarita special.


Trans* and Gender Nonconforming Students: Suggestions for Law Faculty

Improving Law School for Trans* and Gender Nonconforming Students: Suggestions for Faculty

By Gabriel Arkles1

I.     Introduction

In a way, creating accessible, nondiscriminatory, and effective law school experiences for trans* and gender nonconforming2 students is easy. All of our skills as educators apply; we can simply extend our existing strategies and best practices. Like all students, trans* and gender nonconforming students benefit from professors who care about their learning and expect the best from them, create respectful classroom dialogue on difficult issues, provide meaningful feedback, and so on.

In another way, creating accessible, nondiscriminatory, and effective law school experiences for trans* and gender nonconforming students is fantastically difficult. Simply acknowledging trans* existence and accepting gender nonconforming people on their own terms requires an overthrow of a deeply entrenched view of gender in our society: that gender is a binary, fixed, universal, apparent, and apolitical truth. Many everyday classroom practices and longstanding university policies created with the best of intentions can harm trans* and gender nonconforming students because they are based on assumptions about gender that just don’t hold up. Partly because of these policies and practices, relatively few openly trans* and gender nonconforming people hold positions—especially the most powerful and prestigious positions—as faculty, staff, or students in law schools. Fortunately, more and more trans* and gender nonconforming people are entering law schools and many cisgender3 people want to learn how to work with them respectfully and effectively.

Like most worthy endeavors, transforming law schools to better support trans* and gender nonconforming students is not so much a matter of checking items off a list as engaging in an ongoing process. It requires participation of diverse stakeholders, attention to the particulars of unique institutions and situations, and respect for the perspectives of the people who are most directly impacted: trans* and gender nonconforming students themselves.

This document may help faculty take steps to improve some of their practices quickly and to start this larger process, but it is no substitute.4 In it, I address several major areas of concerns that can emerge by providing a general tip, examples of practices that need improvement, and examples of improved practices.
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Event: First Toast

The First Toast is a celebration to honor the work of the
Law Review.  The outgoing Board toasts to a successful
upcoming year, and the incoming Board toasts to the old
Board‘s hard work and achievements throughout the past

The First Toast is OPEN to the entire CUNY community, so
please attend, even if you are not on Law Review!  The
event is a special time to recognize and celebrate each




Access to healthcare for persons with mobility impairments

Inaccessible Medical Equipment: A Barrier to Routine Medical Care For Persons with Mobility Impairments and a Civil Rights Issue

by Thomas J. Keary1

More than twenty years after the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and forty years after the passage of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), a recent study of physicians’ offices in five major metropolitan areas reveals that patients with mobility impairment are being turned away in disturbingly high numbers. This trend is due to physical barriers to routine medical care posed by inaccessible medical and diagnostic equipment, such as examining tables, rather than by building accessibility. The results indicate that there is a continuing need for education of health care providers and patients, as well as enforcement of these laws by the government and by consumers of health care.

Researchers at the Center for Quality of Care Research at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, telephoned 256 specialty medical and surgical practices seeking an appointment for a fictional, obese wheelchair user, who could not self-transfer to an examining table.2 Of this number, 22% reported that the patient could not be seen because, in most instances, they were unable to transfer the patient from a wheelchair to the examination table (18%) and to a lesser extent because the building where the practice was located was inaccessible for people in wheelchairs (4%).3 Practices in eight medical subspecialties, such as endocrinology, gynecology and orthopedic surgery, were tested. Of these subspecialties, gynecologists had the highest rate of inaccessible practices, with 44% of the gynecological offices called informing the tester that she needed to go elsewhere, usually because the provider lacked a table that could be raised and lowered, or a lift to transfer the patient out of a wheelchair.4

Inaccessible medical equipment has an impact on the timeliness and quality of care provided to people with mobility impairments. A study by Dr. Lisa I. Iezzoni, a Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School, found that mobility-impaired patients with breast cancer, when confronted with inaccessible equipment, experienced delays in receipt of treatment and physician failure to perform a proper examination. In a follow up study, Iezzoni reported that mobility limitations affected the diagnosis and treatment decisions for women with early-stage breast cancer.5

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New Board Members Announced

Congratulations to the 2014-2015 CUNY Law Review Board!

Violeta Arciniega & Chelsea Breakstone
Digital Articles Editors

Catalina Delohoz & James King
Executive Articles Editors

Rebecca Arian & Li Litombe
Notes & Comments Editors

Emily Farrell & Tana Forrester
Public Interest Practitioner Section Editors

Rachel Nager & Syeda Tasnim
Special Events Editors

Julie Pennington
Managing Articles Editor

Nabila Taj & Patrick Tyrell
Managing Editors

Elizabeth Koo

Event: Inhuman Incarceration

Join Law Review for a panel representing grassroots organizers, legal workers, prison psychologists, and policy makers for an informed discussion on the conditions and effects of the American prison system and what we, as a community, can do about it.


Professor Ann Cammett received her J.D. from CUNY School of Law where she currently teaches the third-year Family Law Concentration. Prior to joining CUNY, Professor Cammett was awarded Law Professor of the Year at the William S. Boyd School of Law in 2011. From 2004 to 2006 she served as the Reentry Policy Analyst for the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, working to develop programs and advocacy materials to improve prisoner reentry outcomes. In 2000 she was a recipient of the Skadden Fellowship at the New York Legal Aid Society, where she represented formerly incarcerated women facing civil sanctions arising from criminal convictions. Professor Cammett’s scholarship explores intersectional legal issues of race, gender, poverty, mass criminalization and the family. She is a recognized expert on the policy implications of incarcerated parents with child support arrears and other collateral consequences of criminal convictions. Her work in this area has been cited in two amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Turner v. Rogers, and excerpted for family law casebooks and other treatises.


Five Omar Mualimm-Ak is a former inmate turned activist who advocates for prison reform. He spent more than 5 of his 2. 12 year prison sentence in solitary and other forms of isolated confinement. He works tirelessly to raise awareness and fights to reform the use of solitary confinement across the state. He is the founder and Executive Director of The Incarcerated Nation Campaign (INC), which is a grassroots movement made up of formerly incarcerated persons, family members of those currently incarcerated, activists, students, and advocacy organizations, all working together to educate the community on issues of mass incarceration, improve conditions for the incarcerated and their families, and create a support base of re-entry for those returning back to our communities. Mr. Mualimm-Ak also works as an activist and organizer for the American Friends Service Committee and Campaign to End the New Jim Crow, Solitary Watch, and the New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement. Remarks he made at Cardozo Law can be seen here.

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Prof. Robson on Justice Scalia’s Petard

Justice Scalia’s Petard and Same-Sex Marriage


Ruthann Robson1

Justice Antonin Scalia is well known not only for his conservative views, but also his literary language. So perhaps he might appreciate how the Shakespearean phrase, “hoist with his own petard,”2 could describe how his dissents are being used to support the very outcome he derided: the constitutional recognition of same-sex marriage.

In United States v. Windsor decided in June 2013, the Court, by a bare majority, declared unconstitutional section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriages even if the marriages were recognized by state law.3 As in two other important cases involving lesbian and gay rights, Romer v. Evans (1996)4 and Lawrence v. Texas (2003),5 Justice Kennedy wrote an opinion for the majority longer on rhetoric than on analysis and Justice Scalia wrote a dissent guaranteed to be called “scathing.” In these dissents, Justice Scalia not only criticized the majority opinion’s lack of rigor and exercise of judicial supremacy, but he warned of the consequences of the Court’s decision.

In Romer, Justice Scalia’s alarm was loud, if imprecise. He famously accused the Court, like other legal elites—including law schools—of taking sides in the “culture wars” by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.6

At that time, Congress had just passed the Solomon Amendment,7 denying federal funding to law schools that enforced their non-discrimination policy against military recruiters because of the military’s exclusion of homosexuals. A decade later, the Court unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment in Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic & Institutional Rights, Inc. (2006).8 But Justice Scalia’s dissent in Romer might also be read as signaling the end of Bowers v. Hardwick (1986),9 in which the Court upheld the constitutionality of criminalizing homosexual sodomy; Scalia’s dissent in Romer chastises the majority for not even mentioning this holding.10

Lawrence v. Texas achieved Scalia’s implicit prediction regarding the demise of Bowers v. Hardwick. In his dissent in Lawrence, he repeats (and at times quotes) his earlier accusations regarding lack of rigor and assertion of judicial supremacy.11 He adds a further criticism regarding the Court’s failure to honor stare decisis.12

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