SU launches national collaborative institute to study judiciary, politics, media
SU launches national collaborative institute to study judiciary, politics, mediaSeptember 07, 2006Sara Millersemortim@syr.edu
In the 21st century, a complex mix of legal principle, political maneuvering and media coverage surrounds the judicial decision-making process in the United States, affecting the state of judicial independence and the rule of law.
Syracuse University has launched The Institute for the Study of the Judiciary, Politics, and the Media (IJPM), a first-of-its-kind interdisciplinary research institute devoted to the study of the intersection of the courts, politics and the press. IJPM will also serve as an incubator for nonpartisan policy analysis and academic research in these areas.
A collaborative effort involving SU’s College of Law, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, IJPM will utilize the combined strengths of these schools to examine issues in a multifaceted fashion reflective of real-life concerns and challenges. In particular, IJPM will be able to intertwine the analysis of media coverage with the study of the judiciary and politics. The systematic integration and examination of these three areas is unprecedented in the United States.
Each semester, IJPM will sponsor academic symposia with nationally prominent figures from law, politics and the media; host on-campus lunches to discuss hot topics; and provide research grants to students and faculty for scholarly work on the subject.
Coinciding with the institute’s launch is its first symposium, featuring an expert panel that will examine how politics and publicity may have turned the Duke lacrosse legal affair into a media circus, thus shaping the actions taken by both the accusers and defendants. “Lacrosse Justice: Gender, Race, and Fairness in the Duke Lacrosse Legal Saga” will feature a lecture by Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and chief legal correspondent for Slate.com, and a panel discussion with SU faculty Linda Martin Alcoff, professor of philosophy and political science; Sanjay Chhablani, assistant professor of law; and Tom Maroney, professor of law. The symposium takes place Sept. 19 at 4 p.m. in the Public Events Room in Eggers Hall on the SU campus and is open to the public. Parking is available in SU pay lots.
By combining professionals from each of the fields — judges, political scientists and public policy experts and journalists — with university scholars and students, IJPM will provide a unique forum to exchange ideas, conduct research and disseminate information to a national audience.
“This is an exciting new initiative that will combine the intellectual power of our College of Law, Maxwell School and Newhouse School, and provide Syracuse University a one-of-a-kind opportunity to lead the discussion and examination of how the judiciary is affected and impacted by politics and the media,” says SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor.
Keith Bybee, associate professor of political science and Michael O. Sawyer Chair of Constitutional Law and Politics at the Maxwell School, is founder and director of IJPM. The two associate directors are Lisa A. Dolak, professor of law and senior associate dean at the College of Law, and Mark J. Obbie, director of the Carnegie Legal Reporting Program at the Newhouse School.
“IJPM will foster interdisciplinary research, but that will not be our only focus,” says Bybee. “Our broader goal is to involve scholars and students, as well as practitioners, policymakers, journalists and judges, in an ongoing examination of the convergence between judicial, political and media processes.”
In October 2005, SU hosted a precursor event to the launching of IJPM, “Bench Press: The Collision of Media, Politics, Public Pressure and an Independent Judiciary,” in Washington, D.C. Presented by the Maxwell School, the Newhouse School and the College of Law, the event featured 24 nationally recognized participants and expert panelists discussing judicial independence and judicial selection on both the state and federal levels. The conference yielded a book, edited by Bybee and titled “Bench Press: The Collision of Courts, Politics, and the Press” (Stanford University Press, forthcoming in 2007), with essays by prominent figures from the academy, the bench and the press.
Using the results of a specially commissioned public opinion poll as a starting point, the edited volume’s contributors examine — among other issues — the rise of explicitly political state judicial elections; the rhetoric of federal judicial confirmation hearings; the quality of legal reporting; the portrayal of courts on the Internet; and the importance of regulating judicial appearances.
Throughout the upcoming academic year, IJPM will host several discussions and symposia that will bring together scholars and practitioners for in-depth analysis of contemporary and historical issues:
- Oct. 19: “The Last Umpires? The News Media, the ABA and Other Independent Voices in the Federal Judicial Confirmation Process,” with Steve Tober, chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary; Lee Epstein, Beatrice Kuhn Professor of Law at the Northwestern University School of Law; and Lyle Denniston, reporter, SCOTUSblog;
- Feb. 6, 2007: “The Media’s Effect on Judicial Independence: A Kaleidoscopic View,” with Penny J. White, former state supreme court justice and professor of law at the University of Tennessee;
- March 5, 2007: “Jail for Journalists: Freedom of the Press, Confidential Sources, and the Demands of Criminal Justice,” with Jim Taricani, investigative reporter, WJAR-TV, Providence, R.I.; and Robert Corrente, U.S. attorney, District of Rhode Island;
- March 27, 2007: “Are Federal Judges Politicians? Views From the Academy, the Bench and the Press,” with the Hon. Carolyn Dineen King, first female chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit; and Professor Nancy Scherer of Wellesley College, author of “Scoring Points: Politicians, Political Activists and the Lower Federal Court Appointment Process” (Stanford University Press, 2005); and Professor Charlotte Grimes, Knight Chair at the Newhouse School.
To subscribe to the IJPM online newsletter for news on the institute and details on these upcoming events, visit the IJPM website at http://jpm.syr.edu. Additionally, each IJPM symposium will be webcast live through this site to allow for worldwide viewership by professionals and scholars.