Category Archives: Knowledge

Same-Sex Marriage: The ultimate decision of the Court will establish significant national precedent

Professor Gerald A. Fisher

Professor Gerald A. Fisher

The pending U.S. Supreme Court case of Deboer v. Snyder and its related cases, examining the legality and enforceability of same-sex marriage, present legal and policy issues of major importance to the nation.  Here is Western Michigan University Cooley Law Professor Gerald A. Fisher’s brief take on some of the key issues.

The cases present issues under two key clauses of the 14th Amendment: the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause. Arguments will address whether same-sex marriage is a “fundamental right” that triggers special protections under the Constitution.  The decision may address whether the plaintiffs or the states have the burden of proof, and the extent of that burden in terms of arguing the constitutionality of the regulations in question.  Also of equal importance, the cases have the potential of raising questions touching on the fundamental structure of our country by determining whether the individual states, or the federal government itself, have the jurisdiction to define marriage rights and privileges.

The most likely outcome in the case is a Justice Kennedy-written opinion expressing that there is no rational reason for a state to prohibit same sex-marriage. However, there is a long-shot outcome, consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Defense of Marriage Act case, United States v. Windsor, written in 2013 by Justice Kennedy, that the definition of marriage is a matter appropriately left to the states.

WMU-Cooley Professor Gerald Fisher teaches Constitutional Law, Property, Secured Transactions, Zoning and Land Use Law, and State and Local Government Law. Professor Fisher has appeared on 21 occasions in cases presented to the Michigan Supreme Court. He was the recipient of the Roberts P. Hudson Award from the State Bar of Michigan in 1978, named a Best Lawyer in America in 2007, Recipient of the Cooley Law Review Michigan Supreme Court Distinguished Brief Award in 2001, and named a Lawyer of the Year in Michigan (one of ten) in 2001 by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

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Forums Held on Heroin Addiction Generate Intense Interest

Personal tragedy combined with legal knowledge can make for a powerful combination when educating the public about some of society’s more troubling ills. Such is the case with bringing to light a growing national problem with drug addiction, specifically heroin and other opioids.

WMU-Cooley Professor Lauren Rousseau speaking to the media before the event.

WMU-Cooley Professor Lauren Rousseau speaking to the media before the event.

WMU-Cooley Professor Lauren Rousseau knows this well. Recently she spearheaded a program titled, “Silence Equals Death: How the Heroin Epidemic is Driving Change in Perception, Treatment, and the Law,”  with presentations held at both the Lansing and Auburn Hills campuses. It’s an interest founded in personal experience – a young man for whom Rousseau served as a guardian while he was in high school died at age 19 after a battle with addiction to heroin and other drugs.

WMU-Cooley Professor Lauren Rousseau

WMU-Cooley Professor Lauren Rousseau

Rousseau saw a need to highlight the growing crisis of heroin use among young people and explore ways to improve their odds of survival.

“We have an epidemic with respect to heroin and opioids in this nation,” said Rousseau. “We need to take action to change that. We need to demand that lawmakers recognize addiction as a disease, and ensure that treatment is available.”

Silence Equals Death panel of speakers

Silence Equals Death panel of speakers

The program was set up in a panel format, with various experts weighing in on the practical factors affecting drug addiction issues. Panelists discussed what those who work with people addicted to drugs should know concerning addiction and the best treatment options; what legislation has been passed to assist families affected by drug abuse, in particular, prescription drug misuse; and what tools first responders should have to save the lives of those who have overdosed on heroin and other drugs.

The programs generated a great deal of interest and interaction from attendees as the subject hit home for many.

Panelists from WMU-Cooley Law School’s “Silence Equals Death: How the Heroin Epidemic is Driving Change in Perception, Treatment, & the Law” symposium, (front row, left to right) Erica Clute-Cubbin, Lauren Rousseau and Hon. Jodi Debbrecht Switalski, (back row, left to right) Andre Johnson and Dr. Mark Menestrina.

Panelists from WMU-Cooley Law School’s “Silence Equals Death: How the Heroin Epidemic is Driving Change in Perception, Treatment, & the Law” symposium, (front row, left to right) Erica Clute-Cubbin, Lauren Rousseau and Hon. Jodi Debbrecht Switalski, (back row, left to right) Andre Johnson and Dr. Mark Menestrina.

“Many participants stayed after the programs to talk with me, the panelists, and each other,” Rousseau said. “People told me that they were extremely grateful to WMU-Cooley for organizing the event. Some said they struggled at certain points to hold back tears due to their own experiences with addiction. I did not expect this reaction, and it made me realize how hungry people are for the information we provided.”

 

Watch the entire program

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