The Baldy Center Blog


The Baldy Center Blog features interdisciplinary perspectives on research and current events from interdisciplinary UB scholars whose work intersects with law, legal institutions, and social policy. New blogs are generally released twice a month during each semester.

The Baldy Center Blog (since Fall 2020)

Fall 2023 to Spring 2024 Blog

  • CLC: The Right to Learn, The Right to Teach, The Right to Thrive
    On November 10-12, 2023, the Critical (Legal) Collective (CLC) will host its inaugural conference, “Organizing for Democracy and Liberation:  The Right to Learn, The Right to Teach and The Right to Thrive,” at Duke University Law School. Hosted by Duke’s Center on Law, Race & Policy, CLC was formed in August 2021 by a group of scholars and activists affiliated with various strands of critical legal theory. Read The Baldy Center Blog.
  • Post 40. Alan W. Clarke: Prosecuting Putin for the Crime of Aggressive War
    Not since Admiral Dönitz’s prosecution at Nuremberg in 1945 has an international court prosecuted a head of state for a criminal war of aggression. While sitting heads of state have faced prosecution for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, none have confronted charges involving “the greatest menace of our times - aggressive war.” It alone focuses solely on a nation’s leadership, and only it encompasses all other international atrocity crimes within its moral arc. Any prosecution of Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked, brutal and illegal attack on Ukraine navigates unknown terrain. Read The Baldy Center Blog.
  • Matthew Dimick: Predistribution or Redistribution?
    Although it’s been fifteen years since the Great Recession, the social, political, and economic problems it revealed are still very much with us. Historically astronomical levels of income inequality are fracturing the American polity. Matthew Dimick's forthcoming book, The Law and Economics of Income Inequality, enters into debates about how to address these problems.
  • Deja Graham: Free Speech — A Sword That Needs A Shield
    Free speech is a foundational principle of our democracy and something we have often failed to fully appreciate. We have lived in a very politically charged space for what seems like an eternity, which was only exacerbated by the last presidency. In recent years, there has been a reluctance to exercise free speech due to fear of retaliation through doxing, loss of job, and overall alienation from peers. My participation in the Critical (Legal) Collective Inaugural Convening, and, the Celebration of Free Speech on UB’s North Campus has given me a deep-rooted appreciation for free speech and a framework to continue to take steps to protect it.
  • Riana Pryor: Equitable Medical Care for High School Student Athletes

    Sports participation comes with an inherent risk of athletic injuries, ranging from mild to severe across all sports. Of the over 7 million high school students participating in school-sanctioned sports, approximately 2 million sports injuries occur annually. Football, cheerleading, wrestling, gymnastics, girls basketball, and girls soccer place student athletes at the highest risk of severe injury. For example, cheerleading, a female-dominated sport, accounts for two thirds of all catastrophic injuries: skull fractures, neck injuries, and brain injuries. When directly comparing girls and boys sports teams, girls sustain a higher severe-injury rate than boys, and when a severe injury occurs, girls are more likely to require surgery than boys. Continue reading.

  • Kathy Jamil: Policy meets practice – Title IX and WNY Girls in Sports

    “Sports impact your whole life. There are a lot of times you’re going to lose in life, and you need to be able to move forward from there," observes Mary Wilson, founder of WNY Girls in Sports. The program was established for the purpose of improving the lives of girls in Buffalo through physical activity and sports. Wilson envisioned a program that would empower girls and young women to be healthy, confident, and self-aware through their participation in sports and physical activity. Continue reading.

  • Lizzy Vinal: Supporting Erin’s Law — Children and Domestic Violence

    Domestic Violence (DV) has been a hidden problem for many years: people did not want to talk about what was going on behind closed doors. Many still fail to understand how someone could find themselves stuck in a cycle of violence, and a frequent comment about DV victims and survivors is: “why don’t they just leave?” Read more on The Baldy Center Blog.

  • Kristen Holderle: The HEAL Collaborative — A Medical-Legal Partnership

    Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a public health issue affecting approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men during their lifetime. On a national scale, estimates suggest that IPV accounts for 20% of violent crime. IPV is associated with the loss of 8 million days of paid work and 5.6 million days of household productivity, with financial costs in excess of 8.3 billion dollars. Continue reading.

  • Megan Dudziak: It’s Every Adult's Responsibility – Erin’s Law – New York State

    About 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys in the USA experience child sexual abuse every year. Alarmingly, 91% of the time the abuser is a known and trusted adult to the child. Even more jarring is the fact that child sexual abuse is an underreported problem, making these statistics an underrepresentation of the transgressions against America’s children.  Continue reading.

  • Judy Torres: Domestic Violence and the Cycle of Violence

    Domestic Violence is difficult for many to discuss, however it is a public health issue that must be addressed. Domestic Violence is non-discriminatory in those that it affects and tends to disproportionately impact already vulnerable groups. Continue reading.

  • Julia Merante: Introducing Erin’s Law and Preventing Domestic Violence

    Erin Merryn is the founder of Erin’s Law. During her childhood, Merryn suffered from years of sexual abuse at the hands of two trusted males. Galvanized by her own survivorship, Merryn is fiercely crusading across the country and campaigning for all states to mandate an educational program on child sexual abuse awareness and prevention. Erin’s Law requires all public schools to implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program to train school personnel, caregivers, and students in grades preK-12. Continue reading.

  • Katerina Bezrukova: Title IX - Those 37 Words and What Comes Next

    Title IX stands as a great example of the power of a few, well-chosen words. Those 37 words are mostly known for increasing access to women’s athletic programs, guaranteeing female participation in “any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” The Women’s Sports Foundation reported that, since Title IX’s passage in 1972, female sport participants at NCAA schools increased from just under 30,000 to 219,000 in 2019. Over the same period, male participation grew from 170,000 to 279,000. Continue reading.

  • Post 30. Korydon Smith: Barriers (and Paths) to Achieving Universal Human Rights for People with Disabilities

    Human rights have always varied from nation to nation. Disability rights are no different. The divergence widens from global to local levels – from international agreements, to national policies, to funding, to local implementation. The global strive toward equality remains uneven. Continue reading.

  • Post 29. Trina Hamilton: Why we can't buy our way to a more ethical diamond market

    In 1998, the international NGO Global Witness published a report called A Rough Trade. This report outlined the diamond industry’s role during the decades of civil war in Angola, and called on companies, such as DeBeers, to be more accountable and transparent while enforcing the embargo on conflict diamonds.  Continue reading.

  • Post 28. Barbara Wejnert: Russian invasion of Ukraine is intricately linked to the struggle for democracy against autocracy

    “Attacks on health care are part of Russian strategy, with Ukrainian civilians used as "chess pieces," explains World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on March 30, 2022.  Continue reading.

  • Post 27. Robert Adelman: Growing Population and Diversity in Buffalo

    Buffalo is more diverse in 2020 than in 2010, and immigration is a driving force in that change. Buffalo reached its peak population in the 1950 census, with the number of inhabitants declining for the next six decades. Continue reading.

  • Post 26. Judith Olin: Intimate Partner Violence in the Pandemic and Beyond

    Dr. Jacqueline Campbell, PhD,MSN,RN, recently wrote a short piece in the Domestic Violence Report in which she reminds us that rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) homicides in the United States have been increasing since 2014. Continue reading.

  • Post 25. Joe Atkinson: Decision Support for Lake Ontario Water Quality Management

    Current efforts are being conducted to develop models that can adequately simulate the nearshore regions of the lake, which typically exhibit algae-related problems, along with the deeper water environment, where the concern is primarily for fish. These models are continually evolving. Continue reading.

  • Post 24. Holly Buck: Do we need a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty?

    Around the world, countries and companies are committing to net-zero targets, which are rapidly becoming a global norm. Reaching net-zero emissions by midcentury is in line with what the science says needs to be done to curb warming to safer levels. Continue reading.

  • Post 23. Letitia Thomas: Integrating Social Justice Theory into Engineering Practice

    Engineering education has historically been limited in developing students’ awareness of social justice issues, even though research tells us that students who are underrepresented (by class, race, gender, etc.) can be empowered and retained when participating in social justice projects related to engineering. Read more.

  • Post 22. Edward Steinfeld: Why is it so difficult to ensure equality of access to public toilets for all?

    Why is it so difficult to ensure equality of access to public toilets for all? To find pleasant facilities? To implement design practices that support safety, health, and function? Public toilets have been around for over 2000 years! In recent years, restrooms have become the major spatial locus of conflict over trans* rights. But the trans* population is not the only one that has problems with restrooms. Human rights advocates recognize the importance of access to public toilets for dignity, health, and social participation. In low-income countries, providing safe and secure public toilets to reduce the spread of disease is a major public health initiative, especially important to support access to education and social participation by girls and women. Read more.

  • Post 21. Arabella Lyon: The Paradoxes of Precarity: Buffalo Refugees Reconsidered

    Some legal scholars have responded to the liberal, autonomous subject by theorizing a vulnerable subject. In doing so, they recognize vulnerability as a universal and constant characteristic of the human condition. Alternatively, many humanists use a different conceptual frame which follows Judith Butler’s distinction between precariousness as universal human vulnerability and the political state of precarity. Precarity is a useful critical tool because the rhetorical constructions of precarity demonstrate how activists and politicians create worldviews and assemble publics. Political cultures construct precarity, shifting the precarity of different people fluidly. On what days does the precarity of Afghan women exceed that of US soldiers?   In an earlier study of the discourses surrounding Buffalo’s refugees, I suggest that precarity is often denied or ignored, not just because people wish to be competent, but because dominant discourses obscure our ability to recognize precarity and its causes. Over a decade ago, Buffalo media occasionally worried about the precarity of refugees and their economic cost to the county. Now, it reports that refugees have stabilized the city’s shrinking population, revitalized the city’s West Side, and provided an inteRrnational economic network. Read more.

  • Post 20. G. James Lemoine: Why are so many political leaders unethical and what can we do about it?

    Republicans wonder how New Yorkers could have ever supported disgraced New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, amazed that his polling among state voters remained so high throughout almost the entirety of the scandals of 2020-21. Meanwhile, Democrats are flabbergasted at the strong levels of support former President Donald Trump continues to receive from conservative voters, despite his numerous moral miscues. The rise and fall of these politicians (as well as that of countless others) offers fascinating evidence on the ethics of our elected officials, and other things that don't exist. Read the blog.

  • Blog 19. Paul Linden Retek: ‘Safe third countries’ and our obligations to others

    The devastating images of chaos and suffering in Afghanistan have left an indelible mark on citizens and policy-makers in the West. They have made the evacuation of those Afghans who served alongside U.S. and European militaries a moral obligation—and raised the question whether that obligation must extend, as well, to any and all Afghans who are imperiled by the return of Taliban rule. Read blog here.

  • Post 18. Carole Emberton: Monuments to the Enslaved

    In the wake of George Floyd’s murder in May 2020, a grassroots movement to remove, and in some cases reimagine, Confederate monuments has refocused national conversations about racial justice, memory, and public space. While some have lamented these removals as an effort to “erase history,” others point out that these edifices represented only a mythologized past that itself erased the experiences of enslaved people and their descendants. Read blog here.

  • Post 17. R. Lorraine Collins: Medical and Recreational Cannabis Laws are being passed even though we do not know much about its effects

    On March 31, 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the New York Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act into law. The new law is designed to establish a framework for regulating the cannabis industry in New York and to providing adult access to recreational cannabis. The retail market likely will be launched in 2023, following the establishment of the Office of Cannabis Management and other necessary entities. Read blog here.

  • Post 16. Catherine Cook-Cottone: The Mindful Lawyer

    The American Bar Association’s (ABA) National Taskforce on Lawyer Well-Being released the The Path to Lawyer Wellbeing Report (2017). The report begins, “To be a good lawyer, one has to be a healthy lawyer. Sadly, our profession is falling short when it comes to well-being.” The report cites studies that reveal the high rates of chronic stress, depression and substance abuse among lawyers and law students, what they describe as the toxicity of the profession, and the stigma associated with help seeking behaviors. The report held as its central guiding principle that well-being is an indispensable part of a lawyer's duty of competence.

  • Silverman, Patterson, Wang: Taking on Stereotypes to Protect Fair and Affordable Housing Policies

    Our article, “Questioning Stereotypes about U.S. Site-Based Subsidized Housing” (forthcoming in the International Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis), grew out of work done with the support of a Baldy Center research grant. The research examined data for all public housing and other site-based subsidized properties in the U.S. in order to determine the veracity of long-standing stereotypes about these properties. Stereotypes about government subsidized housing have dominated public discourse since the early 1950s. In many respects, these stereotypes have penetrated debates about public policies designed to address the shortage of affordable housing and become a mainstay in American society. This is true when public housing is discussed, but also with respect to the spectrum of fair and affordable housing policy. Read the blog.

  • Jinting Wu, Disability Segregation in an Age of Inclusion: Navigating Educational Pathways through Special Education Schools in Contemporary China

     Across the globe, the impact of child disability on educational inequality has been relatively neglected. My current research focuses on the rising number of children with disabilities who grow up with stigma and bleak futures in China’s segregated special schools. By focusing on a uniquely marginalized population in a segregated educational setting, this research fills a compelling need to understand the intersection of disability and segregation – a dual marginality that continues to exist globally yet remains under-examined in educational, legal, and disability studies literature to date. Read the blog.

  • Matthew Steilen, The Place of Norms in Separating Power

    One of the chief intellectual discoveries of the past four years has been the degree to which government rests on norms: on a shared sense of the proper way to go about the business of government. This is unsurprising for followers of the law and society movement, with which the Baldy Center is so closely associated. From the beginning, scholars of law and society have demonstrated the limits of formalism in explaining how the law actually works. One can think of the Trump presidency as finally demonstrating for the wider world of legal scholars, the essential role of shared understandings, legal culture, accepted practice, informal conventions, and customs in our separation of powers. The judge-made doctrine has changed only at the margins, and its major holdings remain intact, but the real meaning of separation of powers has been altered dramatically. Read the blog.

  • Jaekyung Lee and Namsook Kim, “Aliens” on College Campuses: Immigrant and International Students’ Educational Opportunities and Challenges

    We would like to start with a pop quiz. What is one of the common background characteristics of the following people (in categories 1 and 2 each)?

    (1) Madeline Albright (Former US Secretary of State), Kamala Harris (US Senator, Vice President Candidate), Sergey Brin (Google Co-Founder)

    (2) Kofi Annan (Former UN Secretary-General, Nobel Peace Laureate), Juan Manuel Santos (Former President of Columbia, Nobel Peace Laureate), Robin Yanhong Li (Baidu Co-Founder)

    Read the blog.

  • Nadine Shaanta Murshid, Unprecedented Times

    In my work, I focus on violence which is explicitly and implicitly embedded in patriarchy, racism, and capitalism. I hold institutions accountable as I analyze policies and procedures that produce the social problems that we see around us. Here are four thoughts I’d like to shareRead the blog.

  • Elizabeth Bowen and Nicole Capozziello, A Human Rights Perspective on Homelessness and COVID-19

    One of the most widely-used comprehensive sex ed curricula in the U.S. is entitled, Making Proud Choices! Echoing this cheerleading (and imploring) sentiment is the sex ed program offered youth in Maryland’s juvenile justice and child welfare systems, Power Through Choices, which includes the lesson, Creating the Future You WantRead the blog.

  • Laina Y. Bay-Cheng, No Choice But “Yes”: Strategic Consent to Unwanted Sex

    One of the most widely-used comprehensive sex ed curricula in the U.S. is entitled, Making Proud Choices! Echoing this cheerleading (and imploring) sentiment is the sex ed program offered youth in Maryland’s juvenile justice and child welfare systems, Power Through Choices, which includes the lesson, Creating the Future You WantRead the blog.

  • Aldiama Anthony reflects on a study by Anya Bernstein, “Interpenetration of Powers: Channels and Obstacles for Populist Impulses”

    A study conducted by a Baldy Center research grant recipient, Anya Bernstein, “Interpenetration of Powers: Channels and Obstacles for Populist Impulses,” turns to political pragmatics focused on the people who actually populate the government by drawing on interviews with administrators in the government of two successful but quite different democracies – the United States and Taiwan. The study explores the separation of powers consciousness, the political identity of those who govern, and the separation, interpretation, and executive consolidation of government. Read the blog.

  • Rachael K. Hinkle, Unintended Consequences. How the Publication Norm as a Tool of Compromise Reduces the Influence of Female and Minority Judges

    Even when women and people of color achieve positions of political power, that does not guarantee they will be able to wield the same amount of influence as similarly-situated white men.  Institutional norms may combine with social constructions of difference to create a system in which power is distributed disproportionately. Such a pattern is evident in the U.S. Courts of Appeals. Benign procedural practices and laudable deliberative processes combine with divergent viewpoints generated by fundamentally different social experiences to create a system in which power is exercised unequally. Read the blog.

  • Aldiama Anthony reflects on the article “School definitely failed me, the system failed me”

    When you hear the word "homeless," what exactly comes to mind? Most times, the term immediately conjures up an image of a single adult sleeping under a bridge, in a park, or a car. In fact, very few fully understand the growing crisis of homeless youth. There is a significant body of research on educational outcomes for children and youth who experience homelessness and on outcomes for youth in foster care, yet little research that focuses on youth who have experienced all of these challenges. A study conducted by three Baldy Center research grant recipients, Annahita Ball, Elizabeth Bowen, and Annette Semanchin-Jones, “School definitely failed me, the system failed me,” takes a cross-system research approach to this critical, but rarely addressed social issue affecting youths in our society. Read the blog.

  • James Gardner reflects on the question "Is Democracy Possible Here?”

    It has often been said of socialism that we don’t really know whether it works because it has never been tried, and because regimes that have called themselves socialist have in fact fallen far short of its ideals. Much the same might be said of democracy. Read the blog.

  • Matthew Steilen: Canon, Anticanon, and Anti-canonization in Constitutional Law

    A “canon” is a set of writings generally regarded as the most authoritative, important, or well-executed of their kind. When law teachers speak of a “canon,” they usually mean a standard set of cases that forms the basis of an acceptable curriculum in their field. We teach our subjects from the canon. In my field, Constitutional Law, its principal members include Marbury, Gibbons, McCulloch, Youngstown, and Brown. Read the blog.

  • Aldiama Anthony reflects on the article, "Institutional Economics and Chock-Full Employment" by Charles J. Whalen

    The “Right to Work” movement is a well-known guiding concept in the United States that affirms every American’s right to work for a living without being compelled to belong to a union and pay fees. However, the term, the right to work, originally referred to a progressive call for the right to employment. A recent study conducted by Charles J. Whalen, Baldy Center Research Fellow, examines the calls for a job guarantee and then explains the need to reclaim the “right to work” as a cornerstone of progressive capitalism. This blog contains the critical takeaway points from Whelan's article, “Institutional Economics and Chock-Full Employment: Reclaiming the “Right to Work” as a Cornerstone of Progressive Capitalism. Read the blog.

  • Matthew Dimick, Using Legal Rules to Reduce Income Inequality

    The United States has experienced a disturbing expansion of income and wealth inequality in the past three or four decades. We only fully recognized this yawning divide in the material fortunes of Americans after the 2008 financial crisis, which did little to change the direction of the trend. The Coronavirus pandemic has only added fuel to the inequality fire in a particularly grave way. Income inequality might be condemned on its own terms and for its political (erosion of democracy) and economic (financial instability) consequences. These worrisome trends in economic inequality have caused scholars to look for policy solutions. For legal scholars, in particular, the question arises: can legal rules do anything about income inequality? A long-standing position within law-and-economics scholarship gives a clear answer to this question: No. Read the blog.

  • Alexandra Harrington, COVID and Prisons: Grappling with the Effects of the Pandemic on Incarceration

    In the last year, roughly 10% of the U.S. population has tested positive for COVID-19. In that same period, about 28% of people incarcerated in U.S. prisons tested positive for the virus. More than 2,500 incarcerated people have died of COVID-related causes. Trapped in congregate settings with little to no ability to socially distance or protect themselves from COVID, people in prisons are particularly vulnerable in the midst of a global pandemic.  Read the blog.