Highlights from Pepperdine Law this week

I don't usually highlight what takes place at Pepperdine University School of Law, but my colleagues have had a string of impressive articles in national newspapers this week on interesting subject, and I thought I would highlight them.

Michael Helfand wrote a piece in the Los Angeles Times entitled "Is a prisoner's beard dangerous?" It evaluates the upcoming Supreme Court case interpreting the Religious Land Use and Institutionalize Persons Act. It opens:

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Holt vs. Hobbs, another big-ticket case that tests the limits of religious liberty when it comes into conflict with government regulation. The petitioner — Gregory Holt — is a prison inmate, housed by the Arkansas Department of Correction. But Holt is also known by another name, Abdul Maalik Muhammad, and he is by all accounts a sincere adherent of Islam. As part of that faith commitment, he wants to grow his beard 1/2-inch long in accordance with Islamic practice.

It seems like a relatively reasonable request. But Arkansas prison officials have refused to grant it, arguing that a 1/2-inch beard would prevent them from maintaining the safety and security of the prison. The Department of Correction contends that Holt might be able to hide, for example, a SIM card or a razor in such a beard; the former could be used to order contraband and the latter to commit further violent crimes.

Rick Cupp participated in the New York Times Room for Debate on the site's opinion pages and wrote a piece called, "Animal Cruelty Laws Don’t Depend on Animal Rights."

Vigorous prosecution of animal cruelty is appropriate, but not based on animal rights. All members of nonhuman animal species are incapable of significant moral responsibilities, and thus affording them "rights" just doesn't fit. Rather than focusing on rights for cats and dogs, we should focus on human moral responsibility.

Finally, Ed Larson has a new book forthcoming, The Return of George Washington: 1783-1789. It was reviewed in this weekend's Wall Street Journal. The reviews explains:

If never considered exactly wilderness years, the span between the end of the war and Washington’s presidency is often seen as a hiatus in which the Virginia planter put his estate in order and then shed legitimacy on the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia solely by his taciturn presence. But Mr. Larson, a history professor at Pepperdine University, engagingly argues that the stretch between 1783 and 1789 was as important to Washington—and to America—as all that preceded and followed it.

I deeply appreciate my conversations with my colleagues on these and many other legal subjects, and I'm so thrilled to see their successful research highlights across the country this week.