News and views from the University of Notre Dame

Author: Dennis Brown

Microsoft: A Notre Dame Law School professor agrees with Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson’s decision to break up Microsoft for violating antitrust laws. “I guess I’ve come around more to the view that this is the correct action,” says Joseph Bauer , an expert in the antitrust field. “Judge Jackson found Microsoft had violated antitrust laws and some remedy was necessary. The question was whether there would be conduct remedies or structural remedies. The structural remedy was appropriate for two reasons: One, conduct remedies are more uncertain and take more time to take hold. Second, conduct remedies require much more supervision by the court. A structural approach is cleaner and quicker.” Professor Bauer can be reached for further comment at (219) 631-6514. p. Grandparents: The Supreme Court’s decision in Troxel v. Granville to curb the visitation rights of grandparents was “splintered, but the holding is clear: Washington’s extraordinarily broad third-party visitation statute is unconstitutional,” says Richard Garnett , a constitutional law scholar in the Notre Dame Law School who wrote two amicus briefs in the case. The Washington statute permitted a court to order visitation with someone else’s child for any person, at any time, for any reason. Nonabusive, presumptively fit parents could be required to defend in court their decisions about who should visit and influence their children. “The Supreme Court’s decision is a welcome, and much-needed, reaffirmation of parents’ fundamental constitutional right to direct and control the upbringing and education of their children,” Garnett said. “It is a crucial constitutional principle that parents ? not judges, not the state, and not even well-meaning third parties ? have the moral right to raise their own children. In a free society, outsiders don’t have the power to second-guess parents’ decisions, even when those decisions seem mistaken.” Garnett noted that the plurality opinion written by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor emphasized the “sweeping breadth” of the Washington law. “It remains to be seen whether the court’s recognition today of parents’ fundamental rights will lead to the invalidation of more narrow laws in the future,” he said. Professor Garnett can be reached for further comment at (219) 631-6981 or garnett.4@nd.edu
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p. Mideast peace: The tactical give-and-take will increase in the wake of President Clinton’s announcement that a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians is “within view,” according to a Notre Dame political scientist. “Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is clearly serious about reaching deals with both the Palestinians and Syria,” said Alan Dowty , professor of government and international studies and author of “The Jewish State: A Century Later.” “The Israeli exit from Lebanon will make it easier for Barak to play the two negotiating venues against each other, though at the moment it is not clear what (Syrian president Hafez) Assad’s immediate intentions are – not that this is anything new. At the same time, Barak intends to exploit Israel’s strong bargaining position with the Palestinians to the fullest extent, meaning that these negotiations are also unlikely to produce any quick results. In response, (Palestian leader Yasir) Arafat can only play the few cards that he has, which include the recurring threat to declare an independent Palestinian state. This threat is not taken very seriously by most observers since the Palestinian Authority can gain more territory only by agreement with Israel.” *Professor Dowty can be reached for further comment at (219) 631-5098 or dowty.1@nd.edu .

  • p. Peru: The Peruvian presidential election was “a big disappointment for those who care about democracy,” said Scott Mainwaring, professor of government and international studies and director of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at Notre Dame. “President Fujimori did not allow for an even playing field, and the surprisingly popular challenger, Alejandro Toledo, withdrew. It remains to be seen whether Peruvians and the international community can do anything effective in response to Fujimori’s machinations. For both, figuring out a good response is a daunting challenge.” *Professor Mainwaring can be reached for further comment at (219) 631-8530 or mainwaring.1@nd.edu .
  • p. Census: A Notre Dame marketing professor who chaired the committee that advised the Census Bureau on its $168-million advertising campaign is pleased with the effect the ads had on the response rate. “The overall response rate to the mailed census questionnaire was 66 percent, which was the first time the rate has not gone down,” says Michael Etzel , professor of marketing. “It’s about 5 percent better than the bureau projected, and I think it’s reasonable to give the advertising and marketing efforts considerable credit for that. As with all advertising, the question is whether it was worth it. I think the fact that the rate went up indicates that the advertising did have an impact, and that it was money well spent.” *Professor Etzel can be reached for further comment at (219) 631-5925 or etzel.1@nd.edu .
  • p. Memories, memories: Contrary to conventional wisdom, some kinds of memory may actually improve with age, according to research conducted by Gabriel Radvansky , associate professor of psychology at Notre Dame. In a test of reading comprehension, Radvansky found that college students were superior at recalling specific details, but senior citizens did as well, and even better, in remembering the text’s overall meaning. In the new issue of Notre Dame Magazine, he says, “If you give people a fable to read and ask them to remember what the fable was later, young adults will remember the fable, but the older adults will remember the moral. So, who remembers the fable better?” Possible explanations for the older adults’ superior memory performance are: They are more adept at language comprehension because they’ve been doing it longer; they have acquired more general knowledge which assists with comprehension; and as humans age they are less able to suppress irrelevant information due to the deterioration of the frontal lobes of the brain, which control attention. On the latter explanation, Radvansky says, “There’s some evidence that older adults make more inferences and hang on to more inferences than younger adults because of this decline in suppression ability. So the deficit turns into a benefit. Since older adults are making more inferences, they are building better mental models and therefore retaining more about the basic message. Ironically, the problem with memory and older adults may not be that they can’t remember, but rather, they remember too much.” *Professor Radvansky can be reached for further comment on his work at (219) 631-6473 or radvansky.1@nd.edu .
  • p. Boxer Rebellion: The Boxer Rebellion began 100 years ago June 20 when the secret Chinese Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists ? the Boxers ? occupied Peking and besieged foreigners. It ended in August 1900 when military forces from the United States, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Russia, Japan and Great Britain drove the Boxers out of the Chinese capital. “This was the first occasion when American troops saw military action on mainland China, and it serves to highlight the differing perceptions with which the Chinese and Americans viewed each other at the time and still do,” says Dian Murray , professor of history and associate dean of the College of Arts and Letters. “In American film, fiction and folklore, the Boxers have been portrayed as symbols of everything detested, feared and misunderstood about China; everything from fiendish cruelty to xenophobia to anti-Christian hostility. By contrast, in China the Boxer Rebellion has been regarded as one of the first heroic struggles on the part of the Chinese people to rise up against the forces of imperialism.” *Professor Murray is available for further comment at (219) 631-8636 or murray.1@nd.edu .
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