Notre Dame Resources

Author: Dennis Brown and Michael O. Garvey

Russia: Notre Dame political scientist Martha Merritt says of the March 26th presidential election in Russia: “Boris Yeltsin’s resignation was timed to allow him to do something the Soviet leaders never managed: select a successor. The intense manipulation of state-controlled media prior to the legislative elections in December led to electoral success for Yeltsin’s chosen party, and now acting President Vladimir Putin will try to exercise for the same control. This is not democracy. Stage-managed elections, timed for incumbent advantage, do not allow the people a real choice.”
*Note: Professor Merritt will conduct a policy briefing in February for the State Department on the Russian presidential election and will be in Moscow for the election itself. She can be reached for further comment at (219) 631-7695 or at

  • p. Elian Gonzalez: Six-year-old Elian Gonzalez should be returned to his father in Cuba, says Barbara Szweda , codirector of the Notre Dame Legal Aid Clinic and an expert in immigration law. “From the standpoint of immigration law, it is pretty clear that the child should be returned to Cuba,” says Szweda. “The only grounds for his remaining in the United States would be that he was seeking asylum, which requires that he make a showing that he was persecuted or feared persecution based on his political opinion, religion nationality, ethnicity or social group. He can’t meet that burden.” Family law also dictates that young Elian should be returned to his father, according to Szweda. “His father had an ongoing relationship with the boy prior to his leaving Cuba and his parental rights have never been terminated,” she said. “Furthermore, there has been no proof offered that the father in any way mistreated or abuse the child. Distant relatives have no right under the law to speak for the child. In my opinion, the child belongs with his father.” *For further comment, contact Szweda at (219) 631-7637 or
  • p. Catholic martyrs: For Dr. Martin Luther King and other non-Catholics to be declared martyrs by Pope John Paul II is “something absolutely new,” Lawrence Cunningham , professor of theology, told the Boston Globe. “The pope is aware of the fact that it wasn’t only Catholics who went to concentration camps or Siberia, and he thinks it’s only fair to make a list of all Christians who died for the faith. He says he does not want these people to be forgotten.” Professor Cunningham can be reached for further comment at (219) 631-7137. p. Women religious: Catholic women’s religious orders have been in precipitous numerical decline for the last three decades. In 1965 there were some 180,000 nuns at work and prayer in the United States; last year there were 83,000. Catholic sisters also are “graying,” with a median age of 68. “It’s a personnel crisis,” R. Scott Appleby , director of Notre Dame’s Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, told The New York Times. “Sisters really did build the American Catholic Church through their teaching in the parochial school system and their staffing of Catholic hospitals. They have been the backbone of the church in this century, and it’s absolutely critical to address the question of the next generation and who will succeed them.” *Professor Appleby can be reached for further comment at (219) 631-5441 or
  • p. Middle East: The issues in the Israeli-Syrian peace talks are less complex than those in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, but the process in all likelihood will still “unfold at an agonizingly slow pace,” says Alan Dowty , professor of government and international studies at Notre Dame. “In this case, the glacial pace of progress is due more to the time required for the playing out of negotiating strategies. Syria wants a total Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights in return for as little normalization of relations as possible; Israel wants a secure peace in return for something less than total withdrawal – at least by Syria’s definition. An agreement could be reached quickly if Assad of Syria decided to emulate Sadat’s dramatic gestures of 1977, but this has never been his style.” *Professor Dowty is at Oxford this semester but can be reached by email for further comment at
  • p. Campaign 2000: The low percentages of minorities and urban residents in New Hampshire and Iowa relative to the nation as a whole make it “titanically troubling” that those two states play such “influential roles in the presidential selection process,” Robert Schmuhl , professor and chair of American studies at Notre Dame, writes in an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune. “There needs to be a concerted effort to reform the presidential nominating system itself, making it more representative and democratic for the nation in its diverse totality. A methodical, regional arrangement of several states voting over three or four months in a coherent process would be a welcome start in improving the current, every-state-for-itself chaos.” *Professor Schmuhl is teaching at Notre Dame’s Keough Study Centre in Dublin, Ireland, this semester, but can be reached by email for further comment at
  • p. India/Pakistan: A paper published by Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies warns of “an all-out nuclear arms race” between India and Pakistan, but expresses hope that the two countries “can be convinced to cap, roll back and even abandon their nuclear weapons programs if the reasons that prompted them to acquire nuclear weapons are addressed.” The paper, titled “Preventing a Nuclear Arms Race in South Asia” and written by David Cortright , guest lecturer in the Kroc Institute, and Samina Ahmed, a faculty fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, recommends that the United States demand that India and Pakistan both join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT); that punitive sanctions, including curbs on the sale of military hardware and other technology, be deployed against those Indian and Pakistani entities responsible for the expansion of nuclear weapons programs; that such incentives as debt forgiveness and increased financial assistance for development programs in both countries be offered in exchange for “concrete steps toward military and nuclear restraint”; and that the United States fulfill the still unmet obligations to which it is committed by the NPT. *Professor Cortright can be reached for further comment at (219) 631-8536.p. Irish in America:
  • Notre Dame Press has published “The Encyclopedia of the Irish in America,” a unique compendium of Irish-Americana edited by Michael Glazier. The encyclopedia includes articles by scholars from America, Ireland, Canada and Britain on the most important events, themes and people in the Irish experience of America, from 1584, when Richard Butler, a sailor from Tipperary became the first historically documented Irishman to set foot on American soil, to the present. Its 1,096 double-column pages contain accounts of the Irish communities in each of the 50 states, more than 500 biographies of Irish-American men and women, and more than 300 illustrations. The more than 900 themes and topics it covers include literature, art, religion, immigration, emigration, sports, music, politics, labor, theater, education, medicine, and business. *For more information, contact Julie Dudrick at Notre Dame Press at (219) 631-6346.p. Supreme Court:
  • The University of South Carolina Press has published a new book by Notre Dame Law School professor and noted legal historian Walter F. Pratt, Jr. “The Supreme Court under Chief Justice Edward Douglass White, 1910-21,” chronicles a transformation in American jurisprudence that mirrored the widespread political, economic and social upheavals of the early 20th century. White’s tenure as chief justice coincided with multiple changes in the United States, including a rapid shift from a rural to an urban society, the emergence of the nation as a world power, and the enactment of populist and progressive reforms. Pratt recounts the Court’s rulings of the time and draws particular attention to its struggle to redefine legal vocabulary. *Professor Pratt can be reached for comment at (219) 631-6984.p. American excessiveness:
  • A new book by Robert Schmuhl , professor and chair of American studies at Notre Dame, takes a critical look at the American penchant for going to extremes in the arts, popular culture, politics and social movements. Published this month by Notre Dame Press, “Indecent Liberties” is a series of eight new essays in which Schmuhl analyzes the dangers and consequences of carrying fundamental American freedoms too far. He argues for seeking public and private equilibrium because to do otherwise results in “indecent liberties” that endanger the nation’s future. Schmuhl considers historical examples – such as the hunting of buffalo in the West, Prohibition, and business ventures in the Gilded Age – but devotes most of his attention to contemporary affairs, including shock entertainment, the decline of privacy, and excessive media coverage of stories such as the O.J. Simpson trial and the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal. *Professor Schmuhl is teaching at Notre Dame’s Keough Study Centre in Dublin, Ireland, this semester, but can be reached by email for further comment at *

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