Amy C. Gaudion
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Assistant Professor of Law
J.D., Villanova University School of Law, summa cum laude
B.A., University of Virginia, with distinction
Legal Argument and Factual Persuasion
National Security Law
Problem Solving II: The Lawyer as Writer
Problem Solving III: The Lawyer as Persuader
I was in law school on September 11, 2001, and that experience informs why I teach, what I teach and how I teach. My teaching focuses on the role that lawyers play in shaping the world around them. I push my students to consider the function of law in a civil society. What comforts does it provide? What challenges does it present? I also encourage my students to embrace their roles as advocates for the rule of law in their communities, and to unpack what it means to be an engaged citizen. What privileges and liberties are conveyed by citizenship? What responsibilities and expectations accompany those privileges?
My research and writing focus on national and homeland security law, and civilian-military relations. When I studied constitutional law, we spent one class on the president’s war time powers and discussed the 1952 Youngstown case. Since then, the canon of relevant cases has grown considerably while the boundaries of the president’s authority to use force are constantly shifting in response to threats to the nation’s security. These developments have had a tremendous impact on how we think about the role of government, the law, and lawyers in a civil society.
At the millennium’s dawn, the national security landscape shifted from its post-cold war underpinnings to the current global war on terrorism framework. Today, given the end of combat operations in Iraq and anticipated winding down of such operations in Afghanistan by 2014 as well as extraordinary pressures on the defense budget and the recent disclosures by Edward Snowden, that framework is primed for further restructuring. My scholarship explores this evolving national security narrative, and attempts to identify and understand the threats, responses, and accountability mechanisms that will define the future national security configuration. It looks beyond the customary practices and usual paradigms and grapples with the contours of a legal architecture very different from the one we may suppose.
In addition, I am interested in finding ways to bridge the disconnect between the civilian and military communities – particularly in higher educational settings. There is great value in building such educational bridges. This value is felt in the near term by the inclusion of civilian and military perspectives in the classroom setting. This value also is felt further out in the positive gains that are achieved when our military personnel and civilians work together to deploy military, diplomatic and economic power in a manner that is consistent with U.S. values and interests. An engaged dialogue between civilian and military leaders in the Situation Room will be richer if its starts in the classroom.
Service is integral to the legal profession, and provides a way to share one’s work and passion with others. I have benefited from service opportunities that push me outside the discipline of law into the policy and social science realms.
I serve as a legal advisor to World on Trial, an educational public television and multimedia project that presents both sides of sharply contested human rights issues in courtroom trials before juries around the world. Randall Robinson, acclaimed human rights advocate and author, is the creator and host. The project’s purpose is to elevate public awareness of important human rights issues and the international treaties that govern state conduct. And, to do so in a way that engages the global community in the concept of popular sovereignty, the inherent and inviolable sovereignty of the individual human being.
At its best, architecture embodies the values of a community. At Penn State’s Dickinson Law, our building’s design reflects a belief in shared spaces and engaged robust debate. The building encircles a central courtyard, and the library, classrooms, offices and gathering spaces flow from it. The courtyard provides a gentle reminder of the passing of the seasons. More importantly, however, it encourages connections between students, faculty, staff and visitors as they gather around it on their way to class, to grab a coffee or to study in the library. We call this space The Commons – and it provides a physical reminder of the values we share.
The practice of law is addictive, and its pull continues to be strong even though my daily responsibilities no longer involve billable hours and client meetings. I started my legal career as a clerk to Judge William H. Yohn of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The first case I worked on involved a Section 1983 claim based on a knotty factual dispute involving the local and international chapters of the Teamsters union. A later case involved a difficult sentencing for prison guards convicted of excessive force. The cases were factually and analytically complex, yet both instilled in me an appreciation for the power and impact of good legal analysis and writing. I read more pleadings than I can recall during my clerkship but the experience shaped my views on the value of clarity and organization in persuading the courts of the merits of the case.
I had the opportunity early in my career to appreciate the lawyer’s professional duty to render candid advice. I worked on a case that required an internal investigation of a utility company and on another case that involved political corruption charges. Both cases involved difficult but necessary conversations with the client about the law – and the moral, economic, social and political factors – relevant to the client’s situation.
My most formative experiences, however, have involved my work on pro bono matters, most notably a case involving the civil rights of a federal prisoner. During meetings with my client at the federal prison where he was incarcerated, I observed the strengths and weaknesses of that system, and the challenges of reintegration after a prison term.
As I see no wall between teaching law and practicing of law, I attempt to bring these experiences and more recent ones into the classroom whenever possible.
“Translating Scholarship into Policy,” 2 Penn St. J.L. & Int'l Aff. 1 (2013) (with Scott Sigmund Gartner)
“The Power of the Veep,” New York Times, July 22, 2012 (with Douglas Stuart)
“More Than Just a Running Mate,” New York Times Campaign Stops Blog, July 19, 2012 (with Douglas Stuart)
“War on Terror’s Next Phase: The Legal and Strategic Consequences,” The Daily Best, June 23, 2012 (with P.J. Crowley)