“Bong hits 4 Jesus” lawyer joins UAA

The Justice Department is proud to welcome its newest addition to UAA’s ever growing staff, Professor Jason Brandeis. He has taught at UAA since the Fall 2009 as an adjunct faculty member, but has now been accepted as a full time Assistant Professor for the 2010-2011 school year.

Professor Brandeis has been a dedicated member of the school, volunteering his time to many of UAA’s activities. He has spoken on topics of legal interest, such as the “Gender Issues in Justice System Professions” presentation hosted last February. He also worked with UAA students in the Student Constitutional Convention commemorating the anniversary of Alaska’s Constitution. These positive experiences with students here are what influenced him to pursue a career as a professor at UAA.

Enthusiastic about the new year, Professor Brandeis has many goals planned for his students.

“Sometimes there can be a big disconnect between what is taught in the classroom and what happens in the real world. I hope to be able to use my experience to prepare my students for the realities of working in the legal professions,” Brandeis said.

Professor Brandeis obtained his Juris Doctorate degree from Vermont Law School, and later came to Alaska to further his law career. His areas of expertise range from justice to paralegal studies.

Before entering the world of education, he was a prominent member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Alaska for seven years, where he held the position of Staff Attorney.

“With the ACLU I did get to do a lot of work on Alaska Native issues. That was a really great experience because I got to travel to some small rural bush communities and meet some fascinating people,” Brandeis said. “The most rewarding case involved getting the Alaska Division of Elections to start providing adequate translation to Yup’ik-speaking voters in the Bethel Census Area during elections.”

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In addition to native rights, he was part of a variety of issues including civil liberties, litigations, drug laws and religious discrimination.

His legal background includes involvement in the U.S. Supreme Court case of “Morse v. Frederick,” more commonly known as “Bong hits 4 Jesus,” in 2007.

Professor Brandeis represented the ACLU as co-counsel for Frederick during this high profile case, which questioned a school’s ability to suspend a student for using his first amendment right to freedom of speech.

Because the student was referring to drugs at a school event, the case was lost, but it still made a big impact on the first amendment rights for students nationwide. Professor Brandeis was very proud to have been of the case even though it lost.

“I was really lucky,” Brandeis said. “Most lawyers don’t have the opportunity to work on cases that will have as big of an impact.”

Professor Brandeis was also an associate attorney for the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC). During that time he participated in cases such as “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission,” addressed litigations over Pebble Mine and wrote advisory opinions interpreting the agency’s laws and regulations.

After his commitment with both of these notorious organizations, Brandeis decided to undertake teaching, bringing his long earned knowledge and skills to law students here at UAA.

Deborah Periman, an Associate Professor of the Justice Department, is one of many faculty members who are pleased to have him on staff.

“Professor Brandeis is a highly respected member of the Alaska Bar and is well-connected to the Anchorage legal community,” Periman said. “These connections will serve the Justice Center well as it seeks to fulfill its mission of providing justice-related research and service to Alaska communities.”

He will bring his own unique perspective to the department and students are encouraged to talk to him about any questions they have regarding law or if they just want to learn about his past positions.

“Jason’s extensive real-world experience in legal practice will greatly enrich our Paralegal program,” fellow professor in the Justice Department, Sharon Chamard, said.

For the Fall 2010, Professor Brandeis will be teaching “Introduction to Law,” “Development of Law” and “Civil Procedure.” For students who do not yet know the new professor and would like to meet with him, his office can be found in the Justice Center which is located in the Consortium Library, room LIB 213.

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