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Legal scholarship of Jessica Rizzo L’21 published in three law journals

July 29, 2021

Rizzo’s recently published pieces span constitutional, environmental, family, and intellectual property law.

In the Spring of 2021, Jessica Rizzo L’21 published “Federal Architecture and First Amendment Limits” in the Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts and “The Children’s Hour: Climate Change, Law, and the Family” was published in the Hastings Environmental Law Journal.

Rizzo’s third recent publication was “Flesh and Bone: Theater, Copyright, and the Ineffable,” a comment in the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School’s Journal of Constitutional Law.

Federal Architecture and First Amendment Limits

In “Federal Architecture and First Amendment Limits,” Rizzo explores the implications of President Trump’s December 2020 executive order on “Promoting Beautiful Federal Civic Architecture” intended to promote the use of “classical and traditional architectural styles,” which “have proven their ability to inspire … respect for our system of self-government.” Rizzo explains that the order “would have been a presumption against the use of such modern architectural styles as Brutalism and Deconstructivism in the construction of new federal public buildings, as these styles, according to Trump, fail to convey ‘the dignity, enterprise, vigor, and stability of America’s system of self-government.’”

Rizzo characterizes Trump’s proposal of “an official style” as what “would have amounted to a censorship regime” and lauds President Biden’s revocation of the order. In her article, she explores explore the First Amendment implications of Trump’s proposed order, the limits on the public’s ability to use the First Amendment to contest offensive government speech, and the ways in which existing law fails to reckon with the unique limitations and possibilities of architecture.

Rizzo wrote the paper for a class with Kenneth W. Gemmill Professor of Law Seth Kreimer, who expressed high praise for Rizzo’s scholarship. 

“Jessica brings insight and trained inquiry from her work as a graduate student to bear on legal problems. And she deploys the acuity and dedication of a first-rate lawyer,” said Kreimer. “The result is an exploration in the highest tradition of the interdisciplinary aspirations of the Law School. I look forward with anticipation to the next chapter of her career.”

Jefferson B. Fordham Professor of Law Tobias Wolff also provided Rizzo valuable feedback during the drafting of the piece.

“Jessica’s article is a lovely example of conceptual First Amendment scholarship,” said Wolff. “After surveying the place that her insights on federal architecture occupy in current constitutional doctrine, she reasons from first principles to examine the role of government buildings and monuments in architecture as it exists in the world and illustrates the need for a reexamination of current doctrinal constraints. This is a mature, sophisticated contribution to free speech doctrine and theory.”

The Children’s Hour: Climate Change, Law, and the Family

In “The Children’s Hour: Climate Change, Law, and the Family,” Rizzo starts from the premise that “U.S. family law has historically been regarded as ‘exceptional,’ or insulated from the geopolitical forces that shape laws governing public life.” Rizzo posits that climate change proposes additional challenges for the construction of family law that require it to consider more than “stability” for children.

“[T]he family law of the future must follow the lead of kinship innovators finding creative and sustainable ways to respond to the instability introduced by climate change,” writes Rizzo, who wrote the paper for a class with Professor of Law and History Serena Mayeri.

“Dr. Rizzo’s article challenges the conventional wisdom that theories of environmental sustainability have little or no connection to the law of the family,” said Mayeri. “In an erudite and wide-ranging essay, she explains how the emerging field of climate change law necessarily must account for how the law shapes families’ opportunities, living arrangements, decisions, and prospects for survival. The article is not only well-researched and beautifully written, but lively, engaging, and provocative.”

Flesh and Bone: Theater, Copyright, and the Ineffable

In “Flesh and Bone: Theater, Copyright, and the Ineffable,” Rizzo argues that current copyright regimes, especially the joint works doctrine, are inadequate for the “most critically significant forms of theater being made today.” Rizzo finds the legal system’s failure to provide such a framework “signals a troubling lack of national investment in the arts.”

To remedy the situation, Rizzo proposes, in addition to establishing a Federal Court of Appeals for Art, “amending the Copyright Act so that it (1) invalidates judge-made law requiring an independently copyrightable contribution for joint authors in theater and (2) makes it possible to assign proportional ownership shares that reflect the relative contributions of collaborators.”

Read more about the intellectual vitality of our Law School community.