Professor Moderates Clinton Panel
Posted on December 5, 2005
A copy of Bill Clinton’s “My Life” sits on University of Arkansas law professor Robert Moberly’s desk. Moberly, a recent speaker and moderator at the 11th Annual Presidential Conference on Nov. 10-12 at Hofstra University, can talk at length about labor law during the Clinton administration. The conference, appropriately titled, “William Jefferson Clinton, The ‘New Democrat’ from Hope,” was three days, 50 panels and 110 papers devoted entirely to former president Bill Clinton.
“It was a gathering of academics and members of the Clinton administration to debate the policies of the Clinton presidency,” Moberly said.
Moberly moderated a panel called “Labor-Management Relations During the Clinton Administration.” The panel included Stanford law professor Bill Gould, former chair of the National Labor Relations Board, and Wayne Horvitz, a former Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service director.
The participants incited a diverse discussion about the regulatory efforts in employment and creation of new jobs during the Clinton administration, Moberly said. “One of the issues we touched on was the Family and Medical Leave Act, Clinton’s first bill signed into law,” Moberly said. The act signed in 1993 allows family members to take leave from work for medical emergencies, child births or related emergencies.
One of Moberly’s favorite Clinton stories comes from “My Life.” During Clinton’s governorship, Sanyo Corp. in Forrest City, Ark., was going to close its plant and send the work overseas for cheaper labor. Clinton flew to Japan and persuaded the president of Sanyo to stay in Arkansas if a major U.S. retailer would sell Sanyo television sets. The Forrest City plant is the only remaining U.S. plant producing televisions.
Moberly, too, has a few interesting stories. In 1981, he was invited to the Polish Academy of Sciences during the rise of Solidarity and Lech Walesa. Communism was threatened by labor unions at the time, and for an expert in labor law like Moberly, it was a riveting time to be immersed in such political pandemonium.
Before coming to the University of Arkansas to serve as dean, Moberly acted as Trustee Research Fellow and Professor of Law at the University of Florida, where he also directed the Institute for Dispute Resolution. The institute encourages teaching and research in negotiation, mediation and arbitration – all techniques that don’t always surface when a panel gets together to discuss a president as controversial as Clinton.
Clinton himself spoke at length about the achievements, mistakes and failures of his administration, Moberly said. Clinton was quoted in the New York Times as saying his impeachment was “an egregious abuse of the Constitution and law and history of our country.”
Moberly won’t talk politics, however. His role as mediator and arbitrator keeps him neutral. In private, though, he doesn’t hesitate, saying, “Clinton never gives a bad speech.”
The Clinton conference was the 11th presidential conference starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1982. For more information about the conference, contact the University of Arkansas School of Law at (479) 575-6111.