The Eleventh Circuit’s en banc decision in Wollschlaeger v. Governor of Florida is remarkable for embracing content neutrality as a tenet of First Amendment doctrine in the realm of professional speech. It reflects a new form of aggressive content neutrality on the rise in First Amendment jurisprudence beginning with Reed v. Town of Gilbert, a seemingly innocuous case about a municipal sign ordinance. Reed ushered in what may turn out to be a dramatic shift in the way courts employ content neutrality as a core principle of the First Amendment. But content neutrality should not be thought of as axiomatic across the First Amendment. This Essay illustrates the dangers of falling into the content-neutrality trap in the context of professional speech. Professional speech communicates the profession’s insights to the client for the purpose of providing professional advice, and the value of professional advice critically depends on its content. The First Amendment therefore may not require regulation to be blind to the content of professional speech.
In late 2016, in its highly-watched decision in Salman v. United States, the Supreme Court attempted once again to clarify the crime of insider trading, this time regarding the secondary and tertiary recipients of information commonly referred to as “remote tippees.” In doing so, the Court seemed to put to rest any question that a person who “gifts” a friend or family member with material non-public information for the purposes of trading on such information does in fact trigger a violation of law. As cases go, Salman is relatively straightforward. Nevertheless, it demonstrates several of the drawbacks that arise when criminal laws become the product primarily of cases and not statutes. Ordinarily, proponents of legislative law-making cast their arguments in fairness terms, as written statutes provide advance warning of what is and is not forbidden. This Essay contends that legislatively enacted statutes go further than that. Under the best circumstances, they can improve the content of criminal law precisely because they permit the legislature to differentiate similar yet morally distinct conduct. With this benefit in mind, the Essay imagines what insider trading law might look like were Congress to both define and subdivide the crime of insider trading into the kind of tiered or degreed crimes more routinely featured in state codes.
The Seventh Circuit’s en banc decision in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College has received as much attention for its dueling views of statutory interpretation as for its historic holding: that sexual orientation discrimination is protected under Title VII’s “because of sex” prong. Yet the opinions’ divergent approaches to statutory interpretation end up doing surprisingly little work. Lacking substantive engagement with the ways sexual orientation discrimination helps police gender norms or longstanding debates over how thoroughly Title VII is meant to disrupt those norms, the opinions instead offer an originalism without history, a dynamic interpretation that lacks limits, and a textualism largely divorced from the values Title VII’s text is meant to address. As other courts consider whether to join Hively’s important holding, its gender-blind approach to equality law should give way to one that foregrounds the opportunity-limiting sex stereotyping at the heart of anti-LGBT animus.
As the increasing concentration of wealth and property in private universities draws attention and criticism, legislators across political parties and jurisdictions are questioning the scope of broad university tax exemptions. Universities have responded by asserting that state and federal constitutional provisions offer their assets perpetual protection from taxation—assets that not only include classrooms and dormitories, but also golf courses, power plants, travel agencies, and health clinics.
In response to these arguments, this Essay proposes ways in which states and localities could clarify or challenge sweeping property tax exemptions for private universities, with a special focus on Yale University’s charter and Connecticut state law. The Essay argues that by either clarifying the boundaries of Yale’s property tax exemption or freezing it in place, the Connecticut legislature could—and should—reclaim the state’s fundamental power of taxation and gain leverage for negotiations with Yale, without running afoul of constitutional requirements. The Essay closes with a brief discussion of other universities and communities that could utilize an analogous approach.
Breaking from a decades-old norm of presidential tax transparency, Donald Trump has refused to make his federal income tax returns available for public inspection. Congressional leaders have blocked bipartisan legislation that would compel the President to disclose his returns. New York State, however, has a unique opportunity to ensure that the practice of presidential tax transparency endures. As a longtime New York resident, President Trump files state tax returns that contain most of the information found in his federal filings. A bill pending in the New York State Legislature would direct state tax authorities to release returns filed by the President and statewide elected officials. If the bill becomes state law, it will do much to protect the norm of presidential tax transparency from Trump’s attack.
This Essay considers the legal issues surrounding New York’s potential disclosure of President Trump’s state tax returns. It anticipates and addresses arguments that state disclosure would violate the Bill of Attainder Clause, the constitutional right to privacy, due process limits on retroactivity, restrictions on state interference in national political processes, and the doctrine of intergovernmental immunity. It also examines federal laws protecting taxpayer privacy and considers whether New York’s publication of the President’s state tax filings would violate the Internal Revenue Code’s prohibition on disclosure of returns and return information. The Essay concludes that federal law does not prevent New York from adopting and enacting legislation that would require the release of the President’s state tax returns. New York can—and, this Essay argues, should—publish the President’s state tax returns if Trump himself and his allies in Congress refuse to act.
On May 24, the D.C. Circuit sitting en banc will hear oral argument on whether Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) administrative law judges (ALJs) count as inferior officers rather than employees for purposes of the Appointments Clause. This Essay attempts to articulate a coherent employee-officer distinction that suits the Constitution’s text and structure, that remains consistent with the Court’s precedent, and that provides a clear legal rule for judges and for Congress. Part I traces the evolution of the doctrine from an early opinion of Justice Marshall through the nineteenth century to the modern cases of Buckley and Freytag. From this often-confused line of cases, the Essay explains the central normative and constitutional considerations that animate the Court’s doctrine. Part II draws on this doctrine and on related administrative law jurisprudence to present a legal rule that defines who must be an officer under the Appointments Clause: any person who is vested with the authority to alter legal rights and obligations on behalf of the United States. Part III applies this analysis to a recent circuit split between the Tenth Circuit and the D.C. Circuit, and it sides with the Tenth: SEC ALJs are officers of the United States who must be appointed according to the strictures of the Appointments Clause.
On January 3, 2017, Congressman Steve King introduced a bill that would bar federal courts, including the Supreme Court, from citing a number of the Court’s decisions on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) “for the purpose of precedence [sic].” The bill cites Article 3, Section 2 of the Constitution, which allows Congress to restrict the Court’s appellate jurisdiction, as legal justification for Congress’s power to regulate rules of precedent. Not surprisingly, media commentators quickly questioned the bill’s constitutionality. What these early news stories overlooked, however, is that King’s proposal does not raise a novel legal question. On the contrary, over a decade ago, Michael Paulsen published an article in the Yale Law Journal arguing that Congress could do exactly what the bill proposes. Over the ensuing years, scholars have debated Paulsen’s argument, without resolving the core question posed by his article.
Federalism has become a watchword in the acrimonious debate over a possible replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Missing from that debate, however, is a theoretically grounded and empirically informed understanding of how best to allocate power between the federal government and the states. For health reform, the conventional arguments in favor of a national solution have little resonance: federal intervention will not avoid a race to the bottom, prevent externalities, or protect minority groups from state discrimination. Instead, federal action is necessary to overcome the states’ fiscal limitations: their inability to deficit-spend and the constraints that federal law places on their taxing authority. A more refined understanding of the functional justifications for federal action enables a crisp evaluation of the ACA—and of replacements that claim to return authority to the states.
Responses to Leo E. Strine, Jr., Who Bleeds When the Wolves Bite?
This collection is a response to Judge Strine's Feature published in Issue 6.
Delaware Chief Justice Leo Strine is of the view that America is in terrible shape. Specifically, he identifies deep problems in the fabric of American society, which include “growing income inequality, inflated executive pay, job losses, [and] wage stagnation.” Having noted these problems, Strine lays a portion of the blame at the feet of activist hedge funds and the apparently misguided pension plans and university endowments that invest in such hedge funds. In this Essay, I articulate Strine’s worldview and argue that while his Feature in this issue of the Yale Law Journal is ostensibly about hedge fund activists, his real complaint is with modernity itself. Hedge funds are merely piling on. Accordingly, his proposed solutions, which focus largely on disclosure and reporting requirements, are misplaced in the current debate.
Chief Justice Strine’s important article, Who Bleeds When the Wolves Bite?,brings a much-needed perspective to the modern corporate governance debate. Chief Justice Strine looks at the corporate governance world through the lens of what he calls the “human investors,” i.e., the ordinary individuals who are the ultimate beneficiaries of the mutual funds, pension funds, and other aggregators of investment capital that control a sizable portion of today’s public company equity securities. As the Feature emphasizes, human investors have an overriding interest in the long-term health of business enterprises, both as equity and debt investors and as wage earners. Through their lens, Chief Justice Strine raises a number of significant issues. These include the disconnect between the money managers focused on short-term performance and the long-term horizons of the human investors whose funds they manage, as well as the opportunism of activist hedge funds that seek to make quick profits through financial engineering rather than long-term investment. He also focuses on the growing evidence that equity gains realized by financial engineering pushed by activist hedge funds, to the extent those gains exist, are likely the result of diverting value from debt holders, workers or other constituencies. Short-term pressures that suppress investment in research and development, productive assets and future business opportunities are hurting our corporations and our broader economy. Chief Justice Strine is right to raise these issues, and addressing them is vital.
Reactions to Kate Andrias, The New Labor Law
This collection is a response to Kate Andrias's Article in Issue 1 entitled The New Labor Law.
In The New Labor Law, Professor Kate Andrias describes a labor regime founded upon politicized social bargaining emerging from the wreckage of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This regime rejects (for the most part) the NLRA’s employer-employee dyad model of private ordering through worksite-based representation and collective bargaining, in favor of a model involving mobilizing workers across entire sectors and harnessing state power through legislation or other vehicles to strengthen workers’ economic and political clout. Pointing to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)-backed Fight for $15, Andrias identifies what she calls a “coherent vision of unionism” that is transforming unions from representatives of particular workers to advocates for workers generally.
Nothing New Under the Sun: “The New Labor Law” Must Still Grapple With the Traditional Challenges of Firm-Based Organizing and Building Self-Sustainable Worker Organizations
There’s no avoiding Walmart, Toyota, Amazon, T-Mobile, and Federal Express. The greatest concentration of unorganized workers in the United States is still employed at these and similar large multinational corporations. Helping these workers form unions is essential for the labor movement not only to recover from its current state representing less than eleven percent—and, in the private sector, less than seven percent—of the workforce, but also to maintain existing bargaining relationships and improve standards for workers at organized employers like General Motors, AT&T, and United Parcel Service. The labor movement’s economic and political power rests on the existing infrastructure of collective bargaining; there is no realistic path towards rebuilding labor’s voice in society that does not begin with organizing key firms in industries with significant existing union density.
Social movements led by workers in low-wage industries, from fast food to car washes to nursing homes, have upended the public narrative of who poor workers are and what they deserve both at work and at home. By doing so, these movements have won victories that were once considered “unrealistic” and “doomed.” As a result of the Fight for $15’s campaign, for example, nearly seventeen million U.S. workers have earned wage increases, and 59% of those—ten million workers—will receive gradual raises to $15 an hour. In fact, between 2012 and 2016, workers earning less than $15 gained $61.5 billion in wage increases. However, the workers who lead and drive these movements are not simply agitating for a higher wage. As Jorel Ware, a McDonald’s worker from Chicago and member of the Fight for $15, states it:
What’s motivating me is there’s a lot of different issues going on in the United States with living wages, with Black Lives Matter issues, immigration reform, childcare. These issues are basically the same because everybody’s going through them, black and brown people are going through this. This is how it comes together and it gives me the drive and I’m finally willing to make a change.
Responses to Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
Matthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City is a triumphant work that provides the missing socio-legal data needed to prove why America should recognize housing as a human right. Desmond’s masterful study of the effect of evictions on Milwaukee’s urban poor in the wake of the 2008 U.S. housing crisis humanizes the evicted, and their landlords, through rich and detailed ethnographies. His intimate portrayalsteach Evicted’sreaders about the agonizingly difficult choices that low-income, unsubsidized tenants must make in the private rental market. Evicted also reveals the contradictions between “law on the books” and “law-in-action." Its most significant contribution to American housing and poverty scholarship is the socio-legal data it provides to demonstrate the high economic and social costs America pays for its failure to consider housing a basic human right. Indeed, Desmond ultimately calls for an American right to housing and presents law and policy solutions in Evicted to advance such a right.
Matthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City combines compelling narratives that illustrate many of the barriers to housing for individuals in poverty with quantitative data that speaks to the scope of the housing crisis in urban America. This Essay addresses what may be a lawyer’s most natural question upon finishing Desmond’s book: what can lawyers and the law do to reduce evictions and forced moves among tenants in poverty?
Matthew Desmond’s magisterial Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City is arguably the most important book about poverty in the United States in a generation. Just as Michael Harrington’s The Other America provided the country with a necessary window onto the poverty lurking below the surface of the affluent societyof post-war America, so too Evicted brings to life the immense challenges and hardships of poverty in today’s economy. Desmond’s empathetic descriptions of the lives of poor individuals and families facing eviction and homelessness in two Milwaukee neighborhoods force readers to confront the inhumanity of society’s choice to not treat housing as a basic right.
The state of public opinion regarding the death penalty has not experienced such flux since the late 1960s. Death sentences and executions have reached their lowest annual numbers since the early 1970s. Following decades during which the death penalty shared broad public support, over the last decade, support steadily declined in national and state polling. Today, the public appears fairly evenly split in its views on the death penalty. Still, voters in Nebraska and California recently rejected measures to end the death penalty, and in California voters instead adopted a measure intended to hasten post-conviction review of death penalty cases and executions, although the California Supreme Court has stayed that measure pending further review. In this Essay, we explore, first, whether these changes in public opinion mean that fewer people will be qualified to serve on death penalty trials as jurors, and second, whether potential jurors are affected by changes in the practice of the death penalty.
Reactions to L. Song Richardson, Systemic Triage: Implicit Racial Bias in the Criminal Courtroom
This collection is a response to L. Song Richardson's Book Review in Issue 3 entitled Systemic Triage: Implicit Racial Bias in the Criminal Courtroom
Some forty years ago, I was a very young black man living in the Florida panhandle. My dream was to get into law enforcement, but I first needed to get into the state academy, which required the endorsement of a Florida police executive. The chief of the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Police Department—a black chief in an historically black college—turned me down. That left Leon County Sheriff Raymond Hamlin, a man whose looks and manner seemed to me to scream bigot. A self-styled “redneck,” he was locally famous for once proclaiming to a reporter, “I like my women the same way I like my coffee. White and hot.”
A prominent life scientist recently declared that the Higgs boson particle, the Internet, and implicit bias are the three most important discoveries of the past half-century. In President Obama’s commencement address at Howard University last year, Obama stated: “And we knew . . . that even the good cops with the best of intentions—including, by the way, African-American police officers—might have unconscious biases, as we all do.” Why has implicit racial bias worked its way into a presidential address? More importantly, after focusing so long on explicit biases, what do we need to know and do about the pervasive problem of implicit racial bias in the courtroom?
Legal discourse on implicit bias has changed the way scholars and citizens think about race in the justice system. Ever-growing scholarship, much of it empirical, has identified, confronted, and sought to address how implicit bias operates in nearly every criminal justice context— especially in policing,prosecuting,judging,and juror decision-making.This focus on racially fraught legal processes, and the subsequent search to mitigate or eliminate the operations of implicit bias within each of them, has been an illuminating force not only for those who seek to expose the reality of a biased system, but also for those who recognize that the fairness-driven ideals of the American legal system are not being realized. Thus, it is not surprising that efforts designed to “deal with” implicit bias in the criminal justice system—whether through judicial trainings, jury instructions, or structural safeguards—have become increasingly popular.
Justice Alito: A Decade on the Court
Only two weeks before Justice Samuel Alito marked his tenth anniversary on the Supreme Court, the Court struck down Florida’s death penalty scheme. It held that the scheme violated the Sixth Amendment jury right because it permitted judges to sentence individuals to death based on facts not found by a jury. Every Justice but one joined in that result. The lone Justice in dissent was Samuel Alito.That case—and Justice Alito’s willingness to stand alone in upholding a death penalty regime that the rest of the Court concluded was unconstitutional—highlights one fact that has become clear in Alito’s first decade on the Court: there is no one to his right on the current Court. The current Supreme Court includes a number of conservative Justices. But even when compared with them, Justice Alito is the most consistently conservative. His votes are almost always in line with what one would predict based on the policy preferences of the party of the President that appointed him, i.e., Republican President George W. Bush. And that fact—more than his jurisprudence in particular areas, or his methodological approach to judging, or any other facet of his service on the Court—seems likely to define his legacy.
In the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) in the 1980s, “unitary” meant unitary, as in e pluribus unum. When Deputy Assistant Attorney General Samuel Alito and his colleagues in OLC used the phrase “unitary executive,” they used “unitary” to convey two kinds of oneness. The executive is headed by a single person, not a collegial body, and that single person is the ultimate policy maker, with all others subordinate to him. In 2000, then-Judge Alito participated in a discussion of executive power, and noted his endorsement of the unitary executive theory that he had espoused while at OLC.
The Distinctive Role of Justice Samuel Alito: From a Politics of Restoration to a Politics of Dissent
Justice Samuel Alito is regarded by both his champions and his critics as the most consistently conservative member of the current Supreme Court. Both groups seem to agree that he has become the most important conservative voice on the Court. Chief Justice John Roberts has a Court to lead; Justice Antonin Scalia and his particular brand of originalism have passed on; Justice Clarence Thomas is a stricter originalist and so writes opinions that other Justices do not join; and Justice Anthony Kennedy can be ideologically unreliable. Justice Alito, by contrast, is unburdened by the perceived responsibilities of being Chief Justice, is relatively young by Supreme Court standards (66 years old), is methodologically conventional, and is uniquely reliable. As a consequence, many conservatives love to celebrate him as the ideal Justice, and many liberals love to condemn him as politically driven.
In September 2016, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a report questioning the validity of a number of forensic science techniques routinely offered as evidence (“PCAST Report”). This report raises familiar issues and recommendations. In 2009, the National Research Council (NRC) released Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward, a report on the state of forensic science (“NRC Report”). The NRC Report found that numerous forensic science disciplines relied on deficient scientific foundations, interpretative procedures lacked rigor, analysts took inadequate measures to avoid error and bias, and forensic examiners testified with unwarranted certainty. Research suggests that the NRC Report has had a marked impact on defendants’ awareness of the fallibility of “soft” forensic disciplines, which has led to a number of post-conviction challenges to forensic evidence. Unfortunately, these challenges have rarely been successful. Perhaps as a result, forensic disciplines have advanced little in the intervening seven years to address the NRC Report’s concerns.
How does the United States enter and exit its international obligations? By the last days of the Obama Administration, it had become painfully clear that the always imaginary “triptych” of Article II treaties, congressional-executive agreements, and sole executive agreements, which has guided foreign relations scholars since the Case Act, is dying or dead. In 2013, as State Department Legal Adviser, I argued that:
In the twenty-first century . . . we are now moving to a whole host of less crystalline, more nuanced forms of international legal engagement and cooperation that do not fall neatly within any of these three pigeonholes . . . . [O]ur international legal engagement has become about far more than just treaties and executive agreements. We need a better way to describe the nuanced texture of the tapestry of modern international lawmaking and related activities that stays truer to reality than this procrustean construct that academics try to impose on a messy reality.
This Essay seeks to offer that better conceptual framework to evaluate the legality of modern international lawmaking. It illustrates that framework through two recent case studies of modern U.S. diplomacy: the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Iran Nuclear Deal.
In United States v. Jacobsen, the Supreme Court created a curious aspect of Fourth Amendment law now known as the private search doctrine. Under the private search doctrine, once a private party has conducted an initial search independent of the government, the government may repeat that search, even if doing so would otherwise violate the Fourth Amendment. The private party’s search renders the subsequent government “search” not a search in the constitutional sense.
For decades, the Supreme Court has rejected arguments that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause protects a general right to liberty of contract worthy of more than cursory judicial attention. Instead, the Court, along with most state courts, has reviewed economic regulations that do not implicate the Bill of Rights under a very forgiving version of the rational basis test that leaves little room for successful challenges. Despite remonstrations from libertarian enthusiasts inside and outside of the academy, there is no realistic prospect that judicial protection of liberty of contract will be reasserted anytime soon.
The number of Americans who must obtain government permissionto work in their chosen vocation has been steadily rising. A recent White Housereport observed that “[o]ccupational licensing has grown rapidly over the past few decades” and has come to include manyharmless vocations such as interior design, hair braiding, and even floristry. Today, aboutone quarter of American workers must obtain a government-issued license to dotheir job, up from less than five percent in the 1950s.
Claims that the Constitution prohibits business licensing requirements have proliferated in recent years. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently concluded that a District requirement that tour guides obtain business licenses violated the First Amendment. The Sixth Circuit likewise held that a licensing scheme for funeral directors violated due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. These cases mark a sea change in the treatment of economic liberty claims both by the courts and in U.S. legal culture.
FOIA 50 Years Later
Not long after the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) went into effect, consumer advocate Ralph Nader sent one hundred students out to test whether the statute was working. The students made FOIA requests to more than a dozen federal agencies on a range of consumer topics, from highway safety and airline accidents to environmental pollution and the regulation of pharmaceutical products. Nader, never known for his subtlety, captured the results in the title of the article that followed: Freedom from Information: The Act and the Agencies. As Nader put it early in the piece, “I have reached a disturbing conclusion: government officials at all levels in many of these agencies have systematically and routinely violated both the purpose and specific provisions of the law.
This much should be uncontroversial: the public should have access to the law and to the government’s interpretations of it. This principle is an imperative not just of due process but also of republican governance. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which the Eighty-ninth Congress enacted half a century ago, included a provision requiring federal agencies to disclose their effective law and policy. A decade after Congress enacted the FOIA, the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in NLRB v. Sears, Roebuck & Co. construed this provision to require federal agencies to publish their “working law.” The Court explained that “the public is vitally concerned with the reasons which did supply the basis for an agency policy actually adopted,” and it held that the FOIA requires “[t]hese reasons, if expressed within the agency,” to be disclosed. In subsequent cases, lower courts enforced this rule, repeatedly requiring federal agencies to publish legal memoranda and opinions interpreting or applying the law.
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In the words of President Obama, this law, “which encourages accountability through transparency, is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open government.” Since its enactment, the FOIA has become an indispensable mechanism for facilitating the public’s understanding of the operations and activities of the federal government. The statute applies to all federal agencies and functions in a straightforward way: virtually anyone, for any reason, can request access to agency records, and agencies, in turn, are required to provide those records unless they are protected from disclosure by nine, carefully crafted exemptions.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has a lofty goal: to open the doors of government offices and allow the public a front-row seat in watching over government affairs. In turn, this sort of bright transparency should enhance our participatory democracy and the accountability of our elected officials. To that end, Congress envisioned the news media as among the most important users of FOIA. No doubt, FOIA has served precisely that purpose on many occasions—examples which represent victories for openness and accountability. Yet, journalists and watchdog groups make up a tiny fraction of requesters seeking information under the law.
For fifty years, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has been the platinum standard for open government in the United States. The statute isconsidered the legal bedrock of the public’s right to know about the workingsof our government. More than one hundred countries and all fifty states haveenacted their own freedom of information laws. At the same time, FOIA’s many limitations have also become evident: a cumbersome process, delays inresponses, and redactions that frustrate journalists and other informationseekers. Politically-motivated nuisance requestsbedevil government agencies. With over 700,000 FOIA requestsfiled every year, the federal government faces the costs of a mounting backlog.
In April 2016, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmedthat the ancient human body discovered in 1996 near Kennewick, Washington,often referred to as the “Kennewick Man” or “The Ancient One,” is geneticallyrelated to modern-day Native Americans. Thisconfirmation ended a twenty-year-long struggle between scientists at the Smithsonian, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and Native American tribes ofthe Columbia Plateau, and will now jumpstart the process for repatriation ofthe Kennewick Man to the Native American tribes for reburial in accordance withthe Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA).
The Supreme Court will soon hear argument over whetherCongress may forbid registering trademarks that consist of “matter which may disparage or falsely suggest aconnection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or nationalsymbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” The disparagement bar is thebasis for the 2014 ruling by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) thatordered the cancellation of trademark registrations belonging to the WashingtonNFL team because the term “redskin” disparages Native Americans. Late last year, however, theFederal Circuit ruled en banc that the disparagement bar is unconstitutional onFirst Amendment grounds in In re Tam.
For centuries, prominent jurists and political theorists have looked to private fiduciary relationships such as trusteeship, agency, and guardianship to explain and justify the authority of public officials and public institutions. This tradition has attracted increasing interest over the past decade, as legal scholars have used fiduciary concepts to elucidate important features of public law, from the nature and design of constitutional government, to the legal obligations that attend public offices such as judge and legislator. We have contributed to this revival of public fiduciary theory by showing that fiduciary principles can explain and justify the structure and content of administrative law and international law. The great promise of public fiduciary theory, we have argued, lies in its powerful “criterion of legitimacy,” which links the legal authority of public officers and institutions to the principle that “state action must always be interpretable as action taken in the name of or on behalf of every agent subject to the state’s power.”
On February 16, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)obtained an unprecedented court order in the San Bernardino shooting case thatwould have forced Apple to design and deliver to the DOJ software capable ofdestroying the encryption and passcode protections built into the iPhone. The DOJasserted that this order was simply the extension of a warrant obtained by theFederal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to search the shooter’s iPhone, which hadbeen locked with a standard passcode.
As the case that became Whole Woman’s Health worked its way to the Supreme Court, few were confident about how the Court would respond to a law, enacted in the name of protecting women’s health, that would predictably shut most of a state’s abortion clinics. All agreed that the governing standard was the undue burden framework the Court had adopted a quarter century earlier in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. But the meaning of “undue burden” was in doubt. Opponents of the abortion right asserted that after the Court decided Gonzales v. Carhart, upholding the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, the Casey framework meant little more than rational basis deference to legislative decision making. Supporters were confident that the undue burden framework provided women more constitutional protection than that—but many still worried that the standard was too indeterminate to constrain state legislatures.
The Supreme Court’s recent Utah v. Strieff decision declined to apply the exclusionary rule to evidence seized as a result of an arrest that followed an unconstitutional stop. The opinion, in conjunction with Justice Sotomayor’s dissent, has reanimated discussions regarding when, if ever, criminal defendants can expect the exclusionary rule to apply. When applied, the exclusionary rule renders inadmissible evidence recovered through “unconstitutional police conduct”; the evidence’s exclusion reinforces the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. Unlike most discussions of Strieff, which focus on its implications for criminal defendants,this Essay examines how Strieff will impact civil rights plaintiffs’ ability to recover damages for unconstitutional stops under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
The Dodd-Frank Act authorized the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) to bring almost any enforcement action in an administrative proceeding. Before Dodd-Frank, the SEC could secure civil fines against registered broker-dealers and investment advisers in administrative proceedings, but had to sue in court non-registered firms and individuals, including public companies and executives charged with accounting fraud, or traders charged with insider trading violations. After the Dodd-Frank amendment, save for a few remedies that can only be obtained in court, the SEC can choose the forum in which it prosecutes enforcement actions.
For the past three decades, the practice of judicial override in capital cases has allowed Alabama judges to impose the death penalty even where the jury voted for life. However, recent developments have cast doubt on the future of override in Alabama. The United States Supreme Court struck down part of Florida’s capital sentencing scheme in January because “[t]he Sixth Amendment requires a jury, not a judge, to find each fact necessary to impose a sentence of death.” In response, the Florida legislature eliminated override in March, and the Delaware Supreme Court invalidated its own state’s override system on August 2, leaving Alabama as the only state that still permits the practice. Override in Alabama has been attacked on other grounds as well; in 2013, two Justices of the United States Supreme Court expressed Eighth Amendment concerns that Alabama overrides are arbitrary and linked to political pressure.
Robert Litt, General Counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, has offered a new analysis for the Fourth Amendment in the Information Age, grounded in two cases arising from the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs.1 As opposing counsel or amicus in the cases he cites in his argument, I thought it would be useful to respond.
Transcending the Youngstown Triptych: A Multidimensional Reappraisal of Separation of Powers Doctrine
The time is ripe for a reappraisal of the separation of powers as the organizing principle of our federal government. Most of the relevant doctrinal architecture has been constructed over the past seven decades. Perhaps because of Justice Robert H. Jackson’s incomparable brilliance as a writer, the two-dimensional landscape famously described in his concurring opinion condemning President Truman’s seizure of the U.S. steel industry has dominated discourse about the interaction of the three federal branches. Charting presidential conduct on the vertical axis of a map whose horizontal axis measures Congress’s position ranging from approval to disapproval gave Jackson an elegantly simple and memorable way to classify presidential actions from the most strongly defensible to the most constitutionally vulnerable.
Nick Rhoades was diagnosed with HIV at the age of 23. In 2005, he began anti-retroviral therapy (ART), an increasingly effective form of treatment that can reduce the amount of HIV in blood to undetectable levels. Three years later, the treatment had done just that. Rhoades’s risk of transmitting the virus to a sexual partner had been reduced by 93%, nearly the same reduction of risk associated with condom usage. Shortly thereafter, Rhoades engaged in consensual sexual activity with a man he met on a social networking site. The two men used additional protection. But Rhoades did not disclose his HIV-positive status until several days after their encounter. Rhoades’s sexual partner did not contract the virus. He pressed charges anyway under Iowa’s HIV criminal statute, which makes it a felony to expose another person to HIV. A jury convicted Rhoades in 2008. He was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison.
In January 2016, the Canadian infrastructure company TransCanada Corporation filed a notice of intent to sue the United States government in a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Chapter 11 arbitration over the Keystone XL pipeline. At the center of this dispute is the State Department’s refusal to permit the construction of an oil pipeline between Canada and Nebraska. TransCanada claims that the State Department ignored its own favorable environmental assessments of the pipeline multiple times and rejected the proposal to placate misinformed activists and foreign governments. The State Department acknowledges that it denied the permit to enhance the Obama Administration’s credibility at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, with the long-term goal of reducing emissions through collective political action.
James Phillips, Daniel Ortner, and Thomas Lee begin their engaging essay, Corpus Linguistics & Original Public Meaning: A New Tool To Make Originalism More Empirical, by pronouncing originalism “the predominant interpretive methodology for constitutional meaning in American history.” They then describe and attempt to justify a new tool to improve originalist methodology: a large corpus of Founding-era documents, representative of a host of genres available to educated people of that period. As their title suggests, the brand of originalism they set out to improve is the version at times dubbed “the new originalism”—an iteration that seeks to construe the Constitution in accordance with the understanding of the state constitutional convention members who read its words and heard its supporters at the time.
Before 2008, prosecutions of banks had been quite rare in the federal courts, and the criminal liability of banks and bankers was not a topic that received much public or scholarly attention. In the wake of the last financial crisis, however, critics have begun to ask whether prosecutors adequately held banks and bankers accountable for their crimes. Senator Jeff Merkley complained: “[A]fter the financial crisis, the [Justice] Department appears to have firmly set the precedent that no bank, bank employee, or bank executive can be prosecuted.” Federal judge Jed Rakoff and many others asked why prosecutors brought, with one or two low-level exceptions, no prosecutions of bankers in the wake of the 2007-2008 financial crisis and whether they were too quick to settle corporate cases by merely compelling fines and “window-dressing” compliance reforms. The response from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to criticism of its approach towards corporate and financial prosecutions has ranged from stern denial that it had been remiss—as when Attorney General Eric Holder announced in a video message in 2014 that “[t]here is no such thing as too big to jail” and that no financial institution “should be considered immune from prosecution”—to reform in the face of acknowledged lack of public confidence in its approach—as when the DOJ in 2015 adopted policies designed to make corporate prosecutions more effective.
Originalism has been the predominant interpretive methodology for constitutional meaning in American history: it is the methodology that has been with us since the Constitution’s birth. With its rebirth in the latter part of the twentieth century and its theoretical evolution from original intent to original public meaning, originalism has been working itself pure—almost.
To badly mangle Marx, a specter is haunting Fourth Amendment law—the specter of technological change. In a number of recent cases, in a number of different contexts, courts have questioned whether existing Fourth Amendment doctrine, developed in an analog age, is able to deal effectively with digital technologies.
Consider two commercial contracts. The first requires customers to waive their rights to bring class actions against large businesses in favor of private arbitration. The second requires a reservation leaseholder to adjudicate disputes in tribal court. Both contracts require dispute resolution in fora over which the Supreme Court does not exercise supervisory jurisdiction. Both arbitration and tribal courts are favored by acts of Congress. Both contracts are hotly contested in the Supreme Court. But the arbitration clause contract has been affirmed in a series of recent decisions. The tribal court contract, by contrast, is pending before the Court in Dollar General Corp. v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. Ironically, while the more conservative Justices signed on to the arbitration clause decisions, these same Justices may be Dollar General’s best bets for escaping tribal jurisdiction. This short Essay details the key arguments in Dollar General and argues that to undo the tribal contract would unnecessarily and unconstitutionally undo the right to contract for Indian nations.
A Conversation on Title IX
Features and Essays inspired by the Journal's Conversation on Title IX, hosted at the Yale Law School in September 2015.
Fresh Salvos in the Conscience Wars
Religious-liberty and First Amendment scholars respond to Douglas NeJaime & Reva B. Siegel, Conscience Wars: Complicity-Based Conscience Claims in Religion and Politics, 124 Yale L.J. 2516 (2015).
Emerging Technologies in Investigations
Novel technologies shift the costs of government investigations. They alter who controls key bottlenecks in the flow of targeted information. And they can undermine existing accountability mechanisms that control for investigator error and abuse. This panel of three essays advocates for greater transparency about the use of emerging technologies in search, surveillance, and forensic investigations. The authors explore different transparency-enhancing mechanisms, from private enforcement through constitutional litigation, to international human rights law, to courts’ evidentiary rules.
Science and Harm in Human Rights Cases: Preventing the Revictimization of Families of the Disappeared
A Conversation on Title IX
Features and Essays inspired by the Journal's Conversation on Title IX, hosted at the Yale Law School in September 2015.
Reactions to Time-In-Cell
These essays respond to Time-In-Cell, a report based on research jointly sponsored by the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) and by the Arthur Liman Public Interest Program at Yale Law School. For more information on the release of the report, please click here.
Health Care Exchanges and the Disaggregation of States in the Implementation of the Affordable Care Act
Griswold at 50
Reflections on the fiftieth anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965). These Essays developed from remarks given at the Association of American Law Schools’s 2015 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
Cost-Benefit Analysis of Financial Regulation
Questioning the Use of Structure To Interpret Statutory Intent: A Critique of Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA
Citizenship, Passports, and the Legal Identity of Americans: Edward Snowden and Others Have a Case in the Courts
In this Essay, Professor Patrick Weil reexamines the constitutional function of the passport in relation to American citizenship. The State Department recently developed apolicy of passport revocation whereby some Americans are transformed into de facto stateless persons, like Edward Snowden, or are prohibited from living abroad as citizens, like dozens of Yemeni Americans. In the Yemeni Americans’ case, the State Department confuses the legality of passports and naturalization. Revoking Snowden’s passport violates the right for acitizen to possess a passport confirming his or her legal identity—including citizenship—while abroad. This passport function, recognized since 1835, is one of the privileges and immunities of American citizens protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court has never authorized its suspension by the executive for national security reasons, unlike the other function of a passport—the right to travel. New technologies offer a way to distinguish between these two functions and to make effective a constitutional right.
The Early Jurisprudence of Justice Sotomayor
Sonia Sotomayor’s first five years on the Court
On February 3, 2014, Justice Sonia Sotomayor delivered the James A. Thomas Lecture at Yale Law School. This transcript is adapted (with slight editing) from that lecture, which took the form of a conversation between Justice Sotomayor and Linda Greenhouse. The lecture touched on topics including Justice Sotomayor’s conception of her role and her jurisprudence, her agreements and disagreements with colleagues, and her outreach to the wider public.
Secrecy, Intimacy, and Workable Rules: Justice Sotomayor Stakes Out the Middle Ground in United States v. Jones
In this Essay, Professor Miriam Baer focuses on Justice Sotomayor’s concurrence in United States v. Jones, which has attracted widespread notice due to Justice Sotomayor’s suggestion that the Court reconsider its reasonable expectation of privacy test and the related third-party doctrine. Professor Baer argues that Justice Sotomayor’s opinion exemplifies an attempt to stake out a “middle ground” approach to Fourth Amendment debates over surveillance and technology, one which foregrounds intimacy and common-sense rules as guiding principles.
As part of the symposium to reflect on Justice Sotomayor’s first five years on the Supreme Court, this Essay explores Justice Sotomayor’s contributions to the Court’s criminal law jurisprudence. Professor Rachel Barkow argues that Justice Sotomayor’s prior experience working on criminal law cases as a prosecutor and trial judge have influenced her Supreme Court opinions, which focus on how things actually work in practice, pay close attention to the specific facts of cases, and show sensitivity to the need for checks on government power. These commitments often lead Justice Sotomayor to reject formal rules that would promote predictability at the expense of accurately reflecting the world in which the rules must operate.
What are we to make of Justice Sotomayor’s criminal procedure jurisprudence? In this Essay, Professor I. Bennett Capers attempts to answer that question by offering three readings of her Confrontation Clause decision in Michigan v. Bryant. All three close readings, coupled with details from her memoir, serve as the basis for a “reading” of Justice Sotomayor. In toto, these readings reveal Justice Sotomayor to be precedent-bound, except when she’s not, and to be progressive, but not above using conservative methodologies to get her way. Ultimately, Professor Capers suggests that her approach offers some heartening signals and some possible dangers, but also reasons to hope.
Over the past few decades, the liberal Justices on the Supreme Court have made their most notable extrajudicial communications about the Constitution in academic venues discussing academic issues. This has limited their appeal to broader audiences. In this Essay, Professor David Fontana explores the distinctive path that Justice Sotomayor has pursued during her first five years on the Court. Justice Sotomayor has spoken to academic audiences, as past liberal Justices have. What is most notable about Justice Sotomayor, though, is that she has also appeared in locations and addressed issues that make her and what she discusses of broader appeal; that gives her the potential, as this Essay discusses, to become the “People’s Justice.” Justice Sotomayor thus may make liberal perspectives on the Constitution more known, more liked, and more comprehensible. For those concerned with pursuing a liberal vision of the Constitution, this could be an important development.
During the Senate confirmation hearings for Justice Sonia Sotomayor, concerns were persistently raised about her ability to be impartial. In this Essay, Professor Hernández argues that the Supreme Court’s race-related jurisprudence illuminates Justice Sotomayor’s continued commitment to her stated judicial philosophy of “fidelity to the law.” The record suggests that Justice Sotomayor has not sought to unilaterally impose her own personal racial policy preferences, but has instead worked as a team player to scrupulously apply legal precedents, rules of standing, and congressional intent.
Uniformity and Integrity in Immigration Law: Lessons from the Decisions of Justice (and Judge) Sotomayor
Though courts and scholars emphasize the importance of uniformity in the interpretation and application of federal immigration law, systemic complexity makes its achievement elusive. In the immigration opinions she has drafted to date on the Supreme Court, as well as in her extensive work reviewing asylum adjudications on the Second Circuit, Justice Sotomayor has invoked uniformity as a means of promoting fairness and accountability. But she also has demonstrated how these values can be advanced even in uniformity’s absence, when the system produces conflict and divergent enforcement outcomes. Her opinions highlight how courts can meaningfully, albeit imperfectly, constrain administrative actors through consistent legal interpretation, while still accepting the diversity and discretion built into immigration law itself.
In this Essay, Professors Tyler and Meares highlight the ways in which recent social science research supports the model of jurisprudence articulated by Justice Sotomayor. Her model defines building identification with political and legal institutions as an important goal for the Court. It further suggests that this goal is best achieved when the Court exercises its authority using just procedures. That perspective is consistent with research on the foundations of popular legitimacy demonstrating that perceived procedural justice of the Court most strongly shapes it. Social science findings further reveal the factors shaping popular conceptions of procedural justice.
The Supreme Court’s certiorari process is generally a black box. Occasionally, however, Justices issue statements explaining their dissent from or concurrence in the denial of certiorari. Since she joined the Court, Justice Sotomayor has produced more of these statements than any of her colleagues. In this Essay, Robert Yablon considers what Justice Sotomayor’s certiorari-stage writings reveal about her substantive passions and her vision of the Supreme Court’s institutional responsibilities. Nearly all of Justice Sotomayor’s statements decry instances in which the criminal justice system failed to deliver on its promise of ethical and evenhanded justice, whether due to structural defects or individual transgressions on the part of prosecutors or courts. The author suggests that, were the Court to recalibrate its docket along the lines Justice Sotomayor’s writings advocate, the Court could improve the functioning of the legal system as well as its own institutional standing.
Americans are increasingly polarized on gun rights and gun policy, leading some scholars to ask whether the Second Amendment provides a tool to manage disagreement and promote decentralization. Joseph Blocher’s Firearm Localism takes up this perspective and makes a case for deference to local and municipal gun control laws, including the revision or repeal of statewide firearms preemption statutes. In this Essay, Professor O’Shea argues that neither judicial tradition nor the priorities of contemporary urban gun owners support such deference. Moreover, unlike traditional federalism, Blocher’s localism would undermine the compromise value that was supposed to be decentralization’s strength: the prospect of piecemeal local regulation could threaten the practical exercise of gun rights even in generally pro-gun areas. In short, if one adopts a decentralizing approach to the Second Amendment, then its proper form is a conventional, state-based federalism backed by preemption.
In United States v. Jones, five Supreme Court Justices wrote that government surveillance of one’s public movements for twenty-eight days using a GPS device violated a reasonable expectation of privacy and constituted a Fourth Amendment search. Unfortunately, they didn’t provide a clear and administrable rule that could be applied in other government surveillance cases. In this Essay, Kevin Bankston and Ashkan Soltani draw together threads from the Jones concurrences and existing legal scholarship and combine them with data about the costs of different location tracking techniques to articulate a cost-based conception of the expectation of privacy that both supports and is supported by the concurring opinions in Jones.
Responses to Jed Rubenfeld’s Riddle of Rape-By-Deception
Recently, Jed Rubenfeld has argued for a new rape law principle that aims to unravel an intriguing riddle that he has posed about obtaining sex by means of deception. In this Essay, Tom Dougherty argues that Rubenfeld’s self-possession principle itself gives a role to consent that deception can effectively vitiate. In light of this difficulty, Dougherty suggests that the only tenable solution is to take rape-by-deception seriously.
Modern rape law lacks a governing principle. In The Riddle of Rape-by-Deception and the Myth of Sexual Autonomy, Jed Rubenfeld contends that the most obvious candidate—sexual autonomy—is inadequate. I agree, though for vastly different reasons. Rubenfeld advances a conception of rape as a violation of a right to self-possession; this approach raises real problems. I introduce an alternative understanding of rape—rape as a violation of sexual agency. Theories of agency expressly contemplate its exercise under constraints. This framework thus can account for both women’s sexual violation and the value of women’s sexual subjectivity. The turn to agency provides new justification for defining rape as sex without consent.
Not Logic, but Experience: Drawing on Lessons from the Real World in Thinking About the Riddle of Rape-by-Fraud
In this Essay, Professor Patricia J. Falk argues that Professor Jed Rubenfeld’s solution to the “riddle of rape-by-deception” goes too far in eviscerating the body of rape law that courts and legislatures have developed over the past decades. Falk suggests that eliminating nonconsent and foregrounding force is a mistake, and that it is instead critical to think more robustly about what meaningful consent and sexual autonomy might require.
In this Essay, Professor Ramachandran examines Professor Rubenfeld’s concept of self-possession, which Rubenfeld presents as a helpful way to define the harm of rape. She argues that if the concept represents exclusive physical control over one’s body, it is an elusive and undesirable ideal, and as problematic as the sexual autonomy concept that Rubenfeld critiques. Alternately, if it represents the narrower concept of mind-body integration, it makes a principled distinction between rape and battery impossible. The solution is to acknowledge that rape is a sex crime, unique because sex carries distinctive risks and meanings.
In this Essay, Professor Jed Rubenfeld responds to commentary on The Riddle of Rape-by-Deception and the Myth of Sexual Autonomy, published in Volume 122 of the Yale Law Journal. Engaging with four different interlocutors, he suggests that sex-by-deception remains a serious puzzle in rape law, and that self-possession offers an especially promising means of rethinking rape law to address it.
Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community, a dispute over a controversial off-reservation Indian casino, is the latest opportunity for the Supreme Court to address the doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity. The Court could hand Michigan a big win by broadly abrogating tribal immunity, and in turn wreak havoc on modern tribal governance. Alternately, the Court could hand Bay Mills a victory by affirming the tribe’s immunity, effectively precluding judicial review of the tribe’s casino project. In this Essay, Professor Matthew L.M. Fletcher argues that neither choice is preferable to a third option that would both advance tribal self-determination and hold tribes accountable to outsiders. The Court could condition tribal immunity in federal or state court on whether the tribe has solved the no-forum problem by providing a tribal forum for the resolution of important disputes.
In this Essay, Professor Matthew Waxman argues that debates about constitutional war powers neglect the critical role of threats of war or force in American foreign policy. The recent Syria case highlights the President’s vast legal power to threaten military force as well as the political constraints imposed by Congress on such threats. Incorporating threats into an understanding of constitutional powers over war and peace upends traditional arguments about presidential flexibility and congressional checks—arguments that have failed to keep pace with changes in American grand strategy.
In this Essay, Professors Starr and Rehavi respond to the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s empirical staff’s criticisms of their recent article, which found, contrary to the Commission’s prior work, no evidence that racial disparity in sentences increased in response to United States v. Booker. As Starr and Rehavi suggest, their differences with the Commission perhaps relate to differing objectives. The Commission staff’s reply expresses a lack of interest in identifying Booker’s causal effects; in contrast, that is Starr and Rehavi’s central objective. In addition, Starr and Rehavi’s approach also accounts for disparities arising throughout the post-arrest justice process, extending beyond the Commission’s narrower focus on disparities in adherence to the Sentencing Guidelines. Beyond these core disagreements, Starr and Rehavi point to several ways in which the reply’s other criticisms inaccurately describe their claims, their methods, and the scope of their study’s sample.
In this Essay, researchers at the United States Sentencing Commission respond to criticisms by Sonja Starr and Marit Rehavi, published in the Yale Law Journal, of the Commission’s past analyses of demographic differences in federal sentences. The researchers explain the legal and practical foundation of their work and why these considerations support the Commission’s methodological approach. The authors also question the representativeness of the data that Starr and Rehavi use in their alternative analyses and the assumptions they make about how the federal criminal justice system operates.
Reactions to Windsor
In this Essay, Professor Douglas NeJaime reads United States v. Windsor, which technically rested on equal protection grounds, through the lens of the fundamental right to marry. The Windsor Court absorbed decades of LGBT rights advocacy by situating same-sex couples within a contemporary model of marriage in which marriage’s private welfare function and public recognition dimensions are mutually reinforcing. NeJaime argues that this specific understanding of the right to marry will likely guide the Court’s equal protection, rather than substantive due process, analysis when it one day determines the constitutionality of state marriage prohibitions.
Scholars of popular constitutionalism have persuasively argued that an array of nonjudicial actors—social movements, the federal political branches, state and local political entities—play an important role in shaping constitutional meaning. To date, the accounts of such scholars have largely focused on the ways that constitutional doctrine at the Supreme Court level can be infiltrated and shaped by such popular constitutional influences. In this Essay, Professor Katie Eyer draws on the events following the Obama Administration’s February 2011 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) announcement—and the history of gay equality litigation that preceded it—to develop a theory of the lower federal courts as participants in the popular constitutionalism dialogue.
The Future of Section 5
Four perspectives on the future of voting rights law in advance of Shelby County v. Holder
The plaintiffs in Shelby County v. Holder argue that section 5 of the Voting Rights Act offends the “equal dignity” of the states. In this Essay, written in advance of the decision, Professor Joseph Fishkin situates this claim in a larger context. Americans have been fighting since the Civil War and Reconstruction about the structural implications of the events of 1861-1870 for the sovereignty, dignity, and equality of the states—especially the Southern states. The implications of adopting the “equal dignity” of the covered states as a constraint on Congress’s Reconstruction Power are deeply problematic and profound.
Professor Justin Levitt discusses the Shelby County challenge to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, noting downsides to the Act’s tremendous symbolic importance. In particular, he finds that the case seems to hinge on a simulacrum of the statute—like an editorial cartoonist’s rendering of a political figure, in which particular features take on exaggerated salience. Many elements of the simulacrum have at least the ring of truth. But though the cartoon version of section 5 resembles the original, the exaggerated features distort rather than clarify our understanding of the actual statute’s constitutionality.
Professors Guy-Uriel E. Charles and Luis Fuentes-Rohwer argue that voting rights activists ought to be prepared for a future in which section 5 is not part of the landscape. If the Court strikes down section 5, an emerging ecosystem of private entities and organized interest groups of various stripes—what they call institutional intermediaries—may be willing and able to mimic the elements that made section 5 an effective regulatory device. As voting rights activists plot a post-Shelby County contingency strategy, they should both account for institutional intermediaries and think about the types of changes that could enhance the ability of these groups to better protect voting rights.
The pending challenge to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act insists the statute is no longer necessary. Should the Supreme Court agree, its ruling is likely to reflect the belief that section 5 is not only obsolete but that its requirements do more harm today than the condition it was crafted to address. In this Essay, Professor Ellen D. Katz examines why the Court might liken section 5 to a destructive treatment and why reliance on that analogy in the pending case threatens to leave the underlying condition unaddressed and Congress without the power to address it.
Professors Ruth Mason and Michael Knoll defend their interpretation of the tax-discrimination jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union, arguing that the nature of their project has been misunderstood by Professors Michael Graetz and Alvin Warren. In Mason and Knoll’s view, competitive neutrality remains the principle most plausibly guiding Court of Justice rulings on tax discrimination, and thereby illuminates the clearest way out of the doctrinal confusion in this field of law.
Ineffective in Any Form: How Confirmation Bias and Distractions Undermine Improved Home-Loan Disclosures
This Essay examines three experiments that tracked eye fixations as participants reviewed home-loan disclosure forms. The experiments revealed confirmation biases in which participants read to confirm what they were told (e.g., “Your loan is at 4%”) and then failed to look for contradictory evidence such as rate adjustments. Improved forms reduced confirmation biases, but that improvement was undermined when the experimenter engaged participants in distracting conversation. These results demonstrate that improving disclosure forms cannot sufficiently protect consumers. They also suggest that mortgage counseling is necessary for many borrowers.
In multiple-claim lawsuits, courts tend to address each claim separately, thereby disregarding valuable information about the defendant’s misconduct that might be gained by considering claims together. Ignoring that information may lead to the misalignment of liability with wrongdoing. To avoid such distortion, Ariel Porat and Eric Posner have argued in The Yale Law Journal that courts should adjudicate multiple-claim lawsuits in the aggregate. They do not specify the method to implement this novel idea, however, leaving it susceptible to several complications that might undermine its merits. To deal with these potential complications, this Essay introduces the concept of the “median outcome rule.”
**This Essay is part of a Yale Law Journal Online series called "Summary Judgment," featuring short commentaries on recent Supreme Court cases.**
The Mayo Court’s novel test for patent eligibility—whether or not an invention involves “well-understood, routine, conventional activity, previously engaged in by researchers in the field”—focuses on how an invention is accomplished rather than what an invention is. That concern with the method of invention poses several normative, statutory, and administrative difficulties. Taken seriously, the “how” requirement will likely have broad effects across all levels of patent practice.
**This Essay is part of a Yale Law Journal Online series called "Summary Judgment," featuring short commentaries on recent Supreme Court cases.**
The Supreme Court’s decision last Term in Mayo v. Prometheus left considerable uncertainty as to the boundaries of patentable subject matter for molecular diagnostic inventions.
This Essay replies to Richard Re and Christopher Re’s Voting and Vice. That article, recently published in The Yale Law Journal, demonstrates that the inclusion of the phrase “other crime” in Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment was no accident, and the authors contend that widespread support for criminal disenfranchisement in the Reconstruction Congress should enhance the restriction’s status today. This Essay argues that those who wrote disenfranchisement into the U.S. Constitution did so from a context far removed from the views to which Americans adhere today when they talk about voting and political equality. Despite the fact that some Republicans made principled arguments contrasting criminal disenfranchisement with African-American enfranchisement, citizens and legislators who propose to abolish or restrict disenfranchisement neither dishonor nor render incoherent the Reconstruction Amendments.
The Supreme Court recently held, in Miller v. Alabama, that mandatory life without parole for juveniles violates the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the Eighth Amendment. This Essay argues that, although the case’s result is important, Miller will gain long-term significance not because of what it holds, but because of what it heralds: a fundamental shift in the Court’s Eighth Amendment methodology—specifically, a move away from using “objective indicia” to determine society’s evolving standards. The Essay suggests that the Supreme Court replace its objective indicia analysis with the application of heightened scrutiny to “suspect categories” of punishment, namely, categories for which we have reason to be skeptical of the legislature’s claim that a severe punishment is proportional to the offense and offender.
This transcript is adapted from the inaugural Gruber Distinguished Lecture in Women’s Rights, hosted by the Yale Law School. The Lecture took the form of a dialogue between Justice Ginsburg and Linda Greenhouse at Yale University’s Battell Chapel on October 19, 2012.
Equality’s Frontiers: How Congress’s Section 5 Power Can Secure Transformative Equality (as Justice Ginsburg Illustrates in Coleman)
Courts as Managers: American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock and Summary Disposition at the Roberts Court
Summary disposition is a procedural innovation—added only belatedly to the Supreme Court’s rules—in which the Court dispenses with a case without briefing or oral argument. It presents a puzzle for students of appellate decisionmaking: how can a case be significant enough to merit the Court’s consideration, but not significant enough to warrant the benefits of adversarial procedure? Commentators have asserted that the Roberts Court is more likely than its predecessors to use summary disposition to resolve cases, but this Essay presents the first systematic look at its use of that procedure. The Essay finds that—contrary to general understanding—the Roberts Court has not used summary disposition more than its predecessors did. Rather, it has used the procedure in different and potentially dangerous ways.
In Dissolving Cities, Professor Michelle Wilde Anderson suggests that municipal dissolution could enable counties to serve regionalist goals. This Essay argues that, on balance, municipal dissolution will not trigger the emergence of counties as agents of regional reform. Modern metropolitan regions span city, county, and state borders. As the scale of the region expands, state and local governments, including counties, will increasingly lack the territorial jurisdiction and regulatory capacity to respond to complex metropolitan problems. The Essay concludes by considering the role that the federal government can play, and has historically played, in facilitating regional collaboration at the appropriate scale.
A Defense of Immigration-Enforcement Discretion: The Legal and Policy Flaws in Kris Kobach’s Latest Crusade
This Essay disputes the legal claims set forth in a recent lawsuit that seeks to invalidate a policy of the Department of Homeland Security. The policy gives protection against deportation to unauthorized immigrants who came to the country as children, and the Department defends it as an exercise of prosecutorial discretion. The plaintiffs claim that no such discretion exists, because the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended in 1996, requires that virtually all aliens who entered without inspection be detained and placed in removal proceedings whenever encountered by immigration agents. Closely examining the statutory language and drawing on the author’s own extensive involvement as General Counsel of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the 1996 consideration of legislative amendments and administrative implementation, this Essay makes the case that the plaintiffs’ argument misunderstands both Congress’s intent and consistent agency practice before and after those amendments.
As I was walking around the tonier precincts of Austin, Texas, in the summer of 2012, I noticed that some things seemed out of place. The hot, humid weather was normal, and the recent rainstorms belied the existence of one of the most severe droughts on record.1 People were beginning to talk about the droughts of the 1950s that had produced a rash of reservoir construction.2 But no one was talking about dams this time. Instead, there was a new source of water for those who could afford it, sitting right beneath their feet. In addition to the yard crews attending to the shrubs and St. Augustine grass, there were gangs of roughnecks in work clothes setting up drilling rigs on those manicured urban lawns.
The drought, no doubt, has created a market for privately controlled water. Postcard fliers are slipped under front doors announcing deals: “$6/foot—No Water—No Pay.” The Supreme Court of Texas did its part, too. In the long-awaited case of Edwards Aquifer Authority v. Day, the court decided that “land ownership includes an interest in groundwater in place.”3 Those who can are making the most of that holding by tapping the generally heavily regulated Edwards Aquifer and claiming the water as their own.4
Yonaty v. Mincolla1 may have been the most anachronistic judicial ruling of 2011. In Yonaty, a New York trial court held that false imputations of homosexuality still constituted per se defamation2 under New York law.3 The ruling came only a few days before the New York Times reported that the New York State Senate was one vote shy of enacting marriage equality.4 The legislation, which enjoyed wide popular support,5 was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on June 24, 2011.6 Despite the New York State Legislature’s efforts to advance full civil equality for LGBT New Yorkers and the public’s backing of LGBT rights in New York, it was nevertheless deemed defamatory as of 2011 to label a heterosexual person gay.
New York’s peculiar treatment of homosexuality in defamation law was not unique.
Each year, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts holds an extraordinary panel. All active judges are present to answer questions from the bar. A lawyer’s question one year was particularly provocative: “Why are the federal courts so hostile to discrimination claims?” One judge after another insisted that there was no hostility. All they were doing when they dismissed employment discrimination cases was following the law—nothing more, nothing less.
I disagreed. Federal courts, I believed, were hostile to discrimination cases. Although the judges may have thought they were entirely unbiased, the outcomes of those cases told a different story. The law judges felt “compelled” to apply had become increasingly problematic. Changes in substantive discrimination law since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 19641 were tantamount to a virtual repeal. This was so not because of Congress; it was because of judges.
A little-known fact about the biggest Supreme Court case of the Term is that it is botched beyond repair. This Essay describes a series of grave defects in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the potentially momentous affirmative-action case, that should prevent the Supreme Court from reaching the merits.
In 2008, the University of Texas at Austin (UT) denied Abigail Fisher admission to its undergraduate class of 2012. She promptly brought suit, alleging that the university’s use of race as a factor in undergraduate admissions violates the Equal Protection Clause, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She asked the district court to command the university to admit her. She also sought an injunction preventing the university from using race in future admissions decisions and a declaration that doing so would violate federal law. Finally, she requested a refund of her application fees, as well as attorney’s fees and costs. The district court granted summary judgment to the university. The Fifth Circuit affirmed, but not before noting that Fisher’s requests for forward-looking injunctive and declaratory relief were, by then, nonjusticiable. Fisher had enrolled elsewhere and had no intention of reapplying to the university. As a result, the Fifth Circuit said, she lacked standing to make prospective requests.
This Essay takes that conclusion and runs with it.
This year marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish,1which for many years has been part of one of the central narratives of twentieth-century American constitutional history. In that narrative, West Coast Hotel represents the Supreme Court’s abandonment of a constitutional jurisprudence featuring aggressive scrutiny of legislation that regulated economic activity or redistributed economic benefits. Prior to West Coast Hotel, successive Court majorities treated state and federal minimum-wage legislation as interfering with the “liberty” of employers and employees to bargain for the terms of employee services. In West Coast Hotel, the Court upheld minimum-wage legislation in the face of this “liberty of contract” argument, and, according to the traditional narrative, the change in the Court’s posture was triggered by the introduction of a plan by the Roosevelt Administration to alter the membership of the Court.2
This Essay seeks to show that the conventional narrative is misleading and distorts the significance of West Coast Hotel.It also seeks to show that West Coast Hotel’s significance comes from its position in a different narrative, one featuring clashing views on the issue of constitutional adaptivity: how the general provisions of the Constitution are adapted to new controversies and whether the meaning of those provisions can be said to change in the process. In that narrative the interpretive postures of “originalism” and “living Constitution” jurisprudence make their appearance, serving to tie West Coast Hotel to contemporary debates about constitutional interpretation.
Service Delivery, Resource Allocation, and Access to Justice: Greiner and Pattanayak and the Research Imperative
How should we deliver legal services to low-income clients in need?
How should we allocate scarce legal resources among deserving clients?
How can we increase access to justice more generally?
As legal services lawyers and clinical law professors who have spent the bulk of our careers in neighborhood-based antipoverty programs, we grapple constantly with these individual, institutional, and systemic challenges. Legal needs in low-income communities far outstrip our ability to meet them, so we develop gatekeeping mechanisms to manage client demand and expectations. Among eligible clients, we face seemingly intractable choices about whom to serve and how much to serve them. While we struggle with individual delivery and programmatic allocation decisions, we also strive to expand access to justice systemically.
James Greiner and Cassandra Pattanayak’s provocative article—reporting the results of a randomized controlled trial evaluating legal assistance to low-income clients at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB)—forces us to confront how little we know about these questions.
**This Essay is part of a Yale Law Journal Online series called "Summary Judgment," featuring short commentaries on recent Supreme Court cases.**
The only surprise about the Supreme Court’s recent decisions in Missouri v. Frye and Lafler v. Cooper is that there were four dissents. The decisions are straightforward recognitions that the defendants in those cases received unquestionably derelict representation, to their considerable prejudice. The decisions do not represent a novelty in the law, but rather continue the longstanding recognition by the courts that “plea bargaining” is an integral part of our criminal justice system—indeed, I have argued at length that it is our criminal justice system—and that minimal competence of defense lawyers in dealing with that process is at least as important as competence in investigation or trial.
After four decades of neglecting laissez-faire plea bargaining, the Supreme Court got it right. In Missouri v. Frye1 and Lafler v. Cooper,2 the Court recognized that the Sixth Amendment regulates plea bargaining. Thus, the Court held that criminal defendants can challenge deficient advice that causes them to reject favorable plea bargains and receive heavier sentences after trial. Finally, the Court has brought law to the shadowy plea-bargaining bazaar.
The Supreme Court in Missouri v. Frye1and Lafler v. Cooper2broke new ground by holding for the first time that a defendant’s right to the effective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment can be violated by the loss of a favorable plea deal. Less noted, but also worthy of attention, are Lafler’s implications for federal habeas law. Four Justices protested that the Lafler decision violated the federal habeas statute. At the least, the decision expanded habeas review in unexpected ways.
In two five-to-four decisions rendered on March 21, 2012—Missouri v. Frye and Lafler v. Cooper—the Supreme Court extended the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel to the plea-bargaining process. Viewed in a broader perspective, Frye and Lafler are but the latest reactions to the ever-more-punitive criminal penalties imposed by state and federal legislatures over the past half century.
The Supreme Court’s five-to-four opinion in Douglas v. Independent Living Center of Southern California, Inc.1 is a significant court-access victory for the private enforcement of the federal Medicaid statute,2 which lacks a private right of action. A year earlier, in Astra USA, Inc. v. Santa Clara County, the Court unanimously dismissed a suit seeking to enforce another statute that similarly lacked a private cause of action.3 Although both the Douglas majority4 and dissent5 cited Astra, they proffered sharply contrasting interpretations of that opinion. While the dissent would have relied on Astra to dismiss Medicaid preemption claims entirely, the majority’s analysis of Astra keeps the courthouse doors open for future litigants to bring such claims.
**This Essay is part of a Yale Law Journal Online series called "Summary Judgment," featuring short commentaries on recent Supreme Court cases.**
Federal agencies play a dominant role in administering federal statutory schemes. At the front lines, they are tasked with interpreting statutes, enacting regulations to implement federal programs, and enforcing federal directives. During the course of adjudication or rulemaking, federal agencies are sometimes called upon to determine whether state law conflicts with federal law. That conflict inquiry is at the heart of preemption disputes before state and federal courts. Private parties wield preemption—typically as a defense—to stave off the effects of a state law allegedly trumped by federal law under the Supremacy Clause. Courts are then called upon to decide the extent to which state law is inconsistent with federal law. Judicial review of agency action under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and preemption challenges thus provide parallel proceedings to resolve disputes over whether state and federal law are simpatico or at war.
Douglas v. Independent Living Center of Southern California, Inc.1 provides an opportunity to reflect upon the relationship between these parallel tracks for adjudicating federal-state conflicts. Who is, and who should be, the ultimate arbiter of the existence of federal-state conflicts and how to resolve them—agencies or courts? In this Essay, I use Douglas to explore two questions: first, whether courts can act as “prompters,” pushing federal agencies to discharge their duty to weigh in on potential conflicts between federal and state law; and second, whether a synergistic relationship can exist between courts and agencies in making such conflict determinations.
**This Essay is part of a Yale Law Journal Online series called "Summary Judgment," featuring short commentaries on recent Supreme Court cases.**
Dissents are frequently an unreliable guide for assessing the implications of majority opinions. As Judge Friendly once put it, “Often their predictions partake of Cassandra’s gloom more than of her accuracy.”1 Sometimes, however, the rationale of a dissent may help to explain a majority’s decision not to decide a particular issue, as embodied in the Supreme Court’s February 22, 2012, holding in Douglas v. Independent Living Center of Southern California, Inc.2 Writing for a five-to-four majority, Justice Breyer avoided the question on which the Justices had granted certiorari, i.e., whether the Supremacy Clause provides Medicaid beneficiaries and providers with a cause of action to enjoin California state officials from enforcing a state law allegedly in violation of—and therefore preempted by—the federal Medicaid statute.3 Because intervening administrative action had changed the posture of the case, the majority concluded that the matter should be returned to the Ninth Circuit, which could consider the effect of such developments—if any—as a matter of first impression.
My “missing argument” invokes the structure of the Supreme Court’s decision in Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co. to explain congressional authority to enact the civil rights provisions of the Violence Against Women Act. Like the “relics” of slavery, patterns of violence against women trace to decades of state-sponsored discrimination against women, and Congress has the authority under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to take steps to repair that unhappy legacy.
Increasing numbers of circuit judges are writing dissents from, and concurrences in, orders denying rehearing en banc—colloquially known as dissentals and concurrals. Not everyone is happy about this practice, and some judges have lamented their proliferation. The authors here argue that this has become an entrenched feature of the federal appellate process, and it’s a good thing too.
This Essay argues that the current ethical rules governing U.S.-based law firms are no longer adequate to meet the needs of commercial clients operating in multiple jurisdictions and that what is required is a single and uniform regulatory system for lawyers practicing in the United States. The Essay supports the Proposals submitted to the ABA 20/20 Commission by a group of law firm general counsel that sophisticated clients and their outside counsel should be able to enter binding and enforceable agreements governing such issues as advance conflicts waivers, a narrower definition of current client conflicts, and limitations of liability. The Essay broadly responds to and rejects the critique of the Proposals propounded by Larry Fox.
The attempts by some in the Bar to compromise client loyalty on the altar of law firm profits per partner is both unceasing and depressing. The proposals from many law firm General Counsels to change the Model Rules of Professional Conduct are particularly unflattering to the proponents and undermine this most important fiduciary duty. This Essay describes these calls for change and explains why they should be rejected.
In a recent article appearing in The Yale Law Journal, Ariel Porat argues that the tort of negligence is beset by a range of misalignments that threaten to induce inefficient behavior. In this Response, I argue that Porat is working with an unhelpful notion of misalignment; that tort law has its own internal conception of alignment; and that once we understand the nature of alignment in torts, none of his examples are problematic. If anything, his arguments reveal problems in his understanding of the tort of negligence rather than problems in the tort itself or in its practical implementation. Many of the confusions that beset Porat’s argument are common in the law and economics of tort literature, which has for far too long run fast and loose with a confused understanding of the nature of liability in torts as well as of liability’s relationship to the elements of a tort. Porat’s article is my main focus, but my objections are intended to cut more broadly and deeply.
In Bad News for Professor Koppelman: The Incidental Unconstitutionality of the Individual Mandate, we demonstrated that the individual mandate’s forced participation in commercial transactions cannot be justified under the Necessary and Proper Clause as the Clause was interpreted in McCulloch v. Maryland. Professor Andrew Koppelman’s response, Bad News for Everybody, wrongly conflates that argument with a wide range of interpretative and substantive positions that are not logically entailed by taking seriously the requirement that laws enacted under the Necessary and Proper Clause must be incidental to an enumerated power. His response is thus largely unresponsive to our actual arguments.
Gary Lawson and David Kopel’s Bad News for Professor Koppelman: The Incidental Unconstitutionality of the Individual Mandate argues, on the basis of recent research, that the Necessary and Proper Clause incorporates norms from eighteenth-century agency law, administrative law, and corporate law, and that the health care mandate (and perhaps much else in the U.S. Code, though they are coy about this) violates those norms. The Necessary and Proper Clause, as the authors understand it, tightly limits the scope of implied powers to those that are less “worthy” or “dignified” than the principal powers to which they are subsidiary. These claims are obscure even on their own terms. It is mysterious how we are to know whether the power to impose a penalty for going without health insurance is less “dignified” or “worthy” than the power to regulate interstate commerce. Nor is it clear how an effort by Congress to guarantee that all Americans have adequate health care could violate a fiduciary duty of impartiality. Their logic implies the greatest revolution in federal power in American history. (And this would decidedly be a revolution from above.) There is also the larger methodological question of the role of original meaning in constitutional interpretation: they think that new evidence of original meaning is, without more, a legitimate basis for hamstringing Congress’s power to address pressing national problems. This would be an insane way to run a civilization. It is bad news for everybody.
**This is the third in a series of responses to Benjamin Ewing and Douglas A. Kysar's recent article, Prods and Pleas: Limited Government in an Era of Unlimited Harm, which appeared in the November issue of YLJ. For Professor Richard Epstein's response, see here. For Professor Jonathan Zasloff's response, see here.**
Benjamin Ewing and Douglas Kysar’s article, Prods and Pleas, discusses one benefit of the fragmented American governance system: the opportunity for institutions to influence the agendas of other, more powerful institutions. The authors illustrate this point with an extensive discussion of the potential for common law nuisance cases to direct congressional attention to the issue of climate change. Their general point is well taken, but they focus too heavily on the common law rather than the more important judicial role in public law, and they mention only in passing the role of states as independent policy centers. Furthermore, besides nudging Congress or the executive branch, public law litigation and state legislative activity can also help fill the gaps created by congressional or presidential policy defaults.
**This is the second in a series of responses to Benjamin Ewing and Douglas A. Kysar's recent article, Prods and Pleas: Limited Government in an Era of Unlimited Harm, which appeared in the November issue of YLJ. For Professor Richard Epstein's response, see here.**
This Essay comments on Benjamin Ewing and Douglas A. Kysar’s article, Prods and Pleas: Limited Government in an Era of Unlimited Harm. Ewing and Kysar suggest that we augment the traditional conception of constitutional “checks and balances” with one of “prods and pleas,” i.e., that different branches of government can provide incentives to induce action from other branches. They use federal climate nuisance litigation as an example of how such prods and pleas can and should operate. In the existing political climate, I am skeptical that governmental branches listen to reasoned arguments from other branches; thus, I argue that “pleas” will be ineffective. Ewing and Kysar’s theory of prods, however, contains an important insight. Branches often respond to political incentives, such that when one branch reaches a decision that undermines the political goals of key actors in other branches (a “prod”), action is possible. In this Age of Dysfunction, when one of the major American political parties seeks to paralyze legislative action, I suggest three areas where judicial prodding might be appropriate: 1) where legislation is blocked by a filibuster; 2) where opposition to legislation rejects science; and 3) where the legislative process produces results that discriminate against diffuse and invisible (and thus powerless) groups. I then use Ewing and Kysar’s example of climate change policy and argue that under current circumstances, judicial prodding is, in fact, appropriate.
**This is the second in a series of responses to Oona Hathaway and Scott J Shapiro's recent article, Outcasting, which appeared in the November issue of YLJ. For Joshua Kleinfeld's response, see here.**
This Essay argues that we have been undergoing a profound sociocultural transformation over the last several centuries, which relates to the emergence of international law. This transformation is every bit as fundamental as those we once went through when transitioning from hunter-gatherer forms of life (which did not yet have legal systems or engage a distinctive sense of legal obligation) to more sedentary forms of agricultural life (with larger population densities, incipient domestic legal institutions, and—ultimately—an emergent distinction between morality and law). The primary mechanism that has been supporting this transformation is “outcasting”—as Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro have recently defined the term in their Yale Law Journal article of the same name. This Essay argues that outcasting provides the evolutionary stability conditions for a distinctive and emergent sense of international legal obligation in us. This shared sense of obligation is one of the basic preconditions for a genuine de facto system of international law—a fact that has important normative implications for how to evaluate international law.
“Early-Bird Special” Indeed!: Why the Tax Anti-Injunction Act Permits the Present Challenges to the Minimum Coverage Provision
In view of the billions of dollars and enormous effort that might otherwise be wasted, the public interest will be best served if the Supreme Court of the United States reaches the merits of the present challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) during its October 2011 Term. Potentially standing in the way, however, is the federal Tax Anti-Injunction Act (TAIA), which bars any “suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax.” The dispute to date has mostly turned on the fraught and complex question of whether the ACA’s exaction for being uninsured qualifies as a “tax” for purposes of the TAIA. We argue that the Supreme Court need not resolve this issue because the TAIA does not apply for a distinct reason: the present challenges to the ACA do not have “the purpose” of restraining tax assessment or collection. In order for the TAIA not to bar refund suits, the TAIA must be read to bar suits with the immediate purpose of restraining tax assessment or collection. The present challenges do not have such an immediate purpose because the very authority to assess or collect will not exist until long after the litigation is concluded. Among other virtues, this resolution of the TAIA question does not predetermine whether the tax power justifies the minimum coverage provision.
**This is the sur-reply to a series of responses to Jonathan Masur's recent article, Patent Inflation, which appeared in the December issue of YLJ. For Professor Arti Rai's response, see here. For Lisa Ouellette's response, see here.**
In Patent Inflation, I argued that the asymmetry in Federal Circuit review of Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) decisions would lead over time to inflation in the boundaries defining what inventions are patentable. In short essays, Professor Arti Rai and Lisa Ouellette have offered valuable commentary, including both qualitative (Rai) and quantitative (Ouellette) evidence bearing on the question of inflation. In this brief response, I explain how their evidence is consistent with—indeed, bolsters—the theory presented in Patent Inflation. Direct Federal Circuit reversals of PTO decisions make up only a small portion of that court’s caseload. But those cases have exerted outsized influence on the development of the law, particularly across a number of the most significant patent doctrines. This is just as Patent Inflation would predict.
**This is the second in a series of responses to Jonathan Masur's recent article, Patent Inflation, which appeared in the December issue of YLJ. For Professor Arti Rai's response, see here. For Professor Masur's sur-reply, see here.**
Professor Jonathan Masur’s recent article, Patent Inflation, argues that the expansion in the boundaries of patentability that has occurred since the creation of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is caused by cases in which the court reverses patent rejections by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). This Essay examines every Federal Circuit patentability ruling over five different years and shows that reversals of PTO rejections are few in number and doctrinally insignificant. Instead, patentability rulings in infringement suits—which should have no net effect under Masur’s model—likely play an important role in patent inflation because of the presumption of patent validity and the higher stakes in patent litigation. Masur also underestimates the role of the Supreme Court in redrawing patentability boundaries. Although Masur’s simple model is elegant, this Essay argues that it cannot accurately capture the complex phenomenon of patent inflation.
**This is the first in a series of responses to Jonathan Masur's recent article, Patent Inflation, which appeared in the December issue of YLJ. For Lisa Ouellette's response, see here. For Professor Masur's sur-reply, see here.**
Jonathan Masur’s argument regarding “Patent Inflation” rests on the assumption that PTO behavior is determined almost entirely by a desire to avoid reversal of its patent denials by the Federal Circuit. Although the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) is certainly a weak agency over which the Federal Circuit has considerable power, Masur overestimates the extent to which high-level PTO administrators are concerned about Federal Circuit reversals and underestimates institutional influences that are likely to operate in a deflationary direction. The PTO is influenced not only by the Federal Circuit and other inflationary forces, but also by executive branch actors, industry players, and workload concerns that push in a deflationary direction.
Beware of Prods and Pleas: A Defense of the Conventional Views on Tort and Administrative Law in the Context of Global Warming
**This is the first in a series of responses to Benjamin Ewing and Douglas A. Kysar's recent article, Prods and Pleas: Limited Government in an Era of Unlimited Harm, which appeared in the November issue of YLJ.**
In Prods and Pleas, Benjamin Ewing and Douglas Kysar claim that the American legal system needs to adopt novel solutions to deal with the question of global warming. In this Essay, I start from the premise that some form of legal response to global warming is appropriate, but then conclude that the traditional allocation of responsibility between private rights of action (for large concentrated harms) and direct government administrative action (for diffuse harms) remains the proper approach. In light of the worldwide nature of the problem, the only domestic responses to this issue should be through coordinated action at the federal level. Accordingly, I agree with the Supreme Court’s decision in American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut and conclude further that the comprehensive powers lodged in the Environmental Protection Agency should not only block private rights of action under federal law, but under state law as well.
International law, many think, is not really law at all because it is not enforced. That claim is a central focus of Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro's new article, Outcasting: Enforcement in Domestic and International Law. This Essay asks two philosophical questions about that claim. What do we mean by enforcement when we channel the intuition that enforcement is part of law’s nature? And what is the place of enforcement in our concept of law? Enforcement, the Essay argues, is the activity by which a legally constituted power is applied to make the law’s dictates actual; it is a matter of law’s efficacy. Enforcement so conceived is constitutive of law’s identity as law, but not strictly necessary to it because law is not the kind of thing that has strictly necessary features. Nor is enforcement sufficient to make a norm a law: the skepticism toward international law is not based on enforcement alone.
In Bad News for Mail Robbers: The Obvious Constitutionality of Health Care Reform, Professor Andrew Koppelman argues that the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is constitutionally authorized by the Necessary and Proper Clause. This view is fundamentally wrong. The Necessary and Proper Clause is based on eighteenth-century agency law, including the fundamental agency doctrine of principals and incidents. Accordingly, the Clause only allows Congress to exercise powers that are incident to—meaning subordinate to or less “worthy” than—its principal enumerated powers. The power to compel private persons to engage in commercial transactions with other private persons is not an incidental power. Thus, the mandate is not authorized by the Necessary and Proper Clause, whether or not such a power is “necessary and proper for carrying into Execution” other powers. In addition, eighteenth-century public law carried administrative law principles—including the fiduciary norms at the heart of agency law—into delegations of power to political actors. One of the most basic of these fiduciary norms is the obligation to treat multiple principals equally. That equal treatment requirement is violated by the individual mandate, which compels transactions with a favored oligopoly of insurance companies. In short, the mandate is not an exercise of incidental power within the scope of the Necessary and Proper Clause, nor is the mandate “proper.”
The Myth of Prosecutorial Accountability After Connick v. Thompson: Why Existing Professional Responsibility Measures Cannot Protect Against Prosecutorial Misconduct
This Essay takes the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Connick v. Thompson as a point of departure for examining the efficacy of professional responsibility measures in combating prosecutorial misconduct. John Thompson, the plaintiff in Connick, spent fourteen years on death row because prosecutors concealed exculpatory blood evidence from his defense attorneys. In rejecting Thompson’s attempt to hold the New Orleans District Attorney’s Office civilly liable for failing to train its prosecutors in proper discovery procedures, the Connick Court substantially narrowed one of the few remaining avenues for deterring prosecutorial misconduct. Implicit in the Court’s reasoning was a belief that district attorneys' offices should be entitled to reasonably rely on professional responsibility measures to prevent prosecutorial misconduct. This Essay subjects that premise to a searching critique by surveying all fifty states’ lawyer disciplinary practices. Our study demonstrates that professional responsibility measures as they are currently composed do a poor job of policing prosecutorial misconduct. However, we also take seriously the Supreme Court’s insistence that those measures should function as the primary means of deterring misconduct. Accordingly, in addition to noting the deficiencies of professional responsibility measures, we offer a series of recommendations for enhancing their effectiveness.
When Machines Are Watching: How Warrantless Use of GPS Surveillance Technology Violates the Fourth Amendment Right Against Unreasonable Searches
Federal and state law enforcement officials throughout the nation are currently using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology for automated, prolonged surveillance without obtaining warrants. As a result, cases are proliferating in which criminal defendants are challenging law enforcement’s warrantless uses of GPS surveillance technology, and courts are looking for direction from the Supreme Court. Most recently, a split has emerged between the Ninth and D.C. Circuit Courts of Appeal on the issue. In United States v. Pineda-Moreno, the Ninth Circuit relied on United States v. Knotts—which approved the limited use of beeper technology without a warrant—to uphold warrantless use of GPS surveillance technology. However, in United States v. Maynard, the D.C. Circuit held that warrants are required for law enforcement use of GPS tracking devices. In distinguishing Knotts, the D.C. Circuit pointed to the vast differences between the relatively primitive beeper technology used almost thirty years ago and the unprecedented power of GPS surveillance technology used today. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and various state courts are similarly divided. In light of this confusion, the Supreme Court has recently agreed to review the issue, granting certiorari from the decision of the D.C. Circuit in Maynardand leaving the Pineda-Moreno petition in a holding pattern. On November 8, the Supreme Court will hold oral arguments in the case, which was docketed under the new name United States v. Jones.
The Supreme Court’s Fourth Amendment doctrine, including its cases evaluating new surveillance technologies, has always been informed by one of the Amendment’s animating principles: its mandate to prevent abuse of police power. While the Court has not always articulated this theory of the Fourth Amendment as clearly as it could have, a careful review of the case law reveals a concern about abuse and “a too permeating police surveillance.” This reading demands that, in any review of new surveillance technology, courts must evaluate the technology’s potential for abuse.
“No man in this country is so high that he is above the law.”
—United States v. Lee, Dec. 4, 1882
“[N]o individual is superior to the game.”
—Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti, Aug. 24, 1989
At his 2005 confirmation hearing, Chief Justice Roberts explained that he viewed the job of a Supreme Court Justice as similar to that of an umpire, declaring, “Umpires don’t make the rules; they apply them. . . . They make sure everybody plays by the rules. . . . And I will remember that it’s my job to call balls and strikes, and not to pitch or bat.” That analogy was an “instant success” and has become the dominant paradigm in media accounts of the judicial role. In a 2010 essay, I traced the history of the judge-umpire analogy from 1888 to the present and found that the judge-umpire analogy was originally intended to apply to trial court judges and was advanced as a model expressly to be rejected. In place of the judge-umpire analogy, I proposed that a Supreme Court Justice is more appropriately analogized to the Commissioner of Baseball.
This Essay reinforces the Justice-Commissioner analogy in two ways. First, it traces the Justice-Commissioner analogy back over a century, finding that the Commissioner of Baseball has been compared to the Supreme Court since the Office of the Commissioner was created. This is no coincidence: both Justices and Commissioners play the same structural roles in their respective systems. Neither a Justice nor a Commissioner is a fact-finder searching for a clear right answer to a specific question—for example, was the ball in the strike zone? Rather, both make inherently difficult, controversial, and value-influenced decisions at high levels of abstraction; both interact with and modify the rules of their respective systems in order to preserve their respective institutions’ core values, such as fair play and due process. In short, being a Justice and a Commissioner is hard: there are not always clear right and wrong answers.
Second, this Essay illustrates the similarity of Justices and Commissioners through nine paired case studies where Justices and Commissioners have, in their respective capacities, (1) provided guidance, (2) refrained from error correction, (3) undertaken rulemaking, (4) exercised countermajoritarian powers, (5) provided explanations for their decisions, (6) protected the fundamental values of their respective institutions, (7) employed special masters for fact-specific inquiries, (8) decided on statutes of limitations, and (9) exercised finality. This Essay concludes that Chief Justice Roberts had the right sport but the wrong position: Justices are not umpires; they are Commissioners.
**In May 2011, The Yale Law Journal Online introduced a new series called "Summary Judgment," featuring short commentaries on recent Supreme Court cases. This Essay is part of the second symposium in that series.**
In American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut (AEP), the Supreme Court explicitly left ajar the door to litigation under state (as opposed to federal) common law for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Some plaintiffs’ lawyers are also arguing that the decision leaves room for seeking money damages (rather than injunctive relief) even in a federal common law case.
For purposes of this Essay, let’s imagine a world in which the courthouse doors are swung open to common law claims for damages for GHG emissions, and the courts have rejected all defenses based on displacement, preemption, political question, and standing. In other words, the plaintiffs finally are able to litigate the merits. What would that litigation look like?
Because I have spent thirty years as a practicing environmental litigator (sometimes acting for plaintiffs, sometimes for defendants) prior to entering academia, my head swims with the challenges such a case would pose. Most of the voluminous commentary on the common law GHG cases looks at the threshold issues; let’s now peer across the threshold and see what’s on the other side. What we’ll find is an extraordinary number of open questions that would face the parties and the courts; in this Essay I attempt to enumerate them, without undertaking the daunting task of answering them.
**In May 2011, The Yale Law Journal Online introduced a new series called "Summary Judgment," featuring short commentaries on recent Supreme Court cases. This Essay is part of the second symposium in that series.**
Whether and how to apply the political question doctrine were among the issues for which the Supreme Court granted certiorari in American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut (AEP). This doctrine holds that federal courts should not resolve certain kinds of claims better left to other branches. Here, the question was whether the doctrine barred review of plaintiffs’ federal common law claims for climate change. The Court, however, declined to engage the issue. Nonetheless, this Essay argues that the doctrine is still very relevant in the context of common law causes of action for climate change, and does so in three parts. Part I briefly explains the doctrine’s historical backdrop, observing the limited extent to which it has been applied. Part II explains the role that the doctrine played in AEP and that the Court declined to address the issue directly. Part III discusses the implications that AEP may have on the doctrine going forward.
**In May 2011, The Yale Law Journal Online introduced a new series called "Summary Judgment," featuring short commentaries on recent Supreme Court cases. This Essay is part of the second symposium in that series.**
Article III standing has three seemingly simple components: (1) the plaintiffs must suffer an actual injury, (2) the injury must be caused by the defendant, and (3) the courts must be able to provide a remedy for that injury. In American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut (AEP), the Justices deadlocked over the application of the test to a common law action for nuisance. As AEP illustrates, the apparent simplicity of the test is misleading.
The claims were brought against utilities by states complaining that carbon emissions from power plants were contributing to harm from climate change. The Court devoted only a few cryptic sentences to the issue of standing. Four Justices found standing based on Massachusetts v. EPA, the Court’s path-breaking opinion on climate change, while four others rejected standing, either “adhering to a dissenting opinion in Massachusetts or regarding that decision as distinguishable.” As a result, the lower court’s finding of standing was affirmed by an equally divided Court.
This disposition may leave the reasoning of the Justices mysterious, but AEP is a powerful illustration of the deep flaws in current doctrine: first, its incoherent application; second, its injection of merits issues into a supposedly jurisdictional determination; third, its manipulability in the hands of creative, well-resourced lawyers; and fourth, its resulting failure to advance any intelligible vision of the proper role of the federal judiciary.
The Supreme Court’s decision in American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut (AEP) closes another door for those most vulnerable to climate change. The corrective justice goals of tort law and the associated possibilities for redress—particularly vital to the most vulnerable—remain elusive due to the Court’s restricted view of tort law’s relevance to climate change. This Essay analyzes these climate justice implications of AEP.
The field of “climate justice” (CJ) is concerned with the intersection of race and/or indigeneity, poverty, and climate change. It also recognizes the direct kinship between social inequality and environmental degradation. The term “climate vulnerable,” the subject of CJ, describes those communities or nation-states that have a particularly acute exposure to present and forecasted climatic changes. That increased vulnerability is due to either the nature and degree of climate impacts’ forecast and/or the preexisting socioeconomic vulnerabilities that climate impacts amplify. Underscoring the “justice” element, these most vulnerable populations are also the least responsible for the emissions that fuel anthropogenic climate change.
The Essay argues that the common law nuisance claims rejected by the Court in AEP provide an important mechanism for the climate vulnerable to achieve corrective justice. Corrective justice is one of the most important goals of tort law because of its focus on the relationship between the tortfeasor and victim. While there are myriad interpretations of corrective justice theory and its application, this approach at its core counsels simply that individuals who are responsible for the wrongful losses of others have a duty to repair those losses. Further, rectification of harms suffered can help restore the moral balance upset by the externalized costs that climate change inflicts on individuals and communities. The corollary, therefore, is that tort law should provide a venue and possible damages remedy for CJ plaintiffs whose claims—namely, injuries to life and property—demand compensation from the worst offenders.
In July 2004, eight states, the City of New York, and a number of conservation organizations filed suit against several of the nation’s largest electric power producers, alleging that the power companies’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions contributed to the public nuisance of global warming under federal common law. Simultaneously, several of the same states sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), alleging that GHG emissions constituted “pollutants” subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act (CAA). Both cases sought to impose GHG emission controls, and both were a reaction to the federal government’s steadfast refusal to adopt such policies on its own.
Although the cases raised different legal arguments, their fates were intertwined. It was well understood that prevailing in one case would likely preclude victory in the other. Indeed, the point of parallel litigation was to make it more difficult for industry and the EPA to stave off action. The EPA had determined GHGs were not subject to regulation under the CAA. If that were so, the states argued, the CAA could not preclude common law-based claims against GHG emissions. Thus, when the states prevailed in Massachusetts v. EPA and the Supreme Court declared that GHG emissions “fit well within the Clean Air Act’s capacious definition of ‘air pollutant,’” the outcome of American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut (AEP) was all but assured.
In American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut (AEP), the Supreme Court held that “the Clean Air Act and the EPA actions it authorizes displace any federal common law right to seek abatement of carbon-dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel fired power plants.” This set of commentaries explores several of the interesting and controversial issues that the opinion addresses (or largely sidesteps). These essays analyze the complexities of the context in which the core displacement holding takes place, the opinion’s environmental justice implications, its interaction with current standing doctrine, the political question doctrine issues briefed in the case but not addressed in detail by the decision, and common law nuisance actions as an approach to addressing climate change. My commentary situates these essays in relation to one another and adds to this dialogue by considering the decision’s implications for the future of climate change litigation in the United States.
February 16, 2011 was a day of reckoning for humankind. A new computer, appropriately dubbed “Watson,” beat the world’s best Jeopardy! players at their own game. At first blush this may not seem so surprising: after all, computers are notoriously better than humans at “recalling” factual knowledge. But Jeopardy! is a game show known for the nuance of its clues, which often contain puns, ambiguities, and other curiosities. Watson’s ability to understand and quickly respond to Jeopardy! questions thus reveals that computers have made great strides in emulating how humans think.
Watson is a computer built for a very specific purpose: to beat humans at Jeopardy!. Since his victory, pundits and IBM staffers have suggested that the technology powering Watson might have many uses—in the gaming world, for example, or improving customer service from much-maligned automated call centers. Only a week after winning the Jeopardy! title, Watson’s creators proclaimed to the annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society meeting that “Watson could dramatically improve health care delivery by offering, in minimal time, solutions that have a high level of certainty.” Here I propose how Watson could apply his skills in a legal environment: by helping textualists interpret statutes. New textualists believe in reducing the discretion of judges in analyzing statutes. Thus, they advocate for relatively formulaic and systematic interpretative rules. How better to limit the risk of normative judgments creeping into statutory interpretation than by allowing a computer to do the work?
This Essay considers whether judges might share the job of statutory interpretation with computers like Watson. First, it briefly lays out how new textualists approach statutory interpretation. Second, it describes how Watson’s aptitudes lend themselves to textualist-style statutory interpretation. Finally, the Essay pulls the threads together, discussing how Watson might both aid textualist interpretation and perhaps perform such interpretation on his own.
In their recent article in The Yale Law Journal, Professors Richard R.W. Brooks and Alexander Stremitzer make the case for a liberal allowance of rescission and restitution—an “off the contract” remedy that allows a party to a contract to rescind following breach by a counterparty and to receive back the contract price. This Essay argues that Brooks and Stremitzer’s recommendations are based on an incomplete analysis of the effects of rescission rights on the marketplace and are ultimately misplaced.
Brooks and Stremitzer argue that liberal rescission rights will lead to two socially desirable effects: “First, foreseeing the possibility of rescission by counterparties, promisors will invest to enhance the quality of performance . . . . Second, promisors can also make rescission less desirable for counterparties by reducing the price that they charge, implying a lower, less attractive remedy in restitution.” The threat of rescission can thus lead to higher investments in quality and lower prices.
This Essay challenges the second of these claims. Once we broaden Brooks and Stremitzer’s analysis of a single buyer-seller relationship to include multiple buyers, the effect of liberal rescission rights on price might be the opposite of what they predict for two principal reasons. First, promisors will not be incentivized to reduce their prices because lower prices do not lead to a drop in the number of counterparties that opt for rescission. This is because a drop in prices allows low-value buyers to enter the market—an effect Brooks and Stremitzer critically neglect. These buyers have a relatively high probability of opting for rescission, and their entrance can therefore increase the overall number of returns that a seller faces. Second, liberal rescission rights, because they serve a valuable insurance function for the counterparty and are costly to the seller, might actually lead to higher prices. I do not contend that liberal rescission rights will never induce sellers to lower their prices but rather that, under many circumstances, they will either have no effect on sellers’ incentives or may actually induce sellers to raise their prices. Without any evidence as to the likelihood of the differing effects on price, Brooks and Stremitzer cannot enlist the price effect of rescission as an argument in favor of a regime that provides for a more liberal allowance of rescission rights.
Introduction: Democratic Spring
**This Essay is part of a new Yale Law Journal Online series called "Summary Judgment," featuring short commentaries on recent Supreme Court cases.**
Over the past decade, scholarship tax credit programs, like the one at issue in Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn, have emerged as a popular education policy tool. While details vary by state, scholarship tax credit programs allow individuals or corporations (and in some cases, including Arizona, both) to receive a state income tax credit for donations to charitable organizations—called “scholarship tuition organizations” in Arizona—that provide scholarships for children to attend private schools. Currently, seven states—Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island—have such programs in place. During the 2010-2011 school year, the scholarship organizations participating in these programs awarded nearly $290 million through over 123,000 scholarships. With two exceptions, scholarship tax credit programs exclusively target low-to-moderate-income students. For example, in Florida—the state with the largest scholarship tax credit program in the nation—eligibility is limited to students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunches, and scholarships are disproportionately awarded to Latino and African-American students. And the most recent evidence suggests that even the non-means-tested tax credit program at issue in Winn—Arizona’s individual scholarship tax credit program—disproportionately benefits low-income kids. Thus, scholarship tax credit programs help open the doors of high-quality private schools to thousands of children of modest means who might otherwise languish in failing public schools.
**This Essay is part of a new Yale Law Journal Online series called "Summary Judgment," featuring short commentaries on recent Supreme Court cases.**
In Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn, the U.S. Supreme Court decided, by the thinnest of margins, that Arizona taxpayers cannot mount an Establishment Clause challenge to Arizona’s state income tax credits for “contributions to school tuition organizations.” Writing for a five-Justice majority, Justice Kennedy held that Flast v. Cohen only bestows standing upon taxpayers contesting direct monetary outlays on Establishment Clause grounds. Flast, the majority held, does not extend standing to taxpayers objecting under the Establishment Clause to tax provisions such as the Arizona income tax credit. In dissent, Justice Kagan, joined by three of her colleagues, concluded that Flast does afford standing to the Arizona taxpayers challenging the state’s tax credits for contributions to school tuition organizations. Central to Justice Kagan’s dissent was her invocation of the academic doctrine of “tax expenditure” analysis. That analysis, Justice Kagan wrote, recognizes that “targeted tax breaks . . . are just spending under a different name.”
The Court has often confronted the question of whether direct public outlays and tax subsidies are equivalent for constitutional purposes. However, Justice Kagan’s dissent in Winn is only the second time that tax expenditure doctrine has formally played such an explicit, prominent role in the Court’s decisionmaking.
The Supreme Court may be headed for its most dramatic intervention in American politics—and most flagrant abuse of its power—since Bush v. Gore. Challenges to President Obama’s health care law have started to work their way toward the Court and have been sustained by two Republican-appointed district judges.
The constitutional objections are silly. However, because constitutional law is abstract and technical and because almost no one reads Supreme Court opinions, the conservative majority on the Court may feel emboldened to adopt these silly objections in order to crush the most important progressive legislation in decades. One lesson of Bush v. Gore, which did no harm at all to the Court’s prestige in the eyes of the public, is that if there are any limits to the Justices’ power, those limits are political: absent a likelihood of public outrage, they can do anything they want. So the fate of health care reform may depend on the constitutional issues being understood at least well enough for shame to have some effect on the Court.
Introduction to The Yale Law Journal Online Symposium on Eskridge and Ferejohn's A Republic of Statutes: The New American Constitution
Treaty Denunciation and "Withdrawal" from Customary International Law: An Erroneous Analogy with Dangerous Consequences
David Souter stepped down from the Supreme Court one year ago, making way for the carefully choreographed nomination and confirmation of his successor, Justice Sonia Sotomayor. This summer will feature a similar transition dance as Elena Kagan, the nominee for Justice Stevens’s now-vacant seat, appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee for her confirmation hearings. While the preponderance of commentary on Supreme Court confirmation hearings laments the tightly scripted, unenlightening exchanges with inscrutable nominees, Justice Souter’s appearance before the Committee is an underappreciated success of the confirmation process. This Essay reflects on the Souter hearings as a transparent account of a nominee’s philosophy of judging, an account that remained predictive of Souter’s views nearly two decades later, in his final days as a Justice.
Four authors respond to Michael Stokes Paulsen's The Constitutional Power To Interpret International Law, printed in Volume 118, Issue 8 of the Journal. Robert Ahdieh, Julian Ku, Margaret McGuinness, and Peter Spiro contributed their reactions to, and critiques of, this Essay for YLJ Online.
Owen M. Fiss, Sterling Professor of Law at Yale Law School, tackled legal issues involved in the war on terror on March 5, 2009 at the 13th Annual John W. Hager Distinguished Lecture at The University of Tulsa College of Law.
The Pocket Part is pleased to present an adapted version of Professor Fiss's lecture, The Example of America. For an audio version of this piece read by the author please access the podcast here. On May 12, 2009, Professor Fiss published an article based on this piece in The Huffington Post, which can be accessed here.
The Pocket Part is proud to present our final symposium issue of the academic year, examining reoccuring and novel issues surrounding the ethical responsibilities faced by lawyers.
Deterring E-Discovery Misconduct with Counsel Sanctions: The Unintended Consequences of Qualcomm v. Broadcom
The Pocket Part is proud to present our second symposium issue of the academic year, which examines legal issues surrounding the growing presence and influence of virtual worlds. This week presents the second and final part of the two issue symposium.
The Pocket Part is pleased to announce the publication of a symposium on legal issues surrounding the growth and use of sovereign wealth funds as an international investment tool. This week presents the second of the two part symposium issue.
Responses and Reactions to "Minorities, Shareholder and Otherwise" by Anupam Chander: Comparing Corporate and Constitutional Minority Protections
In a 2003 essay in The Yale Law Journal entitled Minorities, Shareholder and Otherwise, Anupam Chander compared corporate law’s special protections for minority shareholders with the increasingly colorblind position of constitutional law, arguing that the former has much to teach the latter.In this edition of The Yale Law Journal Pocket Part we revisit this controversial essay with reactions from three constitutional and corporate law scholars and, finally, a response from Anupam Chander addressing these perspectives on his work.
Why Hollywood Does Not Require “Saving” From the Recordkeeping Requirements Imposed by 18 U.S.C. Section 2257
Prisoners of Their Own War: Can Policymakers Look Beyond the “War on Drugs” to Drug Treatment Courts?
"One of These Things Does Not Belong”: Intellectual Property and Collective Action Across Boundaries
A Dialogue on Teaching the Constitution: A Reply to Ernest Young's "The Constitution Outside the Constitution"
In this issue of The Pocket Part Sanford Levinson writes a response to Ernest Young's recent article in The Yale Law Journal, The Constitution Outside the Constitution, and discusses the needs and challenges inherent to teaching the Constitution. In the second piece of this issue Professor Young writes a rebuttal to Professor Levinson's response, continuing the dialogue about the breadth of constitutional law and what it should encompass in legal education.
Renewing the Promise of Ending Voting Discrimination: A Return to an Effective Section 5 Retrogression Standard
This week, The Pocket Part presents the second of two issues on recent developments in courts and legislatures. In this installment, we survey a variety of interesting trends among state legislatures.
Postmortem Rights of Publicity: The Federal Estate Tax Consequences of New State-Law Property Rights
A Procedural Rule and a Substantive Problem: Legislative Hawks and the Concentration of Power in Georgia’s Speaker of the House
Like British admiralty courts and courts in many civil law countries, the international slave trade courts did not rely on live, in-court testimony, but instead on written depositions from witnesses taken in advance of the hearing. The registrar of the court would administer a detailed, fixed list of questions to the witnesses and record their answers. Ships documents, such as logs and registration papers, would fill out the dossier.
In my article Antislavery Courts and the Dawn of International Human Rights Law in the January edition of this Journal, I discuss the role of international courts in the suppression of the transatlantic slave trade in the nineteenth century.
As the article explains, between 1817 and 1871, bilateral treaties between Britain and several other countries (eventually including the United States) led to the establishment of international courts for the suppression of the slave trade. Though all but forgotten today, these antislavery courts were the first international human rights courts. They were made up of judges from different countries. They sat on a permanent, continuing basis, and they applied international law. The courts explicitly aimed to promote humanitarian objectives. Though the courts were extremely active for only a few years, over the treaties’ lifespan, the courts heard more than 600 cases and freed almost 80,000 slaves found aboard illegal slave trading vessels. During their peak years of operation, the courts heard cases that may have involved as many as one out of every five or six ships involved in the transatlantic slave trade.
The history of the antislavery courts reveals a more complex interrelationship between state power, moral ideas, and domestic and international legal institutions than many contemporary theories of international law and relations acknowledge, and has important implications for modern attempts to enforce human rights standards on an international basis.
Overcoming Deference to Administrative Regulation: Expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)
This week, The Pocket Part is bringing back some of our most popular and influential issues of the year. We chose three different issues that represent the diverse array of scholarship that The Pocket Part has published. We hope that you have enjoyed reading The Pocket Part in the past year, and we look forward to publishing new and interesting pieces in 2008.
In a controversial essay, Ellen Podgor argues that the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for white collar crimes are too harsh. Fraud is not comparable to aiding terrorist organizations. Furthermore, white collar criminals are less likely to recidivate than other criminals. Finally, white collar criminals simply do not threaten our sense of security in the way that violent criminals do.
In response, Andrew Weissmann and Joshua A. Block attack Podgor's assertion that white collar criminals are severely punished. Although there are high profile outliers, the average white collar criminal does not serve jail sentences comparable to murders or terrorists. Furthermore, Podgor's suggestion that white collar criminals are more deserving of leniency is problematic and potentially discriminatory.
The story of the 2006 reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) is one that should interest scholars of legislation and constitutional law, as well as the expected and ever-burgeoning audience of election law enthusiasts. The Promise and Pitfalls of the New Voting Rights Act attempts to tell this story by identifying the constitutional and political constraints on the legislative process that led the law to take the form that it did, and to provide an interpretation of the law’s central provision for which surprisingly little legislative history exists.
On Coordinating Transactions in Intellectual Property: A Response to Smith’s Delineating Entitlements in Information
Protecting National Security or Covering Up Malfeasance: The Modern State Secrets Privilege and Its Alternatives
Hannah Jacobs’s note seeks to establish a basis for balance among the competing parties to the renewed social conflict over regulatory takings. I argue that she is misled in this search. Proponents of regulatory takings initiatives are not interested in balance. They are interested in winning. Proponents want to delegitimate and dismantle the current system of local and state regulation. Instead of seeking balance, which concedes the validity of regulation’s critics, I argue that the task is for regulatory taking opponents—planners, environmentalists, neighborhood activists—to find a language and a strategy that presents a persuasive case for the social utility and functionality of regulation and the social disruption of regulatory takings.
A Few Thoughts on Electronic Discovery After December 1, 2006
Editor's Note: This is the sixth of seven installments on the electronic discovery rules. To view an index of the installments, click here.
Most discussions of e-discovery-related sanctions have been about alleged failures to meet preservation obligations, although sanctions also apply if parties intentionally destroy electronically stored information. The dynamic nature of electronically stored information and the complexity of electronic information systems make preservation obligations less clear and spoliation allegations more likely than was true of conventional discovery. A party can save most electronically stored information indefinitely, but that does not mean that they must—or should—preserve everything. In an ideal world, individuals and organizations would save what they need for legal, business, or personal purposes and be free to discard everything else.
Editor's Note: This is the last of seven installments on the electronic discovery rules. To view an index of the installments, click here.
Much has been written on the expense, burden, and delay that responding to requests for electronic discovery entails. Some cost and complexity exists because many litigants, lawyers, and—some would say—especially judges are new to the problems created by the intersection of litigation and modern information technology. The result is the unusual circumstance of problems that are simultaneously ubiquitous and unfamiliar. Discovery problems are likely to remain unfamiliar because technology will change in ways we cannot predict with any confidence.
Editor's Note: This is the fifth of seven installments on the electronic discovery rules. To view an index of the installments, click here.
Among the choices to be made in deciding what form or forms to use in producing electronically stored information is whether to delete, or “scrub,” the metadata. This category of electronically stored information does not have a direct paper counterpart. Metadata is described as “data about data” or “information describing the history, tracking, or management of an electronic document,” although it is increasingly used to describe a variety of “hidden” information that accompanies electronic files, such as “track changes.” Courts have struggled with whether parties may produce electronically stored information without metadata included. The rules do not specifically address metadata but do provide a procedure and guidance that courts are already using.
Editor's Note: This is the fourth of seven installments on the electronic discovery rules. To view an index of the installments, click here.
One of the areas to be discussed in the Rule 26(f) meet-and-confer is whether the parties can agree on a procedure for asserting claims of attorney-client privilege or work-product protection after production. The amended Rule encourages parties to consider whether they can agree to nonwaiver agreements such as “quick peeks,” which would permit production before a full-blown, expensive, time-consuming privilege review. These and similar protocols are not new but are newly important, given the volume, nature, and variety of such information. These characteristics of electronically stored information both increase the costs and burdens of already expensive and slow preproduction privilege reviews and the likelihood of inadvertent disclosures even when the responding party conducts a full blown review.
Editor's Note: This is the third of seven installments on the electronic discovery rules. To view an index of the installments, click here.
A recurring problem in electronic discovery involves information stored on sources that are not reasonably accessible. Amended Rule 26(b)(2)(B) is designed to address this problem with a two-tiered solution. In the first tier, a party must provide discovery of relevant, nonprivileged, reasonably accessible, electronically stored information without a court order. In the second tier, however, a party need only identify sources of electronically stored information that are not reasonably accessible. Information stored on such sources may be discoverable, but only if the requesting party can show good cause for a court to order production.
Editor's Note: This is the second of seven installments on the electronic discovery rules. To view an index of the installments, click here.
The new amendments that provoked the least controversy, the expansion of the meet-and-confer under Rule 26(f) and the initial conference with the court under Rule 16, may turn out to be the most important. The amended meet and confer requirements serve crucial purposes: to identify potential problems early in litigation and to establish workable electronic discovery protocols. Courts are already expecting parties to come to the meet-and-confer prepared to discuss the details of electronic discovery and can be demanding in what they require counsel to know. One judge described the obligations under new Rule 26(f) as follows:
Editor's Note: This is the first of seven installments on the electronic discovery rules. To view an index of the installments, click here.
The electronic discovery amendments are an interrelated package. The amendments address five broad areas: (1) the parties’ obligations to meet and confer about electronic discovery early in litigation; (2) discovery of information that is not reasonably accessible and allocating costs of that discovery; (3) privilege review; (4) form of production; and (5) sanctions. An overarching change is the introduction of the term “electronically stored information” to the rules. This new term describes a distinct category of information subject to discovery rights and obligations, in addition to “documents” and “things.” The word “documents” no longer has to be distorted to accommodate the myriad ways in which computers create and store information, many bearing no resemblance to words fixed on pieces of paper. The amendments distinguish documents from electronically stored information because the categories are different in ways important to managing discovery. The distinction allowed the rules drafters to write provisions specifically addressing electronic discovery.
Editor's Note: On December 1, 2006, electronic discovery amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure go into effect. In this seven-part series, Judge Lee H. Rosenthal, chair of the Judicial Conference's Advisory Committee on Civil Rules, offers an introduction to the new amendments and describes challenges they present for lawyers, litigants, and judges.
The last time the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were amended to acknowledge computers was 1970, when the words “data and data compilations” were added to Rule 34. Thirty-six years later, long after the computer has become both ubiquitous and essential, it is time to do much more. On December 1, amendments will go into effect to make the discovery rules better able to accommodate the vast changes in information technology that have already occurred and that will inevitably continue.
The need for the guidance the e-discovery rule amendments provide is reflected in the fact that courts have been applying the new rules since they were proposed, years before their effective date. Because the amendments have to be flexible enough to apply to all federal cases that could involve electronic discovery and general enough to accommodate the inevitable changes in information technology, there are a number of issues the new rules do not address. Instead, the rules present procedures and guidelines targeted at the distinctive features of electronically stored information, to help resolve those issues when they arise. In this seven-part series, I discuss a few issues likely to arise under the new rules and the challenges they may present, not only for lawyers and litigants, but for judges.
- Installment 1: An Overview of the E-Discovery Rules Amendments
- Installment 2: Meeting and Conferring
- Installment 3: Not Reasonably Accessible Information and Allocating Discovery Costs
- Installment 4: Privilege Review
- Installment 5: Metadata and Issues Relating to the Form of Production
- Installment 6: Sanctions
- Installment 7: Conclusion
Political Checks on a Politicized Presidency: A Response to Neal Katyals Internal Separation of Powers
[Editor's Note: Civil Rights Litigation and Social Reform is a Response to Kenneth W. Mack, The Myth of Brown?, Yale L.J. (The Pocket Part), Nov. 2005, http://www.thepocketpart.org/2005/11/mack.html.]
[Editor's Note: Equal Justice—Same Vision in a New Day is a Response to Kenneth W. Mack, The Myth of Brown?, Yale L.J. (The Pocket Part), Nov. 2005, http://www.thepocketpart.org/2005/11/mack.html.]
E-Discovery of Dynamic Data and Real-Time Communications: New Technology, Practical Facts, and Familiar Legal Principles
Appellate Review of Sentencing
Justice Breyer's remedial opinion in United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), not only rendered the Federal Sentencing Guidelines advisory but also called on appellate judges to ensure that sentences are not "unreasonable." Eighteen months after Booker, the appellate courts are still grappling with how to determine whether a sentence is reasonable or not. This month, four authors--Judge Nancy Gertner, Professors Doug Berman and Steve Chanenson, and Yale Law Journal Editor Eric Citron--offer their perspectives on the definition and practical meaning of appellate review of sentencing.