The Biden Administration has perpetuated many of the prior administration’s hostile policies undermining access to asylum at the southern border. This Essay first examines these policies and then identifies emerging opportunities for law school clinics to address these new challenges, including by serving asylum seekers south of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Traditionalism holds that enduring practices are the presumptive determinants of constitutional meaning and law. This Essay examines two questions: Why has traditionalism had special salience in interpreting the Establishment Clause? And is traditionalism more disposition or mood than constitutional theory, more a matter of the heart than of the head?
The First Amendment’s religious-freedom provisions are best understood as protecting “freedom for religion”—religious liberty for the benefit of religion, for generous protection of its free exercise by individuals and groups, and for the autonomy of religious institutions. The Supreme Court’s most recent decisions appear headed in that direction.
As the Supreme Court has sought to ground more of its constitutional jurisprudence in original understanding, it has signaled an interest in revisiting aspects of Employment Division v. Smith. This Essay assesses potential replacement doctrines and defends a historically grounded version of strict scrutiny that does not require judicial balancing.
This Essay highlights the continued invisibility of cyber gender abuse. The Supreme Court in Counterman v. Colorado regrettably exacerbated this problem. Now is time to reignite the discussion around cyber gender abuse, recognize the profound harms it causes, and pursue a reform agenda to combat it.
In Separation-of-Powers Avoidance, Z. Payvand Ahdout reconceptualizes a bevy of separation-of-powers precedents as judicial avoidance. But one of the cases she cites as a foil—Seila Law LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—is a curious fit. The removal cases are tough to categorize in the separation-of-powers corpus.
Constitutions have long been understood to empower courts. We argue, however, that constitutions can also be used to de-judicialize politics. We focus on the de-judicialization strategy of adding detailed provisions to U.S. state constitutions, and demonstrate that it has been employed throughout U.S. history and is still in use today.
This Essay draws from on-the-ground interviews and procedural-justice theory to analyze judging practices in debt-collection courts. Current practices undermine courts’ fairness and legitimacy. This Essay argues that courts must prioritize procedural justice by adopting judging practices that consider unrepresented litigants’ circumstances and require a more active judicial role.
Like other recent corruption reversals, Percoco was less about statutory text than what the Court deems “normal” politics. As prosecutors take the Court’s suggestions of alternative theories and use a statute it has largely ignored, the Court will have to reconcile its fears of partisan targeting and its textualist commitments.
State Implementation of the Electoral Count Reform Act and the Mitigation of Election-Subversion Risk in 2024 and Beyond
The ECRA is a major step toward preventing future election subversion. But since states and localities administer elections, its success depends on state compliance. This Essay details how states should update their election codes ahead of the 2024 elections to guarantee that the new law lives up to its promise.
This Essay explores the people’s right to amend state constitutions and threats to that right today. It explains how democratic proportionality review can help courts distinguish unconstitutional infringement of the right from legitimate regulation. More broadly, the Essay considers the distinctive state constitutional architecture that popular amendment illuminates.
Twenty years ago, in Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court overruled Bowers v. Hardwick by correcting Bowers’s mistaken historical assertions. History, as they say, repeats itself: When a future Court reconsiders Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, it will find an opinion whose historical errors dwarf those in Bowers.
The History of History and Tradition: The Roots of Dobbs's Method (and Originalism) in the Defense of Segregation
In Dobbs, the Court reversed Roe, interpreting the Fourteenth Amendment by counting states that banned abortion in 1868, an interpretive method popularized in the defense of segregation. This Essay traces the method’s spread, evolution, and justifications through decades of debate about originalism, history and tradition, and “levels of generality.”
By excavating the history around the history-and-tradition test used in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and the alternative it pushes to the side, this Essay reconsiders the meaning—and plausibility—of neutrality claims turning on the Dobbs Court’s use of history and tradition.
Mass-tort cases have grown in scale and created escalating resource demands. Enter opaque capital: aggressive financiers who offer attorneys and plaintiffs access to capital. The prospect of leveling the playing field is alluring. But these financiers will never be passive partners. Opaque capital is moving into mass-tort financing to dictate outcomes.
There has long been a perceived tension between abolition and prison-conditions litigation. This piece offers a path forward for such litigation that is consistent with abolitionist goals. Drawing from experience with Texas state prisons, the piece proposes a framework for litigating prison understaffing that advances the project of abolition.
Racial myopia in law is a complex phenomenon that centers white identity as the standard. A critique of the Article Family Law for the One-Hundred-Year Life, this Response presents a concrete framework and clarion call for all scholars to address legal issues in a racially inclusive way.
This Essay responds to Owen Gallogly’s Equity’s Constitutional Source. It argues that it is implausible to locate the federal courts’ authority to afford equitable relief in Article III, but it defends a constitutional default rule applicable to legal as well as equitable remedies having its source in the Supremacy Clause.
This Essay criticizes using “general” or federal property law to define constitutional rights, including protections against unlawful search and seizure. Federal property law is an ahistorical and indeterminate concept. Its ascendance in Takings Clause opinions illustrates its flaws and the risks it poses for beneficial variation in state property rules.
The new public nuisance is illegitimate because it violates the rule of law and is inconsistent with norms of democratic accountability. It also ignores the dangers of over- and under-deterrence associated with joint ventures between prosecutors and personal-injury lawyers seeking massive damages from deep-pocketed defendants.
The Essays in this Collection won the sixth annual Yale Law Journal Student-Essay Competition. Essays by current and recent law students explore emerging issues in law and the changing natural environment.
The groundbreaking environmental tort-litigation across the country has overlooked the potential role of tribal courts. Using an original empirical analysis of over 300 cases, this Essay outlines tribal-court jurisdiction over environmental-tort cases in the wake of attacks on tribal sovereignty in the form of tribal jurisdiction stripping.
A court reviewing unlawful agency action, in deciding whether to “remand without vacatur,” considers the two factors of legal deficiency and undue disruption. Surveying diverging approaches to balancing these factors in environmental cases, this Essay proposes a reframing of the test that draws on parallels with preliminary relief.
This Essay argues that public domain allotments (PDAs) are Indian Country and entitled to federal reserved water rights. By comparing federal statutes creating allotments and using the Indian Canons of Construction, the Essay uses California as a case study to show that PDAs have rights to water outside state systems.
As law-school clinics assume a growing role in legal education, instructors, students, and community partners have used clinics to test novel, sometimes radical lawyering approaches. This Collection draws from those experiments, using case studies from family defense, immigration, and worker rights to explore the relationship between law and social movements.
Social movements are engaged in prefigurative thinking, outside of the terms and constraints of our present moment of global climate emergency and democratic crisis. This Essay asks how we may teach ourselves—lawyers and law students—to work with social-movement organizations on projects that prefigure utopian social arrangements.
In the increasingly globalized modern economy, large corporate actors have long operated with relative impunity for transnational human-rights abuses committed in the name of profit maximization. This Collection explores perspectives from a range of voices engaged in the fight for corporate accountability in both the United States and abroad.
As communities harmed by multinational companies traverse the globe in search of remedy, they face diverse legal systems that are historically ill-equipped to meet their needs. This Essay explores the current legal context for such efforts in Global North jurisdictions and suggests some new and underutilized avenues for recourse.
This Essay considers the 2021 Supreme Court ruling in Nestlé USA, Inc. v. Doe to interrogate the importance of U.S. nationality in future Alien Tort Statute jurisdictional analysis, offering that the Supreme Court can still bring ATS jurisprudence back in line with history on the question of U.S.-actor liability.
Utilizing Foreign Legal Assistance Actions to Promote Corporate Accountability for Human-Rights Abuses
This Essay discusses some of the challenges that may arise during transnational human-rights litigation against multinational corporations in U.S. courts. To complement these efforts, the author suggests utilizing the foreign legal assistance statute to strengthen human-rights cases promoting corporate accountability abroad.
Administrative law faces a critical juncture. Settled doctrines ranging from deference to agency interpretations of statutes to delegations of executive power have been destabilized. And earlier this year, Justice Breyer—himself an administrative-law scholar—retired from the Supreme Court. We publish this Collection as a tribute to his judicial legacy.
Deference, Delegation, and Divination: Justice Breyer and the Future of the Major Questions Doctrine
This Essay examines the major questions doctrine’s relationship to the administrative-law jurisprudence of a man who helped develop it: Justice Breyer. Born of Breyer’s proposal to bring nuance into judicial review of agency action, the doctrine has taken on a life of its own much different than what he imagined.
Justice Stephen Breyer’s context-specific approach to judicial deference has prevailed in Supreme Court’s decisions to an underappreciated extent. Now the conservative majority is moving toward a no-deference rule. But they are unlikely to ultimately succeed because institutional pressure that then-Judge Breyer observed will drive courts to nevertheless consider context-based factors.
The Supreme Court is inventing a new brand of administrative law, in which the President holds all executive power, but the Court restricts and countermands agencies’ policymaking discretion. The Court thus takes a share of the executive power it assigns exclusively to the President. The result is constitutionally unsound.
As law-school clinics assume a growing role in legal education, instructors, students, and community partners have used clinics to test novel, sometimes radical lawyering approaches. This Collection draws from those experiments, using case studies from family defense, immigration, and worker rights to explore the relationship between law and social movements.
Two deep-seated tendencies in U.S. immigration law are obstructing the expansive reforms long sought by movement actors: incrementalism and path dependence. This Essay recommends that law clinics counter these forces by setting ambitious goals for structural change and by equipping students with knowledge and skills needed for transformative lawyering.
What possibilities arise when law-school clinics experiment in challenging a well-oiled system at its untouched margins, within a collective, community-based movement whose lodestar is abolition? This Essay examines this question in the family-policing context and articulates a radical vision of family defense in subjudicial venues.
This Collection analyzes the Court’s decision in Carson v. Makin last Term. What does the case mean for minority students? LGBTQ children? How does it connect to the broader movement for public education in the United States? How does it relate to the history of religious schools in our country?
Carson v. Makin was yet another defeat for progressives in a brutal term. But just how bad was it? This Essay examines how Democratic lawmakers in Maine have already neutralized the ruling, teaching important lessons about how concerned Americans can best resist the Court’s conservative supermajority in the years ahead.
When Carson v. Makin allowed religious schools participation in educational-choice programs, the public-school establishment predicted dire results for marginalized students. This Essay responds to that prediction, exploring religious schools’ historical importance to marginalized students, the public-school establishment’s longstanding hostility to religious schools, and the establishment’s own role in educational inequality.
Recently, the Supreme Court has chosen education as the primary stomping ground for rewriting Free Exercise Clause doctrine. It has framed education policies that prevented public funds from promoting religious indoctrination as discrimination. In the process, it has created a new victim—educational equity and adequacy for traditionally disadvantaged students.
Carson v. Makin has several implications for the future of school-choice programs. This Essay explores one possibility: an increase in sectarian schools participating in state-funded school-choice programs, causing new forms of school segregation based on race and religion and impairing the democracy-enhancing functions of public education.
This Essay responds to Don R. Willett and Aaron Gordon’s Review of The Collapse of Constitutional Remedies. I show that Willett and Gordon inaccurately describe Collapse’s main argument; offer an internally inconsistent critique; and fail to understand key terms such as judicial independence and the rule of law.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced cities to radically transform in order to survive. This Collection examines the impacts that these measures have had on urban landscapes and assesses how they might inform future policymaking efforts. Its Essays analyze COVID-era policy changes in areas including public space, affordable housing, and infrastructure.
Local governments are deciding whether to retain modifications to the built environment implemented during the pandemic. While these sidewalk and street reconfigurations provide health and economic benefits, they also harm already-underrepresented community members. This Essay weighs these positive and negative implications to enable informed decision-making and create more equitable spaces.
COVID-19 posed an unprecedented challenge to housing stability. This Essay argues that the pandemic exposed the mismatch of affordable-housing programs (including housing voucher programs, tax credits, and emergency rental assistance) to short-term crises, whether personal or nationwide. Yet the pandemic also helped reveal what building a housing safety net requires.
This Essay reflects on the ways that cities engaged in “infrastructure sharing” during the pandemic, and the implications for the potential of cities to address infrastructure inequity. The Essay argues that while cities found creative ways to repurpose public spaces, more can be done to repurpose their proprietary assets.
Election law reflects collective efforts to institutionalize democratic precepts such as popular sovereignty, the rule of law, and the basic equality of citizens. However, recent elections have revealed fault lines that threaten these fundamental tenets. In response, this Collection discusses paths forward in the discipline for strengthening democratic accountability.
The threat of election subversion has forced scholars into a rule-of-law pivot. This Essay identifies three prescriptive approaches dominating this discourse and explores their fundamental advantages and limitations. It then explains how the field of election law must further expand to respond to the multidimensional challenges posed by election subversion.
This Essay considers the status of election law, as an academic field, and advocates an interdisciplinary research program oriented around the concept of electoral adequacy. Electoral adequacy’s premise is that states are obligated to provide a minimal set of entitlements, or a baseline level of election services, to all voters.
Many recent Supreme Court attacks on the administrative state have been rooted in an asserted effort to increase democratic accountability, or accountability to elected officials, whether the President or Congress. This approach neglects how the Constitution makes available a broader account of democracy that furnishes support for the administrative state.
Ralph Baxter and Stephen Younger debate reforming the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct to allow increased nonlawyer participation. Baxter argues reforms are necessary to solve the access-to-justice crisis. Younger contends nonlawyer ownership will not solve the crisis and would threaten the independence of the legal profession.
Ralph Baxter explains how state bars can alleviate America’s access-to-justice crisis by opening up the justice system to let more people participate. Baxter argues that America has the resources to serve everyone, contends that state bars have a duty to unleash those resources, and prescribes a process to do so.
Whether nonlawyers should have ownership roles in law firms is a hotly debated topic. This Essay argues against rewriting existing ethical rules to permit nonlawyer ownership because it both fails to solve the access-to-justice problem, as advocates claim it will, and threatens the independence of the legal profession.
There’s a hole in efforts to create abortion “safe havens”: they fail to recognize that medical care increasingly leaves a digital trail that will easily make its way back to abortion-seekers’ home states. Lawmakers and providers must act now to shield politicized medical records by addressing this “interoperability trap.”
Governor Abbott’s directive that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services should investigate so-called “abusive sex change procedures” fits within a broader project of weaponizing fear to control marginalized families. The issue is not primarily the directive’s misuse of the family regulation system but the system itself.
Although local governments aren’t entitled to qualified immunity, four circuits have held that granting an officer qualified immunity dooms a failure-to-train claim against their employer. This “backdoor municipal immunity” misunderstands the role that court decisions actually play in police policies and training, and undermines Section 1983’s deterrence and compensation goals.
In this Collection, the 2021-22 Yale Law Journal Public-Interest Fellows draw on their fellowship experiences. The first Essay examines how state-level procedural protections fail to prevent excessive criminal sentences. The second argues the Supreme Court’s failure to clarify Fourth Amendment doctrine in light of mass digital surveillance threatens civil liberties.
Using Louisiana law as a case study, this Essay describes the consequences of the lack of substantive limits on noncapital sentences. It then critiques the focus on procedural rights that results from this vacuum of substantive rights, and discusses how to harness procedural changes to address excessive sentences.
The Supreme Court recently declined to review Tuggle, a Seventh Circuit opinion upholding warrantless, prolonged pole-camera surveillance of a home. This Essay argues that the Court missed an opportunity to update its Fourth Amendment search doctrine. This Essay also explores alternative opportunities—other than federal litigation—for safeguarding privacy rights.
In several recent cases involving claims that security-clearance decisions violated plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, courts have seemed more willing to scrutinize these decisions, which are usually seen as unreviewable. This Essay analyzes these cases and argues that federal courts are competent to review substantiated claims of constitutional-rights violations in security-clearance decisions.
With the emergence of mass arbitration, companies that once promoted arbitration now seek to block employees from arbitrating claims. This Essay argues that employees have a right to mass arbitrate their claims because mass arbitration is a concerted activity protected by the National Labor Relations Act.
The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act was supposed to eliminate forced arbitration of cases involving sexual misconduct. This Essay explains why the Act fails to do so. In addition, it outlines what lawmakers and courts can do to fix this problem.
A Proposed Postpandemic Framework for Ordinary Course and MAE Provisions in Merger Agreements: Reviewing Recent Market Practice Changes and Addressing Skewed Incentives
This empirical analysis of merger agreements indicates an evolution in market practice since the COVID-19 pandemic toward providing additional flexibility to targets to respond to extraordinary events that may occur pending closing. This Essay argues that relying on the buyer’s providing consent for such responses is inadequate, and proposes a new framework for ordinary course covenants and MAE provisions.
Nondebtor releases are the rotten core of the “bankruptcy grifter” phenomenon that Lindsey Simon’s article critiques. Such releases are an unconstitutional exercise of substantive common lawmaking by the federal courts, and they are not necessary for the bankruptcy process to facilitate efficient and fair aggregate settlements of mass tort litigation.
In this Forum Response, Dorothy Lund considers whether the “corporate governance gap” between large and small public companies is the product of harmful or beneficial forces, and in so doing, rejects the idea that there is a single governance framework that is optimal for all public companies.
InThe Emergence of Neutrality, Jud Campbell provocatively argues that courts only recently recognized the importance of neutrality to First Amendment law. In this Response I argue that this claim is wrong: that neutrality has always been important to free speech law, even if its meaning has shifted over time.
The Essays in this Collection won the fifth annual Yale Law Journal Student Essay Competition on emerging issues in employment and labor law. In Solidarity, Legitimacy, and the Janus Double Bind, J. Colin Bradley analyzes labor organizing and civic trust. In Unemployment Insurance for the Gig Economy, Benjamin Della Rocca proposes extending unemployment benefits to gig-economy workers.
Janus’s failure to recognize a state interest in labor organizing contained a twofold mistake. Organizing develops a culture of civic trust. In turn, civic trust is necessary for citizens to accept the sorts of accommodations raised by conscience-based exemptions claims—like Janus’s—that the state must legitimize.
Historically, U.S. unemployment insurance has excluded workers lying outside the conventional employer/employee binary. That should change. This Essay argues for extending benefits to gig-economy workers, via structures fashioned after states’ existing unemployment programs. It grounds its argument in two philosophical traditions foundational to tax-law scholarship: liberal egalitarianism and utilitarianism.
Robinhood and similar investment apps bear a disturbing resemblance to video slot machines. This kind of “gamified” product design drives investors to lose money by overtrading. But if regulators try to cure the problem by de-gamifying the software, they will pick a First Amendment fight that securities law cannot afford.
Courts have upheld laws conditioning felon re-enfranchisement on financial repayment by reasoning that disenfranchised citizens lack the rights and protections of political equality. Drawing on legal and democratic theory, this Essay challenges that view. Because disenfranchised citizens retain cognizable interests in political participation, financial-repayment conditions are unconstitutional poll taxes.
Nonlawyers, including court personnel, are typically prohibited from providing legal advice. But definitions of “legal advice” are unnecessarily broad, creating confusion, disadvantaging self-represented litigants, and possibly raising due-process concerns. This Essay argues for a narrower, more explicit definition of legal advice that advances, rather than undercuts, access to justice.
Rethinking Police Expertise reveals how litigators can use police officers’ assertions of expertise against them. This Response questions the value, however, of urging judges to treat police expertise as a “professional technology” as opposed to a “professional virtue.” Insisting on this conceptual distinction may weaken the article’s considerable normative potential.
This Collection surveys the novel tax implications of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). These Essays analyze ARPA through the lens of fiscal impoverishment, race, unemployment insurance, and state and local responses to economic crises. Each Essay proposes changes to our tax system based on the lessons learned from ARPA.
The American Rescue Plan Act temporarily altered refundable tax credits in 2021 to include previously excluded families and workers. These changes protect millions of households from being pushed into poverty by taxes. This Essay argues that Congress should build on these reforms to make refundable tax credits more protective.
This Essay considers the lessons of the American Rescue Plan for design of the safety net, using unemployment insurance as a case study. It shows why UI failed and how to fix it, including how to provide benefits to part-time workers.
Getting Beyond Ad Hoc Fiscal Federalism: A Proposal for a Default Federal Liquidity Facility for the States
Our current approach to state debt overcorrects for the problem that states might borrow too much.We can do better and aspects of the federal response to the pandemic illustrate how.The federal government should make forgiveable low-cost loans available to the states, but within limits to prevent moral hazard.
This Essay analyzes ARPA’s major provisions to determine their potential impact on racial equity. It argues that the Biden Administration should do more to tackle racial wealth inequality and the structural issues in the tax code that allow the rich to benefit disproportionately from tax subsidies.
Texas’s patently unconstitutional Senate Bill 8, which effectively bans abortions and assigns enforcement to private individuals, has forced the question whether states can insulate their laws from pre-enforcement review. This piece offers a roadmap for the Court to hold that states may not engage in such procedural trickery.
This Collection examines how inequality manifests on social media platforms and in the digital public sphere. Essays analyze how race, gender, and other facets of identity shape people’s experience of and access to the digital public sphere and explore the harms minority groups suffer in these spaces. Several Essays chart paths for legislative reform.
The Forum publishes this Collection in collaboration with the Information Society Project (ISP), including ISP Fellows Elettra Bietti and Adam Posluns, and with the generous support of the Knight Foundation.
To create online spaces that do not merely replicate existing hierarchies and reinforce unequal distributions of social, economic, cultural, and political power, we must move beyond the simplistic cliché of the unregulated public square and commit to the hard work of designing for democracy.
Privacy protections play a vital role in disrupting surveillance-caused subordination and should be at the forefront of efforts to reform digital and physical public space. Robust privacy protections empower marginalized groups to safely participate, while increasing heterogeneity within the public sphere and enabling the healthy contestation of ideas.
Online companies bear few duties under law to tend to the discrimination that they facilitate or the disinformation that they deliver. Consumers and members of historically marginalized groups are accordingly the likeliest to be harmed. These companies should bear the same, if not more, responsibility to guard against such inequalities.
Scores of people have been talking about “cancel culture” and “Critical Race Theory” recently. However, what people mean when they use the terms varies wildly. This Essay analyzes the role that the digital public sphere has played in generating these examples of language on the move.
African Americans suffer a discriminatory predicament, a “Black Opticon” of panoptic oversurveillance, ban-optic exclusion and con-optic predation. The Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act, a federal Data Protection Act, and proposed FTC expansions are measured critically against imperatives of civil rights and a race-conscious African American Online Equity Agenda.
This Collection explores the impact of exogenous shocks on corporate restructurings and bankruptcies. These Essays analyze trends in restructuring practices and policy making, and they carefully consider the relationship between market forces and the Bankruptcy Code in achieving efficient restructuring outcomes that benefit a variety of stakeholders.
The pandemic revealed that the increasing complexity of debtors’ capital structure could supply much-needed competition in the Chapter 11 financing market, as other inside lenders increasingly challenge a debtor’s favored inside lenders. After discussing the benefits of this surprising development, the Essay identifies several impediments and offers strategies for removing them.
The COVID induced debt spike on corporate balance sheets portends a wave of future bankruptcy cases. Congress should act now to build up a bankruptcy infrastructure by requiring that every circuit create a “business bankruptcy panel” designed to administer the Chapter 11 filing of large companies. Recent Delaware caselaw would likely enforce a corporation’s precommitment to file in one of these venues.
The law-and-economics literature assumes that omnisciently rational “sophisticated parties” write optimal contracts, making bankruptcy law unnecessary. Two case studies, J. Crew and Nine West, illustrate the limitations of this idealized model. We argue for a theory of debt contracting based in bounded rationality that recognizes bankruptcy’s inherent complexity.
To assist small businesses in the wake of an exogenous shock, Congress should consider implementing a system of lending that models the financing provided to small business debtors in a bankruptcy proceeding. Such a system would be more targeted, effective, and fair than traditional government loans, but less stigmatizing than bankruptcy.
The intersection of major crises and financial distress generates no shortage of stock stories. This Essay offers one more: how shocks can be used opportunistically in big Chapter 11 cases to unravel bankruptcy law, and to shift the system further away from the objective of responding to overindebtedness.
This Collection explores how the law treats the modern family. From divorced families to LGBTQ+ families to chosen families, these Essays suggest ways that the law should evolve to match emerging family structures. Two debating Essays illustrate the clash between religious beliefs about family and antidiscrimination law after the Supreme Court's decision in Fulton.
Although federal law offers, at best, unpaid time off work to care for family members with medical needs, recently enacted state laws guarantee paid leave. This Essay argues the laws are groundbreaking in their inclusion of nonmarital partners, extended family, and other chosen family, and it proposes strategies for effective implementation.
Religious and secular beliefs about marriage and sexuality are often in tension. Partisans on both sides commonly insist that public policy entirely reflect their views, which leads to perpetual conflict. This Essay advocates for pluralistic solutions to such conflicts, using an example from the context of adoption and foster care.
This Essay highlights the threat claims for religious exemptions to antidiscrimination laws pose to the diverse family arrangements that now populate our society. It argues we should not abide efforts to thwart, undermine, and ultimately overturn advances in equality norms in the family based on religious belief.
Ridding the Family-Law Canon of the Relics of Coverture: The Due Process Right to Alternative Fee Arrangements in Divorce
The prohibition on contingency fee arrangements with divorce lawyers is a relic of the coverture regime. It cannot withstand Due Process scrutiny because the supposed governmental interests it purports to advance—burdening access to the divorce process for economically vulnerable persons—are not legitimate governmental interests under modern constitutional jurisprudence.
In this Collection, academic, judicial, and political voices examine the relationship between legal and judicial ethics and today’s political climate. The Essays range from discussions of the theoretical pillars of legal ethics to the appropriate boundaries of ethical behavior by various actors and institutions. Several suggest possible reforms.
Scholars and critics of the legal profession often call on lawyers to represent clients in the public interest or with due regard for justice. However, in a climate of intense political polarization, rule-of-law values are of paramount significance for legal ethics.
Lawyer lies designed to sabotage valid election results are not protected political speech under the First Amendment. Ethics rules governing candor and frivolous litigation require sanctions, if not disbarment. Moreover, the duty of candor should be extended from the courthouse to the public square when lawyer lies threaten our democracy.
This Essay explores how amicus briefs became a tool for coordinated judicial lobbying by dark-money interests. I show how current funding-disclosure rules for amici fail to provide genuine transparency—undermining fairness—and discuss reforms that could improve the judiciary’s amicus-disclosure regime and restore faith in the courts.
Chief Justice Bridget McCormack argues there is no ethical obstacle to judges working to improve the justice system. To the contrary: although ethical constraints limit the form of their advocacy, effective law reform depends on judges’ contributions and they are ethically obligated to improve the judicial system over which they preside.
This Essay explores the ethics and politics of extrajudicial activities from a distinctly historical perspective. While others have written about judges and their political and extrajudicial endeavors, this Essay situates its discussion within the evolution of judicial ethics codes, beginning in antiquity and proceeding to the present.
This Collection taps into ongoing legal discussions related to vaccine development, approval, and administration processes during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The first Essay of the series (Vaccination Equity by Design) proposes a federal regulatory framework for countering the inverse equity effects of initial vaccine rollout.
This Essay examines how states’ initial COVID-19 vaccine-distribution strategies tended to disadvantage populations of color, including Black, Latinx, and Native American communities. These dynamics resonate with “inverse equity” effects of other public-health innovations. We argue for a federal regulatory framework to reduce inequity-forcing effects during initial vaccine rollout.
Vaccine passports are the latest item in the COVID culture wars and are fiercely opposed by some. Can anything be done to depolarize positions around them and other public health issues? We show how flagging that vaccine passports are not a novelty and can foster support and depolarize positions around them.
While scholars have interpreted Fulton v. City of Philadelphia as a minimalist decision that avoids revolutionizing the Free Exercise Clause, this Essay uses vaccine mandates as a case study to clarify how Fulton has in fact transformed it by interpreting the right to free exercise as an expansive equality right.
In this Collection, the 2020-21 Yale Law Journal Public-Interest Fellows draw on their work experiences. The first Essay in this Collection argues that Congress can and should replace the existing state-law defamation regime with a federal defamation law.
This Essay argues that Congress can and should replace the existing state-law defamation regime with a federal defamation law. Doctrinally, a federal regime would better fit the modern, boundaryless digital-communications paradigm. Practically, it would benefit press organizations by ensuring their access to the federal courts in defamation cases.
Courts frequently deny class certification when confronted with “arbitration asymmetries”: cases where the class representative is not bound to arbitrate claims, but class members may be. The result? Courts enforce illegal or nonexistent arbitration agreements. To avoid such patent injustice, this Essay advances an alternate approach to arbitration asymmetries.
Federal law currently provides for direct Supreme Court review of criminal convictions from almost all American jurisdictions, but not of most court-martial convictions. For them, an Article I court can veto access to the Supreme Court. This Essay argues for elimination of that veto.
Reckoning and Reformation: Reflections and Legal Reponses to Racial Subordination and Structural Marginalization
Americans find themselves once again grappling with the reality and legacy of racial subordination and structural inequality. Law is central to both maintaining and dismantling structural subordination based upon race, class, and other marginalized identities. This collection, in conjunction with other law reviews, grapples with some of these realities.
Intersectionality surfaces the experiences of disabled people of color, but it tells us less about the malleability of this type of discrimination. This Essay contends that aesthetic theories of structural subordination can supplement emerging discussions on intersectionality by underscoring the visual and emotional roots of racial and disability discrimination.
For decades firms have asserted their support for diversity efforts but struggled to achieve increased demographic diversity. This Essay argues that institutional investors should require firms to disclose information regarding the current demographic diversity of their workforces and supply chains, as well as measurable, specific plans to improve racial equity.
Gabriel Mendlow rightly argues that victims deserve larger roles in criminal justice, but mistakenly hints that they deserve exclusive control. Communities are also harmed by crimes and have standing to punish them. This Essay argues that criminal procedure should return to its roots as a communal morality play.
The Race-Blind Future of Voting Rights is a provocative proof of concept with an unstable empirical foundation. The Article delivers a baseline for minority electoral opportunity using the ensemble method of random district generation; this Response flags technical issues and questions the conceptual alignment of the methods with their application.
Equitable crime policy and equity in the process of crime policymaking stand as the two goals most important to criminal-justice reform advocates. It would be a strategic mistake, however, to consider the two of equal importance.
The current crisis of the Supreme Court is inextricable from the question of the Court’s role in our democracy. We identify three strategies for ensuring the Court maintains its proper role—internal restraint, external constraints, and structural reform—and argue that internal restraint and external constraints suffer from serious drawbacks.
The Essays that won the third annual Yale Law Journal Student-Essay Competition each address current issues in First Amendment law. They are Justin W. Aimonetti & M. Christian Talley’s How Two Rights Made a Wrong: Sullivan, Anti-SLAPP, and the Underenforcement of Public-Figure Defamation Torts and Meenakshi Krishnan’s The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and the Petition Clause: Rethinking the First Amendment Right of Access.
How Two Rights Made a Wrong: Sullivan, Anti-SLAPP, and the Underenforcement of Public-Figure Defamation Torts
When applied in tandem, the Supreme Court’s Sullivan standard and state anti-SLAPP statutes give public-figure defamation plaintiffs a near-impossible task. Such plaintiffs must introduce facts—before discovery—about the defendant’s mental state. Otherwise, courts must dismiss their claims. Our Essay proposes four solutions to this undesirable and unreasonably stringent “super-standard.”
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and the Petition Clause: Rethinking the First Amendment Right of Access
Drawing on recent litigation seeking access to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinions, this Essay proposes anchoring the First Amendment right of access not just in the Speech, Press, and Assembly Clauses, but also the Petition Clause. Framed this way, access doctrine vindicates both public and individual rights.
Drawing on the law that supported labor movement’s exercise of countervailing power against 1930s plutocracy, progressive social movements can use law to create a new political economy. But, as a condition of granting labor power, law channeled unions away from radicalism. Powerful class-based movement organizations find law an unreliable ally.
A fierce debate is raging over the proper level of antitrust enforcement against big tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon. This Collection offers fresh perspectives on the history, implications, and challenges of applying antitrust law to digital platforms.
Consolidation through mergers and exclusionary conduct by dominant firms can harm consumers and workers and reduce innovation. Digital networks are a particular concern because of barriers to entry. While antitrust law in principle can be strengthened by evolution, new legislation would be a more rapid and certain path to reform.
Today, the digital marketplace is dominated by only a handful of tech companies. During the last two decades, American antitrust law has acquiesced to this consolidation not only by failing to evolve from its roots in smoke-stack industries, but also by giving big tech special dispensation under traditional antitrust doctrines.
With high-tech industries attracting increased scrutiny, the Supreme Court’s analysis of the two-sided market in Ohio v. American Express will be a focus of antitrust litigation. This Essay argues that, despite the apparent focus on market definition, the Court’s opinion is most persuasive in its contextual evaluation of competitive effects.
Frank Easterbrook argued that erroneous antitrust convictions are more costly than erroneous acquittals. We find that if he is correct, the optimal standard of proof is stronger than preponderance of evidence. Our conclusion stands in stark contrast to proposals to reduce the evidentiary burdens facing antitrust plaintiffs in digital markets.
Antitrust theory portrays data privacy as a factor, like quality, that improves with competition. This Essay argues that view, though not inaccurate, is incomplete. It offers a new account of how data privacy interests have begun to clash at the margins with antitrust law, particularly in the digital economy.
Last July marked the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Department of Justice. The Department is perhaps as politicized as it’s ever been, and its relationship with the American public is fraught. In this Collection, alumni from the Department analyze what happened and what the future looks like.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder reflects on the Justice Department’s unique role in American society.
This Essay contrasts the recent history of the Civil Rights Division with the first decades of its existence, arguing that civil rights advocates today should do more than reverse the harms of the Trump years. Rather, advocates must leverage the Division’s institutional dynamics to ensure its effectiveness in coming years.
The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) advises the President in information disputes with Congress. This Essay analyzes how OLC’s increasingly aggressive separation-of-powers advice, the Trump Administration’s utilization of OLC opinions to resist congressional information requests, and congressional acquiescence threaten separation-of-powers principles by exalting the executive branch at Congress’s expense.
Treat Every Defendant Equally and Fairly: Political Interference and the Challenges Facing the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices as the Justice Department Turns 150 Years Old
How do the US Attorneys’ Offices restore their damaged credibility with the public? New laws and policies designed to preserve the independence of the Justice Department from politicization are much needed. But it will be even more important to rebuild public trust by reinforcing the culture of independence among prosecutors.
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) is generally believed to operate under its own form of stare decisis. But in many circumstances, OSG best serves governmental interests and those of the Supreme Court by submitting positions that it believes are right, even if they depart from prior submissions.
One hundred years ago, Warren Harding’s election heralded the end of the Progressive Era. Harding promised a “return to normalcy,” but neither his administration nor subsequent changes have erased the progressives’ reforms. This collection evaluates the Progressive Era echoes in modern debates about race, labor, and the bureaucracy.
Pound and Schmitt both assumed that the administrative state would increasingly abandon general rules in favor of ad hoc administrative commands. Dworkin, however, predicted that the increasing complexity of the administrative state would induce reliance on general legal principles to maintain legality. Dworkin’s prediction has largely been borne out.
The complexity of the regulatory state undermines public goals, and leads to broad citizen alienation. The root cause is the progressive aspiration to organize government as a kind of machine producing uniform public choices. A functioning democracy requires a simpler framework allowing officials to take responsibility and be accountable.
This essay discusses Black progressive texts – Thomas Fortune’s Black and White, Ida Wells’s The Reason Why, and two statements of the Niagara Movement – and explores how the themes they developed contain a critique of the underlying rationales of the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence of the same period.
“There Is No Such Thing as an Illegal Strike”: Reconceptualizing the Strike in Law and Political Economy
Workers today are rediscovering the power of the strike and upending jurisprudential categories. Strikes are not just “economic weapons”; they are political protest. And like Progressive Era strikes, the success of strikes today may be in legitimating a new vision of law and political economy.
This essay assesses Distorted Choice in Corporate Bankruptcy, by David Skeel. While Skeel usefully identifies how Restructuring Support Agreements (RSAs) help debtors secure support for Chapter 11 reorganizations, this essay argues that Skeel fails to appreciate that RSAs can also short-circuit the plan process, severing plan distributions from pre-bankruptcy entitlements.
Over 120 years after YLJ published its first piece on the Insular Cases, these cases appeared again before the Supreme Court in Aurelius. This collection evaluates these cases’ continuing influence, and is dedicated to the memory of Judge Juan R. Torruella, a forceful scholar of these cases’ troubled legacy.
Justice Stephen Breyer reflects on his friendship with Judge Juan Torruella.
Judge José Cabranes describes Judge Juan Torruella’s legacy and his place in the history of Puerto Rico and of the United States.
This Essay defends the importance of the Insular Cases in American constitutional development. It explores the extent to which the United States has from the founding been a project of empire as well as the centrality of events surrounding those cases to basic transformations in twentieth century legal-political practice.
The Court’s recent failure to overrule the Insular Cases represents a missed opportunity to move past the racially motivated doctrine of territorial incorporation. Three cases involving the denial of citizenship, warrantless searches, and unequal benefits in U.S. territories demonstrate the Insular Cases’ continuing harm while offering hope for their reconsideration.
This Essay criticizes Justice Sotomayor’s concurring opinion in Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico v. Aurelius Investment, LLC. for offering a one-sided and misleading explanation of the island’s constitutional status, and thereby taking sides in Puerto Rico’s decolonization debate.
These closing remarks were delivered at the Yale Law Journal Insular Cases Panel in Honor of Judge Juan Torruella held via a Zoom conference.
How do bureaucratic incentives shape how an agency implements international law? This Collection provides a window into the agency decisionmaking process that occurs after international commitments have already been made. Agencies’ choices in the foreign distilled spirits and detainee interrogation context reveal the many considerations at play.
This Essay discusses the creation, rise, and decline of the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) as a case study for how institutional design affects the implementation of international commitments. The HIG’s placement within the FBI rendered it unable to effectively promote policy change without direct support from the President.
Most accounts of trade law see legislation as the primary means of converting international commitments into U.S. law. Taking up trade in distilled spirits as a case study, this Essay shows that foreign commercial commitments trickle into domestic law through multiple pathways, including self-executing executive agreements and discretionary agency instruments.
In this Collection, the 2019-20 Yale Law Journal Public-Interest Fellows draw on their work experiences. They present a novel approach to tackling inaccurate population data in malapportionment litigation; argue that criminal-defense attorneys and judges must convey the denaturalization consequences of plea deals; and explore New York City’s undercollection of fines.
At a critical time when thousands of citizens face potential denaturalization, this Essay proposes an extension of the Supreme Court’s decision in Padilla v. Kentucky to protect the rights of U.S. citizens who are facing denaturalization as a result of pleading guilty to a criminal offense.
This Essay offers a pragmatic approach to litigating legislative malapportionment cases with imperfect population data. Because the census historically is inaccurate and biased—and 2020 Census data may be even more so—courts should clarify that they will consider evidence that district populations are less equal than they facially appear.
This Essay analyzes New York City data on the collection of fines and concludes that slightly more than half of fines imposed are collected in full. The Essay explores barriers to collection and recommends reforms that attempt to directly target underlying harms, rather than increase resources for fine collection broadly.
Challengers are using false textualism to implode the ACA. They argue that a findings section is an “inseverability clause,” ignoring the text and location; the language is boilerplate not for severability but for the commerce power; and Congress’s actual inseverability clauses are unmistakably explicit, using language absent from the ACA.
Recently, the FDA asserted authority to regulate a type of COVID-19 diagnostics known as laboratory-developed tests, which long have been a front line of response to emerging disease. FDA did not, and should not, have authority to regulate these tests. Its intervention added minimal value while contributing to deadly delays.
Until recently, the United States did little to help repatriate looted antiquities, thanks to a powerful coalition of art collectors, museums, and numismatists who preferred an unregulated art market. This Essay explores how the United States came to treat the protection of cultural property as an important national-security issue.
Even as the United States has become the world’s leading producer of oil and gas, U.S. oil and gas governance has changed drastically. States have amended statutes, applied existing laws, and modified common law doctrine to move beyond a once-unilateral focus on maximizing production and address environmental and social concerns.
When lifesaving medical treatments are scarce, disability law permits triage policies to consider patients’ probability of survival and post-treatment life expectancy. Evidence-based triage that considers these factors, rather than inaccurate stereotypes, can be not only legal and ethical, but consonant with the goals of disability law and advocacy.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced us to take the threat of rationing life-saving treatments seriously. Many health systems employ protocols that explicitly deprioritize people for these treatments based on pre-existing disabilities. This argues that such protocols violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Affordable Care Act.
Charles Reich—a beloved law professor, writer, and visionary—passed away on June 15, 2019. This Collection explores his rich life and legacy in the law and shares some of his unfinished, previously unpublished work.
Most people in the mid-1960s thought the world was fine and headed in a comfortably liberal and unified direction. Charles Reich saw it differently.
Charles Reich never wavered in his conviction that true freedom must—and can—come from individuals working together. In two previously unpublished book proposals, Reich places ideas about nature at the heart of his analysis of the political economy. Although shared in 2008, they still carry an eerie resonance today.
Charles Reich had remarkable insights into social structures, economic power, and human needs. His scholarship created bedrock principles of constitutional, administrative, and property law, and his insights have shaped statutes, regulations, the environmental movement, and people’s lives.
This Essay considers Charles Reich’s impact on three areas of “microlevel” administrative law. Reich analyzed how individuals’ experiences are shaped by certain “spaces” of the administrative state, revealed the diverse constitutional regimes that affect individuals’ encounters with the state, and studied how individuals’ identities shape their experiences of the state.
What does self-determination mean in the twenty-first century? This Collection explores the connection between the new international economic world order and self-determination, expounds upon the difficulties that climate change poses for peoples who seek self-determination, and proposes a multinational conception of self-determination to replace the traditional understanding of the concept.
The principle of self-determination, like Janus, has two faces: negative and positive. Often understood as enabling the fracture of states into national components, the principle is better seen as facilitating the creation of multinational frameworks that foster toleration and human rights.
Climate Change and Challenges to Self- Determination: Case Studies from French Polynesia and the Republic of Kiribati
This Essay examines effects of climate change and related phenomena on self-determination through two case studies. The case of French Polynesia highlights effects on people’s right to freely dispose of their natural resources. The case of the Republic of Kiribati demonstrates how a defeatist narrative of such effects undermines sovereignty.
This Essay contends that dyadic understandings of economic self-determination, formed in light of earlier anticolonial struggles, are no longer sufficient. It argues instead for a plural and flexible conception, centered on a broader vision of the economic “self,” that more accurately reflects sources of economic constraint in the contemporary world.
On February 15, 2019, President Trump declared a national emergency at the southern border, sparking a renewed debate on the powers granted to the President in the National Emergencies Act. This Collection considers the use of emergency powers in the United States and delves into potential checks on their invocation.
As America goes through a democratic decline, a new problem rears its head: the manufactured crisis. To stem further degradation of democratic norms, this Essay calls for judges to reject unjustified assertions of unilateral power by carefully reviewing facts and refusing to tolerate lies.
Can Congress reclaim a meaningful institutional role in supervising some of the broad national security powers it has delegated to the executive branch? This Essay argues that Congress can do so and explains how an obscure statute—the Calling Forth Act of 1792—provides a roadmap for how it should.
Justice Jackson warned in Korematsu that the decision was “a loaded weapon ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need.” Seventy-five years later, President Trump has picked up that doctrinal weapon. This Essay identifies three reforms that would unload it.
The Essays that won the third annual Yale Law Journal Student-Essay Competition each raise concerns with recent developments in immigration law. They are Zachary New’s Ending Citizenship for Service in Forever Wars and Elizabeth Montano’s The Rise and Fall of Administrative Closure in Immigration Courts.
For centuries, noncitizens serving in the U.S. Armed Forces during periods of hostilities have been rewarded with a special pathway to citizenship. This Essay explores how two policies enacted since 2017 are blocking this pathway and reflects on the implications of this shift for the meaning of citizenship.
For over three decades, immigration judges used administrative closure as a case-management tool to encourage efficiency and fairness. After then-Attorney General Sessions ended this practice, the U.S. immigration-court system has faced severe and unjustifiable consequences. This Essay argues for a legislative solution to revive administrative closure.
Jed Lewinsohn’s excellent article on consideration offers groundbreaking work on the concept of exchange but errs in seeing the motivational account of consideration as a bad fit with doctrine. I argue that the motivational account provides a more natural justification for both consideration and for contract law as a whole.
The Nineteenth Amendment’s ratification in 1920 granted women the right to vote, but fell short of broader gender-equity goals. This Collection explores the suffrage movement’s goals, intersectional voices, and differences from other movements in the United States and abroad. This rich history provides important lessons on the Amendment’s Centennial.
Women’s claim to vote advanced a broader effort to democratize the family. This Essay recovers debates over the family connecting the Reconstruction Amendments and the Nineteenth Amendment, and considers how this lost history might guide the Constitution’s interpretation in courts and politics today.
The women’s suffrage movement in Iran achieved the vote in 1963, several decades after women in the United States. The challenges and opportunities in Iranian women’s fight for equal rights offer insight into the complex and often fraught politics of calling for women’s rights and participation in a non-Western context.
This Essay chronicles Pauli Murray’s intersectional feminist legal advocacy, which transformed post-suffrage women’s citizenship and continues to shape an ambitious and urgent agenda for universal enfranchisement in the Nineteenth Amendment’s second century.
This Collection considers the implications of the Supreme Court’s decision in Timbs v. Indiana. It discusses the emergence of an anti-ruination principle for punishment, the suitability of the Excessive Fines Clause’s “gross proportionality” standard, and the development of a forfeiture jurisprudence that would inquire into individual and familial hardship.
Timbs v. Indiana reaffirms the Constitution's role in determining the bounds of licit punishment. This Essay weaves together doctrines that are often siloed but answer the same question: what can't governments do as punishment? I argue that the law has begun to build the principle that governments not set out to cause debilitation when they punish.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2019 decision in Timbs v. Indiana, which applied the Excessive Fines Clause to the States, this Essay argues that defendants are better protected by replacing the clause’s “gross disproportionality” standard with the more rigorous proportionality guarantee of the Excessive Bail Clause.
Financial Hardship and the Excessive Fines Clause: Assessing the Severity of Property Forfeitures After Timbs
This Essay sketches the outlines of a forfeitures jurisprudence under the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause in which the effect of property deprivations on individuals and their families—in particular, the infliction of financial hardship—is a core criterion in assessing a forfeiture’s severity.
A new constitutional amendment embodying a substantive intersectional equality analysis aims to rectify the founding U.S. treatment of race and sex and additional hierarchical social inequalities. Historical and doctrinal context and critique show why this step is urgently needed. A draft of the amendment is offered.
The Point Isn't Moot: How Lower Courts Have Blessed Government Abuse of the Voluntary-Cessation Doctrine
Should government defendants be able to more easily moot a case than private defendants? This Essay argues that a strong voluntary-cessation doctrine is important to protecting individual rights and explains why—based on both precedent and policy—government and private defendants should be subject to the same strict standard.
In this Collection, the 2018-19 Yale Law Journal Public-Interest Fellows draw from their on-the-job experiences. They show how New York locks up poor, disabled sex-offender registrants beyond their sentences; long detention is used to deter immigrants in historically anomalous ways; and students face obstacles when seeking to vote.
New York’s poor, disabled sex-offender registrants are ensnared in a cruel catch-22: New York will not release them from prison without housing, but laws and policies make finding housing nearly impossible for this population. This Essay explores potential legal challenges to New York’s harmful, counter-productive, and unlawful regime.
Relying on the author’s experiences as a Yale Law Journal Fellow, this Essay looks at direct and indirect obstacles faced by college students seeking to vote on campus. It explores and proposes legal avenues and advocacy efforts that can be used to successfully overcome these obstacles.
This Essay examines the early years of U.S. immigration detention, arguing that such detention was brief and limited in purpose. This history has important constitutional implications for current immigration policy, questioning its use of lengthy detention to deter immigrants from pursuing their claims to remain in the United States.
This Essay presents the first comprehensive survey examining whether Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court significantly limits multistate class actions in federal courts. It finds, contrary to many commenters, that a large supermajority of cases reject the argument that BMS’s constraints apply with respect to unnamed plaintiff class members.
As the first bill introduced in the current Congress, H.R. 1 seeks to revamp our democracy through sweeping electoral reforms. This Collection critiques small-donor-based public financing, argues for legislation mandating Election Day registration, and defends H.R. 1’s constitutionality based on Congress’s broad authority to regulate federal elections.
Small-donor campaign-finance reform is supported by participatory, egalitarian, and anti-corruption values. But while reform advocates focus on these values, they ignore the evidence that such reforms might further fuel the ideological extremes in American politics. Small-donor campaign-finance reform requires confronting possible tradeoffs between internet-based political participation and ideological extremism.
Drawing on nineteenth-century federal voting-rights legislation, this Essay argues that challenges to federal authority over elections persist for two reasons. First, the Supreme Court has not fully delineated federal power under the Elections Clause. Second, Congress has never exercised its Elections Clause power to its full conceptual limits.
This Essay examines Election Day registration (EDR)—the single reform that would do the most to improve U.S. voter turnout. While legislative reform efforts over the last decade have doubled the number of EDR states, litigation challenging registration deadlines has not yet succeeded, making federal legislation much needed.
This Essay proposes a blueprint for a new humane and effective immigration-enforcement system that could follow the dissolution of ICE. It explores the irredeemable defects of ICE and its enforcement paradigm and suggests realistic mechanisms to increase compliance with immigration laws without detention or mass deportation.
Examining a long-overlooked passage on gender in Justice Powell’s Bakke concurrence, the Essay applies the theory of intersectionality to show that Justice Powell’s reasoning was flawed. As his “single-axis” approach reveals, tiers-of-scrutiny analysis creates a doctrinal puzzle in equal-protection law, especially when applied to Black women.
Multidistrict-litigation judges have invented a medley of new procedures to adjudicate the mass-tort cases before them. As plaintiff fact sheets and Lone Pine orders become widespread, however, formal rules’ built-in protections wane and procedural burdens may fall more harshly on one side.
Daniel Epps and Ganesh Sitaraman propose radical reforms to restore a moderate Supreme Court. Unfortunately, their proposals might destroy the Court’s legitimacy in order to save it. A Court unbound by legal principle is too powerful a weapon to leave around in a democracy; we should start thinking about disarmament.
Cyber-insurance policies often include a hostile-or-warlike action exclusion. The legal system is ill-equipped to handle the litigation that arises from coverage denials under this exclusion. This Essay explores the difficulties of accurately attributing attacks and adjudicating these insurance-coverage disputes. It concludes with four proposals to improve attribution and adjudication.
This Essay discusses the inclusion of gender-identity protections in the Trump Administration’s “new NAFTA,” hypothesizing that these provisions were initially included without consulting important executive-branch stakeholders. Intriguingly, these protections demonstrate that trade agreements can lead even powerful governments to make value-laden commitments at odds with their own domestic agendas.
Most states require compact legislative districts, but courts have no framework to judge when contorted districts are legally suspect. This Essay proposes a “Predominance Test” that limits the most egregious gerrymanders by comparing challenged maps to maximally compact plans to test whether compactness predominates over lower-tier and discretionary criteria.
This Essay looks at married same-sex couples who, pre-Obergefell, spent time in nonmarital relationships while awaiting the right to wed. In discussing how courts now count those pre-equality years toward the length of couples’ relationships—a decision relevant to adjudicating many benefits—the Essay illuminates weaknesses in current nonmarriage law.
Law, Prison, and Double-Double Consciousness: A Phenomenological View of the Black Prisoner’s Experience
This Essay introduces double-double consciousness as a new way of conceptualizing the psychological ramifications of being a black prisoner. Based on my own experience as a black prisoner, I conclude that double-double consciousness is a mechanism through which the prisoner can maintain dignity despite living in captivity.
This Essay reviews the recent rise of systemic injunctions against money bail systems and a major question they raise: what level of scrutiny applies to allegedly unconstitutional bail systems. It concludes that, in light of history and precedent, strict scrutiny is the appropriate standard.
Good and Bad Patient Involvement: Implementing the Patient-Involvement Provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act at the FDA
This Essay examines the FDA’s implementation of new statutory patient-involvement requirements in light of past problems with simlar initiatives atthe FDA. Despite the risks of repeating these mistakes, the Essay concludes that the Agency’s early implementation efforts are encouraging.
In most states, women are not permitted to have binding living wills during parts of their pregnancies. This Essay argues that the laws imposing these restrictions are ill-conceived and likely unconstitutional and, using behavioral economics, suggests a better alternative that respects women’s preferences and autonomy.
Rapid technological change has led some to question whether modern Fourth Amendment doctrine appropriately protects individual privacy. This Collection considers that question across four domains: warrantless electronic surveillance, border searches, law enforcement cross-border data access, and civil litigation in the absence of a comprehensive data-protection regime.
In Carpenter v. United States, the Supreme Court held that a warrant is required when the government collects certain categories of third-party data. This Essay argues that a categorical warrant requirement for electronic surveillance is a mistake, and that, when faced with warrantless electronic surveillance, courts should instead consider whether such surveillance is reasonable.
This Essay traces the historical evolution of the border search exception to the Fourth Amendment to argue that CBP and ICE are currently operating outside constitutional constraints and proposes a tiered approach, restricted in scope and requiring increasing levels of protections the more invasive the search becomes.
This Essay argues that that civil litigation between private parties in the data privacy space is shaping important privacy norms. Because no comprehensive data privacy law exists in the United States, litigants must rely on doctrines that are ill suited to the legal questions raised by the mass collection of personal data.
This Essay analyzes the impetus and results of recent initiatives by the United States, European Union, and Australia to regulate law enforcement access to data, highlights their promise and their limits, and offers a way forward that protects speech, privacy, and other rights in the process.
Judge Jeffery Sutton responds to Justice Goodwin Liu’s Review of 51 Imperfect Solutions: States and the Making of American Constitutional Law.
The “criminal justice reform” movement is in danger. Efforts to change the punishment bureaucracy are at risk of being co-opted by bureaucrats who have created and profited from mass human caging. This Essay seeks to understand the true functions of the punishment bureaucracy and to offer suggestions for dismantling it.
The Past, Present, and Future of Section 1115: Learning from History to Improve the Medicaid-Waiver Regime Today
This Essay argues that section 1115 waivers in the Medicaid program have increasingly bee misused, opening the door to ideologically motivated cuts or preconditions on coverage, and suggests a response.
This Response to Andrew Woods makes two points. First, it shows why the “fragmentation” charge frequently levied against sovereignty-based approaches to internet governance is misplaced. Second, it questions the efficacy of Woods’s normative theory of judicial comity.
People who have experienced incarceration have unique insights into the criminal system—insights that are often missing from legal scholarship and criminal justice policy. This Collection begins to bridge that gap.
What Break Do Children Deserve? Juveniles, Crime, and Justice Kennedy’s Influence on the Supreme Court’s Eighth Amendment Jurisprudence
Many read Justice Kennedy’s landmark Eighth Amendment sentencing cases to herald a fundamental change in how juveniles are treated in the criminal justice system. But the better reading is more modest. Instead, they force us to ask what it means to say that youth is relevant to the determination of a just prison sentence.
Transcending the Stigma of a Criminal Record: A Proposal to Reform State Bar Character and Fitness Evaluations
This Essay is rooted in the author’s experience as a formerly justice-involved individual who overcame numerous barriers to become an attorney and advocate. It argues that bar associations should use a conditional-approval process that informs applicants whether the bar intends to admit them before they begin law school.
Drawing on the author’s experience as a formerly incarcerated mother and advocate, this Essay challenges the reader to consider whether incarceration generally—and incarceration of women and girls specifically—is a fundamentally misguided response to violence and poverty that we must retire.
This Essay describes the difficult process of federal criminal justice reform and how the reform community’s efforts led to passage of the First Step Act. It also explains what risks could stall future reforms and discusses the criteria advocates should use in deciding whether to support future reforms.
Wayfair Undermines Nicastro: The Constitutional Connection Between State Tax Authority and Personal Jurisdiction
This Essay exposes connections between two controversial cases that unsettled two ostensibly distinct areas of constitutional law—Wayfair v. South Dakota and J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro—arguing that Wayfair’s underlying logic warrants narrowing or overruling Nicastro.
2019 marks seventy-five years since the Supreme Court handed down its opinion in Korematsu v. United States. This Collection examines Korematsu's legacy for national security law, race, and equal protection, and explores what Korematsu means today in light of its formal overruling in Trump v. Hawaii.
This Essay argues that the Supreme Court’s claim to overrule Korematsu in Hawaii is both empty and grotesque. It argues that a decision to overrule a prior case is not meaningful unless it specifies which propositions it is disavowing, and Hawaii’s emptiness means to conceal its disturbing affinity with Korematsu.
This Essay compares the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Trump’s travel ban to the Court’s decision nearly seventy-five years ago to affirm the internment of Japanese Americans in Korematsu. It argues that while Hawaii v. Trump formally overturned Korematsu, it essentially recreated the doctrine under a new name.
Asserting the continued usefulness of legal claims, this Essay asks a critical question: what would it really take to overturn Korematsu and end structures of subordination? It argues that a true overruling of Korematsu requires a generative interpretation of our Constitution to uphold the inherent dignity of all human beings.
What will happen when those discriminated against in the name of national security turn to the courts for legal protection? This Essay refracts this question through the lens of Korematsu, examining how courts will—and should—respond to the dual needs to promote national security and protect fundamental democratic liberties.
Recent litigation has challenged local California prosecutors’ power to seek and receive statewide relief for violations occurring outside county lines. This Essay argues against this trend and explains why it is inappropriate to apply the constitutional norms that state-versus-federal conflicts to conflicts between states and municipalities.
The Pope recently pronounced capital punishment impermissible. Counterintuitively, this might make capital punishment less popular but more prevalent. This Essay anticipates this dynamic, and explores how “death qualification” of juries insulates the death penalty even as community morality evolves away from it.
Charles Black’s Impeachment: A Handbook has become the authoritative guide on the subject of presidential impeachment. This year, the Yale University Press published a new edition of the classic, incorporating new material by constitutional theorist Philip Bobbitt. Bobbitt’s contribution to the new edition appears in this Essay.
The noncitizen parent exists between two often-conflicting legal identities: that of an immigrant and that of a parent. This Essay argues that state child services should strive to mitigate the tension between these identities and take an active role in shielding these parents from immigration consequences of family-law proceedings.
Can President Trump unilaterally withdraw the United States from any and all international agreements to which the United States is a party? This Essay argues that constitutional, functional, and comparative-law considerations dictate that the answer is a resounding “no.”
The 2017 Tax Act, sometimes called the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, has been heralded by some as historic reform and by others as Armageddon. This Collection analyzes the Act, exploring the process by which it was passed, the values that undergird its policies, and how specific provisions will affect the structure of the U.S. and global economy moving forward.
This Essay argues that the 2017 Tax Act provides neither an effective nor stable solution to the nation’s economic and fiscal challenges.
The 2017 Tax Act significantly changed the U.S. international tax regime. The legislation, however, failed to solve existing problems and opened the door to new ones. This Essay addresses these shortcomings, and outlines recommendations for a better approach.
Some have criticized the 2017 Tax Act for lowering the corporate tax rate. This Essay argues instead that Congress deserves credit for bringing the U.S. rate in line with other OECD countries, potentially saving the corporate tax by establishing a minimum global rate.
The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act moves the United States from a worldwide system of taxation to a quasi-territorial regime. This Essay reviews these changes and reflects on their likely effect on cross-border financing structures.
The 2017 Tax Act reflects values that were not openly debated in the legislative process. This Essay unearths these values and argues that justice in taxation is impossible without a full and honest evaluation of the law’s underlying principles.
The American Law Institute is currently engaged in drafting a new restatement on the subject of Conflict of Laws. In this exchange, Lea Brilmayer & Daniel B. Listwa debate the merits of the new restatement with Kermit Roosevelt III & Bethan R. Jones.
Continuity and Change in the Draft Restatement (Third) of Conflict of Laws: One Step Forward and Two Steps Back?
A deep contradiction lies at the heart of the Draft Restatement (Third) of Conflict of Laws. This Essay addresses that tension, explaining that the new Restatement’s synthesized black-letter rules are incompatible with its modern two-step theory.
This Essay responds to Lea Brilmayer & Daniel B. Listwa, defending the Draft Restatement as an attempt to bring greater predictability and coherence to choice of law through more determinate rules.
Through an analysis of the challenges facing the “new working class,” this Essay argues that in order to advance their clients’ interests, progressive lawyers must redefine public interest law such that it centers on a commitment to developing left political power.
Most criminal system reform efforts neglect the collateral consequences experienced by individuals with pending criminal cases. This Essay argues that meaningful reform requires enhanced protections for current employees and applicants with open criminal cases.
Conversation about Masterpiece Cakeshop has focused on the Court’s holding that decisionmakers must treat those seeking religious exemptions with respect. This Essay brings to light the case’s broader guidance on religious exemptions under the Free Exercise Clause and what that means for judicial and legislative actors going forward.
This Essay argues that the definition of professional speech should not be expanded beyond the doctrine’s purpose: ensuring that clients receive accurate, comprehensive, and reliable advice in accordance with the insights of the relevant knowledge community. It then examines these limits of professional speech through NIFLA v. Becerra.
Arbitration has begun to take a new form: mandatory arbitration provisions built into corporate charters and bylaws. The debate about the merits of arbitration is well worn, but its application to shareholder claims opens the door to a different set of responses. This Essay provides one, explaining why the overlapping authority of federal and state actors in this field makes cooperative federalism is a natural fit for addressing these issues.
The #MeToo movement has prompted a national dialogue about sexual harassment. This Companion Collection, launched in collaboration with the Stanford Law Review, aims to draw lessons from the #MeToo movement for activists, scholars, policymakers, lawyers, and judges. Across the two journals, the Collection offers twelve scholars’ insights on the ways sexual harassment produces and is produced by broader forms of inequality. Companion Essays can be found at the Stanford Law Review Online.
The #MeToo movement has spurred a renewed focus on sexual harassment. But often, the narratives that emerge overemphasize sexualized forms of harassment at the expense of broader structural causes. This Essay builds on Schultz’s previous work to explore those institutional drivers of harassment.
Franchina v. City of Providence may be the first judicial opinion of the #MeToo movement. But it also points beyond the #MeToo movement, exemplifying harassment that is motivated by desires to enforce gender roles and why sexual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination under Title VII.
Pressure is mounting on companies to take swift disciplinary action regarding alleged sexual harassment. But our employment law incentivizes employers to tolerate high-ranking harassers while cracking down on inappropriate behavior by the rank-and-file. This Essay suggests a better path forward.
The #MeToo movement has rightly been praised for breaking long-held silences about harassment. It has also rightly been critiqued for ignoring unique forms of harassment that women of color face. This Essay calls for a sexual harassment law that embraces intersectional, multidimensional identity.
The #MeToo movement has motivated people to speak out about sexual harassment, but many of those speaking remain vulnerable to retaliation. This Essay provides the perspective of an employment lawyer on the shortcomings of sexual harassment law and how state law can afford greater protection.
Does our sexual harassment law hinder the larger project of reducing harassment? This Essay demonstrates that the law constrains stories of harassment and hamstrings our calls for reform. Ultimately, the law, not just public perception, must change if this movement is to have a lasting effect.
In Hughes v. United States, the Supreme Court will revisit a thorny question: how to determine the precedential effect of decisions with no majority opinion. This Essay identifies the complications that arise in addressing this question when biconditional rules are involved and proposes a way to coherently resolve those difficulties.
Lina Khan, Sandeep Vaheesan, and Aaron Edlin respond to Unlocking Antitrust Enforcement.
While Unlocking Antitrust Enforcement offers solutions to our market power problem, Lina Khan highlights the absence of a discussion of what philosophy should guide antitrust law and enforcement. Addressing America’s market power problem also requires recognizing its ideological roots.
Sandeep Vaheesan contends that Unlocking Antitrust Enforcement is disappointingly modest in scope. Antitrust law is and will be political, and consumer welfare should not be privileged; it is inconsistent with congressional intent and embodies an incomplete understanding of corporate power.
Predatory Pricing: Limiting Brooke Groupe to Monopolies and Sound Implementation of Price-Cost Comparison
Responding to C. Scott Hemphill and Philip Weiser’s feature on Brooke Group predatory pricing, Edlin argues that in monopoly cases the greatest competitive danger likely results from above-cost pricing and that the Brooke Group safe harbor for above-cost pricing should not extend to monopolies.
Cheryl Bratt and Martin Guggenheim respond to The New Law of the Child.
Top-Down or from the Ground?: A Practical Perspective on Reforming the Field of Children and the Law
Cheryl Bratt responds to Dailey & Rosenbury’s New Law of the Child, arguing for a youth-led movement to reform how children are understood and valued in American culture.
Martin Guggenheim responds to Dailey & Rosenbury’s New Law of the Child, defending the existing "authorities framework" and arguing that any new framework for children’s rights must focus on questions of structural inequality.
In this colloquy between Andrew Verstein and Martin Katz, the authors engage and debate the central ideas of Verstein’s Article, The Jurisprudence of Mixed Motives. Katz points out two flaws in Verstein’s model, while Verstein counters that Katz’s concerns are best seen as additional applications of his framework.
In this Response to Andrew Verstein’s Article, Martin Katz points out two flaws in Verstein’s model: failing to justify a key analytical move and using confusing terminology. Katz suggests remedies for those problems as well as a means of transforming Verstein’s model into a Rosetta Stone for mental causation.
In this surreply, Verstein responds to Katz’s critiques. Verstein first argues that motive is amenable to quantification, and this conclusion does not depend on specific views about causation. Second, Verstein contends that Katz’s concerns are best seen as additional translations of his motive framework.
The Hatch-Waxman Act and the AIA balance exclusive rights of pharmaceutical patent holders with entry of generic competitors. Allergan’s recent patent transfer to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe threatens this balance. This Essay proposes antitrust suits to sidestep sovereign immunity and prevent companies from unduly increasing their patents’ probabilistic value.
In the first year of the Trump Administration, a breakdown of intra-executive internal norms and legal processes has led to a remarkable series of losses in the courts. This Essay argues that such a breakdown can substantially damage both the viability of an administration’s policy agenda and public confidence.
In the five years since Shelby County v. Holder, voting rights litigators have resorted to other claims under the Voting Rights Act. This Collection traces these litigation strategies—focusing on Sections 2 and 3—and introduces “vote dissociation,” which recognizes systemic problems of democratic governance as a voting rights issue.
The 2016 election highlighted deep-seated problems in American democracy that voting rights cannot fix. This Essay employs the term “vote dissociation” to refer to a species of voting rights injury that is qualitatively different from both vote denial and vote dilution, in which concentrated wealth translates into political power.
In the wake of Shelby County, voting rights lawyers have pushed to hold jurisdictions fully accountable for their actions by proving claims of intentional discrimination under Section 3 of the VRA. This Essay explores the importance of this strategic move in the latest generation of voting rights cases.
This Essay traces the post-Shelby County development of a two-part Section 2 vote denial liability test. It also describes the tension as to the necessity of evidence (1) regarding the effect of voting practices on voter turnout and (2) concerning discriminatory intent on the part of a state actor.
Since President Trump’s inauguration last January, communities across the country have mobilized to resist the administration’s policies. This Collection studies the meanings, motivations, and challenges of modern dissent. From modern environmentalism to government surveillance, these Essays explore the role of dissent in Ferguson, Standing Rock, the Senate, and sanctuary cities.
The Standing Rock protests represent the latest iteration of longstanding tribal dissent against an environmental law framework that overlooks their interests. This Essay contends that the environmental movement’s failure to advocate for the restoration of tribal sovereignty has also left intact a legal framework incapable of addressing climate change.
Beginning with the author’s experience of being arrested as a legal observer during a Ferguson protest, this Essay explores the First Amendment freedom of assembly’s fragile protection for those who fight for racial justice, arguing that civil rights movements have always been and continue to be disproportionately chilled by authorities.
While dissent is often associated with the judiciary, Senators also dissent to vent frustration, vindicate legal principles, mobilize constituencies, and destabilize the status quo. Through three case studies, this Essay traces the role and purpose of dissent in the Senate, which enriches our broader understanding of the lawmaking process.
Vaccine Licensure in the Public Interest: Lessons from the Development of the U.S. Army Zika Vaccine
This Essay analyzes the recent attempted exclusive licensing deal for a Zika vaccine, which would have hampered the drug’s affordability and availability. Revising the Patent Act to increase transparency and accountability in the licensing process would ultimately result in more affordable vaccines for outbreak diseases like Zika.
In 2017, the Yale Law Journal held an essay competition focused on emerging legal problems and challenges in law and technology, broadly conceived. This year’s winners are Alicia Solow-Niederman (Beyond the Privacy Torts: Reinvigorating a Common Law Approach for Data Breaches) and Opeyemi Akanbi (Policing Work Boundaries on the Cloud).
While data breaches continue to roil the headlines, regulation and legislation are unlikely to provide a timely solution to protect consumers. Rather than rely on statutory claims or the privacy torts to protect consumer data, this Essay suggests that courts should recognize how contemporary transactions implicate fiduciary-like relationships of trust.
The widespread use of SaaS applications like Slack has shifted how work is performed in the digital age, with attendant implications for labor law applicability. This Essay shows how SaaS applications deviate from the existing regime and proposes a regulatory scheme that better accords with the modern workplace.
This Response to Douglas Nejaime’s The Nature of Parenthood shows how the recently approved revisions to the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA)—which expand the ways in which a nonbiological parent may establish her or his parentage—address many of the critical gaps in parentage law identified by NeJaime.
David Schleicher replies to Naomi Schoenbaum, Sheila Foster, Sara Pratt, and Michelle Wilde Anderson’s Responses to his Volume 127 Article, Stuck!:The Law and Economics of Residential Stagnation.
This Essay explores the agency costs associated with equal treatment clauses, which require all share classes to receive equal consideration in the event of an acquisition. Despite these clauses’ benign appearance, they actually create another hurdle to the sale of a controlled company to the potential detriment of minority shareholders.
This Collection provides a series of Responses to David Schleicher’s Article, Stuck! The Law and Economics of Residential Stagnation, published in Issue 1. Naomi Schoenbaum, Sheila Foster, Sara Pratt, and Michelle Anderson engage with Schleicher’s central ideas regarding declining interstate mobility.
Naomi Schoenbaum addresses the costs of mobility for productivity, welfare, and sex equality, as well as addresses Schleicher’s treatment of place as a market. Ultimately, Schoenbaum argues that Schleicher’s argument does not sufficiently account for how mobility interacts with critical relationships.
Sheila Foster argues that Schleicher’s prescriptions neglect the economic and racial stratification of disadvantaged populations within the successful metropolitan regions he hopes new migrants will enter. The federal government should help bridge the spatial gap between that opportunity and disadvantaged populations both from within and outside cities and metro regions.
Sara Pratt contends that established and sustained segregation has impeded mobility. Federal leadership, changes to the Fair Housing Act, different approaches to state and local planning, and ultimately, political will may clear the path for increased mobility across state and regional lines.
Michelle Anderson maintains that providing assistance will take more than reducing formal legal barriers to interstate mobility. Meaningful improvements—whether social or geographic—will require a new antipoverty agenda for declining regions, as well as fiscal and environmental responsibility for existing unpaid infrastructure debts.
Since President Trump’s inauguration last January, communities across the country have mobilized to resist the administration’s policies. This Collection studies the meanings, motivations, and challenges of modern dissent. From modern environmentalism to government surveillance, these Essays explore the role of dissent in Ferguson, Standing Rock, the Senate, and sanctuary cities.
Government surveillance threatens not only individual privacy but also the freedom to dissent. Yet courts typically evaluate the lawfulness of surveillance solely through a Fourth Amendment lens rather than the First. This Essay briefly sets out how the First Amendment might once again become a bulwark against overreaching government surveillance.
Under the Trump presidency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers have been making immigration arrests in state and local courthouses. ICE’s refusal to stop these arrests raises the question: can anything more be done to stop these courthouse arrests? A common-law doctrine, the “privilege from arrest,” provides an affirmative answer.
The Farm Bill is complicit in crises of public health, the environment, and rural decay.The emerging field of food law and policy can help articulate a better vision for Farm Bills, and as debate around the 2018 Farm Bill begins, new law school collaborations are beginning to do just that.
Since the Supreme Court recognized marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges, civil rights advocates have increasingly set their sights on transgender rights as the next legal frontier. This Essay explores why, for over twenty-five years, transgender litigants have not invoked the protections of the;and why they now should.
The 2016 election was marked by an epidemic of "fake news," or false information made to look like credible news reports. This Collection offers a series of policy proposals and reflections on the origins of fake news and how the dissemination of misinformation online can be addressed.
A generally accepted, objective way to differentiate reliable generators of accurate information from purveyors of “fake news” would take significant positive steps toward combating its spread. Other spheres of our economy successfully use private accreditation systems to distinguish quality products and services from those that are inferior or fraudulent. This Essay considers online platforms’ current approaches to fake news before contemplating how a similar nongovernmental accreditation system might work to distinguish reliable journalism from disinformation.
Following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, “fake news” has dominated popular dialogue and is increasingly perceived as a unique threat to an informed democracy. Despite the common use of the term, it eludes common definition. When we agonize over the fake news phenomenon, though, we are not talking about these kinds of fabricated stories. Instead, what we are really focusing on is why we have been suddenly inundated by false information—purposefully deployed—that spreads so quickly and persuades so effectively. This is a different conception of fake news, and it presents a question about how information operates at scale in the internet era. And yet, too often we analyze the problem of fake news by focusing on individual instances, not systemic features of the information economy. This Essay therefore recommends that we must build a realistic theory—based on observations as well as interdisciplinary insights—to explain the governance of private companies who maintain our public sphere in the internet era.
Wikipedia and Intermediary Immunity: Supporting Sturdy Crowd Systems for Producing Reliable Information
The problem of fake news impacts a massive online ecosystem of individuals and organizations creating, sharing, and disseminating content around the world. One effective approach to addressing false information lies in monitoring such information through an active, engaged volunteer community. Wikipedia, as one of the largest online volunteer contributor communities, presents one example of this approach. This Essay argues that the existing legal framework protecting intermediary companies in the United States empowers the Wikipedia community to ensure that information is accurate and well-sourced. The Essay further argues that current legal efforts to weaken these protections, in response to the “fake news” problem, are likely to create perverse incentives that will harm volunteer engagement and confuse the public. Finally, the Essay offers suggestions for other intermediaries beyond Wikipedia to help monitor their content through user community engagement.
While much ink has been shed dissecting Russia’s attempt to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, few have focused on the role played by the American media in facilitating Russia’s cyber attacks. This Essay argues that journalists should voluntarily adopt a professional norm against publishing the contents of a hack.
The Third Circuit recently held that immigrants in expedited removal proceedings have no constitutional rights regarding their application to enter the United States. This Essay challenges that conclusion, contending that judicial review over immigration procedures remains an invaluable safeguard in our constitutional system.
There is a crisis in access to justice in the United States. The justice gap—the gap between people’s legal needs and the legal services available—is wide and growing. Recent data from the Legal Services Corporation and the University of Chicago confirm that this gap primarily stems from a lack of information about legal rights, remedies, and resources. This information gap can be remedied by increasing public education on these topics and by improving the means of seeking legal assistance. I argue that information-centered advocacy may be the most effective means of closing the justice gap. Such advocacy may also be the most resource efficient, a critical consideration in a landscape where proponents of access to justice lack the political support to win increased federal funding for civil legal aid. However, the success of this approach will ultimately depend on a second, more challenging feature of the current American government: fundamental threats to the justice system currently emanating from the executive.
A criticism of nationwide injunctions is that they engender forum shopping, with litigants seeking out a court more likely to be favorable to them in order to obtain sweeping relief. This picture, though, oversimplifies the relationship between venue and the scope of injunctive relief, particularly for lawsuits against federal actors. Cabining nationwide injunctions would shift the incentives for litigant venue choice. Limitations on nationwide injunctions would place increased weight on early lawsuits in forums in which venue is proper based on the characteristics of the defendant, because any similarly situated litigant can bring suit there. Section 1391(e) of Title 28, the statutory provision for venue against federal actors, provides for broad scope for venue, including permitting venue based on the plaintiff’s place of residence. Such limitations would lead to distortions in incentives for venue choice contrary to the purposes underlying the enactment of § 1391(e) as well as systematically disadvantage less well-resourced litigants. The debate over nationwide injunctions must take into account the effects of changes to the scope of injunctive relief on the venue choice architecture, and consider both venue and the scope of injunctive relief concomitantly in the institutional design of federal litigation.
2016 marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of Justice Clarence Thomas’s appointment to the Supreme Court. This Collection offers a series of reflections on Justice Thomas's tenure on the Court and his impact on the law.
After a quarter of a century on the Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas’s jurisprudence in the field of criminal law offers no shortage of themes to discuss, but it especially shows how he has advanced originalism as a respected methodology. Often both the political and academic commentary about originalism focuses on Justice Antonin Scalia. In the wake of his death a year ago, that focus has been understandable. Justice Scalia left a tremendous legacy. His scholarly output, outsized personality, and zealous advocacy on behalf of originalism have bestowed great benefits on our legal culture by focusing the attention of judges and attorneys toward neutral principles and away from subjective policy preferences. But if Justice Scalia bore significant responsibility for advancing the popular understanding of originalism, then Justice Thomas deserves singular credit for strengthening the case for its legitimacy.
In his quarter-century as an Associate Justice, Clarence Thomas has been the most originalist, and arguably the most original, thinker on the Supreme Court. In the October 2014 Term, Justice Thomas set his sights on the administrative state. In five separate writings, Justice Thomas laid out an originalist understanding of the judicial and legislative powers that called for a reexamination of several strands of the Supreme Court’s administrative law jurisprudence. And he chastised the Court for “straying further and further from the Constitution without so much as pausing to ask why." In this Essay, I explore why Justice Thomas may have chosen the October 2014 Term to focus closely on the administrative state and what impact his opinions might have going forward.
Justice Thomas’s criminal law opinions have provoked acerbic commentary in the press and academic writing. The depiction of Justice Thomas’s opinions as intentionally cruel is a mistake. It creates an inexplicable divide between the Justice in person, whom many know to be humble and compassionate, and the Justice on paper, who is held to be callous and cruel. The judicial humility this Essay seeks to reveal in Justice Thomas’s work has five core features: first, an insistence on reaching and pronouncing the correct interpretation of the law even when one disagrees with the result; second, persistence in the correct interpretation despite potential or actual backlash; third, a recognition of one’s own limitations and a resulting commitment to doctrines and practices that subordinate self to law; fourth, a willingness to admit mistakes; and finally, a foundation in faith.
Justice Thomas has a well-known reputation for striving to decide constitutional issues in accordance with the original meaning of the Constitution. This Essay concerns a specific question about this methodology in cases concerning presidential powers: How does Justice Thomas determine the original meaning of Article II of the U.S. Constitution? The answer to this question has both academic and practical dimensions. The principal academic concerns are whether Justice Thomas’s approach is complete and logical and whether it accords with his approach in other constitutional issues. The answer is practical because it reveals what kinds of arguments and sources persuade Justice Thomas.
In his twenty-five years on the Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas has earned the (sometimes grudging) respect of legal scholars and commentators, including many who disagree with him, for his careful, principled, analytic approach to many areas of law. Race is not among them. Justice Thomas’s opinions reflect, first and foremost, his conviction that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, as properly understood, precludes the government from discriminating against and between people on the basis of race. What distinguishes his racial equality opinions, making them both compelling and controversial, is that he also explains why he believes that race-based government policies are not only unconstitutional, but also unwise, unjust, and harmful to their intended beneficiaries. Our approach is descriptive: we seek to explain his views on race using his own words and drawing upon his life experiences.
Time and again, we have seen that neither precedent nor a perceived need to achieve consensus on the Court can hold Justice Clarence Thomas back from pronouncing what he has found to be the best understanding of the Constitution and federal statutes. His decisions scrape away at what Ralph Rossum has called the “excrescence” of flawed precedent, no matter how deeply entrenched. He looks beyond the entrenchment to the Constitution and history. Not surprisingly, his administrative law decisions and his decisions directly interpreting the Constitution receive the most attention. But the Justice’s deep commitment to not only thinking, but rethinking is also on display in the more prosaic criminal-law opinions I will discuss.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Features and Essays inspired by the Journal's Conversation on Title IX, hosted at the Yale Law School in September 2015.
Introduction I come to this important Title IX Conversation from a unique perspective. This is not because I was a federal judge for seventeen years. Rather it is because before my judgeship, I was a feminist litigator and a criminal defense lawyer. And from this vantage point, my concern for Title IX reform is inextricably linked to my concern for fair process for the accused. I am a feminist. And for over twenty-four years, I litigated women’s rights cases, as discussed in m…
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).
Introduction Douglas NeJaime and Reva Siegel have offered an elaborately reasoned argument against claims of conscience with respect to healthcare and marriage, claims that they call “complicity-based conscience claims.”1 I appreciate that they have avoided some of the exaggerations of more strident opponents of exemptions in these contexts. I even agree with some of what they say. But their reasonable tone cannot conceal their remarkable conclusion. They appear to say that …
Introduction Almost every member of Congress voted to approve the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA),1 a bill endorsed by an unprecedented coalition of dozens of religious and civil rights organizations spanning the political and ideological spectrum.2 President Clinton quipped at the signing ceremony that perhaps only divine intervention could explain such an unusual meeting of the minds: the establishment of “new trust” across otherwise irreconcilable “ideologi…
I have very little expertise in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)1 or in the underlying constitutional law of freedom of religion that RFRA seeks to codify. I therefore venture into the debate surrounding Douglas NeJaime and Reva B. Siegel’s Conscience Wars: Complicity-Based Conscience Claims in Religion and Politics2 with some diffidence, and primarily to respond to Douglas Laycock’s specific argument that NeJaime and Siegel advance a position that is inconsistent with…
Douglas NeJaime and Reva B. Siegel’s Conscience Wars1 is an exemplar of a dying breed: a progressive piece that takes religious freedom seriously for political foes in the sex-and-reproduction culture wars. In just one generation, those battles have turned religious liberty, that consensus ideal of American public life, into a source of the fiercest divisions.2 The conflict now clusters around clashes between religious believers’ refusals to provide services they find sinful …
First Amendment jurisprudence is fickle. Sometimes it is transformed in prominent, widely known cases, like Citizens United. At other times, it is quieter, lesser known cases that revolutionize the doctrine. One of last summer’s cases, Reed v. Town of Gilbert, falls squarely into the latter category. The Supreme Court’s redefinition of content discrimination in Reed has led to rapid changes in how courts across the country are evaluating First Amendment challenges. Many courts have…
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.
Introduction Investigating war crimes is a messy business. It is difficult and dangerous. International criminal tribunals charge powerful individuals, including heads of state and leaders of armed forces, whose personal resources may well exceed the annual operating budget of the investigating tribunal.1 It is not surprising when witnesses for the prosecution recant or decline to testify.2 Witnesses may end up missing or killed. In court, as in war, witnesses bear the risks. Whi…
Science and Harm in Human Rights Cases: Preventing the Revictimization of Families of the Disappeared
Introduction International human rights law and the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights obligate states to investigate cases of forced disappearance (also called enforced disappearance) until the victim has been found and identified.1 However, neither specifies the precise mechanisms that states must use to comply with this obligation. Rather, the state’s commitment to international law is to guarantee that its agents will honor human rights principles an…
On June 5, 2013, the first revelation hit the front pages: documents provided by Edward Snowden showed that the National Security Agency (NSA) had for years ordered telephone companies to turn over our domestic telephone calling records en masse.1 The government had created a database of our phone calls going back years—a virtual time machine capable of reconstructing anybody’s past communications, should they come under scrutiny in the future. The program, we learned, had been…
Today’s world is “all about the data.”1 In a variety of contexts, innovators have offered statistical models as a way to reduce or eliminate human error.2 The promise of quantitative optimization has even influenced our criminal justice system. About twenty states have developed or adopted models to predict a defendant’s risk of recidivating.3 Often used in bail determinations and pretrial diversion programs, these risk predictors are also increasingly used for sentencing.4 I…
Introduction Federal and state courts, and especially the Supreme Court, are surrounded by grandeur, their operations impelled by an ever-present sense of duty to higher authority. These rituals and ceremonies—right down to the Latin language employed in court opinions1—evoke the religious heritage that continues to permeate American civic life. This resemblance, however, is more than a mere surface-level similarity. In many respects, the Supreme Court in its institutional capac…
Features and Essays inspired by the Journal's Conversation on Title IX, hosted at the Yale Law School in September 2015.
On September 25, 2015, the Yale Law Journal held a “Conversation on Title IX” that confirmed the existence of a new civil rights movement in our nation and our schools. The movement’s leaders are smart, courageous survivors of gender-based violence—virtually all of whom are current undergraduates or recent college graduates. Joining them are multiple generations of anti-gender-based violence activists, attorneys, leaders, and scholars. These generations include those who began …
Dictionary use has become a common practice in modern statutory interpretation at the Supreme Court.1 With the rise of the “new textualism,”2 Justices increasingly rely on dictionaries to shed light on the plain meaning of statutes—that is, the understanding that an ordinary English speaker would draw from the text.3 This trend is not limited to textualists: Justices who favor purposivist analyses of legislative intent cite dictionaries just as often.4 Scholars and prac…
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.
What is solitary confinement, and what has been constitutional law’s relationship to the practices of holding prisoners in isolation? One answer comes from Wilkinson v. Austin,1 a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court case discussing Ohio’s super-maximum security (“supermax”) prison, which opened in 1998 to hold more than five hundred people. Writing for the unanimous Court in Wilkinson, Justice Kennedy detailed a painful litany of conditions.2 [A]lmost every aspect of an inmate’s l…
I. Every prison and jail in Virginia has a series of cells used for solitary confinement. Fairfax County Jail had three units for solitary confinement. None had windows. The R-Cells had ceilings so high that a tall man could not reach them by jumping. The other had a door so thick and heavy that when it closed no sounds escaped. The third looked like the cells for the general population. At Southampton Correctional Center, an entire building had been converted to hold men in so…
For decades, lawyers and activists have questioned the constitutionality of our criminal justice system’s most severe punishments. Is lethal injection okay?1 What about a firing squad?2 How about life sentences for pirates3 or drug possessors4 or people who pass rubber checks?5 But we hear remarkably little about what may be the most severe punishment of all: solitary confinement. Lurking in the shadows of the conversation about inhumane punishments are some 100,000 souls who spen…
Introduction Our nation’s prisons and jails are often shrouded in secrecy. Media access to prisoners, particularly those in solitary, is limited or non-existent, and many states do not provide adequate data on how their penal systems actually operate.1 As Justice Kennedy recently put it, “[p]risoners are shut away—out of sight, out of mind.”2 In two important ways, the ASCA-Liman Report3 has deepened and sharpened the national dialogue on the use of prolonged solitary con…
Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that President Obama ordered the Department of Justice to review the practice of federal prison administrative segregation, commonly referred to as “solitary confinement.”1 The Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA), the membership organization of the fifty state corrections directors, also issued a statement calling for corrections facilities to sharply limit its use.2 Against this backdrop, Yale Law School’s Arthu…
The United States is exceptional not only because it incarcerates so many people, but also because of the inhumane and degrading conditions that prevail in so many of its jails and prisons.1 This country stands alone among Western nations in its widespread and routine use of extreme and prolonged isolation—commonly called solitary confinement—throughout its penal system.2 In the 1970s, solitary confinement emerged as a standard tool to control and punish incarcerated people in th…
Introduction Writing is the conduit through which courts engage with the public.1 As such, the quality of judicial writing is an important element of the legal system—it determines the clarity of the rules that we live by. Yet, on an empirical level, we know relatively little about it. A court watcher’s gut reaction might be that judicial writing suffers from excess complexity. Indeed, the Federal Judicial Center finds it necessary to encourage judges to avoid wordiness, pompos…
Introduction In his recent essay, Bounded Institutions,1 Yair Listokin examines bounded and unbounded structures as two alternative designs for principals to delegate regulatory authority to their agents.2 Bounds refer to numerical or quantifiable limitations that are set by the principal on some dimension of the agent’s decision-making process, and include caps, quotas or grading curves.3 Listokin shows that bounds can be used to reach ideal regulatory outcomes even in cases whe…
Introduction Indirect investors—especially mutual fund investors—are often low-dollar, low-incentive, rationally apathetic investors facing enormous information asymmetries and collective action problems. These traits raise difficult corporate governance questions about how indirect investors exercise or should exercise their right to vote in fund elections, obtain fund-related information, and pursue litigation against the fund. These questions are all the more important in lig…
For more than a decade, the bench, bar, and commentators have disagreed as to whether judges should look to decisions of international and foreign courts for guidance in resolving disputes that appear in U.S. courts. In 2003, Justice Scalia’s dissent in Lawrence v. Texas warned darkly that the majority’s citation to foreign and international sources was “[d]angerous dicta” that risked “impos[ing] foreign moods, fads, or fashions on Americans.”1 The next year, then-Attorney…
Brown. Roe. Loving. These names evoke seminal Supreme Court decisions that instituted massive social and legal shifts.1 While it may not roll off the tongue quite as easily, Obergefell is poised to join this pantheon. Jim Obergefell and the twenty-nine other men and women named in Obergefell v. Hodges are among the most highly publicized plaintiffs in history. Thousands of videos, photographs, and articles tell their stories, emphasizing their ordinariness and approachability.2 In br…
Introduction During recent oral arguments in Peruta v. County of San Diego, a case being reconsidered en banc in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, former Solicitor General Paul Clement turned to what may appear an unusual guide for interpreting the scope of the Second Amendment in the twenty-first century. His clients had been denied permits to carry concealed handguns in San Diego because they could not demonstrate a heightened need for self-defense, and Clement was …
Introduction The remarkable rise in dictionary usage by the Supreme Court since the mid-1980s has been a subject of considerable scholarly and media interest. We published an article in November 2013 that explored the Court’s new dictionary culture in depth from empirical and doctrinal perspectives.1 In a Yale Law Journal Note one year later, John Calhoun embraced some of our findings, criticized others, and—importantly—broadened the inquiry to identify a sizeable gap in over…
Introduction Until this term, administrative law seemed beyond the reach of originalist scrutiny at the Supreme Court. Then, in a series of six originalist opinions, Justice Thomas called into question agency rulemaking, judicial deference to agencies, and certain agency adjudications. In Department of Transportation v. American Association of Railroads (AAR), Justice Thomas wrote a concurrence arguing that the Constitution forbids agencies from making “generally applicabl…
Dana Berliner is the Litigation Director of the Institute for Justice. Along with her colleague Scott Bullock, she represented the homeowners in Kelo v. City of New London from the inception of the case to its conclusion at the Supreme Court. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision. Introduction For many years, states and municipalities throughout the country routinely used eminent domain for essentially private projects. The idea was that the private …
Introduction Recent events such as the attack on Sony by North Korea and revelations that Russians hacked President Obama’s e-mail have drawn attention to the dilemma of harmful transborder state and non-state cyber operations against government and private cyber infrastructure.1 Academics and practitioners have analyzed whether cyber operations violate international law, especially the sovereignty of the state where they manifest,2 and when they can be attributed to a state pursu…
Health Care Exchanges and the Disaggregation of States in the Implementation of the Affordable Care Act
Introduction Federalism scholarship and doctrine have long viewed the states as monoliths.1 It is New York that is commandeered,2 Florida’s sovereign immunity that is violated,3 and Indiana that is coerced4—not officials, agencies, or political parties within the state, but the state qua state. We assume that the federal government does not see the politically contested underbellies of the states, but instead neutrally waits for the conflicts between a state’s governor and l…
In Perez v. Mortgage Bankers, the Supreme Court struck down a rule of administrative common law on the grounds that it was inconsistent with the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). But instead of simply respecting Congress’s deliberate choices, the Court continues to weigh policy considerations. The Court shows no sign of relinquishing its self-appointed position as arbiter of what is good and bad, wise and unwise in administrative law. This Essay argues that the Court should tak…
Introduction The fate of the Affordable Care Act1 (ACA) may turn on the precise meaning of five words tucked into 26 U.S.C. § 36B(b)(2)(A), a once-obscure provision of the law under which tax subsidies are available for “qualified health plans . . . which were enrolled in through an exchange established by the State.”2 Does this language permit the issuance of subsidies for taxpayers enrolled through exchanges created by the federal government? On one hand, it seems that Congre…
Introduction If the Supreme Court rules against the government in King v. Burwell,1 insurance subsidies available under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will evaporate in the thirty-four states that have refused to establish their own health-care exchanges.2 The pain could be felt within weeks. Without subsidies, an estimated eight or nine million people stand to lose their health coverage.3 Because sicker people will retain coverage at a much higher rate than healthier people, insuranc…
Introduction Nearly fifty years ago, in the 1967 case Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court struck down bans on interracial marriage.1 This Term, the Court seems poised to further expand marriage equality by holding that same-sex couples, too, are guaranteed the constitutional right to marry. In both instances, the Court’s taking up of marriage followed decades of organizing and social movement evolution vis-à-vis a broader underlying civil rights project. In both instances, marr…
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.
We are about to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut,1 a 1965 case in which the Supreme Court struck down a Connecticut law that criminalized the use of contraception, in the process giving birth to the modern right to privacy. From Griswold’s understanding of “liberty” grew the right to make decisions about abortion, and the right to engage in same-sex sex, without coercion by the criminal law. How has our understanding of the Constitution’s protection for …
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut,1the Supreme Court decision that famously articulated a right to privacy.2 As we celebrate Griswold, it is easy to overlook what preceded it—and what was surrendered in Griswold’s embrace of the right to privacy. In 1960, five years before Griswold reached the Supreme Court, Yale law professor Fowler V. Harper and civil rights attorney Catherine Roraback launched a series of federal challenges to Connecticut’s ba…
Fifty years ago, the Court in Griswold v. Connecticut1 invalidated Connecticut’s ban on birth control. The various opinions in Griswold were in many ways products of their time. For instance, none of the Justices focused on the implications of the Connecticut law for women’s equality. Constitutional sex discrimination law had yet to be developed—and the National Organization for Women had yet to be founded—at the time Griswold was decided, so the ways in which the state’s reg…
In Griswold v. Connecticut,1 the Supreme Court ruled that a Connecticut statute criminalizing the use of contraception violated married couples’ privacy rights. On the decision’s fiftieth anniversary, this brief Essay takes cues from a principle at stake in Griswold—that procreative liberty is integrally related to equality2—and shifts the focus to a new form of procreation, namely assisted reproductive technology (ART), and an emergent form of equality, namely sexual orientat…
“Not only the sex discrimination cases, but the cases on contraception, abortion, and illegitimacy as well, present various faces of a single issue: the roles women are to play in society. Are women to have the opportunity to participate in full partnership with men in the nation’s social, political, and economic life?” —Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 19781 “The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their …
In two recent articles, we urged financial regulators to use cost-benefit analysis (CBA) to evaluate financial regulations.1 John Coates has emerged as a leading critic of this view.2 In this essay, we respond to his objections. We make several points. First, Coates conflates two separate issues: the advisability of CBA and the uncertainty of CBA valuations. He argues that because scholars have so far disagreed about relevant valuations, regulators should not engage in CBA.3 Howeve…
I. what government doesn’t know Cost-benefit analysis is best understood as a way for agencies to ensure that their decisions are informed—that they are based on knowledge about likely consequences, rather than on dogmas, intuitions, hunches, or interest-group pressures.1 But when agencies lack that knowledge, and cannot obtain it, cost-benefit analysis runs into an evident objection. It is tempting to think that financial regulation in particular should not be subjected to cost…
The SEC’s economic analysis has been under fire in recent years. This essay argues that the agency’s response to successful challenges to its rules has produced real progress in the SEC’s rulemaking process as well. The SEC has refined its internal processes and improved its work product, albeit in ways that Congress and the courts may not have precisely directed. John Coates and many others sound a call for change at the SEC.1 This Essay attempts to defend the thesis that the ch…
Let me begin by thanking Professors Posner, Weyl, and Sunstein, and Mr. Kraus, for their thoughtful and thought-provoking replies, and the editors of the Yale Law Journal for organizing this exchange. The comments are rich, and a full response would take on the size of another article—but in the interest of time and readers’ patience, I will limit this Reply to a few points. Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) has become increasingly important to the way that regulations are proposed, …
Introduction In philosophy, we can sometimes hope to make progress just by looking at old issues in new ways. The hope is that we might see familiar facts and controversies differently and understand them better for it. In their recent Essays, Mark Greenberg and Scott Hershovitz make the case for such hope in jurisprudence: they argue that we can see the issues differently and understand them better for it. Greenberg and Hershovitz don’t see things in exactly the same way, of cour…
Introduction “Claim construction” is the process by which a court determines the meaning of a patent’s claims—a process that in turn determines the scope of the covered invention. This process is extremely important because a court must determine what the patent covers before it can determine whether the patent is invalid or infringed.1 Uncertainty over how a given court will construe a patent’s claims is one of the main problems facing patent professionals.2 This problem …
In his provocative article, The Limits of Enumeration,1 Richard Primus rejects what he calls the “internal-limits canon” and challenges the assumption that the powers of Congress do not add up to a general police power, such that “there are things Congress cannot do, even without reference to affirmative prohibitions like those in the Bill of Rights.”2 Primus does not claim that federal power actually does amount to a general police power, only that it might.3 His principal cl…
Over the past few weeks, several major developments have occurred at the intersection of criminal justice and mental health law. This Roundup briefly summarizes these matters and discusses how each reflects current trends in the criminal justice system’s approach to individuals with mental health problems. On November 25, 2014, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in City & County of San Francisco v. Sheehan.1 One of the issues presented is whether the Americans with Disabilities Ac…
Introduction Since the 1980s, the FBI has issued documents referred to as National Security Letters (NSLs), which demand data from companies—including financial institution records and the customer records of telephone companies and communications service providers—for foreign intelligence investigations.1 The use of the letters increased dramatically after the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the USA PATRIOT Act’s expansion of the FBI’s statutory NSL authority.2 But these …
Public corruption has occupied an interstitial space in American law, cutting across many different legal fields, including traditional criminal law, campaign finance regulation, special rules governing public officers, and First Amendment doctrine. When Citizens United was decided,1 its effects on campaign finance law were recognized immediately.2 But the decision also transformed the law on public corruption by shifting the relationship between some of the many different legal field…
Over the last several months, five states have passed “Right to Try” laws,1 which are designed to allow terminally ill patients to obtain experimental drugs.2 Often popularly known as “Dallas Buyers Club” laws,3 Right to Try legislation appears to bypass the FDA’s safety procedures—procedures that supporters of Right to Try legislation believe too often prevent the terminally ill from accessing drugs that might save their lives.4 The reality of Right to Try laws, howeve…
On December 3, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Young v. United Parcel Service, a case that asks if the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) entitles pregnant workers to receive the same accommodations as disabled workers.1 Already, the EEOC has issued Enforcement Guidance explaining that disabled pregnant workers are entitled to reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).2 And in 2013, Congress considered and rejected the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,…
Introduction1 Many cities across the nation have begun to consider exercising their eminent domain authority to purchase, then write-down principal on, otherwise unmodifiable home mortgage loans facing foreclosure.2 I and several others have advocated this method and cognate uses of government authority to stabilize troubled housing markets for some years now,3 but the eminent domain approach to the problem nevertheless remains unfamiliar to many people. This is likely to change in…
Organ transplantation holds the potential to save a sick person’s life, but for a large population of hopeful transplant patients, the short supply of transplantable organs causes a delay or denial of life-saving treatment. In the United States, recent survey data revealed that almost two-thirds of respondents were registered as organ donors,1 but national transplantation statistics show that, in 2006, less than half of potentially recoverable organs were actually recovered and found…
It may be hard to look over the current political landscape without concluding that some remedy for the current political dysfunction is in order.1 We live in a time when political polarization is so intense that some members of one party have openly stated that they would do virtually anything to block the agenda of the sitting President2—up to and including opposing members of their own caucus who suggest that some compromises with the other side might be in order.3 These politici…
In 1988, the Texas Court of Appeals held in Davis v. Sheerin that minority shareholders in close corporations are entitled to a buy-out of their shares if they are “oppressed” by the majority shareholders.1 Davis synthesized other states’ case law in order to arrive at a two-part test for shareholder oppression. Under this test, actions of majority shareholders are oppressive when they either (1) substantially defeat a minority shareholder’s reasonable expectations or (2) cons…
A recent Ninth Circuit case, Garcia v. Google, held that an actor can maintain a copyright interest in her acting performance in a film—independent of the copyright held by the filmmaker—and that this copyright can sometimes be sufficiently powerful to allow the actor to prevent public dissemination of the film.1 The decision has been widely criticized for its interpretation of the Copyright Act, its First Amendment implications, and its potential economic impact on the film and t…
In June 2014, the Supreme Court unanimously held in Riley v. California1 that the digital content of cell phones does not fall within the search-incident-to-arrest exception to the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches. The Court provided a clear answer “to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest . . . —get a warrant.”2 The Court held that any data on a cell phone requires a warrant for police to acc…
Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. may well be the biggest case of the past Term.1 But by its own rules, the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction to decide the case. An obscure statute, the Anti-Injunction Act of 1867 (AIA), imposes a pay-first requirement on federal tax challenges. The deeply held conventional wisdom is that the AIA is a jurisdictional statute,2 and there is a good argument that the AIA applies to the contraception mandate at issue in Hobby Lobby. In National Federatio…
Questioning the Use of Structure To Interpret Statutory Intent: A Critique of Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA
In late 2009 and early 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency promulgated a series of final agency actions that operate together to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act (CAA). Under some CAA programs, sources of pollution are required to obtain permits based on the volume of pollutants they emit.1 GHGs, however, are emitted at much greater volumes than conventional air pollutants.2 Together, these facts led to a problem: regulating GHG emissions at the lev…
Suppose that Oliver owns Blackacre, a parcel adjacent to Whiteacre, owned by Teresa. Oliver erects a large sculpture on Blackacre along the shared property line. The sculpture conforms to zoning regulations. But Oliver erects it in order to block Teresa’s access to light. Is he legally entitled to do so? Common law jurisdictions standardly hold that he is: property law does not inquire into an owner’s motives or reasons for exercising his property rights.1 Put differently, the s…
This Term in Hall v. Florida the Supreme Court held a portion of Florida’s death penalty statute unconstitutional under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.1 Specifically, the Court invalidated Florida’s rigid system for determining whether a capital defendant is intellectually disabled and therefore categorically ineligible for the death penalty.2 Before Hall was decided, if a Florida capital defendant had an IQ of above 70 points, then his attorneys were prohibited from presen…
The laws governing stored communication privacy—enacted almost thirty years ago—may finally be updated to reflect contemporary needs, at least in part. The Email Privacy Act,1 proposed by Representatives Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.), Tom Graves (R-Ga.), and Jared Polis (D-Colo.), would afford greater privacy protections for stored emails, in particular by requiring a warrant for any searches of emails stored for more than 180 days. This represents a small step towards strengthening the me…
Using a database that contains over 19,000 law review articles published in top 100 law reviews between 1990 and 2010, we observe that team authors dominate solo authors in the production of legal knowledge. Team research is on average more frequently cited than individual research, and teams are more likely than individuals to produce exceptionally high-impact research. These results suggest that a legal research culture that encourages cooperation and collaboration could foster an in…
Before the end of this month, the Supreme Court will decide Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.1 and in so doing will determine whether the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA) exempts from the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) contraception mandate closely held, for-profit companies whose owners oppose contraception on religious grounds.2 RFRA states that “[the] Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion.”3 A central issue in the case is whet…
Introduction Here we go again. In late February 2014 a group of congresspersons introduced a bill—The American Royalties Too Act of 2014 (known for its catchy abbreviation: the ART Act),1 which, if passed, will grant visual artists2 a right to collect royalties when their artworks are resold. This is the fifth attempt to pass such legislation.3 However, unlike their predecessors, the proponents of the current bill are now armed with a comprehensive report, published by the U.S. C…
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.
Sonia Sotomayor’s first five years on the Court
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Although customary international law (CIL) has historically been one of the principal forms of international law, it is plagued by debates and uncertainties about its proper sources, its content, its usefulness, and its normative attractiveness. While some of these debates and uncertainties are longstanding, they have intensified in recent years, in part because of the rise of multilateral treaty-making, which allows nations collectively to negotiate and codify broad areas of international law i…
After a quiet century or so, the scope of Congress’s power “[t]o lay and collect taxes” is once again in the news. The taxing power was at issue when the Supreme Court issued a decision that President (and Chief Justice) Taft would later call the worst injury to the Court’s reputation ever, Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust, striking down the Income Tax Act of 1894. That decision was largely reversed by the 1913 enactment of the Sixteenth Amendment. Today the taxing power is one of thre…
William Eskridge, Jr., and John Ferejohn’s magnum opus on “small ‘c’” constitutionalism and the republic of statutes is an unusually wide-ranging work of legal and political analysis, one that defies comprehensive summary. In this Essay, we bore in on a central element of their thesis: the idea of entrenchment. In A Republic of Statutes, legal entrenchment is used to tether the authors’ normative theory of American constitutionalism to a positive political theory of law. Entrenchment…
There is a widespread intuition that the Constitution provides much less than a full blueprint of the structure and powers of the contemporary federal government. Even if we regard judicial doctrine as part of the “Large ‘C’” Constitution, the intuition still seems valid. In particular, it is hard to account for the extraordinary increase in presidential power that Arthur Schlesinger has described as the “imperial presidency,” and which is critiqued in Bruce Ackerman’s most recent …
I. America’s Two Health Care Constitutions The United States has two health care constitutions, and the old is the enemy of the new. The recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is the latest step in the federal government’s incremental efforts over the past half century to construct and entrench a modern constitution of health security similar to those enjoyed by citizens in most other advanced democracies. At present, this constitution of health security is wobb…
In his 2008 campaign, then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama promised “comprehensive immigration reform.” Two years into his Administration, and despite continued efforts to promote reform, there has not even been a vote in Congress on a comprehensive bill. President Obama’s predecessor, Republican George W. Bush, also promised comprehensive immigration reform, which was not produced during his eight years in office. Despite their differing parties, the two Presidents’ propo…
In A Republic of Statutes, William Eskridge and John Ferejohn argue convincingly that statutes represent basic components of our constitutional structure. Statutes lie at the center of “administrative constitutionalism,” defined as “the process by which legislative and executive officials, America’s primary governmental norm entrepreneurs, advance new fundamental principles and policies.” At one level, this notion is uncontroversial: everyone agrees that the written Constitution author…
Introduction to The Yale Law Journal Online Symposium on Eskridge and Ferejohn's A Republic of Statutes: The New American Constitution
A Republic of Statutes: The New American Constitution is a landmark collaboration of two preeminent scholars, law professor William N. Eskridge, Jr. and political scientist John Ferejohn. Nearly a quarter century ago, Professor Eskridge, with the late Professor Philip Frickey, sparked the revival of legislation as a field of study. Commenting on the seminal Eskridge-Frickey casebook on legislation, Judge Richard Posner prophetically wrote: “[I]t has the potential to alter the law school curric…
Curtis A. Bradley and Mitu Gulati’s Withdrawing from International Custom brings to mind the old joke recounted by Woody Allen in Annie Hall: “Two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ’em says, ‘Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.’ The other one says, ‘Yeah, I know; and such small portions.’” Similarly, while Bradley and Gulati attack international law’s current prohibition of unilateral withdrawal from custom, they propose an alternative that…
[To] halt the law's evolution... would be to sever property's link to the culture it serves. In time, a static property regime would inevitably become an anachronism and would gradually be perceived as an obstacle to progressIn Stop the Beach Renourishment, Inc. v. Florida Department of Environmental Protection, a four-Justice plurality endorsed a novel theory that would make the Takings Clause applicable to a wide collection of state court interpretations of state property law. Writing for the …
A statute pointedly described as an “opaque, baroque maze of interlocking cross-references” is unlikely to represent an intelligent response to a fundamental failing in one of the most complicated and divisive areas of law. Yet, the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), ostensibly enacted by Congress to remedy purported abuses in class action litigation, created precisely such an uncertain rubric. This Essay considers and attempts to resolve CAFA’s profound and previously unaddressed shortcomi…
Treaty Denunciation and "Withdrawal" from Customary International Law: An Erroneous Analogy with Dangerous Consequences
In their recent article in The Yale Law Journal, Professors Curtis Bradley and Mitu Gulati argue for a sweeping reformulation of international law relating to the legal force of customary norms. The model that they propose (the “Default View”) has the highly counterintuitive feature that states would be entitled to unilaterally opt out of customary norms with which they disagree, even long after the norm in question became an accepted part of international customary law and even if they had …
The Supreme Court’s forthcoming decision in Snyder v. Phelps will address the clash between two fundamental and longstanding American values: freedom of speech and “the right to be let alone.” Freedom of speech is a cherished and distinguishing characteristic of American democracy, while the right to be left alone has been acclaimed as “the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.” The facts of Snyder v. Phelps present a direct conflict between these two…
The modern view is that “[c]ustomary international law results from a general and consistent practice of states followed by them from a sense of legal obligation.” General and consistent practice can generate a rule of customary international law (CIL) that is binding on all nations even if that practice is not universal. New states are bound by existing rules, and no state may unilaterally withdraw from a rule of CIL. As the International Court of Justice put it, CIL rules, “by their very…
Professors Curtis Bradley and Mitu Gulati have written a rich and interesting paper with a bold conclusion supported by historical and normative arguments. I find myself unpersuaded by either set of arguments. Most of my comments concern their reading of the historical sources, which they use to show both that the Default View was indeed the traditional doctrine of customary international law (CIL) and that the Mandatory View carries a disagreeable colonialist legacy. I criticize the former argu…
Parents often create a family limited partnership (FLP) or similar entity to provide a vehicle for cohesive management of assets, secure some measure of creditor protection, or create a common pool for investment in marketable securities. FLPs generally encumber their members’ interests with restrictions for various reasons. The Internal Revenue Service in turn attacks FLP restrictions because encumbrances reduce estate and gift tax value when FLP interests transfer. In two cases in the spring…
Introduction To lawyers, corruption is mainly a problem of law enforcement. Bribes and other types of corrupt dealings are hard to observe and to prosecute if both sides gain from the transaction, because even clear losers may risk retaliation if they report a transaction. The economic analysis of bribery frequently views it only as a special case of the economic analysis of criminal behavior more generally.1 This focus on law enforcement begs some interesting questions. The ver…
On June 24, 2010, the Washington Supreme Court issued its opinion in McCurry v. Chevy Chase Bank, declining to follow nonmandatory but highly persuasive federal pleading standards. In doing so, Washington State became the first state supreme court post-Iqbal to abandon the ideal of national procedural uniformity over the contentious issue of plausibility pleading. Other states will have to decide the same issue in the months and years to come. This Essay explains the history and stakes of this d…
Words have a way of coming back to haunt you, especially those you bother to print. Just ask Elena Kagan. In a 1995 book review, she famously skewered the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for Supreme Court nominees as “a vapid and hollow charade, in which repetition of platitudes have replaced discussion of viewpoints and personal anecdotes have supplanted legal analysis.” Those are strong words, the kind that young professors truck in when the favor of a tenure committee is foremost in t…
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding her confirmation as a Supreme Court Justice, Solicitor General Elena Kagan summed up in a cool and even-handed manner the arguments she and her opponents in the Citizens United v. FEC case had made to the Supreme Court. The “strongest argument of the government,” she said, “was the very substantial record that Congress put together” demonstrating that money spent by corporations and unions “could have substantial corrupting eff…
Finding methodological consensus for statutory interpretation cases is all the rage these days. Some in the academy sing the praises of a singular judicial approach to questions of statutory interpretation and bemoan the frustrations associated with judges implementing a mélange of interpretive techniques. And now, thanks to Abbe Gluck’s authoritative article, Laboratories of Statutory Interpretation, proponents of interpretive uniformity have evidence that some state courts seem to be applyi…
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.
The recent enactment of major health care reform legislation has brought with it a welter of constitutional challenges to the legislation and its key provisions. Attorneys General in more than a dozen states have already filed suits seeking to enjoin the operation of the statute, arguing that its requirement that most individuals either purchase health insurance or pay a penalty tax exceeds Congress’s enumerated powers. And several prominent scholars have argued similarly that this “individu…
Citizens United has wrought widespread changes in the election law landscape. Yet, a lesser-known consequence of this watershed case might have a significant impact in the workplace: it may permit employers to hold political captive audience workplace meetings with their employees. Under Citizens United’s robust conception of corporate political speech, employers may now be able to compel their employees to listen to their political views at such meetings on pain of termination. To eliminate …
Climate change has become the hottest environmental debate in decades. It could also go down as the dirtiest—and not just politically. As legislators, regulators, pundits, and stakeholders debate the question of whether or not to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, the regulatory uncertainty that they have created is leading to dirtier air quality in this country, which in turn is harming our health. According to calculations based on Bush-era EPA data, the climate debate is likely already resp…
The Federal Circuit’s December 7, 2009 hearing of oral argument in Ariad v. Lilly has generated significant interest among those who follow patent policy. An en banc decision is expected within the next few months. The dispute arises from the interpretation of 35 U.S.C. § 112, which states in relevant part: "The specification shall contain a written description of the invention, and of the manner and process of making and using it, in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms as to en…
As the output of the Supreme Court shrinks, from about 150 cases per Term decided with full opinions in the mid-1980s to about seventy now, concern has grown over whether the Court is deciding too few cases and consequently leaving too many important cases and issues undecided. The extent to which the concern is justified, however, depends in part on what is meant by “important,” and in part on whether it is important that the Supreme Court decide important cases. If we distinguish publicly impo…
I. Introduction: The Need for “Political” Analysis My participation in the excellent conference on case selection in the Supreme Court was surely based neither on my experience lawyering before the Court, nor on my systematic study of the case selection process as a methodologically sophisticated political scientist. That being said, I have studied and written about the Supreme Court, and I believe that I do have something to contribute to the discussion—I believe that the discussions ten…
The declining number of cases on the Supreme Court’s plenary docket may or may not be a problem. After all, there are many good reasons that such a decline could be happening, including the obvious possibility that the Court was previously hearing too many cases that did not warrant plenary review and is now doing a better, not worse, job of picking cases. But while having fewer cases is not necessarily problematic, what is worrisome is the very real possibility that the Court’s plenary docket i…
“The most important thing we do,” Justice Brandeis once remarked, Alexander Bickel showed long ago how the Supreme Court’s discretionary certiorari jurisdiction was the lynchpin of those “passive virtues” that are essential to principled government. Indeed, the cautious exercise of the certiorari jurisdiction may be as important to judicial self-restraint as the Court’s decisions on the merits. We should therefore view skeptically any attempt to alter the Supreme Court’s case selection process. …
The Yale Law Journal Online is reissuing Elizabeth Pollman's Citizens Not United: The Lack of Stockholder Voluntariness in Corporate Political Speech in light of recent developments at the Supreme Court. With the Supreme Court hearing a new round of oral arguments in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Court appears poised to alter dramatically the landscape of corporate political speech law. The case concerns whether the government may limit a nonprofit political advocacy group…
But for its contemporary particularities, Michael Stokes Paulsen’s essay The Constitutional Power To Interpret International Law would work comfortably as an excellent example of late-nineteenth-century legal scholarship, with all of its best and worst qualities. The piece makes for good reading; it is sweeping in scope, confident in tone, and certain of result. It is tightly argued in a self-contained order of doctrinal logics. Paulsen wears his ideology on his sleeve, not a bad thing. He is …
There is much to admire in Michael Stokes Paulsen’s elegant and bold polemic on the Constitution and international law. Paulsen deserves substantial praise both for offering a clear and accessible theory of the Constitution and international law, and for then bravely taking that theory to its logical though controversial conclusions. He rightly emphasizes that the Constitution is supreme over international law and that the political branches, Congress, and the President, have an independent an…
A circuit split is in the making, and it could signal a shift with significant implications for federal arbitration law. Just eighteen months after the U.S. Supreme Court’s March 25, 2008 decision in the controversial case of Hall Street Associates v. Mattel, Inc., three circuits are already in ripe disagreement as to whether Hall Street abrogates the half-century old, judicially-created doctrine of “manifest disregard.” Manifest disregard is a common-law exception to the limited grounds …
International law is “everywhere” in the United States: informing state CO2 emissions standards; providing inspiration for local civil rights codes; and overseeing the more than three trillion dollars in annual trade in goods, to name just a few examples. A reader of Professor Michael Stokes Paulsen’s essay, The Constitutional Power To Interpret International Law, might be forgiven for missing these important trends, because rather than focus on the ubiquity of international law and the my…
In The Constitutional Power To Interpret International Law, Michael Paulsen argues that “[t]he force of international law, as a body of law, upon the United States is . . . largely an illusion.” Rather than law, international law is “policy and politics.” For all the certainty with which his argument is advanced, however, it cannot survive close scrutiny. At its foundation, Paulsen’s essay rests on a pair of fundamental misconceptions of the nature of law. Law is not reduced to mere po…
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.
The Yale Law Journal is pleased to announce the launch of The Yale Law Journal Online in the Fall of 2009. YLJ Online will integrate the current features of The Pocket Part with additional fora for legal scholarship. The YLJ Online Committee will continue to consider submissions under The Pocket Part's guidelines and submissions system throughout the summer. For questions regarding YLJ Online and The Pocket Part, please contact our Managing Online Editor, Jeffrey K. Lee, here.
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.
Mirjan walked into my life in the Fall of 1972. I was 29, he was 41, but both of us were at the beginning of our academic careers in America. I was a lucky guy. My DNA was programmed for standardized tests. This curious aptitude propelled me out of the Bronx to Harvard College and Yale Law School. I served as a law clerk for Henry Friendly and John Harlan, followed up by writing a couple of long articles, and, voila, this proved to be a recipe for a full professorship at the University of Pennsy…
Many attorneys are unaware of or misunderstand an important tool they can use to protect their business organization clients: the ability to disclose the client’s confidences. In jurisdictions with “loyal disclosure” rules—rules adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the American Bar Association in response to Enron and other corporate scandals—counsel may disclose confidential information to protect an entity client from the harmful, illegal conduct of company constitue…
The Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), housed within the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), investigates alleged misconduct by federal prosecutors and other DOJ personnel. Under the Bush administration, even when OPR found serious prosecutorial misconduct, DOJ kept the disciplinary investigation and outcome private to avoid embarrassing the prosecutor. This practice superseded a public disclosure policy adopted by the previous administration. This essay submits that DOJ’s recent pract…
If a rule is only as good as its exceptions, and a reporter is only as good as her sources, then according to a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court opinion, Pennsylvania’s reporter’s privilege is the best of privileges and the worst of privileges. In that opinion, the court failed to carve a crime-fraud exception out of Pennsylvania’s reporter’s privilege—or its “Shield Law”—despite having previously read a similar exception into every other evidentiary privilege. Ironically, this …
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
In a recent note in The Yale Law Journal, Jon Donenberg argued that (1) program changes in Medicaid ushered in by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) sub silentio rendered Medicaid’s basic availability provision unenforceable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and (2) state fair hearing procedures constitute the best alternative for enforcement of beneficiary rights. Donenberg misreads both the DRA and § 1983 jurisprudence, overstates the usefulness of fair hearings, and overlooks the better altern…
Virtual world transactions (VWT) involve the sale or exchange of goods and services that are used exclusively within a virtual world. As participation in virtual worlds increases, both in volume and in character, the boundary between VWT and real world transactions becomes unclear. Consequently, many wonder whether the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will tax participants in virtual worlds, even before they have converted their virtual items into real goods or services. Although IRS agents are no…
Millions of people participate in virtual worlds—immersive online forums such as Second Life and World of Warcraft (WoW). While some online activities lack significant economic implications, one of the attractions of Second Life, which is designed to be a commercial platform, is the prospect of making “real money.” This essay argues that profits received in the form of Lindens (Second Life’s currency) should be taxed in much the same way profits received via PayPal, a widely used electro…
Second Life is a feudal society. No, not metaphorically. Literally. Two problems have preoccupied scholars of virtual world law: What is the political relationship between developers and users? And: Should we treat in-world objects as property? We can make progress on both questions by recognizing that virtual politics and property are inex-tricably linked, in the same way that feudal politics and property were. It is the tenant/user’s relationship with his lord/developer that both creates th…
Economists and legal theorists have long argued that real-world economies cannot function effectively without well-defined property rights. More recently, scholars have also begun to analyze at least three kinds of “virtual” economies: the online economies exemplified by eBay and other trade-facilitating mechanisms; the economies in virtual worlds such as Second Life and World of Warcraft; and the virtual reputational economies associated with MySpace and Facebook. The first two economies ge…
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 Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth, and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked, immovable. Introduction Suppose that you move to a new town. To buy your home, you must allow the developer to install cameras in each room and record all interactions between you and your husband. To use the telephone, you must permit the telephone company to record and retain your conversations. To r…
Recently, few economic topics have received more political attention than the potential impact of Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs). Until recently, scholarly and political attention to SWFs was almost exclusively focused on the impact these funds may have on Western countries. The little attention paid to the impact SWFs have on countries where these funds originate has been largely negative, often characterizing such funds as products of “authoritarian regimes in semi-developed countries, where …
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.
The rise of significant inbound capital flows originating from sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) has occasioned a debate over the appropriate regulatory and tax treatment of these funds. In particular, it has been argued that the tax exemption currently enjoyed by SWFs confers an advantage on these entities as providers of capital to U.S. firms relative to private foreign investors, and that a tax should be imposed on SWFs to restore fairness. This essay argues that the distinctive nature of the por…
Important characteristics distinguish sovereign wealth fund investment, which is often troubling, from private foreign investment, which is generally beneficial. Allowing sovereign wealth funds to own equity stakes in American companies encroaches on the autonomy of U.S. industrial and foreign policy in a way that private investment does not. Moreover, because some sovereign wealth fund investment is politically motivated, this new form of investment impairs the efficient allocation of economic …
Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) recently have captured America’s attention. Much of that attention has been critical, with a particular focus on whether the U.S. economy is becoming vulnerable to the policy whims of foreign states. Yet SWFs face significant domestic commercial and political pressures to emphasize financial performance over policy goals. These pressures from home can protect against politically motivated U.S. investments. To the extent these motivations are insufficient, addition…
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.
Minorities, Shareholder and Otherwise makes two novel claims: that corporate law places protection of minority shareholders at the heart of its endeavor; and that this minority-mindfulness should have even greater purchase in constitutional contexts. My retelling of the corporate law narrative coupled with my extension of that story to the constitutional domain puts pressure on scholars either to dispute my characterization of corporate law (or for that matter, constitutional law) or to deny the…
Anupam Chander’s article Minorities, Shareholder and Otherwise brilliantly offers a “conservative” justification for a U.S. constitutional law truly dedicated to fairness and justice for all. It does so by counterintuitively looking to the bottom-line-oriented world of corporate law. This commentary offers a most powerful example of the gulf between constitutional law and corporate law identified by Professor Chander. Modern constitutional law affords no meaningful substantive protection t…
In Minorities, Shareholder and Otherwise, Anupam Chander argues that, unlike constitutional law, “corporate law places minorities at the heart of its endeavor.” Central to his project is an empirical claim that corporate law has an “elaborate framework” for “protecting minority interests in the corporation.” In Chander’s view, it thus is corporate law, not constitutional law, that is truly equipped to deal with issues such as fairness, oppression, and power. It is a very clever th…
In Minorities, Shareholder and Otherwise, Anupam Chander points out that the law treats discrimination by corporate insiders against minority shareholders with suspicion. Yet discrimination against ordinary minorities, in buying or selling a house or applying for a job, for example, receives increasingly lax treatment from color-blind courts uninterested in delving into the thickets of intent, history, and complex causation. For corporate law, “equal treatment can only be assured by taking mi…
Why Hollywood Does Not Require “Saving” From the Recordkeeping Requirements Imposed by 18 U.S.C. Section 2257
It is a distinct pleasure to have the chance to respond to the insightful commentaries of Peter Drahos, Ruth Okediji, and Tomiko Brown-Nagin. I find much to agree with in each, but I will focus on a few areas of divergence in the hope of clarifying our differences. Drahos’s work on the role of ideas in the field of international intellectual property (IP) has been essential to my own thinking, and we agree on two critical points: that frame mobilization matters to political outcomes, and that…
Prisoners of Their Own War: Can Policymakers Look Beyond the “War on Drugs” to Drug Treatment Courts?
How much difference does the mechanism of framing make to global regulatory outcomes? Structural explanations of regulatory globalization that are rooted in state power and self-interest would dismiss the explanatory value of framing. Put simply, words are cheap and do not matter to the final outcomes of globalization. In her recent article, Amy Kapczynski challenges these structural explanations, asserting that the theory of framing offers a better account of the politics of intellectual proper…
"One of These Things Does Not Belong”: Intellectual Property and Collective Action Across Boundaries
It is a fine day when I am able to fondly recall a childhood game, reflect upon social movement theory, and ponder the connections between the public interest and private law, all at once. Amy Kapczynski’s article brought me to this delightful place. The childhood game, which featured four cards, each picturing four distinct items, tested analogical reasoning. The game’s objective: to figure out which of the things “did not belong.” I found this exercise endlessly fascinating, just as I …
Back when my friend Sandy Levinson and I were both on the Texas law faculty, the assistant dean for communications proposed a promotional tour featuring Professor Levinson’s book Our Undemocratic Constitution and my recently published piece in this journal, The Constitution Outside the Constitution. The plan was that Levinson would say the Constitution is bad, and I would add that it isn’t really even the Constitution. In the event, we did not get to take our show on the road, so I’m grate…
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.
The Court ruled in Georgia v. Ashcroft that states, when redistricting, could try to increase “substantive representation”—the degree of influence that minority voters have on policy outcomes—even at a possible cost to “descriptive representation”—the number of minority candidates elected to office. As reviewed in Nathaniel Persily’s article The Promise and Pitfalls of the New Voting Rights Act, Congress attempted to overrule Georgia v. Ashcroft in the 2006 Voting Rights Act Rene…
Renewing the Promise of Ending Voting Discrimination: A Return to an Effective Section 5 Retrogression Standard
The purpose of Professor Nathaniel Persily’s article, The Promise and Pitfalls of the New Voting Rights Act, is to present an interpretation of the discriminatory effects prong of the new section 5 that will have a greater probability of surviving constitutional scrutiny. In presenting this interpretation, Professor Persily addresses several major issues that delineate the contours of the new section 5 retrogression standard and its application to redistricting plans. Yet, upon closer examinat…
The role of an election law scholar these days is much like that of an anthropologist specializing in the study of human sacrifice. At a certain point, some of us in the field suppress natural human impulses of disgust and revulsion and replace them with fascination and curiosity. How else does one stomach the pervasive partisan greed, the wild conspiracy theories, the actual conspiracies, the pretextual arguments, and the often vicious attempts to use the law for partisan and personal gain? My …
Section 2257 of title 18 of the U.S. Code requires that “producers” of photographs and films of “actual sexually explicit conduct” create and maintain records documenting the age of the performers depicted in those performances. The statute’s purpose is to ensure that the performers are not minors. This recordkeeping statute has generally been limited to the adult film industry, although recently the statute’s impact has crept into the realm of mainstream film and television. For ove…
The Yale Law Journal Pocket Part will conclude its weekly submissions considerations Thursday May 8th and will consider submissions submitted over the summer on a monthly basis.
Recently, Senator Robert Bennett expressed a sentiment that aptly summarizes my reaction to Josh Chafetz’s call to change ethics enforcement in Congress. “Washington is the only place I know where, when people break the law, our reaction is . . . [to] make the law tougher.” In recent years, several members of Congress have violated ethics rules, and a few have broken the law. Unlike Chafetz, however, I don’t view these events as evidence of a system in disrepair. Instead, they are proof …
Paul M. Thompson’s reply to my Comment proposing the creation of Congressional Commissioners for Standards proceeds in two steps. First, he argues that our current system of ethics enforcement, dominated by the ethics committees and the Department of Justice, is working just fine. And second, he argues that the establishment of Congressional Commissioners would create, rather than solve, problems. Both of these claims suffer from the same basic defect: they assume that congressional ethics enf…
It is perhaps counterintuitive to respond to a call for papers on new developments in state law by arguing that there should be no developments at all. With regard to one area of law, however, that is exactly what I am going to do. More precisely, I argue for one general development—the elimination of state authority to regulate the workplace. Current governance of the workplace originates from local, state, and federal governments. In some areas, such as private-sector labor law under the Na…
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
California recently passed legislation that creates retroactive, descendible rights of publicity. The New York State Assembly is poised to enact similar legislation. Legal recognition of postmortem rights of publicity permits a decedent’s named beneficiaries or heirs to control (and financially benefit from) use of a deceased personality’s image and likeness. Legislators, proponents of these laws, and legal commentators have overlooked two significant federal estate tax consequences of these…
Recent attempts to falsely portray presidential candidate Barack Obama as a Muslim and a tool of our nation’s enemies serve as vivid reminders that many Americans doubt the loyalties of their Muslim compatriots. These smears exploit the perception that conduct expressive of Muslim identity—like attending a “Muslim” school or wearing “Muslim” garb—is inherently suspicious. Some counterterrorism profiling, even when based on “objective” intelligence, has employed similar logic by…
In Defending the Faithful: Speaking the Language of Group Harm in Free Exercise Challenges to Counterterrorism Profiling, Murad Hussain moves beyond the longstanding concern with governmental profiling on the basis of racial or religious group status. Hussain contends that antiterrorism profiling on the basis of religiously inspired conduct or cultural practices may also inflict “pervasive dignitary and stigmatic harms upon the Muslim American community.” Hussain proposes a doctrinal remedy …
In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, the government has adopted a number of counterterrorism measures that burden Muslim-Americans’ religious practices. Murad Hussain’s Note attempts to overcome the doctrinal obstacles facing individuals’ pursuit of legal claims against these measures. Because of the deference granted the government when it alleges national security interests, the immediate effects of this approach may be limited. Over time, however, Hussain’s doctrinal strategy, by …
A Procedural Rule and a Substantive Problem: Legislative Hawks and the Concentration of Power in Georgia’s Speaker of the House
Just hours after the Georgia General Assembly convened in January 2005, the newly Republican-led House of Representatives elected the first Republican Speaker of the House in 135 years. The House then launched its first official day of business with a dramatic change in its internal rules by passing House Rule 11.8—a rule that gives the Speaker unprecedented legal power to control the function of legislative committees. This Commentary argues that Georgia’s House Rule 11.8 is an abuse of t…
Murad Hussain argues that the courts should adopt a theory of hybrid rights to protect religious minority groups engaged in civic-minded speech. Why extend this protection only to religious minority groups; aren’t secular minorities just as vulnerable? And why only to religious groups who engage in civic dialogue; isn’t private religious expression just as meaningful? And why, of all conceptual possibilities, would one choose hybrid rights to protect anything; do such rights even exist in co…
Faced with a frustrating lack of federal leadership, environmentalists are increasingly focusing their energy on state and local efforts to protect our natural heritage. Many high profile projects, however, rely on unpopular mandatory standards and conflict with federal regulatory priorities. Consequently, programs like the California and Vermont fuel efficiency standards have met with political resistance at both the state and federal levels. As an alternative, states interested in resource pre…
The American jury’s prominent place on any short list of our most sacred endowments from older Western societies has tended to obscure both its tragic fall from grace and its recent renewal at the hands of state courts. I. The Jury Tradition Lawyers and judges regularly remind potential jurors that they are about to participate in a legal tradition enshrined by the signing of the Magna Carta. If anything, these exhortations typically understate the antiquity of the exercise. The Athenians, f…
The Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, the world’s oldest, still-governing written constitution, guarantees to all “[e]quality under the law” and the “impartial interpretation of the laws . . . by judges as free, impartial and independent as the lot of humanity will permit.” It also guarantees the “impartial . . . administration of justice,” and justice obtained “completely, and without any denial; promptly, and without delay.” The reason John Adams, the principal drafter of t…
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.
The British judges carried on an active correspondence with the Foreign Office in London, with British colonial officials, foreign governments, and ships captains. Topics ranged from the mundane—illnesses, budgetary and administrative matters—to the profound, including reflections on the inhumanity of the slave trade.
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. The court’s decisions were usually fairly brief, quickl…
Many of the trials concerned the validity of the ships’ papers, and the courts’ records contain many bundles of original records found on the captured ships. For example, the papers certifying the ship’s nationality or ownership might have been found to be forged or otherwise irregular. During the time period when the slave trade was prohibited by some nations only north of the equator, the ship’s log was sometimes altered to suggest that the ship had been sailing in legal latitudes when…
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.
José R. Coleman Tió argues the current commonwealth relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico is insufficient to satisfy Puerto Rico's democratic aspirations. Coleman believes that Puerto Rico can and should be given congressional representation through federal legislation. In response, Christina Duffy Burnett and John C. Fortier argue that Coleman cannot surmount the constitutional and normative challenges to his proposal. Taking a different perspective, Ezra Rosser argues that …
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.
Is Texas really worse than Ohio? Comparing the two—and, more broadly, the regions subject to the renewed Voting Rights Act with those that are exempt—provides critical support for the statute’s validity. My study of voting rights violations nationwide suggests that voting problems are more prevalent in places “covered” by the Act than elsewhere. Professor Persily’s careful and measured defense of the renewed statute posits that this evidence is the best available to support reautho…
Constitutional theory and design have been dominated by the specter of legislative and executive institutions voraciously seeking to expand their powers. But in modern political practice, the flight from political responsibility–the problem of political abdication–is at least as serious a threat. Constitutional theory has paid too little attention to this problem. And as a matter of institutional design, we are still struggling to find tools to force political actors to take responsibility t…
Nathaniel Persily’s article, The Promise and Pitfalls of the New Voting Rights Act, recently became a focus of attention in a pending case challenging section 5 of the VRA on constitutional grounds, Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 (NAMUDNO) v. Gonzales, No. 1:06-cv-01284-PLF (D.D.C. Aug. 4, 2006). The plaintiff in the case, a Texas utility district covered by section 5 of the VRA, argues that the requirement that it obtain federal preclearance for changes to its election pra…
In a world filled with unjust inequalities, it is fitting that theorists should be turning their attention to the ethical ideal known as “cosmopolitanism,” a view that holds that our loyalties and our ethical duties ought to transcend the local and even the national, focusing on the needs of human beings everywhere. In a world in which reasonable people differ about religious and secular values, however, this new theoretical attention will prove productive for the practical political debate …
A virtual cottage industry of intellectual property (IP) models has sprung up in recent years. To the mix, Henry Smith adds modularity, in which there are intense interactions within, and few interactions between, components. But before displacing more traditional explanations, the theory must address six fundamental challenges: (1) explain why modularity should be IP’s defining feature; (2) account for the roles played by IP statutes and doctrine; (3) specify clear boundaries for innately imp…
On Coordinating Transactions in Intellectual Property: A Response to Smith’s Delineating Entitlements in Information
Henry Smith’s Intellectual Property as Property: Delineating Entitlements in Information contributes to the intellectual property literature by arguing that enforcing IP with rights to exclude can mitigate the high information costs associated with information-based assets. Smith is right, as far as he goes, but perhaps he should go further. Treating IP as property has at least three additional important benefits: First, it improves socially constructive coordination that facilitates the compl…
Intellectual property is property. This may seem trivial to some and tendentious to others. Why? In my recent Article I argue that the conflict between two polar views arises in part from overlooking the nature of property rights. Commentary in intellectual property is overwhelmingly concerned with the nonrivalness of information on the one hand or the need for the creation of incentives on the other. The former makes intellectual property, and exclusion in particular, presumptively suspect: if …
The Yale Law Journal Pocket Part is soliciting commentaries for two end-of-year issues: one issue will focus on new developments in state courts, and the other will focus on new developments in state legislatures. Our goal is to bring critical focus to an area of lawmaking that deserves greater attention in the legal literature, and we invite you to submit a commentary on a state law topic of your choosing. Commentaries may explore a legal development at the state level that has not been ext…
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.
AutoAdmit has its problems—racism, sexism, and bigotry quickly come to mind—but we would not care nearly as much about its more vicious content were it not for Google. In this essay, I sketch a framework for a statutory solution to the Google bomb problem derived from the notice-and-takedown provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The purpose of this framework is to eliminate defamatory anonymous speech from Google search results. It would require search engines to remove …
With the growth of the Internet’s uses and abuses, Internet harassment is making headlines. Given its immediacy, anonymity, and accessibility, the Internet offers an unprecedented forum for defamation and harassment. The salient problem with such “cyberbullying” is that victims are typically left without adequate recourse. The government should provide recourse by curtailing the near absolute immunity Internet Service Providers (ISPs) currently enjoy under the Communications Decency Act (C…
When search engines lead thousands of searchers to anonymous online harassment, it may seem only natural to look for legal ways to make the harassment disappear from search results. This initially attractive idea is in fact deeply dangerous. It pressures the wrong intermediary, invites abuse by spammers and censors, and misunderstands the relationship between search engines and search users. Search-engine amplification is part of the problem of online harassment, but laws targeting search engine…
Our law students are more tech-savvy than ever. Unfortunately, they occasionally lack sense. Some of them simply fail to realize that we—professors, bar examiners, and law firms—see material they post online. Others make a game out of being intentionally, but anonymously, offensive. To avoid further injury to the reputation of our law schools and the legal profession, we must create incentives for the former students to consider consequences, and a reasonable chance that the latter students …
The efficient breach hypothesis is often taken as formal support for the Holmesian optional contract approach, which gives promisors the right to perform or pay. However, the efficient breach hypothesis doesn’t speak directly of rights (and indeed a promisor’s power to perform or pay would work just as well as the right to do so), but it does implicitly constrain the rights of promisees. If promisees have the right to prevent breach, it is often argued, inefficiency will result. Moreover, th…
Though falling comfortably in the genre of economic analysis of contract, Professor Brooks’s essay nevertheless provides some relief from the excesses of economic theorizing about the law. I will confine my comments to the conceptual and normative features of the economic analysis of contract, leaving it to others more versed in economic analysis than I to assess the success of his objections to the conventional view. It would be something of an understatement to say that economists of law s…
The classic economic justification of contract law’s default remedy of expectation damages is grounded on the efficient breach hypothesis: that promisors should be permitted and encouraged to breach when the net gains from breach exceed the net gains from performance. Expectation damages ensure that all and only efficient breaches will occur because promisors will find breach profitable only if its benefits exceed the value of performance to the promisee. The efficient breach hypothesis, and t…
The standard contract remedy of expectation damages treats a promissory obligation as an option: the promisor has the option to breach or pay damages equal to the difference between the value of performance and the contract price. In his interesting essay recently published in this Journal, Richard Brooks asks, Why not give the option to the promisee rather than the promisor? If the promisee is given the option to force the promisor to perform or pay damages equal to the difference between the p…
I appreciate the comments and thoughtful engagement by Professors Coleman, Kraus, and Posner on my essay “The Efficient Performance Hypothesis.” A few words of clarification may be helpful with regard to these comments, as well as the original essay. Let me begin with Professor Kraus’s comment—the most critical of the three in both tone and substance. Regrettably, Professor Kraus’ comment misses the point of the essay and his tangents contain a number of mistakes. I will attempt to cla…
Responding to Mary Sarah Bilder’s argument that the roots of judicial review can be found in corporate law of the colonial era, Scott Gerber contends that judicial review is an extension of the notion of an independent judiciary that emerged from Revolutionary Era political theory. Gerber convincingly demonstrates that the American Founders were “steeped in the history of ideas.” But his limited focus on Adams and Montesquieu obscures the deeper theoretical origins of the doctrine of an in…
Congress is currently considering the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2007 (H.R. 1433), which attempts to address the disenfranchisement of District residents by granting the District representation in the House of Representatives. In a Comment recently published in this Journal, I show that the constitutional arguments supporting H.R. 1433 would also apply to a similar (hypothetical) bill granting House representation to Puerto Rico. In fact, a bill enfranchising Puerto Ricans i…
I want to look at the universal jurisdiction principle of Noah Feldman’s proposed minimum legal cosmopolitanism from the following hypothetical perspective. Suppose I were a voting member of an international organization considering whether to recognize this principle as binding international law, which would authorize any judge anywhere to exercise jurisdiction over every heinous crime, regardless of the defendant’s nationality. Would I vote to recognize the principle? To consider this qu…
In Irreparable Benefits, Douglas Lichtman argues that when courts consider granting preliminary relief, they should account not only for irreparable harms but also for irreparable benefits. He reasons that gains accrued during trial to a litigating party who wins at the preliminary stage but eventually loses on the merits (the “Temporary Winner”) have undesirable distributional and incentive effects. Despite the appeal of Lichtman’s claim, I want to suggest some qualifications to it. First…
In a recent essay in The Yale Law Journal, Douglas Lichtman argues that courts considering preliminary injunctions should account for irreparable benefits in addition to irreparable harms. This is a provocative idea. If a preliminary injunction harms one party but benefits the other, and if both effects are equally difficult to subsequently undo, why focus on one effect (harm) and ignore the other (benefit)? There is a compelling geometric validity to this symmetry observation. But is this a val…
Democracy, at the very least, requires that the dangerous branches of government—like the executive and law enforcement—be accountable to the people or their representatives. Ignoring claims of police pretext, as our Fourth Amendment jurisprudence currently does, creates a barrier to that accountability because it shields bad police purposes from inquiry. We cannot with confidence grant limited powers to the police, or trust that they will not use their powers for totalitarian ends, if a pol…
Eric Citron’s piece, Right and Responsibility in Fourth Amendment Jurisprudence: The Problem with Pretext, gets some things quite wrong, but it gets one important thing right—that our Fourth Amendment law is all about what suspects do and very little about what police do. Citron starts from the proposition that Whren v. United States makes impermissible any consideration of pretextual justifications for police conduct. Citron overstates the significance of Whren, arguing that “Whren and i…
Funny, isn’t it, that “pretext” is a dirty word, a liability-conferring word, in an employment discrimination case, or a fraud case, but that in Fourth Amendment jurisprudence the word has been given a free pass? That, to use Eric Citron’s phrase, the word even seems to open up a “liberated space for bad intentions”? Especially in the context of traffic stops, the pretext problem is widespread and destructive of what used to be called “police-community relations.” In the Distr…
Lawyers and legal scholars understandably tend to focus on domains of life where law is central. There is much to be learned, however, from domains where people deliberately structure their affairs to minimize formalities such as written contracts and legal entanglements. Just as studying conditions of anarchy helps illuminate the effects of government, so studying domains that people intentionally keep casual can shed light on the merits of more legalized arrangements. In an article recently pu…
In Unpacking the Household: Informal Property Rights Around the Hearth, Robert Ellickson argues that as long as members of a household expect their relationship to continue, norms, rather than law, will determine allocations among them. More specifically, Ellickson argues that in “midgame” household members either ignore the “endgame” completely or, if they do take endgame considerations into account, the relevant endgame considerations are determined by norms rather than by law. In this…
In the United States and many other industrialized countries, there is much concern that younger generations fail to invest the amount of household production time that is needed for society to reproduce itself and for children to receive the education that will make them into productive citizens. In either instance, levels of household production of socially desirable goods and services may be suboptimal. Robert Ellickson’s emphasis on conditions optimal for capital supply, but not for the su…
In a recent essay in this Journal, Noah Feldman describes his conception of a “cosmopolitan law” and offers several theories of how such law could be applied. These theories explain when a liberal state may—and should—apply its law to the acts of foreigners in foreign lands. In this Response, I draw on my own experience conducting ethnographic interviews in the Netherlands to address what I see as the greatest obstacle to Feldman’s theories in practice: to succeed, cosmopolitan law wou…
Noah Feldman’s “cosmopolitan law” is, I think, a revised version of what has been sometimes called the law of nations, international law, and transnational law. Each, as originated, was a quest for a higher law that would interpret, supplement, and sometimes limit the law and power of states. This quest goes back further: Aristotle’s equity was the “corrective of what is legally just.” The quest has a literary, as well as a legal and philosophical, face; for example, when T.S. Eliot…
In a recent issue of this Journal, Timothy A. Johnson argues that Congress may not make the Federal Sentencing Guidelines provisions on the sentencing of organizations (the “Organizational Guidelines”) mandatory because United States v. Booker guarantees the constitutional right of corporations to a jury trial. Johnson’s argument, while convincing, may be somewhat beside the point. The time has come to bury the Organizational Guidelines now that prosecutors can achieve the goal of reformi…
Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear argument in Morse v. Frederick. At issue is whether a public high school principal violated a student’s First Amendment rights by suspending him for displaying a banner reading “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS” at an outdoor school rally for the 2002 Winter Olympics torch relay. The school petitioners, represented pro bono by Kenneth Starr, have urged the Court to give educators wide latitude to proscribe drug-themed speech so they can “foster and encourage …
The problem today is not only the draconian sentences that white-collar offenders are receiving, but the fact that because of the elimination of parole they will actually have to serve them. For example, if Michael Milken had been sentenced under today's sentencing regime, and if he had been made to serve his entire sentence, he might not have been able to found the Prostate Cancer Foundation or FasterCures, two organizations that have made serious inroads in the treatment of diseases. Without t…
At the margins, the current Federal Sentencing Guidelines for fraud and other white-collar offenses are too severe. Even when a corporate leader has engaged in massive fraud affecting thousands of people, such as what occurred at Enron, sentences of twenty or more years hardly seem necessary to satisfy the traditional sentencing goals of specific and general deterrence—or even retribution. But we disagree with Professor Podgor’s essay Throwing Away the Key to the extent it contends that whit…
F.S. Oliver observed almost a century ago that a typical lawyer’s professional “experience of human affairs is made up of an infinite number of scraps cut out of other people’s lives.” Even as the lawyer’s professional life is immensely various, it remains at the same time absolutely vicarious—even as she encounters a wide range of clients and problems, she always acts for and through others rather than on her own behalf. This made Oliver a skeptic about lawyers’ capacities for tru…
Although Mark Kressel’s proposal is novel, provocative, and even enticing, it is ultimately unnecessary and unworkable to suggest that a corporation and its high-level executives should agree, at the very commencement of their relationship, to waive the corporation’s attorney-client privilege when reliance on corporate counsel’s work is necessary to defend the executive against allegations of wrongdoing. Mr. Kressel’s proposal is unnecessary because corporate directors and officers rarel…
Of central importance to administrative law and theory is the question whether, and when, courts will defer to agency interpretations of law. In Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, the Supreme Court replaced earlier answers to that question with a new framework: courts should defer to an agency interpretation unless the relevant statute is clear or the agency interpretation is unreasonable. In the past two decades, however, the Chevron framework has come under increasing strain. Doctri…
Professors Gersen and Vermeule argue that we should replace “doctrinal Chevron,” which instructs courts to defer to an agency’s reasonable interpretation of a statute the agency administers, with “voting rule Chevron.” Under voting rule Chevron, judges would not defer to agency views. Instead, voting rule Chevron would induce deference at the aggregate level by requiring a supermajority vote to reverse an agency. Gersen and Vermuele’s argument is novel, provocative, and ingeniously d…
Judicial review in the United States is controversial largely because, as Daniel Farber and Suzanna Sherry explain , there exists among the public “a sense of innate conflict between democracy and judicial review.” The standard account of judicial review, which describes the practice as invented by Chief Justice John Marshall in Marbury v. Madison, only contributes to that sense of concern. The origins of judicial review, however, do not lie in judicial creativity or even in the history of j…
For more than one hundred years, legal scholars have endlessly and heatedly debated whether judicial review of federal legislation was part of the original understanding of the Constitution. The stakes of the debate are high. If judicial review was part of the original understanding, then there is a strong argument that the practice is grounded in the majority’s will, just as the Founders’ Constitution is. But if it is not—if, as Alexander Bickel and others have claimed, judicial review w…
Many of the nation’s most influential constitutional law scholars have argued recently that judicial review should be sharply limited or eliminated altogether. The list includes such notable thinkers as Larry D. Kramer, Cass R. Sunstein, William M. Treanor, and Mark V. Tushnet. Mary Sarah Bilder’s article is a powerful corrective to this mounting opposition to the doctrine made famous by Chief Justice John Marshall in Marbury v. Madison . Professor Bilder concludes that judicial review i…
Shortly after the popularization of the World Wide Web in 1996, Professor Bernard Hibbitts proclaimed that “[t]he next decade could witness the end of the law review as we know it,” for cyberspace would allow law professors to “finally escape the straitjacket of the law reviews by publishing their own scholarship directly on the World Wide Web.” Earlier this fall, Professor Stephen Vladeck made an equally bold—and equally erroneous—prediction in stating that “[t]he days of the cas…
The fact that the word “sprawl” is uttered by curling the upper lip into a snarl captures some of the emotion generated by the current debate over American land use policy. Two recent books—Robert Bruegmann’s defense of sprawl and Joel Kotkin’s ambitious but short history of great cities provide an opportunity to consider sprawl’s costs and benefits, and also to examine the case for legal efforts to curtail it in order to save our cities. These are important questions because, as Bru…
In Save the Cities, Stop the Suburbs, Nicole Stelle Garnett perceptively ruminates about the future of American metropolitan areas. She rightly praises Robert Bruegmann for putting forward a steadfastly contrarian set of views on issues of suburban sprawl. Even readers who ultimately reject Bruegmann’s implicit defense of the status quo will admire his impressive compilation and careful description of the fractious literature on metropolitan form. Professor Garnett is troubled by Bruegmann’…
“City” and “suburb” as they were known and debated in the twentieth century are no more. Increasingly, the key urban unit in metropolitan America is the region. Robert Bruegmann’s Sprawl: A Compact History, a chronicle of the melding of city and suburban land use patterns, illustrates this development. Joel Kotkin’s The City: A Global History, which expresses concern about the loss of traditional urban distinctiveness, also reflects this. In her review of both books, Nicole Stelle Ga…
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
Goodwin Liu’s inspiring article mines a rich vein of the history of American education. He revives and re-interprets congressional attempts to create a national system of public schools in the years following the Civil War. Professor Liu’s work is a signal contribution to the national movement for fiscal equity in education. I share with Liu—and with the senators and presidents whose efforts he describes—a strong belief that the federal government has a constitutional duty to ensure that…
Professor Liu’s article convincingly shows that the Fourteenth Amendment can be read, and has been read in the past, to confer a positive right on all citizens to a high-quality public education and to place a correlative duty on the legislative branches of both state and federal government to provide for that education. Specifically, the United States Congress has an obligation under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Citizenship Clause, Liu argues, to ensure that the public education provided by s…
In two articles—one recently published in this Journal and another forthcoming in the NYU Law Review—Professor Goodwin Liu argues that the federal government should play a greater role in financing public education, should distribute more fairly among states its funds targeted to the neediest schools, and should establish national standards to measure student achievement. Would Liu’s specific policy proposals—the subject of the NYU piece—be enough to close the achievement gaps between …
In the next few months, the First Circuit will consider Cook v. Rumsfeld, the first post-Lawrence v. Texas legal challenge to the constitutionality of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Given the deference that federal courts afford to congressional judgments about military policy, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will be upheld unless the plaintiffs can convince the court to apply some form of heightened scrutiny to the government’s claim that excluding homosexuals from t…
As Americans turn out to vote today, the ghost of the 2000 Presidential elections will hover over the voting booths. According to The New York Times, this will be the first midterm election in which the “Democratic Party is mobilizing teams of lawyers and poll watchers” to check for voting irregularities. Where there are “teams of lawyers” mobilized, can lawsuits be far behind? According to election law expert Dan Tokaji, any number of things “can cause problems on election day,” fr…
The 2006 campaign season has witnessed an onslaught of challenges to one of our nation’s longest serving incumbents: federal judicial supremacy. On Tuesday, voters across the country will decide the future of this notion—that the decisions of the United States Supreme Court bind the decisions of state courts—in the form of ballot initiatives proposing term limits, recall measures, and citizen suits against judges who make unpopular decisions. The issue has garnered attention from commentat…
In Internal Separation of Powers, an essay recently published in this Journal, Neal Katyal adds his own distinctive twist to the debates about the growth of presidential power by suggesting reforms within the executive branch that would cabin executive discretion without violating the Constitution’s commitment to a unitary executive. I commend him for taking separation of powers principles seriously, rather than excoriating them as an obstruction or as a pretext for presidential aggrandizement…
We lawyers are committed to reason. A process founded on the exchange of reasoned argument, we want to believe, will produce the right decisions. Professor Katyal profoundly disagrees with the legal decisions reached by the Bush Administration in the aftermath of September 11. In response, he proposes to remake the executive branch into a debating society—or, one should say, even more of a debating society than it already is. Each segment of the bureaucracy would be given a right to speak, and…
Earlier this year, the South Dakota legislature passed a stiff anti-abortion bill, H.B. 1215, designed to test the durability of Roe v. Wade. Soon thereafter, the bill’s opponents collected enough signatures to put the Act on the South Dakota ballot. South Dakota voters will reject or affirm the Act by a popular vote on November 7. The Act’s legislative history and effects on public discourse merit investigation and offer two valuable lessons for other states. The declared purpose of the So…
When journalists write their stories about state ballot propositions in the 2006 election, they likely will focus on South Dakota’s abortion rights referendum, Michigan’s affirmative action measure, or the variety of eminent domain measures reacting to the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision. But there’s also a story about measures that courts have kept off the ballot in a misguided effort to protect voters from making hard or bad choices. In this short essay, I argue that states should repeal…
The standard American conception of separation of powers presumes three branches of government, each replete with ambition to maximize its power. But due to a complicated interplay of party dynamics and executive branch assertiveness, Congress has often been content to stay at the sidelines of regulating the executive. Particularly when it comes to legal issues in the aftermath of the horrible attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress has passed open-ended legislation that fails to check the execu…
Political Checks on a Politicized Presidency: A Response to Neal Katyals Internal Separation of Powers
Frustrated by Congress’s apparently feeble efforts to check presidential war powers and unconvinced that another round with the War Powers Resolution will do much good, Neal Katyal recommends, in an essay recently published in the Journal, the promotion of an “internal separation of powers.” Professor Katyal suggests that we look to divisions within one branch of government—rather than divisions across multiple branches of government—to restore some semblance of balance to our politica…
On June 16, 2006, the Appeals Chamber for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (“ICTR”) took judicial notice of the Rwandan genocide as a “fact of common knowledge” in Prosecutor v. Karemera. Though this unprecedented move originated from good intentions, it will prove to be a harmful precedent. The ICTR’s decision to take judicial notice of genocide is conceptually flawed, internally contradictory, and has the potential to alter ICTR jurisprudence, and perhaps the totality o…
Just about everyone has been in a romantic relationship that, in hindsight, should have ended sooner than it did. Why do people stay? Hope, or commitment, or because they share a lease or she owns the car. Life and love are complicated, and, as Neil Sedaka sang, “Breaking up is hard to do.” That’s true even for those who are abused by their partners. It’s within this context that we ask the criminal law to respond aggressively to domestic violence while respecting the victim’s unique …
When President Bush asked Congress to enact a line item veto in his 2006 State of the Union Address, it sounded like a story we had heard before, one that didn’t have a happy ending. But it turns out that this proposed sequel differs from the 1996 Line Item Veto Act that the Supreme Court struck down in Clinton v. City of New York. This time the law is constitutional, if only because it isn’t really binding. The proposal, passed last summer by the House and endorsed by a Senate committee, w…
In Beyond Marbury: The Executive’s Power To Say What the Law Is, 115 Yale L.J. 2580 (2006), Professor Cass Sunstein argues that Chevron is the Marbury v. Madison of our age, and that it is now the province of the executive branch to "say what the law is." Professor Peter Strauss responds that Chevron deference must remain "within" Marbury, and that the duty of the courts to set limits on executive claims of authority is as vital now as it has ever been. Check back through the coming week for i…
As a female law professor, I can’t help asking: is the Internet-driven transformation of legal scholarship good for the girls, or bad for the girls? Will it remove some of the handicaps that have dogged women’s efforts to join the ranks of scholarly “superstars”? Or will it only increase the professional obstacles still faced by women in legal academia? In this short Essay, I try to predict some of the promises and perils that the Internet holds for women in the legal academy. Begin wi…
The best legal scholarship is increasingly interdisciplinary in nature, and its successful production, evaluation, and distribution generally requires multi-disciplinary expertise at a reasonably high level. Unfortunately, the Internet in general, and blogs in particular, eviscerate and obscure expertise because the Internet’s most distinctive feature is the elimination of mediating boundaries: of distance, experience, education, and intelligence. While the elimination of the first is an advan…
On July 13, 2006, my fellow blogger, Marty Lederman, sent me a copy of a proposed surveillance bill drafted by Senator Arlen Specter’s office. For months, Marty and I had been covering the controversy over the National Security Agency’s (NSA) domestic surveillance program on our group blog, Balkinization. We argued repeatedly that the NSA program was illegal. The Supreme Court’s Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision in June only seemed to confirm our conclusions. The mass media reported that Senato…
The days of the case note—and of student scholarship focusing on current developments in the law more generally—may well be numbered. With the proliferation of “legal development” blogs (for example, SCOTUSblog for the Supreme Court, the venerable How Appealing for appellate litigation, Decision of the Day for the work of the thirteen U.S. Courts of Appeals, more localized efforts along the lines of the not-very-confusingly named Southern District of Florida Blog, and field-specific blog…
Law reviews work hard to prevent and correct errors. They exert prodigious cite-checking, editing, and proofreading efforts to make sure their articles are as error-free as possible. They also try to prevent errors by readers: they publish articles aimed at correcting existing errors, and they edit articles with an eye toward eliminating misleading statements that might unintentionally lead readers into error. Yet new technologies can let law reviews do more to prevent and correct errors, withou…
American writer and poet laureate Amiri Baraka once remarked that jazz music is “essentially the expression of an attitude, or a collection of attitudes, about the world, and only secondarily an attitude about the way music is made.” The same can be said of the burgeoning field of online scholarship. Many rearguard academics view online scholarship as a perversion or threat to conventional modes of scholarly production. By contrast, those in the academic vanguard appreciate online scholarsh…
Chris Anderson’s book, The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More, has attracted enormous attention since its publication in July 2006. His insight is that technology and the Internet have transformed the focus of America’s culture and economy. Whereas pre-Internet firms turned out a small number of “hits” or blockbuster products (the “head” of the demand curve), today’s Internet-era firms offer a broader range of niche products (the “tail”). This Essay a…
I’m asked how the Internet will change what law journals do, but why are we assuming there should be any change at all? Law journals, distinguished by depth of scholarship and dedication to detailed and accurate support and citation, occupy a unique niche within the legal profession, and to preserve this important tradition may take all the energy you law students have. You are now seeing some glittering things luring you away from this difficult and worthy path. Law professors seem to be amu…
African-Americans and women were once, at law, lesser beings. They were made that way, in part, by not having the right to go to court and get redress there, the right by which the powerless hold the powerful to account. Why is it even plausible that so fundamental a right is not protected by the Constitution? This rhetorical question has an answer: The millions of dollars being spent to convince the public that lawsuits are the root of all evil buy a lot of plausibility. John Goldberg is figh…
Somewhere far away, in a land not studied by Professor John Goldberg, there may be a legal system that denies injured people redress for injuries. Flipping through the yellow pages here in America, however, there seems to be heavy traffic in the commerce of bringing lawsuits for almost any setback in life. Many Americans seem to be scared, not of losing access to justice, but of being sued when they did nothing wrong. Because of legal fear, teachers will no longer put an arm around a crying ch…
[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.]
Impeachment is a nasty accusation these days. In the wake of Senator Feingold’s proposed resolution to censure President Bush, Republicans alleged that the resolution revealed Democrats’ hopes to impeach the President if they gain control of Congress in the November elections. The allegation was meant to arouse indignation and rally the Republican base. Senator Feingold, meanwhile, sought to mute the allegation by emphasizing censure as an alternative to the highly controversial impeachment …
We are fighting three wars, not two. Besides Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a full scale war in the press and in the academy about whether we have an imperial presidency. President Bush’s critics cry that he has violated or ignored numerous statutes; has adopted absurdly narrow understandings of our treaty obligations; and has violated the Constitution. His supporters respond that presidential powers have eroded over the years and that Bush is just restoring executive power. This domestic war…
E-Discovery of Dynamic Data and Real-Time Communications: New Technology, Practical Facts, and Familiar Legal Principles
The forthcoming Federal e-discovery Rules are a welcome advance, but they do not address all of e-discovery’s challenging issues. For example, how should the law treat instant messaging (IM) or other forms of real-time communications? When must organizations or individuals preserve dynamic data such as databases or work in progress? Practical realities and established legal principles from the age of typewriters and telephones teach us that businesses should need to preserve real-time communic…
Perhaps to no one’s surprise, a recent survey found that most Americans know far more about television hits than they know about the United States Constitution. For instance, 52% of Americans surveyed could name at least two characters from the Simpsons, and 41% could name at least two judges from American Idol. Meanwhile, a mere 28% could identify more than one of the rights protected by the First Amendment. Surveys such as this help clear up one of the apparent mysteries of the last five ye…
Which President was advised by his lawyers that he had the constitutional authority to refuse to comply with federal statutes enacted by Congress? Which President also openly violated a federal statute in the exercise of his Commander-in-Chief power? The answer is not George W. Bush, but Bill Clinton. Like every modern President, Clinton defended his inherent and exclusive constitutional powers as Commander in Chief from congressional interference. Yet no legal argument has provoked more outrage…
Should a landlord and tenant negotiating the lease of an apartment in Greenwich Village be entitled to spurn New York law and instead agree that their relationship is to be governed by the law of Idaho? Bell and Parchomovsky (B&P) apparently would answer yes. Their potentially revolutionary proposal would allow participants in a consensual property transaction to create, as this example suggests, an oasis of red-state law within an otherwise deeply blue legal environment. Before offering some d…
First, the good news: Bell and Parchomovsky (B&P) see federalism’s potential to foster benign competition in the production of legal rules. This vision takes federalism beyond the traditional view of states as laboratories for experiment. It looks to federal structures that create a market for legal rules—a market with minimal distortions and thus with good prospects for races to the top, with optimal rules coming to prevail. An interstate market in rules exists already, as a firm or indivi…
As a former crime scene investigator, I was once called to testify on the stand in a criminal trial. Before giving my testimony, I had to explain to the jury the responsibilites and qualifications of forensic scientists in the criminal justice system. Now, five years later, prosecutors are complaining that jurors may know too much about forensics for their own good. Prosecutors blame this trend on the television show CSI, for which I serve as a writer and technical adviser. As one person who ma…
Federal immigration reform has seized public attention for the first time since Congress last made major changes in immigration policy in 1996. People are taking to the streets and engaging in heady debates about what being a nation of immigrants really means. Our answer will shape the workplaces of tomorrow. Yet Congress has not tapped the unique opportunity to correct past legislative mistakes by aligning our workplace laws and immigration policy. The proposed immigration reforms—in particu…
The new procedures for electronic discovery might encourage companies to spy on their own workers. To prevent that from happening, I argue that courts should apply the new rules—which will likely take effect in December—in a way that discourages the abuse of surveillance technologies and protects workers’ privacy. When weighing the benefits of a particular discovery request against the costs, judges should consider an invasion of workers’ privacy as one of the costs. The influential dec…
The ways we fight - and the reasons why we fight - have changed. The Predator drone, last seen screaming across the screen in Syriana, has replaced the Winchester rifle in popular imagination; and Saddam Hussein is rightly considered a war criminal for violating the Chemical Weapons Convention, a treaty signed less than fifteen years ago. But the law of war the administration invokes to try Salim Hamdan is an outdated relic (although ironically, today’s military commissions do not even offer t…
While considerable attention has been paid to the constitutional and treaty questions before the Court in Hamdan, the case begins with a seemingly straightforward question of customary international law: Does conspiracy, the sole charge against Hamdan, violate the law of war? The question is essential because military commissions may only be used to try such violations. In determining whether conspiracy violates the law of war, its existence as a federal crime prosecutable in a federal court is…
Reva Siegel and Robert Post have argued convincingly that constitutional democracy could be advanced while preserving judicial independence by the practice of asking Supreme Court nominees how they would have ruled in already decided cases—and by treating a refusal to respond to such inquiry as reason to deny confirmation. Their essay elegantly dispatches the principal objections that have, seemingly more as a matter of habit than as a result of reflection, been advanced against this line of i…
Jamal Greene’s interesting essay deals not with Justice Kennedy’s actual majority opinion in Lawrence v. Texas but with an opinion of Greene’s own imagining. This is not surprising, since Justice Kennedy’s actual opinion reads like a cruel parody of the modern make-it-up-as-you-go-along judicial decision-making that hides behind the euphemism of the “living Constitution.” In concocting a constitutional right to sodomy, Justice Kennedy reiterates the insipid New Age solipsism that h…
The Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas held that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to engage in sexual intimacy, free of regulation by the state. It seems to me that Mr. Greene ignores the actual rationale underlying the substantive due process ruling in Lawrence v. Texas—the rationale that was expressly set forth by Justice Kennedy and found strong support in prior case law—in order to posit a different rationale that he then finds problematic as applied to the death penalty. Thi…
Americans take seriously the difference between acts and ideas. We remain mystified, for example, by the to-do about the cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. The act-idea distinction is alive and well in our culture, and it remains largely intact in American law. No store owner puts up a sign saying, “You covet it, you bought it!” If you want to show your commitment to “manliness” by refusing to hire women, you’re out of luck. Don’t want to pay your taxes because you don’t like…
Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominees have in recent years grown increasingly contentious. Nominees have refused to answer questions about their constitutional views on the ground that any such interrogation would compromise the constitutional independence of the judiciary. This Article offers a structural framework for analyzing the prerogative of senators to question nominees. The Constitution balances competing commitments to self-government and to the rule of law in its des…
In Questioning Justice, Robert Post and Reva Siegel make three claims. First, that the Constitution authorizes the Senate to rest its judgement, in part, on the constitutional philosophy of nominees to the Supreme Court; second, that this practice is justified on grounds of democratic legitimacy; and third, that it is best implemented by asking nominees “to explain the grounds on which they would have voted in past decisions of the Supreme Court.” I agree entirely with the first and, to my m…
Following Reva Siegel and Robert Post’s profound consideration of constitutional structure and democratic legitimacy, one hesitates to bring up something so pedestrian as the Code of Conduct for United States Judges. Still, legal ethics principles do have some bearing on the scope of Supreme Court confirmation testimony, and the Code is the most definitive statement we have about judicial ethics. As it turns out, the Code pretty much supports Siegel and Post’s position that judicial nominees…
The hearings concerning the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court obviously are of enormous importance. Most significantly, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was the decisive fifth vote in countless important areas, such as abortion, affirmative action, campaign finance, death penalty, federalism, and separation of church and state. Alito’s confirmation thus has the potential to dramatically change constitutional law. More subtly, the Alito hearings may go a long way to determining…
[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.]
In an uncertain world, crisis demands executive action. And so 2005, a year of crisis, became a year of executive muscle-flexing, in response to crises ranging from Hurricane Katrina to avian flu to the Global War on Terror. In many ways, the legal debates generated were déjà vu all over again. Exorbitant claims of executive power in the War on Terror triggered the strongest clash since the Iran-Contra Affair between a constitutional vision of unchecked executive discretion bottomed on sweepin…
Nearly every state uses tax incentives to attract local investment. Do such incentives discriminate against interstate commerce in violation of the dormant Commerce Clause? The Supreme Court now confronts this question in DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Cuno (oral arguments on March 1). If the Court takes an expansive view of what constitutes discrimination against interstate commerce, its decision could reshape the state tax policy landscape. Europe has already moved in this direction, and the problem…
The Latino community has mobilized as never before in response to H.R. 4437, the punitive immigration bill sponsored by Rep. James Sensebrenner (R-WI). Newspapers declared that the marches in Los Angeles, Dallas, Phoenix, and Chicago marked “a new day of Hispanic political involvement.” More than just getting Latinos in the streets, however, this mobilization will greatly increase Latino participation in American politics, and could even mean more Latinos elected to the 110th Congress this f…
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.
Since United States v. Booker, the main task of sentencing academics and appellate judges has been to solve the riddles of its mandated “reasonableness” review. This is a crucial task because the answers reached will largely determine whether Booker’s promise of fresh discretion in federal sentencing becomes a dead letter in the district courts, or whether the federal judiciary once again assumes its role at the head of our pursuit of justice in sentencing. Of the many questions posed by…
Pity the poor appellate judge. All alone, she sits in her chambers with just her clerks, law books, and the cold, bleak trial record for company. No witness’s testimony to hear. No defendant’s demeanor to observe. How is she supposed to determine what is—or is not—a reasonable sentence? How can she ascertain whether the sentencing judge honored the command of the remedial majority in United States v. Booker and "consider[ed]" the myriad of potentially conflicting goals established by th…
After United States v. Booker, federal district judges may no longer just find Guideline-specified facts, plug those facts into a Guideline calculation, and then mechanically impose a Guideline sentence. Instead of sentencing-by-the-numbers, Booker requires district courts to exercise independent reasoned judgment when imposing a sentence, and requires appellate courts to ensure sentences are both reasoned and reasonable. This understanding of Booker harmonizes its two seemingly conflicting maj…
Judicial opinions post-Booker reflect something that the great legal scholar Yogi Berra described. The same decisions that turned the Federal Sentencing Guidelines (“Guidelines”) into mandatory rules are being adopted by courts across the country, with the same results. Booker or no Booker, it is déjà vu all over again! In United States v. Booker, the Supreme Court constitutionalized sentencing in a way it had not done before. The Guidelines, the Court held, were not guidelines in any mea…