The Yale Law Journal

Civil Rights Law

Article

How Qualified Immunity Fails

Joanna C. Schwartz

This Article reports the findings of the largest and most comprehensive study to date of the role qualified immunity plays in constitutional litigation. I found that qualified immunity rarely served its intended role as a shield from discovery and trial in these cases.

Essay

Police Reform and the Dismantling of Legal Estrangement

Monica C. Bell

In police reform circles, many scholars and policymakers diagnose the frayed relationship between police forces and the communities they serve as a problem of illegitimacy, or the idea that people lack confidence in the police and thus are unlikely to comply or cooperate with t…

Feature

Policing Through an American Prism

Debo P. Adegbile

Policing practices in America are under scrutiny. Video clips, protests, and media coverage bring attention and a sense of urgency to fatal police civilian incidents that are often accompanied by broader calls for reform. Tensions often run high after officer involved shootings of unarmed civilians,…

Forum

The Difference a Whole Woman Makes: Protection for the Abortion Right After Whole Woman’s Health

Linda Greenhouse & Reva B. Siegel

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 wa…

Forum

Nervous Victors, Illiberal Measures

Sherif Girgis

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 cons…

Forum

Reconstructing RFRA: The Contested Legacy of Religious Freedom Restoration

Martin S. Lederman

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 quip…

Forum

For the Title IX Civil Rights Movement: Congratulations and Cautions

Nancy Chi Cantalupo

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 un…

Forum

Only Once I Thought About Suicide

Reginald Dwayne Betts

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 hea…

Forum

Worse than Death

Alex Kozinski

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 he…

Forum

Staying Alive: Reforming Solitary Confinement in U.S. Prisons and Jails

Marie Gottschalk

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 pro…

Forum

The Liman Report and Alternatives to Prolonged Solitary Confinement

Jules Lobel

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…

Forum

Time-In-Cell: Isolation and Incarceration

Judith Resnik, Sarah Baumgartel & Johanna Kalb

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 opene…

Forum

Time-In-Cell: A Practitioner's Perspective

Ashbel T. ("A.T.") Wall

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 mem…

Review

Eighteen Years On: A Re-Review

Richard A. Posner

The Case for Same-Sex Marriage: From Sexual Liberty to Civilized Commitment BY WILLIAM N. ESKRIDGE, JR. NEW YORK: THE FREE PRESS, 1996. author. Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; Senior Lecturer, University of Chicago Law School. In 1992 I published a book called…

Article

Against Immutability

Jessica A. Clarke

Courts often hold that antidiscrimination law protects “immutable” characteristics, like sex and race. In a series of recent cases, gay rights advocates have persuaded courts to expand the concept of immutability to include not just those traits an individual cannot change, but…

Note

Saving 60(b)(5): The Future of Institutional Reform Litigation

Mark Kelley

Institutional reform decrees are one of the chief means by which federal courts cure illegal state and federal institutional practices, such as school segregation, constitutionally inadequate conditions in prisons and mental hospitals, and even insufficient dental services under Me…

Forum

Perfect Plaintiffs

Cynthia Godsoe

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…

Forum

Brown, Not Loving: Obergefell and the Unfinished Business of Formal Equality

Katie Eyer

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 mar…

Forum

Section 5 as Simulacrum

Justin Levitt

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 politic…

Forum

The Dignity of the South

Joseph Fishkin

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…

Forum

Mapping a Post-Shelby County Contingency Strategy

Guy-Uriel E. Charles & Luis Fuentes-Rohwer

 

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 str…

Forum

A Cure Worse than the Disease?

Ellen D. Katz

 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 ad…

Review

Next-Generation Civil Rights Lawyers: Race and Representation in the Age of Identity Performance

Anthony V. Alfieri & Angela Onwuachi-Willig


122 Yale L.J. 1484 (2013).

This Book Review addresses two important new books, Professor Kenneth Mack’s Representing the Race: The Creation of the Civil Rights Lawyer and Professors Devon Carbado and Mitu Gulati’s Acting White? Rethinking Race in Post-Racial America, and utilizes their insights to bo…

Forum

Congress’s Authority To Enact the Violence Against Women Act: One More Pass at the Missing Argument

Lawrence G. Sager

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 …

Note

The Twenty-Sixth Amendment Enforcement Power

Eric S. Fish


121 Yale L.J. 1168 (2012).


This Note argues that the Twenty-Sixth Amendment did more than just lower the voting age. It also gave Congress the power to override state policies that disproportionately burden the voting rights of particular age groups, such as strict voter ID laws and onerous absentee …

Article

Race and Democratic Contestation

Michael S. Kang

117 Yale L.J. 734 (2008).

As the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) passes its fortieth anniversary and faces upcoming constitutional challenges to its recent renewal, a growing number of liberals and conservatives, once united in support, now share deep reservations about it. This Article argues that…

Comment

Ledbetter in Congress: The Limits of a Narrow Legislative Override

Kathryn A. Eidmann

117 Yale L.J. 971 (2008).

Article

The Promise and Pitfalls of the New Voting Rights Act

Nathaniel Persily

117 Yale L.J. 174 (2007).

In the summer of 2006, Congress reauthorized the expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) with a unanimous vote in the Senate and with limited opposition in the House of Representatives. The veneer of bipartisanship that outsiders perceived in the final vote glos…

Forum

Democracy, Not Statehood: The Case for Puerto Rican Congressmen

José R. Coleman Tió

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 s…

Forum

Two Puerto Rican Senators Stay Home

Christina Duffy Burnett

 

Note

Re-Justifying the Fair Cross Section Requirement: Equal Representation and Enfranchisement in the American Criminal Jury

Richard M. Re

116 Yale L.J. 1568 (2007)

This Note proposes a new justification for the fair cross section (FCS) requirement governing criminal jury composition. While the Supreme Court has defended the requirement by invoking demographic conceptions of the jury’s legitimacy, many scholars have observed that this…

Note

Reconstructing Section 5: A Post-Katrina Proposal for Voting Rights Act Reform

Damian Williams

116 Yale L.J. 1116 (2007)

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA)—the preclearance provision that is the most potent weapon in the nation’s civil rights arsenal—quietly suffered an unexpected defeat in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The “static benchmarking test” used to administer section 5 …

Forum

Equal Educational Opportunity and the Federal Government: A Response to Goodwin Liu

Carl F. Kaestle

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 f…

Forum

A Response to Goodwin Liu

Robin West

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 pro…

Forum

Federal Nagging: How Congress Should Promote Equity and Common High Standards in Public Schools

Cynthia G. Brown

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 sc…

Forum

To Young People, Don't Ask, Don't Tell Means Don't Enlist

P. Casey Pitts

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 pol…

Forum

Please Don't Cite This Case! The Precedential Value of Bush v. Gore

Chad Flanders

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 irre…

Article

Education, Equality, and National Citizenship

Goodwin Liu

116 Yale L.J. 330 (2006)

For disadvantaged children in substandard schools, the recent success of educational adequacy lawsuits in state courts is a welcome development. But the potential of this legal strategy to advance a national goal of equal educational opportunity is limited by a sobering and l…

Comment

HAVA's Unintended Consequences: A Lesson for Next Time

Brandon Fail

116 Yale L.J. 493 (2006)

Forum

The South Dakota Referendum on Abortion: Lessons from a Popular Vote on a Controversial Right

Dale A. Oesterle

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 A…

Forum

Ending Court Protection of Voters from the Initiative Process

Richard L. Hasen

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 th…

Forum

Civil Rights Litigation and Social Reform

Michael J. Klarman

[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.]

Forum

Equal Justice-Same Vision in a New Day

Eva Paterson, Kimberly Thomas Rapp & Johnson Lee

[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.]

Feature

A Dialogue

Akhil Reed Amar & Jed Rubenfeld

115 Yale L.J. 2015 (2006)

Note

Civil Rights, Antitrust, and Early Decision Programs

Ruby Z. Afram

115 Yale L.J. 880 (2006)

Early decision admission programs--which allow a student to receive early notification of admission in return for a commitment to attend a particular institution--enjoyed explosive popularity at America's institutions of higher education in the 1990s. Schools use the programs…

Article

Rethinking Civil Rights Lawyering and Politics in the Era Before Brown

Kenneth W. Mack

115 Yale L.J. 256 (2005)

This Article argues that scholarly accounts of civil rights lawyering and politics have emphasized, incorrectly, a narrative that begins with Plessy v. Ferguson and ends with Brown v. Board of Education. That traditional narrative has relied on a legal liberal view of civil r…

Essay

To Insure Prejudice: Racial Disparities in Taxicab Tipping

Ian Ayres, Fredrick E. Vars, & Nasser Zakariya

114 Yale L.J. 1613 (2005)

Many studies have documented seller discrimination against consumers, but this Essay tests and finds that consumers discriminate based on the seller's race.

The authors collected data on more than 1000 taxicab rides in New Haven, Connecticut in 2001. After controlling for a …

Review

Judicial Power and Civil Rights Reconsidered

David E. Bernstein & Ilya Somin

114 Yale L.J. 593 (2004)

Michael Klarman's From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality is an important contribution to the scholarly literature on both the history of the civil rights struggle and judicial power more generally. Klarman argues that for much of…

Note

"Hostility to the Presence of Women": Why Women Undermine Each Other in the Workplace and the Consequences for Title VII

Ramit Mizrahi

113 Yale L.J. 1579 (2004)

When women undermine and undercut each other, vying for advancement, they are reacting to workplace segregation and low organizational power. Employers must work to integrate workplaces to the best of their abilities, ensuring that women are present in ample numbers at all l…

Note

Race as Mission Critical: The Occupational Need Rationale in Military Affirmative Action and Beyond

Bryan W. Leach

113 Yale L.J. 1093 (2004)

In Grutter v. Bollinger, the much-anticipated case challenging affirmative action practices at the University of Michigan Law School, the Supreme Court held for the first time that "obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body" represents a compel…

Comment

The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Sandoval, Chevron, and Agency Power to Define Private Rights of Action

Brianne J. Gorod

113 Yale L.J. 939 (2004)

Private individuals have long played a key role in enforcing federal rights. Yet in a series of recent decisions, the Supreme Court has limited the ability of individuals to enforce federal rights through private suits. In Alexander v. Sandoval, for example, the Court held …

Essay

Minorities, Shareholder and Otherwise

Anupam Chander

113 Yale L.J. 119 (2003)

"[M]en are described as I think they are," Adolf Berle writes of his work, "rather than as they think they are." He continues: "Some will be shocked. The businessman will find that he is a politician and a commissar--perhaps even a revolutionary one. The liberal finds himsel…

Article

Legislative Constitutionalism and Section Five Power: Policentric Interpretation of the Family and Medical Leave Act

Robert C. Post & Reva B. Siegel

112 Yale L.J. 1943 (2003)

The Court is now striking down a variety of federal civil rights statutes as beyond Congress's power under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment. In imposing limits on federal authority to enact civil rights laws, the Court has invoked a particular understanding of separatio…

Review

Fall from Grace: Arming America and the Bellesiles Scandal

James Lindgren

111 Yale L.J. 2195 (2002)



Article

Covering

Kenji Yoshino

111 Yale L.J. 769 (2002)

In this article, Professor Yoshino considers how the gay civil rights movement might enright the American civil rights paradigm, which he takes to be predicated on the paradigm classifications of race and sex. He posits that gays may be able to contribute a more robust theory…

Comment

The Kabuki Mask of Bush v. Gore

Nick Levin

111 Yale L.J. 223 (2001)

Is law merely Kabuki politics? Many critics consider the Supreme Court's recent foray into electoral matters, Bush v. Gore, as resounding evidence that it is, with concerns for equality and electoral deadlines constituting the "conservative" Justices' masks. These critics p…

Note

Abolition Without Deliverance: The Law of Connecticut Slavery 1784-1848

David Menschel

111 Yale L.J. 183 (2001)

According to American public memory, slavery in the United States was peculiar to the South. Unless explicitly reminded of the North's history of slavery, most Americans associate the North with abolitionists rather than slaveholders. Alongside this public memory is the work …