Volume 84, Number 2


Articles

Categoricalism and Balancing in First and Second Amendment Analysis

Joseph Blocher

The least discussed element of District of Columbia v. Heller might ultimately be the most important: the battle between the majority and dissent over the use of categoricalism and balancing in the construction of constitutional doctrine. In Heller, Justice Scalia’s categoricalism essentially prevailed over Justice Breyer’s balancing approach. But as the opinion itself demonstrates, Second Amendment categoricalism raises extremely difficult and still-unanswered questions about how to draw and justify the lines between protected and unprotected “Arms,” people, and arms-bearing purposes. At least until balancing tests appear in Second Amendment doctrine—as they almost inevitably will—the future of the Amendment will depend almost entirely on the placement and clarity of these categories. And unless the Court better identifies the core values of the Second Amendment, it will be difficult to give the categories any principled justification.

Heller is not the first time the Court has debated the merits of categorization and balancing, nor are Justices Scalia and Breyer the tests’ most famous champions. Decades ago, Justices Black and Frankfurter waged a similar battle in the First Amendment context, and the echoes of their struggle continue to reverberate in free speech doctrine. But whereas the categorical view triumphed in Heller, Justice Frankfurter and the First Amendment balancers won most of their battles. As a result, modern First Amendment doctrine is a patchwork of categorical and balancing tests, with a tendency toward the latter. The First and Second Amendments are often presumed to be close cousins, and courts, litigants, and scholars will almost certainly continue to turn to the First Amendment for guidance in developing a Second Amendment standard of review. But while free speech doctrine may be instructive, it also tells a cautionary tale: Above all, it suggests that unless the Court better identifies the core values of the Second Amendment, the Second Amendment’s future will be even murkier than the First Amendment’s past.

This Article draws the Amendments together, using the development of categoricalism and balancing tests in First Amendment doctrine to describe and predict what Heller’s categoricalism means for the present and future of Second Amendment doctrine. It argues that the Court’s categorical line drawing in Heller creates intractable difficulties for Second Amendment doctrine and theory and that the majority’s categoricalism neither reflects nor enables a clear view of the Amendment’s core values, whatever they may be.

A Theory of Taxing Sovereign Wealth

Victor Fleischer

Sovereign wealth funds enjoy an exemption from tax under § 892 of the tax code. This anachronistic provision offers an unconditional tax exemption when a foreign sovereign earns income from noncommercial activities in the United States. The Treasury regulations accompanying § 892 define noncommercial activity broadly, encompassing both traditional portfolio investing and more aggressive, strategic equity investments. The tax exemption, which was first enacted in 1917, reflects an expansive view of the international law doctrine of sovereign immunity that the United States (and other countries) discarded fifty years ago in other contexts. Because § 892 was not written with sovereign wealth funds in mind, the policy rationale for this generous tax treatment has not been closely examined in the aca- demic literature.

This Article provides a framework for analyzing the taxation of sovereign wealth. I start from a baseline norm of “sovereign tax neutrality,” which departs from the current regime under § 892 by treating the investment income of foreign sovereigns no better and no worse than foreign private investors’ income and by favoring no one nation over another. Whether we should depart from this norm depends on several factors, including what external costs and benefits are created by sovereign wealth investment, whether tax or other regulatory instruments are superior methods of attracting investment or addressing harms, and which domestic political institutions are best suited to implement foreign policy. I then consider whether we should impose an excise tax that would discourage sovereign wealth fund investments in U.S. companies. This tax might be designed to complement nontax economic and foreign policy goals by discouraging investments by funds that fail to comply with best practices for transparency and accountability.

The case for repealing the existing tax subsidy is strong. We should tax sovereign wealth funds as if they were private foreign corporations; there is no compelling reason to subsidize sovereign wealth. At the same time, my analysis suggests that policymakers should be cautious about going any further: An excise tax may not be the optimal regulatory instrument for managing the special risks posed by sovereign wealth funds.

Toward Procedural Optionality: Private Ordering of Public Adjudication

Robert J. Rhee

Private resolution and public adjudication of disputes are commonly seen as discrete, antipodal processes. The essence of private dispute resolution is that the parties can arrange the disputed rights and entitlements per agreement and without judicial intervention. In public adjudication, however, the sovereign mandates the substantive and procedural laws to be applied, many of which cannot be changed by either a party’s unilateral decision or both parties’ mutual consent. Neither approach allows a party an option to unilaterally alter important aspects of the process, such as the attorney fee rules and standards of proof. This understanding is commonly accepted and rarely challenged, but it is curious nonetheless.

This Article proposes that we move toward procedural optionality, the idea that each party should have options to choose certain procedural laws in public adjudication. To show the potential efficacy of this concept, this Article proposes a scheme in which parties can unilaterally shift fees as long as they contractually bond their good faith by assuming a higher standard of proof. Allowing private choice to alter these rules can better address the problems of frivolous suits and nonprosecution of low value claims—two problematic bookends in the spectrum of litigation. By properly structuring party options, the law can create greater convergence of private incentives and social interest. More efficient dispute resolution results, as measured by increased enforcement of and compliance with the substantive laws, at lower cost. Lastly, this Article concludes by examining more broadly some policy implications of procedural optionality for substantive and procedural laws.

Essays

Rethinking the Federal Role in State Criminal Justice

Joseph L. Hoffmann & Nancy J. King

This Essay argues that federal habeas review of state criminal cases squanders resources that the federal government should be using to help states reform their systems of defense representation. A 2007 empirical study reveals that federal habeas review is inaccessible to most state prisoners who have been convicted of noncapital crimes and offers no realistic hope of relief for those who do reach federal court. As a means of correcting or deterring constitutional error in noncapital cases, habeas is failing and cannot be fixed. Drawing upon these findings as well as the Supreme Court’s most recent decision applying the Suspension Clause, the authors propose that Congress eliminate federal habeas review of state criminal judgments except for certain claims of actual innocence, claims based on retroactively applicable new rules, or death sentences. The federal government should leave the review of all other state criminal judgments to the state courts and invest, instead, in a new federal initiative to encourage improved state defense services. This approach can deter and correct constitutional error more effectively than any amount of habeas litigation ever could.

Notes

A Relational Approach to Schools' Regulation of Youth Online Speech

Benjamin F. Heidlage

This Note examines the current doctrinal difficulties with student Internet speech. Student speech was traditionally protected from school authority when it was performed off campus—it received full First Amendment protection as opposed to the lower level of protection that on-campus speech received. However, the emergence of the Internet as a dominant form of communication has complicated this framework by blurring the line between off-campus and on-campus. As reflected in the Supreme Court jurisprudence, the question of the standard of protection to apply highlights the educational and constitutional issues at stake in student speech. While some courts seem willing to subject all youth speech to the lower constitutional standard, I propose a more nuanced approach. My approach, which I dub the “relational approach,” reframes the debate by reference to the role schools play in our society. The relational approach forces judges to examine the context in which the speech takes place and determine whether society expects such context to be governed by institutional educational authority. By adopting my approach, a more honest and reasonable jurisprudence can emerge.

Toward Constitutional Minority Recruitment and Retention Programs: A Narrowly Tailored Approach

Ellison S. Ward

In the renowned pair of higher education cases decided in 2003, Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger, the Supreme Court affirmed the value of diversity as a compelling state interest in the higher education context, while placing careful limits on the means through which a university may utilize admissions to achieve diversity within its student body. As the challenge of creating a narrowly tailored diversity plan has grown, universities have devised a variety of ways to attract, admit, and retain a racially diverse student body, recognizing the unique challenges and frustrations that minority students may face in higher education. Schools such as the City University of New York, the University of Maryland, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have utilized scholarships, targeted classes and academic programs during the summer and school year, mentoring, and other student support programs in an effort to raise the low numbers of minority students enrolling in, and graduating from, their institutions. This Note applies the Supreme Court’s affirmative action jurisprudence to such programs, and proposes a framework for analyzing the programs that will allow them to meet the high standards of equal protection analysis. The Note concludes that, though many colleges have ended their programs or opened them to students of all races, such drastic measures are unwarranted.