NewYorkUniversity
LawReview

Notes

2022

[De-]Prioritizing Prevention: A Case Against the 2020 Title IX Sexual Harassment Rule

Yonas Asfaw-Cooper

In 2020, the Department of Education issued a final Rule pursuant to notice-and-comment rulemaking which created the most far-reaching regulation on sexual harassment in educational institutions under Title IX to date. This Rule significantly limited the availability of administrative remedies for those experiencing sexual harassment in their educational institutions. While much has been said regarding the propriety of the substantive policy decisions advanced by the Department’s regulation, relatively little attention has been paid to the cost-benefit analysis (CBA) employed in the Rule. The Rule’s CBA found that the regulations would result in a net cost of tens of millions of dollars. In justifying their commitment to these cost-unjustified regulations, the Department relied only on a few non-quantified benefits. To make matters worse, the Department also disclaimed any responsibility to consider whether the Rule’s deregulatory policies would leave sexual harassment under-deterred. The 2020 Rule was arbitrary and capricious by reason of its faulty CBA. The Department’s failure to consider the costs associated with the Rule’s under-deterrent effects was an abrogation of their obligation to uphold Title IX’s preventative purpose.

A Unified Theory of Knowing Exposure: Reconciling Katz and Carpenter

Luiza M. Leão

The search doctrine has long been in a state of disarray. Fragmented into different sub-doctrines, Fourth Amendment standards of constitutional protection vary based on how the government acquires the information in question and on how courts define the search that occurred. As trespass-based searches, reasonable expectation of privacy searches, consent-based searches, third-party searches, and private searches each trigger different levels of protection, the doctrine has become what more than one Justice has termed a “crazy quilt.” This Note argues that unriddling the Fourth Amendment is easier than it might appear with the aid of the concept of knowing exposure, first discussed in Katz v. United States. An undercurrent across different strands of the search doctrine, the knowing exposure principle holds that what one “knowingly exposes to the public” is beyond the scope of Fourth Amendment protection. As the Court grapples with the search doc- trine in an age of unprecedented exposure to third parties, most recently in Carpenter v. United States, it should seek to unify the standard for searches around the foundational question of what renders one’s exposure “knowing.” Turning to Carpenter’s modifications to the third-party doctrine, this Note suggests a unified theory of knowing exposure that can apply across different kinds of searches, centering on whether the exposure is (1) knowing, (2) voluntary, and (3) reasonable.

Implementing the Hague Judgments Convention

Connor J. Cardoso

A specter is haunting The Hague—the specter of American federalism. On July 2, 2019, the Hague Conference on Private International Law finalized the Hague Judgments Convention. The Convention seeks to establish a global floor for judgment recognition and promote seamless recognition and enforcement of judgments between signatories. Although virtually all observers in the United States recognize the value and importance of ratifying the Convention, stakeholders cannot agree on how to implement it: by federal statute or by uniform state law. Proponents of a so-called “cooperative federalism” approach to implementation, principally led by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), have previously derailed U.S. ratification of the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements (COCA) by insisting that principles of federalism required implementation through uniform state law. This argument is wrong as a matter of doctrine and policy. It is time to put it to rest once and for all.

This Note is the first piece of scholarship to squarely address the “cooperative federalism” argument as applied to the Hague Judgments Convention. It makes two principal arguments. First, it identifies the principles that ought to guide the implementation of a treaty on foreign judgments recognition and concludes that federal implementing legislation optimizes these interests. Implementation primarily by
uniform state law is inferior and poses serious disadvantages. Second, the ULC’s primary legal objection to the implementation proposal for the COCA outlined by the State Department—that the doctrine of
Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins prohibits federal courts sitting in diversity jurisdiction from applying federal rules of decision prescribed by federal statute—was meritless in 2012, and it is meritless now. If any objections remain to implementing the Judgments Convention by federal statute, they are about turf and ideology. To the extent that the relevant stakeholders want to accommodate those political objections, this Note concludes by briefly outlining areas for compromise.

“To Be Read Together”: Taxonomizing Companion Cases of Landmark Supreme Court Decisions

Michael Kowiak

Supreme Court “companion cases” are decisions released on the exact same day that address substantially similar legal or factual matters. The list of consequential Supreme Court decisions that the Justices have resolved as part of a set of companion cases is lengthy: It includes NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., Korematsu v. United States, Brown v. Board of Education, Terry v. Ohio, Roe v. Wade, Miller v. California, and Gregg v. Georgia. Although it is not surprising that important topics like civil rights and abortion generate significant amounts of litigation, the Supreme Court’s practice of conducting plenary review of multiple similar cases and issuing separate decisions resolving each one should give us pause. The Justices have a number of other procedural tools available for disposing of similar matters for which parties seek review. Options include granting certiorari for only one of the cases, vacating and remanding some of the matters, issuing at least one summary disposition, consolidating the cases, or releasing the decisions at very different times. The Court sidesteps these alternative approaches when it issues companion cases. Yet previous scholars have not devoted adequate attention to this practice as a distinct procedural mechanism, with unique characteristics that may motivate its usage. This Note fills that gap by studying some of the Court’s most famous companion cases and taxonomizing them into four categories—coordinate hedges, contested hedges, extensional reinforcements, and applicative reinforcements—based on factors including the voting behavior of the Justices and the constitutive decisions’ relationships to each other. The Note leverages that taxonomy to frame its analysis of why the Court chose to issue companion cases given all the procedural alternatives. This Note concludes by discussing how the practice of deciding certain sorts of companion cases—in which a majority of the Justices agree that they should resolve similar cases in ostensibly contradictory ways—may improve the Court’s legitimacy by accentuating its responsibility and capacity to collaboratively identify subtle distinctions between comparable cases that compel different outcomes.

Putting God Between the Lines

Evan A. Ringel

In the tempestuous process of defining communities of interest for legislative redistricting—a process that will inevitably spark disagreement, dissatisfaction, and dissent—deferring boundary-setting to a physical, objective metric established by a community itself would appear to be a safe harbor, insulating line-drawers from criticism. The eruv—a physical structure encircling a Jewish community which
allows observant Jews to carry items outside the home on Shabbat—presents redistricters with an attractive way to craft districts that give political voice to the Jewish community. However, this Note argues that rather than serving as a safe harbor, this use of the
eruv in redistricting presents a constitutional hazard, as it may run afoul of the Establishment Clause. The Supreme Court’s Establishment Clause jurisprudence clearly forbids a state from “delegat[ing] its civic authority to a group chosen according to a religious criterion.” The use of an eruv as a basis for redistricting, this Note argues, is precisely such a delegation: The state delegates its power to determine the boundaries of a community and the resultant district lines to religious authorities and a religious community, bucking the neutrality commanded by the Establishment Clause. While the precise shape of a particular district and the inputs leading to its creation will determine the presence of an Establishment Clause violation, the potential for such a violation in the case of eruv-based districts—and the concomitant potential for the politicization of religion and increased political division—has heretofore gone unnoticed.

Delegated to the State: Immigration Federalism and Post-Conviction Sentencing Adjustments in Matter of Thomas & Thompson

David G. Blitzer

In Matter of Thomas & Thompson, former Attorney General William Barr argued that states have no role to play in immigration matters and thus, state adjustments to a criminal sentence post-conviction will not be given effect for adjudicating deportability based on criminal grounds under section 101(a)(48)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act without an underlying substantive or procedural flaw in the original criminal case. The former Attorney General incorrectly assumed that states cannot be involved in immigration decisionmaking. Not only is it constitutionally permissible for the federal government to delegate certain immigration powers to the states, but the immigration code does so in many places. Careful examination of the text and legislative history of section 101(a)(48)(B) reveals that whatever sentence the state deems operative counts for immigration purposes—even if state law considers the operative sentence a later adjustment—implying that Matter of Thomas & Thompson put forth an erroneous interpretation.

Privatizing the Provision of Water: The Human Right to Water in Investment-Treaty Arbitration

Ashley Otilia Nemeth

Despite its critical importance, the fulfillment of the human right to water is far from the reality for many today. One in three people do not have access to safe drinking water and more than half of the world’s population does not have access to safe sanitation. Achieving the international community’s commitment of universal access to safe water and sanitation by 2030 would cost states approximately$150 billion per year. Meeting those funding needs inevitably entails private, and often foreign, investment. When investments do not go as planned, foreign investors may turn to international arbitration for relief. While intended to protect investments, this legal regime has allowed investors to challenge regulatory measures that further human rights and to wield undue power over states. This Note analyzes investment-treaty disputes involving drinking water to understand how states have invoked, and tribunals have considered, the human right to water. The cases show an important evolution on the part of tribunals. Nevertheless, almost all of the tribunals fall short of integrating the human right to water in their analysis of substantive treaty claims. Interestingly, the cases also reveal that, despite invoking human rights defenses, states engage in actions that are difficult to justify as furthering the right to water. In turn, this Note argues that the “fair and equitable treatment” standard can and should include relevant human rights law as part of “investors’ legitimate expectations.” Such an integration creates opportunities for accountability on both sides of the ledger: Investors are expected to engage in human rights legal due diligence, and states are taken to task when they invoke human rights in a perfunctory fashion. The fair and equitable treatment standard presents an opportunity to expand fairness and equity in international arbitration not only for the disputing parties, but also for the people who stand to lose from their actions.

The Limits of Dual Sovereignty

Eleuthera Overton Sa

The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment provides that no person shall “be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” Yet the dual sovereignty doctrine, a longstanding rule of judicial interpretation, reads the Double Jeopardy Clause as applying only to prosecutions by a single sovereign. Successive prosecutions by separate sovereigns, including the United States and foreign nations, do not implicate double jeopardy. The Double Jeopardy Clause protects the individual from government overreach, but the dual sovereignty doctrine flips the script: It protects the interests of the sovereign at the expense of the individual. After many decades of criticism, the Supreme Court reconsidered and then reaffirmed the doctrine in Gamble v. United States. The current blanket rule solves one problem—the fear that sovereign interests will be thwarted by other sovereigns—but creates another: an incentive for two sovereigns to join up to evade constitutional requirements. In the shadow of the dual sovereignty rule, lower courts have articulated an exception where one sovereign manipulates another or uses it as a “sham” or a “cover” for its own aims. Without further guidance from the Supreme Court, however, courts are reluctant to find the exception to apply.

This Note offers a new approach to inter-sovereign successive prosecutions that would reconcile these two doctrinal threads and provide greater protection to defendants at the mercy of multiple sovereigns: application of the strict scrutiny standard. Courts should embrace the complexity of inter-sovereign prosecutions, which can range from situations of obstruction, where successive prosecution may be necessary, to manipulation, where it should be prohibited. Genuine protection of the right against double jeopardy demands strict scrutiny.

A “Charter of Negative Liberties” No Longer: Equal Dignity and the Positive Right to Education

Arijeet Sensharma

In the Spring of 2020, a panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Gary B. v. Whitmer penned an opinion recognizing a fundamental right to basic minimum education. While this decision was subsequently vacated pending en banc review and then dismissed as moot following a settlement, it stands as a bellwether of the long-overdue march toward recognition of positive rights under the Constitution. A series of Burger Court opinions attempted to calcify the notion that the Constitution is a “charter of negative liberties,” most famously DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services and its progeny. These opinions erected three key doctrinal barriers to recognition of positive rights: 1) that a cognizable due process claim must arise from direct, de jure state deprivation; 2) that separation of powers points towards legislatures, not courts, as the appropriate bodies for curing social and economic ills; and 3) that furnishing equality is not a proper aim of due process.

But substantive due process doctrine has transformed over the past few decades. Most notably in a series of cases protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals—Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, United States v. Windsor in 2013, and Obergfell v. Hodges in 2015—the doctrines of due process and equal protection have fused so intimately as to have revealed a new doctrinal structure, which Laurence Tribe has termed “equal dignity.” The doctrine of equal dignity has profound implications for the recognition of positive rights. Its theoretical tenets undermine the doctrinal elements which have traditionally steered federal courts away from recognizing positive rights. This Note argues that the case of education—considered in light of the post-Obergefell substantive due process doctrine—dismantles each of the traditional pillars of negative-rights constitutionalism, paving the way for recognition of a positive right to a basic minimum education. More broadly, Gary B. demonstrates that courts are now doctrinally equipped to recognize positive rights within the framework of modern substantive due process, a development that has radical implications for Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence and the project of constitutional equality.


Merging Photography’s Copyright

Amanda Fischer Adian

Photography has exploded into the most accessible mode of creative production of
our time: Over one trillion photographs will be taken this year. Yet despite the
medium’s dramatic expansion, catalyzed by advances in technology, the copyright-
ability of photography remains controlled by a Supreme Court precedent that is
over one hundred years old,
Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony. The long-
standing interpretation of
Burrow-Giles in the lower courts has rendered nearly
every litigated photograph copyrightable, even though the factual foundation of
Burrow-Giles is remarkably inconsistent with how most photography is produced
today. With protracted, low-value, and often frivolous copyright litigation over
photographs increasingly clogging up federal courts’ dockets, it is high time to
reconsider photography’s copyright.

This Note argues that a revitalization of copyright’s merger doctrine—long ignored
or dismissed in the realm of photography’s copyright—could be the vehicle for this
reassessment. Theorizing photographs as mergeable does not render the medium
per se uncopyrightable, but captures the spirit of the Supreme Court’s now 150-
year-old instruction to permit photography’s copyright, while correcting for
changes in photographic technology to better uphold the Court’s simultaneous
mandate that “ordinary” photographs should not receive copyright protection.

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