Volume 97, Number 3
In this Lecture, I offer my own definition of judicial activism: In deciding a case, a court or judge engages in judicial activism when the court or judge eschews the use of a judicial decisional tool traditionally employed to adjudicate that type of case. In other words, judicial activism involves throwing a long-recognized decisional tool—or, in Justice Marshall’s words, “mediating principle”—out of the judicial toolkit. Under my definition, for example, the Supreme Court would engage in judicial activism if it refused without explanation to apply the doctrine of stare decisis, given that stare decisis stands at the center of the common-law tradition we inherited from England and has been applied since the earliest days of the republic.
Why does such behavior amount to judicial activism? Because refusing to apply a long-recognized mediating principle eliminates a constraint on a court’s exercise of its decisional discretion. When judges refuse to apply a long-standing interpretive tool, they necessarily expand the universe of situations in which they, in Judge Posner’s words, “bring [their] own policy preferences to bear in order to decide the case at hand.”
To be sure, there necessarily are times when judges must rely on their own policy preferences to decide a case. But, from my perspective, simply ignoring without comment a well-established mediating principle generally applicable in the type of case at issue—or justifying the act of discarding a fundamental principle by relying on a legal or policy argument as to the undesirability of that principle—is a fundamentally activist enterprise.
My Lecture will proceed as follows. First, I survey the origin of the term “judicial activism” and the various ways it has been defined by judges and scholars. Those definitions generally fall into two categories: those focused on outcomes and those focused on the process a judge applies in reaching an outcome. Second, I set forth my own definition of judicial activism—which falls into the process category—and explain why I believe that definition gives meaning to the principal concern animating accusations of judicial activism: that the judiciary is stepping outside of its proper role and unjustifiably deciding cases based on its own policy preferences. Third, I explain some means by which activism (as I define it) enters judicial decisionmaking. Finally, I apply my definition to demonstrate why the judicial interpretive methodology of textualism and the recent Supreme Court partisan gerrymandering decision, Rucho v. Common Cause, are stark examples of judicial activist behavior.
IJA Brennan Lecture
Threats to judicial independence are most commonly viewed as arising either from politically motivated depredations by other branches of government, or from improper inducements or coercion from individuals or groups in the wider society. Both types of threats are external to the court. What of the internal environment within which judges operate, particularly the immediate environment comprised of their colleagues on the bench? Drawing on a judicial career spanning thirty-seven years, including fifteen as a U.S. District Court judge and the past seven in my present position on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, as well as on legal scholarship and the perspectives of other jurists past and present, I will address what one scholar calls the “complicated interdependent decisions” faced by judges on multi-member courts. This Lecture will explore the often complex calculus and subtle intrajudicial considerations that go into a judge’s decision whether—and, if so, how—to dissent in a particular case. I encourage reflection both on the costs that dissent exacts on the individual judge and on the court as a whole, and on the enormous value it can have as an expression of legal conscience and even, on occasion, as a voice of prophecy pointing to future change in the law. Ultimately, I view the right to dissent as precious, and a pillar of judicial independence.
William J. Brennan, Jr. Lecture
In the second annual William J. Brennan, Jr. Lecture New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Stewart G. Pollock explores the relationship between art and adjudication. The separation of powers, the federalist system, and the inherent constraints of the common law confine state courts. Notwithstanding those constraints, state courts have demonstrated creativity when interpreting state statutes and constitutions and when adapting the common law to changing conditions. Thus, Justice Pollock finds artistry in the work of state courts. He begins by exploring creativity in statutory interpretation. Then, Justice Pollock examines two areas of substantive law of great public concern: public-school-finance litigation under state constitutions and the common-law redefinition of the modem family. Justice Pollock demonstrates how state appellate courts, through public-school-finance litigation, have shaped the constitutional right to a public-school education. Justice Pollock then discusses how state courts have reacted to the changing composition of the American family. By recognizing these changes, state courts have redefined the family in areas as diverse as zoning ordinances, surrogacy agreements, and same-sex marriages. Common to all these endeavors is protection of the inherent dignity of the individual. Justice Pollock concludes that an appreciation of the similarities between art and judging may lead to a better understanding of the judicial process.
When I look back on the origins of our nation, I feel both a deep sense of pride and a sense of apprehension for the present and the future. Habeas corpus is being undermined, legislatively and judicially; sentencing is suggesting a newly devised theory of “nothing succeeds like excess”; and there is a constant flow of suggestions for amending the Constitution. One is impelled to ask, as Archibald MacLeish did so plaintively: “Where has all the grandeur gone?”
In this Madison Lecture, Chief Judge Richard S. Arnold of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit explores the subject of constitutional interpretation as practiced by the eponymous James Madison. Following Madison’s public arguments and private statements through crucial early American debates over federal powers, Judge Arnold finds that the “Father of the Constitution” refused to take advantage of his own formative contributions to the Constitution. On the contrary, Madison sought constitutional authority in the citizenry, as exercised through state ratifying conventions and through the precedential effect of deliberative legislative action. Arnold reminds us that Madison was a consummate politician at a time when the occupation was not yet a pejorative epithet, but public officeholders were even then subject to harsh personal criticism that rivals if not surpasses the political vitriol of our times. Madison nevertheless developed a consistent, yet flexible, view of constitutional interpretation that can still enlighten he constitutional debates of today.
William J. Brennan, Jr. Lecture
Twenty years ago, Justice William J. Brennan sounded a clarion call to lawyers and judges not to overlook the capacity of state law, especially state constitutional law, to assist in the pursuit of justice for all. Today, the judges and justices of state courts have taken that message to heart by undertaking innovative measures to protect individual rights through state constitutions and through independent interpretations of the Federal Constitution. Despite this emerging trend, litigators, law reviews, and legal scholars have continued to focus on the federal system. In this Brennan Lecture, Senior Judge Ellen A. Peters of the Supreme Court of Connecticut responds to this not-so-benign neglect, observing that state courts determine the totality of rights of the vast majority of litigants, draw on a broad reservoir of common law principles and remedies, and play an integral role in maintaining our federalist system. Developing this last point, Judge Peters examines tie history of state courts in the federal system the extent to which state courts may invoke neutral procedural and jurisdictional rules in the face of arguably different federal mandates, and the implications for the role of the states of recent developments in United States Supreme Court jurisprudence.
In this Madison Lecture, Chief Judge Posner advocates a pragmatic approach to constitutional decisionmaking, criticizing constitutional theorists who conceal their normative goals in vague and unworkable principles of interpretation. After discussing specific constitutional theories as well as the legal academy’s increasing reliance on theory in general Posner, demonstrates the ineffectuality of constitutional theory, using the Supreme Court’s decisions in United States v. Virginia and Romer v. Evans as examples. He argues not that these cases were necessarily wrongly decided, but that the opinions lack the empirical support that is crucial to sound constitutional adjudication. Posner urges law professors to focus their scholarship on forms of inquiry that will actually prove useful to judges and concludes by asking that judges themselves recognize and acknowledge the limitations of their empirical knowledge.
State Courts and Democracy: The Role of State Courts in the Battle for Inclusive Participation in the Electoral Process
As recently as 1962, the United States Supreme Court declined to rule on challenges to legislative apportionment schemes that created grossly disproportionate electoral districts. When, in the seminal decision Baker v. Carr, the Supreme Court held such challenges to be justiciable, the federal courts in this country took on a new and important role. In this Brennan Lecture, Judge Smith explores the context in which this reapportionment “revolution” emerged and developed, in particular highlighting the symbiotic relationship between the reapportionment struggle and the struggle for African American civil rights.
Smith turns his attention to the role state courts have played in these twin revolutions. He begins by noting that the federal reapportionment decisions had important state court antecedents. He then argues that contemporary judges–both state and federal–play two crucial roles in the struggle for inclusive participation in the electoral process. First, judges are required to maintain constant vigilance to ensure that the level playing field promised by Justice Brennan in Baker v. Carr becomes and remains a reality. Second, judges must ensure that the Federal Constitution, state constitutions, and the Voting Rights Act are enforced to prevent discrimination against African Americans and other minorities. As Judge Smith concludes, successful performance of each of these two functions is necessary to ensure that African Americans and other historically oppressed minorities become a meaningful part of American democracy.
In this Madison Lecture, Judge Stephen Reinhardt tells the story of the case of Thomas Thompson, a man without a prior criminal record who was executed in California in July of 1998 despite substantial doubt about his guilt of capital murder and an unrefuted decision by the en banc court of the Ninth Circuit that his trial was blatantly unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit’s decision was based on egregious conduct of the prosecution and ineffective assistance of Thompson’s counsel. The district judge previously had reversed Thompson’s capital sentence on the latter ground.
Judge Reinhardt provides a firsthand account of the unusual events that took place within the Ninth Circuit, including the passing of the deadline within which a judge could request an en banc rehearing; the extraordinary rejection by three judges of a request by colleagues for an extension of time within which to vote on rehearing; a good faith effort, that backfired, by a majority of the Ninth Circuit to comply with the Supreme Court’s arcane procedural rules; and, ultimately, a dramatic en banc rehearing in which the Ninth Circuit ruled in Thompson’s favor. The story then turns to the United States Supreme Court, which, in a wholly unprecedented action, held that the Ninth Circuit’s en banc hearing was invalid because it came too late and offended purported principles of comity and finality, abstract concerns that increasingly predominate over substantive rights in the jurisprudence of the Rehnquist Court.
By telling the story from start to finish, including a report on the factual errors made by the Supreme Court, Judge Reinhardt illustrates the dramatic consequences of the current Court’s elevation of procedural rules over substantive justice and the dictates of the Constitution, particularly in death penalty cases. In Judge Reinhardt’s opinion, the Court’s philosophy in this instance cost Thomas Thompson his life and in its general application seriously tarnishes the integrity and reputation of the American justice system.
Derrick Bell Lecture
Does United States antidiscrimination law embrace a black/white binary paradigm of race in which other, nonblack minority groups must compare their treatment to that of African Americans in order to gain redress? In this Derrick Bell Lecture, Professor Richard Delgado argues that it does, and that other minorities also fall from time to time into the trap of exceptionalism, placing their own experiences at the center of discussion. Taking as his text a recent chronicle by Derrick Bell, Bluebeard’s Castle, Professor Delgado argues that narrow binary thinking—regardless of the group that engages in it—weakens solidarity, reduces opportunities for coalition, deprives one group of the benefits of the others’ experiences, makes one overly dependent on the approval of the white establishment; and sets one up for ultimate disappointment. The black/white binary, in short is bad for blacks, just as her foolish fixation on the gloomy noble of operatic fame finally doomed Judith, the heroine of Bluebeard’s Castle.
In this Madison Lecture, Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey addresses the evolution of the women’s rights movement and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Judge Daughtrey traces the history of the ERA from its passage by Congress through its eventual failure during the state ratification process, and considers the parallel development of an equal rights jurisprudence based on the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, particularly noting the successes of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in arguing cases before the Supreme Court. After examining this jurisprudence, as well as ensuing changes in social mores and the composition of the Court Judge Daughtrey asks whether a renewed effort to pass and ratify the ERA is necessary.
Lord High Chancellor, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
In this James Madison Lecture series, the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine of Lairg, observes that the American system of constitutional supremacy and judicial review shares many common features with the British unwritten constitution’s emphasis on parliamentary sovereignty without judicial review. While the two systems are often described as polar opposites, Lord Irvine argues that both operate in a context of democratic government and translate substantially identical commitments to popular sovereignty into distinct, yet related, approaches to constitutionalism.
In this James Madison Lecture, Justice Breyer presents an approach to constitutional interpretation that places considerable weight upon the consequences of judicial decisionmaking. Eschewing an approach that relies solely on language, history, tradition, and precedent, Justice Breyer uses five contemporary examples to demonstrate how his concept of “consequential” constitutional interpretation might work in practice. Justice Breyer argues that this approach is more faithful to the principles that animated our Founding Fathers, encourages greater public participation in our democratic government, and would create a constitutional system that better promotes governmental solutions consistent with community needs and individual dignity.
Americans have fiercely debated the proper role of Article III courts in our constitutional system ever since Chief Justice John Marshall declared in Marbury v. Madison that it is “emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.”‘ This debate often has focused on Supreme Court decisions involving some of our nation’s most historic events: the Court’s 1873 evisceration of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause, its use of substantive due process to strike down progressive legislation at the turn of the century, its invalidation of key New Deal programs, and its opinion in Roe v. Wade are but a few of the decisions that have reignited the controversy over the meaning and risks of “judicial activism.”
Challenges to an independent judiciary are not unique to our time, but recent events have highlighted the difficulties facing a branch that can neither enforce its own decisions nor fund its own operations. In this installment of the annual William J. Brennan, Jr. Lecture on State Courts and Social Justice, I recount my state’s pragmatic approach to securing the institutional independence of its judiciary. To shore up the independence of the Western world’s largest court system, California began by making sweeping structural changes. In this Lecture, I discuss three of these structural reforms in detail: shifting of funding responsibilities from the counties to the state, transfer of ownership of local courthouse facilities to the state, and consolidation of different trial court levels into a single, unified whole. These changes have drastically increased the institutional independence of California’s judiciary and helped to solidify its status as coequal to its sister branches. I further argue that these basic structural changes also bear the promise of greater decisionmaking independence for judges in the state of California.
In this speech delivered for the annual James Madison Lecture, the Honorable Diane Wood tackles the classic question of whether courts should interpret the United States Constitution from an originalist or dynamic approach. Judge Wood argues for the dynamic approach and defends it against the common criticisms that doing so allows judges to stray from the original intent of those who wrote the Constitution or take into consideration improper foreign influences. She argues the necessity of an “unwritten Constitution” since a literalist approach to interpretation would lead to unworkable or even absurd results in the modern context, and since restricting constitutional interpretation to literal readings would mean that the Constitution has outlived its usefulness. Judges may “find” unwritten constitutional rules by using evolving notions of a decent society to interpret broad constitutional language broadly; acknowledging that certain liberties are so fundamental that no governmental entity may deny them; acknowledging that much of the Bill of Rights applies to states through selective incorporation; and inferring principles from the structure of the Constitution and pre-constitutional understandings.
In this speech delivered for the annual Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. Lecture on State Courts and Social Justice, the Honorable Randall T. Shepard examines the growing role of state supreme courts in remaking the American system of justice. The vast size of the state court system, the flexibility of state rulemaking authority, and recent changes in the way state courts are financed have placed these high courts at the forefront of efforts to administer and reform their states’ court systems. Chief Justice Shepard explores three major areas of court reform led by state supreme courts. First, state high courts have reformed the American jury by making it more inclusive and representative, and by improving its decisionmaking capabilities. Second, these courts have implemented new initiatives to ensure equal access to justice by providing legal assistance to low-income individuals in civil cases, creating pro bono programs, and assisting pro se litigants. Third, state supreme courts have fostered equal opportunity by addressing bias and disparate treatment within the court system, and by working to ensure that the legal profession itself is open to all people. Finally, Chief Justice Shepard describes a range of other ways in which state supreme courts have been remaking their states’ court systems, from creating specialized courts to training judges in the sciences. In a profession that is fond of tradition and slow to change, many of these reforms could only proceed with leadership from state high courts.
In the New York University School of Law’s annual James Madison Lecture, Judge Pierre N. Leval discusses the increasing failure of courts to distinguish between dictum and holding. Although not opposed to the use of dictum to clarify complicated subject matter and provide guidance to future courts, Judge Levalconsidered precedent. Judge Leval further argues that the Supreme Court’s new command in Saucier v. Katz that, before dismissing a constitutional tort suit by reason of good faith immunity, a court must first declare in dictum whether the alleged conduct violates the Constitution, is particularly ill-advised.
In this speech delivered for the annual Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., Lecture on State Courts and Social Justice, Leah Ward Sears, Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, reflects upon the state and significance of marriage as we head into the twenty-first century. Chief Justice Sears calls attention to social science evidence that shows that the health of the institution of marriage is directly related to the health of our children and communities. Yet today, alarming numbers of children do not have the support of two married parents in the home. Single parenthood, divorce, and cohabitation are at all-time highs, and a great many of these families are failing. Through a review of social science evidence, Chief Justice Sears shows the far-reaching implications that family fragmentation, a potentially self-perpetuating phenomenon, can have for judicial backlog, child well-being, and community health. She unearths an opportunity gap that renders children from fragmented families less likely to succeed and communities where marriage is the exception more prone to violence and crime. Given these dramatic family transformations and their implications, Chief Justice Sears discusses how society, through its laws, should respond. Emphasizing the emotional, financial, and social benefits flowing to children and communities from marriage, Chief Justice Sears suggests dedicating a renewed vigor to exploring ways that law can promote the benefits of marriage. While she cautions that these changes should not be implemented to the detriment of existing legal policies that protect and support children regardless of the family form they are born into, she challenges society to renew its commitment to marriage in this country, thereby manifesting the United States’ commitment to principles of equality and opportunity for all children.
Henry J. Friendly was one of the nation’s preeminent appellate judges. Judge Michael Boudin, once a law clerk to Judge Friendly, describes Judge Friendly’s career and judicial outlook in the New York University School of Law’s annual James Madison Lecture. Drawing upon Judge Friendly’s constitutional writings and decisions, the lecture touches upon Friendly’s gifts of mind, energy, and writing ability, and certain of his judicial characteristics: his attitude toward precedent and other constraints, his practical judgment, his intellectual rigor, and his essential moderation.
In this speech delivered for the annual Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., Lecture on State Courts and Social Justice, the Honorable Michael Wolff offers a new way of thinking about sentencing. Instead of attempting to limit judicial discretion and increase incarceration, states should aim to reduce recidivism in order to make our communities safer. Judge Wolff uses the example of Missouri’s sentencing reforms to argue that states should adopt evidence-based sentencing, in which the effectiveness of different sentences and treatment programs are regularly evaluated. In pre-sentencing investigative reports, probation officers should attempt to quantify—based on historical data—the risk the offender poses to the community and the specific treatment that would be most likely to prevent reoffending. Judges, on their own, lack the resources to implement all of these recommendations; probation officers and others involved in sentencing should receive the same information—risk assessment data—and their recommendations should become more influential as they gain expertise.
In his Madison Lecture, Judge Wilkinson urges a new purpose for American law: the explicit promotion of a stronger sense of national cohesion and unity. He argues that the judicial branch should actively seek to promote this nationalizing purpose and suggests seven different ways for federal courts to do so. He contends further that a nationalizing mission for law is needed at this moment in American history to counteract the demographic divisions and polarizing tendencies of our polity. This purpose need not entail the abdication of traditional values of judicial restraint, should not mean the abandonment of the traditional American credo of unity through pluralism, and must not require the sacrifice of the law’s historic commitment to the preservation of order and the protection of liberty. But the need for a judicial commitment to foster a stronger American identity is clear. The day when courts and judges could be indifferent to the dangers of national fragmentation and disunion is long gone.
In this speech, delivered for the annual Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., Lecture on State Courts and Social Justice, the Honorable Jack B. Jacobs demonstrates that state corporate law sometimes acquires an extraterritorial reach. The federalist model of corporation law assumes that each state’s law only reaches to that state’s border, but reality has diverged from that model through state anti-takeover statutes, the internal affairs doctrine, and state “corporate outreach” statutes that impose internal governance requirements on companies incorporated in other states. Anti-takeover statutes are essentially grounded upon the internal affairs doctrine, which holds that such affairs are governed by a company’s state of incorporation. But the corporate outreach statutes attempt to supersede the law of the state of incorporation, exposing companies to conflicting internal governance requirements. The Supreme Court could resolve this conflict by deeming the internal affairs doctrine either a choice-of-law rule or a rule of constitutional law. The former choice could lead to economic disruption, while the latter would increase interstate competition for incorporation business and sustain the current diversity of legal choices available to corporations.
In this speech, delivered as the annual James Madison Lecture, Judge Marsha Berzon discusses the availability of judicial remedies for violations of the Constitution. Judge Berzon reflects on the federal courts’ tradition of allowing litigants to proceed directly under the Constitution—that is, without a statutorily based cause of action. This is a tradition that extends much further than the mid-twentieth century cases most commonly associated with affirmative constitutional litigation— Brown, Bolling, & Bivens, for example—and has its roots in cases from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Against this long historical tradition of courts recognizing nonexpress causes of action for violations of the Constitution, Judge Berzon surveys the modern Supreme Court’s jurisprudence, a jurisprudence that sometimes requires constitutional litigants to base their claims on the same sort of clear congressional intent to permit judicial redress now required before courts will recognize so-called “implied” statutory causes of action. Judge Berzon suggests that requiring litigants seeking to enforce constitutional norms to point to evidence of congressional intent regarding the availability of judicial redress misapplies separation-of-powers concerns.
In Goodridge’s Wake: Reflections on the Political, Public, and Personal Repercussions of the Massachusetts Same-Sex Marriage Cases
In the Sixteenth Annual Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. Lecture on State Courts and Social Justice, Roderick L. Ireland, Senior Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, discusses the seminal case Goodridge v. Department of Public Health and a judge’s role in controversial decisions. Justice Ireland explains
the rationale behind his majority vote in Goodridge, as well as his dissent in Cote-Whitacre v. Department of Public Health, and the extreme public backlash that followed the same-sex marriage cases. Through the personal lens of his own experience dealing with the extreme reaction to Goodridge, Justice Ireland addresses how judges should handle such controversial cases while remaining true to the role of the judiciary.
The Supreme Court begins the twenty-first century with increasing use of a cramped approach to Fourth Amendment interpretation. That approach, championed by Justice Scalia, gives determinative weight to outdated common law rules from the framing era in assessing the reasonableness of searches and seizures. In the annual James Madison Lecture, Judge Blane Michael urges a fundamentally different—yet still traditional— approach. He argues that Fourth Amendment interpretation should be guided by the basic lesson learned from the mischief that gave birth to the Amendment in 1791: Namely, there is a need for constitutional protection against intrusive searches of houses and private papers carried out under grants of open-ended discretion to searching officers. This need for Fourth Amendment protection remains compelling in today’s ever more interconnected world. Above all, the Court should not weaken the Fourth Amendment’s protection by exclusive use of antiquated common law rules from the framing era.
In the annual James Madison Lecture, Robert Henry, former Chief Judge of the
United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, explores Justice John
Marshall Harlan II’s notable dissent in Poe v. Ullman. President Henry carefully
examines Justice Harlan’s method of constitutional interpretation. Refusing to
adopt a “literalistic” reading of the Constitution and instead looking to the “history
and purposes” of a particular constitutional provision, Justice Harlan’s approach
serves as a source of both flexibility and restraint. Of particular importance is
Justice Harlan’s recognition of the role that “living” traditions play in supplying
meaning to the concept of due process of law. What emerges from this probing
review of Justice Harlan’s Poe dissent is a moderate and thoughtful response to
In the Eighteenth Annual Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. Lecture on State Courts and Social Justice, Stuart Rabner, Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, discusses the court’s recent decision in State v. Henderson. In Henderson, the court revised the longstanding legal framework for testing the reliability of eyewitness identifications. Justice Rabner discusses the case law underlying the traditional framework, the social science that prompted the court’s decision, and the revised framework now in place. He concludes by emphasizing the importance of eyewitness identification in our criminal justice system and calling for continued judicial attention to accepted scientific evidence on eyewitness reliability.
In his James Madison Lecture, Judge Robert A. Katzmann argues that federal courts have much to learn from Congress and agencies about how statutes should be interpreted. In the voluminous discussion of how courts should construe statutes, there has generally been little consideration given to an appreciation of how Congress actually functions; how Congress signals its meaning; and what Congress expects of those interpreting its laws. In examining that lawmaking process, Judge Katzmann looks to how legislators signal their legislative meaning to the first inter- preters of statutes—agencies—and to how agencies regard Congress’s work product in interpreting and executing the law. He contends that Congress intends that its work be understood through its institutional processes and reliable legisla- tive history. In our constitutional system in which Congress is charged with enacting laws, the methods by which Congress makes its purposes known—through text and reliable accompanying materials—should be respected, lest the integrity of legislation be undermined. Agencies well appreciate and are responsive to Congress’s perspective that such materials are essential to construing statutes. By understanding statutory interpretation as an enterprise involving other institutions, we can better address the question of how courts ought to interpret statutes. Against that background, Judge Katzmann examines two approaches to the judicial inter- pretation of statutes—purposivism and textualism—and concludes with a discus- sion of practical ways in which Congress may better signal its meaning and how courts may better inform Congress of the problems courts identify in the statutes they review.
In the Seventeenth Annual Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. Lecture on State Courts and Social Justice, Paul J. De Muniz, Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, discusses the challenges confronting state judiciaries in the face of economic crises and corresponding state budget cuts. Chief Justice De Muniz urges state court leaders to adopt the concept of reengineering to overhaul antiquated court management processes in favor of more efficient alternatives. Drawing from the Oregon state judiciary’s own efforts, Chief Justice De Muniz identifies court governance structures, case administration, essential court functions, and leadership as key targets in any successful reengineering endeavor.
The legal community has long recognized that indigent citizens often lack access to the judicial system. Pro bono programs and legal aid organizations have attempted to address this issue. In the Nineteenth Annual Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. Lecture on State Courts and Social Justice, Wallace B. Jefferson, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas, argues that there are barriers to justice not only for the indigent but also for middle-class Americans. He explores how our most valuable rights are often the least protected. Tenants subject to eviction rarely have counsel, veterans wait years to receive earned benefits, and juveniles cannot invoke the Sixth Amendment to challenge civil fines. Chief Justice Jefferson explores reforms and alternatives that are available when traditional paths to justice are blocked, and he highlights some of the obstacles faced in creating these alternatives.
Beginning with this nation’s founding and continuing today, courts and political leaders have grappled with difficult questions as to the proper treatment of aliens— those individuals either living here or interacting with the government, but not bearing the title of “U.S. citizen.” In the annual James Madison Lecture, Judge Karen Nelson Moore explores the protections afforded to aliens by our Constitution, tracing those protections and their limitations across the many disparate legal contexts in which questions regarding aliens’ constitutional rights arise. Although the extent to which aliens possess constitutional rights varies with the closeness of their ties to this country, she explains that this single variable cannot account for the many nuances and tensions in federal jurisprudence relating to aliens’ constitutional rights. Closeness, after all, can be measured across multiple dimensions: immigration status, physical proximity to the United States (or to its borders), lawfulness of presence, and allegiance to the country.
Judge Moore first tackles the complicated meaning of alienage, discussing its conceptual definition separately with respect to the text of the Constitution, immigration law, and national security. She then considers the extent to which the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment limits the government’s ability to draw distinctions between different classes of aliens. Possible differential treatment among classes of aliens presents complex constitutional questions that remain unresolved, particularly as those questions relate to the treatment of aliens unlawfully present in this country. The rights of this group are the most in flux: These aliens’ unauthorized presence in the country, combined with their close ties to the political community, makes them difficult to fit into existing legal categories.
The criminal procedure rights of aliens under the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments are also considered, followed by a discussion of aliens’ due process rights with respect to civil litigation, immigration proceedings, and alien-enemy detention. Judge Moore highlights those areas at the outer reaches of current doctrine—the extraterritorial application of constitutional protections and the extent of executive power to combat terrorism. She articulates themes present in constitutional jurisprudence as it relates to aliens, providing a broad-lens view of this vast and complicated area of law.
The subject of my remarks this evening is how the judiciary, conceptually and in practice, should be and is in fact the leader of the access-to-justice revolution that is taking place in our state and in our country. It is no secret that our nation faces a crisis in access to justice. The distressing lack of civil legal aid for the poor is one of the most daunting challenges facing the justice system today, but all of the players—the providers, the academy, the profession as a whole, and in particular the judiciary—are increasingly and dramatically confronting this crisis and taking action to balance the scales of justice, to guarantee the rights and liberties of all, and to preserve the rule of law.
As I will discuss in detail tonight, New York’s judiciary has taken a leadership role in the access-to-justice reform—securing substantial funding in the judiciary budget for civil legal services; encouraging pro bono work by the bar; asking aspiring lawyers to provide legal assistance to those most in need; harnessing the legal talents of baby boomers and corporate counsel; and exploring novel methods of delivering legal services, including the use of nonlawyers to provide assistance inside and outside the courtroom. The judiciary’s leadership role is an analytical, multifaceted, incremental approach to closing the justice gap in our state, built around the leverage and credibility of the judiciary and its leadership. This approach utilizes all of the financial and programmatic resources available to the judicial branch, along with the great talent and energy of our partners in the legal profession, academia, and legal services communities.
This lecture is titled Our Broken Death Penalty. But the title is misleading, for it suggests that our death penalty might, at some earlier time, have been something other than broken. It has always been broken. And, as you will hear tonight, it cannot be repaired.
New Approaches to Ensure Meaningful Participation
This Lecture discusses innovative approaches that courts are employing and developing to ensure that all participants in court proceedings have meaningful access to justice. Approaches include making the most of technological advancements to provide electronic access to information and to promote an understanding of the legal process, working with the legal community to provide representation to self-represented parties, and examining the legal process in order to simplify procedures, better manage cases, control costs, and provide workable alternatives to traditional methods for resolving disputes.
This Lecture examines judicial independence, judicial accountability, and judicial governance. I discuss the role the current system of judicial self-governance plays in ensuring both accountability and independence—two sides of the same coin. Yet, two recent legislative proposals threaten not only decisional independence but also the institutional independence of the judicial branch itself. The first calls for an inspector general for the federal judiciary and the second proposes to regulate Supreme Court recusals. This Lecture discusses how the inspector general and Supreme Court recusal bills would lead to significant changes in the way the judiciary functions, and concludes these changes would nonetheless be insignificant compared to the threat they pose to the decisional independence of the federal judiciary.
An earlier version of this text was delivered as the James Madison Lecture at the New York University School of Law on October 13, 2016.
James Meredith, Muhammad Ali, and Lieutenant William Calley: Cases and Controversies Before the Fifth Circuit
Policymakers are constantly faced with the complex task of managing novel challenges. At times, these challenges result from new technologies: Consider fights over allocating air rights for drones or decisions about how to share scarce vaccines in a pandemic. Other times the resources are old, but the challenges are new, such as how to fairly allocate water in times of unprecedented drought or previously undesirable rare earth minerals that are in demand for modern manufacturing and energy production. Often, instead of carefully tailoring a regime to the new resource, decisionmakers simply rely on mechanisms they are familiar with. When jurisdictions borrow from each other, scholars call this a “legal transplant”—as when one state copies another state’s innovations or when the federal government learns from the “laboratories of democracy.” This Article unveils a new dimension of legal transplants: transplants across subject areas. By transplants across subject areas, this article refers to instances when a jurisdiction looks for doctrines in other legal areas, often within its own legal system, when regulating a new resource or addressing a new challenge.
This Article makes three key contributions. First, it identifies a new type of transplant—between subject matters within a jurisdiction. Second, it analyzes the reasons for internal, cross-subject legal transplants and the criteria for selecting which subject areas to copy from. Third, the Article brings the legal transplants literature to bear, specifically, on natural resource law. It explores two cases, groundwater and wind energy, where policymakers and courts have borrowed from other resource schemes, often ignoring the scientific and social differences between these natural resources. Other areas of law, such as the incorporation of contract doctrines in landlord-tenant relations, are also described to show the explanatory power of the natural transplant framework. This conceptual framework is then applied to new mineral developments in space and the deep sea. Cross-subject transplants may be more prevalent than previously appreciated, and understanding them will pave the way to analyze the regulation of new developments in natural resources, infrastructure, and beyond.
As they carry out their decennial redistricting duties, those in power sometimes audaciously manipulate district lines to secure an electoral advantage. In other words, they gerrymander. Often, however, the existing map already gives those in power a significant edge, and they may see little need for an overhaul. For them, the name of the game during redistricting is continuity rather than change.
This Article introduces the concept of “gerrylaundering” to describe mapmakers’ efforts to lock in their favorable position by preserving key elements of the existing map. Gerrylaundering and gerrymandering both serve anti-competitive ends, but they do so through different means. Unlike gerrymandering, gerrylaundering requires no conspicuous cracking and packing of disfavored voters. Instead, it involves what this Article dubs locking and stocking: Mapmakers lock in prior district configurations to the extent possible and stock each new district with one incumbent. Based on a review of redistricting practices in all fifty states, this Article concludes that gerrylaundering is widespread and that self-serving mapmakers commonly combine gerrylaundering and gerrymandering techniques in varying proportions to achieve their preferred results.
Recognizing gerrylaundering as a phenomenon enriches existing redistricting discourse by spotlighting the insidious nature of continuity strategies: They serve to advantage those in power, yet, since they appear more restrained than radical redesigns, they come with a veneer of legitimacy. This Article concludes that the veneer is thin. As a legal matter, efforts to preserve district cores and protect incumbents do not stand on the same footing as efforts to comply with traditional geographic districting principles. As a policy matter, gerrylaundering is more likely to subvert core democratic values than to foster them. At least two significant takeaways follow: First, courts should approach continuity criteria skeptically both when they review challenges to redistricting plans and when they draw maps themselves. Second, and more broadly, minimizing the legacy of prior maps has the potential to inject healthy dynamism into our system of district-based representation.
Memes are the paradigm of a new, flourishing creativity. Not only are these captioned images one of the most pervasive and important forms of online creativity, but they also upend many of copyright law’s fundamental assumptions about creativity, commercialization, and distribution. Chief among these assumptions is that copying is harmful. Not only does this mismatch threaten meme culture and expose fundamental problems in copyright law and theory, but the mismatch is even more significant because memes are far from an exceptional case. Indeed, memes are a prototype of a new mode of creativity that is emerging in our contemporary digital era, as can be seen across a range of works. Therefore, the concern with memes signals a much broader problem in copyright law and theory. This is not to say that the traditional creativity that copyright has long sought to protect is dead. Far from it. Both paths of creativity, traditional and new, can be vibrant. Yet we must be sensitive to the misfit between the new creativity and existing copyright law if we want the new creativity to continue to thrive.
Our deregulated campaign finance system has a race problem. In this Article, we apply innovations in statistical methods to the universe of campaign contributions for federal elections and analyze the racial distribution of money in American politics between 1980 and 2012. We find that white people are extremely over-represented among donors. This racial gap in campaign contributions is significantly greater than the gap between white and nonwhite voter participation and white and nonwhite officer holders. It is also relatively constant across time and elected offices.
This result is an important missing piece in the conversation about equity in political participation. We argue that the courts and Congress should take steps to address the racial gaps in campaign finance participation. The participation and representation problems that flow from racial inequality in deregulated campaign finance could inform claims under the Voting Rights Act (VRA), and politico-financial inequalities certainly bear on the normative problems that the statute intends to address. But the most politically viable way to address the campaign finance racial gap lies in adoption of public financing for political campaigns, which offer the promise of increasing the racial representation of campaign contributions. When racial representation in contributions is improved, improved equality in the distribution of resources and power in electoral and political systems should follow.
Judges matter. The opinions of a few impact the lives of many. Judges romanticize their own impartiality, but apathy in the face of systems of oppression favors the status quo and clears the way for conservative agendas to take root. The lifetime appointments of federal judges, the deliberate weaponization of the bench by reactionary opponents of the New Deal and progressive social movements, and the sheer inertia of judicial self-restraint have led to the conservative capture of the courts. By contrast, empathy for the oppressed and downtrodden renders substantive justice possible and leaves room for unsuccessful litigants to accept unfavorable outcomes. But some judges—movement judges—bring more to the bench than just empathy, raging against systemic injustice with an understanding of its burdens on real human lives. This Article argues that we need movement judges to realize the abolitionist and democracy-affirming potential of the Constitution. Although the judiciary is often described as the “least democratic” of the three branches of government, it has the potential to be the most democratic. With movement judges, the judiciary can become a force for “We the People.”
The United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has repeatedly taken the position
that because the IRS does not ask taxpayers to identify their race or ethnicity on
submitted tax returns, IRS enforcement actions are not affected by taxpayers’ race
or ethnicity. This claim, which I call “colorblind tax enforcement,” has been made
by multiple IRS Commissioners serving in multiple administrations (both
Democratic and Republican). This claim has been made to members of Congress
and to members of the press.
In this Article, I refute the IRS position that racial bias cannot occur under current
IRS practices. I do so by identifying the conditions under which race and ethnicity
could determine tax enforcement outcomes under three separate models of racial
bias: racial animus, implicit bias, and transmitted bias. I then demonstrate how such
conditions can be present across seven distinct tax enforcement settings regardless
of whether the IRS asks about race or ethnicity. The IRS enforcement settings ana-
lyzed include summonses, civil penalty assessments, collection due process hear-
ings, innocent spouse relief, and Department of Justice (DOJ) referrals.
By establishing that every major enforcement function of the IRS remains vulner-
able to racial bias, this Article also challenges the IRS decision to omit race and
ethnicity from the collection and analysis of tax data. The absence of publicly avail-
able data on IRS enforcement activities by race should not be interpreted as evi-
dence that no racial disparities exist. I conclude by describing alternative
approaches to preventing racial bias in tax enforcement other than the current IRS
policy of purported colorblindness.
Structural constitutional law regulates the workings of government and supplies the
rules of the political game. Whether by design or by accident, these rules sometimes
tilt the playing field for or against certain political factions—not just episodically,
based on who holds power at a given moment, but systematically over time—in
terms of electoral outcomes or policy objectives. In these instances, structural con-
stitutional law is itself structurally biased.
This Article identifies and begins to develop the concept of such structural biases,
with a focus on biases affecting the major political parties. Recent years have wit-
nessed a revival of political conflict over the basic terms of the U.S. constitutional
order. We suggest that this phenomenon, and a large part of structural constitu-
tional conflict in general, is best explained by the interaction between partisan
polarization and structural bias, each of which can intensify the other. The Article
also offers a typology of structural biases, keyed to the contemporary United States
but potentially applicable to any system. To date, legal scholars have lagged social
scientists in investigating the efficiency, distributional, and political effects of gov-
ernance arrangements. The concept of structural bias, we aim to show, can help
bridge this disciplinary gap and thereby advance the study of constitutional design
and constitutional politics.
In the current model of federal-Indian relations, the United States claims a plenary
legislative power, as putative guardian, to regulate Indian tribes. Under this model,
tribes are essentially wards in a state of pupilage. But the federal-tribal relationship
was not always so. Originally, the federal government embraced, even promoted, a
more robust model of tribal sovereignty in which federal-Indian treatymaking and
diplomacy figured prominently. Through treaties, the United States and tribes nego-
tiated territorial boundaries, forged alliances, facilitated trade, and otherwise man-
aged their relations. In 1871, Congress attempted to put an end to federal-Indian
treatymaking by purporting to strip tribes of their status as legitimate treaty part-
ners. In a rider to the 1871 Appropriations Act, Congress prohibited the recognition
of tribes as sovereign entities with whom the United States could negotiate treaties.
Since that time, the 1871 Act and the plenary power-pupilage model it entrenched
have grown deep roots in federal Indian law and the policies of the United States.
Congress has aggrandized its role in tribal life at the expense of tribal sovereignty,
and the coordinate branches of the federal government have acquiesced in this
The literature of federal Indian law has wrestled with the doctrine of plenary power,
contemplated the fate of the federal-tribal treaty relationship, and questioned the
constitutionality of the 1871 rider. This Article posits new arguments for the uncon-
stitutionality of the 1871 Act, uprooting the presumptions underlying the Act and
revitalizing the prospect of federal-Indian treatymaking. Two recent developments
provide an opportunity for such a transformation. In Zivotofsky v. Kerry, the
Supreme Court held that the President alone possesses the power to recognize for-
eign states and governments. While Zivotofsky was a landmark case for U.S. for-
eign relations law, its potential significance for federal Indian law has gone
underappreciated. Zivotofsky did not directly address the locus of power to recog-
nize tribal sovereignty to enter treaties, but it prompts the question and provides a
blueprint for arriving at an answer. Engaging that blueprint, this Article argues that
the President possesses the exclusive power to recognize tribes’ sovereign capacity
to enter treaties. The result: The 1871 Act is unconstitutional because it attempts to
limit that power. In our view, the President can and should unilaterally reengage in
federal-Indian treatymaking, revitalizing treatymaking and reanimating the sover-
eignty model of federal-Indian relations.
We have entered the era dominated by a dogmatic textualism—albeit one that is fracturing, as illustrated by the three warring original public meaning opinions in the blockbuster sexual orientation case, Bostock v. Clayton County. This Article provides conceptual tools that allow lawyers and students to understand the deep analytical problems faced and created by the new textualism advanced by Justice Scalia and his heirs. The key is to think about choice of text—why one piece of text rather than another—and choice of context—what materials are relevant to confirm or clarify textual meaning. Professors Eskridge and Nourse apply these concepts to evaluate the new textualism’s asserted neutrality, predictability, and objectivity in its canonical cases, as well as in Bostock and other recent textual debates.
The authors find that textual gerrymandering—suppressing some relevant texts while picking apart others, as well as cherry-picking context—has been pervasive. Texts and contexts are chosen to achieve particular results—without any law-based justification. Further, this Article shows that, by adopting the seemingly benign “we are all textualists now” position, liberals as well as conservatives have avoided the key analytic questions and have contributed to the marginalization of the nation’s premier representative body, namely, Congress. Today, the Supreme Court asks how “ordinary” populist readers interpret language (the consumer economy of statutory interpretation) even as the Court rejects the production economy (the legislative authors’ meaning).
Without returning to discredited searches for ephemeral “legislative intent,” we propose a new focus on legislative evidence of meaning. In the spirit of Dean John F. Manning’s suggestion that purposivists have improved their approach by imposing text-based discipline, textualists can improve their approach to choice of text and choice of context by imposing the discipline of what we call “republican evidence”—evidence of how the legislative authors explained the statute to ordinary readers. A republic is defined by law based upon the people’s representatives; hence the name for our theory: “republican evidence.” This Article concludes by affirming the republican nature of Madisonian constitutional design and situating the Court’s assault on republican evidence as part of a larger crisis posed by populist movements to republican democracies today.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to restructure exclusionary environments upon the request of their employees with disabilities so that they may continue working. Under a virtually unexamined aspect of the mandate, however, the parties must negotiate in good faith over every accommodation request. This “interactive process,” while decentralized and potentially universal, occurs on a private, individualized basis.
Although the very existence of the mandate has been heavily debated, scholarship has yet to acknowledge that the ADA is actually ambivalent to individuals’ relative power to effect organizational change through bargaining. This Article is the first to critique the law’s interactive requirements. The process does not appear in the statute, but is an agency’s conceptualization of the mandate as an idealized exchange. By evaluating new empirical evidence relating to race, class, and gender outcomes against the meso-level theories underlying the mandate, this Article argues that the process disempowers employees through deficits of information, individuated design, and employers’ resistance to costs. Nonetheless, momentum to replicate the mandate to accommodate pregnancy and other workers’ needs continues apace.
As the workplace is increasingly deemed essential to societal well-being, this new frame reveals the law’s design flaws and unfulfilled potential. In response, this Article proposes reallocations of power so that the state may gather and publicize organizational precedent to facilitate structural analysis, regulation, and innovation at scale; legally recognize that antidiscrimination work, particularly dismantling ableist environments, is a collective endeavor; and expand the social insurance model for accommodations. Perhaps, then, the ADA’s original vision of institutional transformation may become possible.
In a world in which liberals and conservatives disagree about almost everything, there is one important point on which surprising numbers of liberals and conservatives agree: They view the Court’s modern substantive due process decisions as repeating the constitutional wrongs of Lochner. In this Article, we draw on the history of modern substantive due process cases to refute the Lochner objection and to show how these cases demonstrate the democratic potential of judicial review often questioned in contemporary debates over court reform.
In the late 1930s, the Court repudiated Lochner while affirming the importance of judicial review in securing our constitutional democracy. In Carolene Products Footnote Four, the Court famously staked out a continuing role for “more searching judicial inquiry” in cases where “prejudice . . . tends seriously to curtail the operation of those political processes ordinarily to be relied upon to protect minorities.” Yet our understanding of the Carolene Products framework dates not to the 1938 decision but instead to the 1980s. In Democracy and Distrust, John Hart Ely developed Footnote Four into a liberal theory of representation-reinforcing judicial review that endorsed decisions protecting certain rights— voting, speech, and equal protection, specifically Brown v. Board of Education— and repudiated decisions protecting other rights—specifically substantive due process. Ely published his attack on substantive due process in 1980, just as conservatives elected President Reagan to overturn Roe v. Wade.
With the benefit of the intervening forty years, this Article revisits and reassesses Ely’s now-canonical interpretation of the Carolene Products framework. We answer the “Lochner objection” by showing how modern substantive due process claims were candidates for close judicial scrutiny in the Carolene Products framework; how the claimants’ strategies of “speaking out” and “coming out” were efforts to be heard in democratic politics; and how bottom-up mobilization around courts can be democracy-promoting in ways that Ely did not imagine. In short, we show that Ely had the big idea that judicial review could be democracy-promoting, but he argued his case on faulty premises. Democracy and Distrust bore significant influence of the traditions and the cultural forces Ely argued against. We show what Ely missed, not because we imagine federal courts are now likely to act as they did in the 1970s, but rather because Ely’s framing of these cases has become dominant and shapes the ways Americans continue to debate the role of courts. We examine the arguments of the claimants in the modern substantive due process cases—then unrepresented in positions of legal authority—and reason about their cases in light of scholarship on the ways family structures citizenship, and on the different roles of courts in a democracy, that has evolved in the four decades since Ely wrote.
What might this reconsideration of the modern substantive due process cases suggest about the ongoing debate over the role of federal courts in a constitutional democracy? This Article does not engage with the particulars of court reform, but it does shed light on certain fundamental premises of that debate. Our analysis rules out one commonly cited justification for reform: that judicial restrictions on legislative sovereignty are by definition antidemocratic and that the modern substantive due process cases are the classic illustration. We show the many ways in which judicial intervention in these cases was democracy-promoting. As one looks at concrete lines of cases and structural features of courts, one can ask about the democracy-promoting and democracy-inhibiting ways that courts perform and pose more discriminating questions about the goals of court reform—whether to adopt reforms that make courts more independent, less polarized, more open, and more democratically responsive, or to limit their role in all or certain areas of a democratic order.
The federal courts of appeals embrace the ideal that judges are committed to rule-of-law norms, collegiality, and judicial independence. Whatever else divides them, these judges generally agree that partisan identity has no place on the bench. Consequently, when a court of appeals sits “en banc,” (i.e., collectively) the party affiliations of the three-judge panel under review should not matter. Starting in the 1980s, however, partisan ideology has grown increasingly important in the selection of federal appellate judges. It thus stands to reason—and several high-profile modern examples illustrate—that today’s en banc review could be used as a weapon by whatever party has appointed the most judges on any particular circuit. A weaponized en banc reflects more than just ideological differences between judges. We define the phrase to capture a “team mentality” on the courts of appeals—an us versus them—where the judges vote in blocs aligned with the party of the President who appointed them and use en banc review to reverse panels composed of members from the other team.
In this Article, we test whether en banc review is now or has ever been weaponized. We make use of an original data set—the most comprehensive one of which we are aware—that tracks en banc decisions over six decades. Our findings are surprising in two very different ways. The bulk of our data indicates that rule-of-law norms are deeply embedded. From the 1960s through 2017, en banc review seems to have developed some sort of immunity from partisan behavior over time, and we unpack potential reasons why. But that important and long-lasting immunity could now be in danger. Our data from 2018–2020 show a dramatic and statistically significant surge in behavior consistent with the weaponizing of en banc review. It is too soon to tell whether this is a temporary change or an inflection point indicating a more permanent shift. We consider both possibilities and, in so doing, highlight the critical role that en banc review plays in ascertaining judicial commitment to rule-of-law norms. The time may soon be upon us to confront the cost of en banc review in a regime where party identity frequently trumps other judicial impulses.
The information that we reveal from interactions online and with electronic devices has massive value—for both private profit and public benefit, such as improving health, safety, and even commute times. Who owns the lucrative big data that we generate through the everyday necessity of interacting with technology? Calls for legal regulation regarding how companies use our data have spurred laws and proposals framed by the predominant lens of individual privacy and the right to control and delete data about oneself. By focusing on individual control over droplets of personal data, the major consumer privacy regimes overlook the important question of rights in the big data ocean.
This Article is the first to frame a right of the public to benefit from our consumer big data. Drawing on insights from property theory, regulatory advances, and open innovation, the Article introduces a model that permits controlled access and the use of big data for public interest purposes while protecting against privacy harms, among others. I propose defining a right of access to pooled personal data for public purposes, with sensitive information safeguarded by a controlled-access procedure akin to that used by institutional review boards in medical research today. To encourage companies to voluntarily share data for public interest purposes, the Article also proposes regulatory sandboxes and safe harbors akin to those successfully deployed in other domains, such as antitrust, financial technology, and intellectual property law.
When it comes to combating structural racism, representation matters, and this is true for criminal defense as much as it is for mental health services and education. This Article calls for the expansion of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel of choice to indigent defendants and argues that such an expansion could be of particular benefit to indigent Black defendants. Extending choice to all indigent defendants reinforces the principles underlying the Sixth Amendment right to counsel and can help strengthen the attorney-client relationship. Because an expansion would grant defendants the autonomy to request counsel who they believe would best represent them, Black defendants who prioritize racial congruency and cultural competency may select Black counsel. Empowering indigent Black people to select, should they desire, Black and/or culturally competent public defenders has the potential to offer a range of benefits, including mitigating anti-Black racism in the criminal legal system.
Methodologically, this Article takes multiple approaches. First, it connects indigent representation to existing literature from other fields—clinical therapy and education—both of which recognize the benefits of racial congruency, to support the argument that Black public defenders may benefit Black clients. To explore how same-race representation functions in practice, this Article also relies on qualitative interviews with Black public defenders regarding communication and trust, factors that the American Bar Association identifies as integral to criminal defense. Together, these approaches highlight how expanding choice to indigent defendants might impact Black defendants, something that past choice of counsel literature does not examine. The Article concludes that recruiting more Black public defenders and training culturally competent lawyers are critical next steps regardless of whether the Court expands the right to counsel of choice to people who qualify for appointed counsel.
Abusive tax avoidance and tax evasion by high-income taxpayers pose unique threats to the tax system. These strategies undermine the tax system’s progressive features and distort its distributional burdens. Responses to this challenge generally fall within two categories: calls to increase IRS enforcement and “activity-based rules” targeting the specific strategies that enable tax avoidance and evasion by these taxpayers. Both of these responses, however, offer incomplete solutions to the problems of high-end noncompliance.
This Article presents the case for “progressive tax procedure”—means-based adjustments to the tax procedure rules for high-income taxpayers. In contrast to the activity-based rules in current law, progressive tax procedure would tailor rules to the economic circumstances of the actors rather than their activities. For example, under this approach, a high-income taxpayer would face higher tax penalty rates or longer periods where the IRS could assess tax deficiencies. Progressive tax procedure could also allow an exception for low-value tax underpayments, to avoid excessive IRS scrutiny or unduly burdensome rules for less serious offenses.
Progressive tax procedure could address the unique challenges posed by high-end tax noncompliance and equalize the effect of the tax procedure rules for taxpayers in varying economic circumstances. It could also complement the alternative approaches of increasing tax enforcement and activity-based rules while avoiding the limitations of relying exclusively on these responses.
After developing the normative case for progressive tax procedure, the Article illustrates how it could be applied in three specific areas: accuracy-related tax penalties, the reasonable cause defense, and the statute of limitations. These applications illuminate the basic design choices in implementing progressive tax procedure, including the types of rules that should be adjusted and the methods for designing these adjustments.
Prostitution is illegal while pornography is constitutionally protected. Modern technology, however, is complicating the relationship between prostitution and pornography. Recent technological advances make the creation and distribution of recorded material more accessible. Within our smart phones we carry agile distribution networks as well as the technical equipment required to produce low-budget films. Today, sex workers may be paid to engage in sexual activities as part of performances that are recorded and broadcast to a public audience. No longer confined to the pornography industry, this form of sexual performance can be created by anyone with a cell phone and access to the internet. In addition, modern popular culture recognizes the expressive value of reality and ordinary life. Technological advances will only continue to make broadcasting and sharing everyday life possible, raising the possibility that there will be a growing audience for, and communities organized around, sexually expressive materials online. This Article is the first to analyze this increasingly important and common phenomenon that it defines as reality porn. It argues that reality porn is pornographic paid sex work that should be accorded First Amendment recognition, notwithstanding the criminalization of the underlying act of prostitution. This Article redefines pornography and provides a framework for analyzing this sexual expression. As long as the conduct is consentable—both consented to in fact and consensual in nature—it should not be deprived of constitutional protection.
Who should bear the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic? While multilateral institutions are beginning to consider how to distribute them, former U.S. President Trump and others have suggested suing China for damages. This “lawsuit approach” draws on a deep-seated conception of international law: States have a sovereign “right to be left alone”; the only limit to this right is a correlative duty to avoid harming others. Those harmed can, then, sue for damages. In this view, who should pay for the costs of the pandemic (and how much) is not a normative question about justice, but rather one about factual causes and actuarial calculations.
In this Article, we explore this lawsuit approach—not for its legal viability, but for its conceptual implications. We exhaustively and critically assess the doctrinal discussion on China’s international liability for the pandemic while also pointing at deep theoretical implications that this novel crisis has for international law more broadly.
Specifically, we make three novel claims. The first is that the arguments made using the lawsuit approach (based on the International Health Regulations and the no-harm principle), when meticulously analyzed under existing international norms, run into unexpected obstacles. On top of the jurisdictional and evidentiary hurdles noted by many, we argue that the lawsuit approach faces difficulties stemming from the lack of deep normative agreement in international law on how to deal with unprecedented challenges such as COVID-19.
Our second claim draws on the first. Given the need to fill these normative voids, the lawsuit approach leads back to the global conversation about the allocation of losses that it carefully tries to avoid. This normative dependence cannot be spared by analogy with domestic law. Domestic law builds upon thick cultural understandings that fill empty legal concepts (such as “harm” or “causation”), making them readily operative. International law, however, lacks an equivalent thick culture to fill these voids and therefore requires complex reconstructions of what states owe to one another.
Our third claim further extends the foregoing reasoning. The lawsuit approach relies on international law as a means to achieve corrective justice while denying its implications for distributive justice. We argue that this is conceptually impossible. Allocating responsibility for the pandemic implicates inherently distributive concepts: To decide, an adjudicator would need to rely on a pretorian rule detailing how much effort and expense countries should dedicate to avoiding harm to other countries. That rule is conceptually distributive, independent of its content. The misfortunes derived from the pandemic are not conceptually different from the mis- fortunes of poverty, financial breakdowns, or climate change. Those going down the road of the lawsuit approach might be unpleasantly surprised by where that road leads them.
The Federal Trade Commission Act’s ban on “unfair . . . acts and practices” would, on its face, seem to give the FTC an awesome power to define proper treatment of consumers in changing conditions. But even in a world of widespread corporate surveillance, ongoing racial discrimination, impenetrably complex financial products, pyramid schemes, and more, the unfairness authority is used rarely, mostly in egregious cases of wrongdoing. Why?
The standard explanation is that the more expansive notion of unfairness was tried in the 1970s, and it failed spectacularly. The FTC of this era was staffed by bureaucrats convinced of their own moral superiority and blind to the self-correcting dynamics of the market. When the FTC finally reached too far and tried to ban television advertising of sugary cereals to children, it undermined its own legitimacy, causing Congress to put pressure on the agency to narrow its definition of unfairness.
This Article argues that this standard explanation gets the law and the history wrong, and, thus, that the FTC’s unfairness authority is more potent than commonly assumed. The regulatory initiatives of the 1970s were actually quite popular. The backlash against them was led by the businesses whose profit margins they threatened. Leaders of these businesses had become increasingly radicalized and well-organized and brought their new political clout to bear on an unsuspecting FTC. It was not the re-articulation of the unfairness standard in 1980 that narrowed unfairness to its current form, but rather the subsequent takeover of the FTC by neoliberal economists and lawyers who had been supported by these radicalized business leaders. The main limitation on the use of the unfairness authority since then has been the ideology of regulators charged with its enforcement. In fact, the conventional morality tale about the FTC’s efforts in the 1970s are part of what keeps this ideology dominant.
A reconsideration of the meaning of unfairness requires situating the drama of the 1970s and 80s in a longer struggle over governance of consumer markets. Since the creation of the FTC, and even before, an evolving set of coalitions have battled over what makes markets fair. These coalitions can be divided roughly into those who favor norm setting by government agencies informed by experts held accountable to democratic publics and those who favor norm setting by business leaders made accountable via the profit motive. The meaning of “unfair . . . acts and practices” has been defined and redefined through these struggles, and it can and should be redefined again to reconstruct the state capacity to define standards of fair dealing.
The American public is slowly recognizing the criminal justice system’s deep defects. Mounting visual evidence of police brutality and social protests are generating an appetite for something different. How to change this system is still an open question. People across the political spectrum vary in their conceptions of the pressing problems and how to solve them. Interestingly, there is one consequential and overlooked area of the criminal justice system where there is broad consensus: police quotas.
Police quotas are formal and informal measures that require police officers to issue a particular number of citations or make a certain number of arrests. Although law enforcement leadership typically denies implementing quotas, courts, legislators, and officers have all confirmed the existence of this practice and linked it to odious criminal justice problems such as racial profiling, policing for profit, and overcriminalization. These problems have led legislators in many states to implement statutory prohibitions on quotas. Some of these statutes are of recent vintage and others are decades old. Nevertheless, these prohibitions and their attendant litigation have escaped sustained analytical scrutiny. Legal scholars typically overlook police quotas, subsume them within other categories (e.g., broken windows policing), or give pat acknowledgment of their existence without explaining how they work.
This Article corrects these omissions and makes two arguments. First, it contends that police quotas are a significant but undertheorized feature of criminal law and procedure. Quotas make police rewards and sanctions significant features of punishment in ways that can trump criminal offending and pervert due process principles. Second, it argues that quota-based policing is a unique area where there is widespread agreement and possibilities for change. Liberals, libertarians, conservatives, police officers, police unions, and racial minorities have all criticized police quotas. These vastly different constituents have argued that quotas distort police discretion and produce unnecessary police-civilian interactions. This Article supplements these arguments with a novel descriptive, statutory, and jurisprudential account of police quotas in the United States. It offers a framework for under- standing the arguments for and objections to quotas, and proposes some normative strategies that could build on statutory and litigation successes.
Over the past 50 years, multidistrict litigation (MDL) has quietly revolutionized civil procedure. MDLs include the largest tort cases in U.S. history, but without the authority of the class-action rule, MDL judges—who formally have only pretrial jurisdiction over individual cases—have resorted to extraordinary procedural exceptionalism to settle cases on a national scale. Substantive state laws, personal jurisdiction, transparency, impartiality, reviewability, federalism, and adequate representation must all yield if doing so fulfills that one goal.
Somehow, until now, this has remained below the surface to everyone but MDL insiders. Thanks to the sprawling MDL over the opioid crisis—and unprecedented opposition to it—MDL is finally in public view. State attorneys general have resisted the opioid MDL’s intense nationalism, its relentless drive to global settlement, its wild procedural innovation, its blurring of differences across state law, and its dramatic assertions of jurisdictional authority. Opiates is the most extraordinary MDL yet, but most big MDLs share many of its features, and Opiates is already the roadmap for the next mega-cases. Moreover, even as resistance to Opiates has dispersed some of the MDL’s early power, that resistance itself has come in the form of unusual procedural mechanisms.
MDL is designed for individual cases—giving similar suits filed in different districts an efficient pretrial process before sending them home for trial. In reality, that is pure fiction. Few cases ever return. And the MDL’s mode of coordination—from its anti-federalism stance to its insistence that each proceeding is too unique to be confined by the Federal Rules—chafes at almost every aspect of procedure’s traditional rules and values. MDL is not-so-secretly changing the face of civil procedure.
This Article weaves together for the first time these exceptional features of MDL and their disruption of procedure’s core assumptions. Is MDL a revolution? Or simply a symptom of a larger set of modern procedural tensions manifesting in many forms? Either way, it begs the question: What do we expect of litigation on this scale?
We recognize that MDL fills important gaps by providing access to courts but argue for some return to regular order to safeguard due process, federalism, and sovereignty. We suggest specific shifts—from more pretrial motions to new paths for appellate review, attorney selection, and jurisdictional redundancy—where the normative balance seems particularly out of whack; shifts we believe are in line with the spirit of Federal Rule 1’s own inherent paradox—the ideal of “just, speedy and inexpensive procedure.”
We also offer the first comprehensive analysis of the historic suits over the opioid crisis. Opiates is the first MDL that pits localities against their own state attorneys general in a struggle for litigation control. Its judge has publicly stated that solving a national health crisis that Congress dumped in his lap is different from ordinary litigation. Opiates has even invented a new form of class action. It is hyper-dialectical, jurisdictionally competitive, outcome-oriented, repeat-player-rich, fiercely creative procedure.
Over the past three decades, since the late Justice Scalia joined the Court and ushered in a new era of text-focused statutory analysis, there has been a marked move towards the holistic interpretation of statutes and “making sense of the corpus juris.” In particular, Justices on the modern Supreme Court now regularly compare or analogize between statutes that contain similar words or phrases—what some have called the “whole code rule.” Despite the prevalence of this interpretive practice, however, scholars have paid little attention to how the Court actually engages in whole code comparisons on the ground.
This Article provides the first empirical and doctrinal analysis of how the modern Supreme Court uses whole code comparisons, based on a study of 532 statutory cases decided during the Roberts Court’s first twelve-and-a-half Terms. The Article first catalogues five different forms of whole code comparisons employed by the modern Court and notes that the different forms rest on different justifications, although the Court’s rhetoric has tended to ignore these distinctions. The Article then notes several problems, beyond the unrealistic one-Congress assumption identified by other scholars, that plague the Court’s current approach to most forms of whole code comparisons. For example, most of the Court’s statutory comparisons involve statutes that have no explicit connection to each other, and nearly one-third compare statutes that regulate entirely unrelated subject areas. Moreover, more than a few of the Court’s analogies involve generic statutory phrases—such as “because of” or “any”—whose meaning is likely to depend on context rather than some universal rule of logic or linguistics.
This Article argues that, in the end, the Court’s whole code comparisons amount to judicial drafting presumptions that assign fixed meanings to specific words, phrases, and structural choices. The Article critiques this judicial imposition of drafting conventions on Congress—noting that it is unpredictable, leads to enormous judicial discretion, reflects an unrealistic view of how Congress drafts, and falls far outside the judiciary’s institutional expertise. It concludes by recommending that the Court limit its use of whole code comparisons to situations in which congressional drafting practices, rule of law concerns, or judicial expertise justify the practice—e.g., where Congress itself has made clear that one statute borrowed from or incorporated the provisions of another, or where judicial action is necessary to harmonize two related statutes with each other.
No one doubts that prosecutors may sometimes decline prosecution notwithstanding factual guilt. Everyone expects prosecutors to prioritize enforcement based on resource limitation and, occasionally, to decline prosecution on a case-by-case basis when they deem justice requires it. Recently, however, some state prosecutors have gone further, asserting the right to refuse categorically to enforce certain state laws. Examples include refusals to seek the death penalty and refusals to prosecute prostitution or recreational drug use. When may a single actor render inert her state’s democratically enacted law in this way? If the answer is anything other than “never,” the vast reach of American state criminal law demands a pertinent framework for ascertaining legitimacy.
In offering one, this Article provides the first extended analysis of the normative import of the locally elected status of the state prosecutors who make such pledges. If legitimacy is the problem, local elections can be the solution. That is, there may well be something suspect about unilateral prosecutorial negation of democratically enacted law. Yet that same negation can be justified as distinctly democratic when the elected prosecutor can wrap it in popular sanction.
This Article first unspools a once-robust American tradition of localized, populist nonenforcement of criminal law, best seen in jury nullification. It then draws upon democratic theory to construct a normative basis for reviving that tradition in the context of state prosecutors’ categorical nonenforcement. These moves uncover a before-now unappreciated connection: At least where the prosecutor ties her categorical nullification to the polity’s electorally expressed will, she accomplishes wholesale what nullifying juries could once do retail. I thus dub that wholesale action “populist prosecutorial nullification.” Building upon that analogy and my normative analysis, I set out a novel framework for evaluating state prosecutors’ categorical nonenforcement that is keyed to the concept of localized popular will, while accounting for populism’s well-known downsides.
This Article considers when optional case citations may do more harm than good. There are valid reasons for citing to non-binding precedent—to promote consistency in the law, for example, or to avoid wasteful redundancy. But unconsidered invocations of non-binding authority may also introduce error into individual opinions and distort the path of the law over time. This Article catalogues such dangerous citations as used in particular by federal district courts citing to other federal district courts with three goals in mind: to help judges use non-binding authority constructively, to help law clerks think critically about their citation practices, and to help readers of judicial opinions question the rhetoric of constraint.
In mapping these problematic uses of non-binding authority, the Article distinguishes between poorly conceived citations and poorly implemented citations. Poorly conceived citations are those for which non-binding precedent is simply not a useful authority. Examples of poorly conceived citations include reliance on prior opinions to establish facts or the content of another sovereign’s laws. Poorly implemented citations are those for which non-binding precedent may be relevant but should be selected and applied with care. Examples of poorly implemented citations include over-extended analogies and reliance on judge-made tests that are misaligned with the question being evaluated. This catalogue of poorly conceived and poorly implemented citations surfaces some common themes, including the need for better-designed tests and the challenges posed by modern research methods. But dangerous citations are not simply a matter of inadvertence, carelessness, or mistake; they may also be deployed for rhetorical purposes, in particular to signal legitimacy and restraint. The Article thus ends with a warning against “performative judging,” or the use of excessive citations to suggest greater constraint than the law in fact provides. Such citations are dangerous not just for the error they may introduce, but also because they obscure judicial choice and the inherently discretionary nature of judging.
Medicaid’s cooperative federalism structure gives states significant discretion to include or exclude various categories of noncitizens. This has created extreme geographic variability in noncitizens’ access to health coverage. This Article describes federalism’s role in influencing state policies on noncitizen eligibility for Medicaid and its implications for national health policy. Although there are disagreements over the extent to which public funds should be used to subsidize noncitizen health coverage, this Article reveals that decentralized policymaking on noncitizen access to Medicaid has weakened national health policy by increasing wasteful spending and exacerbating inequities in access to healthcare. It has failed to incentivize the type of state policy experimentation and replication that justifies federalism arrangements in other contexts. Rather, federalism has (1) enabled states to enact exclusionary policies that are ineffective and inhumane and (2) created barriers for states to enact inclusionary policies that advance the normative goals of health policy. This Article concludes that noncitizen access to health coverage is best addressed through centralized policymaking.
This Article contributes to scholarly conversations about federalism and healthcare by providing a case study to test the efficacy of federalism arrangements in achieving equity for those who were left behind by health reform. More broadly, it adds to the federalism literature by synthesizing insights from three fields that rarely comment on one another: health law, immigration law, and federalism theory.
Text in Article III of the U.S. Constitution appears to give to Congress authority to make incursions into judicial supremacy, by restricting (or, less neutrally, “stripping”) the jurisdiction of federal courts. Article III gives Congress authority to make “exceptions” to the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction. Article III also gives Congress discretion whether to “ordain and establish” lower federal courts. Congress’s power to create or abolish these courts would seem to include the power to create them but to limit their jurisdiction, and that is how the power has historically been understood.
Is Congress’s power to remove the jurisdiction of federal courts in effect a legislative power to choose the occasions on which federal courts may, and may not, have the final word on the meaning of the Constitution? That is a question on which the Supreme Court has never spoken definitively.
In this Article I argue that Congress, working through the ordinary legislative process, may remove the jurisdiction of federal and even state courts to hear cases involving particular questions of federal law, including cases that raise questions under the Federal Constitution. Understood this way, the implications of Congress’s Article III power are profound. Congress may prescribe, by ordinary legislation, constitutional rules in areas where the meaning of the Constitution is unsettled. Or it may displace otherwise settled constitutional rules by ordinary legislation.
To be clear, Article III does not permit Congress to escape accountability. Rather, Article III gives to Congress the power to choose whether it must answer, in a particular instance, to judges or to voters. Compared with judicial review, the political constraint is, of course, less formal and predictable. But that does not mean that the political constraint is weak. A successful exercise of its Article III power will require a majority in Congress, and, in most instances, a President, who agree both on the substantive policy at issue and on the political viability of overriding the public expectation that Congress should face a judicial check. In such instances, we should welcome the exercise of Congress’s Article III power. In the push-and-pull between judicially-enforced constitutional rules and the desires of current democratic majorities, the potential for Congress’s exercise of its Article III power helps legitimate both constitutionalism and judicial review.
Racial disparities in maternal mortality have recently become a popular topic, with a host of media outlets devoting time and space to covering the appalling state of black maternal health in the country. Congress responded to this increased societal awareness by passing the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act at the tail end of 2018. The law provides states twelve million dollars annually, for five years, to fund maternal mortality review commissions—interdisciplinary collections of experts that evaluate and investigate the causes of every maternal death in a jurisdiction. Fascinatingly, although activists, journalists, politicians, scholars, and other commentators understand that the maternal health tragedy in the United States is a racial tragedy, the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act completely ignores race. Indeed, the term “race” does not appear anywhere in the text of the statute. The irony is striking: An effort to address a phenomenon that has become salient because of its racial nature ignores race entirely.
The racial irony embodied by the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act serves as an invitation to investigate not only the Act itself, but the national conversation that is currently taking place about racial disparities in maternal deaths. Indeed, in important respects, if the general discourse that surrounds racial disparities in maternal mortality is impoverished, then we should expect that the solutions that observers propose will be impoverished as well. This is precisely what this Article discovers. The analysis proceeds in four Parts.
Part I provides an overview of racial disparities in maternal mortality, identifying the various elements that have made pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period much more dangerous for black women than their white counterparts in the United States. Part II then offers critiques of the national conversation around racial disparities in maternal mortality and warns of both the marginalizing effects it may have on black women and the possibility that it will lead to blaming black women for dying on the path to motherhood.
Part III describes the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act in some detail. Part IV follows with a critique of the Act, identifying three deficiencies. First, it notes the racial erasure contained in the Act—the fact that the Act nowhere mentions the racial dimensions of the nation’s maternal health debacle. It then observes the predicament created by the fact that erasing race likely was essential to the very passage of the Act. Second, it notes that because the Act does not direct the state maternal mortality review commissions to investigate the structural and institutional forces that produce excess maternal deaths in the United States, it leaves space for maternal mortality review commissions to simply blame the dead for dying. Third, it notes that the Act does no more than fund the gathering of more data about pregnancy-related deaths. However, it observes that there is a strong argument to be made that we do not need more data. We already know why women are dying, and we already know how to save them. In this way, the tragedy of maternal mortality in the United States is not a problem of information; it is a problem of political will. To the extent that Congress chose to intervene in the maternal health debacle not with policy changes, but rather with an attestation that we need more information, the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act demonstrates that we still lack the political will to make the concrete changes that will make pregnancy and childbirth safe.
There is a widely held belief that, in order to delay executions, American death-row prisoners strategically defer litigation until the eleventh hour. After all, the logic goes, the incentives for prisoners who face the death penalty differ from those who do not. Noncapital prisoners typically try to move the terminal point of a sentence (release) forward, and capital prisoners typically try to push that point (execution) back. This theory of litigant behavior—what I call the “Strategic Delay Account,” or the “SDA”—underwrites an extraordinarily harsh institutional response. It primes courts to discount real constitutional grievances and to punish participating lawyers, and it spurs legislatures to restrict crucial remedies.
In this Article, I explain that the SDA inaccurately describes condemned prisoner behavior, both because it assumes a non-existent incentive structure and because it ignores the major structural causes of delayed litigation. First, deferred litigation is risky, and fortune disfavors the bold. Procedural doctrines that operate across post-conviction law strongly incentivize the promptest conceivable presentation of claims. Second, prisoners often omit challenges from early rounds of litigation not because they have done so strategically, but instead because some claims are inherently incapable of being asserted at that time. Third, the volume of end-stage litigation reflects the comprehensive failure of American jurisdictions to provide adequate legal services; condemned prisoners are often functionally unrepresented from the moment early-stage proceedings conclude until the state sets an execution date.
When scholars contemplate the legal tools available to policymakers for encouraging innovation, they primarily think about patents. If they are keeping up with the most recent literature, they may also consider grants, prizes, and taxes as means to increase the supply of innovation. But the innovation policy toolkit is substantially deeper than that. To demonstrate its depth, this Article explores the evolution of designs that help people with disabilities access the world around them. From artificial limbs to the modern wheelchair and the reshaping of the built environment, a variety of legal doctrines have influenced, for better and for worse, the pace and direction of innovation for accessible design.
This Article argues that two of the most important drivers of innovation for accessible design have been social welfare laws and antidiscrimination laws. Both were responsible, in part, for the revolution in accessibility that occurred in the second half of the twentieth century. Unlike standard innovation incentives, however, these laws operate on the demand side of the market. Social welfare laws and antidiscrimination laws increase the ability and willingness of parties to pay for accessible technology, ultimately leading to greater supply. But in doing so, these laws generate a different distribution of the costs and benefits of innovation than supply-side incentives. They also produce their own sets of innovation distortions by allowing third parties to make decisions about the designs that people with disabilities have to use.
The law can promote innovation, and it can hinder it. For example, the law’s relationship to the wheelchair, the most important accessibility innovation of the twentieth century, produced both results. Policymakers have choices about which legal incentives doctrines they can use and how they can use them. This Article evaluates those tools, and it provides guidelines for their use to encourage accessible technology in particular and innovation generally.
Conversations about police reform in lawmaking and legal scholarship typically take a narrow view of the multiple, complex roles that policing plays in American society, focusing primarily on their techniques of crime control. This Article breaks from that tendency, engaging police reform from a sociological perspective that focuses instead on the noncriminal functions of policing. In particular, it examines the role of policing in the daily maintenance of racial residential segregation, one of the central strategies of American racial inequality. Unlike previous work that touches on these issues, this Article argues that police reformers and police leaders should adopt an anti-segregation approach to policing. It also offers legal frameworks and policy prescriptions that flow from an anti-segregation ethic in police governance.
This Article begins by setting forth a rich account of residential segregation, clarifying the distinction between easily measurable proxies for segregation and the type of segregation with which law and policy should be concerned: the spatial separation that confines, subordinates, and dominates. It then identifies and illustrates six mechanisms through which American policing perpetuates residential segregation, drawing from sociological research, including qualitative narratives collected in Dallas County, Texas; Cuyahoga County, Ohio; and Baltimore, Maryland. Next, the Article sketches the architecture of anti-segregation policing, offering legal frameworks based on fair housing law and federal and state consent decrees, as well as a non-exhaustive set of practical approaches police departments could take to advance an anti-segregation agenda. Finally, the Article engages a fundamental question central to police transformation movements today: Is meaningful police reform, including anti-segregation policing, possible in a society that is structured through race?
Recent, robust research makes clear that childhood trauma, such as abuse or neglect in the home or the chronic lack of basic necessities, is common and can cause and exacerbate disabilities in learning and behavior. These disabilities prevent many children from making educational progress, but evidence-based strategies now exist to give these children access to education. To appropriately implement these strategies, the nation’s educational disability rights laws—the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (together, “Section 504”)—must become “trauma-responsive” or “healing centered.” The imperative to make education for children with trauma-induced disabilities trauma-responsive is not just moral, however; it is also legal. IDEA’s “Child Find” and Section 504’s “Locate and Notify” mandates require public school systems to identify and provide an evaluation and individualized education to all children with disabilities. This is the first article in the legal literature to describe the need to make IDEA, Section 504, and their implementation trauma-responsive. This article is also the first to propose three ways to meet this need: 1) requiring assessment of trauma’s impact when trauma is suspected to be a cause of disability in a child; 2) amending IDEA to add a stand-alone, trauma-specific disability category through which children can become eligible for special education and recognizing that trauma causes disability under Section 504; and 3) putting trauma-responsive specialized instruction, related services, and accommodations into individualized educational programs developed under IDEA (“IEPs”) and programs developed under Section 504 (“504 plans”).
A substantial academic literature considers how agencies should interpret statutes. But few studies have considered how agencies actually do interpret statutes, and none has empirically compared the methodologies of agencies and courts in practice. This Article conducts such a comparison, using a newly created dataset of all Internal Revenue Service (IRS) publications ever released, along with an existing dataset of court decisions. It applies natural language processing, machine learning, and regression analysis to map methodological trends and to test whether particular authorities have developed unique cultures of statutory interpretation.
It finds that, over time, the IRS has increasingly made rules on normative policy grounds (like fairness and efficiency) rather than merely producing rules based on the “best reading” of the relevant statute (under any interpretive theory, like purposivism or textualism). Moreover, when the IRS does focus on the statute, it has grown much more purposivist over time. In contrast, the Tax Court has not grown more normative and has followed the same trend toward textualism as most other courts. But although the Tax Court has become more broadly textualist, it prioritizes different interpretive tools than other courts, like Chevron deference and holistic-textual canons of interpretation. This suggests that each authority adopts its own flavor of textualism or purposivism.
These findings complicate the literature on tax exceptionalism and the judicial nature of the Tax Court. They also inform ongoing debates about judicial deference and the future of doctrines like Chevron and Skidmore deference. Most broadly, they provide an empirical counterpoint to the existing theoretical literature on statutory interpretation by agencies.
Children have legal rights. Yet, children typically lack the legal capacity to represent their interests in courts. When federal courts are presented with children’s claims, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require courts to ensure that children’s legal interests are adequately protected. To do so, courts decide who can speak and make decisions for the child within the litigation. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17(c) maps out a loose process for addressing these concerns but fails to fully account for a critical factor in protecting child litigants: the decisionmaking rights of parents.
Because parents have constitutionally protected authority to make important decisions for their children, litigation brought on a child’s behalf presents a collision of rights and obligations between parents, children, and “the state,” here, the federal courts. Court doctrine interpreting Rule 17(c) is tangled and inconsistent and fails to offer clear guidance regarding what preference, if any, parents should have to represent their children’s interests in litigation. This Article proposes for the first time that constitutional doctrine establishing parents’ protected decisionmaking authority should make parents the default representatives for their children in federal civil litigation. The Article presents an account of court practices and an analytical framework to guide courts’ application of Rule 17(c), which implements the general constitutional rule of parent priority while upholding the courts’ responsibility to protect children’s interests.
A century ago, captains of industry and their allies in government launched a social experiment in urban America: the abandonment of mass transit in favor of a new personal technology, the private automobile. Decades of investment in this shift have created a car-centric landscape with Dickensian consequences. In the United States, motor vehicles are now the leading killer of children and the top producer of greenhouse gases. Each year, they rack up trillions of dollars in direct and indirect costs and claim nearly 100,000 American lives via crashes and pollution, with the most vulnerable paying a disproportionate price. The appeal of the car’s convenience and the failure to effectively manage it has created a public health catastrophe. Many of the automobile’s social costs originate in individual preferences, but an overlooked amount is encouraged—indeed enforced—by law. Yes, the United States is car-dependent by choice. But it is also car-dependent by law. This Article conceptualizes this problem and offers a way out. It begins by identifying a submerged, disconnected system of rules that furnish indirect yet extravagant subsidies to driving. These subsidies lower the price of driving by comprehensively reassigning its costs to non-drivers and society at large. They are found in every field of law, from traffic law to land use regulation to tax, tort, and environmental law. Law’s role is not primary, and at times it is even constructive. But where it is destructive, it is uniquely so: Law not only inflames a public health crisis but legitimizes it, ensuring the continuing dominance of the car. The Article urges a reorientation of law away from this system of automobile supremacy in favor of consensus social priorities, such as health, prosperity, and equity.
All punishment comes to an end. Most periods of imprisonment are term limited, and ninety-five percent of prisoners will eventually leave prison. Though it is tempting to think of the “end” in concrete, factual terms—for example, as the moment when the prisoner is released—this concept also has normative dimensions. Core to the notion of term-limited imprisonment is the “principle of return”: the idea that, when the prisoner has completed his or her time, that person is entitled to return to society. Yet, for the principle of return to be meaningful, it must include the idea of a fair chance of reestablishing oneself in the community. The “practices of incarceration”—including the prison environment and prison programs—are thus critically important because they can either facilitate or impede a prisoner’s reentry into society. However, apart from the question of whether conditions of confinement are cruel and unusual as defined by the Eighth Amendment, these practices of incarceration have largely avoided scholarly scrutiny.
This Article uses the case study of higher education programs in prison to expose the interdependence between the practices of incarceration and the principle of return. Drawing on original interviews with key stakeholders, it investigates how the features of higher education programs reflect and reinforce core beliefs about the goals of punishment and the state’s responsibility towards those it incarcerates. The Article critically examines the dominant harm-prevention justification for prison higher education, and the desert-based objection to it, finding that both are inadequate for failing to take into account the principle of return.
This Article espouses an alternative approach that would recognize the ongoing relationship between prisoner and polity and devise incarceration practices accordingly. Building on insights from communitarian theory, this approach, which foregrounds the prisoner’s status in the polity, uncovers pervasive “us-versus-them” narratives in the prison context. The first such narrative is between prisoners and those members of the polity who view prisoners, falsely, as having forfeited their claims to membership in civil society. This view of prisoners, as members of a permanent and lower caste, is in direct conflict with the principle of return, which mandates that prisoners have at least a plausible hope of basic reintegration into society and that they avoid further harm—what might be termed “punishment-plus.” The Article also scrutinizes a second, more localized “us-versus-them” narrative between prisoners and correctional officers, which arises from their similar backgrounds and the common deprivation experienced by members of both groups.
Finally, the Article recommends institutional design changes to mitigate “us-versus- them” dynamics: empowering stakeholders, for example, by affording correctional officers educational opportunities that would help professionalize their role and ease their resentment towards prisoners; and increasing exposure and empathy between incarcerated and non-incarcerated populations, such as by piloting a program that would employ recent college graduates to teach in prison. These and other proposed reforms would refocus the conversation around imprisonment to account for the central role of incarceration practices in revitalizing the principle of return, as well as the inextricable connection between prisoner and polity.
Policymakers on both ends of the political spectrum have been looking for ways to reduce prescription drug prices. Democrats have also been working on expanding healthcare coverage, including different versions of Medicare for All. All these proposals have been framed as issues of access and spending. If innovation incentives come up at all, it has primarily been because pharmaceutical companies claim that reducing drug prices will threaten innovation by lowering the returns from their patents.
In fact, however, pharmaceutical access and innovation incentives are intimately related. Health insurance can change the structure of market demand. And Medicare in particular does so in a way that gives a very large subsidy to patented drugs, such that current U.S. pharmaceutical profits are often higher than they would be in an unsubsidized market. Medicare reimbursement rules thus can lead to greater-than-monopoly pricing of patented drugs, dramatically expanding the incentive U.S. policy provides to pharmaceutical companies. By not recognizing the Medicare innovation subsidy, policymakers have ignored one of the largest sources of innovation incentives. That extra incentive might be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how much incentive pharmaceutical developers need. It may well be good for some classes of drugs and bad for others. But it is important for policymakers to understand how access policies like Medicare also serve as innovation incentives. This extra innovation subsidy may open the policy space for hybrid proposals that combine expanded government insurance like Medicare for All with lower drug prices while preserving or even increasing current returns to innovation.
Isolated and Unreachable: Contesting Unconstitutional Restrictions on Communication in Immigration Detention
As of January 1, 2019, the federal government held more than 51,000 noncitizens in immigration detention. Over the course of a year, nearly half a million noncitizens will pass through Department of Homeland Security custody within the interior of the United States while the government initiates proceedings to remove them from the country. Many of those detainees pursue immigration relief and contest both their detention and removal. However, numerous reports from the Office of the Inspector General and immigration practitioners consistently observe substantial barriers to effective communication from detention: Detainees are frequently held in or transferred to isolated locations, detention facilities often do not provide adequate telephone access or even alternative forms of communication, and facilities often deny or substantially delay in-person meetings with attorneys or other visitors. These barriers significantly affect the ability of unrepresented detainees to gather and present relevant evidence critical to litigating their removal claims. They also undermine essential communication between legal counsel and the detainees they represent in those proceedings.
This Article argues that due process imposes affirmative obligations on the government to facilitate evidence gathering and communication with legal counsel for those noncitizens that it detains. While previous scholarship has advanced arguments for “immigration Gideon”—i.e., suggesting noncitizens should have a right to appointed counsel at state expense—our intervention instead focuses on how conditions of confinement that impair communication with counsel and evidence gathering may themselves run afoul of noncitizens’ Fifth Amendment due process rights.
We offer a novel interpretation of recent Supreme Court and circuit court precedents on civil detention in order to ground noncitizens’ right to communicative access in the Fifth Amendment and propose a new framework for evaluating noncitizens’ rights to effective communication. Importantly, we also argue that the scope of noncitizen detainees’ rights to communicate with counsel should not be determined by the stark division between criminal and civil detention precedents. Rather, noncitizens’ access to counsel rights should encompass the procedural protections due process requires whenever the government acts as both initiator of adverse legal proceedings and jailor, including those protections traditionally associated with the Sixth Amendment. Our analysis finds that the scope of governmental obligation to provide communicative access derives from the noncitizens’ liberty interest in avoiding both detention and deportation and, in particular, follows from the government’s dual role in immigration proceedings as both initiator of adverse proceedings and jailor. The obligation to ensure a “full and fair” hearing requires that the government not impose barriers to communication that provide it with an unfair advantage in the litigation of noncitizens’ removal claims.
We conclude that the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause imposes affirmative obligations for the government to facilitate evidence gathering and communication between noncitizen detainees and their counsel. While the scope of the state’s affirmative obligations may vary in accordance with the immigration status of the detainee, we argue that in all cases the Fifth Amendment requires the federal government to provide detained noncitizens adequate means to solicit legal representation, meet privately with retained counsel, communicate with potential witnesses, access necessary records, and prepare evidence and testimony. Conditions of confinement that frustrate these basic guarantees offend the Fifth Amendment’s protection of a full and fair hearing and should be held unconstitutional.
Public school funding plummeted following the Great Recession and failed to recover over the next decade, prompting strikes and protests across the nation. Courts have done almost nothing to stop the decline. While a majority of state supreme courts recognize a constitutional right to an adequate or equal education, they increasingly struggle to enforce the right. That right is now approaching a tipping point. Either it evolves, or risks becoming irrelevant.
In the past, courts have focused almost exclusively on the adequacy and equity of funding for at-risk students, demanding that states provide more resources. Courts have failed to ask the equally important question of why states refuse to provide the necessary resources. As a result, states have never stopped engaging in the behavior that leads to the funding failures in the first place.
This Article argues that states refuse to fully fund low-income students’ education because they have ulterior aims and biases—maintaining privilege for suburban schools, lowering taxes for wealthy individuals, and not “wasting” money on low-income kids. States go to extraordinary lengths to manipulate school funding formulas to achieve these ends. Thus, the various policies that produce inequality and inadequacy are not just benign state failures; they are intentional efforts to gerrymander educational opportunity. Understood this way, school funding manipulations violate federal equal protection and state constitutional rights to education. Reframing school funding failures as gerrymandering can both create a much-needed federal check on educational inequality and reinvigorate the enforcement of state constitutional rights to education.
Judging from present-day legal and popular discourse, one might think that the Punishment Clause of the Thirteenth Amendment has always had one single, clear meaning: that a criminal conviction strips the offender of protection against slavery or involuntary servitude. Upon examination, however, it appears that the Amendment’s Republican framers took an entirely different view. It was the former slave masters and their Democratic allies in Congress who promoted the interpretation that prevails today. From their point of view, the text clearly specified that, once convicted of a crime, a person could be sold into slavery for life or leased for a term at the discretion of state legislatures and officials. But contemporary Republicans emphatically rejected that reading. They held that convicted persons retained protection against any servitude that was inflicted not as a punishment for crime but for some non-penological end, such as raising state revenue, generating private profits, or subjugating black labor. Within a few months of the Amendment’s ratification, the Republican majority in the Thirty-Ninth Congress had outlawed the early, race-based forms of convict leasing. When that proved insufficient, the House passed a bill outlawing race-neutral convict leasing, which the Senate postponed when the focus of Republican strategy shifted to black voting rights.
The Republican reading faded from view after the Democratic Party regained control of the Deep South. For several decades, white supremacist regimes incarcerated African-American laborers en masse and leased them to private employers without facing a serious Thirteenth Amendment challenge. Present-day scholars sometimes treat this silence as evidence that the Amendment authorizes such practices. Courts similarly honor the Democratic reading on the assumption it has always prevailed. So thoroughly has it triumphed that even prisoners’ rights advocates accept it as constitutional truth.
Neither courts nor advocates have, however, taken into account the framers’ views. Their interpretation sank from sight not because it was wrong but because Democratic paramilitaries terminated Reconstruction, freeing states to expand convict leasing and insulate it against challenges, constitutional or otherwise. Had the Republican reading been enforced during the era of convict leasing, it might have prevented one of the most barbaric and shameful episodes in United States history. And perhaps, if revived today, it might yet accomplish similar results. Nothing in the text, original meaning, or Supreme Court jurisprudence of the Punishment Clause blocks that path.
This Article explores how the explosive growth of online streaming is transforming the market for creative content. Two decades ago, the popularization of the internet led to what we refer to here as the first digital disruption: Napster, file-sharing, and the re-ordering of numerous content industries, from music to film to news. The advent of mass streaming has led us to a second digital disruption, one driven by the ability of streaming platforms to harvest massive amounts of data about consumer preferences and consumption patterns. Coupled to powerful computing, the data that firms like Netflix, Spotify, and Apple collect allows those firms to know what consumers want in incredible detail. This knowledge has long shaped advertising; now it is beginning to shape the content streaming firms purchase or even produce, a phenomenon we call “data-driven creativity.” This Article explores these phenomena across a range of firms and content industries. In particular, we take a close look at the firm that is perhaps farthest along in its use of data-driven creativity. We show how MindGeek, the little-known parent company of Pornhub and a leader in the market for adult entertainment, has leveraged streaming data not only to organize and suggest content to consumers but even to shape creative decisions. MindGeek is itself the product of the same forces—the shift to digital distribution and the accompanying explosion of free content—that transformed mainstream creative industries and paved the way for the rise of streaming. We first show how the adult industry adapted to the first digital disruption; that story aligns with similar accounts of how creative industries adapt to a loss of control over intellectual property. We then show how MindGeek and other streaming firms such as Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon are leveraging the second digital disruption, using data to make decisions about content promotion, aggregation, dissemination, and investment. Finally, we consider what these trends suggest for competition and innovation in markets for creative work. By making creative production far less risky, data-driven creativity may drive down the need for strong IP rights and reshape conventional assumptions about the purpose and role of IP. At the same time, the rise of data-driven creativity may reinforce the tendency of online markets toward dominance by a few major firms, with significant implications for competition and innovation.
Credit default swaps (CDS) are, once again, making waves. Maligned for their role in the 2008 financial crisis and condemned by the Vatican, investors are once more utilizing CDS to achieve results of questionable market benefit. A CDS is a financial contract that allows investors to “bet” on whether a borrower will default on its loan. However, rather than waiting to see how their bets pan out, some CDS counterparties are collaborating with financially distressed borrowers to guarantee the profitability of their CDS positions—“engineering” the CDS’ outcome. Under the CDS contract, these collaborations are not prohibited, yet they have roiled the CDS market, leading some market participants to view the collaborations as a sign that CDS are little more than a rigged game. Conversely, some view “engineered CDS transactions” as an innovative form of financing for distressed companies. As engineered CDS transactions proliferate in the market, it becomes increasingly prudent to look beyond their contractual acceptability to assess whether, from a legal point of view, these transactions are permissible.
Engineered CDS transactions demonstrate the challenges that the existing legal and non-legal framework face in effectively responding to new forms of market distortion. This Article examines the costs and benefits of engineered CDS transactions on the market as a precursor to determining whether legal intervention is needed. Assessment of the relative costs and benefits of engineered transactions indicates that despite their innovativeness, engineered CDS transactions are largely detrimental to the markets because they impose costs on actors unaffiliated with the CDS market and, more broadly, destroy public trust in the financial markets. Yet, despite their associated harms, legally, engineered transactions exist in a gray space. This Article analyzes the phenomenon of engineered CDS transactions, assessing the capacity of applicable legal frameworks, private standards, and market discipline to address these transactions, and finds each to be lacking. Consequently, this Article proposes a range of responses, including modernization of the existing anti- manipulation framework, to mitigate the harm and collateral consequences that stem from engineered CDS transactions.
The #MeToo movement has ushered in a new kind of sexual misconduct accusation—accusation leveled through informal channels of communication. A functional analysis shows that unofficial reporting can advance important ends. But the rise of informal accusation should be of special concern to legal scholars and lawyers, who generally proceed from certain assumptions regarding the primacy of formal systems of accountability. These basic assumptions need revision if, by aiming to satisfy goals that our laws and legal institutions fail to achieve, informal reporting channels are serving as substitutes for the officially sanctioned mechanisms of accountability that monopolize scholarly attention. Unofficial reporting pathways are imperfect legal workarounds; their prevalence means that the law of sexual misconduct has been consigned to a relative state of quiescence. Over time, survivors, long disserved by the criminal law, by campus disciplinary processes, and by workplace complaint structures, have mostly turned away from the systems that have forsaken them. A needed redesign of official complaint channels should be informed by the benefits of informal reporting, along with a commitment to awakening law.
Contemporary global crime and cross-border law enforcement cooperation have multiplied “foreign affairs prosecutions,” cases that encompass foreign apprehension, evidence gathering, and criminal conduct, as well as cases that implicate foreign nations’ criminal justice interests. Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, the fugitive Edward Snowden, and the cross-border crimes of FIFA and El Chapo all exemplify such foreign affairs prosecutions. This Article argues that foreign affairs prosecutions represent a consequential shift in U.S. criminal law, offering the promise of closing global impunity gaps. At the same time, however, such cases risk defendant interests at home and U.S. foreign policy abroad. This Article calls for greater congressional engagement and judicial oversight to minimize such risks while still promoting accountability for cross-border, cyber, and international crime.
Over the last fifty years, naturalized citizens in the United States were able to feel a sense of finality and security in their rights. Denaturalization, wielded frequently as a political tool in the McCarthy era, had become exceedingly rare. Indeed, denaturalization was best known as an adjunct to criminal proceedings brought against former Nazis and other war criminals who had entered the country under false pretenses.
Denaturalization is no longer so rare. Naturalized citizens’ sense of security has been fundamentally shaken by policy developments in the last five years. The number of denaturalization cases is growing, and if current trends continue, it will continue to increase dramatically. This growth began under the Obama administration, which used improved digital tools to identify potential cases of naturalization fraud from years and decades ago. The Trump administration, however, is taking denaturalization to new levels as part of its overall immigration crackdown. It has announced plans for a denaturalization task force. And it is pursuing denaturalization as a civil-litigation remedy and not just a criminal sanction—a choice that prosecutors find advantageous because civil proceedings come with a lower burden of proof, no guarantee of counsel to the defendant, and no statute of limitations. In fact, the first successful denaturalization under this program was decided on summary judgment in favor of the government in 2018. The defendant was accused of having improperly filed an asylum claim twenty-five years ago, but he was never personally served with process and he never made an appearance in the case, either on his own or through counsel. Even today, it is not clear that he knows he has lost his citizenship.
The legal status of denaturalization is murky, in part because the Supreme Court has long struggled to articulate a consistent view of citizenship and its prerogatives.Nonetheless, the Court has set a number of significant limits on the government’s attempts to remove citizenship at will—limits that are inconsistent with the adminis- tration’s current litigation policy. This Article argues that stripping Americans of citizenship through the route of civil litigation not only violates substantive and procedural due process, but also infringes on the rights guaranteed by theCitizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Finally, (un)civil denaturaliza- tion undermines the constitutional safeguards of democracy.
One of the predominant themes in the criminal justice literature is that prosecutors dominate the justice system. Over seventy-five years ago, Attorney General Robert Jackson famously proclaimed that the “prosecutor has more control over life, liberty, and reputation than any other person in America.” In one of the most cited law review articles of all time, Bill Stuntz added that prosecutors—not legislators, judges, or police—“are the criminal justice system’s real lawmakers.” And an unchallenged modern consensus holds that prosecutors “rule the criminal justice system.”
This Article applies a critical lens to longstanding claims of prosecutorial preeminence. It reveals a curious echo chamber enabled by a puzzling lack of dissent. With few voices challenging ever-more-strident prosecutor-dominance rhetoric, academic claims became uncritical, imprecise, and ultimately incorrect.
An unchallenged consensus that “prosecutors are the criminal justice system” and that the “institution of the prosecutor has more power than any other in the criminal justice system” has real consequences for criminal justice discourse. Portraying prosecutors as the system’s iron-fisted rulers obscures the complex interplay that actually determines criminal justice outcomes. The overheated rhetoric of prosecutorial preeminence fosters a superficial understanding of the criminal justice system, overlooks the powerful forces that can and do constrain prosecutors, and diverts attention from the most promising sources of reform (legislators, judges, and police) to the least (prosecutors).
What statutory language means can vary from statute to statute, or even provision to provision. But what about from case to case? The conventional wisdom is that the same language can mean different things as used in different places within the United States Code. As used in some specific place, however, that language means what it means. Put differently, the same statutory provision must mean the same thing in all cases. To hold otherwise, courts and scholars suggest, would be contrary both to the rules of grammar and to the rule of law.
This Article challenges that conventional wisdom. Building on the observation that speakers can and often do transparently communicate different things to different audiences with the same verbalization or written text, it argues that, as a purely linguistic matter, there is nothing to prevent Congress from doing the same with statutes. More still, because the practical advantages of using multiple meanings— in particular, linguistic economy—are at least as important to Congress as to ordinary speakers, this Article argues further that it would be just plain odd if Congress never chose to communicate multiple messages with the same statutory text.
As this Article goes on to show, recognizing the possibility of multiple statutory meanings would let courts reach sensible answers to important doctrinal questions they currently do their best to avoid. Most notably, thinking about multiple meanings in an informed way would help courts explain under what conditions more than one agency should receive deference when interpreting a multi-agency statute. Relatedly, it would let courts reject as false the choice between Chevron deference and the rule of lenity for statutes with both civil and criminal applications.
For decades, corporate law played a pivotal role in regulating corporations across the United States. Consequently, Delaware, the leading state of incorporation, and its courts came to occupy a central and influential position in corporate law and governance. This, however, is no longer the case: The compositional shift in equity markets from retail to institutional ownership has relocated regulatory power over corporations from courts to markets. Corporate law has, as a result, and as illustrated by the declined role of the Delaware courts, lost its pride of place and is now eclipsed by shareholder activism.
What explains the connection between the rise of institutional ownership and the death of corporate law? We answer this question by unpacking the relationship between market dynamics and the role of corporate law. Our analysis uncovers a critical, yet hitherto unnoticed, insight: The more competent shareholders become, the less important corporate law will be. Increases in shareholder competence reduce management agency costs, intensify market actors’ preference for private ordering outside of courts, and, ultimately, drive corporate law into the shadow.
In 2044, the United States is projected to become a “majority-minority” country, with people of color making up more than half of the population. And yet in the public imagination—from Robocop to Minority Report, from Star Trek to Star Wars, from A Clockwork Orange to 1984 to Brave New World—the future is usually envisioned as majority white. What might the future look like in year 2044, when people of color make up the majority in terms of numbers, or in the ensuing years, when they also wield the majority of political and economic power? And specifically, what might policing look like? This Article attempts to answer these questions by examining how artists, cybertheorists, and speculative scholars of color—Afrofuturists and Critical Race Theorists—have imagined the future. What can we learn from Afrofuturism, the term given to “speculative fiction that treats African-American themes and addresses African-American concerns [in the context of] techno culture?” And what can we learn from Critical Race Theory and its “father” Derrick Bell, who famously wrote of space explorers to examine issues of race and law? What do they imagine policing to be, and what can we imagine policing to be in a brown and black world?
In National Institute of Family Life Advocates v. Becerra, the Supreme Court said that a preliminary injunction should have been issued against a California law that required that reproductive healthcare facilities post notices containing truthful factual information. All that was required by the law was posting a notice that the state of California makes available free and low-cost contraception and abortion for women who economically qualify. Also, unlicensed facilities were required to post a notice that they are not licensed by the state to provide healthcare.
In concluding that the California law is unconstitutional, the Court’s decision has enormously important implications. It puts all laws requiring disclosures in jeopardy because all, like the California law, prescribe the required content of speech. All disclosure laws now will need to meet strict scrutiny and thus are constitutionally vulnerable. Moreover, the ruling is inconsistent with prior Supreme Court decisions that allowed the government to require speech of physicians intended to discourage abortions. The Court ignored legal precedent, failed to weigh the interests at stake in its decision, and applied a more demanding standard based on content of speech.
But NIFLA v. Becerra is only secondarily about speech. It is impossible to understand the Court’s decision in NIFLA v. Becerra except as a reflection of the conservative Justices’ hostility to abortion rights and their indifference to the rights and interests of women, especially poor women. In this way, it is likely a harbinger of what is to come from a Court with a majority that is very hostile to abortion.
The restrictive changes made by the Trump presidency on U.S. immigration policy have been widely reported: the significant increases in both interior and border enforcement, the travel ban prohibiting immigration from majority-Muslim countries, and the decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Beyond the traditional levers of federal immigration control, this administration has also moved aggressively to harness the enforcement power of local and state police to increase interior immigration enforcement. To that end, the administration has employed both voluntary measures (like signing 287(g) agreements deputizing local police to enforce immigration laws) and involuntary measures (threatening to defund jurisdictions with so-called “sanctuary” laws).
What has been the “Trump Effect” on subfederal governments’ immigration policies? We define the Trump Effect as the influence that Trump’s immigration policies have had on the immigration policies of states, cities, and counties. Have they fallen in line with the federal push for restrictive policies and increased enforcement, or have they resisted? Using our unique Immigrant Climate Index (ICI), we track the response of cities, counties, and states by analyzing the immigration-related laws they enacted in 2017—the first year of the Trump administration—and comparing it to previous years’ activity. Based on our data, we make several observations. First, subfederal governments have responded with surprising speed and in unprecedented numbers to enact laws that are almost uniformly pro-immigrant. In response to increased federal enforcement, these subfederal governments have enacted “sanctuary” laws limiting their cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. Most of these laws were enacted by cities and counties, which enacted more immigration regulations in this one year than they enacted during the previous twelve years combined (2005–16).
Second, in the context of historical ICI scores, these immigrant-protective laws helped to pull the national ICI score sharply upward. By assigning scores (positive or negative) to each subfederal immigration law, our ICI has tracked the climate for immigrants on a state-by-state basis and identified distinct phases in subfederal immigration regulation since 2005. Though the national ICI score (where individual state scores are added together, through time) remains highly negative, we observe a distinct Trump effect in 2017: Immigrant-protective laws enacted by certain jurisdictions are creating more positive climates for immigrants in those jurisdictions.
Finally, the nature of governmental sanctuary in 2017 was distinctly more diverse than the sanctuary we have seen in decades past. In 2017, big urban cities were not the most active sanctuary cities, as was the case in past years; rather, medium-sized cities and suburbs with populations under 100,000 prevailed. Though most of these smaller jurisdictions voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, a surprising number voted for Trump. Moreover, new sanctuary entities have emerged—including public school districts, public universities, and even mass transit authorities—which have limited their own cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. This diversity in government sanctuary reflects another aspect of the Trump Effect: how harsh immigration enforcement policies under this administration have made immigration issues much more important to a wider range of communities and to a larger range of policy areas.
Economic inequality in the United States is now approaching historic levels last seen in the years leading up to the Great Depression. Scholars have long argued that the federal income tax alone cannot curtail rising inequality and that we should look beyond the income tax to a wealth tax. Taxing wealth also faces two central and resilient objections in the literature: A wealth tax penalizes savings and overlaps with a tax on capital income.
This Article moves beyond this stalemate to redefine the role of wealth in a progressive tax system. The Article first introduces a generalized framework for justifying a wealth tax centered in the relative economic power theory which explains how inequality of economic outcomes generates social and political harm. This theory formalizes the problem of inequality and has specific implications for how economic inequality should be measured and constrained.
The Article then describes design problems in coordinating taxes on labor income, capital income, and wealth as factors in inequality, and the limitations of each of these factors as a base for taxation. From this Article’s outcomes-based perspective, a capital income tax favors wealth holders relative to labor-income earners. A wealth tax, in contrast, disfavors wealth holders relative to labor-income earners and cannot account for taxpayers’ varying needs to save their wealth for different numbers of future periods. Finally, proposals in the literature for separate taxes on both income and wealth do not account for the relationship between the two as factors in economic well-being.
Finally, the Article introduces a redefined wealth tax as part of a new combined tax on both income and wealth. This approach first recharacterizes wealth and capital income as an annuity value (the “wealth annuity”), reflecting both capital income earned during the period and a portion of the taxpayer’s wealth principal. The wealth annuity is then added to the taxpayer’s labor income for the period to yield the combined base. This new tax base resolves the coordination problems with taxing labor income, capital income, and wealth as factors in economic inequality; accounts for the needs of savers; and tailors the tax base to the specific ways that inequality causes social and political harm.