Volume 95, Number 6
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
Today’s Supreme Court is committed to originalism—the idea that the Constitution’s meaning is fixed at ratification. But it often rests decisions on the post-ratification practices of other actors—Presidents, Congresses, or states. Call this method “living traditionalism”: “traditionalist” because it looks to political traditions, and “living” because the traditions postdate ratification. The method is ubiquitous but undertheorized, in part because its distinctness from “liquidation”—a variant of traditionalism that is indeed consistent with originalism, but that rarely drives any cases—has not been understood.
This Article offers the first comprehensive analysis of the Court’s living traditionalism, which includes scores of cases spanning every subject and Justices of every stripe. Next, the Article identifies a fundamental but previously unrecognized tension in the method itself: If the Court gives living-traditionalist cases full weight as precedent, it defeats the reasons for using the method at all. Put another way, it is incoherent to treat political practices as a ratchet: capable of moving law in one direction (e.g., against a right in 2022) but not the other (in favor of the right later on). Yet the Court is at risk of doing that, making constitutional law turn on accidents of history: whatever practices happened to exist when the Court first addressed an issue. Finally, the Article proposes solutions to this predicament. Where the Court does not simply retreat from living traditionalism, it should write living-traditionalist rulings so that they expire when practices change, or else modify stare decisis to make these cases easier to overturn. These solutions would have to be paired with a resolve on the part of political actors to manifest any rejection of practice-based holdings in ways that courts could heed when the issue next arose in litigation. I review several “hard” and “soft” law means of doing so that the case law itself invests with constitutional significance. By these means, politics could shape sundry individual-rights and separation-of-powers doctrines. Absent such reforms, the Court’s application of living traditionalism will prove increasingly at odds with the democratic and other rationales for using the method at all.
The Supreme Court’s new religious liberty jurisprudence has dramatically expanded the circumstances in which religious objectors can claim exemption from general legislative enactments. Thus far, most of the claimants who’ve taken advantage of these doctrinal innovations have been conservative Christians seeking to avoid liberal policy initiatives (on matters like COVID-19 restrictions, vaccines, or LGBTQ inclusion). This emerging jurisprudence, as well as the rhetoric from legal and political elites regarding religious liberty, has generally acceded to the conflation of religiosity with conservatism. Liberal Jews challenge this conflation, as they offer an example of a religious community whose spiritual commitments tend to align with progressive rather than conservative politics.
Nominally, the new religious liberty doctrine should also provide protections to more liberal Jewish denominations that may seek relief from conservative statutory enactments, such as restrictive abortion laws following Dobbs. Assuming that this outcome is undesirable for conservative legal elites, the question for them becomes how to justify locking liberal Jews out while ensuring conservative Christians remain protected. To this end, jurists may find tempting a modern version of Christian supersessionism—the claimed entitlement of Christians to authoritatively declare who and what truly counts as Jewish. An ascendent form of antisemitism, increasingly mainstream in conservative political circles, insists that authentic Judaism is only that which is compatible with conservative Christian commitments, and so seeks to delegitimize liberal Jews (which is to say, most Jews) as not counting as actual Jews. Where this delegitimization is successful, seemingly blatant exclusion, marginalization, or hatred of (most) Jews can be removed from the ambit of religious liberty or antisemitism, since the targets are not recognized as religious Jews in the first place, and so cannot claim access to the expansive protections given to religious practitioners.
Using a series of surveys and experiments, we find that ordinary people think that courts will give them exactly what they bargained for after breach of contract; in other words, specific performance is the expected contractual remedy. This expectation is widespread even for the diverse array of deals where the legal remedy is traditionally limited to money damages. But for a significant fraction of people, the focus on
equity seems to be a naïve belief that is open to updating. In the studies reported here, individuals were less likely to anticipate specific performance when they were briefly introduced to the possibility that courts sometimes award damages in contract disputes.
We argue that the default expectation of equitable relief is a widespread but malleable intuition—and that even a fragile legal intuition has practical consequences, individually and systemically. In a follow-up experiment, we show that subjects are more interested in the prospect of efficient breach when they know
that money damages are a possible remedy. This finding suggests that the mismatch between what people assume the law will do (specific performance) and what it actually does (money damages) sometimes encourages performance. We consider the potential for exploitation of this tendency. Finally, we offer some suggestions about how scholars of law and psychology should elicit folk beliefs about legal rules and remedies.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Federal Prison Officials, and the Doctrinal Dinosaur of Qualified Immunity
In 2020, the United States Supreme Court held that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) allows for claims for money damages against federal officials who substantially burden a person’s free exercise rights. As federal courts now grapple with these claims for damages, federal prison officials defending RFRA claims have turned to a trusty and time-honored defense: qualified immunity. In recent years, however, qualified immunity has come under increasing attack from judicial, scholarly, and popular sources, and the rationale underlying qualified immunity doctrine cannot withstand the kind of textual analysis that the Supreme Court used when announcing that the RFRA statute allowed for damages. Using the Supreme Court’s rationale, the text and doctrine of RFRA, and the long-articulated criticisms of qualified immunity, this Article argues that qualified immunity should not be an available defense to statutory claims asserted against federal prison officials.
In formulating this argument, the Article makes three primary contributions. First, it explains the importance of RFRA and its attendant religious rights protections to the more than 150,000 people confined by the federal government in the nation’s prisons. Second, it demonstrates how the defense of qualified immunity is incongruent to the statute’s text, history, and purpose. And, finally, it is the first article to analyze how the qualified immunity defense becomes unworkable when it is applied to the doctrine governing claims brought under the statute. Overall, by focusing on the narrow class of RFRA claims, the Article joins the chorus of commentators urging the federal courts to reconsider the knee-jerk application of qualified immunity to claims involving fundamental rights.
Longstanding U.S. Supreme Court precedents interpreting the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) coupled with more recent corporate law decisions in Delaware have sparked concerns that public corporations may adopt arbitration provisions precluding shareholder lawsuits, particularly securities fraud class actions. In this Article, we show that these concerns are misplaced. It should be trivially easy for courts to conclude that an arbitration provision set forth in a corporate charter or bylaw is unenforceable against public company shareholders. Simply put, it is a matter of equity and the integral role that a state plays in chartering corporations.
Starting first with the corporate law of Delaware, where most public companies are incorporated, we explain that all corporate charter and bylaw provisions must be “twice tested”: they must be both legal and equitable to be enforceable. Applying the twice-tested framework, we then demonstrate that an arbitration provision precluding class actions would be inequitable because it would deny the vast majority of shareholders a remedy for violations of federal securities law, transfer wealth from smaller shareholders to the largest investors, insulate corporate managers and boards from accountability in a manner inconsistent with established state policy, and rupture the balance between federal and state regulation of public corporations.
Turning next to federal law, we demonstrate that Delaware’s ban on shareholder arbitration is not preempted, despite the Supreme Court’s expansive interpretation of the FAA. Here, our analysis starkly departs from prior scholarship. Rather than denying the contractual nature of a corporation’s governing documents, we embrace what the courts have repeatedly stated, that a corporation’s charter and bylaws are a binding contract between the corporation and its shareholders. However, we broaden the aperture to reveal another party to the corporate contract: the state that has chartered the corporation. This insight is critical with regard to interpretation of the FAA. The FAA applies only where there is an agreement to arbitrate, and there can be no such agreement where the chartering state has through its corporate law withheld its assent to arbitration. Thus, without state assent to shareholder arbitration, the essential precondition for application of the FAA is absent.
Observers fear that large corporations have amassed too much political power. The central fact that animates this concern is growing economic concentration—the rise in the market share of a small number of top firms. These firms are thought to use their enhanced economic power to capture the government and undermine democracy by lobbying. Many scholars and activists have urged the use of antitrust law to combat this threat, leading a “political antitrust” movement that advocates explicit incorporation of political considerations into antitrust enforcement. Political antitrust has sparked great debate not only in academic circles but also among policymakers.
But the debate has been largely data-free; there is little systematic evidence on whether increased economic concentration leads to democratic harms in established democracies. This Article seeks to fill that gap, bringing systematic data analysis to bear on the issue for the first time. We make three contributions. First, we create a comprehensive dataset on lobbying of the federal government, capturing nearly one million records over the past two decades. This data was drawn from the reports required by the Lobbying Disclosure Act as compiled by In Song Kim, to which we contributed by refining the coding, improving the matching between lobbying reports and industry and firm data, and adding new data. Second, we use our dataset to map lobbying patterns, focusing on the connection between economics
and politics. Third, we empirically test some postulates of political antitrust.
Our findings do not support the political antitrust movement’s central hypothesis that there is an association between economic concentration and the concentration of lobbying power. We do not find a strong relationship between economic concentration and the concentration of lobbying expenditure at the industry level. Nor do we find a significant difference between top firms’ and other firms’ allocation of additional revenues to lobbying. And we find no evidence that increasing economic concentration has appreciably restricted the ability of smaller players to seek political influence through lobbying. Ultimately, our findings show that the political antitrust movement’s claims are not empirically well-supported in the lobbying context. Our findings do not allay all concerns about transformation of economic power into political power, but they show that such transformation is complex and nuanced, and they counsel caution about reshaping antitrust law in the name of protecting democracy.
Reaching a Verdict: Empirical Evidence of the Crumbling Conventional Wisdom on Criminal Verdict Format
Criminal jurors in American courts typically deliver their judgments through “general verdicts,” which announce only their legal conclusions of “guilty” or “not guilty.” An alternative format, the “special verdict,” would require jurors to confirm their findings of fact regarding each element of the applicable law before reaching a conclusion. Courts have long rejected the use of special verdicts in criminal cases, under the presumption that general verdicts better protect criminal defendants and their right to trial by jury. However, this procedural status quo and its underlying rationale have never been empirically examined—until now.
This Article presents the results of an original nationwide survey on criminal verdict format that comprehensively measured the perspectives of over 1,600 stakeholders in the American legal system: state and federal judges, prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys, law professors, criminal science experts, civil litigators, and jury-eligible lay citizens—with former criminal defendants, victims, and jurors also included in the sample. The data reveal that criminal case law’s longstanding position and presumptions on verdict format are strikingly misaligned with the views and intuitions of current legal stakeholders. The majority of stakeholder groups—including criminal defense attorneys and jury-eligible lay citizens—on average supported the use of special criminal verdicts and expected this format to benefit criminal defendants and jurors in various ways. Furthermore, even the only two stakeholder groups that on average supported the legal status quo in favor of general criminal verdicts—prosecutors and judges—did not subscribe to its rationale that special verdicts will disadvantage criminal defendants.
The survey’s findings call the criminal legal system’s status quo on verdict format into question by debunking the conventional wisdom on which it is based. The Article also draws upon the data to consider why the norm in favor of general criminal verdicts nonetheless persists. It concludes by identifying next empirical steps to qualitatively understand and experimentally test the legal and psychological implications of verdict format in criminal cases.
Appendix to Reaching a Verdict: Empirical Evidence of the Crumbling Conventional Wisdom on Criminal Verdict Format
Why buy something for vast sums of money that other people can seemingly have for free? This is one of the puzzles confronting people new to both the art market and the market in Non-Fungible Tokens (“NFTs”). Both soaring markets depend on a stark division between real and fake, original and copy. Yet in a world of increasingly cheap and limitless copying, why do people still pay so much for authentic originals when you can download or 3D-print identical copies? What is the mysterious mechanism that creates value in a world of unfettered mechanical and digital reproduction?
For years, the mechanism was copyright law, which was created to solve the problem of how to monetize works that could be copied. But the art market, presaging the NFT market, long ago cast aside copyright as the mechanism to create value in a world of copies. Both markets instead depend on a non-legal market mechanism—what I call the “norm of authenticity.”
Yet, in this Article I show, through a deep exploration of the art market, that the norm of authenticity, the bedrock of that market, is artificial: protean, often arbitrary, and ultimately a mutually agreed upon fiction. And the importance of understanding artificial authenticity is urgent because it now has migrated from art to govern the market for NFTs.
The legal profession is and has always been white. Whiteness shaped the profession’s values, culture, and practice norms. These norms helped define the profession’s understanding of reasonable conduct and competency. In turn, they made their way into constitutional jurisprudence. This Article interrogates the role whiteness plays in determining whether a defendant received effective representation and provides a clarifying structural framework for understanding ineffective assistance of counsel jurisprudence.
The Sixth Amendment ineffective assistance of counsel standard relies on presumptions of reasonableness and competency to determine whether defense counsel’s conduct met constitutional requirements. To prove ineffective assistance of counsel, defendants must show counsel’s conduct fell below an objective standard of reasonableness and that—but for counsel’s unprofessional errors—there is a reasonable probability that the proceeding’s outcome would have been different. This Article focuses on the racialized presumption of reasonableness and competency that the law applies to defense counsel when determining ineffective assistance of counsel claims.
The law enables courts to rely on a default white normative perspective to shield criminal adjudications from critical analysis. This Article applies a critical lens to examine the historical and racialized construction of the criminal legal system and the legal profession. It excavates a Jim Crow-era case, Michel v. Louisiana, which laid the foundation for the presumption of counsel’s reasonableness and competency. It reveals how the Court relied on Michel to solidify these racialized presumptions in Strickland v. Washington’s ineffective assistance of counsel standard. This historical context helps explain why all defendants encounter difficulty when seeking relief from defense counsel’s poor performance.
Should pro-immigrant advocates pursue federally funded counsel for all immigrants facing deportation? For most pro-immigrant advocates and scholars, the answer is self-evident: More lawyers for immigrants would mean more justice for immigrants, and thus, the federal government should fund such lawyers. Moreover, the argument goes, federally funded counsel for immigrants would improve due process and fairness, as well as make immigration enforcement more efficient. This Article argues the opposite: Federally funded counsel is the wrong goal. The majority of expulsions of immigrants now happen outside immigration courts—and thus are impervious to immigration lawyering. Even for those who make it before an immigration judge, factors including geography, random judicial assignment, and the limited forms of deportation relief mean that most people represented by immigration lawyers are still ultimately deported. Gideon v. Wainwright’s guarantee of counsel in the criminal realm co-existed for nearly sixty years with the development of mass incarceration. Likewise, expanding federally funded counsel for immigrants could coexist with a vastly expanded deportation infrastructure without contradiction. In fact, federally funded counsel would provide cover for continued deportations, and the restrictions that would likely come with such funding would make it harder for attorneys to challenge the growth of the mass deportation regime effectively. Instead of investing in a strategy that risks normalizing expanded enforcement, pro-immigrant advocates and scholars must choose battles that aim at dismantling immigration enforcement. This means putting aside efforts that seek to add lawyers as one more mandated player in immigration court.
A large body of scholarship has debated the constitutionality of criminalizing travel to seek abortions—an issue with new salience in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overrule Roe v. Wade. Increasingly, however, antiabortion activists are turning to civil remedies as a supplement or alternative to criminal prosecution in cases involving out-of-state abortions. In contrast to criminal jurisdiction, where the outer bounds of states’ authority to punish out-of-state conduct is highly uncertain, the extraterritorial application of state law in civil litigation is a common, routine effect of choice-of-law analysis that is unlikely to raise constitutional difficulties. As a result, it is reasonable to expect that courts in antiabortion states may give broad geographical effect to abortion-restrictive laws and policies in at least some civil litigation. The resulting decisions are likely to create substantial friction between states, as abortion-permissive states try to protect their own citizens from liability even as the Full Faith and Credit Clause demands recognition of foreign-state judgments that courts may be reluctant to give. Similar clashes between state policies have, to be sure, happened before, and this Article explores their outcomes in the areas of divorce liberalization, cannabis legalization, and the enforceability of noncompete clauses. At the same time, abortion is likely to give rise to broader and more intractable conflicts than any other issue courts have confronted in the recent past. Although individual judges can reduce occasions for interstate friction by applying restrained, conduct-focused conflicts principles, the states’ fundamental disunity on the underlying issue of abortion may prove to be a problem that our choice-of-law
system is simply not equipped to resolve.
The overruling of Roe v. Wade has unleashed a torrent of regulatory and punitive activity restricting previously lawful reproductive options. But the turn to the expansive criminal law and new schemes of civil liability creates novel concerns, quite distinct from the pre-Roe landscape a half-century ago. Reproductive choice, and its nemesis, turn upon information. For pregnant people, deciding on a choice of medical care entails a search for advice and services. Information is at a premium for them. Meanwhile, efforts to regulate abortion began with clinic closings. But they will quickly extend to civil actions and criminal indictments of patients, providers, and those who facilitate abortions. Like the pregnant themselves, criminal and civil enforcers depend on information. And in the contemporary context, the informational landscape, and hence access to counseling and services such as medication abortion, is largely mediated through digital forms of communication. In an era when most people use search engines or social media to access information, the digital architecture and data retention policies of those platforms will determine not only whether the pregnant can access medically accurate advice but also whether the act of seeking health information places them in legal peril.
This Article offers an in-depth analysis of the core legal issues concerning abortion related digital privacy after the end of Roe. It demonstrates first that digital privacy for pregnant persons in the United States has suddenly become a tremendously fraught and complex question. It then maps the treacherous social, legal, and economic terrain upon which firms, individuals, and states will make privacy-related decisions. Building on this political economy, we develop a set of moral and economic arguments to the effect that digital firms should maximize digital privacy for pregnant persons within the scope of the law and should actively resist states’ efforts to conscript them into a war on reproductive choice. We then lay out precise, tangible steps that firms should take to enact this active resistance. We explore here in particular a range of powerful yet legal options for firms to refuse cooperation with restriction-focused criminal and civil investigations. Finally, we present an original, concrete and immediately actionable proposal for federal and state legislative intervention: a statutory evidentiary privilege to shield abortion-relevant data from warrants, subpoenas, court orders, and judicial proceedings aimed at limiting the availability of reproductive care.
Neoliberalism and its accompanying austerity measures are shrinking local and
national government budgets, even though constituent needs remain pressing. In
desperation, public officials sometimes replenish public coffers through illicit
extraction from segments of the population poorly positioned to fight back. In
Detroit, for example, city officials inflated property tax assessments in violation of
the Michigan Constitution, leading to illegally inflated property taxes that many
homeowners could not afford to pay. Consequently, since 2009, one in three homes
have completed the property tax foreclosure process, the highest number of property
tax foreclosures in American history since the Great Depression. These
unlawful practices are not just occurring in Detroit, but also in other American
cities such as Ferguson, Philadelphia, and New Orleans.
Nevertheless, because corruption is universally defined as corrupt acts that are for
private or personal gain, there is currently no lexicon to describe illegal acts that
principally benefit the public treasury. I have coined the term “stategraft” to
describe this overlooked phenomenon: when state agents transfer property from
persons to the state in violation of the state’s own laws or basic human rights. To
establish stategraft as an essential theoretical framework, this Article elaborates its
definitional elements, demonstrates its conceptual value, and shows how it extends
existing discourses on corruption, state crime, and the predatory state.
In the battle for market supremacy, many firms are employing pricing software that
removes humans from price-setting decisions. These pricing algorithms fundamentally
change the dynamics of competition and have important implications for antitrust
law. The Sherman Act has two operative provisions. Section One condemns
agreements between firms that unreasonably restrain trade, such as price-fixing
agreements. Section Two prohibits monopolizing a relevant market through
anticompetitive conduct. Although a considerable body of excellent scholarship
explains how pricing algorithms can collude to fix prices in violation of Section
One, no scholarship discusses how algorithmic pricing could violate Section Two.
This Article addresses how pricing algorithms can facilitate illegal monopolization
through predatory pricing. Predatory pricing is a two-stage strategy. First, in the
predation phase, the predator charges a price below its costs, reckoning that its
rivals will exit the market because they cannot make profitable sales at that price.
The predator willingly incurs losses in order to force its rivals from the market.
Second, during the recoupment phase, after its rivals have exited the market, the
predator recovers its earlier losses by charging a monopoly price.
Theorists have asserted that predatory pricing claims are inherently implausible for
three reasons: (1) The predator must suffer disproportionately outsized losses
because it controls a larger share of the market; (2) predatory pricing threats are
not credible because a firm cannot believably commit to below-cost pricing; and
(3) firms that exited the market during the predation phase will simply reenter the
market during the recoupment phase. Based on these theoretical arguments, federal
judges consistently reject predatory pricing claims.
This Article explains how algorithmic pricing undermines all three theoretical arguments
claiming that predatory pricing is not a credible route to monopoly. First, a
predatory firm can use pricing algorithms to identify and target its rivals’ customers
for below-cost pricing, while continuing to charge their own existing customers a
profitable price, which minimizes the predator’s losses during the predation phase.
Second, algorithms can commit to price predation in ways humans cannot. Third,
pricing algorithms present several new avenues for recouping the losses associated
with predatory pricing, including algorithmic lock-in and price manipulation. In
short, even if one believed that predatory pricing was implausible in the past, the
proliferation of algorithmic pricing changes everything. Because pricing algorithms
invalidate the theories behind the current judicial skepticism, this evolving technology
requires federal courts to revisit the letter and spirit of antitrust law’s treatment
of predatory pricing claims.
This Article reinvigorates the case for abolishing strict liability in the criminal law.
Undertaking an intellectual history of mens rea policy, I spotlight two assumptions
that have fueled strict liability’s historic rise and current deprioritization in criminal
justice reform. One assumption is that eliminating culpable mental states from
criminal statutes is an effective means of reducing crime. The other assumption is
that adding culpable mental states to criminal statutes is an ineffective means of
lowering prison rates or promoting racial justice. This Article argues that these
assumptions are unsupported by available evidence and have no place in criminal
policymaking. Synthesizing decades of social science research, I first explain why
there is little reason to believe that strict liability promotes public safety. Next,
building upon the first-ever legal impact study of mens rea reform, I explain how
adding culpable mental states to criminal statutes could alter charging practices and
conviction rates. I then demonstrate the racial justice benefits of universal mens rea
standards by highlighting the concentration of strict liability in offenses disparately
enforced against people of color. Through this deeper understanding of mens rea
policy, the Article reveals the strength of the case against strict liability, and why
culpable mental state requirements are an important tool in the fight against mass
Sentencing outcomes turn on moral and evaluative determinations. For example, a finding of “irreparable corruption” is generally a precondition for juvenile life without parole. A finding that the “aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors” determines whether a defendant receives the death penalty. Should such moral determinations that expose defendants to extraordinary penalties be subject to a standard of proof? A broad range of federal and state courts have purported to decide this issue “in the abstract and without reference to our sentencing case law,” as the Supreme Court recently put it in Kansas v. Carr. According to these courts, “it would mean nothing” to ask whether the defendant “deserves mercy beyond a reasonable doubt” or “more-likely-than-not deserves it” because moral questions are not “factual.” Instead, moral determinations are highly subjective “value calls” to which concepts of doubt and certainty do not intelligibly apply.
Implicit in these rulings is a controversial view of the nature of moral judgment. This Article traces the contours of the view and argues that it is out of step with the way the broader public thinks about morality and fails to address the issues defendants have raised. Courts should avoid wading into such controversial waters for two reasons. First, the judiciary has historically maintained neutrality on issues of significant public concern. Second, even if moral determinations are not factual, applying a standard of proof to at least some moral decisions at sentencing would change the outcome of the sentencer’s deliberations and improve the legitimacy of the legal system. For the reasonableness of doubt depends on context, and moral questions—“Are you certain the defendant deserves death?”—make salient the stakes relative to which a person should decide what to believe about ordinary empirical matters. On the resulting view, reasonable doubt in the final moral analysis is not just intelligible, but essential for correcting a bias in the structure of the bifurcated criminal trial that systematically disadvantages defendants: the tendency for de-contextualized “factual findings” in the guilt phase to control outcomes at sentencing.
In this Article, we explore and critique the foundational norms that shape federal and state energy regulation and suggest pathways for reform that can incorporate principles of “energy justice.” These energy justice principles—developed in academic scholarship and social movements—include the equitable distribution of costs and benefits of the energy system, equitable participation and representation in energy decisionmaking, and restorative justice for structurally marginalized groups.
While new legislation, particularly at the state level, is critical to the effort to advance energy justice, our focus here is on regulators’ ability to implement reforms now using their existing authority to advance the public interest and establish just, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory rates, charges, and practices. Throughout the Article, we challenge the longstanding narrative that utility regulators are engaged solely in a technical ratemaking exercise in setting utility rates. We argue that rate setting is and always has been social policy implemented within a legislative framework designed to promote the public interest. As we explain, when regulators and advocates expressly recognize this fact, it creates new opportunities for the regulatory system to achieve energy justice goals.
Through our reexamination of energy system governance, we evaluate new approaches to advance the public interest and set just and reasonable rates for energy consumers. These new approaches consider system benefits as well as costs, enhance universal and affordable access to utility service, alleviate income constraints on residential energy consumption as an economic development tool, increase equitable access to distributed energy resources such as energy efficiency upgrades and rooftop solar, and enhance procedural justice in ratemaking proceedings. We argue that over the long run, these pathways to a more just energy system align the interests of all system stakeholders by creating community wealth and collective prosperity.
The law of armed conflict has a built-in accountability gap. Under international law, there is no individualized remedy for civilians whose property, bodies, or lives are destroyed in war. Accountability mechanisms for civilian harms are limited to unlawful acts: Individuals who willfully target civilians or otherwise commit serious violations of international humanitarian law may be prosecuted for war crimes, and states that commit internationally wrongful acts must make reparations under the law of state responsibility. But no entity is liable for lawful but unintended harmful acts—regardless of how many or how horrifically civilians are hurt. This Article proposes developing an international “war torts” regime, which would require states to pay for both lawful and unlawful acts in armed conflict that cause civilian harm. Just as tort and criminal law coexist and complement each other in domestic legal regimes, war torts and war crimes would overlap but serve different aims. Establishing war torts and creating a route to a remedy would not only increase the likelihood that victims would receive compensation, it would also create much-needed incentives for states to mitigate or reduce civilian harms. Ultimately, a war torts regime would further the law of armed conflict’s foundational purpose of minimizing needless civilian suffering.
Policing agencies in the United States are engaging in mass collection of personal data, building a vast architecture of surveillance. License plate readers collect our location information. Mobile forensics data terminals suck in the contents of cell phones during traffic stops. CCTV maps our movements. Cheap storage means most of this is kept for long periods of time—sometimes into perpetuity. Artificial intelligence makes searching and mining the data a snap. For most of us whose data is collected, stored, and mined, there is no suspicion whatsoever of wrongdoing.
This growing network of surveillance is almost entirely unregulated. It is, in short, lawless. The Fourth Amendment touches almost none of it, either because what is captured occurs in public, and so is supposedly “knowingly exposed,” or because of the doctrine that shields information collected from third parties. It is unregulated by statutes because legislative bodies—when they even know about these surveillance systems—see little profit in taking on the police.
In the face of growing concern over such surveillance, this Article argues there is a constitutional solution sitting in plain view. In virtually every other instance in which personal information is collected by the government, courts require that a sound regulatory scheme be in place before information collection occurs. The rulings on the mandatory nature of regulation are remarkably similar, no matter under which clause of the Constitution collection is challenged.
This Article excavates this enormous body of precedent and applies it to the problem of government mass data collection. It argues that before the government can engage in such surveillance, there must be a regulatory scheme in place. And by changing the default rule from allowing police to collect absent legislative prohibition, to banning collection until there is legislative action, legislatures will be compelled to act (or there will be no surveillance). The Article defines what a minimally acceptable regulatory scheme for mass data collection must include and shows how it can be grounded in the Constitution.
The Supreme Court’s 2017 decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court threatens a sea change in the relationship between personal jurisdiction and aggregate litigation. The most crucial concern has been what the decision means for class actions. Must a court subject the claims of every unnamed class member to separate jurisdictional scrutiny? If so, it could be impossible for a plaintiff who sues in her home state to represent class members outside that state; instead, the Constitution
would permit multistate or nationwide class actions only in states where the defendant is subject to general jurisdiction. For claims against a foreign defendant, no such state may exist.
This issue potentially implicates a range of difficult and unsettled doctrinal, practical, conceptual, and theoretical questions—about both personal jurisdiction and class actions. This Article, however, proposes a clean solution that coheres with existing case law while retaining the vitality of class actions to provide meaningful remedies in cases where systemic wrongs have nationwide consequences. On this approach, specific jurisdiction would be proper in any case where (a) there is specific jurisdiction over the named plaintiff’s claim against the defendant; and (b) a class action led by that plaintiff would satisfy the certification requirements of Rule 23. This solution finds support not only in longstanding practice prior to Bristol-Myers, but in the more fundamental principles and policies underlying specific jurisdiction. The impact of these underlying values has been further bolstered by the Supreme Court’s most recent decision on personal jurisdiction—Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court. The upshot is that personal jurisdiction can exist over a class action even if the forum state would not have personal jurisdiction over a hypothetical separate action by an out-of-state individual who is an unnamed member of the class.
Moreover, this Article’s proposal makes it unnecessary for courts to confront thornier questions that would otherwise arise. Those questions include: the proper timing and procedural mechanism for objecting to personal jurisdiction with respect to the claims of unnamed class members; whether the jurisdictional constraints apply differently in federal courts and state courts; whether they apply differently to claims based on substantive federal law as opposed to state-law claims; the precise scope and justification for pendent personal jurisdiction; and the extent to which post-service events in federal court (such as class certification) are subject to the more expansive Fifth Amendment test for federal court personal jurisdiction. Under this Article’s solution, courts have a straightforward way to examine personal jurisdiction over class actions that does not hinge on or implicate these other issues.
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?
Bankruptcies now dominate mass-tort litigation. Defendants file for bankruptcy because the class action and multi-district litigation devices have failed to deliver parties meaningful finality, and new legal tools—nondebtor releases, complex claims-processing schemes, and the Texas Two-Step—have made bankruptcy a more attractive forum for resolving mass-tort liabilities. Troublingly, litigants, courts, and scholars struggle to consistently evaluate a reorganization plan’s legitimacy. This Note takes a novel approach, arguing federal preclusion law and due process principles of exit, voice, and loyalty provide the best framework for evaluating a mass-tort bankruptcy. Bankruptcy resolutions are generally “otherwise consistent” with due process because they substitute claimants’ exit rights for voice rights. Whether a reorganization plan violates due process depends not on the formal legal tools mass-tort debtors deploy but on whether those tools infringe upon claimants’ voice rights or undermine aggregate litigation’s core goals of finality and equitable redress. This Note concludes that bankruptcy remains a valuable forum for resolving complex mass-tort crises and identifies several cases that can guide future stakeholders.
The role of stare decisis in constitutional law is a ubiquitous one. It shows up almost everywhere, leaving controversy and chaos in its wake. Yet despite the prominence of stare decisis, its jurisprudence remains perpetually unsettled. The Supreme Court identifies several factors that affect the strength of prior precedent. However, these factors are not consistently defined or even wholly agreed upon. How can something as crucial as the law of stare decisis have such scattered precedents? Something more, something deeper, is going on here. A hint of this deeper issue comes out in contentious cases like Payne v. Tennessee, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, where the Justices speak to or acknowledge democratic disagreement and its effect on the Supreme Court’s legitimacy. But to understand these cases as the Court simply confronting its own legitimacy, while partly correct, is much too narrow. A closer inspection of these opinions reveals more than just a simple debate about democratic disagreement. It is a debate about what role democratic disagreement should play in stare decisis and, therefore, in the Supreme Court as an institution. Thus, it is no wonder that stare decisis, as a doctrine, is unsettled. Stare decisis has become the battleground for America’s oldest contest: departmentalism or judicial supremacy.
This Note argues that stare decisis is much better understood when one analyzes the doctrine in connection with the broader discussions surrounding departmentalism and judicial supremacy. In doing so, this Note develops in three Parts. Part I examines the necessary background of stare decisis and its relationship to interbranch conflict. Part II surveys the three cases of Payne, Casey, and Dobbs, paying particular attention to how the Justices in these cases are, in truth, guided by their views of departmentalism or judicial supremacy. Part III further highlights the relationship between disputes over stare decisis and departmentalism versus judicial supremacy and provides the reader with a potential theoretical framework to explicitly incorporate the concept of departmentalism within precedent. Departmentalism and judicial supremacy will forever be negotiated. Ultimately, in stare decisis, a home has been found for this great American debate.
The Road to Optimal Safety: Crash-Adaptive Regulation of Autonomous Vehicles at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Autonomous vehicles are now driving people around in cities from San Francisco to Phoenix. But how to regulate the safety risks from these autonomous driving systems (ADS) remains uncertain. While state tort law has traditionally played a fundamental role in controlling car crash risks, this Note argues that the development of novel data tracking and simulation tools by the ADS industry has led to a regulatory paradigm shift: By leveraging these tools for regulatory analysis, the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) could iteratively adapt and improve its regulatory standards after each crash. While many scholars have advanced proposals for how state products liability can adapt to ADS crashes, this Note is the first to propose such a model of “crash-adaptive regulation” for NHTSA and to show that this model will prove superior to tort liability in controlling ADS crash risks. In presenting this new regulatory model, this Note engages with two rich theoretical debates. First, it compares the efficacy of tort liability and agency regulation in controlling ADS crash risks. Second, it evaluates whether ADS safety standards should be set at the federal level or at the state level. It concludes that ADS’ technical characteristics call for an agency regulatory scheme at the federal level and urges NHTSA to build the technological and operational expertise necessary to operate a crash-adaptive regulatory regime.
Quick Hearings as a Strike Against Bureaucratic Delay: An Alternative Administration Procedure for 10(j) Cases Before the NLRB
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) is charged with enforcing the keystone statute of U.S. labor law, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA or Act), including its prohibition against employers’ firing workers in retaliation for union organizing. In a time of rising labor agitation, however, the NLRB’s procedures for remediating such alarmingly frequent discharges are woefully inadequate. This Note examines the perennially underutilized section 10(j) of the NLRA, which provides for injunctive relief in discriminatory discharge cases where the Board’s own slow-moving administrative procedures would defeat the purpose of the Act, and explains why current 10(j) procedures are plagued by delay and failure. It then proposes an alternative administrative procedure for 10(j) cases—including a delegation of prosecutorial discretion, quick evidentiary hearings, and review of Administrative Law Judge determinations by the Board—that would address many of the section’s shortcomings. The Note considers the salutary consequences of implementing this alternative procedure through notice and comment rulemaking before concluding by demonstrating how this procedure would enhance the Board’s enforcement of the Act. Ultimately this Note argues that section 10(j) can, through long-overdue procedural reform, become a robust guarantee of the statutory rights of workers that are at the heart of the NLRB.
More than a decade ago, the Supreme Court discarded its old notice pleading standard and replaced it with a “plausibility” standard in the landmark cases Bell Atlantic v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal. A deluge of commentary followed, much of it critical of either the perceived informational imbalance that the standard created or the broad discretion that the decisions were understood to grant to district court judges. This Note identifies a pattern that appears to be emerging in the lower courts in which parties can satisfy their pleading burden by relying in part on “institutional facts”—that is, findings made by competent entities that implicate the factual allegations in the complaint. This Note argues that, as a matter of doctrine, this practice has yet to be recognized, but it should be applauded and encouraged as both intuitive and judicially tractable.
No Choice but to Comply: Imagining an Alternative Holding Where Attempted & Touchless Seizures Implicate the Fourth Amendment
Torres v. Madrid is a seminal Supreme Court decision that was decided during the 2021 Supreme Court term. Torres centered on whether a woman who was shot in the back by the police but managed to escape was seized under the Fourth Amendment. This was a decision that garnered widespread attention because it was decided during a national reckoning with police violence following the George Floyd protests. The Court ultimately held that Ms. Torres was seized the instant the bullet punctured her body. This was a win for the civil rights groups as it allowed Ms. Torres to pursue a remedy, but the decision did not go far enough. This Note focuses on a special class of seizures called attempted and “touchless” seizures, and argues that recognizing both attempted and touchless seizures under the Fourth Amendment will open the door to redressing a broader range of police misconduct.
Within the literature on legal scholarship, academics have studied citation practices. For example, scholars have examined which authors, journals, and articles are most cited. But no one has examined which parts of articles scholars cite. Understanding which parts of articles scholars cite is not only intrinsically interesting, but also could inform how authors structure articles. This Note presents the results of a unique, hand-coded dataset of thousands of pinpoint citations. In brief: Authors are more likely to cite the beginning of articles but split their remaining citations roughly evenly. This pattern holds across flagship journals of variously ranked law schools and articles of varying length, but it is less pronounced for self-citation. While cynical explanations—that cite-worthy content is concentrated at the beginning, or authors tend not to thoroughly read the articles they cite—of the data is possible, a better explanation serves as a modest rebuttal to certain criticisms of legal scholarship.
Reimagining the Violence Against Women Act from a Transformative Justice Perspective: Decarceration and Financial Reparations for Criminalized Survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
While the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has long been venerated as a major legislative victory for those subjected to sexual and gender-based violence (S/GBV), VAWA is less often understood as the funding boon that it is for police, prosecutors, and prisons. A growing literature on the harms of carceral feminism has shown that VAWA has never ensured the safety of Black and Brown women; queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming people; sex workers; drug users; poor, working class, homeless, and housing insecure people; migrants; and others who do not fit the “everywoman” archetype; nor has it recognized their right to protect themselves from violence.
I contribute to this literature in three ways: First, drawing from the rich narrative traditions of critical race theory and critical legal studies, I tell untold and undertold stories of state violence against victims of S/GBV. Second, I weave together knowledge produced by scholars across disciplines, as well as by transformative justice organizers and practitioners, to situate my illustrations in a landscape of carceral violence. Third, I build on the written work of those scholars, organizers, and practitioners to propose transformative justice approaches to S/GBV. Specifically, I propose that we use VAWA to meet the demand that all criminalized survivors be freed by incentivizing the expanded use of state executives’ clemency powers, as well as by expanding the use of clemency at the federal level. I also argue that an anti-carceral VAWA must include financial reparations for criminalized survivors, as compensation for the harms that the state has inflicted on them through unjust prosecutions and imprisonment, as well as for the violence they have been forced to endure in prisons, jails, and the custody of police officers.
Courts cannot predict the future, but their decisions are binding precedent on future generations. Technological changes—that courts could have never predicted—break down this system of stare decisis. What made sense yesterday no longer makes sense today. Leveraging an understanding of technology, the rule of law, and stare decisis, this Note proposes a new approach to copyright fair use decisionmaking that involves utility-expanding technologies, or tools that radically change the use of and access to copyrighted works. When applying past precedent, courts should carefully contextualize prior decisions’ analyses of the first and fourth fair use factors within the precedent’s time and perform a similar analysis for the current case in the current era. The more that the factual circumstances diverge between the two cases, the less weight the court should give to the past precedent. Moreover, when generating precedent on utility-expanding transformative fair uses, courts should narrow their fair use decisions to the dispute before the court and only rule on the specific technology in question—helping ensure that the balance between advancing technological interests and protecting the rights of content creators does not become rooted in shortsighted thinking from a materially different past.
Public law, specifically constitutional due process law and administrative law, operates against a background presumption of no liability for omissions. To state the inverse, the majority rule is that liability applies only in the case of affirmative government actions. While this was not always the case, following DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services and Heckler v. Chaney in the 1980s, the Court has generally closed off plaintiffs from litigating government failures-to-act. Scholars have pointed at the philosophical absurdity of delineating government acts and omissions, given that in a state as regulated as ours, everything is, at bottom, an affirmative choice. But the federal judiciary has remained fairly unmoved. Against this overriding presumption of no omissions liability, however, the courts have eked out several exceptions in which they are willing to find liability for inaction. While scholars have pointed to reasons why the judiciary has been reluctant to find liability for omissions, this Note looks at why the judiciary has been willing to find liability in certain cases. It identifies the overarching reason to be administrability, motivated by two characteristics that the court either creates or constructs. First, when the court identifies or constructs an affirmative component of an omission, it is more willing to find liability. Second, when there is an ex ante regulation or statute limiting government discretion, the court is similarly persuadable. This Note identifies seven categories across public law that fall into these two areas and in which omissions liability (at least in some way) exists: state-created danger doctrine, special relationships, Monell liability, a blurred line between procedural and substantive due process, abdication of agency statutory duties, failure to perform ministerial duties, and a refusal to initiate rulemaking. As its final contribution, this Note argues that scholars, litigants, and courts should seek to broaden public omissions liability, given that society is plagued with protracted crises resulting from government inaction. Relying on the proxies for administrability that the courts are already comfortable with, the final Part marries administrability with accountability and creates broader categories for each exception to tackle contemporary ills.
This Note argues that the Supreme Court has recently created a subsidized equality right in the Free Exercise Clause—by perceiving previously constitutional state action as discrimination against religion—and that this right’s logic is inconsistent with how the Court articulated funding rights in the abortion context prior to its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. This Note’s goal is two-fold. First, it will explain the legal principle driving the change in Free Exercise Clause doctrine: an energized equality. Although the expanding anti-discrimination principle is having transformative effects in the law of religious exemptions, this Note’s primary aim is to explore the implications of this change in the religious funding context, as much public commentary already has focused on legal developments in the former category. This Note’s second goal is to demonstrate how the Court’s articulation and application of this energized equality principle in religious funding cases reflect its political prioritization of free exercise rights. In these cases, on the basis of religious equality, the Court is willing to recognize violations of free exercise rights, whereas in nearly identical factual scenarios not explicitly involving religion, it is blind to inequality. This Note focuses on abortion funding pre-Dobbs as an example to demonstrate this logical inconsistency.
In the American criminal justice system, individuals from marginalized communities
routinely face longer terms and greater rates of incarceration compared to their
nonmarginalized counterparts. Because the literature on mass incarceration and
sentencing disparities has largely focused on the experiences of Black and Hispanic
individuals, far less attention has been paid to the overincarceration of Native peoples.
Yet there are clear indications that Native peoples are both overrepresented
within the criminal justice system and subject to unique sentencing disparities as
compared to other ethnicities. While these issues are partly motivated by traditional
drivers of criminal behavior, including access barriers to housing, employment, and
education, this Note argues that there is a greater systemic issue at play: the
enduring legacy of colonialism. Accounting for—and correcting—this legacy in the
criminal justice system is a complex task, though not an impossible one. For
example, over the past twenty years, the Canadian criminal justice system has
implemented a novel, remedial sentencing approach to address the overincarceration
of Aboriginal offenders: the Gladue approach. Recognizing the extent to
which the Canadian legal system has failed to account for the unique needs, experiences,
and circumstances of Aboriginal offenders, the Gladue approach mandates
an individualized and contextualized approach to sentencing, one which prioritizes
community-based alternatives to incarceration and emphasizes restorative justice.
This Note proposes two legal pathways by which to transplant the Gladue
approach to the American criminal justice system. In so doing, it offers the first
comprehensive analysis of the normative and constitutional implications of
applying the Gladue approach to the sentencing of Native peoples within the
United States. While the approach has challenges and shortcomings, it is nevertheless
a powerful tool by which the American criminal justice system can begin to
reckon with its colonial past and present.
Mr. Crawford Gets COVID: Courts’ Struggle to Preserve the Confrontation Clause During COVID and What It Teaches Us About the Underlying Rights
One of the things courts across the nation struggled with throughout the COVID-19
pandemic was the conflict between preserving defendants’ rights under the
Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment and implementing the safest public
health measures. Measures like masking or virtual testimony recommended by
public health officials threatened to abridge defendants’ rights. This Note has two
primary contentions. First, it will argue that the wide variation in the ways courts
chose to resolve this tension revealed a fundamental issue in our Confrontation
Clause jurisprudence: Courts have never actually defined the underlying right. In
fact, this Note will argue, that the “confrontation right” is more appropriately
understood as a bundle of distinct rights which must be carefully prioritized.
Second, this Note will argue that the standards used to adopt these modifications
were insufficiently rigorous. It proposes, therefore, that it is time for the legislature
to intervene as they have in other situations involving modified confrontation, and
to provide courts with a structured procedure for authorizing modified witness testimony
during times of emergency.
Green Industry, Procurement, and Trade: Refining International Trade’s Relationship with Green Policy
Green industrial policy, an aspirational headline with the 2019 Green New Deal
Resolution, has continued to gain steam and take shape. Green industry was a core
focus of presidential platforms during the 2020 election. Federal agencies have
demonstrated an increased willingness to revamp their purchasing power—that is,
their procurement policy—to buy green products and stimulate emerging green
industrial sectors. In general, these policy shifts toward green industry typically tout
three primary goals: to develop the domestic manufacturing base and to strengthen
both environmental and labor protections. For instance, in November 2021, as part
of the larger Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Congress took aim at the
failure of supply chains to meet adequate environmental and labor standards by
enacting a domestic content preference-scheme for infrastructure programs
receiving federal financial assistance. The nationalist orientation of this kind of
policy, however, often runs afoul of the nondiscrimination spirit of World Trade
This Note evaluates how trade disciplines can enable a green-industrial strategy in
government procurement while abiding by WTO disciplines, offering a few options.
While countries continue to aggressively deploy green industrial policies to attain
environmental benefits, these strategies must be carefully structured to avoid cooptation
by populist, protectionist goals. As such, this Note considers the implications
that arise when this form of green industrial procurement supports the advancement
of global welfare—and when it does not. In particular, this Note explores how
refining the traditional relationship between international trade rules and green industrial initiatives can produce mutually beneficial results. On the one hand,
trade rules can be interpreted to permit environmental and labor-conscious decisionmaking while protecting against protectionist discrimination. On the other, this
Note proposes that procurement decisionmaking should incorporate supply-chain
disclosure or cost-accounting of environmental and labor impact, which, when justified
under the existing public morals discipline in WTO trade agreements, forms a
method of government engagement that can enable a more robust international
Bolstering Benefits Behind Bars: Reevaluating Earned Income Tax Credit and Social Security Benefits Denials to Inmates
This Note describes how the tax system treats inmates, an intersection that has
been relatively understudied by both tax and criminal justice scholars. The Note
provides a detailed account of how inmates earn income through prison labor
(what goes in) and the benefits denied to inmates (what comes out, or rather what
often does not come out). The Note then asks why the tax system denies inmates
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Social Security benefits. Traditional tax
principles of equity, efficiency, and administrability do not justify the denials. This
Note argues that the underlying culprit is that the tax system is being used to levy
additional punishment on inmates. This has particularly insidious effects on communities
of color given the connections between mass incarceration, poverty, and
race. The Note proposes statutory repeal of the benefits exclusions and mandatory
filing for inmates as a way of making the tax system better reflect the economic and
social realities that inmates face, while simultaneously moving the system closer to
fundamental tax principles.
Beginning in the late twentieth century, the Supreme Court gradually restricted the
range of punishments that could be imposed on children convicted of crimes. The
seminal cases Graham v. Florida, Miller v. Alabama, and Montgomery v.
Louisiana banned the imposition of mandatory life without parole sentences on
children who were under eighteen at the time of an offense and held that those
juveniles must be given a “meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on
demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.” Some courts have extended the logic of
these cases to invalidate life with parole sentences based on extremely long parole
ineligibility periods, but no court has held that the practical unavailability of release
within the current parole system makes any life sentence—regardless of its parole
ineligibility period—functionally equivalent to life without parole.
Building on recent scholarship about the constitutional role of parole release in
juvenile sentencing, this Note points out that the Graham trilogy creates a substantive
Eighth Amendment right for juveniles to be released upon a showing of
maturity and rehabilitation, not merely a right to be considered for release. This
Note exposes the failure of state parole systems to vindicate this right by systematically
refusing to grant parole to juveniles. Because release on parole is a statistical
improbability for juveniles sentenced to life with parole, this Note concludes that
those sentences are actually unconstitutional sentences of de facto juvenile life
In 2020, the Department of Education issued a final Rule pursuant to notice-and-comment rulemaking which created the most far-reaching regulation on sexual harassment in educational institutions under Title IX to date. This Rule significantly limited the availability of administrative remedies for those experiencing sexual harassment in their educational institutions. While much has been said regarding the propriety of the substantive policy decisions advanced by the Department’s regulation, relatively little attention has been paid to the cost-benefit analysis (CBA) employed in the Rule. The Rule’s CBA found that the regulations would result in a net cost of tens of millions of dollars. In justifying their commitment to these cost-unjustified regulations, the Department relied only on a few non-quantified benefits. To make matters worse, the Department also disclaimed any responsibility to consider whether the Rule’s deregulatory policies would leave sexual harassment under-deterred. The 2020 Rule was arbitrary and capricious by reason of its faulty CBA. The Department’s failure to consider the costs associated with the Rule’s under-deterrent effects was an abrogation of their obligation to uphold Title IX’s preventative purpose.
The search doctrine has long been in a state of disarray. Fragmented into different sub-doctrines, Fourth Amendment standards of constitutional protection vary based on how the government acquires the information in question and on how courts define the search that occurred. As trespass-based searches, reasonable expectation of privacy searches, consent-based searches, third-party searches, and private searches each trigger different levels of protection, the doctrine has become what more than one Justice has termed a “crazy quilt.” This Note argues that unriddling the Fourth Amendment is easier than it might appear with the aid of the concept of knowing exposure, first discussed in Katz v. United States. An undercurrent across different strands of the search doctrine, the knowing exposure principle holds that what one “knowingly exposes to the public” is beyond the scope of Fourth Amendment protection. As the Court grapples with the search doc- trine in an age of unprecedented exposure to third parties, most recently in Carpenter v. United States, it should seek to unify the standard for searches around the foundational question of what renders one’s exposure “knowing.” Turning to Carpenter’s modifications to the third-party doctrine, this Note suggests a unified theory of knowing exposure that can apply across different kinds of searches, centering on whether the exposure is (1) knowing, (2) voluntary, and (3) reasonable.
A specter is haunting The Hague—the specter of American federalism. On July 2, 2019, the Hague Conference on Private International Law finalized the Hague Judgments Convention. The Convention seeks to establish a global floor for judgment recognition and promote seamless recognition and enforcement of judgments between signatories. Although virtually all observers in the United States recognize the value and importance of ratifying the Convention, stakeholders cannot agree on how to implement it: by federal statute or by uniform state law. Proponents of a so-called “cooperative federalism” approach to implementation, principally led by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), have previously derailed U.S. ratification of the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements (COCA) by insisting that principles of federalism required implementation through uniform state law. This argument is wrong as a matter of doctrine and policy. It is time to put it to rest once and for all.
This Note is the first piece of scholarship to squarely address the “cooperative federalism” argument as applied to the Hague Judgments Convention. It makes two principal arguments. First, it identifies the principles that ought to guide the implementation of a treaty on foreign judgments recognition and concludes that federal implementing legislation optimizes these interests. Implementation primarily by
uniform state law is inferior and poses serious disadvantages. Second, the ULC’s primary legal objection to the implementation proposal for the COCA outlined by the State Department—that the doctrine of Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins prohibits federal courts sitting in diversity jurisdiction from applying federal rules of decision prescribed by federal statute—was meritless in 2012, and it is meritless now. If any objections remain to implementing the Judgments Convention by federal statute, they are about turf and ideology. To the extent that the relevant stakeholders want to accommodate those political objections, this Note concludes by briefly outlining areas for compromise.
Supreme Court “companion cases” are decisions released on the exact same day that address substantially similar legal or factual matters. The list of consequential Supreme Court decisions that the Justices have resolved as part of a set of companion cases is lengthy: It includes NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., Korematsu v. United States, Brown v. Board of Education, Terry v. Ohio, Roe v. Wade, Miller v. California, and Gregg v. Georgia. Although it is not surprising that important topics like civil rights and abortion generate significant amounts of litigation, the Supreme Court’s practice of conducting plenary review of multiple similar cases and issuing separate decisions resolving each one should give us pause. The Justices have a number of other procedural tools available for disposing of similar matters for which parties seek review. Options include granting certiorari for only one of the cases, vacating and remanding some of the matters, issuing at least one summary disposition, consolidating the cases, or releasing the decisions at very different times. The Court sidesteps these alternative approaches when it issues companion cases. Yet previous scholars have not devoted adequate attention to this practice as a distinct procedural mechanism, with unique characteristics that may motivate its usage. This Note fills that gap by studying some of the Court’s most famous companion cases and taxonomizing them into four categories—coordinate hedges, contested hedges, extensional reinforcements, and applicative reinforcements—based on factors including the voting behavior of the Justices and the constitutive decisions’ relationships to each other. The Note leverages that taxonomy to frame its analysis of why the Court chose to issue companion cases given all the procedural alternatives. This Note concludes by discussing how the practice of deciding certain sorts of companion cases—in which a majority of the Justices agree that they should resolve similar cases in ostensibly contradictory ways—may improve the Court’s legitimacy by accentuating its responsibility and capacity to collaboratively identify subtle distinctions between comparable cases that compel different outcomes.
In the tempestuous process of defining communities of interest for legislative redistricting—a process that will inevitably spark disagreement, dissatisfaction, and dissent—deferring boundary-setting to a physical, objective metric established by a community itself would appear to be a safe harbor, insulating line-drawers from criticism. The eruv—a physical structure encircling a Jewish community which
allows observant Jews to carry items outside the home on Shabbat—presents redistricters with an attractive way to craft districts that give political voice to the Jewish community. However, this Note argues that rather than serving as a safe harbor, this use of the eruv in redistricting presents a constitutional hazard, as it may run afoul of the Establishment Clause. The Supreme Court’s Establishment Clause jurisprudence clearly forbids a state from “delegat[ing] its civic authority to a group chosen according to a religious criterion.” The use of an eruv as a basis for redistricting, this Note argues, is precisely such a delegation: The state delegates its power to determine the boundaries of a community and the resultant district lines to religious authorities and a religious community, bucking the neutrality commanded by the Establishment Clause. While the precise shape of a particular district and the inputs leading to its creation will determine the presence of an Establishment Clause violation, the potential for such a violation in the case of eruv-based districts—and the concomitant potential for the politicization of religion and increased political division—has heretofore gone unnoticed.
Delegated to the State: Immigration Federalism and Post-Conviction Sentencing Adjustments in Matter of Thomas & Thompson
In Matter of Thomas & Thompson, former Attorney General William Barr argued that states have no role to play in immigration matters and thus, state adjustments to a criminal sentence post-conviction will not be given effect for adjudicating deportability based on criminal grounds under section 101(a)(48)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act without an underlying substantive or procedural flaw in the original criminal case. The former Attorney General incorrectly assumed that states cannot be involved in immigration decisionmaking. Not only is it constitutionally permissible for the federal government to delegate certain immigration powers to the states, but the immigration code does so in many places. Careful examination of the text and legislative history of section 101(a)(48)(B) reveals that whatever sentence the state deems operative counts for immigration purposes—even if state law considers the operative sentence a later adjustment—implying that Matter of Thomas & Thompson put forth an erroneous interpretation.
Despite its critical importance, the fulfillment of the human right to water is far from the reality for many today. One in three people do not have access to safe drinking water and more than half of the world’s population does not have access to safe sanitation. Achieving the international community’s commitment of universal access to safe water and sanitation by 2030 would cost states approximately$150 billion per year. Meeting those funding needs inevitably entails private, and often foreign, investment. When investments do not go as planned, foreign investors may turn to international arbitration for relief. While intended to protect investments, this legal regime has allowed investors to challenge regulatory measures that further human rights and to wield undue power over states. This Note analyzes investment-treaty disputes involving drinking water to understand how states have invoked, and tribunals have considered, the human right to water. The cases show an important evolution on the part of tribunals. Nevertheless, almost all of the tribunals fall short of integrating the human right to water in their analysis of substantive treaty claims. Interestingly, the cases also reveal that, despite invoking human rights defenses, states engage in actions that are difficult to justify as furthering the right to water. In turn, this Note argues that the “fair and equitable treatment” standard can and should include relevant human rights law as part of “investors’ legitimate expectations.” Such an integration creates opportunities for accountability on both sides of the ledger: Investors are expected to engage in human rights legal due diligence, and states are taken to task when they invoke human rights in a perfunctory fashion. The fair and equitable treatment standard presents an opportunity to expand fairness and equity in international arbitration not only for the disputing parties, but also for the people who stand to lose from their actions.
The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment provides that no person shall “be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” Yet the dual sovereignty doctrine, a longstanding rule of judicial interpretation, reads the Double Jeopardy Clause as applying only to prosecutions by a single sovereign. Successive prosecutions by separate sovereigns, including the United States and foreign nations, do not implicate double jeopardy. The Double Jeopardy Clause protects the individual from government overreach, but the dual sovereignty doctrine flips the script: It protects the interests of the sovereign at the expense of the individual. After many decades of criticism, the Supreme Court reconsidered and then reaffirmed the doctrine in Gamble v. United States. The current blanket rule solves one problem—the fear that sovereign interests will be thwarted by other sovereigns—but creates another: an incentive for two sovereigns to join up to evade constitutional requirements. In the shadow of the dual sovereignty rule, lower courts have articulated an exception where one sovereign manipulates another or uses it as a “sham” or a “cover” for its own aims. Without further guidance from the Supreme Court, however, courts are reluctant to find the exception to apply.
This Note offers a new approach to inter-sovereign successive prosecutions that would reconcile these two doctrinal threads and provide greater protection to defendants at the mercy of multiple sovereigns: application of the strict scrutiny standard. Courts should embrace the complexity of inter-sovereign prosecutions, which can range from situations of obstruction, where successive prosecution may be necessary, to manipulation, where it should be prohibited. Genuine protection of the right against double jeopardy demands strict scrutiny.
In the Spring of 2020, a panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Gary B. v. Whitmer penned an opinion recognizing a fundamental right to basic minimum education. While this decision was subsequently vacated pending en banc review and then dismissed as moot following a settlement, it stands as a bellwether of the long-overdue march toward recognition of positive rights under the Constitution. A series of Burger Court opinions attempted to calcify the notion that the Constitution is a “charter of negative liberties,” most famously DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services and its progeny. These opinions erected three key doctrinal barriers to recognition of positive rights: 1) that a cognizable due process claim must arise from direct, de jure state deprivation; 2) that separation of powers points towards legislatures, not courts, as the appropriate bodies for curing social and economic ills; and 3) that furnishing equality is not a proper aim of due process.
But substantive due process doctrine has transformed over the past few decades. Most notably in a series of cases protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals—Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, United States v. Windsor in 2013, and Obergfell v. Hodges in 2015—the doctrines of due process and equal protection have fused so intimately as to have revealed a new doctrinal structure, which Laurence Tribe has termed “equal dignity.” The doctrine of equal dignity has profound implications for the recognition of positive rights. Its theoretical tenets undermine the doctrinal elements which have traditionally steered federal courts away from recognizing positive rights. This Note argues that the case of education—considered in light of the post-Obergefell substantive due process doctrine—dismantles each of the traditional pillars of negative-rights constitutionalism, paving the way for recognition of a positive right to a basic minimum education. More broadly, Gary B. demonstrates that courts are now doctrinally equipped to recognize positive rights within the framework of modern substantive due process, a development that has radical implications for Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence and the project of constitutional equality.
Photography has exploded into the most accessible mode of creative production of
our time: Over one trillion photographs will be taken this year. Yet despite the
medium’s dramatic expansion, catalyzed by advances in technology, the copyright-
ability of photography remains controlled by a Supreme Court precedent that is
over one hundred years old, Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony. The long-
standing interpretation of Burrow-Giles in the lower courts has rendered nearly
every litigated photograph copyrightable, even though the factual foundation of
Burrow-Giles is remarkably inconsistent with how most photography is produced
today. With protracted, low-value, and often frivolous copyright litigation over
photographs increasingly clogging up federal courts’ dockets, it is high time to
reconsider photography’s copyright.
This Note argues that a revitalization of copyright’s merger doctrine—long ignored
or dismissed in the realm of photography’s copyright—could be the vehicle for this
reassessment. Theorizing photographs as mergeable does not render the medium
per se uncopyrightable, but captures the spirit of the Supreme Court’s now 150-
year-old instruction to permit photography’s copyright, while correcting for
changes in photographic technology to better uphold the Court’s simultaneous
mandate that “ordinary” photographs should not receive copyright protection.
There is a practice among prosecutors whereby they pursue incompatible theories
of a case against two or more defendants for criminal behavior for which, factually,
only one defendant can be culpable. While it’s difficult to determine just how fre-
quently these arguments are made, at least twenty-nine people have been con-
demned to death in cases where the defense has alleged inconsistencies, and seven
of those twenty-nine people have been executed. Situations like these cut against our
moral and ethical understanding of fairness and of justice; these arguments operate
in a world detached from reality, where factually singular acts can have multiple
agents, prosecutors are not accountable to a consistent narrative, and factfinders are
asked to make ultimate determinations of death based on factual impossibilities.
But finding ways to challenge the practice has, frustratingly, fallen short in pro-
viding legal relief to the condemned.
This Note looks beyond the due process and Eighth Amendment arguments against
this practice that have not provided fertile ground for protecting criminal defen-
dants from this type of vindictive approach to sentencing. Instead, this Note makes
a normative argument that the history of the Fifth Amendment’s Double Jeopardy
Clause, along with civil law principles of collateral estoppel that have been incorpo-
rated into the criminal law through the Clause, and protections against vindictive
sentencing practices that undergird the Clause bars this practice. In other words,
this Note argues that double jeopardy preclusion principles bar prosecutors from
relitigating issues of ultimate culpability in successive cases. This solution draws on
the Supreme Court’s only consideration of this issue—Bradshaw v. Stumpf—which
makes an analytical distinction between the consequences of this practice on convic-
tion and consequences on sentencing.
Nipping It in the Bud: Fixing the Principal-Agent Problem in Class Actions by Looking to Qui Tam Litigation
The principal-agent problem in class actions, which occurs whenever the interests
of class counsel (the agent) conflict with those of the class (the principal), has
plagued the class action system for decades. When these conflicts of interest arise,
they often lead to plaintiff classes receiving lower monetary awards than they other-
wise deserve, above-market fees for attorneys, and underenforcement of claims
against wrongdoers. Throughout the years, both Congress and scholars alike have
tried to address this issue, but it persists. This Note invites Congress and scholars to
think differently about potential solutions to a problem that has been around for far
too long. It argues that looking to qui tam litigation, specifically, the False Claims
Act, provides a unique approach that could help significantly curtail the principal-
agent problem. By permitting the government to install itself as lead counsel in class
actions involving money damages—when it deems an action to be worthy—the
financial incentives between any given class and its respective class counsel are
realigned. While private attorneys seek the maximum amount of attorney’s fees,
even if it comes at the expense of the client, government lawyers do not have the
same motivation. Adding an amendment to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23
permitting qui tam litigation would allow the government to act as a gatekeeper for
class actions while leaving the option open for private attorneys to bring suit should
the government decide not to do so. By providing different channels of enforce-
ment, the amendment offers a promising opportunity to better deter private sector
misconduct, discourage frivolous suits, and improve the overall outcomes for plain-
Getting “Arising out of” Right: Ford Motor Company and the Purpose of the “Arising out of” Prong in the Minimum Contacts Analysis
In Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court, the Supreme Court
heard a challenge to specific personal jurisdiction brought under the “arising out of
or relating to” prong (also referred to as the “arising out of” prong) of the min-
imum contacts test for only the second time. In attempting to evade jurisdiction for
injuries caused by defective cars in Montana and Minnesota, Ford argued that
because the specific cars at issue were not originally sold in those fora, its pur-
poseful contacts with the state did not proximately cause the injury at issue, and
therefore the injuries did not “arise out of” those contacts. Ford’s argument is based
on a misreading of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court, the only case in
which the Court analyzed that prong of the minimum contacts test. This Note seeks
to explore the development and purposes underlying the “arising out of” prong,
concluding that its purpose is to ensure a sufficient connection between the forum
and the underlying claim such that the state has a legitimate regulatory interest and
that litigation in the forum is convenient. After describing the development and
purpose of the “arising out of” prong and contrasting it with the purpose under-
lying the “purposeful availment” prong, this Note addresses the ways in which chal-
lenges to jurisdiction are brought when it is unclear if the claim arises in a
particular forum. This Note then takes on the Ford case and discusses how the
Supreme Court’s decision fits into the framework describing what work the “arising
out of” prong is doing in the jurisdictional analysis.
After decades in which agricultural land could only be owned by farmers, Taiwan’s
2000 amendments to the Agricultural Development Act opened up the farmland
market to non-farmers. This decision, along with Taiwan’s accession to the World
Trade Organization and the increasing globalization of trade, has had effects on an
agricultural landscape that has traditionally consisted largely of smallholder
farmers. This Note explores the 2000 amendments within both the historical context
of first- and second-stage land reform in Taiwan and the current context of third-
stage land reform and trade liberalization. The effects are far-reaching—the most
expensive farmland in the world, escalating non-agricultural use, fields left idle.
This Note raises questions about the role of agriculture in developed societies and
discusses the nuanced nature of farmland market deregulation.
District attorneys are responsible for the vast majority of criminal prosecutions in the United States, and most of them are elected by the public from prosecutorial
districts. Yet these districts are massively malapportioned, giving rural, dispropor-
tionately white voters significantly more voting power over their district attorneys
than urban voters, who are more likely to be voters of color. At the same time, our
district attorney system is characterized by the sorts of political process failures that
both triggered the Supreme Court’s Apportionment Revolution—requiring that leg-
islative and executive districts comply with one-person, one-vote—and justify judi-
cial intervention in other voting rights contexts. This Note argues that extending
one-person, one-vote to prosecutorial districts would meaningfully address
prosecutorial political process failure and have a number of salutary effects on our
democracy: It would rebalance the distribution of voters’ influence over district
attorneys, producing salutary downstream effects on our criminal justice system; it
may increase challenger rates, leading to healthier levels of prosecutorial demo-
cratic competition; and it would further core democratic norms, including respect
for the equal dignity of voters.
Racial Exclusion in Private Markets: How the New Accredited Investor Standard Is Arbitrary and Capricious
Private markets have exploded. This growth has created lucrative opportunities for businesses raising capital and those who qualify to invest. For decades, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules have restricted most private investments to “accredited investors,” a designation that, for members of the general public, was based exclusively on affluence. While critics of this regime have emphasized its role in exacerbating inequality, scholarship has neglected the economic divide between white and Black Americans specifically. This Note fills that void.
In August 2020, the SEC issued the first update to the accredited investor standard since its genesis in the 1980s. Using available data, this Note argues that the accredited investor regime—historically and as amended—systematically excludes Black investors and Black-owned businesses from private markets, which both perpetuates racial inequality and depresses the value of those markets. This Note proposes a framework for an Administrative Procedure Act lawsuit charging that the Securities Act required the SEC to consider these distributional effects when modernizing the accredited investor standard. Finding that the SEC failed to satisfy this statutory requirement and omitted other relevant data, this Note concludes that the accredited investor update was arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. It then offers guidance on how the agency can remedy its error and avoid repeating it in the future.
Line-level immigration officers have virtually unreviewable discretion to deny noncitizens the ability to enter the United States. This power extends not only to those who enter without inspection or arrive with counterfeit documents, but also to those who travel to the United States with the U.S. government’s express permission—i.e., visa holders. These noncitizens can unwittingly be caught up in the expedited removal process, which affords only minimal procedural safeguards and heavily circumscribes judicial review of officers’ actions. This Note argues that, despite these limitations, federal habeas courts should take advantage of their ability under the statute to inquire into whether an expedited removal order in fact was issued. In particular, courts should insist upon compliance with critical procedures required by the agency’s own regulations, without which an expedited removal order may be said not to exist at all. Informed by fundamental principles of administrative law, such an insistence on procedural compliance could help correct some of the worst abuses of the system notwithstanding the lack of constitutional due process protections for arriving noncitizens.
Police officers lie. About nearly every aspect of their work and at every stage of the criminal legal process—in arrest paperwork, warrant affidavits, courtroom testimony, and disciplinary proceedings. The primary scholarly account of police perjury frames the problem as one that emerged largely after the Supreme Court decided Mapp v. Ohio, which made the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule applicable in state criminal proceedings. But a gap exists in the literature, one this Note seeks to fill: Scholars have neglected to consider whether, and to what extent, police lied before Mapp. By reaching into the historical record, this Note uncovers a rich tradition of rank perjury dating back to the origins of modern policing.
Building on the insight that police have lied for as long as police have existed, this Note sketches an abolitionist framework for police perjury. A structural understanding better accounts for the fact that police lies legitimate police power and figure prominently in two other features of modern policing—racialization and violence. In offering a new framework to understand the perjury problem, this Note joins the growing chorus of scholars, organizers, and activists calling for defunding and dismantling the police.
Agencies often bring enforcement actions and propose and accept settlements that have significant repercussions for the public and those harmed by the alleged misconduct. However, few meaningful opportunities exist for the public, or for victims, to participate in the decisionmaking process, and no external constraints exist to ensure their interests are adequately considered. Focusing on the Federal Trade Commission and its settlement procedures, this Note asks whether more is needed to preserve administrative legitimacy. To do so, it situates rights of participation within the two dominant schools of thought about the administrative state: the arbitrariness model and the accountability model. It finds that these theories support more expansive, but distinct, participatory rights for the general public and for victims. Criminal law, and the victim participation movement within it, provides guidance for the path forward, and this Note concludes that Congress and agencies should act together to perfect participation rights in agency enforcement actions.
Increasing Board Diversity: A New Perspective Based in Shareholder Primacy and Stakeholder Approach Models of Corporate Governance
As the world reckons with the #MeToo movement and Black Lives Matter movement, within the corporate world people are starting to take stock of board diversity. Pressure is starting to build from shareholders and stakeholders for their companies to hire diverse directors. Although diversifying boardrooms has garnered support as of late, many other members of the corporate world believe a company should not diversify simply due to external pressures and it being “the right thing to do.” This Note seeks to provide a new perspective for why hiring diverse directors is essential—one that is likely digestible to the more traditional, long-established members of the corporate world and our law-making bodies: Increasing board diversity furthers a corporation’s purpose. Placing the arguments for board diversity within the context of both the shareholder primacy and stakeholder approach models of corporate governance, this Note demonstrates that irrespective of which side of the corporate purpose debate one believes, diverse boardrooms are beneficial for a corporation and in fact necessary for its survival. It also advocates for short-term and long-term policies that can increase board diversity and encourage the benefits of diverse directorship to be fully realized.
The federal tax code contains a number of provisions that reduce taxes on personal and business investment income. Many of these provisions fall into two categories: yield exemption provisions, which reduce taxes on investment returns, and tax deferral provisions, which reduce taxes on investment principal. While these two families of tax provisions are sometimes said to be equivalent, there are important differences between them. This Note focuses on one under-appreciated difference between yield exemption and tax deferral: the amount of risk to which the federal government is exposed. Under a tax deferral approach, the federal government’s expected revenue is higher but more uncertain, as revenue collections depend on the performance of taxpayers’ investments. This Note argues that policies that raise revenue by exposing the federal government to greater risk could be more efficient than other avenues of raising federal revenue. The federal government is able to take on market risk at a relatively low social cost, because of its high liquidity and ability to diversify risk across generations. While there are many possible ways for the government to raise revenue by taking on more risk, this Note argues that the tax code is a promising vehicle for doing so. All in all, this analysis adds a reason why tax deferral provisions are preferable to yield exemption provisions.
Hippies in the Boardroom: A Historical Critique of Addressing Stakeholder Interests Through Private Ordering
Modern capitalist theory has been the engine of Western innovation and prosperity for centuries. However, the persistence of the free market and corporate form in the United States has come at a high cost. Industrialization powered by fossil fuels has permanently degraded and destabilized the Earth’s climate, wealth continues to concentrate among a handful of individuals, and increasing nativist and anti-immigrant sentiments threaten our institutions. This has led scholars to draw parallels between the current day and the Gilded Age, a period of massive wealth inequality during which the negative externalities of unfettered capitalism became particularly clear. This Note is situated in the rapidly expanding literature about environmental social governance (ESG) and stakeholderism, looking to past instances of corporate reform as well as the present realities of the modern-day corporation to argue that private ordering is an ineffective and improper means of addressing negative externalities of capitalism. It identifies moments of proto-stakeholderism during three periods: the Gilded Age, Progressive Era, and stock market crash of 1929, highlighting the cyclicality of addressing stakeholder concerns throughout history. It critiques two major avenues through which corporations might consider stakeholders—private ordering or government action—and argues that private ordering’s legal limits and legitimacy problems are inescapable when considering transformational ESG reform.
Education in the United States is still segregated. But opponents of affirmative action now argue that affirmative action policies—which they maintain were never constitutional to begin with—are no longer needed to serve the goals of our education system. Yet while these policies in the education context continue to face challenges and public scrutiny, affirmative action policies in another area of law have consistently been upheld as constitutional. States, localities, and the federal government run robust minority- and women-owned business enterprise (M/WBE) programs, which set goals for minority- and women-owned business participation in government contracts. These programs are consistently upheld under Supreme Court doctrine in that area. This Note offers a reason for M/WBE success and a path forward for education: By taking the Court at its word and leveraging language about what “not to do,” advocates can design permissible programs to increase diversity.
Part I explores affirmative action in public contracting. Affirmative action policies have been actualized in government contracting through the use of disparity studies. These studies look at the disparity between available minority contractors and available work, using the blueprint laid out by Justice O’Connor in City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co., to set goals for minority participation in public contracting. Next, Part I reviews New York City’s and New York State’s M/WBE programs in-depth: their design, challenges to the programs, and their constitutional justification. Part II discusses how affirmative action in education differs from government contracting, and then looks to New York and Louisville school districts for examples of how advocates have started to navigate the Court’s language of what is impermissible to create plans that diversify permissibly. Part III explores the lessons for advocates seeking to achieve more diversity and better outcomes for minority communities. By focusing on what the Court wants in its opinions overturning advocates’ first tries at solving a problem, there is hope for more diversity using just the tools in the Court’s limited toolbox.
Though indigency is not a suspect class, the Supreme Court has repeatedly applied heightened scrutiny to laws that deprive low-income people of certain rights they can’t afford. It has done this through a makeshift doctrine that combines the principles of Equal Protection and Due Process. But the absence of a generalizable rule behind what this Note refers to as “wealth-based equal process” leaves the Court’s few constitutional protections for low-income people vulnerable to erosion by conservative Justices. This threat looms especially large as recent litigation draws on that doctrine to challenge the unfair treatment of indigent people in the criminal justice system. This Note attempts to shore up wealth-based equal process doctrine by proposing a general principle: Courts must apply heightened scrutiny when the government, by putting a price on a fundamental right that only the government can fulfill, entirely deprives an indigent person of that right. The Note then applies this principle to cash bail, revealing that the pretrial detention of indigent defend- ants lies at the heart of this doctrine and requires heightened scrutiny.
In Seila Law LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Supreme Court split 5–4 on appointing party lines in striking down for-cause removal protections for the Bureau’s single Director as violating the constitutional separation of powers. Chief Justice Roberts’s majority opinion expounded a novel principle: Significant executive power may not be concentrated in any single individual in the executive branch unless that individual is removable at-will by the President. This Note argues that the majority’s usage of structure and history to constitutionalize this principle was deeply flawed. It is unconstrained by any particular interpretive commitments. Further, it is internally inconsistent, logically flawed, historically opportunistic, and unsupported by a pragmatic consideration of the issue. And the Court’s subsequent decision, Collins v. Yellen—extending Seila Law to invalidate removal protection for the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency—has only exacerbated Seila Law’s flaws. I conclude with reflection on agency independence post-Seila Law and a call for pragmatic deference to the political branches.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authorizes the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to subject Americans to uniquely invasive electronic monitoring, so long as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) approves the surveillance application. But in 2020, the government announced that two of the FISA applications it submitted to surveil a former 2016 Trump campaign aide were based on false statements and omissions—revealing systemic deficiencies in the accuracy of FISA applications, which has long relied on the integrity of FBI and Justice Department procedures alone. In the ordinary criminal context, defendants would have the ability to challenge the truth of the application predicating their Fourth Amendment search under Franks v. Delaware, but when defendants are prosecuted with evidence derived from FISA-authorized surveillance, courts have uniformly interpreted the statute to abrogate defendants’ rights to a Franks hearing. This Note argues that courts should use the procedures authorized by the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) to facilitate Franks hearings for these defendants in order to reveal the incidence of falsely premised FISA surveillance. While Franks hearings in this context would be unlikely to vindicate the individual interests of FISA-surveilled defendants, they would offer a systemic deterrent effect, alerting the FISC to flawed applications and providing the Court an opportunity to discipline the FBI agents responsible.
In recent years, there has been significant public debate concerning policing in the United States. Current events and recurring instances of police brutality have drawn attention to police misconduct and reinvigorated calls for systemic reforms to policing and police discipline. While there is a growing consensus in the United States among citizens, politicians, and even officers, that policing—and, in particular, police discipline procedure—requires reform, there is far less agreement as to what changes are necessary and feasible. In the U.S. military context, Congress enacted the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which created a separate military law system that imposes punishment for various administrative and criminal offenses. Some police reform advocates have proposed enacting a UCMJ equivalent—a Uniform Code of Police Justice (UCPJ)—for the nation’s police forces. This Note argues in favor of adopting a UCPJ and proposes a recommended Code structure, while acknowledging that a UCPJ would not be a cure-all for our nation’s policing troubles; further systemic reforms would still be required.
In its 2014 decision in Lexmark International, Inc. v. Static Control Components, Inc., the Supreme Court began the process of “bringing discipline” to the various elements of prudential standing and suggested that the doctrine as a whole is inconsistent with the Court’s place in the federal separation of powers. Last year, the litany of opinions delivered by a divided Court in June Medical Services L.L.C. v. Russo manifested ongoing confusion about the fate of prohibitions on third-party standing and generalized grievances—two of the traditional prongs of prudential standing. This Note documents the heterogeneous approaches to prudential standing taken in the lower federal courts since Lexmark, and argues that this confusion is partly attributable to the Court’s misleading analysis of the role of judge-made gatekeeping doctrines in our federal system. Judge-made gatekeeping rules are ubiquitous in the federal judiciary, and courts have adopted a wide-range of approaches in the wake of Lexmark’s failure to identify a principle that could cabin its disfavor to only prudential standing rules. This Note argues that courts should instead acknowledge that judge-made gatekeeping rules like prudential standing’s third-party standing rule do a better job than alternatives in upholding the separation of powers values that are at the heart of the Supreme Court’s jurisdictional jurisprudence.
Federal trademark registration helps protect the hundreds of billions of dollars of brand value that trademarks can represent. Recently, interest in the failure-to-function doctrine, which prevents registration of proposed trademarks that consumers do not perceive as marks, has surged at the appellate body of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB). This Note is the first in-depth, focused critique of the TTAB’s recent failure-to-function jurisprudence. It argues that, as the TTAB currently uses it, the failure-to-function doctrine is incoherent and lacks clarity. On a more granular level, the doctrine rests on inconsistent multifactor tests whose factors the TTAB adds, subtracts, modifies, reconceptualizes, and weighs differently across cases, giving the USPTO little meaningful criteria by which to decide what marks merit registration. This inconsistency risks increasing costs for the USPTO, brands, and consumers by creating uncertainty as to what proposed trademarks the USPTO will approve. In response, this Note proposes combining failure to function with a different trademark doctrine: the doctrine of aesthetic functionality. Replacing failure to function’s unwieldy multifactor inquiries with aesthetic functionality’s narrow focus on competition promises to increase clarity and, in so doing, mitigate or avoid costs to the USPTO, brands, and consumers.
The False Promise of MDL Bellwether Reform: How Mandatory Bellwether Trial Consent Would Further Mire Multidistrict Litigation
Over one third of all pending cases in the federal court system are part of a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) proceeding. Previous and ongoing MDLs include claims stemming from the opioid epidemic, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the National Football League concussion cases, and a myriad of pharmaceutical and medical products liability suits. Both the percentage and sheer number of cases utilizing this form of aggregate litigation have dramatically increased in recent years. Bellwether trials, designed to test the facts and legal theories underpinning many of the consolidated cases, are a key feature of MDLs in facilitating resolution. This Note examines the role of MDL bellwether trials and the potential impact of proposed reforms. Part I surveys the functions of bellwether trials as well as current judicial limitations imposed on the practice. Part II examines proposals that would further restrict the use of MDL bellwether trials: first, a bill from the 115th Congress and second, proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. These proposals would require the consent of all parties for an MDL bellwether to ensue. Finally, Part III explores the potential effects of these proposed reforms as well as the discrepancies between their purported aims and the likely impact of their enactment. These proposals would exacerbate the MDL “black hole,” result in less informed settlements, and create more opacity in the MDL process. Principally, they are an attempt to wrest power over procedure to cement defendants’ structural advantage over the MDL.
Relying on the Unreliable: Challenging USCIS’s Use of Police Reports and Arrest Records in Affirmative Immigration Proceedings
Although many scholars have recognized the need for increased procedural protections for immigrants in removal proceedings, very little attention has been paid to the process afforded to immigrants applying affirmatively to acquire lawful status. However, due to the collection of important interests implicated by affirmative immigration proceedings, procedure still matters even if deportation is not immediately at stake. This Note helps to fill the scholarly gap by discussing a relatively recent phenomenon in affirmative immigration practice: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ requests for and reliance on police reports, arrest records, and other documents underlying any contact an applicant has had with the criminal justice system, even when the charges were ultimately dropped or the applicant was acquitted. This practice is particularly problematic in light of the unreliability of these documents, the role they play in the adjudication of applications, and the difficulty applicants face in appealing unfavorable decisions. Thus, this Note argues that not only is USCIS’s policy unlawful under the Administrative Procedure Act, but it also violates the guarantee of Due Process provided by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.
In response to increasing rights for LGBTQ individuals in the United States, particularly the Supreme Court’s affirmation of the right to same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, eleven states have imposed laws or policies permitting child welfare organizations to deny services in accordance with their religious beliefs. These measures generally prohibit the state from “discriminating against” religious child welfare organizations by denying them funding or program participation when they refuse to provide services based on their religious beliefs. This Note provides an overview of these religious exemption laws and ultimately argues that, by requiring government funding of discriminatory child welfare organizations, the laws are unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause. The Note begins by considering relevant details about adoption and foster care systems in the United States. It then turns to the laws and policies in question, discussing their provisions, motivations, and impact. Then, taking two specific laws as examples, it analyzes these laws’ constitutionality, arguing for their invalidity under several approaches to understanding the Establishment Clause. By favoring certain religious viewpoints over others, permitting religion to dictate who receives government benefits and services, and imposing burdens on third parties (particularly LGBTQ prospective parents and youth), religious exemption laws ignore the line between church and state in violation of the Establishment Clause.
One of President Biden’s campaign promises, passing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, would remove the “secondary boycott” prohibition from the National Labor Relations Act, a provision which prevents unions from pressuring employers’ customers and associates in order to bargain with those employers effectively. This long-standing prohibition prevents unions and their workers from engaging in what is otherwise considered protected speech under the First Amendment, including picketing in public places. Some labor historians and commentators view the 1947 Taft-Hartley amendments, which codified the secondary boycott prohibition, as a reversal of liberal, New Deal policies. This Note shows, in fact, that both state and federal courts were deeply suspicious of the secondary boycott throughout the 1930s and 1940s. Even as state legislatures seemingly liberalized the law of labor protest in the early 1930s, state courts soon nullified these anti-injunction statutes through the application of common law tort principles. Likewise, the First Amendment right to picket declared by the Supreme Court in 1940’s Thornhill v. Alabama was quickly rolled back in the following terms when cases involving secondary picketing arrived at the Court. The history of the secondary boycott is not simply a cyclical one of repression, liberalization, and repression’s return. Labor advocates should approach reforms with a careful eye to prevent merely defederalizing the law of secondary boycotts by repealing the NLRA prohibition and leaving its regulation to the states, for even the most progressive jurisdictions in the New Deal era were hesitant to recognize secondary activity as a legitimate form of protest, and the Supreme Court’s First Amendment cases on labor protest leave little recourse for a legal challenge.
For nearly a century, the American Bar Association (ABA) has overseen the standards governing accredited law schools, which in turn constitute the primary pathway to the practice of law in the United States. ABA Standard 503 requires that all such schools use a “valid and reliable” examination to assess candidates for admission. Currently, the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is the only examination that the ABA has officially recognized as satisfying the standard. However, the LSAT—now approaching its eightieth year—has strayed far from the purposes it was originally designed to serve. Once a simple tool to aid in the assessment of diverse applicants, it has in recent decades become a significant barrier to entry with disparate negative impacts on women, racial minorities, individuals of low socioeconomic status, and, perhaps most egregiously, those with disabilities. This Note argues that Standard 503 should be rescinded. Such a step is necessary both to stimulate innovation in law school admissions and to fulfill the ABA’s mandate of promoting diversity in the legal profession and serving the larger public good.