Current Issue

Volume 82, Number 3

June 2007

Finality in Class Action Litigation: Lessons from Habeas

William B. Rubenstein

A class action can only bind class members who are “adequately represented,” and thus a class action court necessarily determines representational adequacy. But should class members who were not an active part of that proceeding be able to relitigate adequacy in a collateral forum at a later date so as to evade the binding effect of the class judgment? Courts and scholars have generated a bipolar response to that question, with one side arguing that full relitigation is required by the constitutional nature of the question and the other insisting that no relitigation is permitted because of the issue-preclusive effect of the class court’s holding. Despite the richness of this debate, myriad specific questions about the availability, substance, and procedural details of the relitigation opportunity remain unexamined. In this Article, Professor Rubenstein expands the conversation outward by comparing class action law’s approach to relitigation of adequacy of representation with habeas corpus’s approach to relitigation of ineffective assistance of counsel claims in criminal cases. Using two recent, seemingly unconnected Supreme Court cases—one from each field—as case studies, Professor Rubenstein explains how these cases in fact raise remarkably similar questions. Specifically, the comparison reveals that habeas provides a relatively clear, rule-based system that specifies when—and according to what procedural rules—relitigation is available. Professor Rubenstein concludes by arguing that there are lessons for class action law in habeas’s approach: a method for considering when relitigation is appropriate that avoids the extremes of either “always” or “never”; a rule system that helps identify issues (such as substantive standards, degrees of deference, burdens of proof, and defaults) that have yet to be carefully examined in class action law; and a template for balancing the competing policy concerns at issue. Without defending current habeas doctrine, and without pretending that habeas and class actions are overtly similar, the Article nonetheless demonstrates that class action law’s relitigation problem can learn something through a close look at criminal law’s relitigation solutions.

Of Equal Wrongs and Half Rights

Gideon Parchomovsky, Peter Siegelman, Steve Thel

With a tiny handful of exceptions, common law jurisprudence is predicated on a “winner-take-all” principle: The plaintiff either gets the entire entitlement at issue or collects nothing at all. Cases that split an entitlement between the two parties are exceedingly rare. While there may be sound reasons for the all-or-nothing rule, in this Article we argue that there is a limited but important set of property, torts, and contracts cases in which an equal division of an entitlement should be adopted. The common element in these cases is a windfall—a gain or loss that occurs despite the fact that no effort to promote, prevent, or allocate it ex ante would be cost-justified or reasonable. We show that an equal division of disputed windfalls promotes both efficiency and fairness and also has the virtue of clarifying several tortured legal doctrines.

We also address and reject the standard objections to split-the-difference remedies. We demonstrate that the introduction of a splitting option is unlikely to distort judicial incentives, and that it is likely to improve the integrity of the judicial system. Counterintuitively, we show that giving judges the option to order a compromise remedy in windfall disputes is likely to reduce judicial error, rather than increase it, and that the valuation problems that attend the introduction of a split-the-difference rule are insignificant.

Markets and Discrimination

Jacob E. Gersen

Despite decades of scholarship in law and economics, disagreement persists over the extent of employment discrimination in the United States, the correct explanation for such discrimination, and the normative implications of the evidence for law and policy. In part, this is because employment discrimination is an enormously complex phenomenon, and both its history and continued existence are closely linked to politics and ideology. However, some portion of this dispute can also be traced to the incomplete use of empirical evidence. Most economic theories of employment discrimination imply empirical relationships between discrimination and the market structure of particular industries and characteristics of their workforces. Yet empirical work has most typically focused on either specific industries or the economy as a whole, and little systematic evidence about market structure and patterns of actual employment discrimination claims exists. This Article compiles and analyzes an original data set comprised of industry-specific measures of employment discrimination claims, market conditions, and labor force characteristics. In so doing, this Article contributes to an emerging literature that tests the core theoretical positions in the law and economics of discrimination literature, which in turn promises to advance understanding of both the causes of and remedies for employment discrimination.


Fair Use and Innovation Policy

Robin A. Moore

New technologies such as the VCR and Google Book Search can change the way copyrighted works are used, thereby making their innovators rich. Copyright owners are aware of these riches and often strategically sue the technology companies with the aim of gaining a share of the money. This dynamic—an innovator investing to create a new technology and a creator of a copyrighted work then suing for her share of the profits—creates an investment incentive problem. The dual goal of promoting the efficient creation of both new copyrighted works and new technologies that augment those works requires us to choose a legal rule that divides the gains from these new technologies between authors and innovators. The fair use doctrine—the statutory rule that allows some types of copyright infringement—is the legal rule that is used to do this dividing. However, economic theories of copyright law do not contain an analysis of investment incentives. This Note analyzes the effects fair use has on the incentives to create copyrighted works and to invest in technologies that affect those works.

Layovers and Cargo Ships: The Prohibition of Internet Gambling and a Proposed System of Regulation

Ryan S. Landes

Since its emergence in the 1990s, Internet gambling has grown into a $12-billion-per-year industry. In October 2006 Congress passed the Security and Accountability for Every Port Act, which includes a provision that prohibits domestic financial institutions from moving funds to and from online casinos, all of which are located overseas. While the new law has certainly caused a major stir in the Internet gambling community, users and overseas companies are continuing to find new ways to circumvent it. In this Note, the author first gives an overview of the gambling industry and the problems it poses to gamblers and communities. The author then reviews the tactics Congress attempted to use over the last decade in fighting Internet gambling—criminalizing the operation of a gambling website, criminalizing individual gambling, and criminalizing funds transfers to and from casinos—and explains why each method fails to address, and often exacerbates, the very problems the legislation seeks to resolve. The author then proposes a new method of regulation and explores how that system could significantly reduce the problems of Internet gambling.

Tackling Unconscious Bias in Hiring Practices: The Plight of the Rooney Rule

Brian W. Collins

This Note analyzes the National Football League’s (NFL) 2002 decision to implement an innovative—and controversial—policy aimed at increasing the League’s number of minority head coaches. Designated the “Rooney Rule,” the policy mandates that every NFL team interview at least one minority candidate upon the vacancy of a head coaching position or be subjected to a significant monetary fine. Despite ongoing allegations that it promotes tokenism and is a form of reverse discrimination, the Rule has reached uncharted success. While other professional sports with large minority populations (e.g., the National Basketball Association) have succeeded in integrating their head coaching positions over the past twenty years without analogous action, this Note argues that the pre–Rooney Rule NFL hiring process remained relatively static because decisionmakers unwittingly held (and often still hold) archaic biases regarding the intellectual ability of minority candidates to handle the high degree of organizational complexity in football. By deftly traversing the line between “soft” and “hard” variants of affirmative action, the Rule has proven effective because it forces decisionmakers harboring this unconscious bias to expand previously restricted coaching networks and come face-to-face with a candidate they would never have considered otherwise.