Volume 84, Number 6

December 2009

Tax Expenditures and Global Labor Mobility

Ruth Mason

Governments often deliver social welfare benefits through “tax expenditures,” which are provisions of the tax code (such as home mortgage deductions) designed to serve social policy objectives. This Article considers the criteria for granting tax expenditures to individuals who work outside the state where they reside. International tax norms currently assign the primary entitlement to tax labor income to the state where the taxpayer works, but they assign the obligation to confer personal tax expenditures exclusively to the state where the taxpayer resides. This Article argues that the disjunction between the entitlement to tax and the obligation to provide tax benefits affects cross-border labor mobility and has important distributive implica- tions for taxpayers and states. In constructing these arguments, this Article introduces the concepts of “labor export neutrality” and “labor residence neutrality” as tools for analyzing government policies that affect global labor mobility. A policy is labor export neutral if it does not distort taxpayers’ decisions about where to work. A policy is labor residence neutral if it does not distort taxpayers’ decisions about where to reside.

Protecting Them from Themselves: The Persistence of Mutual Benefits Arguments for Sex and Race Inequality

Jill Elaine Hasday

Defenders of sex and race inequality often contend that women and people of color are better off with fewer rights and opportunities. This claim straddles substantive debates that are rarely considered together, linking such seemingly disparate disputes as the struggles over race-based affirmative action, antiabortion laws, and marital rape exemptions. The argument posits that women and people of color attempting to secure expanded rights and opportunities do not understand their own best interests and do not realize that they benefit from limits on their prerogatives and choices. Indeed, proponents of this argument insist that restricting the rights and opportunities available to women and people of color helps everyone: the people misguidedly seeking more rights and opportunities, the people opposing those claims, and society as a whole. The beguiling conclusion is that the law need not decide between conflicting demands because all parties share aligned interests. I call this effort to assert social solidarity in the face of social conflict the “mutual benefits” argument.

This Article reveals and analyzes the mutual benefits argument to make three points. First, judges, legislators, and commentators defending contemporary laws and policies frequently claim that restricting rights and opportunities protects women and people of color. The claims appear across a range of contexts, but their common structure has remained hidden from view and critical scrutiny. Second, modern mutual benefits discourse has deep historical roots in widely repudiated forms of discrimination, including slavery, racial segregation, and women’s legalized inequality. Third, the historical deployment of mutual benefits arguments to defend pernicious discrimination creates reason for caution in considering contemporary mutual benefits claims that are now accepted quickly with little evidence, investigation, or debate. Mutual benefits discourse historically operated to rationalize and reinforce discriminatory practices that the nation has since disavowed. Modern mutual benefits arguments must be evaluated carefully or they risk shielding subordination once again.

The Rights of Migrants: An Optimal Contract Framework

Adam B. Cox, Eric A. Posner

Why do migrants enjoy some of the rights associated with citizenship? Existing accounts typically answer this question in terms of obligation—of a duty on the part of states to confer citizenship. Moreover, scholars tend to lump together the rights conventionally associated with citizenship when they answer this question. In contrast, this Article disaggregates the rights associated with citizenship, asks what both states and migrants want, and inquires into how the suite of rights associated with citizenship might advance those interests. States want to encourage migrants to enter their territory and to make country-specific investments, but states also have an interest in being able to remove migrants or make their lives less comfortable if circumstances change. However, migrants will not enter and make country-specific investments if the state can easily remove them or change the conditions in which they live. Accordingly, the optimal “migration contract” between the state and the migrant reflects the trade-offs between commitment and flexibility. We discuss ways in which basic rights to liberty and property, political rights including voting, and other rights may embody the optimal contract in different circumstances.


The Choice-of-Law Problem(s) in the Class Action Context

Genevieve G. York-Erwin

Numerous scholars have noted that choice of law in the federal courts is a mess; this is particularly true in the damage class action context. Unfortunately, proposed solutions address only half of this “choice-of-law problem”: They focus either on removing the barriers choice of law creates for certification or on preserving choice of law’s traditional allocation of regulatory authority among the states, but no proposal has taken up both issues. The time has come to address this problem in full. Given the current climate of political and economic change, Congress should amend the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA) to revitalize the class action as a meaningful regulatory mechanism while still deterring the state court excesses that spurred CAFA’s enactment. My two-pronged proposal would do exactly that—facilitate certification of meritorious consumer cases while ensuring fair and effective allocation of regulatory authority between interested states.

Blameless Ignorance? The Ledbetter Act and Limitation Periods for Title VII Pay Discrimination Claims

Jeremy A. Weinberg

In Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., the Supreme Court rejected the argument that a new Title VII violation occurred and a new charge-filing period arose each time an employer issued a paycheck to an employee that reflected some past, uncharged discrimination (the so-called “paycheck accrual rule”). This opinion was effectively reversed when President Obama signed his first bill into law: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. The new law amended Title VII such that an unlawful employment act occurs “when an individual is affected by application of a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice, including each time wages, benefits, or other compensation is paid, resulting in whole or in part from such a decision or other practice.”

Considering issues of fairness to employees and employers, as well as the societal interest in repose, this Note examines the Ledbetter Act and measures it against two alternatives: (1) application of a discovery rule and (2) use of the doctrine of equitable tolling for fraud. The Note contends that the Ledbetter Act is a flawed way of addressing the problem that victims of pay discrimination face in detecting discrimination
and bringing suit within the limitations period. Concluding that the discovery rule has been foreclosed by Congress and the courts, this Note argues that equitable tolling for cases of fraudulent concealment is a sensible, viable way of giving blamelessly ignorant plaintiffs access to the courts and avoiding the drawbacks of the Ledbetter Act.

An Administrative Law Approach to Reforming the State Secrets Privilege

Beth George

Many scholars assert that the common law state secrets privilege is abused by government officials who use it to cover up misconduct or prevent embarrassment. For the second time in two sessions, Congress is considering a bill that would require substantive judicial review of the privilege: If the government invokes the privilege, a judge would be required to review each document and determine whether its revelation would harm national security. This Note argues that judicial review alone is unlikely to reform the state secrets privilege effectively because it does not address the underlying incentives that encourage abuse of the privilege by the executive branch. A risk-adverse judiciary is unlikely to challenge assertions of grave harm to national security except in the most blatant cases of abuse. This Note builds the case that administrative law–based reforms will deter government abuse more effectively than judicial review alone by creating disincentives that discourage invocation of the privilege. By making invocation of the privilege more administratively burdensome and by putting the professional credibility of officials who may not benefit from its use on the line, the reforms proposed here would more effectively discourage overreaching in the state secrets privilege context.

Preventing Real Takings for Imaginary Purposes: A Post-Kelo Public Use Proposal

William A. Curran

By allowing the condemnation of private homes to make way for a “more attractive” private development, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Kelo v. City of New London, infuriated the libertarian legal academy and much of the public. Even worse from the perspective of individual rights, the Kelo Court blessed the taking without requiring either the City of New London—the condemnor—or any private developer to actually undertake and complete the project that justified the taking. Many calls for further property protection argue that takings like the one at issue in Kelo are not “public” enough to be permissible under the Fifth Amendment. In this Note, I focus on the word “use,” rather than “public,” in the Takings Clause. Instead of requiring that condemnation of land be proposed for a purpose more “public” than economic development, I would require that the land taken actually be used for the claimed public purpose. My proposal would honor the constitutional rights of property holders and deter inefficient takings while allowing truly beneficial takings to proceed.

Reining in Non-State Actors: State Responsibility and Attribution in Cases of Genocide

Berglind Halldórsdóttir Birkland

In 2007, the International Court of Justice defined the scope of state responsibility under the Genocide Convention for the very first time when it reached the merits in the Genocide Case, a case arising from the violent breakup of the former Yugoslavia. The opinion immediately spurred extensive academic commentary, much of which was critical of the Court’s ultimate holding that Serbia had not committed genocide despite its well-documented role in the Srebrenica massacre. While the Genocide Case can be read as a disappointment, and the Court’s analysis is vulnerable to normative critique, this Note argues that it was nonetheless an important victory in the movement toward greater state accountability for genocide, especially considering the context in which the Court acts and the limitations imposed on its independence by the practical need for legitimacy. Although the Court raised onerous evidentiary hurdles for establishing state responsibility for the direct commission of genocide, it managed simultaneously to impose upon states a clear duty to rein in non-state actors over whom they exercise influence by interpreting the state obligation to prevent genocide broadly. This broad duty to rein in non-state actors has important implications not only for the Court’s own jurisprudence but also extrajudiciously within the customary framework of state responsibility, by empowering the general international community to enforce states’ obligations to curb genocidal actors within their reach.