NewYorkUniversity
LawReview
Current Issue

Volume 85, Number 1

April 2010
Articles

Blind Expertise

Christopher Tarver Robertson

The United States spends many billions of dollars on its system of civil litigation, and expert witnesses appear in a huge portion of cases. Yet litigants select and retain expert witnesses in ways that create the appearance of biased hired guns on both sides of every case, thereby depriving factfinders of a clear view of the facts. As a result, factfinders too often arrive at the wrong conclusions, thus undermining the deterrence and compensation functions of litigation. Court-appointment of experts has been widely proposed as a solution, yet it raises legitimate concerns about accuracy and has failed to gain traction in the American adversarial system.

Drawing on the notion of blind research from the sciences and on the concept of the veil of ignorance from political theory, this Article offers a novel and feasible reform that will make it rational for self-interested litigants to present unbiased experts to factfinders. The idea is to use an intermediary to select qualified experts who will render litigation opinions without knowledge of which party is asking. The result will be greater accuracy of both expert opinions and litigation outcomes compared to both the status quo and litigation with court-appointed experts. A game theory analysis shows that the current attorney work-product protections make this “blind expert” procedure a low-cost and no-risk rational strategy for litigants. This Article argues that blind expertise is a worthwhile reform for the system of medical malpractice liability in particular and may have wider application wherever laypersons
must rely upon the advice of potentially biased experts.

The Anti-Stereotyping Principle in Constitutional Sex Discrimination Law

Cary Franklin

This Article argues that the anti-stereotyping theory undergirding the foundational sex-based equal protection cases of the 1970s, most of which were brought by male plaintiffs, has powerful implications for current controversies in sex discrimination law which have long been obscured by the dominant narrative about these cases. For decades, scholars have criticized Ruth Bader Ginsburg for challenging the constitutionality of sex-based state action in cases featuring male plaintiffs. They have argued that the predominance of male plaintiffs caused the Court to adopt a narrow, formalistic conception of equality incapable of rectifying the subordination of women. This Article offers a new account of the theory of equal protection animating Ginsburg’s campaign. It argues that her decision to press the claims of male plaintiffs was grounded not in a commitment to eradicating sex classifications from the law, but in a far richer theory of equal protection involving constitutional limitations on the state’s power to enforce sex-role stereotypes. This “anti-stereotyping” theory drew on the arguments of transnational movements for sex equality that emerged in the 1960s, including the movement to combat sex-role enforcement in Sweden and the women’s and gay liberation movements in the United States. The Burger Court incorporated the anti-stereotyping principle into sex-based equal protection law in the 1970s, but the significance of this doctrinal shift has long been overlooked, in part because the Court initially applied the new doctrine only in a limited set of domains. In recent years, the Court has extended anti-stereotyping doctrine beyond the provisional limitations established in the 1970s and in ways that are deeply relevant to questions at the frontiers of equal protection law today.

The New Poor at Our Gates: Global Justice Implications for International Trade and Tax Law

Ilan Benshalom

This Article explains why international trade and tax arrangements should advance global wealth redistribution in a world of enhanced economic integration. Despite the indisputable importance of global poverty and inequality, contemporary political philosophy stagnates in the attempt to determine whether distributive justice obligations should extend beyond the political framework of the nation-state. This results from the difficulty of reconciling liberal impartiality with notions of state sovereignty and accountability. This Article offers an alternative approach that bypasses the controversy of the current debate. It argues that international trade creates “relational-distributive” duties when domestic parties engage in transactions with foreign parties that suffer from an endowed vulnerability, such as the extreme poverty prevalent in the developing world. These relational duties differ from “traditional” distributive justice claims because they rely on actual economic relationships rather than hypothetical social-contract scenarios. In a competitive market, however, private parties cannot address these relational-distributive duties by themselves because doing so would put them at a competitive disadvantage. This Article therefore argues that the only collective action solution to this systemic problem in the current geopolitical setting is the transfer of wealth among states.

This Article then suggests some policy implications of this normative analysis in the field of international tax law. It points out that the allocation of taxing rights is a form of wealth allocation that divides globalization’s revenue proceeds among nations. As such, tax allocation arrangements should help “correct” international trade relationships that fail to meet relational-distributive standards. This discussion stresses a point frequently neglected in both the tax and political philosophy literature: Real-world attempts to promote a more just distribution of global wealth could benefit greatly from the integration of distributive considerations and tax allocation arrangements.

Notes

Improving the Protection of Species Endangered in the United States by Revising the Distinct Population Segment Policy

Allison L. Westfahl Kong

While one primary goal of the Endangered Species Act is to prevent the global extinction of species, it is less clear whether the Act is intended, and can be used, to protect species that are endangered solely within the United States. Although the global preservation of species may be sufficient to achieve many of the goals of the Endangered Species Act, some goals may only be completely served by ensuring that certain populations of species occur within the United States, even if the animals are abundant elsewhere. The current Distinct Population Segment Policy being used by the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to determine whether to list domestic populations of species as threatened or endangered only allows the agencies to protect these population segments if they are significant to the species’ taxon as a whole. This Note argues that this policy should be changed because there are many compelling reasons to protect domestic populations of particular species, even if these species are abundant elsewhere, and suggests criteria that should be used to determine whether a particular population segment should be protected, including the species’ conservation status and importance to the American people. It also demonstrates that this proposal would be consistent with the goals of the Endangered Species Act.

Global Institutional Choice

Frederick J. Lee

The world faces collective action problems that are global in nature and scope, rendering nation-states unable to achieve desired goods individually. Issues such as global climate change and systemic financial risk create externalities that impel the existence and intervention of a world government to avoid suboptimal market equilibria, free-riding, and moral hazards. I submit the European Union’s principle of subsidiarity as an organic, legitimizing framework for global governance that both compels and cabins a world government. Subsidiarity optimizes social welfare by enabling a world government to achieve desired goods that nation-states would be otherwise unable to obtain individually because of collective action problems. But subsidiarity also limits a world government through a presumption in favor of local regulation as a matter of national autonomy and efficiency. The efficiency concern also enables subsidiarity to be an expansive principle for global governance because it accommodates both public and private forms of collective action. Public forms of collective action include public regulations, treaties between nations, and public institutions like the World Trade Organization. Private forms of collective action include free-market Coasian bargaining between private parties and the efforts of private international institutions like Greenpeace. Because subsidiarity accounts for these diverse institutions in a large and complex world, it is an ideal balancing principle for global institutional choice.

Aggregate Reliance and Overcharges: Removing Hurdles to Class Certification for Victims of Mass Fraud

Shawn S. Ledingham, Jr.

Victims of consumer fraud often struggle to bring their claims as nationwide class actions under traditional state fraud laws due to (1) the application of many states’ laws to potential class members’ claims and (2) the fact that fraud claims generally raise a significant individual factual issue—whether the claimant personally relied on the defendant’s misrepresentation. The civil remedy provisions in RICO offer an attractive alternative. RICO overcomes the first hurdle by providing plaintiffs with a single federal law under which to file suit. This Note demonstrates that RICO allows plaintiffs to overcome the second hurdle as well. Rather than showing that they incurred harm when they purchased products in reliance on a misrepresentation, plaintiffs can achieve class certification by framing their injury as a harm common to all purchasers of a product: specifically, an increase in the price of the product due to artificially increased demand. Recently, several classes have moved successfully for certification using this approach. This Note provides a theoretical framework to justify this method. Rather than committing the same error as most courts and commentators by viewing this approach as an extension of the fraud-on-the-market presumption of reliance from securities fraud cases, I argue that there is no need to presume reliance because the Supreme Court’s holding in Bridge v. Phoenix Bond & Indemnity Co. makes clear that individual, personal reliance is not necessary to prove causation in RICO claims. Instead, plaintiffs can satisfy RICO’s causation element through statistical analyses that prove aggregate reliance—reliance on the fraud by a large enough number of individuals to increase the price of the product above the price that it would have been absent the fraud. As all purchasers of the product experience the same price differential, the statistical analyses provide common proof of causation of identical harm, eliminating problematic individual inquiries and opening the door to certification of nationwide consumer fraud class actions.

Maintaining Educational Adequacy in Times of Recession: Judicial Review of State Education Budget Cuts

Vinay Harpalani

This Note examines judicial review and oversight of state educational adequacy remedies in light of education budget cuts proposed during the recent recession. Educational adequacy litigation has been relatively successful in establishing children’s affirmative right to education under state constitutions, but due to separation of powers concerns, most state courts have been quite deferential to legislatures in reviewing remedies for constitutional violations. This leaves many schools underfunded and under-resourced in spite of successful adequacy litigation—a problem that is aggravated during times of recession, when many states face pressure to cut education budgets. This Note examines these issues using functional separation of powers theory, comparative analysis of state and federal government functioning, and pragmatic considerations related to remedial compliance. It argues that state courts should apply heightened judicial review to ensure remedial compliance and particularly to review state education budget cuts that may disrupt educational adequacy remedies. In this way, state courts can be more vigilant in maintaining educational adequacy.