Volume 89, Number 5

November 2014

Regulatory Islands

Hannah J. Wiseman

Policy experimentation in the “laboratory of the states” is a frequently cited benefit of our federalist system, but a necessary condition of thoughtful experimentation is often missing. To conduct useful policy experiments, states and other subfederal actors need baseline information: In order to learn from the successes and failures of their neighbors, state actors must understand the laws and regulations that other jurisdictions have enacted. And, despite the seemingly ready availability of legal and regulatory materials in the information age, subfederal officials often lack this understanding. The literature has recognized that states often fail to share policy results, particularly failures, but few legal scholars have explored the lack of information about the substance of policy—an essential foundation for thoughtful experimentation. This information deficit tends to pervade technical policy areas in particular—those that do not follow uniform codes and require expertise to understand, like hydraulic fracturing and health care. In these areas and others, the states may still be laboratories, but in some cases they are laboratories on islands, with no comprehensive, uniform information exchanged among them. This limits the experimental upside of laboratories—informed, efficient, and innovative regulatory approaches. It also expands laboratories’ known downside—the costs to private entities of complying with different standards.

This Article explores the problem of regulatory islands and the public choice, political economy, and resource-based dynamics that create them. It also explores areas in which states have effectively shared regulatory content—often with federal help—and argues that the federal government is in the best position to work with subfederal institutions to produce and synthesize regulatory information. Even if the government does not do the collection and synthesization itself—indeed, mistrust by state actors may prevent this level of involvement—it should fund and partially manage it. Federal involvement is important because when the federal government allows subfederal experimentation in areas of federal concern, it should already be producing much of this information anyway in order to monitor state regulation to ensure that federal goals are being met and ensure that states are not imposing externalities on their neighbors. Increasing the availability of regulatory information will enable more informed experimentation and allow monitoring of policy gaps. In the many areas in which it does not regulate directly, the essential federal government role in modern regulatory experiments is an informational one.

State Farm “With Teeth”: Heightened Judicial Review in the Absence of Executive Oversight

Catherine M. Sharkey

While courts and commentators have considered the information-forcing role of executive oversight and judicial review of agency action, the dynamic relationship between the two has yet to be considered. This Article presents a novel justification for heightened judicial scrutiny in the absence of meaningful executive oversight, premised on a reasoned decision-making basis. Judicial review of certain types of agency determinations should be more stringent because those determinations have not been vetted by executive oversight and are thus less likely to be premised on reasons backed by empirical support. Agency cost-benefit analyses and agency conflict preemption determinations—two realms rarely if ever considered together—are compared in terms of their reliance on underlying factual predicates and contrasted in terms of the existing framework for executive oversight and judicial review of agency determinations.

A heightened judicial review standard—what I term “State Farm with teeth”—should guide courts’ evaluations of the cost-benefit analyses performed by independent agencies not subject to executive oversight. This Article is the first to draw the distinction between independent and executive agencies in the State Farm hard-look context. It is also the first to explore the recent Business Roundtable decision by the D.C. Circuit through this analytical lens.

The stringent “State Farm with teeth” standard should likewise be applied to judicial review of agency determinations of conflict preemption made in the absence of executive oversight. As this Article discusses, recent developments involving the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s preemption assertions regarding state banking laws provide a compelling illustration of why this should be so. This Article also points to a potential new information-forcing role for Congress. Using the Dodd-Frank Act as an illustration, this Article shows how Congress can set parameters for judicial review of administrative agencies’ fact-based conflict preemption determinations.


The Judiciary as the Leader of the Access-to-Justice Revolution

The Honorable Jonathan Lippman

Brennan Lecture

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.


Barriers Operating in the Present: A Way to Rethink the Licensing Exception for Teacher Credentialing Examinations

Michele A. Yankson

Notwithstanding Title VII legal remedies, structural barriers have driven many teachers of color out of the workforce in recent decades. Legislative changes in education policy have exacerbated the problem, notably by mandating teacher certification exams. These exams often disproportionately affect teachers of color. Many teachers suing under a Title VII disparate impact claim, however, cannot name states—the actors that create and promulgate the tests—as defendants because courts have interpreted Title VII’s employment relationship requirement to preclude state-defendants. This Note proposes a framework that involves a real-world analysis of the extent to which states control local school governance. The framework shows that courts should allow state-defendants in these Title VII disparate impact claims when the test at issue is a state-mandated teacher certification test.

Silly Jurist, Twiqbal’s for Claims: Pleading Jurisdiction After Twombly and Iqbal

Jacob J. Taber

Plaintiffs seeking to institute a civil action in federal court must plead the grounds for the court’s subject-matter jurisdiction over their claim; if they cannot adequately do so, their claim will be dismissed. Recently, courts have started to apply the plausibility rule announced in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal—which requires plaintiffs to plead facts plausibly showing their entitlement to relief—to the pleading of subject-matter jurisdiction. This Note argues that such a novel shift in how jurisdiction is pleaded is neither supported nor necessitated by Twombly and Iqbal and is fundamentally incompatible with long-settled jurisdictional doctrine. It therefore recommends that district court judges redouble their attention to the articulation of procedural rules of decision (eschewing reliance upon boilerplate) and desist from imposing heightened pleading of subject-matter jurisdiction without considering the question as a matter of first impression.

Padilla v. Kentucky: How Much Advice Is Enough?

Lilia S. Stantcheva

In Padilla v. Kentucky, the Supreme Court declared that defense attorneys must give advice to noncitizen defendants regarding the risk of deportation in order to meet the constitutional standard for effective assistance of counsel. Acknowledging the confusing nature of immigration law, the Court stated that when the law is not straightforward, a criminal defense attorney need do no more than advise a noncitizen client that a conviction may carry a risk of adverse immigration consequences. However, when the deportation consequence is clear, the attorney must give similarly clear advice. Some lower courts have chipped away at Padilla’s holding, allowing vague advice—either from the defense attorney or from other sources—to be deemed effective even in cases where Padilla would seem to require more specific advice. In treating vague defense attorney advice as reasonable, or allowing generic warnings from the court or arresting officers to “cure” a lack of immigration advice from defense attorneys, courts are circumventing Padilla’s demand for specific advice in situations where the consequences of a guilty plea are clear, and thus undermining the underlying concerns of the Supreme Court’s reasoning. Especially in cases where deportation is virtually mandatory, receiving general advice that there is a “risk” of deportation leaves a client with the impression that there is a chance to stay in the country. This impression could have a serious effect on the defendant’s ultimate decision to plead guilty or go to trial. Furthermore, these courts’ approach gives little incentive for defense attorneys to look into the immigration consequences of their clients’ convictions. This Note argues that courts should not allow generalized and unclear advice to meet the standard for effective assistance of counsel when the immigration consequences are actually clear-cut, because doing so undercuts the purpose of the Padilla decision and is unhelpful to noncitizen clients.

Unintended Side Effects: Arbitration and the Deterrence of Medical Error

David Shieh

As many as 98,000 people die each year as a result of medical error. According to law and economics scholars, the solution to this problem is straightforward: When calibrated correctly, medical malpractice liability will force healthcare providers to internalize the cost of their negligence, incentivizing improvements to patient safety that will reduce medical error. Debate has raged for decades over the coherence of deterrence theory, but little attention has been paid to the erosion of one of its bedrock assumptions: that the procedural mechanism through which claims are to be resolved is litigation. Arbitration has become pervasive in the healthcare context, but its effects on medical malpractice liability’s ability to deter medical error have been largely overlooked by public health and legal scholars. This Note argues that the adoption of arbitration will not, as law and economics scholars assume, improve the medical malpractice regime’s ability to deter error. In addition to drawing on existing law and economics and public health scholarship to advance this descriptive claim, this Note studies the experience of Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest integrated healthcare consortium, in using arbitration to resolve medical malpractice disputes with its seven million members in California.

Eat, Drink, and Marry: Why Baker v. Nelson Should Have No Impact on Same-Sex Marriage Litigation

Andrew Janet

Due to a now-repealed mandatory jurisdiction statute, in 1972 the Supreme Court was forced to decide the issue of whether there was a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Their opinion, as stated in the case Baker v. Nelson, was: “The appeal is dismissed for want of a substantial federal question.” That sentence literally comprises the entirety of the summary opinion, and that sentence has obstructed progress in same-sex marriage litigation for decades, including in the last few years. This Note argues that Baker v. Nelson should carry zero precedential weight in 2014. Intervening doctrinal developments should have rendered the case overruled, particularly Zablocki v. Redhail, which conclusively stated a fundamental right to marry under the Due Process Clause. Furthermore, there are significant differences between the factual circumstances of Baker and those of modern cases, particularly the fact that Baker involved a clerk’s administration of a vague statute as opposed to statutes or constitutional provisions that are facially discriminatory. Contemporary same-sex marriage cases should be decided on their merits and not at all influenced by a one-line summary disposition from a completely different era of the marriage equality movement.

Maimonides, Miranda, and the Conundrum of Confession: Self-Incrimination in Jewish and American Legal Traditions

Becky Abrams Greenwald

This Note argues that both Jewish and American law express skepticism about self-incriminating statements based on concerns of reliability, respect for the individual, and the religious belief that confessions can be offered only to God. However, both traditions also recognize that certain circumstances necessitate the use of self-incriminating statements. This Note compares the two traditions to unearth a deep tension within legal and cultural conceptions of self-incrimination and confession. Specifically, the Note proposes that both Jewish and American law reflect conflicting desires—to simultaneously accept and reject self-incriminating statements. On the one hand, confessions appear to be powerful evidence of guilt, as well as a helpful part of the process of punishing and rehabilitating criminal offenders. On the other hand, confessions uncomfortably turn the accused into his own accuser, raising concerns about whether the confession was the result of unreliable internal self-destructive instincts or external coercion. Future decisions involving self-incriminating statements must be made with an awareness of both the benefits and the hazards of utilizing such statements.