Volume 98, Number 1

April 2023

A Theory of Stategraft

Bernadette Atuahene

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.

Predatory Pricing Algorithms

Christopher R. Leslie

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.

Strict Liability Abolition

Michael Serota

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


The Gladue Approach: Addressing Indigenous Overincarceration Through Sentencing Reform

Nasrin Camilla Akbari

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
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

Elizabeth Bays

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

Garrett Donnelly

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
Organization disciplines.

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
trade regime.

Bolstering Benefits Behind Bars: Reevaluating Earned Income Tax Credit and Social Security Benefits Denials to Inmates

Belinda Lee

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.

Juvenile Life With(out) Parole

Rachel E. Leslie

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
without parole.