Civil Rights


Pluralism in America: Why Judicial Diversity Improves Legal Decisions About Political Morality

Joy Milligan

Why does the race of judges matter? This Note argues that racial diversity in the judiciary improves legal decisions about political morality. Judges play a substantial role in regulating our political morality; at the same time, race and ethnicity influence public views on such issues. In cases that involve difficult legal questions of political morality, judges should seriously consider all moral conceptions as potential answers. Racial and ethnic diversity is likely to improve the judiciary’s institutional capacity for openness to alternative views—not because judges of any given race will “represent” a monolithic viewpoint, but because of the likelihood that judges of a particular race or ethnicity will be better positioned to understand and take seriously views held within their own racial or ethnic communities. Judicial dialogue, taking place within appellate panels and across courts, serves to diffuse alternative viewpoints more broadly. Greater judicial willingness to consider disparate moral views should ultimately result in better decisions regarding political morality. Specifically, the judiciary may fashion new compromises to resolve political-moral dilemmas, judges and society may better understand the contours of such dilemmas, and the public may even arrive at new conclusions regarding basic questions of political morality.

Juvenile Curfews and the Breakdown of the Tiered Approach to Equal Protection

David A. Herman

In constitutional challenges to juvenile curfews, the “tiers of scrutiny” framework usually relied upon to resolve Equal Protection cases has failed to constrain courts’ analyses. Courts have applied all three tiers of scrutiny, have reached opposite results under each tier, and have explicitly modified various tiers. This result arises from a discord between the problem presented by juvenile curfew laws and the tiers of scrutiny framework itself: Curfew laws impact neither a fully fundamental right nor a fully suspect classification, but nevertheless affect a substantial liberty interest and a vulnerable class of people. This Note argues that courts should bypass the abstract discussion of “tiers” and “fundamental rights” and focus directly on what role courts should play, if any, in shielding juveniles from a democratically enacted curfew. The Note proposes an aggressive form of intermediate balancing similar to the Second Circuit’s approach in Ramos v. Town of Vernon.

In the Shadow of Article I: Applying a Dormant Commerce Clause Analysis to State Laws Regulating Aliens

Erin F. Delaney

State laws regulating aliens are increasing in number and scope. Yet the current doctrinal approaches to assessing the constitutionality of these laws fail to provide a predictable or desirable framework for distinguishing between permissible and impermissible state regulation of aliens. This Note, by analogizing to the Dormant Commerce Clause doctrine, aims to offer another approach to reviewing state laws regulating aliens—one that takes into consideration the state-to-state dimension of the national interests at stake in immigration law and policy, and that may provide a better means of addressing animus-based state laws.

Disenfranchisement and the Constitution: Finding a Standard that Works

Demian A. Ordway

Since the presidential election of 2000, a host of new claims has arisen alleging unlawful denial of the right to vote. Litigants have challenged the use of error-prone voting machines, misleading registration forms, and the highly controversial photo identification requirements for in-person voting. The law protecting the right to vote, however, is in disarray, leaving courts confused and unsure of how to proceed with these challenges. In particular, courts have disagreed sharply over the content of the relevant constitutional standard and how to apply it. Some courts have adopted the standard articulated by the Supreme Court in its 1992 decision, Burdick v. Takushi, while others have applied strict scrutiny. This Note criticizes the Burdick standard for being incapable of producing consistent results and advocates for a modified version of strict scrutiny motivated by structural concerns inherent in the democratic process.

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.

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.

Counterterrorism and Checks and Balances: The Spanish and American Examples

Ari D. MacKinnon

Although the United States’ so-called “War on Terror” has entailed significant military action, it has also involved the augmentation of the executive’s law enforcement powers. The result has been the emergence of a distinct “counterterrorism” model of coercive government action, falling between the traditional models of war and criminal law enforcement. This Note seeks to place the U.S. counterterrorism model within a larger international context by comparing it with that of another Western democracy, Spain. The author contends that the U.S. model evinces less respect for customary checks and balances than does the Spanish. Nonetheless, the author questions whether the Spanish model’s greater relative commitment to checks and balances has in practice prevented government overreaching. The author concludes that both the Spanish executive and Parliament have overstepped the bounds of their constitutionally prescribed counterterrorism competences, despite the existence of checks and balances. In addition to suggesting that these excesses may be partially attributed to the institutional heritage of Francoist Spain, the author surmises that government overreaching may be endemic in any regime, such as the Spanish, that transparently vests special counterterrorism competences in the executive and legislative branches.

A Child’s Expertise: Establishing Statutory Protection for Intersexed Children Who Reject Their Gender Assignment

Emily A. Bishop

Intersexed children are born with genitalia and/or reproductive organs that do not look like those of most biological males or females. Doctors and parents usually assign an intersexed child a gender at birth or during early childhood. Occasionally, an individual will reject his or her gender of assignment and will want to take on a different gender role. Some clinicians and intersex advocates instruct parents to accept an intersexed child’s expressions of gender identity and to support the child’s gender role change. There is a risk, however, that parents may resist or prevent a child’s gender transition due to their own discomfort with the idea or based on a physician’s recommendation. A statutory framework that allowed intersexed minors to complete a “social gender transition,” coupled with a provision equating parental interference with this transition with actionable neglect, would protect intersexed children’s autonomy and prevent the trauma that can result from a forced existence in a gender role with which a child does not identify. The proposed framework would likely survive a constitutional challenge by the parents of an intersexed child because the harm caused by the parental decision to interfere with a child’s gender expression removes such interference from the realm of constitutionally protected parental decisionmaking.

An Unfree Trade in Ideas: How OFAC’s Regulations Restrain First Amendment Rights

Tracy J. Chin

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is charged with administering the United States’ trade sanctions programs. These programs conflict with the First Amendment when they prevent publishers and editors from working with authors from sanctioned countries. This Note highlights the shortcomings of OFAC’s pub- lishing regulations. It focuses on the agency’s exclusion of foreign government officials (“the government exception”) from the First Amendment protections given to those who engage in publishing-related activities. The Note argues that the government exception amounts to an improper prior restraint under the First Amendment and creates the potential for censorship. The Note then challenges and critiques national security– and economic-based justifications for the government exception. Lastly, it proposes regulatory and policy-based reforms to ensure that sanctions programs can function without sacrificing the rights and protections to which publishers, authors, and editors are entitled under the First Amendment.