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Who is an American Soldier? Military Service and Membership in the Polity

Jin Niu

The military is one of the most powerful institutions to define membership in the American polity. Throughout this country’s history, noncitizens, immigrants, and outsiders have been called to serve in exchange for the privileges of citizenship and recognition. At its height, the idea that service constitutes citizenship—which this Note calls “constitutive service”—successfully transformed a group of “perpetual foreigners” to “citizens.” Until 1952, individuals of Asian descent were categorically excluded from the polity, a barrier that ultimately crumbled after Asian Americans rendered a long history of military service, beginning with the War of 1812, to the Civil War, then to the two World Wars. Yet, precisely because military service is so transformative, the United States over the past decade has imposed both formal and informal restrictions barring certain groups of people from serving, among them individuals who are gay, transgender, undocumented—and to a lesser extent—women and Muslim Americans. These restrictions are reminders that the United States continue to debate who is fit to be an “American,” and therefore, an “American soldier.”

Mass Incarceration, Convict Leasing, and the Thirteenth Amendment: A Revisionist Account

James Gray Pope

Judging from present-day legal and popular discourse, one might think that the Punishment Clause of the Thirteenth Amendment has always had one single, clear meaning: that a criminal conviction strips the offender of protection against slavery or involuntary servitude. Upon examination, however, it appears that the Amendment’s Republican framers took an entirely different view. It was the former slave masters and their Democratic allies in Congress who promoted the interpretation that prevails today. From their point of view, the text clearly specified that, once convicted of a crime, a person could be sold into slavery for life or leased for a term at the discretion of state legislatures and officials. But contemporary Republicans emphatically rejected that reading. They held that convicted persons retained protection against any servitude that was inflicted not as a punishment for crime but for some non-penological end, such as raising state revenue, generating private profits, or subjugating black labor. Within a few months of the Amendment’s ratification, the Republican majority in the Thirty-Ninth Congress had outlawed the early, race-based forms of convict leasing. When that proved insufficient, the House passed a bill outlawing race-neutral convict leasing, which the Senate postponed when the focus of Republican strategy shifted to black voting rights. 

The Republican reading faded from view after the Democratic Party regained control of the Deep South. For several decades, white supremacist regimes incarcerated African-American laborers en masse and leased them to private employers without facing a serious Thirteenth Amendment challenge. Present-day scholars sometimes treat this silence as evidence that the Amendment authorizes such practices. Courts similarly honor the Democratic reading on the assumption it has always prevailed. So thoroughly has it triumphed that even prisoners’ rights advocates accept it as constitutional truth. 

Neither courts nor advocates have, however, taken into account the framers’ views. Their interpretation sank from sight not because it was wrong but because Democratic paramilitaries terminated Reconstruction, freeing states to expand convict leasing and insulate it against challenges, constitutional or otherwise. Had the Republican reading been enforced during the era of convict leasing, it might have prevented one of the most barbaric and shameful episodes in United States history. And perhaps, if revived today, it might yet accomplish similar results. Nothing in the text, original meaning, or Supreme Court jurisprudence of the Punishment Clause blocks that path. 

Populism and Institutional Design: Methods of Selecting Candidates for Chief Executive

Stephen Gardbaum, Richard H. Pildes

The institutional design through which democracies choose nominees who compete to become a nation’s chief executive is among the most consequential features in the design of democratic elections. Yet there is surprisingly little scholarship that explores this issue in detail. This Article provides both historical perspective on the evolution over time of the nomination process in the United States and comparative perspective on how other major democracies structure this process. The central organizing theme of this piece is the contrast between nomination processes that entail a central role for “peer review”—in which party leaders have a central voice in the selection of their parties’ nominees—and purely populist selection methods, in which ordinary voters completely control the selection of nominees and party figures have no special role. The first half of the Article is historical and focuses on the United States. In the 1970s, the United States shifted almost overnight from the methods that had been used for nearly 200 years to select party nominees, in which official representatives of the political parties played the major role in deciding the parties’ candidates for President, to a purely populist mode (primaries and caucuses) for selecting presidential nominees. The consequences of this dramatic transformation have manifested themselves in recent presidential nomination contests. In this Part, we seek to show both how radical the change was that was made in the 1970s and yet how accidental, contingent, and inadvertent this transformation was. The “framers” of these changes did not actually intend to create the system with which we ended up, in which the primaries and caucuses completely determine the parties’ nominees. The second half is comparative and explores how other major democracies structure the process of choosing party leaders and candidates for chief executive. This part shows that the U.S. system is an extreme outlier among major democracies: In no other democracy is the selection completely controlled by the mass of ordinary voters. Most other democracies use systems of pure peer review to select candidates for chief executive; or use systems that mix elements of peer review with popular participation; and in other ways continue to give official representatives of the parties much greater say than in the United States over the selection of the parties’ nominees for chief executive.

Returning Peer Review to the American Presidential Nomination Process

Elaine C. Kamarck

As Americans, we take for granted that those we entrust with significant authority have been judged by their peers to be competent at the task. Peer review is a concept commonly accepted in most professions. For instance, in medicine “peer review is defined as ‘the objective evaluation of the quality of a physician’s or a scientist’s performance by colleagues.’” That is why we license plumbers, electricians, manicurists, doctors, nurses, and lawyers. We do this in most aspects of life—except politics. In 2016, Americans nominated and then elected Donald Trump, the most unqualified (by virtue of traditional measures of experience and temperament) person ever elected to the Office of the President of the United States, in a system without peer review. This Article is an argument for the restoration of some modicum of peer review in the modern nominating system of both major political parties.

Fixing the Presidential Nominating System: Past and Present

John Frederick Martin

For many centuries, political communities have contrived nominating systems that seek to attain similar goals across different countries—protecting the community from overly ambitious and powerful leaders, and uniting rather than dividing communities at election time around leaders with broad-based appeal. They have done so by resort to procedures that recur almost invariably—procedures framed to avoid plurality victories in multicandidate contests and to insulate nominators’ decisions from outside influence, including the influence of fellow voters’ decisions. One is struck by how painstakingly our forebears worked out the problems of nominations over time, with recurring themes and methods, which (ironically in this age of information) find no echo today in our own presidential nominating system.

Gibbons

Norman R. Williams

In Gibbons v. Ogden, the first Supreme Court decision to discuss the Commerce Clause, Chief Justice John Marshall endorsed the notion of a Dormant Commerce Clause but refused to adopt it as constitutional principle. In this article, Professor Norman Williams answers why Marshall hedged on the Dormant Commerce Clause. First, Marshall apprehended the need to provide a comprehensive articulation of the scope of Congress’s affirmative regulatory power under the Commerce Clause. Second, Marshall was wary of inserting the judiciary into another battle regarding the constitutional scope of state authority. This reassessment resolves an otherwise inadequately explained historical puzzle regarding the Marshall Court and sheds light upon contemporary debates regarding popular constitutionalism and the interpretive role of the Supreme Court.

A Useful Conversation

William Creeley

Judges in Contemporary Democracy: An International Conversation

The inherent premise underlying Judges in Contemporary Democracy: An International Conversation may be stated simply: When judges talk, people listen. The attention is entirely deserved; the power of the judge in modern constitutional democracies, particularly those with provisions for judicial review, is extensive. Concordantly, the authority of the constitutional judge long has been in tension with democratic structure, where the will of the people, expressed through legislative act, otherwise would be considered supreme. What power does the judge have to determine the contours of constitutional imperatives, especially if judicial interpretation represents a divergence from popular sentiment and legislative decree? How can she purport to have an exclusive interpretative license on what otherwise might be thought of as common province, i.e., the securing terms of a shared constitution? The questions of legitimacy surrounding the countermajoritarian potential of judges exercising (or merely asserting) the power of judicial review have become particularly pressing following the contemporary incorporation of forms of judicial review throughout Western European countries in the latter half of the past century. No longer a vestige of American exceptionalism, judicial review-and the accordant power of the judge-has become an integral feature of the modern democratic state.

The Impact of Liberty on Stare Decisis: The Rehnquist Court from Casey to Lawrence

Drew C. Ensign

Although stare decisis is a firmly established doctrine tracing its roots to fifteenthcentury English common law, the Rehnquist Court developed it in remarkable ways. The Court’s decisions effectively made liberty considerations an important stare decisis factor in constitutional cases. Where prior decisions took an expansive view of the liberty protections of the Constitution, they were more likely to be upheld, and vice versa. This Note analyzes this development, perhaps best exemplified by the differing outcomes in Casey and Lawrence, as well as its implications for the future jurisprudence of the Supreme Court.

Finishing a Friendly Argument: The Jury and the Historical Origins of Diversity Jurisdiction

Robert L. Jones

This Article argues that diversity jurisdiction was intended to funnel politically significant litigation into the federal courts principally because federal officials would have the power to dictate the composition of federal juries. All existing accounts for the origins of diversity jurisdiction ultimately rely upon putative differences between the state and federal benches for their explanations of the jurisdiction’s origin. This emphasis on the bench is anachronistic, however, because the jury possessed far more power than the bench to decide cases in eighteenth-century American courts. American juries during this period customarily had the right to decide issues of law as well as fact and were largely beyond the control of the bench. The Framers saw state court juries—independent bodies of citizens with almost unfettered power to resolve legal disputes—as one of the greatest dangers in allowing ordinary citizens too much control over the governance of the nation. By wresting adjudicative power out of the hands of state court juries and bestowing it upon federal juries whose compositions could be tightly controlled by federal officials, diversity jurisdiction accomplished the Constitution’s overarching purpose of checking the operation of “unrestrained” democracy in the states.

Once the federal courts were established, federal officials controlled the composition of federal juries in several ways. In most districts, federal marshals dictated the composition of federal juries by hand-selecting jurors of their choice. In addition, Congress ensured that the political, economic, and social characteristics of federal juries would differ dramatically from their state counterparts by providing that the federal courts would draw their juries overwhelmingly from the urban, commercial centers of the nation. The state courts, by contrast, drew their juries predominantly from the agrarian populations living outside those centers. It is highly unlikely that this pervasive control over the composition of federal juries was an unintended consequence of the Constitution. Instead, as this Article argues, the evidence strongly suggests that the federal officials’ control over the composition of federal juries constituted the single most important impetus behind the creation of diversity jurisdiction and a significant rationale for the establishment of the lower federal courts.

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.

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