This Essay takes up the Court’s less-heralded second holding in Boumediene v. Bush—that a federal habeas court must have the institutional capacity to find facts, which in Boumediene itself meant that a federal district court must be available to the petitioners. Although this aspect of the opinion has gone largely unnoticed, it is inconsistent with the Madisonian Compromise—the standard view that the Constitution does not require Congress to create or to vest jurisdiction in any federal court except the Supreme Court. In fact, it appears that the Court adopted, sub silentio, the position famously advanced by Justice Story in 1816 that the Constitution requires Congress to vest the lower federal courts with jurisdiction to hear executive-detention habeas corpus cases. In considering alternatives to this bold break with long-settled constitutional doctrine, this Essay examines newly uncovered opinions from Supreme Court Justices to determine whether Justices acting in chambers remain a viable habeas forum of last resort post-Boumediene, why the Boumediene Court failed to address this issue directly, and, finally, the degree to which the need for an independent finder of fact is well grounded in constitutional doctrine. This Essay concludes that Boumediene’s rejection of the Madisonian Compromise, rather than its decision with respect to the scope of the habeas writ, will come to be its longest-lived legacy for federal courts law.
How, and how much, does the Constitution protect against political entrenchment?
Judicial ineptitude in dealing with this question—on display in the modern Court’s
treatment of partisan gerrymandering—has its roots in Luther v. Borden. One hundred
and sixty years after the Luther Court refused jurisdiction over competing
Rhode Island state constitutions, judicial regulation of American structural democracy
has become commonplace. Yet getting here—by going around Luther—has
deeply shaped the current Court’s doctrinal posture and left the Court in profound
disagreement about its role in addressing substantive questions of democratic fairness.
While contemporary scholars have demonstrated enormous concern for the
problem of the judicial role in policing political entrenchment, Luther’s central role
in shaping this modern problem has not been fully acknowledged. In particular,
Justice Woodbury’s concurrence in Luther, which rooted its view of the political
question doctrine in democratic theory, has been completely ignored. This Note
tells Luther’s story with an eye to the road not taken.
This Article seeks to fill a gap in legal history. The traditional narrative of the history of the American racial regulation of marriage typically focuses on state laws as the only sources of marriage inequality. Overlooked in the narrative are the ways in which federal laws also restricted racially mixed marriages in the decades before 1967 (when the Supreme Court invalidated antimiscegenation laws in Loving v. Virginia). Specifically, during the American occupation of Japan after World War II, a combination of immigration, citizenship, and military laws and regulations led to restrictions on marriages along racial lines. These laws also converged to prevent married couples, many of whom were White American soldiers and local Japanese women, from living in the United States together. Accordingly, this Article claims that the confluence of immigration, citizenship, and military laws functioned as a collective counterpart to state antimiscegenation laws.
The world in which we live, a world in which law pervades the practice of democratic politics—from advance regulation of public assemblies to detailed rules governing elections—is the product of a particular period of American history. Between 1880 and 1930, states and municipalities increased governmental controls over the full range of nineteenth-century avenues for democratic participation. Prior to this legal transformation, the practice of democratic politics in the United States was less structured by law and more autonomous from formal state institutions than it is today.
Exposing this history challenges two core assumptions that drive the work of contemporary scholars who write about the law of the American political process. First, a study of the nineteenth-century mode of regulating politics belies the existing literature’s assumption that law must extensively structure democratic politics. Second, this account of democracy in nineteenth-century America serves as a reminder that elections, political parties, and voting, while critical to democracy, are not the whole deal. It thereby challenges law of democracy scholars to move beyond the existing literature’s narrow conception of democracy as elections and to consider more broadly the practice of democracy in America.
This Note seeks to demonstrate the ripeness of early American legal periodicals as a subject of further inquiry by reading the American Law Journal (1808–1817), the first American law review, as a reflection of the changing nature of the legal profession at a crucial time in American history. Close analysis of the content and editorial choices of the journal suggests that the journal both reflects and addresses three early nineteenth century professional needs: the need to practice in a variety of jurisdictions and areas of law; the need to give voice and content to the emerging idea of a professional self-consciousness, which some scholars suggest developed only later in the century; and the need to respond to the internationalization of American legal and political affairs, which undercuts the arguments of many legal historians that the period marked an increasing tendency in American jurisprudence to look inward. The few scholars who have attempted to paint a picture of legal affairs in this transformative period have typically focused on the dockets of particular jurisdictions while overlooking legal periodicals. However, such sources can more accurately portray the state of the national legal profession given that a journal editor, unconstrained by state or regional boundaries, can incorporate cases and sources from a wide range of jurisdictions and on a varied array of topics. Furthermore, the fact that periodicals are necessarily dependent on a subscriber base suggests that such editors had to touch on issues of interest to subscribers from all across the country in order to stay afloat.
The immunity of foreign officials from legal proceedings in U.S. courts has drawn significant attention from scholars, advocates, and judges in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Samantar v. Yousuf, which held that foreign official immunity is governed by the common law rather than the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). The common law of foreign official immunity, which the Samantar Court did not define, operates at the intersection of international and domestic law, and it implicates the constitutional separation of powers between the executive and judicial branches. Conflicting visions of the substance and process of common law immunity have already emerged following the Samantar opinion and will continue to compete until the Supreme Court revisits this issue in a future case. At stake is not only the ability of suits to proceed against foreign officials, but also the relationship between the executive branch and the judiciary in matters affecting foreign affairs.
The original research into eighteenth-century practices presented in this Article yields two important observations. First, claims that defendants acted in their official capacities did not automatically bar adjudication on the merits: Foreign officials who were neither diplomatic officials nor heads of state were on the same “footing” as “every other foreigner” with respect to their “suability.” Second, the Executive believed that it did not have constitutional authority to instruct courts to dismiss private suits on immunity grounds. Although twenty-first century advocates might make policy arguments for blanket immunity or absolute executive discretion, such choices are not consistent with—let alone compelled by—the eighteenth-century practices and understandings recovered here.
In the last decade, a number of scholars have called the American criminal justice system a new form of Jim Crow. These writers have effectively drawn attention to the injustices created by a facially race-neutral system that severely ostracizes offenders and stigmatizes young, poor black men as criminals. This Article argues that despite these important contributions, the Jim Crow analogy leads to a distorted view of mass incarceration. The analogy presents an incomplete account of mass incarceration’s historical origins, fails to consider black attitudes toward crime and punishment, ignores violent crimes while focusing almost exclusively on drug crimes, obscures class distinctions within the African American community, and overlooks the effects of mass incarceration on other racial groups. Finally, the Jim Crow analogy diminishes our collective memory of the Old Jim Crow’s particular harms.
Who should own a federal judge’s papers? This question has rarely been asked. Instead, it has generally been accepted that the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal judges own their working papers, which include papers created by judges relating to their official duties, such as internal draft opinions, confidential vote sheets, and case-related correspondence. This longstanding tradition of private ownership has led to tremendous inconsistency. For example, Justice Thurgood Marshall’s papers were released just two years after he left the bench, revealing behind-the-scenes details about major cases involving issues such as abortion and flag burning. In contrast, Justice David Souter’s papers will remain closed until the fiftieth anniversary of his retirement, and substantial portions of Justice Byron White’s papers, including files relating to the landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona, were shredded. In addition, many collections of lower federal court judges’ papers have been scattered in the hands of judges’ families. Notably, this private ownership model has persisted despite the fact that our country’s treatment of presidential records shifted from private to public ownership through the Presidential Records Act of 1978. Furthermore, private ownership of judicial papers has endured even though it has proven ill-equipped to balance the many competing interests at stake, ranging from calls for governmental accountability and transparency on the one hand, to the judiciary’s independence, collegiality, confidentiality, and integrity on the other.
This Article is the first to give significant attention to the question of who should own federal judges’ working papers and what should happen to the papers once a judge leaves the bench. Upon the thirty-fifth anniversary of the enactment of the Presidential Records Act, this Article argues that judges’ working papers should be treated as governmental property—just as presidential papers are. Although there are important differences between the roles of president and judge, none of the differences suggest that judicial papers should be treated as a species of private property. Rather than counseling in favor of private ownership, the unique position of federal judges, including the judiciary’s independence in our constitutional design, suggests the advisability of crafting rules that speak to reasonable access to and disposition of judicial papers. Ultimately, this Article—giving renewed attention to a long-forgotten 1977 governmental study commissioned by Congress—argues that Congress should declare judicial papers public property and should empower the judiciary to promulgate rules implementing the shift to public ownership. These would include, for example, rules governing the timing of public release of judicial papers. By involving the judiciary in implementing the shift to public ownership, Congress would enhance the likelihood of judicial cooperation, mitigate separation of powers concerns, and enable the judiciary to safeguard judicial independence, collegiality, confidentiality, and integrity.
The determinacy revolution in federal sentencing, which culminated in the passage of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, has since been upended by a little-noticed phenomenon: the evolution of federal supervised release. A “determinate” sentencing regime requires that prison terms be of fixed and absolute duration at the time of sentencing. Because of the manner in which supervised release now operates, however, contemporary federal prison terms are neither fixed nor absolute. Instead, the court has discretion to adjust the length of a prison term after sentencing based on its evaluation of the post-judgment progress of the offender. This power to amend the duration of the penalty is the classic marker of the “indeterminate” sentence.
In this Article, I show how federal supervised release has dismantled the ambitions of the determinacy movement and made federal prison terms structurally indeterminate in length. I conclude that the widespread use of supervised release has created a muddled and unprincipled form of indeterminate sentencing: one that flouts the insights and vision of the nineteenth-century indeterminacy movement as well as the twentieth-century determinacy movement. Having dislocated once-celebrated theories of sentencing, federal supervised release now controls the lives of more than 100,000 people without offering any alternative theoretical basis for doing so. This Article draws on the lessons of a 200 year history to expose the current nature of supervised release and to envision a more coherent role for its future.
The American labor movement is in trouble. As union density declines and worker organizing becomes more difficult, a relatively new model, the worker center, has emerged to organize low-wage immigrant workers. Worker centers devise a broad range of strategies and internal structures to meet the challenges of the contemporary organizing landscape, and these strategies would not be possible were worker centers considered labor organizations under labor law. Recently, anti-union groups and members of Congress have shifted focus to worker centers, urging that they be regulated under the National Labor Relations Act. By examining the history of labor law and the structure of worker centers, this Note argues that regulation of worker centers under the NLRA would be inappropriate, ahistorical, and an unreasonable restriction on the associational rights of workers.