Implementing the Hague Judgments Convention
Connor J. Cardoso
A specter is haunting The Hague—the specter of American federalism. On July 2, 2019, the Hague Conference on Private International Law finalized the Hague Judgments Convention. The Convention seeks to establish a global floor for judgment recognition and promote seamless recognition and enforcement of judgments between signatories. Although virtually all observers in the United States recognize the value and importance of ratifying the Convention, stakeholders cannot agree on how to implement it: by federal statute or by uniform state law. Proponents of a so-called “cooperative federalism” approach to implementation, principally led by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), have previously derailed U.S. ratification of the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements (COCA) by insisting that principles of federalism required implementation through uniform state law. This argument is wrong as a matter of doctrine and policy. It is time to put it to rest once and for all.
This Note is the first piece of scholarship to squarely address the “cooperative federalism” argument as applied to the Hague Judgments Convention. It makes two principal arguments. First, it identifies the principles that ought to guide the implementation of a treaty on foreign judgments recognition and concludes that federal implementing legislation optimizes these interests. Implementation primarily by
uniform state law is inferior and poses serious disadvantages. Second, the ULC’s primary legal objection to the implementation proposal for the COCA outlined by the State Department—that the doctrine of Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins prohibits federal courts sitting in diversity jurisdiction from applying federal rules of decision prescribed by federal statute—was meritless in 2012, and it is meritless now. If any objections remain to implementing the Judgments Convention by federal statute, they are about turf and ideology. To the extent that the relevant stakeholders want to accommodate those political objections, this Note concludes by briefly outlining areas for compromise.
The law of armed conflict has a built-in accountability gap. Under international law, there is no individualized remedy for civilians whose property, bodies, or lives are destroyed in war. Accountability mechanisms for civilian harms are limited to unlawful acts: Individuals who willfully target civilians or otherwise commit serious violations of international humanitarian law may be prosecuted for war crimes, and states that commit internationally wrongful acts must make reparations under the law of state responsibility. But no entity is liable for lawful but unintended harmful acts—regardless of how many or how horrifically civilians are hurt. This Article proposes developing an international “war torts” regime, which would require states to pay for both lawful and unlawful acts in armed conflict that cause civilian harm. Just as tort and criminal law coexist and complement each other in domestic legal regimes, war torts and war crimes would overlap but serve different aims. Establishing war torts and creating a route to a remedy would not only increase the likelihood that victims would receive compensation, it would also create much-needed incentives for states to mitigate or reduce civilian harms. Ultimately, a war torts regime would further the law of armed conflict’s foundational purpose of minimizing needless civilian suffering.
“To Be Read Together”: Taxonomizing Companion Cases of Landmark Supreme Court Decisions
Supreme Court “companion cases” are decisions released on the exact same day that address substantially similar legal or factual matters. The list of consequential Supreme Court decisions that the Justices have resolved as part of a set of companion cases is lengthy: It includes NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., Korematsu v. United States, Brown v. Board of Education, Terry v. Ohio, Roe v. Wade, Miller v. California, and Gregg v. Georgia. Although it is not surprising that important topics like civil rights and abortion generate significant amounts of litigation, the Supreme Court’s practice of conducting plenary review of multiple similar cases and issuing separate decisions resolving each one should give us pause. The Justices have a number of other procedural tools available for disposing of similar matters for which parties seek review. Options include granting certiorari for only one of the cases, vacating and remanding some of the matters, issuing at least one summary disposition, consolidating the cases, or releasing the decisions at very different times. The Court sidesteps these alternative approaches when it issues companion cases. Yet previous scholars have not devoted adequate attention to this practice as a distinct procedural mechanism, with unique characteristics that may motivate its usage. This Note fills that gap by studying some of the Court’s most famous companion cases and taxonomizing them into four categories—coordinate hedges, contested hedges, extensional reinforcements, and applicative reinforcements—based on factors including the voting behavior of the Justices and the constitutive decisions’ relationships to each other. The Note leverages that taxonomy to frame its analysis of why the Court chose to issue companion cases given all the procedural alternatives. This Note concludes by discussing how the practice of deciding certain sorts of companion cases—in which a majority of the Justices agree that they should resolve similar cases in ostensibly contradictory ways—may improve the Court’s legitimacy by accentuating its responsibility and capacity to collaboratively identify subtle distinctions between comparable cases that compel different outcomes.
Vanessa Casado Pérez, Yael R. Lifshitz
Policymakers are constantly faced with the complex task of managing novel challenges. At times, these challenges result from new technologies: Consider fights over allocating air rights for drones or decisions about how to share scarce vaccines in a pandemic. Other times the resources are old, but the challenges are new, such as how to fairly allocate water in times of unprecedented drought or previously undesirable rare earth minerals that are in demand for modern manufacturing and energy production. Often, instead of carefully tailoring a regime to the new resource, decisionmakers simply rely on mechanisms they are familiar with. When jurisdictions borrow from each other, scholars call this a “legal transplant”—as when one state copies another state’s innovations or when the federal government learns from the “laboratories of democracy.” This Article unveils a new dimension of legal transplants: transplants across subject areas. By transplants across subject areas, this article refers to instances when a jurisdiction looks for doctrines in other legal areas, often within its own legal system, when regulating a new resource or addressing a new challenge.
This Article makes three key contributions. First, it identifies a new type of transplant—between subject matters within a jurisdiction. Second, it analyzes the reasons for internal, cross-subject legal transplants and the criteria for selecting which subject areas to copy from. Third, the Article brings the legal transplants literature to bear, specifically, on natural resource law. It explores two cases, groundwater and wind energy, where policymakers and courts have borrowed from other resource schemes, often ignoring the scientific and social differences between these natural resources. Other areas of law, such as the incorporation of contract doctrines in landlord-tenant relations, are also described to show the explanatory power of the natural transplant framework. This conceptual framework is then applied to new mineral developments in space and the deep sea. Cross-subject transplants may be more prevalent than previously appreciated, and understanding them will pave the way to analyze the regulation of new developments in natural resources, infrastructure, and beyond.
A “Charter of Negative Liberties” No Longer: Equal Dignity and the Positive Right to Education
In the Spring of 2020, a panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Gary B. v. Whitmer penned an opinion recognizing a fundamental right to basic minimum education. While this decision was subsequently vacated pending en banc review and then dismissed as moot following a settlement, it stands as a bellwether of the long-overdue march toward recognition of positive rights under the Constitution. A series of Burger Court opinions attempted to calcify the notion that the Constitution is a “charter of negative liberties,” most famously DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services and its progeny. These opinions erected three key doctrinal barriers to recognition of positive rights: 1) that a cognizable due process claim must arise from direct, de jure state deprivation; 2) that separation of powers points towards legislatures, not courts, as the appropriate bodies for curing social and economic ills; and 3) that furnishing equality is not a proper aim of due process.
But substantive due process doctrine has transformed over the past few decades. Most notably in a series of cases protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals—Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, United States v. Windsor in 2013, and Obergfell v. Hodges in 2015—the doctrines of due process and equal protection have fused so intimately as to have revealed a new doctrinal structure, which Laurence Tribe has termed “equal dignity.” The doctrine of equal dignity has profound implications for the recognition of positive rights. Its theoretical tenets undermine the doctrinal elements which have traditionally steered federal courts away from recognizing positive rights. This Note argues that the case of education—considered in light of the post-Obergefell substantive due process doctrine—dismantles each of the traditional pillars of negative-rights constitutionalism, paving the way for recognition of a positive right to a basic minimum education. More broadly, Gary B. demonstrates that courts are now doctrinally equipped to recognize positive rights within the framework of modern substantive due process, a development that has radical implications for Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence and the project of constitutional equality.
Afrofuturism, Critical Race Theory, and Policing in the Year 2044
I. Bennett Capers
In 2044, the United States is projected to become a “majority-minority” country, with people of color making up more than half of the population. And yet in the public imagination—from Robocop to Minority Report, from Star Trek to Star Wars, from A Clockwork Orange to 1984 to Brave New World—the future is usually envisioned as majority white. What might the future look like in year 2044, when people of color make up the majority in terms of numbers, or in the ensuing years, when they also wield the majority of political and economic power? And specifically, what might policing look like? This Article attempts to answer these questions by examining how artists, cybertheorists, and speculative scholars of color—Afrofuturists and Critical Race Theorists—have imagined the future. What can we learn from Afrofuturism, the term given to “speculative fiction that treats African-American themes and addresses African-American concerns [in the context of] techno culture?” And what can we learn from Critical Race Theory and its “father” Derrick Bell, who famously wrote of space explorers to examine issues of race and law? What do they imagine policing to be, and what can we imagine policing to be in a brown and black world?
The Costs of Waiver: Cost-Benefit Analysis as a New Basis for Selective Waiver of Attorney-Client Privilege
Mathew S. Miller
The nature of corporate criminal liability and the extreme consequences of indictment or conviction place great pressure on corporations to cooperate with federal prosecutors as they investigate corporate wrongdoing. This pressure often leads corporations to disclose privileged corporate communications, including internal investigation reports and notes from employee interviews, to aid prosecutors in their investigation. In most jurisdictions, once these documents are disclosed, the protections of the attorney-client privilege are waived as to everyone—a total waiver. However, in a minority of jurisdictions, when privileged corporate communications are disclosed to the government as part of a criminal investigation, the privilege is waived only as to the government and remains to prevent discovery by third parties, including civil plaintiffs—a selective waiver. Courts have provided various rationales for both positions, although none has been universally endorsed and all are subject to criticism. This Note provides a new justification for the selective waiver rule. It argues that utility-maximizing prosecutors will be more likely to ask for these critical privileged corporate communications under a selective waiver rule because of the high costs of the total waiver rule. This, in turn, will lead to a more efficient and robust investigation and prosecution of corporate crime.
Using Collective Interests to Ensure Human Rights: An Analysis of the Articles on State Responsibility
This Note provides a critical analysis of the United Nations International Law Commission’s treatment of the legal interest in the Draft Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts (Articles). It focuses on two decisions that the International Law Commission (ILC) made during the drafting process: 1) the decision to use a narrow definition of “injured state,” excluding states that suffer a breach of an obligation owed to them solely as members of the international community; and 2) the decision to replace a provision recognizing and regulating the practice of collective countermeasures with a savings clause that provides no guidance for the use of collective countermeasures, leaving the legality of such actions uncertain.
This Note argues that, although the ILC was correct to weigh the risks of allowing states broad discretion to act in the name of collective interests, the development of the law of state responsibility would have been better served had the ILC taken a more progressive approach to recognizing the interests of the international community in enforcing state responsibility. First, the ILC should have more broadly defined “injured state” to include states that suffer a breach of an obligation owed to them solely as members of the international community, but should also have limited the types of actions such states would be permitted to take in response to a breach. Second, the ILC should have adopted Special Rapporteur James Crawford’s proposal that the Articles specifically allow and regulate the practice of collective countermeasures in response to a gross and well-attested breach of certain fundamental obligations. This approach strikes a better balance between the potential value of collective countermeasures as a tool to help those without direct access to the international legal system and the risk that collective countermeasures will be abused by powerful states seeking to further their own interests.
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.