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University of Michigan Law School

Public Law and Legal Theory

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The Essential Roles Of Agency Law, Gabriel Rauterberg Feb 2020

The Essential Roles Of Agency Law, Gabriel Rauterberg

Michigan Law Review

This Article suggests a fundamental shift in how we think about agency. The essential function of agency law lies not only in enabling the delegation of authority, as is widely suggested, but as significantly in its effect on creditors’ rights through asset partitioning. There is an increasing temptation in legal scholarship to treat agency law as a sideshow confined to the first day of corporations class. This is because much of what agency law does in commerce could simply be accomplished through standard-form contracts that provide default terms for the relationships among firms, their managers, and third parties. Even agency ...


Imaginary Bottles, Jessica Litman Aug 2019

Imaginary Bottles, Jessica Litman

Articles

This essay, written for a symposium commemorating John Perry Barlow, who died on February 7, 2018, revisits Barlow's 1994 essay for WIRED magazine, "The Economy of Ideas: A Framework for patents and copyrights in the Digital Age (everything you know about intellectual property is wrong)." Barlow observed that networked digital technology posed massive and fundamental challenges for the markets for what Barlow termed “the work we do with our minds” and for the intellectual property laws designed to shape those markets. He predicted that those challenges would melt extant intellectual property systems into a smoking heap within a decade ...


Should Automakers Be Responsible For Accidents?, Kyle D. Logue May 2019

Should Automakers Be Responsible For Accidents?, Kyle D. Logue

Articles

Motor vehicles are among the most dangerous products sold anywhere. Automobiles pose a larger risk of accidental death than any other product, except perhaps opioids. Annual autocrash deaths in the United States have not been below 30,000 since the 1940s, reaching a recent peak of roughly 40,000 in 2016. And the social cost of auto crashes goes beyond deaths. Auto-accident victims who survive often incur extraordinary medical expenses. Those crash victims whose injuries render them unable to work experience lost income. Auto accidents also cause nontrivial amounts of property damage—mostly to the automobiles themselves, but also to ...


Neglecting Nationalism, Gil Seinfeld May 2019

Neglecting Nationalism, Gil Seinfeld

Articles

Federalism is a system of government that calls for the division of power between a central authority and member states. It is designed to secure benefits that flow from centralization and from devolution, as well as benefits that accrue from a simultaneous commitment to both. A student of modern American federalism, however, might have a very different impression, for significant swaths of the case law and scholarly commentary on the subject neglect the centralizing, nationalist side of the federal balance. This claim may come as a surprise, since it is obviously the case that our national government has become immensely ...


Qualified Immunity And Constitutional Structure, Katherine Mims Crocker May 2019

Qualified Immunity And Constitutional Structure, Katherine Mims Crocker

Michigan Law Review

A range of scholars has subjected qualified immunity to a wave of criticism— and for good reasons. But the Supreme Court continues to apply the doctrine in ever more aggressive ways. By advancing two claims, this Article seeks to make some sense of this conflict and to suggest some thoughts toward a resolution.

First, while the Court has offered and scholars have rejected several rationales for the doctrine, layering in an account grounded in structural constitutional concerns provides a historically richer and analytically thicker understanding of the current qualified-immunity regime. For suits against federal officials, qualified immunity acts as a ...


Reputation As A Disciplinarian Of International Organizations, Kristina Daugirdas Apr 2019

Reputation As A Disciplinarian Of International Organizations, Kristina Daugirdas

Articles

As a disciplinarian of international organizations, reputation has serious shortcomings. Even though international organizations have strong incentives to maintain a good reputation, reputational concerns will sometimes fail to spur preventive or corrective action. Organizations have multiple audiences, so efforts to preserve a “good” reputation may pull organizations in many different directions, and steps taken to preserve a good reputation will not always be salutary. Recent incidents of sexual violence by UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic illustrate these points.


States Empowering Plaintiff Cities, Eli Savit Apr 2019

States Empowering Plaintiff Cities, Eli Savit

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

Across the country, cities are becoming major players in plaintiff’s-side litigation. With increasing frequency, cities, counties, and other municipalities are filing lawsuits to vindicate the public interest. Cities’ aggressive use of lawsuits, however, has been met with some skepticism from both scholars and states. At times, states have taken action—both legislative and via litigation—to preempt city-initiated suits.

This Article contends that states should welcome city-initiated public-interest lawsuits. Such litigation, this Article demonstrates, vindicates the principles of local control that cities exist to facilitate. What is more, a motivated plaintiff city can accomplish public-policy goals that are important ...


Reckless Juveniles, Kimberly Thomas Feb 2019

Reckless Juveniles, Kimberly Thomas

Articles

Modern doctrine and scholarship largely take it for granted that offenders should be criminally punished for reckless acts.1 Yet, developments in our understanding of human behavior can shed light on how we define and attribute criminal liability, or at least force us to grapple with the categories that have existed for so long. This Article examines recklessness and related doctrines in light of the shifts in understanding of adolescent behavior and its biological roots, to see what insights we might attain, or what challenges these understandings pose to this foundational mens rea doctrine. Over the past decade, the U ...


Robot Criminals, Ying Hu Jan 2019

Robot Criminals, Ying Hu

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

When a robot harms humans, are there any grounds for holding it criminally liable for its misconduct? Yes, provided that the robot is capable of making, acting on, and communicating the reasons behind its moral decisions. If such a robot fails to observe the minimum moral standards that society requires of it, labeling it as a criminal can effectively fulfill criminal law’s function of censuring wrongful conduct and alleviating the emotional harm that may be inflicted on human victims.

Imposing criminal liability on robots does not absolve robot manufacturers, trainers, or owners of their individual criminal liability. The former ...


Age Of Unreason: Rationality And The Regulatory State, Louise Weinberg Jan 2019

Age Of Unreason: Rationality And The Regulatory State, Louise Weinberg

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

A curious phenomenon, not previously remarked, appears in current international and interstate cases in a common configuration. These are cases in which a nonresident sues a company at the company’s home; the plaintiff would almost certainly win there on stipulated facts; and judgment is for the defendant as a matter of law. In cases in this familiar configuration it appears that courts will struggle to find rationales. Judges attempt to rely on arguments which ordinarily would be serviceable, but which, in cases so configured, seem to become irrational. Because the relevant configuration of cases is common, the problem is ...


The Procedure Fetish, Nicholas Bagley Jan 2019

The Procedure Fetish, Nicholas Bagley

Michigan Law Review

The strict procedural rules that characterize modern administrative law are said to be necessary to sustain the fragile legitimacy of a powerful and constitutionally suspect administrative state. We are likewise told that they are essential to public accountability because they prevent factional interests from capturing agencies. Yet the legitimacy-and-accountability narrative at the heart of administrative law is both overdrawn and harmful. Procedural rules have a role to play in preserving legitimacy and discouraging capture, but they advance those goals more obliquely than is commonly assumed and may exacerbate the very problems they aim to fix. This Article aims to draw ...


The Consensus Myth In Criminal Justice Reform, Benjamin Levin Nov 2018

The Consensus Myth In Criminal Justice Reform, Benjamin Levin

Michigan Law Review

It has become popular to identify a “consensus” on criminal justice reform, but how deep is that consensus, actually? This Article argues that the purported consensus is much more limited than it initially appears. Despite shared reformist vocabulary, the consensus rests on distinct critiques that identify different flaws and justify distinct policy solutions. The underlying disagreements transcend traditional left/right political divides and speak to deeper disputes about the state and the role of criminal law in society.

The Article maps two prevailing, but fundamentally distinct, critiques of criminal law: (1) the quantitative approach (what I call the “over” frame ...


Life Cycle Costing And Food Systems: Concepts, Trends, And Challenges Of Impact Valuation, Katherine Fiedler, Steven Lord, Jason J. Czarnezki Oct 2018

Life Cycle Costing And Food Systems: Concepts, Trends, And Challenges Of Impact Valuation, Katherine Fiedler, Steven Lord, Jason J. Czarnezki

Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law

Our global food systems create pervasive environmental, social, and health impacts. Impact valuation is an emerging concept that aims to quantify all environmental, social, and health costs of food systems in an attempt to make the true cost of food more transparent. It also is designed to facilitate the transformation of global food systems. The concept of impact valuation is emerging at the same time as, and partly as a response to, calls for the development of legal mechanisms to address environmental, social, and health concerns. Information has long been understood both as a necessary precursor for regulation and as ...


State Action And The Constitution's Middle Band, Louis Michael Seidman Oct 2018

State Action And The Constitution's Middle Band, Louis Michael Seidman

Michigan Law Review

On conventional accounts, the state action doctrine is dichotomous. When the government acts, constitutional limits take hold and the government action is invalid if those limits are exceeded. When the government fails to act, the state action doctrine leaves decisions to individuals, who are permitted to violate what would otherwise be constitutional constraints.

It turns out though that the modern state action doctrine creates three rather than two domains. There is indeed a private, inner band where there is thought to be insufficient government action to trigger constitutional constraints, but often there is also a public, outer band where there ...


Antitrust's Unconventional Politics, Daniel A. Crane Sep 2018

Antitrust's Unconventional Politics, Daniel A. Crane

Articles

Antitrust law stands at its most fluid and negotiable moment in a generation. The bipartisan consensus that antitrust should solely focus on economic efficiency and consumer welfare has quite suddenly come under attack from prominent voices calling for a dramatically enhanced role for antitrust law in mediating a variety of social, economic, and political friction points, including employment, wealth inequality, data privacy and security, and democratic values. To the bewilderment of many observers, the ascendant pressures for antitrust reforms are flowing from both wings of the political spectrum, throwing into confusion a conventional understanding that pro-antitrust sentiment tacked left and ...


Why Is It Wrong To Punish Thought?, Gabriel S. Mendlow Jun 2018

Why Is It Wrong To Punish Thought?, Gabriel S. Mendlow

Articles

It’s a venerable maxim of criminal jurisprudence that the state must never punish people for their mere thoughts—for their beliefs, desires, fantasies, and unexecuted intentions. This maxim is all but unquestioned, yet its true justification is something of a mystery. In this Essay, I argue that each of the prevailing justifications is deficient, and I conclude by proposing a novel one. The proposed justification captures the widely shared intuition that punishing a person for her mere thoughts isn’t simply disfavored by the balance of reasons but is morally wrongful in itself, an intrinsic (i.e., consequence-independent) injustice ...


Fourth Amendment Fairness, Richard M. Re Jun 2018

Fourth Amendment Fairness, Richard M. Re

Michigan Law Review

Fourth Amendment doctrine is attentive to a wide range of interests, including security, informational privacy, and dignity. How should courts reconcile these competing concerns when deciding which searches and seizures are “unreasonable”? Current doctrine typically answers this question by pointing to interest aggregation: the various interests at stake are added up, placed on figurative scales, and compared, with the goal of promoting overall social welfare. But interest aggregation is disconnected from many settled doctrinal rules and leads to results that are unfair for individuals. The main alternative is originalism; but historical sources themselves suggest that the Fourth Amendment calls for ...


The People Against The Constitution, Aziz Z. Huq Apr 2018

The People Against The Constitution, Aziz Z. Huq

Michigan Law Review

A review of Jan-Werner Müller, What Is Populism?.


Use Your Words: On The "Speech" In "Freedom Of Speech", Leslie Kendrick Mar 2018

Use Your Words: On The "Speech" In "Freedom Of Speech", Leslie Kendrick

Michigan Law Review

Freedom of speech occupies a special place in American society. But what counts as “speech” is a contentious issue. In countless cases, courts struggle to distinguish highly protected speech from easily regulated economic activity. Skeptics view this struggle as evidence that speech is, in fact, not distinguishable from other forms of activity.

This Article refutes that view. It argues that speech is indeed distinct from other forms of activity, and that even accounts that deny this distinction actually admit it. It then argues that the features that make speech distinctive as a phenomenon also make it distinctive as a normative ...


High-Stakes Interpretation, Ryan D. Doerfler Feb 2018

High-Stakes Interpretation, Ryan D. Doerfler

Michigan Law Review

Courts look at text differently in high-stakes cases. Statutory language that would otherwise be “unambiguous” suddenly becomes “less than clear.” This, in turn, frees up courts to sidestep constitutional conflicts, avoid dramatic policy changes, and, more generally, get around undesirable outcomes. The standard account of this behavior is that courts’ failure to recognize “clear” or “unambiguous” meanings in such cases is motivated or disingenuous, and, at best, justified on instrumentalist grounds.

This Article challenges that account. It argues instead that, as a purely epistemic matter, it is more difficult to “know” what a text means—and, hence, more difficult to ...


Beat It: Tax Reform And Tax Treaties, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Jan 2018

Beat It: Tax Reform And Tax Treaties, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) includes several provisions that may be viewed as potential violations of US tax treaties. However, most of those potential violations, such as new IRC section 951A and to a large extent new IRC section 59A, are covered by the Savings Clause (US model article 1(4)). The only remaining question is whether IRC section 59A (the “Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax”, or BEAT) violates the non-discrimination provision (article 24), which is exempted from the Savings Clause. The answer is no, because foreign related parties are not comparable to US related parties receiving interest or ...


How Terrible Is The New Tax Law? Reflections On Tra17, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Jan 2018

How Terrible Is The New Tax Law? Reflections On Tra17, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

Overall, TRA17 is not much worse than TRA86 or TRA14. It increases the deficit, but not by an impossible amount; it is distributionally skewed, but less so than is usually assumed; and its details are not terrible (on the international side they are a big improvement over prior law). There is one big problem, the pass through provisions, and we can only hope that as its horrible implications unfold it will be a prime candidate for repeal.


The Elephant Always Forgets: Tax Reform And The Wto, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Jan 2018

The Elephant Always Forgets: Tax Reform And The Wto, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

The “Tax Cuts and Jobs ACT” (TCJA) enacted on December 22, 2017, includes several provisions that raise WTO compliance issues. At least one such provision, the Foreign-Derived Intangible Income (FDII) rule, is almost certain to draw a challenge in the WTO and is likely to lead to another US loss and resulting sanctions. This outcome would be another addition to the repeated losses suffered by the US for export subsidies from the 1970s to 2004, which led to the imposition of sanctions and the ultimate repeal of the offending regime. The important question for 2018 and beyond is whether the ...


A Theory Of Constructive Interpretation For Customary International Law Identification, Nadia Banteka Jan 2018

A Theory Of Constructive Interpretation For Customary International Law Identification, Nadia Banteka

Michigan Journal of International Law

Scholars and judicial practice have long debated the nature of customary international law (“CIL”) as a source of international law, including its normative identification. Existing approaches to CIL identification largely follow the methods of induction and deduction. However, these methods are only two ends of a spectrum, and international law has yet to engage systematically with other methodological approaches that lay within this spectrum. This Article introduces a mid-spectrum approach by applying the theory of constructive interpretation to CIL identification. The Article introduces the guiding principles of constructive interpretation, examines the process of constructive interpretation in the abstract, and applies ...


Understanding Administrative Sanctioning As Corrective Justice, Eithan Y. Kidron Jan 2018

Understanding Administrative Sanctioning As Corrective Justice, Eithan Y. Kidron

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

When should a regulator prefer criminal sanctions over administrative sanctions? What procedural protections should apply if a process is labeled civil but the sanctions are, in fact, criminal in type? And can the state justifiably conduct parallel proceedings for punitive sanctions against the same person or entity for the same conduct?

Throughout the years, judges and scholars alike have tried to understand and classify administrative sanctioning. Common to all of these conceptions is their failure to provide a complete normative framework for this unique body of law, which in turn makes it difficult to identify its practical limits and to ...


Stock Market Manipulation And Its Regulation, Merritt B. Fox, Lawrence R. Glosten, Gabriel Rauterberg Jan 2018

Stock Market Manipulation And Its Regulation, Merritt B. Fox, Lawrence R. Glosten, Gabriel Rauterberg

Articles

More than eighty years after federal law first addressed stock market manipulation, the federal courts remain fractured by disagreement and confusion concerning manipulation law's most foundational issues. There remains, for example, a sharp split among the federal circuits concerning manipulation law's central question: Whether trading activity alone can ever be considered illegal manipulation under federal law? Academics have been similarly confused-economists and legal scholars cannot agree on whether manipulation is even possible in principle, let alone on how to properly address it in practice.


Working Sex Words, Anita Bernstein Dec 2017

Working Sex Words, Anita Bernstein

Michigan Journal of Gender & Law

Imagine yourself tasked to speak for a few minutes about legal controls on sex-selling in the United States, or any other country you choose. You need not have thought about the particulars. As someone willing to read a law review article, you have enough to say because sex-selling overlaps with the subject knowledge you already have. Criminal law, contracts, employment law, immigration law, tort law, zoning, commercial law, and intellectual property, among other legal categories, all intersect with this topic. In your brief remarks on how law attempts to mediate the sale and purchase of sex, you have only one ...


Treating Wrongs As Wrongs: An Expressive Argument For Tort Law, Scott Hershovitz Nov 2017

Treating Wrongs As Wrongs: An Expressive Argument For Tort Law, Scott Hershovitz

Articles

The idea that criminal punishment carries a message of condemnation is as commonplace as could be. Indeed, many think that condemnation is the mark of punishment, distinguishing it from other sorts of penalties or burdens. But for all that torts and crimes share in common, nearly no one thinks that tort has similar expressive aims. And that is unfortunate, as the truth is that tort is very much an expressive institution, with messages to send that are different, but no less important, than those conveyed by the criminal law. In this essay, I argue that tort liability expresses the judgment ...


Rationing Criminal Justice, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas Nov 2017

Rationing Criminal Justice, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas

Michigan Law Review

Of the many diagnoses of American criminal justice’s ills, few focus on externalities. Yet American criminal justice systematically overpunishes in large part because few mechanisms exist to force consideration of the full social costs of criminal justice interventions. Actors often lack good information or incentives to minimize the harms they impose. Part of the problem is structural: criminal justice is fragmented vertically among governments, horizontally among agencies, and individually among self-interested actors. Part is a matter of focus: doctrinally and pragmatically, actors overwhelmingly view each case as an isolated, short-term transaction to the exclusion of broader, long-term, and aggregate ...


Constructing An International Community, Monica Hakimi Aug 2017

Constructing An International Community, Monica Hakimi

Articles

What unites states and other global actors around a shared governance project? How does the group—what I will call an “international community”—coalesce and stay engaged in the enterprise? A frequent assumption is that an international community is cemented by its members’ commonalities and depleted by their intractable disagreements. This article critiques that assumption and presents, as an alternative, a theory that accounts for the combined integration and discord that actually characterize most global governance associations. I argue that conflict, especially conflict that manifests in law, is not necessarily corrosive to an international community. To the contrary, it often ...