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Full-Text Articles in Law

Power Games, Aneil Kovvali Jan 2014

Power Games, Aneil Kovvali

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

According to the traditional account, Congress has the "necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments" by the president. As commentators have recognized, however, the traditional account does not match reality. Individuals in Washington, D.C., are more interested in fighting for their political party than for their branch of government, and the essentially reactive legislative branch lacks the capacity to respond to a rapidly changing policy environment. But the traditional account suffers from a more basic flaw. The president can decide whether or not to cooperate with Congress on a situation-by-situation basis. By contrast, Congress's tools for ...


One Redeeming Quality About The 112th Congress: Refocusing On Descriptive Rather Than Evocative Short Titles, Brian Christopher Jones Jul 2013

One Redeeming Quality About The 112th Congress: Refocusing On Descriptive Rather Than Evocative Short Titles, Brian Christopher Jones

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The consensus with regard to the 112th Congress is that it was a massive failure: the Congress passed fewer laws than in previous years, and the contemptuous debates over the debt ceiling and the so-called "fiscal cliff" did not win this Congress many supporters. So what redeeming qualities could have been present in such an irredeemable Congress? I believe that there was at least one: a returning focus on descriptive short titles for laws, rather than a perpetuation of the evocative and tendentious short titles that have been commonplace over the past couple of decades. A recent publication of mine ...


Citizens United And The Threat To The Regulatory State, Tamara R. Piety Sep 2010

Citizens United And The Threat To The Regulatory State, Tamara R. Piety

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Although Citizens United has been roundly criticized for its potential effect on elections and its display of judicial immodesty (or "activism"), the effect of the case which may be both most profound and perhaps most pernicious is its effect on the commercial speech doctrine. This is an aspect of the case which has been largely overlooked. Most people seem to be unaware of any connection between election law and the commercial speech doctrine-except, that is, those who have been working long and hard to accomplish the change it foreshadows. They are keenly aware of its implications.


Ideological Endowment: The Staying Power Of The Electoral College And The Weaknesses Of The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, Daniel P. Rathbun Jan 2008

Ideological Endowment: The Staying Power Of The Electoral College And The Weaknesses Of The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, Daniel P. Rathbun

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The National Popular Vote (“NPV”) movement is designed to eliminate the federalist impact of the Electoral College without amending the Constitution. By fashioning an interstate compact to grant participating states’ electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, NPV proponents suppose they can induce states to forfeit their electoral “weights” and replace the current, federalist election process with a fully majoritarian one. But by leaving the Electoral College in place, the NPV movement is setting itself up for a double pushback: first, in the form of immediate legal resistance, and second, through states’ long-term involvement in a meaningfully ...


The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: Three Proposals To Introduce The Nationwide Popular Vote In U.S. Presidential Elections, Alexander S. Belenky Jan 2008

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: Three Proposals To Introduce The Nationwide Popular Vote In U.S. Presidential Elections, Alexander S. Belenky

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The idea of reforming the Electoral College recurs each time a presidential election nears. Polls show that an overwhelming majority of respondents support abolishing the Electoral College in favor of direct popular election of the President. Yet, it is doubtful whether these polls really imply that such a move would be best for the country. Despite the seeming simplicity of direct popular presidential election, its introduction in the United States—a country in which the clear separation of powers between the states and the federal government has existed for more than two centuries—would have hidden drawbacks that the media ...


Equal Voice By Half Measures, John Mark Hansen Jan 2008

Equal Voice By Half Measures, John Mark Hansen

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

In democratic theory, the ballot is the most perfect expression of the democratic commitment to the moral equality of persons. Every citizen, whether old or young, rich or poor, sophisticated or simple, enjoys the same endowment in an election: a single vote. The ballot not only gives citizens their voice in government, it also makes their voices equal. In practice, however, democracies have erected all sorts of impediments to the ideal of equal voice, such as restrictions on suffrage, legislative malapportionments, and discriminatory gerrymanders. Among the most egregious impediments, however, are surely the systems of indirect election purported to filter ...


Awarding Presidential Electors By Congressional District: Wrong For California, Wrong For The Nation, Sam Hirsch Jan 2008

Awarding Presidential Electors By Congressional District: Wrong For California, Wrong For The Nation, Sam Hirsch

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The unfairness of the proposed California Presidential Election Reform Act is obvious: in a close election, the Act virtually assures that California’s fifty-five electoral votes, which would be expected to go entirely to the Democratic presidential candidate under the traditional statewide-winner-takeall system, will instead be split, with more than a third of them going to the Republican candidate. Implementing this “reform” in the nation’s largest Democratic state, but not in any of the large Republican states (like Texas), is roughly the equivalent of handing over to the Republicans the state of Illinois. What is less obvious is that ...


Reforming The Electorial College One State At A Time, Thomas W. Hiltachk Jan 2008

Reforming The Electorial College One State At A Time, Thomas W. Hiltachk

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The genius of our United States Constitution is the delicate balance our Founding Fathers struck between empowering a national government and preserving the inherent sovereignty of individual states. Any proposed governmental reform that would interfere with that balance should be looked upon skeptically. Recent proposals to do away with the Electoral College in favor of a national popular vote for President deserve such careful examination. But that does not mean that reform is out of reach. We have only to look to the Constitution itself to find that the answer lies in the self-interest of each state. I am an ...


An Unsafe Harbor: Recounts, Contests, And The Electoral College, Daniel P. Tokaji Jan 2008

An Unsafe Harbor: Recounts, Contests, And The Electoral College, Daniel P. Tokaji

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Although recent proposals for modifying the Electoral College process have focused mainly on how electoral votes are assigned, another problem with the current system has received less attention: the timetable for resolving post-election disputes over electors. Under 3 U.S.C. § 5, the so-called “safe harbor” provision of federal law, a state can be assured of having its chosen slate of electors recognized only if post-election disputes are resolved within thirty-five days of Election Day. As a practical matter, this provision doesn’t provide states enough time to complete recount and contest proceedings in the event of a close, contested ...


Democratic Principle And Electoral College Reform, Ethan J. Leib, Eli J. Mark Jan 2008

Democratic Principle And Electoral College Reform, Ethan J. Leib, Eli J. Mark

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The Electoral College is a relic from another time and is in tension with the modern constitutional command of “one person, one vote.” But the Electoral College is, nevertheless, ensconced in our Constitution—and, as a result, we would need to amend the document to alter or abolish it from our political fabric. Still, some states are toying with state-based Electoral College reforms. Thus, irrespective of whether voters in those states favor the abolition of the Electoral College through a federal constitutional amendment, they must critically examine the democratic merits of these statebased reform options. Categorically rejecting all state-based reform ...


Cultural Compactness, Daniel R. Oritz Jan 2006

Cultural Compactness, Daniel R. Oritz

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The Supreme Court’s opinions in LULAC v. Perry, the Texas redistricting case, confounded expectation. While many believed that the Court would develop the law governing partisan gerrymandering in one direction or another, it did not. As exactly before, such claims are justiciable but there is no law to govern them. In other words, the courthouse doors are open, but until some plaintiff advances a novel theory persuasive to five justices, no claims will succeed. On the other hand, few expected the Court to make any major changes to doctrine under the Voting Rights Act and Shaw v. Reno. But ...


This Way To The Egress And Other Reflections On Partisan Gerrymandering Claims In Light Of Lulac V. Perry, Bernard Grofman Jan 2006

This Way To The Egress And Other Reflections On Partisan Gerrymandering Claims In Light Of Lulac V. Perry, Bernard Grofman

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

After winning control of both houses of the legislature and the governorship, Texas Republicans eventually succeeded in redistricting Texas’s congressional seats in 2003, replacing a 2001 court-drawn plan. LULAC v. Perry reviewed a number of challenges to that second redistricting. The decision deals with a multiplicity of issues, including, most importantly, the standard for violations of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the nature of tests for unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering. While there are some clear holdings in the case, several of them reflect different combinations of Justices in the majority and, since there are six different opinions ...


Anthony Kennedy's Blind Quest, Scot Powe, Steve Bickerstaff Jan 2006

Anthony Kennedy's Blind Quest, Scot Powe, Steve Bickerstaff

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

League of United Latin American Citizens [LULAC] v. Perry embraced, in the context of partisan gerrymandering, Felix Frankfurter’s conclusion that the Supreme Court should not enter the political thicket of legislative apportionment. Two years earlier in Vieth v. Jubelirer, the Court split 4–1–4 on the justiciability of partisan gerrymandering. O’Conner and the three conservatives held it was nonjusticiable. Each of the four moderate liberals offered a test showing it was justiciable. Kennedy dissented from the conservatives while simultaneously rejecting each of the four tests offered. He announced he was waiting for a better test. When far ...


Lulac On Partisan Gerrymandering: Some Clarity, More Uncertainty, Richard Briffault Jan 2006

Lulac On Partisan Gerrymandering: Some Clarity, More Uncertainty, Richard Briffault

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

In League of United Latin American Citizens (“LULAC”) v. Perry, the Supreme Court, for the second time in two years, agonized over partisan gerrymandering. LULAC’s rejection of a Democratic challenge to the Texas legislature’s mid-decade pro-Republican congressional redistricting resembles the Court’s 2004 dismissal of a Democratic gerrymandering suit against Pennsylvania’s pro-Republican congressional redistricting plan in Vieth v. Jubelirer. As in Vieth, the Justices wrangled over justiciability, the substantive standard for assessing the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering claims, and the interplay of justiciability and constitutionality. As in Vieth, the Court was highly fragmented: Vieth produced five separate ...


Self-Defeating Minimalism, Adam B. Cox Jan 2006

Self-Defeating Minimalism, Adam B. Cox

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Everyone wants a piece of Tom DeLay. The former majority leader is under investigation and indictment, and even the Supreme Court threatened last Term to undo one of his signal achievements. In 2003, DeLay orchestrated a highly unusual mid-decade revision of Texas’s congressional map. The revised map was a boon to Republicans, shifting the Texas congressional delegation from 15 Republicans and 17 Democrats to 21 Republicans and 11 Democrats. The map was attacked as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander and a violation of the Voting Rights Act. When the Supreme Court agreed to hear those challenges in LULAC v. Perry ...


Strict In Theory, Loopy In Fact, Nathaniel Persily Jan 2006

Strict In Theory, Loopy In Fact, Nathaniel Persily

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Most Supreme Court-watchers find the decision in LULAC v. Perry notable for the ground it breaks concerning Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the ground it refuses to break on the topic of partisan gerrymandering. I tend to think the Court’s patchwork application of Section 2 to strike down a district on vote dilution grounds is not all that dramatic, nor is its resolution of the partisan gerrymandering claims all that surprising. The truly unprecedented development in the case for me was Justice Scalia’s vote to uphold what he considered a racial classification under the Equal ...