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Constitution

GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works

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Second Amendment, Constitutional Dysfunction Or Necessary Safeguard?, Robert J. Cottrol Jan 2014

Second Amendment, Constitutional Dysfunction Or Necessary Safeguard?, Robert J. Cottrol

GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works

This Essay was delivered at the Boston University School of Law Symposium titled “America’s Political Dysfunction: Constitutional Connections, Causes, and Cures.” The Essay challenges the assumption that the Second Amendment historically has provided a barrier to a desirable policy result: radical gun control or gun prohibition. It also challenges the assumption that such a policy is indeed desirable. The Essay traces the history of judicial engagement with the Second Amendment, including the Supreme Court’s most recent pronouncement recognizing the right to bear arms as an individual right in Heller and McDonald, and lower federal courts’ subsequent application of ...


General Law In Federal Court, Bradford R. Clark, Anthony J. Bellia Jr. Jan 2013

General Law In Federal Court, Bradford R. Clark, Anthony J. Bellia Jr.

GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works

Conventional wisdom maintains that the Supreme Court banished general law from federal courts in 1938 in Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins when the Court overruled Swift v. Tyson. The narrative asserts that Swift viewed the common law as a “brooding omnipresence,” and authorized federal courts to disregard state common law in favor of general common law of their own choosing. The narrative continues that Erie constrained such judicial lawmaking by banishing general law from federal courts. Contrary to this account, Swift and Erie represent compatible conceptions of federal judicial power when each decision is understood in historical context. At the ...


The 'Federal Law Of Marriage': Deference, Deviation, And Doma, W. Burlette Carter Jan 2013

The 'Federal Law Of Marriage': Deference, Deviation, And Doma, W. Burlette Carter

GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works

The article discusses the history of federal inroads into marriage by examining federal interventions during the nineteenth and early twentieth century, argues that, in some cases but not all, marriages' federal benefits are indeed intended to support natural procreation, argues that DOMA's underlying statutes are key to ascertaining the purposes of federal marriage benefits and burdens, distinguishes sexual orientation discrimination from race discrimination and offers a proposal for dealing with equal protection challenges to denials of marriage rights to same sex couples. The proposal, which depends upon dual standards of review, recognizes the historical denial of family rights to ...


The Law Of Nations As Constitutional Law, Bradford R. Clark, Anthony J. Bellia Jr. Jan 2012

The Law Of Nations As Constitutional Law, Bradford R. Clark, Anthony J. Bellia Jr.

GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works

Courts and scholars continue to debate the status of customary international law in U.S. courts, but have paid insufficient attention to the role that such law plays in interpreting and upholding several specific provisions of the Constitution. The modern position argues that courts should treat customary international law as federal common law. The revisionist position contends that customary international law applies only to the extent that positive federal or state law has adopted it. Neither approach adequately takes account of the Constitution’s allocation of powers to the federal political branches in Articles I and II or the effect ...


How To Choose The Least Unconstitutional Option: Lessons For The President (And Others) From The 2011 Debt Ceiling Standoff, Neil H. Buchanan, Michael C. Dorf Jan 2012

How To Choose The Least Unconstitutional Option: Lessons For The President (And Others) From The 2011 Debt Ceiling Standoff, Neil H. Buchanan, Michael C. Dorf

GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works

The current successor to a federal statute first enacted in 1917, and widely known as the “debt ceiling,” limits the face value of money that the United States may borrow. Congress has repeatedly raised the debt ceiling to authorize borrowing to fill the gap between revenue and spending, but in the summer of 2011, a political standoff nearly left the government unable to borrow funds to meet obligations that Congress had affirmed earlier that very year. Some commentators urged President Obama to ignore the debt ceiling and issue new bonds, in order to comply with Section 4 of the Fourteenth ...


Nullifying The Debt Ceiling Threat Once And For All: Why The President Should Embrace The Least Unconstitutional Option, Neil H. Buchanan, Michael C. Dorf Jan 2012

Nullifying The Debt Ceiling Threat Once And For All: Why The President Should Embrace The Least Unconstitutional Option, Neil H. Buchanan, Michael C. Dorf

GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works

In August 2011, Congress and the President narrowly averted economic and political catastrophe, agreeing at the last possible moment to authorize a series of increases in the national debt ceiling. This respite, unfortunately, was merely temporary. The amounts of the increases in the debt ceiling that Congress authorized in 2011 were only sufficient to accommodate the additional borrowing that would be necessary through the end of 2012. In an economy that continued to show chronic weakness -- weakness that continues to this day -- the federal government would pre-dictably continue to collect lower-than-normal tax revenues and to make higher-than-normal expenditures, which meant ...


The Alien Tort Statute And The Law Of Nations, Bradford R. Clark, Anthony J. Bellia Jr. Jan 2011

The Alien Tort Statute And The Law Of Nations, Bradford R. Clark, Anthony J. Bellia Jr.

GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works

Courts and scholars have struggled to identify the original meaning of the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). As enacted in 1789, the ATS provided "[t]hat the district courts... shall... have cognizance... of all causes where an alien sues for a tort only in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States." The statute was rarely invoked for almost two centuries until, in the 1980s, lower federal courts began reading the statute expansively to allow foreign citizens to sue other foreign citizens for violations of modern customary international law that occurred outside the United States. In ...


Constitutional Law: A Contemporary Approach, Gregory E. Maggs, Peter J. Smith Jan 2011

Constitutional Law: A Contemporary Approach, Gregory E. Maggs, Peter J. Smith

GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works

Constitutional Law: A Contemporary Approach (2d ed. 2011) is a textbook written by Professors Gregory E. Maggs and Peter J. Smith (both of the George Washington University Law School) and published by West (ISBN-13: 9780314273550).

The second edition of the textbook, which is suitable either for a one- or two-semester course, strives to make constitutional law easily teachable and readily accessible for students. The authors have selected the cases very carefully and provided fuller versions of the opinions so that students get a good sense of the Court's reasoning. Text boxes call the students' attention to important aspects of ...


The Political Branches And The Law Of Nations, Bradford R. Clark Jan 2010

The Political Branches And The Law Of Nations, Bradford R. Clark

GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the U.S. Supreme Court went out of its way to follow background rules of the law of nations, particularly the law of state-state relations. As we have recently argued, the Court followed the law of nations because adherence to such law preserved the constitutional prerogatives of the political branches to conduct foreign relations and decide momentous questions of war and peace. Although we focused primarily on the extent to which the Constitution obligated courts to follow the law of nations in the early republic, the explanation we offered rested on an ...


Saving The Unitary Executive Theory From Those Who Would Distort And Abuse It: A Review Of The Unitary Executive, By Steven G. Calabresi And Christopher Yoo, Richard J. Pierce Jr Jan 2009

Saving The Unitary Executive Theory From Those Who Would Distort And Abuse It: A Review Of The Unitary Executive, By Steven G. Calabresi And Christopher Yoo, Richard J. Pierce Jr

GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works

Calabresi and Yoo make three important contributions to the literature on separation of powers in their new book. First, they seek to rescue the unitary executive theory from the Bush Administration lawyers who have discredited the theory in the eyes of many by relying on it to support outlandish claims of presidential power that are unrelated to the unitary executive theory. Second, they make a persuasive case for the unitary executive theory by explaining why a president must have the power to remove executive branch officers and to control policy making in the executive branch. Third, they document the ways ...


Taking Care Of Treaties, Edward T. Swaine Jan 2008

Taking Care Of Treaties, Edward T. Swaine

GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works

There is little consensus about the scope of the President's powers to cure breaches of U.S. treaty obligations, let alone the influence of decisions by international tribunals finding the United States in breach. Such decisions do not appear to be directly effective under U.S. law. Treaties and statutes address questions of domestic authority sporadically and incompletely, and are suited to the task only if construed heroically; the President's general constitutional authority relating to foreign affairs is sometimes invoked, but its extent is uncertain and turns all too little on the underlying law at issue. Relying on ...


The Cross At College: Accommodation And Acknowledgment Of Religion At Public Universities, Ira C. Lupu, Robert W. Tuttle Jan 2008

The Cross At College: Accommodation And Acknowledgment Of Religion At Public Universities, Ira C. Lupu, Robert W. Tuttle

GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works

In the fall of 2006, President Gene Nichol of the College of William & Mary decided that the college - a public institution - should no longer display a cross on the altar table of the college's Wren Chapel. He ordered the cross moved to a back room, from which it could be returned to the altar table during Christian worship. This decision sparked an outcry from many Christian conservatives, who asserted that President Nichol was undermining the college's historical legacy. After a period of campus furor, a special Committee proposed and the President accepted a compromise - the cross was returned ...


A Concise Guide To The Federalist Papers As A Source Of The Original Meaning Of The United States Constitution, Gregory E. Maggs Jan 2007

A Concise Guide To The Federalist Papers As A Source Of The Original Meaning Of The United States Constitution, Gregory E. Maggs

GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works

Many lawyers, judges, law clerks, and legal scholars feel unprepared to make or evaluate claims about the original meaning of the Constitution based on the Federalist Papers. The typical law school curriculum acknowledges the importance of the Federalist Papers - usually by assigning Supreme Court cases which cite them - but does not treat the essays in depth. As a result, many law students and graduates still need accessible information about the creation, content, and distribution of the essays, manageable summaries of the theories under which the Federalist Papers might provide evidence of the original meaning, and instruction on possible grounds for ...


The Cul De Sac Of Race Preference Discourse, Christopher A. Bracey Jan 2006

The Cul De Sac Of Race Preference Discourse, Christopher A. Bracey

GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works

Affirmative action policy remains a contentious issue in public debate despite public endorsement by America’s leading institutions and validation by the United States Supreme Court. But the decades old disagreement is mired in an unproductive rhetorical stalemate marked by entrenched ideology rather than healthy dialogue. Instead of evolving, racial dialogue about the relevance of race in university admissions and hiring decisions is trapped in a cycle of resentment.

In this article, I argue that the stagnation of race preference discourse arises because the basic rhetorical themes advanced by opponents have evolved little over 150 years since the racial reform ...


Puzzling Observations In Chinese Law: When Is A Riddle Just A Mistake?, Donald C. Clarke Jan 2003

Puzzling Observations In Chinese Law: When Is A Riddle Just A Mistake?, Donald C. Clarke

GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works

Understanding the Chinese legal system is not simple because it is (probably) very different from a Western one. The understanding of the Chinese legal system that results from any study will depend crucially on the selection of a paradigm with which to define what counts as an observation and against which to measure and assess the observations, either descriptively or normatively. This is not to say that the selection of a paradigm will make the difference between understanding and not understanding. It will, however, make a difference between understanding in one way and understanding in another way. Whether one of ...


Does Federalism Constrain The Treaty Power?, Edward T. Swaine Jan 2003

Does Federalism Constrain The Treaty Power?, Edward T. Swaine

GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works

The Supreme Court's revival of federalism casts doubt on the previously unimpeachable power of the national government to bind its states by treaty, suggesting potential subject-matter, anti-commandeering, and sovereign immunity limits that could impair U.S. obligations under vital trade and human rights treaties.

Existing scholarship treats these principles separately and considers them in originalist or other terms, without definitive result. This Article takes a different approach. By assessing all of the doctrines with equal care, but not at daunting length, it permits insight into the common issues involved in determining whether they should be extended to the treaty ...


Thinking Race, Making Nation (Reviewing Glenn C. Loury, The Anatomy Of Racial Inequality), Christopher A. Bracey Jan 2003

Thinking Race, Making Nation (Reviewing Glenn C. Loury, The Anatomy Of Racial Inequality), Christopher A. Bracey

GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works

We live in a race-conscious culture. As Americans, we are a nation of people who self-consciously chose to adopt a vision of society that embraced lofty ideals of individual freedom and democracy for all along with powerful mechanisms for devastating racial oppression. Our history is replete with instances of differential treatment on account of race - slavery being only the most egregious example - that achieved the desired effect of generating remarkable disparities in socioeconomic well-being among individuals and between different racial groups. Such disparities are not simply historical artifacts. They are facts of the contemporary American racial landscape as well. Racial ...


Adjudication, Antisubordination, And The Jazz Connection, Christopher A. Bracey Jan 2003

Adjudication, Antisubordination, And The Jazz Connection, Christopher A. Bracey

GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works

We live in the midst of a pervasive and sustained democratic crisis. Our society expresses a deep commitment to core notions of freedom, justice, and equality for all citizens. Yet, it is equally clear that our democracy tolerates a great deal of social and economic inequality. Membership in a socially disfavored group can (and often does) profoundly distort one's life chances and opportunities. Our constitutional democracy acknowledges this tension, providing for both majority rule and the protection of minority rights and interests. Although we seek to safeguard minority rights and interest through express legal prohibitions on the subordination of ...


Crosby As Foreign Relations Law, Edward T. Swaine Jan 2001

Crosby As Foreign Relations Law, Edward T. Swaine

GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works

This brief essay addresses the Supreme Court's end-of-term decision in Crosby v. National Foreign Trade Council, which preempted Massachusetts's law limiting public procurement from companies doing business in Burma. The essay addresses the perception that Crosby was limited in its implications for foreign relations law, and explores the Court's minimalist approach to inescapably constitutional questions - concluding, in the end, that the Court made foreign relations law without professing to do so, and without fully appreciating its consequences or capitalizing on its benefits.