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The Triumph Of Gay Marriage And The Failure Of Constitutional Law, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2015

The Triumph Of Gay Marriage And The Failure Of Constitutional Law, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The Supreme Court's much anticipated invalidation of gay marriage bans improved the personal lives of millions of ordinary Americans. It made the country a more decent place. Even Chief Justice Roberts, at the conclusion of his otherwise scathing dissent, acknowledged that the decision was a cause for many Americans to celebrate.

But although the Chief Justice thought that advocates of gay marriage should "by all means celebrate today's decision," he admonished them "not [to] celebrate the Constitution." The Constitution, he said, "had nothing to do with it".

Part I of this article quarrels with the Chief Justice's ...


Two Excursions Into Current U.S. Supreme Court Opinion-Writing, Paul F. Rothstein Jan 2015

Two Excursions Into Current U.S. Supreme Court Opinion-Writing, Paul F. Rothstein

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In the last weeks in June, 2015, as the present term of the U.S. Supreme Court drew to a close, many controversial and important decisions were handed down by the Court. The substance of the decisions has been written about extensively. Two of the decisions in particular, though, caught my eye as a teacher of legal techniques, not for the importance of the subject of the particular decision, but for what they may illustrate in a teachable fashion about at least some opinion writing. The two cases are Ohio v. Clark (June 18, 2015) interpreting the Confrontation Clause of ...


Analogical Legal Reasoning: Theory And Evidence, Joshua C. Teitelbaum Mar 2014

Analogical Legal Reasoning: Theory And Evidence, Joshua C. Teitelbaum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The paper offers a formal model of analogical legal reasoning and takes the model to data. Under the model, the outcome of a new case is a weighted average of the outcomes of prior cases. The weights capture precedential influence and depend on fact similarity (distance in fact space) and precedential authority (position in the judicial hierarchy). The empirical analysis suggests that the model is a plausible model for the time series of U.S. maritime salvage cases. Moreover, the results evince that prior cases decided by inferior courts have less influence than prior cases decided by superior courts.


Civil Rights For The Twenty-First Century: Lessons From Justice Thurgood Marshall's Race-Transcending Jurisprudence, Sheryll Cashin Jan 2013

Civil Rights For The Twenty-First Century: Lessons From Justice Thurgood Marshall's Race-Transcending Jurisprudence, Sheryll Cashin

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This Essay pays tribute to justice Thurgood Marshall's race-transcending vision of universal human dignity, and explores the importance of building cross-racial alliances to modern civil rights advocacy. justice Marshall's role as a "Race Man" is evident in much of his jurisprudence, where he fought for years to promote equal opportunity and equal justice. As an advocate for all marginalized people, justice Marshall viewed equal justice as transcending race, and this Essay suggests that the multi-racial coalition that supported President Obama aligns with Marshall's vision. The Essay evaluates the civil rights movement through the lens of Justice Marshall ...


Decarceration Courts: Possibilities And Perils Of A Shifting Criminal Law, Allegra M. Mcleod Jan 2012

Decarceration Courts: Possibilities And Perils Of A Shifting Criminal Law, Allegra M. Mcleod

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

A widely decried crisis confronts U.S. criminal law. Jails and prisons are overcrowded and violence plagued. Additional causes for alarm include the rate of increase of incarcerated populations, their historically and internationally unprecedented size, their racial disproportionality, and exorbitant associated costs. Although disagreement remains over the precise degree by which incarceration ought to be reduced, there is a growing consensus that some measure of decarceration is desirable.

With hopes of reducing reliance on conventional criminal supervision and incarceration, specialized criminal courts proliferated dramatically over the past two decades. There are approximately 3,000 specialized criminal courts in the United ...


Pliva V. Mensing And Its Implications, Brian Wolfman, Dena Feldman Sep 2011

Pliva V. Mensing And Its Implications, Brian Wolfman, Dena Feldman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in PLIVA Inc. v. Mensing will immunize generic drug manufacturers facing failure-to-warn claims from state-law liability, and may also have implications for preemption jurisprudence more generally, says attorney Brian Wolfman and co-author Dena Feldman in this BNA Insight. The authors analyze the ruling, and offer their views on the questions that PLIVA raises about the ongoing vitality of the presumption against preemption, the standard for determining ‘‘impossibility’’ preemption, and the propriety of deference to an agency’s views on preemption.


The Anti-Empathic Turn, Robin West Jan 2011

The Anti-Empathic Turn, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Justice, according to a broad consensus of our greatest twentieth century judges, requires a particular kind of moral judgment, and that moral judgment requires, among much else, empathy–the ability to understand not just the situation but also the perspective of litigants on warring sides of a lawsuit.

Excellent judging requires empathic excellence. Empathic understanding is, in some measure, an acquired skill as well as, in part, a natural ability. Some people do it well; some, not so well. Again, this has long been understood, and has been long argued, particularly, although not exclusively, by some of our most admired ...


Climate Change In The Supreme Court, Lisa Heinzerling Jan 2008

Climate Change In The Supreme Court, Lisa Heinzerling

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, the Supreme Court confronted the issue of climate change for the first time. The Court held that the Clean Air Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate greenhouse gases and that the agency may not decline to exercise this authority based either on factors not present in the statute or inconclusive gestures toward uncertainty in the science of climate change. I had the privilege of serving as the lead author of the winning briefs in this case. This Article provides an insider's perspective on the choices that went into bringing ...


Process Theory, Majoritarianism, And The Original Understanding, William Michael Treanor Jan 2007

Process Theory, Majoritarianism, And The Original Understanding, William Michael Treanor

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In Radicals in Robes, Cass Sunstein posits that there are four primary approaches to constitutional interpretation: perfectionism, majoritarianism, minimalism, and fundamentalism.' The purpose of his eloquent and compelling book is twofold: Sunstein argues for minimalism, an approach that he contends makes most sense for America today; and with even greater force, Sunstein argues against fundamentalism, which he finds "wrong, dangerous, radical, and occasionally hypocritical."' The "Radicals in Robes" who are the targets of Sunstein's book are judges who embrace fundamentalism, which, in his view, embodies "the views of the extreme wing of [the] Republican Party."'

In Securing Constitutional Democracy ...


The Measure Of A Justice: Justice Scalia And The Faltering Of The Property Rights Movement Within The U.S. Supreme Court, Richard J. Lazarus Jan 2006

The Measure Of A Justice: Justice Scalia And The Faltering Of The Property Rights Movement Within The U.S. Supreme Court, Richard J. Lazarus

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The purpose of this Article is to take the measure of Justice Scalia's ability to produce significant opinions for the Court, rather than just for himself, by focusing on the Court's property rights cases during the past several decades. Much of the analysis will rely on the Blackmun Papers, because they provide a virtual treasure trove of information revealing the Court's deliberative process while Blackmun was on the Court from 1971 to 1994. Almost all of this information, including Justice Blackmun's handwritten notes on what each Justice said at the Court's private deliberations and initial ...


Introduction: The Jurisprudence Of Justice Stevens Symposium, William Michael Treanor Jan 2006

Introduction: The Jurisprudence Of Justice Stevens Symposium, William Michael Treanor

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Fordham Law School opened its doors on September 28, 1905, a school with ten students and six faculty members. That day marked a great beginning, and on September 28, 2005, we began a year-long celebration of Fordham Law's history and the law school community's remarkable achievements over 100 years. The heart of any great academic institution is, of course, academics, and, as part of the centennial celebration, we are hosting an extraordinary series of conferences. This issue of the Fordham Law Review presents the papers produced by the first of the year's conferences, the Symposium on the ...


Pragmatism And Judgment: A Comment On Lund, Mark V. Tushnet Jan 2004

Pragmatism And Judgment: A Comment On Lund, Mark V. Tushnet

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Nelson Lund's article is entitled The Rehnquist Court's Pragmatic Approach to Civil Rights.' I raise three questions about his analysis, two of which take off from the phrasing of his title. First, calling the present Court the Rehnquist Court is obviously easy, and I do it myself in the subtitle of my forthcoming book. Professor Lund has of course taken his charge from the conveners of this Symposium, and I do not mean to criticize him for doing so. Still, it may be worth pointing out that convening a symposium that encourages people to think in terms of ...


Virtue Jurisprudence: A Virtue-Centered Theory Of Judging, Lawrence B. Solum Jan 2003

Virtue Jurisprudence: A Virtue-Centered Theory Of Judging, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

"Virtue jurisprudence" is a normative and explanatory theory of law that utilizes the resources of virtue ethics to answer the central questions of legal theory. The main focus of the essay is the development of a virtue-centered theory of judging. The exposition of the theory begins with exploration of defects in judicial character such as corruption and incompetence. Next, an account of judicial virtue is introduced. This includes judicial wisdom, a form of phronesis, or sound practical judgment. A virtue-centered account of justice is defended against the argument that theories of fairness are prior to theories of justice. The centrality ...


Imagining Justice, Robin West Jan 2000

Imagining Justice, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

As we approach the new century and the new millennium, those of us who are legal professionals in liberal capitalist democracies need to drastically improve our practices of law if we are to bring those practices in line with our professed ideals. The commodification and marketing of legal services, for example, combined with a nearly blind commitment to overly combative advocacy, puts legal assistance beyond the means of large segments of the public, severely undercutting our commitment to equality before the law. A different and perhaps harder question, however, is whether the ideals against which we judge our practices are ...


Are There Nothing But Texts In This Class? Interpreting The Interpretive Turns In Legal Thought, Robin West Jan 2000

Are There Nothing But Texts In This Class? Interpreting The Interpretive Turns In Legal Thought, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Allan Hutchinson remarks at the beginning of his interesting article that Gadamer's writings have had only a peripheral influence on legal scholarship -- only occasionally cited, and then begrudgingly so, and never given the serious attention they deserve or require. Nevertheless, Hutchinson acknowledges, Gadamerian influences can be noted -- particularly in the now widely shared understanding that adjudication is, fundamentally, an interpretive exercise. Even with this qualification, though, I think Hutchinson understates Gadamer's impact. Whatever may be true of Gadamer's influence in other disciplines, his influence in law has been unambiguously both broad and deep -- although it has come ...


Toward Humanistic Theories Of Legal Justice, Robin West Jan 1998

Toward Humanistic Theories Of Legal Justice, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In an oft-quoted aside, Justice Holmes once remarked that when lawyers in his courtroom make appeal to justice, he stops listening: such appeals do nothing but signal that the lawyer has neither the facts nor law on his side, or worse, that he is ignorant of whatever law might be relevant.' Holmes's remark has not gone unheeded. Holmes's legacy, in part, is precisely this lapse: we don't have, or teach, a guiding theory of legal justice, nor do we have, or teach, a family of competing theories of legal justice, that might inform our work in law ...


Integrity And Universality: A Comment On Dworkin's Freedom's Law, Robin West Jan 1997

Integrity And Universality: A Comment On Dworkin's Freedom's Law, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Ronald Dworkin has done more than any other constitutional lawyer, past or present, to impress upon us the importance of integrity to constitutional law, and hence to our shared public life. Far from being merely a private virtue, Dworkin has shown that integrity imposes constraints upon and provides guidance to the work of judges in constitutional cases: Every constitutional case that comes before a court must be decided by recourse to the same moral principles that have dictated results in relevant similar cases in the past. Any group or individual challenging the constitutionality of legislation which adversely affects his or ...


Natural Law Ambiguities, Robin West Jan 1993

Natural Law Ambiguities, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

I share with Fred Schauer the relatively unpopular belief that the positivist insistence that we keep separate the legal "is" from the legal "ought" is a logical prerequisite to meaningful legal criticism, and therefore, in the constitutional context, is a logical prerequisite to meaningful criticism of the Constitution. As Schauer argues, despite the modern inclination to associate positivism with conservatism, the positivist "separation thesis," properly understood, facilitates legal criticism and legal reform, not reactionary acquiescence. If we want to improve law, we must resist the urge to see it through the proverbial rose-colored glasses; we must be clear that a ...


The Meaning Of Equality And The Interpretive Turn, Robin West Jan 1990

The Meaning Of Equality And The Interpretive Turn, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The turn to hermeneutics and interpretation in contemporary legal theory has contributed at least two central ideas to modern jurisprudential thought: first, that the "meaning" of a text is invariably indeterminate -- what might be called the indeterminacy claim -- and second, that the unavoidably malleable essence of texts -- their essential inessentiality -- entails that interpreting a text is a necessary part of the process of creating the text's meaning. These insights have generated both considerable angst, and considerable excitement among traditional constitutional scholars, primarily because at least on first blush these two claims seem to inescapably imply a third: that the ...


Progressive And Conservative Constitutionalism, Robin West Jan 1990

Progressive And Conservative Constitutionalism, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

American constitutional law in general, and fourteenth amendment jurisprudence in particular, is in a state of profound transformation. The "liberal-legalist" and purportedly politically neutral understanding of constitutional guarantees that dominated constitutional law and theory during the fifties, sixties, and seventies, is waning, both in the courts and in the academy. What is beginning to replace liberal legalism in the academy, and what has clearly replaced it on the Supreme Court, is a very different conception - a new paradigm - of the role of constitutionalism, constitutional adjudication, and constitutional guarantees in a democratic state. Unlike the liberal-legal paradigm it is replacing, the ...


Taking The Framers Seriously, William Michael Treanor Jan 1988

Taking The Framers Seriously, William Michael Treanor

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This article reviews Taking the Constitution Seriously by Walter Berns (1987).

This review focuses on three of the key historical points that Walter Berns makes: his arguments that the Declaration of Independence is a Lockean document; that the Constitution encapsulates the political philosophy of the Declaration; and that the framers viewed the commercialization of society as a salutary development and were unambivalent champions of the right to property. Examination of these issues suggests that the ideological universe of the framers was far more complex than Berns indicates. While the revolutionary era witnessed a new concern with individual rights and a ...