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Public Law and Legal Theory

General Law

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University of San Diego Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper Series

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Articles 1 - 12 of 12

Full-Text Articles in Jurisprudence

The Judge As A Fly On The Wall: Interpretive Lessons From The Positive Political Theory Of Legislation, Daniel B. Rodriguez, Cheryl Boudreau, Arthur Lupia, Mathew Mccubbins Jun 2005

The Judge As A Fly On The Wall: Interpretive Lessons From The Positive Political Theory Of Legislation, Daniel B. Rodriguez, Cheryl Boudreau, Arthur Lupia, Mathew Mccubbins

University of San Diego Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper Series

In the modern debate over statutory interpretation, scholars frequently talk past one another, arguing for one or another interpretive approach on the basis of competing, and frequently undertheorized, conceptions of legislative supremacy and political theory. For example, so-called new textualists insist that the plain meaning approach is compelled by the U.S. Constitution and rule of law values; by contrast, theorists counseling a more dynamic approach often reject the premise of legislative supremacy that is supposed by the textualist view. A key element missing, therefore, from the modern statutory interpretation debate is a conspicuous articulation of the positive and empirical ...


The Iceberg Of Religious Freedom: Subsurface Levels Of Nonestablishment Discourse, Steve D. Smith Nov 2004

The Iceberg Of Religious Freedom: Subsurface Levels Of Nonestablishment Discourse, Steve D. Smith

University of San Diego Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper Series

This article discusses three levels of disagreement in establishment clause discourse– or what may be called the “lawyerly,” the “constitutive” (or “culture wars”), and the “philosophical” (or perhaps the “theological”) levels. Disagreement at the first of these levels is everywhere apparent in the way lawyers and justices and scholars write and argue; disagreement at the second level is somewhat less obtrusive but still easily discernible; disagreement at the third level is almost wholly beneath the surface.

The manifest indeterminacy of lawyerly arguments suggests that in this area, premises are more likely to be derived from favored conclusions, not the other ...


Mental Disorder And The Civil/Criminal Distinction, Grant H. Morris Sep 2004

Mental Disorder And The Civil/Criminal Distinction, Grant H. Morris

University of San Diego Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper Series

This essay, written as part of a symposium issue to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the University of San Diego Law School, discusses the evaporating distinction between sentence-serving convicts and mentally disordered nonconvicts who are involved in, or who were involved in, the criminal process–people we label as both bad and mad. By examining one Supreme Court case from each of the decades that follow the opening of the University of San Diego School of Law, the essay demonstrates how the promise that nonconvict mentally disordered persons would be treated equally with other civilly committed mental patients was made ...


Lawyers As Gatekeepers, Fred C. Zacharias Sep 2004

Lawyers As Gatekeepers, Fred C. Zacharias

University of San Diego Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper Series

Three recent legislative and regulatory initiatives -- the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the 2003 amendments to Model Rules 1.6 and 1.13, and the Gatekeeper Initiative – all seek to enlist the assistance of lawyers in thwarting crime. Outraged opponents have relied on flamboyant rhetoric. They challenge the notion that lawyers should act as gatekeepers – which some of the opponents deem equivalent to operating like the “secret police in Eastern European countries.” This article makes a simple, and ultimately uncontroversial, point. Lawyers are gatekeepers, and always have been. Whatever one’s position on the merits of the specific reforms currently being proposed, it ...


Understanding Recent Trends In Federal Regulation Of Lawyers, Fred C. Zacharias Sep 2004

Understanding Recent Trends In Federal Regulation Of Lawyers, Fred C. Zacharias

University of San Diego Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper Series

Federal lawmakers increasingly have taken actions that contradict, interfere with, or preempt state regulation of lawyers. Most of the commentary regarding the recent federal actions has focused on whether individual regulations are substantively justified. It is, however, worth considering more broadly whether and how the phenomenon of increasing federal regulation is symptomatic of changing views of appropriate professional regulation. This article considers a series of theoretical analyses of the increasing federal regulation -- themes and trends that the increasing regulation might represent or epitomize. Whenever the bar or other commentators criticize developments in professional regulation, it is important to place their ...


The Hollowness Of The Harm Principle, Steven D. Smith Sep 2004

The Hollowness Of The Harm Principle, Steven D. Smith

University of San Diego Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper Series

Among the various instruments in the toolbox of liberalism, the so-called “harm principle,” presented as the central thesis of John Stuart Mill’s classic On Liberty, has been one of the most popular. The harm principle has been widely embraced and invoked in both academic and popular debate about a variety of issues ranging from obscenity to drug regulation to abortion to same-sex marriage, and its influence is discernible in legal arguments and judicial opinions as well. Despite the principle’s apparent irresistibility, this essay argues that the principle is hollow. It is an empty vessel, alluring but without any ...


Supermajority Rules And The Judicial Confirmation Process, Michael B. Rappaport, John O. Mcginnis Sep 2004

Supermajority Rules And The Judicial Confirmation Process, Michael B. Rappaport, John O. Mcginnis

University of San Diego Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper Series

In this paper we assess the effect of possible supermajority rules on the now contentious Senate confirmation process for judges. We deploy a formula for evaluating supermajority rules that we have developed in other papers. First, we consider a sixty-vote rule in the Senate for the confirmation of federal judges–an explicit version of the supermajority norm that may be emerging from the filibuster. While we briefly discuss how such a rule would affect the project of maximizing the number of originalist judges, for the most part we evaluate the rule on the realist assumption that judges will pursue their ...


Judges As Rulemakers, Larry A. Alexander, Emily Sherwin Sep 2004

Judges As Rulemakers, Larry A. Alexander, Emily Sherwin

University of San Diego Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper Series

This essay analyzes and compares different approaches to the problem of legal precedent. If judges reasoned flawlessly, the ideal approach to precedent would give prior judicial opinions only the weight they naturally carry in moral reasoning. Given that judges are not perfect reasoners, the best approach to precedent is one that treats rules established in prior decisions as authoritative for later judges. In comparison to the natural model of precedent, a rule-based model minimizes error. A rule-based model is also superior to several popular attempts at compromise, which call on judges to reason from the results of prior cases or ...


Competency To Stand Trial On Trial, Grant H. Morris, Ansar M. Haroun, David Naimark Sep 2004

Competency To Stand Trial On Trial, Grant H. Morris, Ansar M. Haroun, David Naimark

University of San Diego Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper Series

This Article considers the legal standards for the determination of competency to stand trial, and whether those standards are understood and applied by psychiatrists and psychologists in the forensic evaluations they perform and in the judgments they make–judgments that are routinely accepted by trial courts as their own judgments. The Article traces the historical development of the competency construct and the development of two competency standards. One standard, used today in eight states that contain 25% of the population of the United States, requires that the defendant be able to assist counsel in the conduct of a defense “in ...


The Tenuous Case For Conscience, Steven D. Smith Sep 2004

The Tenuous Case For Conscience, Steven D. Smith

University of San Diego Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper Series

If there is any single theme that has provided the foundation of modern liberalism and has infused our more specific constitutional commitments to freedom of religion and freedom of speech, that theme is probably “freedom of conscience.” But some observers also perceive a progressive cheapening of conscience– even a sort of degradation. Such criticisms suggest the need for a contemporary rethinking of conscience. When we reverently invoke “conscience,” do we have any idea what we are talking about? Or are we just exploiting a venerable theme for rhetorical purposes without any clear sense of what “conscience” is or why it ...


Appointing Federal Judges: The President, The Senate, And The Prisoner's Dilemma, David S. Law Sep 2004

Appointing Federal Judges: The President, The Senate, And The Prisoner's Dilemma, David S. Law

University of San Diego Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper Series

This paper argues that the expansion of the White House's role in judicial appointments since the late 1970s, at the expense of the Senate, has contributed to heightened levels of ideological conflict and gridlock over the appointment of federal appeals court judges, by making a cooperative equilibrium difficult to sustain. Presidents have greater electoral incentive to behave ideologically, and less incentive to cooperate with other players in the appointments process, than do senators, who are disciplined to a greater extent in their dealings with each other by the prospect of retaliation over repeat play. The possibility of divided government ...


Of Gift Horses And Great Expectations: Remands Without Vacatur In Administrative Law, Daniel B. Rodriguez Jul 2004

Of Gift Horses And Great Expectations: Remands Without Vacatur In Administrative Law, Daniel B. Rodriguez

University of San Diego Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper Series

Administrative law has been shaped over the years by fundamentally practical considerations. Displacement of agency decisions by courts was rare; yet, the omnipresent threat of substantial judicial intrusion surely affected agency decisions. While the Administrative Procedure Act, adopted nearly 60 years ago, provides a comprehensive template for federal agency decisionmaking, what is striking about the APA is how much is left out and how much is left to the discretion of both agencies in implementing regulatory decisions and to the courts in superintending agency action. Given this history, it is hardly surprising that many doctrinal techniques represent the pragmatic effort ...