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The Case Against Qualified Immunity, Joanna C. Schwartz 2018 UCLA School of Law

The Case Against Qualified Immunity, Joanna C. Schwartz

Notre Dame Law Review

If the Court did find an appropriate case to reconsider qualified immunity, and took seriously available evidence about qualified immunity’s historical precedents and current operation, the Court could not justify the continued existence of the doctrine in its current form. Ample evidence undermines the purported common-law foundations for qualified immunity. Research examining contemporary civil rights litigation against state and local law enforcement shows that qualified immunity also fails to achieve its intended policy aims. Qualified immunity does not shield individual officers from financial liability. It almost never shields government officials from costs and burdens associated with discovery and trial ...


A Qualified Defense Of Qualified Immunity, Aaron L. Nielson, Christopher J. Walker 2018 J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University

A Qualified Defense Of Qualified Immunity, Aaron L. Nielson, Christopher J. Walker

Notre Dame Law Review

In recent years, two new fronts of attack on qualified immunity have emerged. This Essay responds to both and provides a qualified defense of qualified immunity. Part I addresses Will Baude’s argument that qualified immunity finds no support in positive law. Part II turns to Joanna Schwartz’s pioneering empirical work that has been marshaled to question qualified immunity’s effectiveness as a matter of policy.

These two sets of criticisms—a one-two punch that qualified immunity is both unlawful and ineffective—merit serious consideration and further investigation. Neither, however, is dispositive; there are important counterpoints that merit further ...


Qualified Immunity And Fault, John F. Preis 2018 University of Richmond School of Law

Qualified Immunity And Fault, John F. Preis

Notre Dame Law Review

This Essay describes, critiques, and attempts to reform the role of fault in the defense of qualified immunity. It first argues, in Part I, that the defense does not properly assess fault because it immunizes persons who are at fault and holds liable persons who are not. The chief cause of this problem is that the defense is focused on an exceedingly narrow source of law: appellate judicial opinions. Appellate opinions are, not surprisingly, rarely read by government officers and, even when their substance is communicated to officers, they only comprise one of many factors that affect the blameworthiness of ...


Qualified Immunity At Trial, Alexander A. Reinert 2018 Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

Qualified Immunity At Trial, Alexander A. Reinert

Notre Dame Law Review

Qualified immunity doctrine is complex and important, and for many years it was assumed to have an outsize impact on civil rights cases by imposing significant barriers to success for plaintiffs. Recent empirical work has cast that assumption into doubt, at least as to the impact qualified immunity has at pretrial stages of litigation. This Essay adds to this empirical work by evaluating the impact of qualified immunity at trial, a subject that to date has not been empirically tested. The results reported here suggest that juries are rarely asked to answer questions that bear on the qualified immunity defense ...


The Branch Best Qualified To Abolish Immunity, Scott Michelman 2018 Harvard Law School

The Branch Best Qualified To Abolish Immunity, Scott Michelman

Notre Dame Law Review

Qualified immunity—the legal doctrine that shields government officials from suit for constitutional violations unless the right they violate “is sufficiently clear that every reasonable official would have understood that what he is doing violates that right”—has come under increasing judicial and scholarly criticism from diverse ideological viewpoints. This Essay considers the question of which branch of government should fix it. I take as a starting point the many critiques of qualified immunity and then turn to the question of whether courts should wait for Congress to reform this problematic doctrine. Do considerations of stare decisis or institutional competence ...


The Horror Chamber: Unqualified Impunity In Prison, David M. Shapiro, Charles Hogle 2018 Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

The Horror Chamber: Unqualified Impunity In Prison, David M. Shapiro, Charles Hogle

Notre Dame Law Review

The federal courts have been open to prisoners’ constitutional claims for half a century, but to this day, the availability of federal litigation has not stopped prisoners from being tortured, maimed, killed, or otherwise made to suffer chilling abuse. The failure of litigation as a deterrent is due in part to a confluence of legal and situational factors—doctrinal deference, statutory hurdles, and the many difficulties associated with litigating a civil rights case against one’s jailers—that make prison-conditions cases virtually impossible to win. We call this combination of factors “practical immunity.” Practical immunity amounts to a formidable barrier ...


Formalism, Ferguson, And The Future Of Qualified Immunity, Fred O. Smith Jr. 2018 Emory Law School

Formalism, Ferguson, And The Future Of Qualified Immunity, Fred O. Smith Jr.

Notre Dame Law Review

This Essay explores whether formalism and accountability are compatible lodestars as we steer toward a new future for qualified immunity. Ultimately, I argue that two existing proposals would bring the doctrine closer to its text and history, mitigate against fragmentation in the law of constitutional torts, and narrow the rights-remedies gap when government officials violate the Constitution. One proposal, by John Jeffries, would create a fault-based system, where government officials and entities alike would be liable for constitutional violations that are both unreasonable and unconstitutional. Another proposal would render governmental employers’ liable for the acts of their agents.


Qualified Immunity: Time To Change The Message, Karen M. Blum 2018 Suffolk University Law School

Qualified Immunity: Time To Change The Message, Karen M. Blum

Notre Dame Law Review

This Essay will proceed in four parts. Parts I, II, and III will highlight, through some recent illustrative cases, areas where the qualified immunity defense has been especially ineffective and inefficient by: (Part I) hampering the development of constitutional law and impeding the redress of constitutional wrongs; (Part II) draining resources of litigants and courts through interlocutory appeals that are frequently without merit and often jurisdictionally suspect; and (Part III) breeding confusion into the roles of the judge and the jury in our judicial system, effectively enhancing the judge’s role at the expense of the constitutional right to jury ...


The Intractability Of Qualified Immunity, Alan K. Chen 2018 University of Denver Sturm College of Law

The Intractability Of Qualified Immunity, Alan K. Chen

Notre Dame Law Review

This Essay offers an internal critique of qualified immunity law that explains why these problems remain intractable and why, unfortunately, there is little hope for resolution of the doctrine’s central dilemmas, short of either abandoning immunity or making it absolute. The Essay breaks down its discussion of qualified immunity into three distinct, but related, categories, and argues that the challenges presented within each category are difficult, if not impossible, to overcome. First, it addresses what can best be described as qualified immunity’s foundational jurisprudential tensions. Embedded in the doctrine are several first-level legal theory problems that can be ...


Mischief Managed? The Unconstitutionality Of Sec Aljs Under The Appointments Clause, Jackson C. Blais 2018 Notre Dame Law School

Mischief Managed? The Unconstitutionality Of Sec Aljs Under The Appointments Clause, Jackson C. Blais

Notre Dame Law Review

This Note argues that SEC ALJs are inferior officers of the United States and, as a result, are unconstitutional under the Appointments Clause. Part I examines the current state of ALJs and the jurisprudence of the Appointments Clause. Part II provides an analysis of the circuit split between the Tenth and D.C. Circuits over the question of SEC ALJs and the Appointments Clause. Part III argues that the Tenth Circuit in Bandimere v. SEC correctly decided the question presented. This Part further urges the Supreme Court to reverse the D.C. Circuit’s holding in Lucia and, in so ...


Georgia State Law Review Symposium Keynote Address: Uncovering Forensic Flaws - An Outside Perspective, Spencer S. Hsu 2018 The Washington Post

Georgia State Law Review Symposium Keynote Address: Uncovering Forensic Flaws - An Outside Perspective, Spencer S. Hsu

Georgia State University Law Review

This transcript is a reproduction of the Keynote Address by Spencer Hsu at the 2017–2018 Georgia State University Law Review Symposium — From the Crime Scene to the Court room: The Future of Forensic Science Reform — on April 6, 2018.

Spencer Hsu is an investigative reporter at the Washington Post, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, and a national Emmy Award nominee.


A Discouraging Omen: A Critical Evaluation Of The Approved Uniform Language For Testimony And Reports For The Forensic Latent Print Discipline, Simon A. Cole 2018 University of California, Irvine

A Discouraging Omen: A Critical Evaluation Of The Approved Uniform Language For Testimony And Reports For The Forensic Latent Print Discipline, Simon A. Cole

Georgia State University Law Review

The theme of the 2018 Georgia State University Law Review symposium is the Future of Forensic Science Reform. In this Article, I will assess the prospects for reform through a critical evaluation of a document published in February 2018 by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), the Approved Uniform Language for Testimony and Reports for the Forensic Latent Print Discipline (ULTR).

I argue that this document provides reason to be concerned about the prospects of forensic science reform. In Part I, I discuss the background of the ULTR. In Part II, I undertake a critical evaluation of the ULTR ...


The Overdose/Homicide Epidemic, Valena E. Beety 2018 West Virginia University College of Law

The Overdose/Homicide Epidemic, Valena E. Beety

Georgia State University Law Review

This Article explores the lack of regulation of coroners, concerns within the forensic science community on the reliability of coroner determinations, and ultimately, how elected laypeople serving as coroners may influence the rise in drug-induced homicide prosecutions in the midst of the opioid epidemic.

This Article proposes that the manner of death determination contributes to overdoses being differently prosecuted; that coroners in rural counties are more likely to determine the manner of death for an illicit substance overdose is homicide; and that coroners are provided with insufficient training on interacting with the criminal justice system, particularly on overdose deaths. Death ...


Deploying The Secret Police: The Use Of Algorithms In The Criminal Justice System, Jessica Gabel Cino 2018 Georgia State University College of Law

Deploying The Secret Police: The Use Of Algorithms In The Criminal Justice System, Jessica Gabel Cino

Georgia State University Law Review

Algorithms saturate our lives today; from curated song lists to recommending “friends” and news feeds, they factor into some of the most human aspects of decision-making, tapping into preferences based on an ever-growing amount of data. Regardless of whether the algorithm pertains to routing you around traffic jams or finding your next dinner, there is little regulation and even less transparency regarding just how these algorithms work. Paralleling this societal adoption, the criminal justice system now employs algorithms in some of the most important aspects of investigation and decision-making.

The lack of oversight is abundantly apparent in the criminal justice ...


Safety From Flawed Forensic Sciences Evidence, Boaz Sangero 2018 Academic Center of Law & Business, Israel

Safety From Flawed Forensic Sciences Evidence, Boaz Sangero

Georgia State University Law Review

This article addresses the way to safety in the context of forensic sciences evidence. After presenting the current lack of safety, which I term “unsafety,” I raise some possible safety measures to contend with this. My suggestions are grounded on two bases: first, the specific analysis of each type of evidence in line with the most recent research on the subject; and second, modern safety theory and its application to the criminal justice system. It is important to stress that my proposals represent only some of the conceivable safety measures. Developing a comprehensive safety theory for the criminal justice system ...


The Republic In Long-Term Perspective, Richard Primus 2018 University of Michigan Law School

The Republic In Long-Term Perspective, Richard Primus

Michigan Law Review Online

Every system of government eventually passes away. That's a feature of the human condition. The United States has been an unusually stable polity by the standards of world civilizations, and for that stability Americans should be deeply grateful. But no nation is exempt from the basic forces of history. It is not reasonable to think that the constitutional republic we know will last forever. The question is when it will meet its end-in our lifetimes, or in our grandchildren's, or centuries later. Given the stable conditions that living Americans were socialized to expect, the dominant intuition is probably ...


James Wilson As The Architect Of The American Presidency, Christopher S. Yoo 2018 University of Pennsylvania Law School

James Wilson As The Architect Of The American Presidency, Christopher S. Yoo

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

For decades, James Wilson has been something of a “forgotten founder.” The area where commentators generally recognize Wilson’s influence at the Convention is with respect to Article II, which establishes the executive and defines its powers. Most scholars characterize him as a resolute advocate of an independent, energetic, and unitary presidency, and a particularly successful one at that. In this regard, some scholars have generally characterized Wilson’s thinking as overly rigid. Yet a close examination of the Convention reveals Wilson to be more flexible than sometimes characterized. With respect to many aspects of the presidency, including the appointment ...


Second Thoughts About Stun Guns, Rene Reyes 2018 Suffolk University Law School

Second Thoughts About Stun Guns, Rene Reyes

Washington and Lee Law Review Online

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) recently declared that the Commonwealth’s statutory ban on stun guns violates the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The SJC had previously upheld the statute against constitutional challenge in Commonwealth v. Caetano, but the reasoning behind this holding was rejected in a brief per curium opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016. However, the guidance given by the Supreme Court in the Caetano litigation was far from unambiguous: it faulted the SJC’s reasoning without opining on the ultimate question of the ban’s constitutionality, thus leaving open the possibility ...


Anthony Kennedy: A Most Principled Justice, Mitchell N. Berman, David Peters 2018 University of Pennsylvania Law School

Anthony Kennedy: A Most Principled Justice, Mitchell N. Berman, David Peters

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

After three decades on the Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy remains its most widely maligned member. Concentrating on his constitutional jurisprudence, critics from across the ideological spectrum have derided Justice Kennedy as “a self-aggrandizing turncoat,” “an unprincipled weathervane,” and, succinctly, “America’s worst Justice.” We believe that Kennedy is not as bereft of a constitutional theory as common wisdom maintains. To the contrary, this Article argues, his constitutional decisionmaking reflects a genuine grasp (less than perfect, more than rudimentary) of a coherent and, we think, compelling theory of constitutional law—the account, more or less, that one of has introduced in ...


Abortion Rights And The Kavanaugh Nomination, John M. Greabe 2018 UNH Law School

Abortion Rights And The Kavanaugh Nomination, John M. Greabe

Law Faculty Scholarship

[Excerpt] "Last week, President Trump nominated federal appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the Supreme Court seat opened by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Immediately, coverage of the nomination focused on abortion and whether Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation would spell the end of the constitutional right recognized in Roe v. Wade. Let's explore why."


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