Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Law Commons

Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Constitutional Law

Washington and Lee University School of Law

Keyword
Publication Year
Publication
Publication Type

Articles 1 - 30 of 931

Full-Text Articles in Law

“No Superior But God”: History, Post Presidential Immunity, And The Intent Of The Framers, Trace M. Maddox May 2024

“No Superior But God”: History, Post Presidential Immunity, And The Intent Of The Framers, Trace M. Maddox

Washington and Lee Law Review Online

This essay is directly responsive to one of the most pressing issues currently before the courts of the United States: the question of whether former Presidents enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution for acts they committed in office. Building upon the recent ruling of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in United States v. Trump, 91 F.4th 1173 (D.C. Cir. 2024) this essay argues that the clear answer to that question is a resounding “no”.

Former President Trump, who has now appealed the D.C. Circuit’s ruling to the Supreme Court, contends that post-presidential criminal immunity is …


Implied Consent In Administrative Adjudication, Grace Moore May 2024

Implied Consent In Administrative Adjudication, Grace Moore

Washington and Lee Law Review Online

Article III of the Constitution mandates that judges exercising the federal judicial power receive life tenure and that their pay not be diminished. Nonetheless, certain forms of adjudication have always taken place outside of Article III—in state courts, military tribunals, territorial courts, and administrative tribunals. Administrative law judges, employed by various federal administrative agencies, decide thousands of cases each year. A vast majority of the cases they decide deal with public rights, which generally include claims involving federal statutory rights or cases in which the federal government is a party. With litigant consent, however, the Supreme Court has upheld administrative …


1983, Brandon Hasbrouck Jan 2024

1983, Brandon Hasbrouck

Scholarly Articles

This Piece embraces a fictional narrative to illustrate deep flaws in our legal system. It borrows its basic structure and a few choice lines from George Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. Like Orwell’s novel, it is set in the not-too-distant future to comment on problems already emerging in the present. The footnotes largely provide examples of some of those problems and how courts have treated them in a constitutional law context. The title (itself quite close to Orwell’s own title) is a reference to our chief civil rights statute, while the story deals with a critical threat to that …


Takings In Disguise: The Inequity Of Public Nuisance Receiverships In America’S Rust Belt, Anna Kennedy Oct 2023

Takings In Disguise: The Inequity Of Public Nuisance Receiverships In America’S Rust Belt, Anna Kennedy

Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice

Since they were created in the 1980s in Cleveland, Ohio, public nuisance receiverships have spread across the American Rust Belt. This Note critically analyzes the legal implications of public nuisance receiverships, which involve the intrusion onto private property for public purposes. Despite claims that these actions align with exceptions to due process or public nuisance principles, a deeper examination reveals their fundamental nature as government takings of private property. This Note dissects the legal framework within the context of the Fifth Amendment, debunking the applicability of the public nuisance exception, establishing that receiverships constitute takings, and highlighting conflicts with Anti-Kelo …


Constitutional Resilience, Shannon M. Roesler Oct 2023

Constitutional Resilience, Shannon M. Roesler

Washington and Lee Law Review

Since the New Deal era, our system of constitutional governance has relied on expansive federal authority to regulate economic and social problems of national scale. Throughout the twentieth century, Congress passed ambitious federal statutes designed to address these problems. In doing so, it often enlisted states as regulatory partners—creating a system of shared governance that underpins major environmental statutes, such as the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. These governance structures remain important today as we seek to adapt our laws and institutions to the serious disruptions of climate change. But recent Supreme Court decisions challenge this long-established …


Constitutional Confidentiality, Natalie Ram, Jorge L. Contreras, Laura M. Beskow, Leslie E. Wolf Oct 2023

Constitutional Confidentiality, Natalie Ram, Jorge L. Contreras, Laura M. Beskow, Leslie E. Wolf

Washington and Lee Law Review

Federal Certificates of Confidentiality (“Certificates”) protect sensitive information about human research subjects from disclosure and use in judicial, administrative, and legislative proceedings at both the state and federal levels. When they were first authorized by Congress in the 1970s, Certificates covered sensitive information collected in research about drug addiction use. Today, however, they extend to virtually all personal information gathered by biomedical research studies. The broad reach of Certificates, coupled with their power to override state subpoenas and warrants issued in the context of law enforcement, abortion regulation, and other police powers typically under state control, beg the question whether …


Stay Out Of My Head: Neurodata, Privacy, And The First Amendment, Wayne Unger Oct 2023

Stay Out Of My Head: Neurodata, Privacy, And The First Amendment, Wayne Unger

Washington and Lee Law Review

The once science-fictional idea of mind-reading is within reach as advancements in brain-computer interfaces, coupled with advanced artificial intelligence, produce neurodata—the collection of substantive thoughts as storable and processable data. But government access to individuals’ neurodata threatens personal autonomy and the right to privacy. While the Fourth Amendment is traditionally considered the source of privacy protections against government intrusion, the First Amendment provides more robust protections with respect to whether governments can access one’s substantive ideas, thoughts, and beliefs. However, many theorists assert that the concept of privacy conflicts with the First Amendment because privacy restricts the flow of information …


The Court And Capital Punishment On Different Paths: Abolition In Waiting, Carol S. Steiker, Jordan M. Steiker Apr 2023

The Court And Capital Punishment On Different Paths: Abolition In Waiting, Carol S. Steiker, Jordan M. Steiker

Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice

The American death penalty finds itself in an unusual position. On the ground, the practice is weaker than at any other time in our history. Eleven jurisdictions have abandoned the death penalty over the past fifteen years, almost doubling the number of states without the punishment (twenty-three). Executions have declined substantially, totaling twenty-five or fewer a year nationwide for the past six years, compared to an average of seventy-seven a year during the six-year span around the millennium (1997-2002). Most tellingly, death sentences have fallen off a cliff, with fewer the fifty death sentences a year nationwide over the past …


The Gross Injustices Of Capital Punishment: A Torturous Practice And Justice Thurgood Marshall’S Astute Appraisal Of The Death Penalty’S Cruelty, Discriminatory Use, And Unconstitutionality, John D. Bessler Apr 2023

The Gross Injustices Of Capital Punishment: A Torturous Practice And Justice Thurgood Marshall’S Astute Appraisal Of The Death Penalty’S Cruelty, Discriminatory Use, And Unconstitutionality, John D. Bessler

Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice

Through the centuries, capital punishment and torture have been used by monarchs, authoritarian regimes, and judicial systems around the world. Although torture is now expressly outlawed by international law, capital punishment—questioned by Quakers in the seventeenth century and by the Italian philosopher Cesare Beccaria and many others in the following century—has been authorized over time by various legislative bodies, including in the United States. It was Beccaria’s book, Dei delitti e delle pene (1764), translated into French and then into English as An Essay on Crimes and Punishments (1767), that fueled the still-ongoing international movement to outlaw the death penalty. …


Religious Ministers And The Scope Of Their Rights To Non-Discrimination In Employment, R. George Wright Apr 2023

Religious Ministers And The Scope Of Their Rights To Non-Discrimination In Employment, R. George Wright

Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice

The First Amendment is currently thought to bar ministerial employees from any recourse against their religious employer under a wide variety of non-discrimination statutes and other forms of legal protection. The typical critique of this state of affairs seeks to narrow the class of persons who count as ministerial employees. This paper focuses instead on an important, and peculiar, aspect of the ministerial exception doctrine. At present, the law generally prohibits any recovery by ministerial employees for employment discrimination by their religious employer even where the employer’s reasons for the discrimination have nothing to do with any religious doctrine, belief, …


Silencing Students: How Courts Have Failed To Protect Professional Students’ First Amendment Speech Rights, Shanelle Doher Mar 2023

Silencing Students: How Courts Have Failed To Protect Professional Students’ First Amendment Speech Rights, Shanelle Doher

Washington and Lee Law Review Online

Over the past two decades, social media has dramatically changed the way people communicate. With the increased popularity of virtual communication, online speech has, in many ways, blurred the boundaries for where and when speech begins and ends. The distinction between on campus and off campus student speech has become particularly murky given the normalization of virtual learning environments as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic. In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, the Supreme Court clarified that students retain their First Amendment rights on campus but that schools may sanction speech that materially and substantially …


Democratizing Abolition, Brandon Hasbrouck Jan 2023

Democratizing Abolition, Brandon Hasbrouck

Scholarly Articles

When abolitionists discuss remedies for past and present injustices, they are frequently met with apparently pragmatic objections to the viability of such bold remedies in U.S. legislatures and courts held captive by reactionary forces. Previous movements have seen their lesser reforms dashed by the white supremacist capitalist order that retains its grip on power in America. While such objectors contend that abolitionists should not ask for so much justice, abolitionists should in fact demand significantly more.

Remedying our country’s history of subordination will not be complete without establishing abolition democracy. While our classical conception of a liberal republic asks us …


Allow Me To Transform: A Black Guy’S Guide To A New Constitution, Brandon Hasbrouck Jan 2023

Allow Me To Transform: A Black Guy’S Guide To A New Constitution, Brandon Hasbrouck

Scholarly Articles

Elie Mystal’s Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution works within the tradition of lay synopses of constitutional law, filling a gap among those that came before. Some works have provided nonlawyers with an explicitly Black perspective on major issues in modern civil rights, while others have provided an introduction to constitutional law as a field. Mystal broadens the focus and audience, illuminating constitutional issues with his trademark humor and his life experience as a Black man in America. He creates a comprehensive overview for lay readers, emphasizing the experiences and needs of Black men. The …


The False Promise Of Jurisdiction Stripping, Daniel Epps, Alan M. Trammell Jan 2023

The False Promise Of Jurisdiction Stripping, Daniel Epps, Alan M. Trammell

Scholarly Articles

Jurisdiction stripping is seen as a nuclear option. Its logic is simple: By depriving federal courts of jurisdiction over some set of cases, Congress ensures those courts cannot render bad decisions. To its proponents, it offers the ultimate check on unelected and unaccountable judges. To its critics, it poses a grave threat to the separation of powers. Both sides agree, though, that jurisdiction stripping is a powerful weapon. On this understanding, politicians, activists, and scholars throughout American history have proposed jurisdiction-stripping measures as a way for Congress to reclaim policymaking authority from the courts.

The conventional understanding is wrong. Whatever …


Behind The Screen: Examining The Human Consequences And Constitutional Ramifications Of The Virtual Criminal Defendant, Mallory Kostroff Jan 2023

Behind The Screen: Examining The Human Consequences And Constitutional Ramifications Of The Virtual Criminal Defendant, Mallory Kostroff

Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice

Defendants are waiting behind a screen to learn their fate in their criminal proceedings. This Note sounds the alarm that having incarcerated defendants appear virtually for their criminal proceedings will lead the criminal justice system further down a path of mass incarceration and destruction. This Note demonstrates and argues that there are no benefits for having an incarcerated defendant appear virtually because there are no real benefits to the defendant themselves. Courts further try to argue that video appearances are efficient as they save time and money but as this Note shows those arguments are misleading and miss the point …


The Black Fourth Amendment, Charisma Hunter Dec 2022

The Black Fourth Amendment, Charisma Hunter

Washington and Lee Law Review Online

Policing Black bodies serves at the forefront of the American policing system. Black bodies are subject to everlasting surveillance through institutions and everyday occurrences. From relaxing in a Starbucks to exercising, Black bodies are deemed criminals, surveilled, profiled, and subjected to perpetual implicit bias when participating in mundane activities. Black people should have the same protections as white people and should possess the ability to engage in everyday, commonplace, and routine activities.

The Fourth Amendment was not drafted with the intention of protecting Black bodies. In fact, Black bodies were considered three-fifths of a person at the drafting of the …


Certain Prosecutors: Geographical Arbitrariness, Unusualness, & The Abolition Of Virginia’S Death Penalty, Bernadette M. Donovan Oct 2022

Certain Prosecutors: Geographical Arbitrariness, Unusualness, & The Abolition Of Virginia’S Death Penalty, Bernadette M. Donovan

Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice

Virginia’s abolition of the death penalty in 2021 was a historic development. As both a southern state and one of the country’s most active death penalty jurisdictions, Virginia’s transition away from capital punishment represented an important shift in the national landscape. This article considers whether that shift has any constitutional significance, focusing on the effect of Virginia’s abolition on the geographical arbitrariness of the country’s death penalty.

As a starting point, the death penalty in America is primarily regulated by the Eighth Amendment, which bars “cruel and unusual punishments.” The United States Supreme Court has held that the death penalty …


Atkins V. Virginia At Twenty: Still Adaptive Deficits, Still In The Developmental Period, Sheri Lynn Johnson, John H. Blume, Brendan Van Winkle Oct 2022

Atkins V. Virginia At Twenty: Still Adaptive Deficits, Still In The Developmental Period, Sheri Lynn Johnson, John H. Blume, Brendan Van Winkle

Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice

Twenty years ago, in Atkins v. Virginia, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Eighth Amendment prohibited states from executing persons with intellectual disability. While the Court’s decision is laudable and has saved many of the most vulnerable persons from the executioner, its effect has been undermined by recalcitrant states attempting to exploit language in the opinion permitting states to create procedures to implement the (then) new categorical prohibition. In this article, we examine how some states have adopted procedures which are fundamentally inconsistent with the clinical consensus understanding of the disability and how one state, …


The Disappearing Freedom Of The Press, Ronnell Andersen Jones, Sonja R. West Oct 2022

The Disappearing Freedom Of The Press, Ronnell Andersen Jones, Sonja R. West

Washington and Lee Law Review

At this moment of unprecedented decline of local news and amplified attacks on the American press, scholars are increasingly turning their attention to the Constitution’s role in protecting journalism and the journalistic function. Recent calls by some U.S. Supreme Court Justices to reconsider the core press-protecting precedent from New York Times Co. v. Sullivan have intensified these conversations. This scholarly dialogue, however, appears to be taking place against a mistaken foundational assumption that the U.S. Supreme Court continues to articulate and embrace at least some notion of freedom of the press. Yet despite the First Amendment text specifically referencing it …


Leave Them Kids Alone: State Constitutional Protections For Gender-Affirming Healthcare, Jessica Matsuda Oct 2022

Leave Them Kids Alone: State Constitutional Protections For Gender-Affirming Healthcare, Jessica Matsuda

Washington and Lee Law Review

State legislatures across the nation are continually targeting the rights of transgender individuals with a variety of laws affecting everything from bathrooms to medical care. One particularly invasive type of legislation, the gender-affirming healthcare ban, seeks to prohibit all forms of healthcare that align a person’s physical traits with their gender identity for individuals under eighteen. Bans like this severely impede the treatment necessary for transgender youth suffering from gender dysphoria, which carries serious physical consequences and sometimes fatal psychological repercussions. As legislative sessions pass, more and more states are introducing and actually enacting these bans

Striking down these bans …


Playing With Words: Amar’S Nationalist Constitution, Robert J. Pushaw Jr. Sep 2022

Playing With Words: Amar’S Nationalist Constitution, Robert J. Pushaw Jr.

Washington and Lee Law Review Online

This essay provides a balanced critique of Akhil Amar’s important book on early constitutional theory and practice. On the one hand, Amar’s work has three unique virtues. First, unlike other constitutional historians, he does not examine a particular clause or a brief time period (such as 1787‑1789), but rather analyzes the Constitution as a whole from 1760 to 1840. This holistic and longitudinal approach enables him to trace in detail the evolving constitutional views of America’s leading Founders—John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Marshall, and George Washington—and the personal relationships among those men that helped shape those …


Abortion Rights And Disability Equality: A New Constitutional Battleground, Allison M. Whelan, Michele Goodwin Jul 2022

Abortion Rights And Disability Equality: A New Constitutional Battleground, Allison M. Whelan, Michele Goodwin

Washington and Lee Law Review

Abortion rights and access are under siege in the United States. Even while current state-level attacks take on a newly aggressive scale and scope—emboldened by the United States Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey—the legal landscape emerging in the wake of Dobbs is decades in the making. In this Article, we analyze the pre- and post-Roe landscapes, explaining that after the Supreme Court recognized a right to abortion in Roe in 1973, anti-abortionists sought to dismantle that right, first …


Right Of Self, Mitchell F. Crusto Apr 2022

Right Of Self, Mitchell F. Crusto

Washington and Lee Law Review

The exercise of free will against tyranny is the single principle that defines the American spirit, our history, and our culture. From the American Revolution through the Civil War, the two World Wars, the Civil Rights Movement, and up to today, Americans have embraced the fundamental rights of the individual against wrongful governmental intrusion. This is reflected in our foundational principles, including the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution, the Reconstruction Amendments, the Nineteenth Amendment, and, more recently, in the Supreme Court’s recognition of fundamental individual rights within the Constitution’s penumbras. However, there is no …


Using Waller To Uphold First And Sixth Amendment Rights Throughout The Covid-19 Pandemic, Maya Chaudhuri Feb 2022

Using Waller To Uphold First And Sixth Amendment Rights Throughout The Covid-19 Pandemic, Maya Chaudhuri

Washington and Lee Law Review Online

In The Right to a Public Trial in the Time of COVID-19, Professor Stephen Smith argued that the COVID-19 pandemic justified an almost categorical suspension of the right to a public trial. Judges have relied on Smith’s Article to justify closure decisions made without the constitutionally required specific findings. These are part of a larger pattern of improper closure determinations, many made without fully considering alternatives to closure, since the beginning of the pandemic that threatens the rights of individuals with criminal cases and the collective rights of the public. But the Constitution has no pandemic exception, and it …


Who Can Protect Black Protest?, Brandon Hasbrouck Jan 2022

Who Can Protect Black Protest?, Brandon Hasbrouck

Scholarly Articles

Police violence both as the cause of and response to the racial justice protests following George Floyd’s murder called fresh attention to the need for legal remedies to hold police officers accountable. In addition to the well-publicized issue of qualified immunity, the differential regimes for asserting civil rights claims against state and federal agents for constitutional rights violations create a further barrier to relief. Courts have only recognized damages as a remedy for such abuses in limited contexts against federal employees under the Bivens framework. The history of Black protest movements reveals the violent responses police have to such challenges …


The Antiracist Constitution, Brandon Hasbrouck Jan 2022

The Antiracist Constitution, Brandon Hasbrouck

Scholarly Articles

Our Constitution, as it is and as it has been interpreted by our courts, serves white supremacy. The twin projects of abolition and reconstruction remain incomplete, derailed first by openly hostile institutions, then by the subtler lie that a colorblind Constitution would bring about the end of racism. Yet, in its debut in Supreme Court jurisprudence, colorblind constitutionalism promised that facially discriminatory laws were unnecessary for the perpetuation of white supremacy. That promise has been fulfilled across nearly every field of law as modern white supremacists adopt insidious, facially neutral laws to ensure the oppression of Black people and other …


When Police Volunteer To Kill, Alexandra L. Klein Jan 2022

When Police Volunteer To Kill, Alexandra L. Klein

Scholarly Articles

The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of lethal injection, yet states continue to struggle with drug shortages and botched executions. Some states have authorized alternative methods of execution, including the firing squad. Utah, which has consistently carried out firing squad executions throughout its history, relies on police officers from the jurisdiction where the crime took place to volunteer to carry out these executions. This represents a plausible--and probable--method for other states in conducting firing squad executions.

Public and academic discussion of the firing squad has centered on questions of pain and suffering. It has not engaged with the consequences …


Movement Judges, Brandon Hasbrouck Jan 2022

Movement Judges, Brandon Hasbrouck

Scholarly Articles

Judges matter. The opinions of a few impact the lives of many. Judges romanticize their own impartiality, but apathy in the face of systems of oppression favors the status quo and clears the way for conservative agendas to take root. The lifetime appointments of federal judges, the deliberate weaponization of the bench by reactionary opponents of the New Deal and progressive social movements, and the sheer inertia of judicial self-restraint have led to the conservative capture of the courts. By contrast, empathy for the oppressed and downtrodden renders substantive justice possible and leaves room for unsuccessful litigants to accept unfavorable …


Juries, Democracy, And Petty Crime, John D. King Jan 2022

Juries, Democracy, And Petty Crime, John D. King

Scholarly Articles

The right to trial by jury in criminal cases is basic to the design of American criminal justice and to the structure of American government. Guaranteed by Article III of the Constitution, the Sixth Amendment, and every one of the original state constitutions, the criminal jury was seen as critically important not only to the protection of individual rights but also to the architecture of American democracy. The vast majority of criminal prosecutions today, however, are resolved without even the prospect of community review by a jury. Despite the textual clarity of the guarantee, the Supreme Court has long recognized …


Movement Constitutionalism, Brandon Hasbrouck Jan 2022

Movement Constitutionalism, Brandon Hasbrouck

Scholarly Articles

The white supremacy at the heart of the American criminal legal system works to control Black, Brown, and poor people through mass incarceration. Poverty and incarceration act in a vicious circle, with reactionaries mounting a desperate defense against any attempt to mitigate economic exploitation or carceral violence. Ending the cycle will require replacing this inequitable system with the life- and liberty-affirming institutions of abolition democracy. The path to abolition democracy is arduous, but abolitionists can press for change through what I coin “movement constitutionalism.” Movement constitutionalism is the process by which grassroots abolitionist movements shift—through demands and in solidarity with …