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Public Law and Legal Theory

University of Michigan Law School

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Michigan's Groundwater And The Public Trust Doctrine, Shay Elbaum Jan 2022

Michigan's Groundwater And The Public Trust Doctrine, Shay Elbaum

Law Librarian Scholarship

In March, legislators introduced a package of bills in the Michigan House of Representatives that would apply the public trust doctrine to the state’s groundwater. But what is the public trust doctrine and why does it matter if it applies to Michigan groundwater? This column provides an overview of the public trust doctrine and its application to groundwater, a summary of the bills now being considered, and resources for tracking their progress.


The New Major Questions Doctrine, Daniel Deacon, Leah Litman Jan 2022

The New Major Questions Doctrine, Daniel Deacon, Leah Litman

Law & Economics Working Papers

This article critically analyzes significant recent developments in the major questions doctrine. It highlights important shifts in what role the majorness of an agency policy plays in statutory interpretation, as well as changes in how the Court determines whether an agency policy is major. After the Supreme Court’s October 2021 term, the “new” major questions doctrine operates as a clear statement rule that directs courts not to discern the plain meaning of a statute using the normal tools of statutory interpretation, but to require explicit and specific congressional authorization for certain agency policies. Even broadly worded, otherwise unambiguous statutes do …


Liability For Use Of Artificial Intelligence In Medicine, W. Nicholson Price, Sara Gerke, I. Glenn Cohen Jan 2022

Liability For Use Of Artificial Intelligence In Medicine, W. Nicholson Price, Sara Gerke, I. Glenn Cohen

Law & Economics Working Papers

While artificial intelligence has substantial potential to improve medical practice, errors will certainly occur, sometimes resulting in injury. Who will be liable? Questions of liability for AI-related injury raise not only immediate concerns for potentially liable parties, but also broader systemic questions about how AI will be developed and adopted. The landscape of liability is complex, involving health-care providers and institutions and the developers of AI systems. In this chapter, we consider these three principal loci of liability: individual health-care providers, focused on physicians; institutions, focused on hospitals; and developers.


No New Tax Cuts? Examining The Rescue Plan's New State Tax Limits, Conor Clarke, Edward G. Fox Jan 2022

No New Tax Cuts? Examining The Rescue Plan's New State Tax Limits, Conor Clarke, Edward G. Fox

Law & Economics Working Papers

In this article, Clarke and Fox examine the American Rescue Plan Act’s restrictions on state tax cuts, arguing that the restrictions are a variation on more familiar maintenance-of-effort provisions. These provisions are common, and are designed to help ensure that federal grants supplement rather than supplant state spending by requiring the state to maintain its level of spending on a program. Clarke and Fox conclude that the Rescue Plan’s requirements create similar incentives, and argue that the similarity makes it more likely that the act’s tax provisions are consonant with the Constitution’s spending clause.


A Theory Of Constitutional Norms, Ashraf Ahmed Jan 2022

A Theory Of Constitutional Norms, Ashraf Ahmed

Michigan Law Review

The political convulsions of the past decade have fueled acute interest in constitutional norms or “conventions.” Despite intense scholarly attention, existing accounts are incomplete and do not answer at least one or more of three major questions: (1) What must all constitutional norms do? (2) What makes them conventional? (3) And why are they constitutional?

This Article advances an original theory of constitutional norms that answers these questions. First, it defines them and explains their general character: they are normative, contingent, and arbitrary practices that implement constitutional text and principle. Most scholars have foregone examining how norms are conventional or …


Air Pollution As Public Nuisance: Comparing Modern-Day Greenhouse Gas Abatement With Nineteenth-Century Smoke Abatement, Kate Markey Jan 2022

Air Pollution As Public Nuisance: Comparing Modern-Day Greenhouse Gas Abatement With Nineteenth-Century Smoke Abatement, Kate Markey

Michigan Law Review

Public nuisance allows plaintiffs to sue actors in tort for causing environmental harm that disrupts the public’s use and enjoyment of the land. In recent years, state and local governments have filed public nuisance actions against oil companies, hoping to hold them responsible for the harm of climate change. Since no plaintiff has prevailed on the merits so far, whether these lawsuits are worth bringing, given the other legal avenues available, remains an open question. This Comment situates these actions in their appropriate historical context to show that these lawsuits are neither unprecedented nor futile. In particular, it examines the …


A Congressional Review Act For The Major Questions Doctrine, Christopher J. Walker Jan 2022

A Congressional Review Act For The Major Questions Doctrine, Christopher J. Walker

Articles

Last Term, the Supreme Court recognized a new major questions doctrine, which requires Congress to provide clear statutory authorization for an agency to regulate on a question of great economic or political significance. This new substantive canon of statutory interpretation will be invoked in court challenges to federal agency actions across the country, and it will no doubt spark considerable scholarly attention. This Essay does not wade into those doctrinal or theoretical debates. Instead, it suggests one way Congress could respond: by enacting a Congressional Review Act for the major questions doctrine. In other words, Congress could establish a fast-track …


Structured To Fail: Lessons From The Trump Administration’S Faulty Pandemic Planning And Response, Alejandro E. Camacho, Robert L. Glicksman Dec 2021

Structured To Fail: Lessons From The Trump Administration’S Faulty Pandemic Planning And Response, Alejandro E. Camacho, Robert L. Glicksman

Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law

The Trump Administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder that poorly designed government can be a matter of life and death. This article explains how the Administration’s careless and delayed response to the crisis was made immeasurably worse by its confused and confusing reallocation of authority to perform or supervise tasks essential to reducing the virus’s ravages.

After exploring the rationale for and impact of prior federal reorganizations responding to public health crises, the article shows how a combination of unnecessary and unhelpful overlapping authority and a thoughtless mix of centralized and decentralized authority contributed to the …


The Myth Of The Great Writ, Leah M. Litman Dec 2021

The Myth Of The Great Writ, Leah M. Litman

Articles

Habeas corpus is known as the “Great Writ” because it supposedly protects individual liberty against government overreach and guards against wrongful detentions. This idea shapes habeas doctrine, federal courts theories, and habeas-reform proposals.

It is also incomplete. While the writ has sometimes protected individual liberty, it has also served as a vehicle for the legitimation of excesses of governmental power. A more complete picture of the writ emerges when one considers traditionally neglected areas of public law that are often treated as distinct—the law of slavery and freedom, Native American affairs, and immigration. There, habeas has empowered abusive exercises of …


Funding Global Governance, Kristina B. Daugirdas Oct 2021

Funding Global Governance, Kristina B. Daugirdas

Articles

Funding is an oft-overlooked but critically important determinant of what public institutions are able to accomplish. This article focuses on the growing role of earmarked voluntary contributions from member states in funding formal international organizations such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization. Heavy reliance on such funds can erode the multilateral governance of international organizations and poses particular risks for two kinds of undertakings: normative work, such as setting standards and identifying best practices; and evaluating the conduct of member states and holding those states accountable, including through public criticism, when they fall short. International organizations have …


Emergency Money: Lessons From The Paycheck Protection Program, Susan C. Morse Sep 2021

Emergency Money: Lessons From The Paycheck Protection Program, Susan C. Morse

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

The Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, was huge. Between April 2020 and May 2021, it provided almost $800 billion to more than 11 million businesses—about a third of all U.S. businesses with 500 employees or fewer. The PPP was also flawed. Treasury and the Small Business Administration faced incomplete statutory instructions and a challenging tradeoff between speed and accuracy in distributing PPP funds.

These flaws make the PPP a realistic and valuable case study; the PPP reveals tools that can be applied to similar distributions of emergency funds. One tool is back-end adjustments, meaning that funds are first distributed and …


Federal-State Partnership: How The Federal Government Should Better Support Its State Unemployment Insurance Offices In Times Of Crisis, Maddie Mcfee Sep 2021

Federal-State Partnership: How The Federal Government Should Better Support Its State Unemployment Insurance Offices In Times Of Crisis, Maddie Mcfee

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused millions of people to lose their jobs and become dependent on unemployment benefits. State unemployment offices were not prepared for this sudden onslaught of claims. Offices could not increase staffing levels because they were not given money by the federal government to do so. As offices were overwhelmed, a scammer group named Scattered Canary took this opportunity to fraudulently claim millions of dollars from several states. Because the federal government supplies administrative funds to states based on average previous need, the system is not designed to support states’ increased needs during sudden economic …


Suspect Spheres, Not Enumerated Powers: A Guide For Leaving The Lamppost, Richard Primus, Roderick M. Hills Jr. May 2021

Suspect Spheres, Not Enumerated Powers: A Guide For Leaving The Lamppost, Richard Primus, Roderick M. Hills Jr.

Michigan Law Review

Despite longstanding orthodoxy, the Constitution’s enumeration of congressional powers does virtually nothing to limit federal lawmaking. That’s not because of some bizarrely persistent judicial failure to read the Constitution correctly. It’s because the enumeration of congressional powers is not a well-designed technology for limiting federal legislation. Rather than trying to make the enumeration do work that it will not do, decisionmakers should find better ways of thinking about what lawmaking should be done locally rather than nationally. This Article suggests such a rubric, one that asks not whether Congress has permission to do a certain thing but whether a certain …


Regtech And Predictive Lawmaking: Closing The Reglag Between Prospective Regulated Activity And Regulation, John W. Bagby, Nizan G. Packin Apr 2021

Regtech And Predictive Lawmaking: Closing The Reglag Between Prospective Regulated Activity And Regulation, John W. Bagby, Nizan G. Packin

Michigan Business & Entrepreneurial Law Review

Regulation chronically suffers significant delay starting at the detectable initiation of a “regulable activity” and culminating at effective regulatory response. Regulator reaction is impeded by various obstacles: (i) confusion in optimal level, form and choice of regulatory agency, (ii) political resistance to creating new regulatory agencies, (iii) lack of statutory authorization to address particular novel problems, (iv) jurisdictional competition among regulators, (v) Congressional disinclination to regulate given political conditions, and (vi) a lack of expertise, both substantive and procedural, to deploy successful counter-measures. Delay is rooted in several stubborn institutions, including libertarian ideals permeating both the U.S. legal system and …


Reframing Article I, Section 8, Richard Primus Apr 2021

Reframing Article I, Section 8, Richard Primus

Articles

Constitutional lawyers usually think of the Constitution's enumeration of congressional powers as a device for limiting the federal government's legislative jurisdiction. And there's something to that. But considered from the point of view of the Constitution's drafters, it makes more sense to think of the enumeration of congressional powers as primarily a device for empowering Congress, not limiting it. The Framers wanted both to empower and to limit the general government, and the Constitution's enumeration of congressional powers makes more sense as a means of empowerment than as a means of limitation. The major exception--that is, the one significant way …


Stanley Surrey, The 1981 Us Model, And The Single Tax Principle, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Gianluca Mazzoni Mar 2021

Stanley Surrey, The 1981 Us Model, And The Single Tax Principle, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Gianluca Mazzoni

Law & Economics Working Papers

2021 marks the 40th anniversary of the 1981 U.S. Model Tax Treaty as well as the 5th anniversary of the 2016 US Model Tax Treaty. The first author has repeatedly argued that the 1981 Model gave life to the single tax principle (“STP”). The 2016 Model updates effectively implemented the principle that cross-border income should be taxed once – that is not more and but also not less than once. For example, the 2016 Model does not reduce withholding taxes on payments of highly mobile income that are made to related persons that enjoy low or no taxation with respect …


Tax Treaties, The Constitution, And The Noncompulsory Payment Rule, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Mar 2021

Tax Treaties, The Constitution, And The Noncompulsory Payment Rule, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

US Tax treaties have been regarded as self-executing since the first treaty (with France) was ratified in 1932. Rebecca Kysar has argued this raises a doubt on whether the treaties are constitutional, because tax treaties (like other treaties) are negotiated by the executive branch and ratified by the Senate with no involvement by the House, and all tax-raising measures must originate in the House under the Origination Clause (U.S. Const. Art I, section 7, clause 7). Her preferred solution is to make tax treaties non-self executing, but that would reverse the universal practice since 1932, and is therefore unlikely. Moreover, …


Reforming Michigan Vehicle Direct Sales Laws, Daniel A. Crane Mar 2021

Reforming Michigan Vehicle Direct Sales Laws, Daniel A. Crane

Law & Economics Working Papers

Michigan stands at a crossroads with respect to the way that electrical vehicles (“EVs”) are sold and serviced. For many decades, Michigan—like many other states—mandated that cars could be sold and serviced only through independent, franchised dealers and prohibited car manufacturers from selling or servicing directly. Historically, those laws were put in place to protect dealers from the superior bargaining power, and sometimes unfair practices, of the Big Three car companies—General Motors (“GM”), Ford, and Chrysler. With the advent of EV technology, it became clear that these decades-old restrictions on direct sales and servicing needed to be reconsidered. Tesla, the …


New Innovation Models In Medical Ai, Nicholson Price Ii, Rachel Sachs, Rebecca S. Eisenberg Feb 2021

New Innovation Models In Medical Ai, Nicholson Price Ii, Rachel Sachs, Rebecca S. Eisenberg

Law & Economics Working Papers

In recent years, scientists and researchers have devoted considerable resources to developing medical artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. Many of these technologies—particularly those which resemble traditional medical devices in their functions—have received substantial attention in the legal and policy literature. But other types of novel AI technologies, such as those that relate to quality improvement and optimizing use of scarce facilities, have been largely absent from the discussion thus far. These AI innovations have the potential to shed light on important aspects of health innovation policy. First, these AI innovations interact less with the legal regimes that scholars traditionally conceive of …


An Fsoc For Continuous Public Investment: The National Reconstruction And Development Council, Robert Hockett Feb 2021

An Fsoc For Continuous Public Investment: The National Reconstruction And Development Council, Robert Hockett

Michigan Business & Entrepreneurial Law Review

The crisis our nation presently faces does not stem from COVID-19 alone. That was the match. The kindling was that we have forgotten for decades that “national development” both (a) is perpetual, and (b) requires national action to guide it, facilitate it, and keep it inclusive.

Hamilton and Gallatin, Wilson and Hoover and Roosevelt all understood this and built institutions to operationalize it. Although the institutions were imperfectly operated, they were soundly conceived and designed. Abandoning these truths and institutions these past fifty years has degenerated not only our public health but also our nation’s industrial and infrastructural muscle to …


The Soul Savers: A 21st Century Homage To Derrick Bell’S Space Traders Or Should Black People Leave America?, Katheryn Russell-Brown Feb 2021

The Soul Savers: A 21st Century Homage To Derrick Bell’S Space Traders Or Should Black People Leave America?, Katheryn Russell-Brown

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

Note: Narrative storytelling is a staple of legal jurisprudence. The Case of the Speluncean Explorers by Lon Fuller and The Space Traders by Derrick Bell are two of the most well-known and celebrated legal stories. The Soul Savers parable that follows pays tribute to Professor Bell’s prescient, apocalyptic racial tale. Professor Bell, a founding member of Critical Race Theory, wrote The Space Traders to instigate discussions about America’s deeply rooted entanglements with race and racism. The Soul Savers is offered as an attempt to follow in Professor Bell’s narrative footsteps by raising and pondering new and old frameworks about the …


Anti-Modalities, David E. Pozen, Adam M. Samaha Feb 2021

Anti-Modalities, David E. Pozen, Adam M. Samaha

Michigan Law Review

Constitutional argument runs on the rails of “modalities.” These are the accepted categories of reasoning used to make claims about the content of supreme law. Some of the modalities, such as ethical and prudential arguments, seem strikingly open ended at first sight. Their contours come into clearer view, however, when we attend to the kinds of claims that are not made by constitutional interpreters—the analytical and rhetorical moves that are familiar in debates over public policy and political morality but are considered out of bounds in debates over constitutional meaning. In this Article, we seek to identify the “anti-modalities” of …


Constitutional Review Of Federal Tax Legislation, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Yoseph M. Edrey Jan 2021

Constitutional Review Of Federal Tax Legislation, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Yoseph M. Edrey

Law & Economics Working Papers

What does the Constitution mean when it says that “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States” (US Const. Article I, Section 8, Clause 1)? The definition of “tax” for constitutional purposes has become important in light of the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in NFIB v. Sebelius, in which Chief Justice Roberts for the Court upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act under the taxing power. This has led to commentators questioning …


A Path To Transformation: Asking “The Woman Question” In International Law, Cochav Elkayam-Levy Jan 2021

A Path To Transformation: Asking “The Woman Question” In International Law, Cochav Elkayam-Levy

Michigan Journal of International Law

Methods matter, and the discussion over feminist methods in international law is an important one. As Kathrine Bartlett famously noted, “thinking about method is empowering.” It makes us more aware of the nature of what we do and what we aim to improve in the law. Consequently, we can act more effectively when we examine legal structures and do it with a stronger sense of commitment towards our feminist work. Methods are also the fundamental means by which we produce “valid knowing.” The discussion of feminist methods in international law is one that engages with the combination of rules and …


When Critical Race Theory Enters The Law & Technology Frame, Jessica M. Eaglin Jan 2021

When Critical Race Theory Enters The Law & Technology Frame, Jessica M. Eaglin

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

Michigan Technology Law Review is proud to partner with our peers to publish this essay by Professor Jessica Eaglin on the intertwining social construction of race, law and technology. This piece highlights how the approach to use technology as precise tools for criminal administration or objective solutions to societal issues often fails to consider how laws and technologies are created in our racialized society. If we do not consider how race and technology are co-productive, we will fail to reach substantive justice and instead reinforce existing racial hierarchies legitimated by laws.


Will The "Legal Singularity" Hollow Out Law's Normative Core?, Robert F. Weber Jan 2021

Will The "Legal Singularity" Hollow Out Law's Normative Core?, Robert F. Weber

Michigan Technology Law Review

This Article undertakes a critical examination of the unintended consequences for the legal system if we arrive at the futurist dream of a legal singularity—the moment when predictive, mass-data technologies evolve to create a perfectly predictable, algorithmically-expressed legal system bereft of all legal uncertainty. It argues that although the singularity would surely enhance the efficiency of the legal system in a narrow sense, it would also undermine the rule of law, a bedrock institution of any liberal legal order and a key source of the legal system’s legitimacy. It would do so by dissolving the normative content of the two …


Offenders And Sorn Laws, Amanda Agan, J.J. Prescott Jan 2021

Offenders And Sorn Laws, Amanda Agan, J.J. Prescott

Book Chapters

Chapter 7 describes what we know about the effects of SORN laws on criminal behavior. A coherent story emerges from this review: there is virtually no evidence that SORN laws reduce recidivism or otherwise increase public safety. The chapter first delineates the various ways registration and notification alter the legal environment not only for registrants but also for nonregistrants, the public, and law enforcement. There are many channels through which SORN laws might impact the frequency of sex offenses, including some that would produce an increase in overall offending. The chapter assesses these possibilities in light of a large body …


Symmetry's Mandate: Constraining The Politicization Of American Administrative Law, Daniel E. Walters Dec 2020

Symmetry's Mandate: Constraining The Politicization Of American Administrative Law, Daniel E. Walters

Michigan Law Review

Recent years have seen the rise of pointed and influential critiques of deference doctrines in administrative law. What many of these critiques have in common is a view that judges, not agencies, should resolve interpretive disputes over the meaning of statutes—disputes the critics take to be purely legal and almost always resolvable using lawyerly tools of statutory construction. In this Article, I take these critiques, and the relatively formalist assumptions behind them, seriously and show that the critics have not acknowledged or advocated the full reform vision implied by their theoretical premises. Specifically, critics have extended their critique of judicial …


Recovery For Causing Tax Overpayment - Lyeth V. Hoey And Clark Revisited, Douglas A. Kahn, Jeffrey H. Kahn Oct 2020

Recovery For Causing Tax Overpayment - Lyeth V. Hoey And Clark Revisited, Douglas A. Kahn, Jeffrey H. Kahn

Law & Economics Working Papers

The question has arisen in numerous cases as to the extent to which a settlement between arms’ length parties is dispositive in tax cases of the claims on which the settlement is based. Another issue that often arises is whether the receipt of compensation for a tax payment that was incurred because of the negligence of the payor is excluded from gross income. While those two issues were central to the proper resolution of a recent case in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, McKenny v. United States, the court failed even to note one of …


The Integrative Effects Of Global Legal Pluralism, Monica Hakimi Oct 2020

The Integrative Effects Of Global Legal Pluralism, Monica Hakimi

Book Chapters

International lawyers widely understand that legal pluralism is a fact of global life and that it can, in certain settings, be desirable. But many still approach it with some trepidation. A prominent skeptical claim is that pluralist structures lack the integrative resources that unify people around a shared governance project. This claim has been prominent with respect to two kinds of conflicts that are routine in international law: (1) conflicts that play out within a single international legal arrangement, and (2) conflicts that cut across multiple legal arrangements. For both, the skeptical claim is directed at the pluralist structure itself. …