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Public Law and Legal Theory

University of Michigan Law School

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Articles 1 - 30 of 372

Full-Text Articles in Law

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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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.


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 ...


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 ...


Making Sense Of Customary International Law, Monica Hakimi Jun 2020

Making Sense Of Customary International Law, Monica Hakimi

Michigan Law Review

This Article addresses a longstanding puzzle about customary international law (CIL): How can it be, at once, so central to the practice of international law—routinely invoked and applied in a broad range of settings—and the source of such persistent confusion and derision? The centrality of CIL suggests that, for the many people who use it, it is not only comprehensible but worthwhile. They presumably use it for a reason. But then, what accounts for all the muddle and disdain?

The Article argues that the problem lies less in the everyday operation of CIL than in the conceptual baggage ...


Sharp Lines And Sliding Scales In Tax Law, Edward Fox, Jacob Goldin Jun 2020

Sharp Lines And Sliding Scales In Tax Law, Edward Fox, Jacob Goldin

Articles

The law is full of sharp lines, where small changes in one’s circumstances lead to significant changes in legal treatment. In many cases, a sharp line can be smoothed out by replacing it with a sliding scale. Under a sliding scale, small changes in one’s circumstances lead to small changes in legal treatment. In this paper, we study the policy choice between sharp lines and sliding scales in tax law. We focus on considerations relating to efficiency, complexity, administration, tax planning, and the objectives of specific provisions. Although sharp lines are currently widespread in tax law, we argue ...


The Cost Of Novelty, Will Nicholson Price Ii Mar 2020

The Cost Of Novelty, Will Nicholson Price Ii

Articles

Patent law tries to spur the development of new and better innova­tive technology. But it focuses much more on “new” than “better”—and it turns out that “new” carries real social costs. I argue that patent law promotes innovation that diverges from existing technology, either a little (what I call “differentiating innovation”) or a lot (“exploring innova­tion”), at the expense of innovation that tells us more about existing technology (“deepening innovation”). Patent law’s focus on newness is unsurprising, and fits within a well-told narrative of innovative diversity accompanied by market selection of the best technologies. Unfortunately, innovative ...


The Essential Roles Of Agency Law, Gabriel Rauterberg Feb 2020

The Essential Roles Of Agency Law, Gabriel Rauterberg

Michigan Law Review

This Article suggests a fundamental shift in how we think about agency. The essential function of agency law lies not only in enabling the delegation of authority, as is widely suggested, but as significantly in its effect on creditors’ rights through asset partitioning. There is an increasing temptation in legal scholarship to treat agency law as a sideshow confined to the first day of corporations class. This is because much of what agency law does in commerce could simply be accomplished through standard-form contracts that provide default terms for the relationships among firms, their managers, and third parties. Even agency ...


Thoughts, Crimes, And Thought Crimes, Gabriel S. Mendlow Jan 2020

Thoughts, Crimes, And Thought Crimes, Gabriel S. Mendlow

Michigan Law Review

Thought crimes are the stuff of dystopian fiction, not contemporary law. Or so we’re told. Yet our criminal legal system may in a sense punish thought regularly, even as our existing criminal theory lacks the resources to recognize this state of affairs for what it is—or to explain what might be wrong with it. The beginning of wisdom lies in the seeming rhetorical excesses of those who complain that certain terrorism and hate crime laws punish offenders for their malevolent intentions while purporting to punish them for their conduct. Behind this too-easily-written-off complaint is a half-buried precept of ...


Progressive Textualism In Administrative Law, Kathryn E. Kovacs Dec 2019

Progressive Textualism In Administrative Law, Kathryn E. Kovacs

Michigan Law Review Online

Nicholas Bagley’s article The Procedure Fetish is destined to be a classic. In it, Bagley systematically dismantles administrative law’s obsession with procedure. He decimates the arguments that procedure is necessary to legit-imize the administrative state and avoid agency capture. He nullifies the con-tention that administrative law is neutral by showing how proceduralism inhibits regulation and “favors a libertarian agenda over a progressive one.” Bagley urges progressives to abandon “gauzy claims about legitimacy and accountability” and approach procedure with skepticism.

The Procedure Fetish addresses the normative question of what adminis-trative law ought to require. Bagley writes about how progressives ...


Imaginary Bottles, Jessica Litman Aug 2019

Imaginary Bottles, Jessica Litman

Articles

This essay, written for a symposium commemorating John Perry Barlow, who died on February 7, 2018, revisits Barlow's 1994 essay for WIRED magazine, "The Economy of Ideas: A Framework for patents and copyrights in the Digital Age (everything you know about intellectual property is wrong)." Barlow observed that networked digital technology posed massive and fundamental challenges for the markets for what Barlow termed “the work we do with our minds” and for the intellectual property laws designed to shape those markets. He predicted that those challenges would melt extant intellectual property systems into a smoking heap within a decade ...


The Elusive Object Of Punishment, Gabriel S. Mendlow Jun 2019

The Elusive Object Of Punishment, Gabriel S. Mendlow

Articles

All observers of our legal system recognize that criminal statutes can be complex and obscure. But statutory obscurity often takes a particular form that most observers have overlooked: uncertainty about the identity of the wrong a statute aims to punish. It is not uncommon for parties to disagree about the identity of the underlying wrong even as they agree on the statute’s elements. Hidden in plain sight, these unexamined disagreements underlie or exacerbate an assortment of familiar disputes—about venue, vagueness, and mens rea; about DUI and statutory rape; about hate crimes, child pornography, and counterterrorism laws; about proportionality ...


Neglecting Nationalism, Gil Seinfeld May 2019

Neglecting Nationalism, Gil Seinfeld

Articles

Federalism is a system of government that calls for the division of power between a central authority and member states. It is designed to secure benefits that flow from centralization and from devolution, as well as benefits that accrue from a simultaneous commitment to both. A student of modern American federalism, however, might have a very different impression, for significant swaths of the case law and scholarly commentary on the subject neglect the centralizing, nationalist side of the federal balance. This claim may come as a surprise, since it is obviously the case that our national government has become immensely ...


Should Automakers Be Responsible For Accidents?, Kyle D. Logue May 2019

Should Automakers Be Responsible For Accidents?, Kyle D. Logue

Articles

Motor vehicles are among the most dangerous products sold anywhere. Automobiles pose a larger risk of accidental death than any other product, except perhaps opioids. Annual autocrash deaths in the United States have not been below 30,000 since the 1940s, reaching a recent peak of roughly 40,000 in 2016. And the social cost of auto crashes goes beyond deaths. Auto-accident victims who survive often incur extraordinary medical expenses. Those crash victims whose injuries render them unable to work experience lost income. Auto accidents also cause nontrivial amounts of property damage—mostly to the automobiles themselves, but also to ...


Reputation As A Disciplinarian Of International Organizations, Kristina Daugirdas Apr 2019

Reputation As A Disciplinarian Of International Organizations, Kristina Daugirdas

Articles

As a disciplinarian of international organizations, reputation has serious shortcomings. Even though international organizations have strong incentives to maintain a good reputation, reputational concerns will sometimes fail to spur preventive or corrective action. Organizations have multiple audiences, so efforts to preserve a “good” reputation may pull organizations in many different directions, and steps taken to preserve a good reputation will not always be salutary. Recent incidents of sexual violence by UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic illustrate these points.


States Empowering Plaintiff Cities, Eli Savit Apr 2019

States Empowering Plaintiff Cities, Eli Savit

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

Across the country, cities are becoming major players in plaintiff’s-side litigation. With increasing frequency, cities, counties, and other municipalities are filing lawsuits to vindicate the public interest. Cities’ aggressive use of lawsuits, however, has been met with some skepticism from both scholars and states. At times, states have taken action—both legislative and via litigation—to preempt city-initiated suits.

This Article contends that states should welcome city-initiated public-interest lawsuits. Such litigation, this Article demonstrates, vindicates the principles of local control that cities exist to facilitate. What is more, a motivated plaintiff city can accomplish public-policy goals that are important ...


Reckless Juveniles, Kimberly Thomas Feb 2019

Reckless Juveniles, Kimberly Thomas

Articles

Modern doctrine and scholarship largely take it for granted that offenders should be criminally punished for reckless acts.1 Yet, developments in our understanding of human behavior can shed light on how we define and attribute criminal liability, or at least force us to grapple with the categories that have existed for so long. This Article examines recklessness and related doctrines in light of the shifts in understanding of adolescent behavior and its biological roots, to see what insights we might attain, or what challenges these understandings pose to this foundational mens rea doctrine. Over the past decade, the U ...


Robot Criminals, Ying Hu Jan 2019

Robot Criminals, Ying Hu

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

When a robot harms humans, are there any grounds for holding it criminally liable for its misconduct? Yes, provided that the robot is capable of making, acting on, and communicating the reasons behind its moral decisions. If such a robot fails to observe the minimum moral standards that society requires of it, labeling it as a criminal can effectively fulfill criminal law’s function of censuring wrongful conduct and alleviating the emotional harm that may be inflicted on human victims.

Imposing criminal liability on robots does not absolve robot manufacturers, trainers, or owners of their individual criminal liability. The former ...


Age Of Unreason: Rationality And The Regulatory State, Louise Weinberg Jan 2019

Age Of Unreason: Rationality And The Regulatory State, Louise Weinberg

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

A curious phenomenon, not previously remarked, appears in current international and interstate cases in a common configuration. These are cases in which a nonresident sues a company at the company’s home; the plaintiff would almost certainly win there on stipulated facts; and judgment is for the defendant as a matter of law. In cases in this familiar configuration it appears that courts will struggle to find rationales. Judges attempt to rely on arguments which ordinarily would be serviceable, but which, in cases so configured, seem to become irrational. Because the relevant configuration of cases is common, the problem is ...


Qualified Immunity And Constitutional Structure, Katherine Mims Crocker Jan 2019

Qualified Immunity And Constitutional Structure, Katherine Mims Crocker

Michigan Law Review

A range of scholars has subjected qualified immunity to a wave of criticism— and for good reasons. But the Supreme Court continues to apply the doctrine in ever more aggressive ways. By advancing two claims, this Article seeks to make some sense of this conflict and to suggest some thoughts toward a resolution.

First, while the Court has offered and scholars have rejected several rationales for the doctrine, layering in an account grounded in structural constitutional concerns provides a historically richer and analytically thicker understanding of the current qualified-immunity regime. For suits against federal officials, qualified immunity acts as a ...


The Procedure Fetish, Nicholas Bagley Jan 2019

The Procedure Fetish, Nicholas Bagley

Michigan Law Review

The strict procedural rules that characterize modern administrative law are said to be necessary to sustain the fragile legitimacy of a powerful and constitutionally suspect administrative state. We are likewise told that they are essential to public accountability because they prevent factional interests from capturing agencies. Yet the legitimacy-and-accountability narrative at the heart of administrative law is both overdrawn and harmful. Procedural rules have a role to play in preserving legitimacy and discouraging capture, but they advance those goals more obliquely than is commonly assumed and may exacerbate the very problems they aim to fix. This Article aims to draw ...


Life Cycle Costing And Food Systems: Concepts, Trends, And Challenges Of Impact Valuation, Katherine Fiedler, Steven Lord, Jason J. Czarnezki Oct 2018

Life Cycle Costing And Food Systems: Concepts, Trends, And Challenges Of Impact Valuation, Katherine Fiedler, Steven Lord, Jason J. Czarnezki

Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law

Our global food systems create pervasive environmental, social, and health impacts. Impact valuation is an emerging concept that aims to quantify all environmental, social, and health costs of food systems in an attempt to make the true cost of food more transparent. It also is designed to facilitate the transformation of global food systems. The concept of impact valuation is emerging at the same time as, and partly as a response to, calls for the development of legal mechanisms to address environmental, social, and health concerns. Information has long been understood both as a necessary precursor for regulation and as ...


Antitrust's Unconventional Politics, Daniel A. Crane Sep 2018

Antitrust's Unconventional Politics, Daniel A. Crane

Articles

Antitrust law stands at its most fluid and negotiable moment in a generation. The bipartisan consensus that antitrust should solely focus on economic efficiency and consumer welfare has quite suddenly come under attack from prominent voices calling for a dramatically enhanced role for antitrust law in mediating a variety of social, economic, and political friction points, including employment, wealth inequality, data privacy and security, and democratic values. To the bewilderment of many observers, the ascendant pressures for antitrust reforms are flowing from both wings of the political spectrum, throwing into confusion a conventional understanding that pro-antitrust sentiment tacked left and ...


Why Is It Wrong To Punish Thought?, Gabriel S. Mendlow Jun 2018

Why Is It Wrong To Punish Thought?, Gabriel S. Mendlow

Articles

It’s a venerable maxim of criminal jurisprudence that the state must never punish people for their mere thoughts—for their beliefs, desires, fantasies, and unexecuted intentions. This maxim is all but unquestioned, yet its true justification is something of a mystery. In this Essay, I argue that each of the prevailing justifications is deficient, and I conclude by proposing a novel one. The proposed justification captures the widely shared intuition that punishing a person for her mere thoughts isn’t simply disfavored by the balance of reasons but is morally wrongful in itself, an intrinsic (i.e., consequence-independent) injustice ...


Fourth Amendment Fairness, Richard M. Re Jun 2018

Fourth Amendment Fairness, Richard M. Re

Michigan Law Review

Fourth Amendment doctrine is attentive to a wide range of interests, including security, informational privacy, and dignity. How should courts reconcile these competing concerns when deciding which searches and seizures are “unreasonable”? Current doctrine typically answers this question by pointing to interest aggregation: the various interests at stake are added up, placed on figurative scales, and compared, with the goal of promoting overall social welfare. But interest aggregation is disconnected from many settled doctrinal rules and leads to results that are unfair for individuals. The main alternative is originalism; but historical sources themselves suggest that the Fourth Amendment calls for ...