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Full-Text Articles in Law

Defining Interim Storage Of Nuclear Waste, Max Johnson Jan 2023

Defining Interim Storage Of Nuclear Waste, Max Johnson

Northwestern University Law Review

Nuclear power may be humanity’s best hope to curb climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions. But public fear of its dangers, including the toxicity of nuclear waste, undermines its expansion. To provide for more effective waste disposal, in 2021 and 2022 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recommended licensing two privately-owned nuclear waste storage facilities—called Consolidated Interim Storage Facilities (CISFs)—to be built in New Mexico and in Texas. Both states vehemently oppose the construction and operation of these facilities: legislators in both states have proposed state laws opposing them, and both states have sued the NRC challenging the legality of the facilities’ licensure. …


The Counterdemocratic Difficulty, Aziz Z. Huq Jan 2023

The Counterdemocratic Difficulty, Aziz Z. Huq

Northwestern University Law Review

Since the 2020 elections, debate about the Supreme Court’s relationship with the mechanisms of national democracy has intensified. One important thread of that debate focuses critically on the possibility of a judicial decision flipping a presidential election or thwarting the will of national majorities respecting progressive legislation, and pushes concerns about the Court’s effect on national democracy. A narrow focus on specific interventions, however, does not exhaust the subtle and consequential ways in which the Court influences whether and how the American democratic system thrives or fails. A narrow focus is partial because it construes democracy as merely the aggregation …


Consequences And The Supreme Court, Aaron Tang Jan 2023

Consequences And The Supreme Court, Aaron Tang

Northwestern University Law Review

May the Supreme Court consider consequences when it decides the hard cases that divide us? The conventional wisdom is that it may not. Scholars have argued, for example, that consequentialism is a paradigmatic “anti-modal” form of reasoning at the Court. And the Court itself has declared that “consequences cannot change our understanding of the law.”

This Article presents evidence of a possible shift in the standard account. Although many kinds of consequentialist arguments remain forbidden, such as naked judicial efforts to maximize social utility, a particular form of consequentialism is now surprisingly common when the Supreme Court confronts hard cases. …


The Immigration Shadow Docket, Faiza W. Sayed Jan 2023

The Immigration Shadow Docket, Faiza W. Sayed

Northwestern University Law Review

Each year, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)—the Justice Department’s appellate immigration agency that reviews decisions of immigration judges and decides the fate of thousands of noncitizens—issues about thirty published, precedential decisions. At present, these are the only decisions out of approximately 30,000 each year, that are readily available to the public and provide detailed reasoning for their conclusions. This is because most of the BIA’s decision-making happens on what this Article terms the “immigration shadow docket”—the tens of thousands of other decisions the BIA issues each year that are unpublished and nonprecedential. These shadow docket decisions are generally authored …


The Misunderstood History Of Textualism, Tara Leigh Grove Jan 2023

The Misunderstood History Of Textualism, Tara Leigh Grove

Northwestern University Law Review

This Article challenges widespread assumptions about the history of textualism. Jurists and scholars have sought for decades to distinguish “modern textualism” from the so-called “plain meaning school” of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—an approach that both textualists and non-textualists alike have long viewed as improperly “literal” and “wooden.” This Article shows that this conventional historical account is incorrect. Based on a study of statutory cases from 1789 to 1945 that use the term “plain meaning” or similar terms, this Article reveals that, under the actual plain meaning approach, the Supreme Court did not ignore context but looked to …


The First Amendment And Online Access To Information About Abortion: The Constitutional And Technological Problems With Censorship, John Villasenor Nov 2022

The First Amendment And Online Access To Information About Abortion: The Constitutional And Technological Problems With Censorship, John Villasenor

Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property

To what extent could an abortion-restrictive state impede access to online information about abortion? After Dobbs, this question is no longer theoretical. This essay engages with this issue from both a legal and technological perspective, analyzing First Amendment jurisprudence as well as the technological implications of state-level online censorship. It concludes that the weight of Supreme Court precedent indicates that state attempts to censor information regarding out-of-state abortion services would violate the First Amendment. That said, the essay also recognizes that as Dobbs itself upended precedent, it is unclear what Supreme Court would do when ruling on questions regarding …


Rethinking Equitable Estoppel In Patent Law, Joshua J. Lustig Nov 2022

Rethinking Equitable Estoppel In Patent Law, Joshua J. Lustig

Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property

In almost every context, the Federal Circuit has used estoppel doctrines to provide protection to parties from some sort of injustice. Yet recently, with equitable estoppel, the Federal Circuit has decided to infuse concepts of Article III justiciability to justify limiting the doctrine as only applicable to issued patents. In doing so, the Federal Circuit has ignored the long history behind equitable estoppel in favor of a rule that is improperly rationalized by the Constitution. This note argues that Federal Circuit's recent equitable estoppel jurisprudence is inconsistent with equity's goal of fairness and presents a new theory of equitable estoppel …


Copyright And Federalism: Why State Waiver Of Sovereign Immunity Is The Best Remedy For State Copyright Infringement, Leroy J. Ellis V Nov 2022

Copyright And Federalism: Why State Waiver Of Sovereign Immunity Is The Best Remedy For State Copyright Infringement, Leroy J. Ellis V

Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property

When a photographer intentionally takes a picture of a subject, or a writer puts a story to paper, the resulting works are protected by copyright. That protection is bolstered after the authors register their works with the Copyright Office. All private parties, from individuals to corporations, can be sued for infringing on the work should they use it without pay or permission.

However, what happens when the infringer is not a private party? What happens when the state or a state entity is the infringer? What happens when a public university decides to use a copyright owner’s work without pay …


Do Prison Conditions Change How Much Punishment A Sentence Carries Out? Lessons From Federal Sentence Reduction Rulings During The Covid-19 Pandemic, Skylar Albertson Nov 2022

Do Prison Conditions Change How Much Punishment A Sentence Carries Out? Lessons From Federal Sentence Reduction Rulings During The Covid-19 Pandemic, Skylar Albertson

Northwestern Journal of Law & Social Policy

A set of motions filed during the COVID-19 pandemic challenged federal judges to consider whether they should always view the duration of imprisonment—as contrasted with prison conditions—as the sole determinant of how much punishment a sentence carries out. Under 18 U.S.C § 3582(c)(1)(A)(i), federal judges may “reduce” already imposed terms of imprisonment upon finding that “extraordinary and compelling reasons” warrant reductions. Prior to 2019, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) effectively controlled the scope of a catch-all subcategory of “Other Reasons” justifying sentence reductions. The BOP used this authority almost exclusively for people who were in the final stages of terminal …


Law In The Service Of Misinformation: How Anti-Vaccine Groups Use The Law To Help Spin A False Narrative, Dorit R. Reiss, Viridiana Ordonez Nov 2022

Law In The Service Of Misinformation: How Anti-Vaccine Groups Use The Law To Help Spin A False Narrative, Dorit R. Reiss, Viridiana Ordonez

Northwestern Journal of Law & Social Policy

Social movements use legal tools to create narratives. Those narratives support social agendas which certain movements leverage to mislead their followers and potential followers. In this Article, we examine one influential anti-vaccine organization, the Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), that uses its far-reaching platform to create false narratives around legal action. Again and again, this anti-vaccine group misrepresented both the legal and the factual meanings of court decisions, settlements, and other legal actions to create a narrative to galvanize its followers and influence newcomers. ICAN filed lawsuits that make anti-vaccine arguments—even when the legal framework did not fit doing so—and …


An Avenue For Corruption: Super Pacs And The Common Vendor Loophole, Matt Choi Nov 2022

An Avenue For Corruption: Super Pacs And The Common Vendor Loophole, Matt Choi

Northwestern Journal of Law & Social Policy

In their campaign efforts, Super PACs and political candidates often engage professional media agencies or political consulting firms to aid them in production and placement of advertisements on media outlets, planning of advertising efforts, and planning campaign strategy. But an increasing number of Super PACs have taken to hiring the same media agencies and consulting firms as the candidates they support. Through the use of a so-called “common vendor,” Super PACs and their supported candidates can coordinate advertising strategies with each other without triggering the federal limits on spending and fundraising.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the public must …


Towards An Equitable Review Of Pre-Embryo And Divorce Disputes For Women, Lilah Kleban Nov 2022

Towards An Equitable Review Of Pre-Embryo And Divorce Disputes For Women, Lilah Kleban

Northwestern Journal of Law & Social Policy

Pre-embryos, procured through in-vitro fertilization (IVF), become a source of dispute when couples divorce or separate before using them. Particularly, couples may fight over who has decision-making power to use or not use the frozen pre-embryos for pregnancy. State courts across jurisdictions typically apply one of three categorical approaches: disposition contracts, contemporaneous mutual consent, or a balancing interests test. Each approach fails to provide courts with structures to fully evaluate each party’s interests at the time of dispute and account for inherent sex and gender differences that impact their stakes in the dispute. This Note proposes a modified balancing test …


Reimagining Public Safety, Brandon Hasbrouck Nov 2022

Reimagining Public Safety, Brandon Hasbrouck

Northwestern University Law Review

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, abolitionists were repeatedly asked to explain what they meant by “abolish the police”—the idea so seemingly foreign that its literal meaning evaded interviewers. The narrative rapidly turned to the abolitionists’ secondary proposals, as interviewers quickly jettisoned the idea of literally abolishing the police. What the incredulous journalists failed to see was that abolishing police and prisons is not aimed merely at eliminating the collateral consequences of other social ills. Abolitionists seek to build a society in which policing and incarceration are unnecessary. Rather than a society without a means of protecting public safety, …


Big Data Affirmative Action, Peter N. Salib Nov 2022

Big Data Affirmative Action, Peter N. Salib

Northwestern University Law Review

As a vast and ever-growing body of social-scientific research shows, discrimination remains pervasive in the United States. In education, work, consumer markets, healthcare, criminal justice, and more, Black people fare worse than whites, women worse than men, and so on. Moreover, the evidence now convincingly demonstrates that this inequality is driven by discrimination. Yet solutions are scarce. The best empirical studies find that popular interventions—like diversity seminars and antibias trainings—have little or no effect. And more muscular solutions—like hiring quotas or school busing—are now regularly struck down as illegal. Indeed, in the last thirty years, the Supreme Court has invalidated …


Independent Contractors In Law And In Fact: Evidence From U.S. Tax Returns, Eleanor Wilking Nov 2022

Independent Contractors In Law And In Fact: Evidence From U.S. Tax Returns, Eleanor Wilking

Northwestern University Law Review

Federal tax law divides workers into two categories depending on the degree of control exercised over them by the service purchaser (i.e., the firm): employees, who are subject to direct supervision; and independent contractors, who operate autonomously. Such worker classification determines the administration of income tax and what it subsidizes, as well as which nontax regulations pertain, such as workplace safety and antidiscrimination protections. The Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies have codified common law agency doctrine into multifactor balancing tests used to legally distinguish employees from independent contractors. These tests have proved challenging to apply and costly to …


Moral Nuisance Abatement Statutes, Scott W. Stern Nov 2022

Moral Nuisance Abatement Statutes, Scott W. Stern

Northwestern University Law Review

On May 19, 2021, Texas enacted S.B. 8—also known as the Texas Heartbeat Act—which prohibits almost any abortion of a fetus once a heartbeat can be detected, effectively banning abortions after only six weeks of pregnancy. Just as controversially, S.B. 8 also specifies that it is enforceable exclusively through private civil actions, and it allows any private person to sue anyone who “performs,” “induces,” or “knowingly . . . aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion,” seeking injunctive relief and statutory damages of $10,000 per violation. The passage of S.B. 8 immediately led to calls for, and …


Scarlet-Lettered Bankruptcy: A Public Benefit Proposal For Mass Tort Villains, Samir D. Parikh Oct 2022

Scarlet-Lettered Bankruptcy: A Public Benefit Proposal For Mass Tort Villains, Samir D. Parikh

Northwestern University Law Review

Financially distressed companies often seek refuge in federal bankruptcy court to auction valuable assets and pay creditor claims. Mass tort defendants—including 3M, Johnson & Johnson, and Purdue Pharma—introduce new complexities to customary Chapter 11 dynamics. Many mass tort defendants engage in malfeasance that inflicts widespread harm. These debtors fuel public scorn and earn a scarlet letter that can destroy value for an otherwise profitable business. Scarlet-lettered companies could file for bankruptcy and quickly sell their assets to fund victims’ settlement trusts. This Article argues, however, that this traditional resolution option would eviscerate victim recoveries. Harsh public scrutiny has diminished the …


Information Privacy And The Inference Economy, Alicia Solow-Niederman Oct 2022

Information Privacy And The Inference Economy, Alicia Solow-Niederman

Northwestern University Law Review

Information privacy is in trouble. Contemporary information privacy protections emphasize individuals’ control over their own personal information. But machine learning, the leading form of artificial intelligence, facilitates an inference economy that pushes this protective approach past its breaking point. Machine learning provides pathways to use data and make probabilistic predictions—inferences—that are inadequately addressed by the current regime. For one, seemingly innocuous or irrelevant data can generate machine learning insights, making it impossible for an individual to anticipate what kinds of data warrant protection. Moreover, it is possible to aggregate myriad individuals’ data within machine learning models, identify patterns, and then …


The Supreme Court Gets The Ball Rolling: Ncaa V. Alston And Title Ix, Arianna Banks Oct 2022

The Supreme Court Gets The Ball Rolling: Ncaa V. Alston And Title Ix, Arianna Banks

Northwestern University Law Review

Student-athlete compensation has been a consistent topic of controversy over the past few years, as critics question the legitimacy of the NCAA’s notion of amateurism and proponents favor the status quo. The Supreme Court decision in NCAA v. Alston has only served to intensify the debate, opening the door to alternative compensation structures. Despite a unanimous ruling in favor of the athletes, the limited holding of the case has only produced further questions. In his scathing concurrence, Justice Kavanaugh raises one such question: how does a student-athlete compensation structure comply with Title IX? This Comment seeks to address that question …


The Fourth Amendment And The Problem Of Social Cost, Thomas P. Crocker Oct 2022

The Fourth Amendment And The Problem Of Social Cost, Thomas P. Crocker

Northwestern University Law Review

The Supreme Court has made social cost a core concept relevant to the calculation of Fourth Amendment remedies but has never explained the concept’s meaning. The Court limits the availability of both the exclusionary rule and civil damages because of their “substantial social costs.” According to the Court, these costs primarily consist of letting the lawbreaker go free by excluding evidence or deterring effective police practices that would lead to more criminal apprehension and prosecution. But recent calls for systemic police reform by social movements have a different view of social cost. So too do calls for reforming qualified immunity. …


The Rule Of Recognition And Presidential Power, Austin Piatt Oct 2022

The Rule Of Recognition And Presidential Power, Austin Piatt

Northwestern University Law Review

Professor H.L.A. Hart’s theory of the rule of recognition, introduced in 1961, asserts that every legal system requires a rule of recognition to tell society what the law is. Though much scholarship has been dedicated to analyzing America’s theoretical rule of recognition, Hart’s theory has not yet been applied to the numerous actions and operations of America’s Executive Branch. The rule of recognition should be able to tell us which executive actions have the authority of law. Yet, when we try to make sense of various recent orders, memos, guidance documents, and letters emanating from the White House and administrative …


Countering Personalized Speech, Leon G. Ho Oct 2022

Countering Personalized Speech, Leon G. Ho

Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property

Social media platforms use personalization algorithms to make content curation decisions for each end user. These personalized recommendation decisions are essentially speech conveying a platform's predictions on content relevance for each end user. Yet, they are causing some of the worst problems on the internet. First, they facilitate the precipitous spread of mis- and disinformation by exploiting the very same biases and insecurities that drive end user engagement with such content. Second, they exacerbate social media addiction and related mental health harms by leveraging users' affective needs to drive engagement to greater and greater heights. Lastly, they erode end user …


Challenging Equality: Property Loss, Government Fault, And The Global Warming Catastrophe, Laura S. Underkuffler Aug 2022

Challenging Equality: Property Loss, Government Fault, And The Global Warming Catastrophe, Laura S. Underkuffler

Northwestern University Law Review

One of the bedrock principles of American property law is that all property owners and all property are protected equally. We do not believe—when it comes to compensation for loss—that poor owners are compensated rigidly and rich owners are not, or that property in private homes is protected rigidly and property in commercial or industrial structures is not. When it comes to compensation due to public or private fault, we believe in absolute equality. Equal treatment of property is at the heart of the liberal state and is the promise of American property law.

This Essay challenges that bedrock idea. …


Climate Change Adaptation As A Problem Of Inequality And Possible Legal Reforms, David A. Dana Aug 2022

Climate Change Adaptation As A Problem Of Inequality And Possible Legal Reforms, David A. Dana

Northwestern University Law Review

Climate change will necessitate adaptation in all parts of the United States, but some individuals and localities will be better able to adapt than others. Wealth inequalities among individuals and localities already are translating—and will continue to translate—into inequalities between the rich and poor in their capacity to adapt. Current federal disaster aid programs and policies exacerbate these inequalities by favoring the wealthy, and future government resource management decisions and investments also may broaden the gap between rich and poor in terms of the economic and other costs they will bear from climate change. Some have suggested broadening Takings Clause …


Streaming Property, Lee Anne Fennell Aug 2022

Streaming Property, Lee Anne Fennell

Northwestern University Law Review

People acquire property rights in objects and real estate in order to capture the stream of services that these assets can provide over time. The thing or parcel itself is merely a delivery mechanism, a way of packaging and protecting rights to that value stream. And, significantly, these assets cannot stream services to anyone without a set of facilitating conditions and complementary goods, such as public infrastructure, that do not lie within the asset owner’s individual control. This Essay argues that we can gain fresh traction on inequality by recasting property as service streams rather than as owned things. Doing …


The Missing U.S. Vat: Economic Inequality, American Fiscal Exceptionalism, And The Historical U.S. Resistance To National Consumption Taxes, Ajay K. Mehrotra Aug 2022

The Missing U.S. Vat: Economic Inequality, American Fiscal Exceptionalism, And The Historical U.S. Resistance To National Consumption Taxes, Ajay K. Mehrotra

Northwestern University Law Review

Since the 1970s, economic inequality has soared dramatically across the globe and particularly in the United States. In that time, one of the obstacles of using fiscal policy to address inequality has been the growing myth of the “overtaxed American”—the misguided notion that U.S. taxpayers pay more in taxes than residents of other advanced, industrialized countries. This myth has persisted, in part, because of the peculiar and distinctive nature of the fractured American fiscal and social welfare state. Even a cursory review of comparative tax data shows that the United States, by most measures, is a low-tax country compared to …


Family | Home | School, Latoya Baldwin Clark Aug 2022

Family | Home | School, Latoya Baldwin Clark

Northwestern University Law Review

The state grants residents who live within a school district’s border an ownership interest in that district’s schools. This interest includes the power to exclude nonresidents. To attend school in a school district, a child must prove that she lives at an in-district address and is a bona fide resident. But in highly-sought-after districts and schools, establishing a child’s bona fide residence may be highly contested.

In this Essay, I show that education law, policies, and practices fail to recognize a child’s residence when the child’s family and living situation do not comport with a particular ideal of family life. …


Ownership Concentration: Lessons From Natural Resources, Vanessa Casado Pérez Aug 2022

Ownership Concentration: Lessons From Natural Resources, Vanessa Casado Pérez

Northwestern University Law Review

Concentration of ownership over land or other resources is both a sign and a cause of inequality. Concentration of ownership makes access to such resources difficult for those less powerful, and it can have negative effects on local communities that benefit from a more distributed ownership pattern. Such concentration goes against the antimonopoly principles behind the homesteading land policies and the legal regimes that regulate many natural resources. This Essay suggests that where concentration is a concern, one might draw lessons for reform by looking to the field of natural resources law, which employs a range of deconcentration mechanisms affecting …


Flint's Fight For Environmental Rights, Noah D. Hall Aug 2022

Flint's Fight For Environmental Rights, Noah D. Hall

Northwestern University Law Review

This Essay reviews the recent development of environmental rights within U.S. constitutional law, advanced through a series of federal court decisions in the wake of the Flint water crisis. The residents of Flint were poisoned and lied to by their government for nearly two years. They experienced how American environmental governance has failed at the state and federal levels and how our environmental laws leave individuals and communities unprotected. And then Flint fought back, in the courts, for five years. Flint residents have been overwhelmingly successful, achieving some justice for themselves and advancing substantive rights and remedies within our constitutional …


Compulsory Terms In Property, Timothy M. Mulvaney Aug 2022

Compulsory Terms In Property, Timothy M. Mulvaney

Northwestern University Law Review

The state’s imposition of compulsory terms in property relations—such as habitability warranties binding landlords and tenants and minimum wages binding employers and employees—has long been conceived by analysts generally situated on the political right as an affront to individual freedom and inevitably harmful to the terms’ intended beneficiaries. This critique, though, seems to have special purchase in public discourse today not only within its traditional circle of supporters on the right but, at least in some instances, for a sizable number on the left as well. The bipartisan acceptance of this critique is serving as a substantial roadblock to a …