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Full-Text Articles in Law

The Meaning Of Sex: Dynamic Words, Novel Applications, And Original Public Meaning, William N. Eskridge Jr., Brian G. Slocum, Stefan Th. Gries May 2021

The Meaning Of Sex: Dynamic Words, Novel Applications, And Original Public Meaning, William N. Eskridge Jr., Brian G. Slocum, Stefan Th. Gries

Michigan Law Review

The meaning of sex matters. The interpretive methodology by which the meaning of sex is determined matters Both of these were at issue in the Supreme Court’s recent landmark decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, where the Court held that Title VII protects lesbians, gay men, transgender persons, and other sexual and gender minorities against workplace discrimination. Despite unanimously agreeing that Title VII should be interpreted in accordance with its original public meaning in 1964, the opinions in Bostock failed to properly define sex or offer a coherent theory of how long-standing statutes like Title VII should be interpreted over …


Natural Language Processing For Lawyers And Judges, Frank Fagan Apr 2021

Natural Language Processing For Lawyers And Judges, Frank Fagan

Michigan Law Review

A Review of Law as Data: Computation, Text, & the Future of Legal Analysis. Edited by Michael A. Livermore and Daniel N. Rockmore.


Equality's Understudies, Aziz Z. Huq May 2020

Equality's Understudies, Aziz Z. Huq

Michigan Law Review

Review of Robert L. Tsai's Practical Equality: Forging Justice in a Divided Nation.


On Lawyers And Copy Editors, Jonathan I. Tietz May 2020

On Lawyers And Copy Editors, Jonathan I. Tietz

Michigan Law Review

Review of Benjamin Dreyer's Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style.


Blurred Lines: What Is Extremism?, Anna C. Williford Jun 2019

Blurred Lines: What Is Extremism?, Anna C. Williford

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

The Michigan Journal of Law Reform Symposium, Alt-Association: The Role of Law in Combating Extremism (“the Symposium”), attempted to address the question of defining extremism. The Symposium aimed to provide a platform for filtering through the participants’ pre-conceived notions around extremism in order to challenge misconceptions about those labeled “extremist.” This word has been used time and time again in conversation, research, and even this paper without a concreate definition behind it. At the start of the Symposium, participants were asked to define extremism in their own words. The definitions produced were eye opening. For example, extremism was thought to …


The Language-Game Of Privacy, Joshua A.T. Fairfield Apr 2018

The Language-Game Of Privacy, Joshua A.T. Fairfield

Michigan Law Review

A review of Ronald J. Krotoszynski, Jr., Privacy Revisited: A Global Perspective on the Right to Be Left Alone.


High-Stakes Interpretation, Ryan D. Doerfler Feb 2018

High-Stakes Interpretation, Ryan D. Doerfler

Michigan Law Review

Courts look at text differently in high-stakes cases. Statutory language that would otherwise be “unambiguous” suddenly becomes “less than clear.” This, in turn, frees up courts to sidestep constitutional conflicts, avoid dramatic policy changes, and, more generally, get around undesirable outcomes. The standard account of this behavior is that courts’ failure to recognize “clear” or “unambiguous” meanings in such cases is motivated or disingenuous, and, at best, justified on instrumentalist grounds.

This Article challenges that account. It argues instead that, as a purely epistemic matter, it is more difficult to “know” what a text means—and, hence, more difficult to regard …


Working Sex Words, Anita Bernstein Dec 2017

Working Sex Words, Anita Bernstein

Michigan Journal of Gender & Law

Imagine yourself tasked to speak for a few minutes about legal controls on sex-selling in the United States, or any other country you choose. You need not have thought about the particulars. As someone willing to read a law review article, you have enough to say because sex-selling overlaps with the subject knowledge you already have. Criminal law, contracts, employment law, immigration law, tort law, zoning, commercial law, and intellectual property, among other legal categories, all intersect with this topic. In your brief remarks on how law attempts to mediate the sale and purchase of sex, you have only one …


Corpus Linguistics: Misfire Or More Ammo For The Ordinary - Meaning Canon?, John D. Ramer Nov 2017

Corpus Linguistics: Misfire Or More Ammo For The Ordinary - Meaning Canon?, John D. Ramer

Michigan Law Review

Scholars and judges have heralded corpus linguistics—the study of language through collections of spoken or written texts—as a novel tool for statutory interpretation that will help provide an answer in the occasionally ambiguous search for “ordinary meaning” using dictionaries. In the spring of 2016, the Michigan Supreme Court became the first to use corpus linguistics in a majority opinion. The dissent also used it, however, and the two opinions reached different conclusions. In the first true test for corpus linguistics, the answer seemed to be just as ambiguous as before.

This result calls into question the utility of corpus linguistics. …


“Why Should I Go Vote Without Understanding What I Am Going To Vote For?” The Impact Of First Generation Voting Barriers On Alaska Natives, James Thomas Tucker, Natalie A. Landreth, Erin Dougherty Lynch Mar 2017

“Why Should I Go Vote Without Understanding What I Am Going To Vote For?” The Impact Of First Generation Voting Barriers On Alaska Natives, James Thomas Tucker, Natalie A. Landreth, Erin Dougherty Lynch

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

This article explores the many forms of discrimination that have persisted in Alaska, the resulting first generation voting barriers faced by Alaska Native voters, and the two contested lawsuits it took to attain a measure of equality for those voters in four regions of Alaska: Nick v. Bethel and Toyukak v. Treadwell. In the end, the court’s decision in Toyukak came down to a comparison of just two pieces of evidence: (1) the Official Election Pamphlet that English-speaking voters received that was often more than 100 pages long; and (2) the single sheet of paper that Alaska Native language …


Comma But Differentiated Responsibilities: Punctuation And 30 Other Ways Negotiators Have Resolved Issues In The International Climate Change Regime, Susan Biniaz Oct 2016

Comma But Differentiated Responsibilities: Punctuation And 30 Other Ways Negotiators Have Resolved Issues In The International Climate Change Regime, Susan Biniaz

Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law

International climate change negotiations have a long history of being contentious, and much has been written about the grand trade-offs that have allowed countries to reach agreement. Issues have often involved, for example, the level of ambition, differentiated treatment of Parties, and various forms of financial assistance to developing countries.

Lesser known are the smaller, largely language-based tools negotiators have used to resolve differences, sometimes finding a solution as subtle as a shift in the placement of a comma. These tools have operated in different ways. Some, such as deliberate imprecision or postponement, have “resolved” an issue by sidestepping it …


How The E-Government Can Save Money By Building Bridges Across The Digital Divide, Alison Rogers Jan 2016

How The E-Government Can Save Money By Building Bridges Across The Digital Divide, Alison Rogers

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

As government agencies and federal aid recipients begin to build a presence online, they must recognize that language accessibility is morally required, fiscally responsible, and compulsory under federal civil rights law. This Note explores statutes, federal policies, and case law that purport to protect the rights of limited English proficient (“LEP”) individuals in cyberspace. The Note suggests reforms, policies, and programs that should be adopted by federal aid recipients to ensure that LEP individuals have meaningful access to online services.


Fun With Administrative Law: A Game For Lawyers And Judges, Adam Babich May 2015

Fun With Administrative Law: A Game For Lawyers And Judges, Adam Babich

Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law

The practice of law is not a game. Administrative law in particular can implicate important issues that impact people’s health, safety, and welfare and change business’ profitability or even viability. Nonetheless, it can seem like a game. This is because courts rarely explain administrative law rulings in terms of the public purposes and policies at issue in lawsuits. Instead, the courts’ administrative law opinions tend to turn on arcane interpretive doctrines with silly names, such as the “Chevron two-step” or “Chevron step zero.” To advance doctrinal arguments, advocates and courts engage in linguistic debates that resemble a smokescreen—tending to obscure …


The Incitement Of Terrorism On The Internet: Legal Standards, Enforcement, And The Role Of The European Union, Ezekiel Rediker Apr 2015

The Incitement Of Terrorism On The Internet: Legal Standards, Enforcement, And The Role Of The European Union, Ezekiel Rediker

Michigan Journal of International Law

Consider this sentence: “The Shining Path is a heroic organization.” Over the past thirty years, the Shining Path has waged a violent guerilla war against the Peruvian government, prompting the European Union to designate the group as a terrorist organization. In certain European countries, speech inciting or glorifying terrorist organizations is criminalized. As a result, citizens risk prosecution if they do not carefully limit what they say about the Shining Path, or other terrorist organizations. But where does free speech end and incitement to terrorism begin? The debate over free speech and incitement to terrorism is actively being played out …


Inciting Genocide With Words, Richard A. Wilson Apr 2015

Inciting Genocide With Words, Richard A. Wilson

Michigan Journal of International Law

During the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, observers emphasized the role of media propaganda in inciting Rwandan Hutus to attack the Tutsi minority group, with one claiming that the primary tools of genocide were “the radio and the machete.” As a steady stream of commentators referred to “radio genocide” and “death by radio” and “the soundtrack to genocide,” a widespread consensus emerged that key responsibility for the genocide lay with the Rwandan media. Mathias Ruzindana, prosecution expert witness at the ICTR, supports this notion, writing, “In the case of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the effect of language was lethal . …


Regulating Electricity-Market Manipulation: A Proposal For A New Regulatory Regime To Proscribe All Forms Of Manipulation, Matthew Evans Feb 2015

Regulating Electricity-Market Manipulation: A Proposal For A New Regulatory Regime To Proscribe All Forms Of Manipulation, Matthew Evans

Michigan Law Review

Congress broadly authorized the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) to protect consumers of electricity from all forms of manipulation in the electricity markets, but the regulations that FERC passed are not nearly so expansive. As written, FERC’s Anti-Manipulation Rule covers only instances of manipulation involving fraud. This narrow scope is problematic, however, because electricity markets can also be manipulated by nonfraudulent activity. Thus, in order to reach all forms of manipulation, FERC is forced to interpret and apply its Anti-Manipulation Rule in ways that strain the plain language and accepted understanding of the rule and therefore constitute an improper extension …


Toward Greater Guidance: Reforming The Definitions Of The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Matthew W. Muma Jan 2014

Toward Greater Guidance: Reforming The Definitions Of The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Matthew W. Muma

Michigan Law Review

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 is the cornerstone of the United States’ efforts to combat the involvement of U.S. companies and individuals in corruption abroad. Enforced by both the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), the Act targets companies and individuals that pay bribes to “foreign officials,” a nebulous category of persons that includes everyone from foreign cabinet members to janitors at companies only partially owned by a foreign state. After only sporadic enforcement in the early years of the Act’s existence, the SEC and DOJ now bring many cases annually. This increased …


One Redeeming Quality About The 112th Congress: Refocusing On Descriptive Rather Than Evocative Short Titles, Brian Christopher Jones Jul 2013

One Redeeming Quality About The 112th Congress: Refocusing On Descriptive Rather Than Evocative Short Titles, Brian Christopher Jones

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The consensus with regard to the 112th Congress is that it was a massive failure: the Congress passed fewer laws than in previous years, and the contemptuous debates over the debt ceiling and the so-called "fiscal cliff" did not win this Congress many supporters. So what redeeming qualities could have been present in such an irredeemable Congress? I believe that there was at least one: a returning focus on descriptive short titles for laws, rather than a perpetuation of the evocative and tendentious short titles that have been commonplace over the past couple of decades. A recent publication of mine …


The Transformative Potential Of Attorney Bilingualism, Jayesh M. Rathod Apr 2013

The Transformative Potential Of Attorney Bilingualism, Jayesh M. Rathod

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

In contemporary U.S. law practice, attorney bilingualism is increasingly valued, primarily because it allows lawyers to work more efficiently and to pursue a broader range of professional opportunities. This purely functionalist conceptualization of attorney bilingualism, however, ignores the surprising ways in which multilingualism can enhance a lawyer's professional work and can strengthen and reshape relationships among actors in the U.S. legal milieu. Drawing upon research from psychology, linguistics, and other disciplines, this Article advances a theory of the transformative potential of attorney bilingualism. Looking first to the development of lawyers themselves, the Article posits that attorneys who operate bilingually may, …


The Scarlet Letter: The Supreme Court And The Language Of Abortion Stigma, Paula Abrams Jan 2013

The Scarlet Letter: The Supreme Court And The Language Of Abortion Stigma, Paula Abrams

Michigan Journal of Gender & Law

Why does the Supreme Court refer to the woman who is seeking an abortion as "mother"? Surely the definition has not escaped the attention of a Court that frequently relies on the dictionary to define important terms or principles. And why does the Court choose to describe the fetus as a child? What message does this language send about abortion and the woman who seeks an abortion? The Court's abortion decisions embody an ongoing debate on the legitimacy of constitutional protection of the right to choose. This debate unfolds most obviously as a discourse on constitutional interpretation; disagreements within the …


Conceptions Of Civil Society In International Lawmaking And Implementation: A Theoretical Framework, Laura Pedraza-Farina Jan 2013

Conceptions Of Civil Society In International Lawmaking And Implementation: A Theoretical Framework, Laura Pedraza-Farina

Michigan Journal of International Law

The last two decades have seen an unprecedented explosion in the number of civil society organizations seeking to influence national and international policy making and implementation. Global leaders, activists, scholars, and policy experts have increasingly called for the inclusion of civil society in international governance and in the national implementation of international commitments. Most recently, the wave of civil uprisings that swept the Middle East and North Africa has put fostering civil society participation high on the agenda of national governments and international organizations. Indeed, most international organizations have devised mechanisms to engage with civil society and regard civil society …


International Law's Erie Moment, Harlan Grant Cohen Jan 2013

International Law's Erie Moment, Harlan Grant Cohen

Michigan Journal of International Law

The episode put the question starkly: Who fills the gaps in international law and how? A series of tribunals operating under Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had adopted broader interpretations of vague treaty language than those recommended by the state parties. In response, government ministers from the three state parties, Mexico, Canada, and the United States, operating through the Free Trade Commission (FTC) established by the treaty, adopted "Notes of Interpretation" clarifying their view of the treaty's meaning. International tribunals are generally tasked with examining state practice, either to recognize rules of customary international law …


The Probate Definition Of Family: A Proposal For Guided Discretion In Intestacy, Susan N. Gary Jun 2012

The Probate Definition Of Family: A Proposal For Guided Discretion In Intestacy, Susan N. Gary

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

Intestacy statutes may not match the wishes of many people who die intestate. Changes to the Uniform Probate Code (UPC) include or exclude potential takers, as the drafters attempt to bring the UPC provisions closer to the intent of more intestate decedents. As the UPC tries to fine-tune the intestacy statutes, however, family circumstances continue to get more and more complicated. Families headed by unmarried couples, blended families with children from multiple marriages, and families in which adults raise children who are not legally theirs, have become commonplace. For some decedents, non-family friends and caregivers may be more important than …


What's In A Name? A Brief Study Of Legal Aptonyms, Aaron Zelinsky May 2012

What's In A Name? A Brief Study Of Legal Aptonyms, Aaron Zelinsky

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Law and literature ranges wide. Scholars use Shakespeare to illuminate issues of justice, Dickens to understand trusts and estates, and J.K. Rowling to explain the law of nations. But an important subset of this field has been hitherto neglected: the study of the names of law's protagonists-law and onomastics. This Essay takes the first step into this promising arena by identifying a previously unexplored category of cases, which it dubs "legal aptonyms." Many are familiar with aptonyms but lack the vocabulary to describe them. Aptonyms—literally "apt names"—are those proper names that are "regarded as (humorously) appropriate to a person's profession …


The Boundaries Of Most Favored Nation Treatment In International Investment Law, Tony Cole Apr 2012

The Boundaries Of Most Favored Nation Treatment In International Investment Law, Tony Cole

Michigan Journal of International Law

Contemporary international investment law is characterized by fragmentation. Disputes are heard by a variety of tribunals, which often are constituted solely for the purpose of hearing a single claim. The law applicable in a dispute is usually found in a bilateral agreement, applicable only between the two states connected to the dispute, rather than in a multilateral treaty or customary international law. Moreover, the international investment community itself is profoundly divided on many issues of substantive law, meaning both that the interpretation given to international investment law by a tribunal will be determined largely by those who sit on it, …


When Good Enough Is Not Good Enough, Karl Stampfl Apr 2012

When Good Enough Is Not Good Enough, Karl Stampfl

Michigan Law Review

According to conventional wisdom, the state of statutory interpretation is not strong. Its canons of construction-noscitur a sociis, ejusdem generis, expressio unius est exclusio alterius, reddendo singula singulis, and more than a few others-are a morass of Latin into which many law students and even judges have sunk. Its practitioners are unprincipled. Its doctrines are muddied. Its victims are many. In short, the system is broken-unless, of course, it is not. In The Language of Statutes: Laws and Their Interpretation, Lawrence M. Solan slices through the rhetoric, the fighting, and the law-review-article histrionics in an attempt to show that the …


Res Or Rules - Patents And The (Uncertain) Rules Of The Game, Emily Michiko Morris Jan 2012

Res Or Rules - Patents And The (Uncertain) Rules Of The Game, Emily Michiko Morris

Michigan Telecommunications & Technology Law Review

The Article proceeds as follows. Part I reviews the basics of patent claiming, the traditional view of claims as real property deeds, and why uncertainty as to the boundaries of those deeds is considered undesirable. Part II critiques the analogy between real property deeds and patent claims, highlighting in particular the requisite novelty and conceptual nature of the patent res, the differences between the purposes of the patent system and real property regimes, and the effect of these different purposes on the expected predictability of patent boundaries. Part III then changes the analogy from patent claims as property deeds to …


Rethinking Discrimination Law, Sandra F. Sperino Oct 2011

Rethinking Discrimination Law, Sandra F. Sperino

Michigan Law Review

Modern employment discrimination law is defined by an increasingly complex set of frameworks. These frameworks structure the ways that courts, juries, and litigants think about discrimination. This Article challenges whether courts should use the frameworks to conceptualize discrimination. It argues that just as faulty sorting contributes to stereotyping and societal discrimination, courts are using faulty structures to substantively limit discrimination claims. This Article makes three central contributions. First, it demonstrates how discrimination analysis has been reduced to a rote sorting process. It recognizes and makes explicit courts' methodology so that the structure of discrimination analysis and its effects can be …


Collateral Review Of Career Offender Sentences: The Case For Coram Nobis, Douglas J. Bench Jr. Sep 2011

Collateral Review Of Career Offender Sentences: The Case For Coram Nobis, Douglas J. Bench Jr.

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

Occasionally, criminals correctly interpret the law while courts err. Litigation pursuant to the federal Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) includes numerous examples. The ACCA imposes harsher sentences upon felons in possession of firearms with prior "violent felony" convictions. Over time, courts defined "violent" so contrary to its common meaning that it eventually came to encompass driving under the influence, unwanted touching, and the failure to report to correctional facilities. However, in a series of recent decisions, the Supreme Court has attempted to clarify the meaning of violent in the context of the ACCA and, in the process, excluded such offenses. …


A New Approach To Section 363(F)3, Evan F. Rosen Jun 2011

A New Approach To Section 363(F)3, Evan F. Rosen

Michigan Law Review

Section 363(f) of the Bankruptcy Code provides five circumstances in which a debtor may be permitted to sell property free of all claims and interests, outside of the ordinary course of business, and prior to plan confirmation. One of those five circumstances is contained in § 363(f)(3), which permits such a sale where the "interest is a lien and the price at which such property is to be sold is greater than the aggregate value of all liens on such property." While it is far from certain whether § 363(f)(3) requires a price "greater than the aggregate [face value] of …