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

Law Commons

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

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Public Law and Legal Theory

Jurisprudence

Articles 1 - 15 of 15

Full-Text Articles in Law

Certainty Versus Flexibility In The Conflict Of Laws, Kermit Roosevelt Iii Jan 2019

Certainty Versus Flexibility In The Conflict Of Laws, Kermit Roosevelt Iii

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Traditional choice of law theory conceives of certainty and flexibility as opposed values: increase one, and you inevitably decrease the other. This article challenges the received wisdom by reconceptualizing the distinction. Rather than caring about certainty or flexibility for their own sake, it suggests, we care about them because each makes it easier to promote a certain cluster of values. And while there may be a necessary tradeoff between certainty and flexibility, there is no necessary tradeoff between the clusters of values. It is possible to improve a choice of law system with regard to both of them. The article ...


Of Law And Other Artificial Normative Systems, Mitchell N. Berman Jan 2019

Of Law And Other Artificial Normative Systems, Mitchell N. Berman

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Different theories of law are situated within different pictures of our normative landscape. This essay aims to make more visible and attractive one picture that reflects basic positivist sensibilities yet is oddly marginalized in the current jurisprudential literature. The picture that I have in mind tries to vindicate surface appearances. It maintains that the social world is densely populated by countless normative systems of human construction (“artificial normative systems”) whose core functions are to generate and maintain norms (oughts, obligations, powers, rights, prohibitions, and the like). The norms that these systems output are conceptually independent from each other, and may ...


Kennedy's Legacy: A Principled Justice, Mitchell N. Berman, David Peters Jan 2019

Kennedy's Legacy: A Principled Justice, Mitchell N. Berman, David Peters

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

After three decades on the Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy remains its most widely maligned member. Concentrating on his constitutional jurisprudence, critics from across the ideological spectrum have derided Justice Kennedy as “a self-aggrandizing turncoat,” “an unprincipled weathervane,” and, succinctly, “America’s worst Justice.” We believe that Kennedy is not as bereft of a constitutional theory as common wisdom maintains. To the contrary, this Article argues, his constitutional decisionmaking reflects a genuine grasp (less than perfect, more than rudimentary) of a coherent and, we think, compelling theory of constitutional law—the account, more or less, that one of has introduced in ...


For Legal Principles, Mitchell N. Berman Jun 2017

For Legal Principles, Mitchell N. Berman

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Most legal thinkers believe that legal rules and legal principles are meaningfully distinguished. Many jurists may have no very precise distinction in mind, and those who do might not all agree. But it is widely believed that legal norms come in different logical types, and that one difference is reasonably well captured by a nomenclature that distinguishes “rules” from “principles.” Larry Alexander is the foremost challenger to this bit of legal-theoretic orthodoxy. In several articles, but especially in “Against Legal Principles,” an influential article co-authored with Ken Kress two decades ago, Alexander has argued that legal principles cannot exist.

In ...


The Tragedy Of Justice Scalia, Mitchell N. Berman Jan 2017

The Tragedy Of Justice Scalia, Mitchell N. Berman

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Justice Antonin Scalia was, by the time of his death last February, the Supreme Court’s best known and most influential member. He was also its most polarizing, a jurist whom most students of American law either love or hate. This essay, styled as a twenty-year retrospective on A Matter of Interpretation, Scalia’s Tanner lectures on statutory and constitutional interpretation, aims to prod partisans on both sides of our central legal and political divisions to better appreciate at least some of what their opponents see—the other side of Scalia’s legacy. Along the way, it critically assesses Scalia ...


Chevron's Interstitial Steps, Cary Coglianese Jan 2017

Chevron's Interstitial Steps, Cary Coglianese

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The Chevron doctrine’s apparent simplicity has long captivated judges, lawyers, and scholars. According to the standard formulation, Chevron involves just two straightforward steps: (1) Is a statute clear? (2) If not, is the agency’s interpretation of the statute reasonable? Despite the influence of this two-step framework, Chevron has come under fire in recent years. Some critics bemoan what they perceive as the Supreme Court’s incoherent application of the Chevron framework over time. Others argue that Chevron’s second step, which calls for courts to defer to reasonable agency interpretations of ambiguous statutory provisions, amounts to an abdication ...


Justice Scalia’S Originalism And Formalism: The Rule Of Criminal Law As A Law Of Rules, Stephanos Bibas Aug 2016

Justice Scalia’S Originalism And Formalism: The Rule Of Criminal Law As A Law Of Rules, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Far too many reporters and pundits collapse law into politics, assuming that the left–right divide between Democratic and Republican appointees neatly explains politically liberal versus politically conservative outcomes at the Supreme Court. The late Justice Antonin Scalia defied such caricatures. His consistent judicial philosophy made him the leading exponent of originalism, textualism, and formalism in American law, and over the course of his three decades on the Court, he changed the terms of judicial debate. Now, as a result, supporters and critics alike start with the plain meaning of the statutory or constitutional text rather than loose appeals to ...


The Fight For Equal Protection: Reconstruction-Redemption Redux, Kermit Roosevelt Iii, Patricia Stottlemyer Jan 2016

The Fight For Equal Protection: Reconstruction-Redemption Redux, Kermit Roosevelt Iii, Patricia Stottlemyer

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

With Justice Scalia gone, and Justices Ginsburg and Kennedy in their late seventies, there is the possibility of significant movement on the Supreme Court in the next several years. A two-justice shift could upend almost any area of constitutional law, but the possible movement in race-based equal protection jurisprudence provides a particularly revealing window into the larger trends at work. In the battle over equal protection, two strongly opposed visions of the Constitution contend against each other, and a change in the Court’s composition may determine the outcome of that struggle. In this essay, we set out the current ...


Judge Posner’S Simple Law, Mitchell N. Berman Jan 2015

Judge Posner’S Simple Law, Mitchell N. Berman

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The world is complex, Richard Posner observes in his most recent book, Reflections on Judging. It follows that, to resolve real-world disputes sensibly, judges must be astute students of the world’s complexity. The problem, he says, is that, thanks to disposition, training, and professional incentives, they aren’t. Worse than that, the legal system generates its own complexity precisely to enable judges “to avoid rather than meet and overcome the challenge of complexity” that the world delivers. Reflections concerns how judges needlessly complexify inherently simple law, and how this complexification can be corrected.

Posner’s diagnoses and prescriptions range ...


Introduction To The Workplace Constitution From The New Deal To The New Right, Sophia Z. Lee Jan 2014

Introduction To The Workplace Constitution From The New Deal To The New Right, Sophia Z. Lee

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Today, most American workers do not have constitutional rights on the job. As The Workplace Constitution shows, this outcome was far from inevitable. Instead, American workers have a long history of fighting for such rights. Beginning in the 1930s, civil rights advocates sought constitutional protections against racial discrimination by employers and unions. At the same time, a conservative right-to-work movement argued that the Constitution protected workers from having to join or support unions. Those two movements, with their shared aim of extending constitutional protections to American workers, were a potentially powerful combination. But they sought to use those protections to ...


The Impact Of Codification On The Judicial Development Of Copyright, Christopher S. Yoo Jan 2013

The Impact Of Codification On The Judicial Development Of Copyright, Christopher S. Yoo

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Despite the Supreme Court’s rejection of common law copyright in Wheaton v. Peters and the more specific codification by the Copyright Act of 1976, courts have continued to play an active role in determining the scope of copyright. Four areas of continuing judicial innovation include fair use, misuse, third-party liability, and the first sale doctrine. Some commentators have advocated broad judicial power to revise and overturn statutes. Such sweeping judicial power is hard to reconcile with the democratic commitment to legislative supremacy. At the other extreme are those that view codification as completely displacing courts’ authority to develop legal ...


Rights-Based Theories Of Accident Law, Gregory J. Hall Aug 2011

Rights-Based Theories Of Accident Law, Gregory J. Hall

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This article shows that extant rights-based theories of accident law contain a gaping hole. They inadequately address the following question: What justifies using community standards to assign accident costs in tort law?

In the United States, the jury determines negligence for accidental harm by asking whether the defendant met the objective reasonable person standard. However, what determines the content of the reasonable person standard is enigmatic. Some tort theorists say that the content is filled out by juries using cost benefit analysis while others say that juries apply community norms and conventions. I demonstrate that what is missing from this ...


Social Facts, Constitutional Interpretation, And The Rule Of Recognition, Matthew D. Adler Jan 2009

Social Facts, Constitutional Interpretation, And The Rule Of Recognition, Matthew D. Adler

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This essay is a chapter in a volume that examines constitutional law in the United States through the lens of H.L.A. Hart’s “rule of recognition” model of a legal system. My chapter focuses on a feature of constitutional practice that has been rarely examined: how jurists and scholars argue about interpretive methods. Although a vast body of scholarship provides arguments for or against various interpretive methods --such as textualism, originalism, “living constitutionalism,” structure-and-relationship reasoning, representation-reinforcement, minimalism, and so forth -- very little scholarship shifts to the meta-level and asks: What are the considerations that jurists and scholars bring ...


Health Law’S Coherence Anxiety, Theodore Ruger Jan 2008

Health Law’S Coherence Anxiety, Theodore Ruger

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Academic health law is often said to suffer from a "law of the horse" problem, or, more particularly, to lack various dimensions of theoretical coherence. In conventional legal academic discourse, the "coherence" ideal prioritizes a cluster of attributes, all of which health law lacks: sparse conceptual singularity, a reductionist focus on particular legal forms, institutional centralization, and historical determinism and orderly development of a legal field. Health law is a singularly poor fit with this traditional model of field coherence. It is a mishmash of various legal forms, applied by divergent and often colliding institutions, and has developed much more ...


Evolutionary Models In Jurisprudence, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 1985

Evolutionary Models In Jurisprudence, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Few ideas in intellectual history have been so captivating that they have overflowed the discipline from which they came and spilled over into everything else. The theory of evolution is unquestionably one of these. Evolution was an idea so powerful that it seemed obvious when Charles Darwin offered it. After all, there were prominent evolutionists a century before Darwin. Charles Darwin merely presented a model that made the theory plausible. It was a model, though, that infected everything, and one that appeared to answer every question worth asking, no matter what the subject. The model had the potential to lead ...