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Robo-Voting: Does Delegated Proxy Voting Pose A Challenge For Shareholder Democracy?, John Matsusaka, Chong Shu Jan 2024

Robo-Voting: Does Delegated Proxy Voting Pose A Challenge For Shareholder Democracy?, John Matsusaka, Chong Shu

Seattle University Law Review

Robo-voting is the practice by an investment fund of mechanically voting in corporate elections according to the advice of its proxy advisor— in effect fully delegating its voting decision to its advisor. We examined over 65 million votes cast during the period 2008–2021 by 14,582 mutual funds to describe and quantify the prevalence of robo-voting. Overall, 33% of mutual funds robo-voted in 2021: 22% with ISS, 4% with Glass Lewis, and six percent with the recommendations of the issuer’s management. The fraction of funds that robo-voted increased until around 2013 and then stabilized at the current level. Despite the sizable …


Stakeholder Capitalism’S Greatest Challenge: Reshaping A Public Consensus To Govern A Global Economy, Leo E. Strine Jr., Michael Klain Jan 2024

Stakeholder Capitalism’S Greatest Challenge: Reshaping A Public Consensus To Govern A Global Economy, Leo E. Strine Jr., Michael Klain

Seattle University Law Review

The Berle XIV: Developing a 21st Century Corporate Governance Model Conference asks whether there is a viable 21st Century Stakeholder Governance model. In our conference keynote article, we argue that to answer that question yes requires restoring—to use Berle’s term—a “public consensus” throughout the global economy in favor of the balanced model of New Deal capitalism, within which corporations could operate in a way good for all their stakeholders and society, that Berle himself supported.

The world now faces problems caused in large part by the enormous international power of corporations and the institutional investors who dominate their governance. These …


Shareholder Primacy Versus Shareholder Accountability, William W. Bratton Jan 2024

Shareholder Primacy Versus Shareholder Accountability, William W. Bratton

Seattle University Law Review

When corporations inflict injuries in the course of business, shareholders wielding environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) principles can, and now sometimes do, intervene to correct the matter. In the emerging fact pattern, corporate social accountability expands out of its historic collectivized frame to become an internal subject matter—a corporate governance topic. As a result, shareholder accountability surfaces as a policy question for the first time. The Big Three index fund managers, BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street, responded to the accountability question with ESG activism. In so doing, they defected against corporate legal theory’s central tenet, shareholder primacy. Shareholder primacy builds …


How To Interpret The Securities Laws?, Zachary J. Gubler Jan 2024

How To Interpret The Securities Laws?, Zachary J. Gubler

Seattle University Law Review

In discussions of the federal securities laws, the SEC usually gets most of the attention. This makes some sense. After all, it is the agency charged with administrating the securities laws and regulating the industry as a whole. It makes the majority of the laws; it engages in enforcement actions; it reacts to crises; and it, or sometimes even its individual commissioners, intervene publicly in policy debates. Often overlooked in such discussion, however, is the role of the Supreme Court in shaping securities law, and a new book by Adam Pritchard and Robert Thompson demonstrates why this is an oversight. …


The Pioneers, Waves, And Random Walks Of Securities Law In The Supreme Court, Elizabeth Pollman Jan 2024

The Pioneers, Waves, And Random Walks Of Securities Law In The Supreme Court, Elizabeth Pollman

Seattle University Law Review

After the pioneers, waves, and random walks that have animated the history of securities laws in the U.S. Supreme Court, we might now be on the precipice of a new chapter. Pritchard and Thompson’s superb book, A History of Securities Law in the Supreme Court, illuminates with rich archival detail how the Court’s view of the securities laws and the SEC have changed over time and how individuals have influenced this history. The book provides an invaluable resource for understanding nearly a century’s worth of Supreme Court jurisprudence in the area of securities law and much needed context for …


Stakeholder Governance On The Ground (And In The Sky), Stephen Johnson, Frank Partnoy Jan 2024

Stakeholder Governance On The Ground (And In The Sky), Stephen Johnson, Frank Partnoy

Seattle University Law Review

Professor Frank Partnoy: This is a marvelous gathering, and it is all due to Chuck O’Kelley and the special gentleness, openness, and creativity that he brings to this symposium. For more than a decade, he has been open to new and creative ways to discuss important issues surrounding business law and Adolf Berle’s legacy. We also are grateful to Dorothy Lund for co-organizing this gathering.

In introducing Stephen Johnson, I am reminded of a previous Berle, where Chuck allowed me some time to present the initial thoughts that led to my book, WAIT: The Art and Science of Delay. Part …


Overseeing The Administrative State, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2024

Overseeing The Administrative State, Jill E. Fisch

Seattle University Law Review

In a series of recent cases, the Supreme Court has reduced the regulatory power of the Administrative State. Pending cases offer vehicles for the Court to go still further. Although the Court’s skepticism of administrative agencies may be rooted in Constitutional principles or political expediency, this Article explores another possible explanation—a shift in the nature of agencies and their regulatory role. As Pritchard and Thompson detail in their important book, A History of Securities Law in the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court was initially skeptical of agency power, jeopardizing Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR)’s ambitious New Deal plan. The Court’s acceptance …


The Need For Corporate Guardrails In U.S. Industrial Policy, Lenore Palladino Jan 2024

The Need For Corporate Guardrails In U.S. Industrial Policy, Lenore Palladino

Seattle University Law Review

U.S. politicians are actively “marketcrafting”: the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act collectively mark a new moment of robust industrial policy. However, these policies are necessarily layered on top of decades of shareholder primacy in corporate governance, in which corporate and financial leaders have prioritized using corporate profits to increase the wealth of shareholders. The Administration and Congress have an opportunity to use industrial policy to encourage a broader reorientation of U.S. businesses away from extractive shareholder primacy and toward innovation and productivity. This Article examines discrete opportunities within the …


Students For Fair Admissions: Affirming Affirmative Action And Shapeshifting Towards Cognitive Diversity?, Steven A. Ramirez Jan 2024

Students For Fair Admissions: Affirming Affirmative Action And Shapeshifting Towards Cognitive Diversity?, Steven A. Ramirez

Seattle University Law Review

The Roberts Court holds a well-earned reputation for overturning Supreme Court precedent regardless of the long-standing nature of the case. The Roberts Court knows how to overrule precedent. In Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard (SFFA), the Court’s majority opinion never intimates that it overrules Grutter v. Bollinger, the Court’s leading opinion permitting race-based affirmative action in college admissions. Instead, the Roberts Court applied Grutter as authoritative to hold certain affirmative action programs entailing racial preferences violative of the Constitution. These programs did not provide an end point, nor did they require assessment, review, periodic expiration, or revision for greater …


Feeding The Good Fire: Paths To Facilitate Native-Led Fire Management On Federal Lands, Kevin Burdet Jan 2024

Feeding The Good Fire: Paths To Facilitate Native-Led Fire Management On Federal Lands, Kevin Burdet

Seattle University Law Review

In 2003, nearly twenty Native American reservations were devastated by wildfires that originated on adjacent federal lands. The San Pasqual Reservation’s entire 1,400 acres were burned along with over a third of its homes, and seventy-five percent of the Rincon Reservation was burned, taking twenty homes with it. These devastating fires, along with others in 2002, brought about the Tribal Forest Protection Act of 2004 (TFPA), which offered hope for Tribes to propose projects on bordering or adjacent federal lands and protect reservation lands in the process. Unfortunately, twenty years later, the TFPA has had a marginal effect in enabling …


Verses Turned To Verdicts: Ysl Rico Case Sets A High-Watermark For The Legal Pseudo-Censorship Of Rap Music, Nabil Yousfi Jan 2024

Verses Turned To Verdicts: Ysl Rico Case Sets A High-Watermark For The Legal Pseudo-Censorship Of Rap Music, Nabil Yousfi

Seattle University Law Review

Whichever way you spin the record, rap music and courtrooms don’t mix. On one side, rap records are well known for their unapologetic lyrical composition, often expressing a blatant disregard for legal institutions and authorities. On the other, court records reflect a Van Gogh’s ear for rap music, frequently allowing rap lyrics—but not similar lyrics from other genres—to be used as criminal evidence against the defendants who authored them. Over the last thirty years, this immiscibility has engendered a legal landscape where prosecutors wield rap lyrics as potent instruments for criminal prosecution. In such cases, color-blind courts neglect that rap …


The Sffa V. Harvard Trojan Horse Admissions Lawsuit, Kimberly West-Faulcon Jan 2024

The Sffa V. Harvard Trojan Horse Admissions Lawsuit, Kimberly West-Faulcon

Seattle University Law Review

Affirmative-action-hostile admissions lawsuits are modern Trojan horses. The SFFA v. Harvard/UNC case—Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina, et. al., decided jointly—is the most effective Trojan horse admissions lawsuit to date. Constructed to have the distractingly appealing exterior façade of a lawsuit seeking greater fairness in college admissions, the SFFA v. Harvard/UNC case is best understood as a deception-driven battle tactic used by forces waging a multi-decade war against the major legislative victories of America’s Civil Rights Movement, specifically Title VI and Title VII …


Capitalism Stakeholderism, Christina Parajon Skinner Jan 2024

Capitalism Stakeholderism, Christina Parajon Skinner

Seattle University Law Review

Today’s corporate governance debates are replete with discussion of how best to operationalize so-called stakeholder capitalism—that is, a version of capitalism that considers the interests of employees, communities, suppliers, and the environment alongside (if not before) a company’s shareholders. So much focus has been dedicated to the question of capitalism’s reform that few have questioned a key underlying premise of stakeholder capitalism: that is, that competitive capitalism does not serve these various constituencies and groups. This Essay presents a different view and argues that capitalism is, in fact, the ultimate form of stakeholderism. As such, the Essay urges that the …


The Structure Of Corporate Law Revolutions, William Savitt Jan 2024

The Structure Of Corporate Law Revolutions, William Savitt

Seattle University Law Review

Since, call it 1970, corporate law has operated under a dominant conception of governance that identifies profit-maximization for stockholder benefit as the purpose of the corporation. Milton Friedman’s essay The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Its Profits, published in September of that year, provides a handy, if admittedly imprecise, marker for the coronation of the shareholder-primacy paradigm. In the decades that followed, corporate law scholars pursued an ever-narrowing research agenda with the purpose and effect of confirming the shareholder-primacy paradigm. Corporate jurisprudence followed a similar path, slowly at first and later accelerating, to discover in the precedents and …


Pacific Islands And The U.S. Military: The Legal Borderlands Of The Environmental Movement, Sonia Lei Jan 2024

Pacific Islands And The U.S. Military: The Legal Borderlands Of The Environmental Movement, Sonia Lei

Seattle University Law Review

Climate change remains an urgent, ongoing global issue that requires critical examination of institutional polluters. This includes the world’s largest institutional consumer of petroleum: the United States military. The Department of Defense (DoD) is a massive institution with little oversight, a carbon footprint spanning the globe, a budget greater than the next ten largest nations combined, and overly generous exemptions to environmental regulations and carbon reduction targets. This Comment examines how this lack of accountability and oversight plays out in the context of three Pacific islands that have hosted U.S. military bases for decades. By considering the environmental impact of …


On The Value Of History: A Review Of A.C. Pritchard & Robert B. Thompson’S A History Of Securities Law In The Supreme Court, Joel Seligman Jan 2024

On The Value Of History: A Review Of A.C. Pritchard & Robert B. Thompson’S A History Of Securities Law In The Supreme Court, Joel Seligman

Seattle University Law Review

A.C. Pritchard and Bob Thompson have written a splendid history of securities law decisions in the Supreme Court. Their book is exemplary because of its detailed use of the long unpublished papers of Supreme Court justices, including those of Harry Blackmun, William O. Douglas, Felix Frankfurter and Lewis F. Powell, primary sources which included correspondence with other Justices and law clerks as well as interviews with law clerks. The use of these primary sources recounted throughout the text and 67 pages of End Notes deepens our understanding of the intentions of the Justices and sharpens our understanding of the conflicts …


Defeat Fascism, Transform Democracy: Mapping Academic Resources, Reframing The Fundamentals, And Organizing For Collective Actions, Francisco Valdes Jan 2024

Defeat Fascism, Transform Democracy: Mapping Academic Resources, Reframing The Fundamentals, And Organizing For Collective Actions, Francisco Valdes

Seattle University Law Review

The information we gathered during 2021–2023 shows that critical faculty and other academic resources are present throughout most of U.S. legal academia. Counting only full-time faculty, our limited research identified 778 contacts in 200 schools equating to nearly four contacts on average per school. But no organized critical “core” had coalesced within legal academia or, more broadly, throughout higher education expressly dedicated to defending and advancing critical knowledge and its production up to now. And yet, as the 2021–2022 formation of the Critical (Legal) Collective (“CLC”) outlined below demonstrates, many academics sense or acknowledge the need for greater cohesion among …


Stakeholder Governance As Governance By Stakeholders, Brett Mcdonnell Jan 2024

Stakeholder Governance As Governance By Stakeholders, Brett Mcdonnell

Seattle University Law Review

Much debate within corporate governance today centers on the proper role of corporate stakeholders, such as employees, customers, creditors, suppliers, and local communities. Scholars and reformers advocate for greater attention to stakeholder interests under a variety of banners, including ESG, sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and stakeholder governance. So far, that advocacy focuses almost entirely on arguing for an expanded understanding of corporate purpose. It argues that corporate governance should be for various stakeholders, not shareholders alone.

This Article examines and approves of that broadened understanding of corporate purpose. However, it argues that we should understand stakeholder governance as extending well …


Going Forward: The Role Of Affirmative Action, Race, And Diversity In University Admissions And The Broader Construction Of Society, Steven W. Bender Jan 2024

Going Forward: The Role Of Affirmative Action, Race, And Diversity In University Admissions And The Broader Construction Of Society, Steven W. Bender

Seattle University Law Review

The third annual EPOCH symposium, a partnership between the Seattle University Law Review and the Black Law Student Association took place in late summer 2023 at the Seattle University School of Law. It was intended to uplift and amplify Black voices and ideas, and those of allies in the legal community. Prompted by the swell of public outcry surrounding ongoing police violence against the Black community, the EPOCH partnership marked a commitment to antiracism imperatives and effectuating change for the Black community. The published symposium in this volume encompasses some, but not all, the ideas and vision detailed in the …


Table Of Contents, Seattle University Law Review Jan 2024

Table Of Contents, Seattle University Law Review

Seattle University Law Review

Table of Contents


Public Primacy In Corporate Law, Dorothy S. Lund Jan 2024

Public Primacy In Corporate Law, Dorothy S. Lund

Seattle University Law Review

This Article explores the malleability of agency theory by showing that it could be used to justify a “public primacy” standard for corporate law that would direct fiduciaries to promote the value of the corporation for the benefit of the public. Employing agency theory to describe the relationship between corporate management and the broader public sheds light on aspects of firm behavior, as well as the nature of state contracting with corporations. It also provides a lodestar for a possible future evolution of corporate law and governance: minimize the agency costs created by the divergence of interests between management and …


A Different Approach To Agency Theory And Implications For Esg, Jonathan Bonham, Amoray Riggs-Cragun Jan 2024

A Different Approach To Agency Theory And Implications For Esg, Jonathan Bonham, Amoray Riggs-Cragun

Seattle University Law Review

In conventional agency theory, the agent is modeled as exerting unobservable “effort” that influences the distribution over outcomes the principal cares about. Recent papers instead allow the agent to choose the entire distribution, an assumption that better describes the extensive and flexible control that CEOs have over firm outcomes. Under this assumption, the optimal contract rewards the agent directly for outcomes the principal cares about, rather than for what those outcomes reveal about the agent’s effort. This article briefly summarizes this new agency model and discusses its implications for contracting on ESG activities.


The Limits Of Corporate Governance, Cathy Hwang, Emily Winston Jan 2024

The Limits Of Corporate Governance, Cathy Hwang, Emily Winston

Seattle University Law Review

What is the purpose of the corporation? For decades, the answer was clear: to put shareholders’ interests first. In many cases, this theory of shareholder primacy also became synonymous with the imperative to maximize shareholder wealth. In the world where shareholder primacy was a north star, courts, scholars, and policymakers had relatively little to fight about: most debates were minor skirmishes about exactly how to maximize shareholder wealth.

Part I of this Essay discusses the shortcomings of shareholder primacy and stakeholder governance, arguing that neither of these modes of governance provides an adequate framework for incentivizing corporations to do good. …


The Esg Information System, Stavros Gadinis, Amelia Miazad Jan 2024

The Esg Information System, Stavros Gadinis, Amelia Miazad

Seattle University Law Review

The mounting focus on ESG has forced internal corporate decision-making into the spotlight. Investors are eager to support companies in innovative “green” technologies and scrutinize companies’ transition plans. Activists are targeting boards whose decisions appear too timid or insufficiently explained. Consumers and employees are incorporating companies sustainability credentials in their purchasing and employment decisions. These actors are asking companies for better information, higher quality reports, and granular data. In response, companies are producing lengthy sustainability reports, adopting ambitious purpose statements, and touting their sustainability credentials. Understandably, concerns about greenwashing and accountability abound, and policymakers are preparing for action.

In this …


Table Of Contents, Seattle University Law Review Jan 2024

Table Of Contents, Seattle University Law Review

Seattle University Law Review

Table of Contents


A History Of Corporate Law Federalism In The Twentieth Century, William W. Bratton Jan 2024

A History Of Corporate Law Federalism In The Twentieth Century, William W. Bratton

Seattle University Law Review

This Article describes the emergence of corporate law federalism across a long twentieth century. The period begins with New Jersey’s successful initiation of charter competition in 1888 and ends with the enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002. The federalism in question describes the interrelation of state and federal regulation of corporate internal affairs. This Article takes a positive approach, pursuing no normative bottom line. It makes six observations: (1) the federalism describes a division of subject matter, with internal affairs regulated by the states and securities issuance and trading regulated by the federal government; (2) the federalism is an …


The Sec, The Supreme Court, And The Administrative State, Paul G. Mahoney Jan 2024

The Sec, The Supreme Court, And The Administrative State, Paul G. Mahoney

Seattle University Law Review

Pritchard and Thompson have given those of us who study the SEC and the securities laws much food for thought. Their methodological focus is on the internal dynamics of the Court’s deliberations, on which they have done detailed and valuable work. The Court did not, however, operate in a vacuum. Intellectual trends in economics and law over the past century can also help us understand the SEC’s fortunes in the federal courts and make predictions about its future.


Three Stories: A Comment On Pritchard & Thompson’S A History Of Securities Laws In The Supreme Court, Harwell Wells Jan 2024

Three Stories: A Comment On Pritchard & Thompson’S A History Of Securities Laws In The Supreme Court, Harwell Wells

Seattle University Law Review

Adam Pritchard and Robert Thompson’s A History of Securities Laws in the Supreme Court should stand for decades as the definitive work on the Federal securities laws’ career in the Supreme Court across the twentieth century.1 Like all good histories, it both tells a story and makes an argument. The story recounts how the Court dealt with the major securities laws, as well the agency charged with enforcing them, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the rules it promulgated, from the 1930s into the twenty-first century. But the book does not just string together a series of events, “one …


Table Of Contents Jan 2024

Table Of Contents

Seattle University Law Review

Table of Contents


Memories Of An Affirmative Action Activist, Margaret E. Montoya Jan 2024

Memories Of An Affirmative Action Activist, Margaret E. Montoya

Seattle University Law Review

Some twenty-five years ago, the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) led a march supporting Affirmative Action in legal education to counter the spate of litigation and other legal prohibitions that exploded during the 1990s, seeking to limit or abolish race-based measures. The march began at the San Francisco Hilton Hotel, where the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) was having its annual meeting, and proceeded to Union Square. We, the organizers of the march, did not expect the march to become an iconic event; one that would be remembered as a harbinger of a new era of activism by …