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Constitutional Skepticism And Local Facts, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2021

Constitutional Skepticism And Local Facts, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Are written constitutions evil? In his new book, Constitutional Idolatry and Democracy, Brian Christoper Jones argues that they are. He claims that written constitutions fail to unite societies, degrade democratic engagement, and obstruct necessary constitutional maintenance. This review of his book argues that he is mostly right about the effects of the American Constitution, but that the effects of other constitutions will vary depending upon local facts.


Restoring The Historical Rule Of Lenity As A Canon, Shon Hopwood Oct 2020

Restoring The Historical Rule Of Lenity As A Canon, Shon Hopwood

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In criminal law, the venerated rule of lenity has been frequently, if not consistently, invoked as a canon of interpretation. Where criminal statutes are ambiguous, the rule of lenity generally posits that courts should interpret them narrowly, in favor of the defendant. But the rule is not always reliably used, and questions remain about its application. In this article, I will try to determine how the rule of lenity should apply and whether it should be given the status of a canon.

First, I argue that federal courts should apply the historical rule of lenity (also known as the rule ...


Extraterritoriality As Choice Of Law, Carlos Manuel Vázquez Jun 2020

Extraterritoriality As Choice Of Law, Carlos Manuel Vázquez

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The proper treatment of provisions that specify the extraterritorial scope of statutes has long been a matter of controversy in Conflict of Laws scholarship. This issue is a matter of considerable contemporary interest because the Third Restatement of Conflict of Laws proposes to address such provisions in a way that diverges from how they were treated in the Second Restatement. The Second Restatement treats such provisions—which I call geographic scope limitations—as choice-of-law rules, meaning, inter alia, that the courts will ordinarily disregard them when the forum’s choice-of-law rules or a contractual choice-of-law clause selects the law of ...


Cicero And Barack Obama: How To Unite The Republic Without Losing Your Head, Michael J. Cedrone Jun 2020

Cicero And Barack Obama: How To Unite The Republic Without Losing Your Head, Michael J. Cedrone

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

By turning to the works of Cicero and Barack Obama, we can find models of how to speak into crises in ways that foster unity. Cicero’s Catilinarian orations were delivered in 63 BCE, during his one-year term as consul—the highest elected official in the Roman Republic. Facing a conspiracy by certain noble Romans, Cicero delivered a series of four speeches that drove the chief conspirator out of Rome, turned public opinion against the conspirators, and convinced the Roman Senate to support the death penalty for conspirators who remained and were captured in Rome. The Fourth Catilinarian, in which ...


Mass Arbitration, J. Maria Glover Apr 2020

Mass Arbitration, J. Maria Glover

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

For decades, the class action has been in the crosshairs of defense-side procedural warfare. Repeated attacks on the class action by the defense bar, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other defense-side interest groups have been overwhelmingly successful. None was more successful than the culmination in the late aughts of the “arbitration revolution”—a forty-year campaign to eliminate class actions through forced arbitration provisions in private contracts. The effects for civil justice were profound: The arbitration revolution all but erased scores of civil rights claims, wage-theft claims, claims for workplace sexual harassment, and claims for consumer fraud from the ...


Considering Law And Macroeconomics, Anna Gelpern, Adam J. Levitin Mar 2020

Considering Law And Macroeconomics, Anna Gelpern, Adam J. Levitin

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The worst financial and economic crisis to hit the world’s richest economies since the Great Depression inspired a flood of scholarship that straddled the disciplines of law and macroeconomics. With few exceptions, this crisis scholarship did not set out to build a new interdisciplinary movement and did not claim the legacy of earlier efforts to mine the intersection of law and macroeconomics. What are we to make of this moment ten years on? Could Law and Macroeconomics (#LawMacro for short) be an important new turn in legal and economic thought, a casual interdisciplinary tryst on the margins of a ...


Fiduciary Legal Ethics, Zeal, And Moral Activism, David Luban Jan 2020

Fiduciary Legal Ethics, Zeal, And Moral Activism, David Luban

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The recent turn to fiduciary theory among private lawyer scholars suggests that "lawyer as fiduciary" may provide a fresh justification for legal ethics distinct from moral and political accounts propounded by theorists in recent decades. This Article examines the justification and limits of fiduciary legal ethics. In the course of the investigation, it argues that the fiduciary relation of lawyer to client as defined in the ethics codes does not align perfectly with fiduciary principles in other legal domains, such as agency, trust, or corporate law. Lawyers are fiduciaries of their clients. Does that mean lawyers can never throttle back ...


International Law And Theories Of Global Justice, Steven Ratner, David Luban, Carmen Pavel, Jiewuh Song, James Stewart Jan 2020

International Law And Theories Of Global Justice, Steven Ratner, David Luban, Carmen Pavel, Jiewuh Song, James Stewart

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

International law informs, and is informed by, concerns for global justice. Yet the two fields that engage most with prescribing the normative structure of the world order – international law and the philosophy of global justice – have tended to work on parallel tracks. Many international lawyers, with their commitment to formal sources, regard considerations of substantive (and not merely procedural) justice as ultra vires for much of their work. Philosophers of global justice, in turn, tend to explore the moral commitments of international actors without grappling with the international legal doctrine or institutions. In recent years, however, both disciplines have begun ...


The Ratchet Wreck: Equality’S Leveling Down Problem, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2020

The Ratchet Wreck: Equality’S Leveling Down Problem, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Constitutional equality law has a two-way ratchet problem. When someone demonstrates that a government policy treats her unequally, the injury can be remedied by improving things for the claimant, but it can also be remedied by leaving the claimant’s status unchanged while making things worse for the people advantaged by the policy. If a court chooses the latter option, it diminishes the welfare of some people while arguably not improving welfare of anyone else. Why is that a good idea?

Courts have often attempted to avoid hard questions like these by leveling up – that is by allowing advantaged persons ...


Supreme Silence And Precedential Pragmatism: King V. Burwell And Statutory Interpretation In The Federal Courts Of Appeals, Michael J. Cedrone Oct 2019

Supreme Silence And Precedential Pragmatism: King V. Burwell And Statutory Interpretation In The Federal Courts Of Appeals, Michael J. Cedrone

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This Article studies statutory interpretation as it is practiced in the federal courts of appeal. Much of the academic commentary in this field focuses on the Supreme Court, which skews the debate and unduly polarizes the field. This Article investigates more broadly by looking at the seventy-two federal appellate cases that cite King v. Burwell in the two years after the Court issued its decision. In deciding that the words “established by the State” encompass a federal program, the Court in King reached a pragmatic and practical result based on statutory scheme and purpose at a fairly high level of ...


Self-Deportation Nation, K-Sue Park May 2019

Self-Deportation Nation, K-Sue Park

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

“Self-deportation” is a concept to explain the removal strategy of making life so unbearable for a group that its members will leave a place. The term is strongly associated with recent state and municipal attempts to “attack every aspect of an illegal alien’s life,” including the ability to find employment and housing, drive a vehicle, make contracts, and attend school. However, self-deportation has a longer history, one that predates and made possible the establishment of the United States. As this Article shows, American colonists pursued this indirect approach to remove native peoples as a prerequisite for establishing and growing ...


Contracts, Constitutions, And Getting The Interpretation-Construction Distinction Right, Gregory Klass Jan 2019

Contracts, Constitutions, And Getting The Interpretation-Construction Distinction Right, Gregory Klass

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Interpretation determines the meaning of a legal actor’s words or other significant acts, construction their legal effect. Using contract law and then two nineteenth century theories of constitutional interpretation as examples, this Article advances four claims about interpretation, construction, and the relationship between the two. First, many theorists, following Francis Lieber, assume that rules of construction apply only when interpretation runs out, such as when a text’s meaning is ambiguous or does not address an issue. In fact, a rule of construction is always necessary to determine a legal speech act’s effect, including when its meaning is ...


All Balls And No Strikes: The Roberts Court’S Anti-Worker Activism, J. Maria Glover Jan 2019

All Balls And No Strikes: The Roberts Court’S Anti-Worker Activism, J. Maria Glover

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

For decades, legislatures and courts have created and preserved rights and remedies for vulnerable groups—consumers, employees, victims of mass torts, investors, and the like. Both branches have extolled the virtues of these substantive rights and the private enforcement mechanisms required to effectuate them. However, despite statements like that of Justice Roberts and others that the judiciary is not a lawmaking body—indeed, that the judicial institution should take care to exercise restraint—the Roberts Court has engaged in sweeping reform that tends to extinguish these substantive rights.

In 2012, I traced how the Roberts Court paid scant attention to ...


Aedpa As Forum Allocation: The Textual And Structural Case For Overruling Williams V. Taylor, Carlos Manuel Vázquez Jan 2019

Aedpa As Forum Allocation: The Textual And Structural Case For Overruling Williams V. Taylor, Carlos Manuel Vázquez

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In Williams v. Taylor, the Supreme Court read a section of the Anti- Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) to change the long-prevailing de novo standard of review of federal habeas petitions by state prisoners. In holding that Congress had denied the lower federal courts the power to grant habeas relief to prisoners in custody pursuant to wrong but reasonable state court decisions, the Court departed from the provision’s text and relied instead on its perception of a generalized congressional purpose to cut back on habeas relief and on the non-redundancy canon of statutory construction. On both scores ...


The Declaration Of Independence And The American Theory Of Government: “First Come Rights, And Then Comes Government”, Randy E. Barnett Jan 2019

The Declaration Of Independence And The American Theory Of Government: “First Come Rights, And Then Comes Government”, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The topic of this panel is the Declaration of Independence, to which I devoted a chapter of my recent book, Our Republican Constitution. I want to draw on that book to make five points.


The Canon Wars, Anita S. Krishnakumar, Victoria Nourse Nov 2018

The Canon Wars, Anita S. Krishnakumar, Victoria Nourse

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Canons are taking their turn down the academic runway in ways that no one would have foretold just a decade ago. Affection for canons of construction has taken center stage in recent Supreme Court cases and in constitutional theory. Harvard Dean John Manning and originalists Will Baude and Stephen Sachs have all suggested that principles of “ordinary interpretation” including canons should inform constitutional interpretation. Given this newfound enthusiasm for canons, and their convergence in both constitutional and statutory law, it is not surprising that we now have two competing book-length treatments of the canons—one by Justice Scalia and Bryan ...


State Action And The Constitution's Middle Band, Louis Michael Seidman Oct 2018

State Action And The Constitution's Middle Band, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

On conventional accounts, the state action doctrine is dichotomous. When the government acts, constitutional limits take hold and the government action is invalid if those limits are exceeded. When the government fails to act, the state action doctrine leaves decisions to individuals, who are permitted to violate what would otherwise be constitutional constraints.

It turns out though that the modern state action doctrine creates three rather than two domains. There is indeed a private, inner band where there is thought to be insufficient government action to trigger constitutional constraints, but often there is also a public, outer band where there ...


Philosophical Legal Ethics: An Affectionate History, David Luban, W. Bradley Wendel Jul 2017

Philosophical Legal Ethics: An Affectionate History, David Luban, W. Bradley Wendel

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The modern subject of theoretical legal ethics began in the 1970s. This brief history distinguishes two waves of theoretical writing on legal ethics. The “First Wave” connects the subject to moral philosophy and focuses on conflicts between ordinary morality and lawyers’ role morality, while the “Second Wave” focuses instead on the role legal representation plays in maintaining and fostering a pluralist democracy. We trace the emergence of the First Wave to the larger social movements of the 1960s and 1970s; in the conclusion, we speculate about possible directions for a Third Wave of theoretical legal ethics, based in behavioral ethics ...


Contract Exposition And Formalism, Gregory Klass Feb 2017

Contract Exposition And Formalism, Gregory Klass

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Formalism in contract law has had many defenders and many critics. What courts need, however, is an account of when formalist approaches work and when they do not. This article addresses that need by developing a general theory of the rules of contract interpretation and construction—contract “exposition.” The theory distinguishes inter alia two forms of formalism. Formalities effect legal change by virtue of their form alone, and thereby obviate interpretation. Examples from contract law include “as is”, the seal and boilerplate terms. Formalities work when parties intend their legal effects, that is, when they perform juristic acts. Plain meaning ...


The Rules Of The Game And The Morality Of Efficient Breach, Gregory Klass Jan 2017

The Rules Of The Game And The Morality Of Efficient Breach, Gregory Klass

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Moralists have long criticized the theory of efficient breach for its advocacy of promise breaking. But a fully developed theory of efficient breach has an internal morality of its own. It argues that sophisticated parties contract for efficient breach, which in the long run maximizes everyone’s welfare. And the theory marks some breaches—those that are opportunistic, obstructive, or otherwise inefficient—as wrongs that the law should deter, as transgressions that should not be priced but punished. That internal morality, however, does not excuse the theory from moral scrutiny. An extended comparison to Jean Renoir’s 1939 film, La ...


Knowing When Not To Fight, David Luban Jan 2016

Knowing When Not To Fight, David Luban

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Should military personnel (“soldiers”) become selective conscientious objectors to an unjust war? This chapter argues, first, that in most cases the fog of war and politics makes it unreasonable to expect soldiers to make fact-intensive judgments about whether the war is just. Second, it argues that even a justwar tribunal, of the sort proposed by Jeff McMahan, will not do the job. It will inevitably lack the legitimacy and fact-finding capacity necessary to reassure soldiers in such a weighty decision. Third, the moral importance of maintaining civilian control of the military means that soldiers should generally obey orders to deploy ...


Out-Beale-Ing Beale, Carlos Manuel Vázquez Jan 2016

Out-Beale-Ing Beale, Carlos Manuel Vázquez

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In response to the 1991 Supreme Court decision resuscitating the presumption against extraterritoriality [hereinafter “PAE” or “presumption”], EEOC v. Arabian American Oil Co. (Aramco), Larry Kramer described the presumption as an anachronism—a throwback to the strict territorialist approach to choice of law that prevailed before the mid-Twentieth Century but has been mostly abandoned since then. The title of his scathing article, Vestiges of Beale, referred to Joseph Beale, the Harvard Law professor and reporter of the First Restatement of Conflict of Laws, whose since-discredited theories underlay that Restatement’s approach to choice of law. In the cases since Aramco ...


What If Fiduciary Obligations Are Like Contractual Ones?, Gregory Klass Jan 2016

What If Fiduciary Obligations Are Like Contractual Ones?, Gregory Klass

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This essay, to appear in Contract, Status, and Fiduciary Law (Miller & Gold, 2016), explores three ways fiduciary obligations might be like contractual ones: in the methods lawmakers use or should use to determine the content of the obligation; in the private voluntary acts that generate the obligation; and in the fact that the obligation is a default that parties have the power to alter. The thesis is that to the extent that these similarities exist, they are not especially revealing. Theorists who emphasize the similarities commonly treat contract law as a private power-conferring rule, then analogize the law of fiduciary obligations to it. In fact, the law of contract is more complex and serves a broader range of purposes than just giving private parties the ability to ...


Law's Emotions, Robin West Jan 2016

Law's Emotions, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The emerging interdisciplinary field of “Law and Emotions” brings together scholars from law, psychology, classics, economics, literature and philosophy all of whom have a defining interest in law’s various relations to our emotions and to emotional life: they share a passion for law’s passions. They also share the critical premise, or assumption, that most legal scholars of at least the last half century, with a few exceptions, have mistakenly accorded too great of a role to reason, rationality, and the cool calculations of self interest, and have accorded too small a role to emotion, to the creation, the ...


Time-Mindedness And Jurisprudence, David Luban Jan 2015

Time-Mindedness And Jurisprudence, David Luban

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Analytic jurisprudence often strikes outsiders as a discipline unto itself, unconnected with the problems that other legal scholarship investigates. Gerald Postema, in the article to which this paper responds, traces this “unsociability” to two narrowing defects in the project of analytic jurisprudence: (1) from Austin on, it has concerned itself largely with the analysis of professional concepts, without connecting that analysis with other disciplines that study law, nor with the history of jurisprudence itself, nor with general philosophy; (2) analytic jurisprudence studies only time-­‐slice legal systems, rather than legal systems unfolding in history. He argues that a time-­‐slice ...


Two Excursions Into Current U.S. Supreme Court Opinion-Writing, Paul F. Rothstein Jan 2015

Two Excursions Into Current U.S. Supreme Court Opinion-Writing, Paul F. Rothstein

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In the last weeks in June, 2015, as the present term of the U.S. Supreme Court drew to a close, many controversial and important decisions were handed down by the Court. The substance of the decisions has been written about extensively. Two of the decisions in particular, though, caught my eye as a teacher of legal techniques, not for the importance of the subject of the particular decision, but for what they may illustrate in a teachable fashion about at least some opinion writing. The two cases are Ohio v. Clark (June 18, 2015) interpreting the Confrontation Clause of ...


The Triumph Of Gay Marriage And The Failure Of Constitutional Law, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2015

The Triumph Of Gay Marriage And The Failure Of Constitutional Law, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The Supreme Court's much anticipated invalidation of gay marriage bans improved the personal lives of millions of ordinary Americans. It made the country a more decent place. Even Chief Justice Roberts, at the conclusion of his otherwise scathing dissent, acknowledged that the decision was a cause for many Americans to celebrate.

But although the Chief Justice thought that advocates of gay marriage should "by all means celebrate today's decision," he admonished them "not [to] celebrate the Constitution." The Constitution, he said, "had nothing to do with it".

Part I of this article quarrels with the Chief Justice's ...


Disappearing Claims And The Erosion Of Substantive Law, J. Maria Glover Jan 2015

Disappearing Claims And The Erosion Of Substantive Law, J. Maria Glover

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The Supreme Court’s arbitration jurisprudence from the last five years represents the culmination of a three-decade-long expansion of the use of private arbitration as an alternative to court adjudication in the resolution of disputes of virtually every type of justiciable claim. Because privatizing disputes that would otherwise be public may well erode public confidence in public institutions and the judicial process, many observers have linked this decades-long privatization of dispute resolution to an erosion of the public realm. Here, I argue that the Court’s recent arbitration jurisprudence undermines the substantive law itself.

While this shift from dispute resolution ...


Pluralism And Its Perils: Navigating The Tension Between Gay Rights And Religious Expression, Nan D. Hunter Jan 2015

Pluralism And Its Perils: Navigating The Tension Between Gay Rights And Religious Expression, Nan D. Hunter

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The conflict between gay equality claims and religious liberty claims permeates debates over marriage equality and LGBT civil rights. Using as its centerpiece a decision that forced Georgetown University to provide benefits for a gay student organization, this article examines both the doctrinal underpinnings of how courts resolve the tension between gay rights and religion and the principles of pluralism that are at stake.

The Georgetown case is rightly understood as an exemplar of judicial minimalism. This article argues that the values of learning things undecided, while real, may be outweighed by lost opportunities for advancing principles that also foster ...


A Deer In Headlights: The Supreme Court, Lgbt Rights, And Equal Protection, Nan D. Hunter Jan 2015

A Deer In Headlights: The Supreme Court, Lgbt Rights, And Equal Protection, Nan D. Hunter

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In this essay, I argue that the problems with how courts apply Equal Protection principles to classifications not already recognized as suspect reach beyond the most immediate example of sexual orientation. Three structural weaknesses drive the juridical reluctance to bring coherence to this body of law: two doctrinal and one theoretical. The first doctrinal problem is that the socio-political assumptions that the 1938 Supreme Court relied on in United States v. Carolene Products, Inc. to justify strict scrutiny for “discrete and insular minorities” have lost their validity. In part because of Roe v. Wade-induced PTSD, the courts have not ...