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Full-Text Articles in Law

Suspect Spheres, Not Enumerated Powers: A Guide For Leaving The Lamppost, Richard Primus, Roderick M. Hills Jr. May 2021

Suspect Spheres, Not Enumerated Powers: A Guide For Leaving The Lamppost, Richard Primus, Roderick M. Hills Jr.

Michigan Law Review

Despite longstanding orthodoxy, the Constitution’s enumeration of congressional powers does virtually nothing to limit federal lawmaking. That’s not because of some bizarrely persistent judicial failure to read the Constitution correctly. It’s because the enumeration of congressional powers is not a well-designed technology for limiting federal legislation. Rather than trying to make the enumeration do work that it will not do, decisionmakers should find better ways of thinking about what lawmaking should be done locally rather than nationally. This Article suggests such a rubric, one that asks not whether Congress has permission to do a certain thing but ...


Translating The Constitution, Jack M. Balkin May 2020

Translating The Constitution, Jack M. Balkin

Michigan Law Review

Review of Lawrence Lessig's Fidelity and Constraint: How the Supreme Court Has Read the American Constitution.


Neglecting Nationalism, Gil Seinfeld May 2019

Neglecting Nationalism, Gil Seinfeld

Articles

Federalism is a system of government that calls for the division of power between a central authority and member states. It is designed to secure benefits that flow from centralization and from devolution, as well as benefits that accrue from a simultaneous commitment to both. A student of modern American federalism, however, might have a very different impression, for significant swaths of the case law and scholarly commentary on the subject neglect the centralizing, nationalist side of the federal balance. This claim may come as a surprise, since it is obviously the case that our national government has become immensely ...


Article Ii And Antidiscrimination Norms, Aziz Z. Huq Jan 2019

Article Ii And Antidiscrimination Norms, Aziz Z. Huq

Michigan Law Review

The Supreme Court’s opinion in Trump v. Hawaii validated a prohibition on entry to the United States from several Muslim-majority countries and at the same time repudiated a longstanding precedent associated with the Japanese American internment of World War II. This Article closely analyzes the relationship of these twin rulings. It uses their dichotomous valences as a lens on the legal scope for discriminatory action by the federal executive. Parsing the various ways in which the internment of the 1940s and the 2017 exclusion order can be reconciled, the Article identifies a tension between the Court’s two holdings ...


Wrong Turn On The Ex Post Facto Clause, Paul D. Reingold, Kimberly Thomas Jun 2018

Wrong Turn On The Ex Post Facto Clause, Paul D. Reingold, Kimberly Thomas

Articles

The Ex Post Facto Clause bars any increase in punishment after the commission of a crime. But deciding what constitutes an increase in punishment can be tricky. At the front end of a criminal case, where new or amended criminal laws might lengthen prisoners’ sentences if applied retroactively, courts have routinely struck down such changes under the Ex Post Facto Clause. At the back end, however, where new or amended parole laws or policies might lengthen prisoners’ sentences in exactly the same way if applied retroactively, courts have used a different standard and upheld the changes under the Ex Post ...


The Fortification Of Inequality: Constitutional Doctrine And The Political Economy, Kate Andrias Mar 2018

The Fortification Of Inequality: Constitutional Doctrine And The Political Economy, Kate Andrias

Articles

As Parts I and II of this Essay elaborate, the examination yields three observations of relevance to constitutional law more generally: First, judge-made constitutional doctrine, though by no means the primary cause of rising inequality, has played an important role in reinforcing and exacerbating it. Judges have acquiesced to legislatively structured economic inequality, while also restricting the ability of legislatures to remedy it. Second, while economic inequality has become a cause célèbre only in the last few years, much of the constitutional doctrine that has contributed to its flourishing is longstanding. Moreover, for several decades, even the Court’s more ...


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

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

Michigan Law Review

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 ...


Paths Of Resistance To Our Imperial First Amendment, Bertrall L. Ross Ii Apr 2015

Paths Of Resistance To Our Imperial First Amendment, Bertrall L. Ross Ii

Michigan Law Review

In the campaign finance realm, we are in the age of the imperial First Amendment. Over the past nine years, litigants bringing First Amendment claims against campaign finance regulations have prevailed in every case in the Supreme Court. A conservative core of five justices has developed virtually categorical protections for campaign speech and has continued to expand those protections into domains that states once had the authority to regulate. As the First Amendment’s empire expands, other values give way. Four key cases from this era illustrate the reach of this imperial First Amendment. In Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc ...


Reflections On Comity In The Law Of American Federalism, Gil Seinfeld Apr 2015

Reflections On Comity In The Law Of American Federalism, Gil Seinfeld

Articles

Comity is a nebulous concept familiar to us from the law of international relations. Roughly speaking, it describes a set of reciprocal norms among nations that call for one state to recognize, and sometimes defer to, the laws, judgments, or interests of another. Comity also features prominently in the law of American federalism, but in that context, it operates within limits that have received almost no attention from scholarly commentators. Specifically, although courts routinely describe duties that run from one state to another, or from the federal government to the states, as exercises in comity, they almost never rely on ...


Six Overrulings, Andrew Koppelman Apr 2015

Six Overrulings, Andrew Koppelman

Michigan Law Review

John Paul Stevens, who retired in 2010 at the age of ninety after more than thirty-four years on the Supreme Court, has capped his astoundingly distinguished career by becoming an important public intellectual. He reviews books, gives high-profile interviews, wrote a memoir of the chief justices he has known, and has now written a second book. Six Amendments revisits half a dozen old, lost battles. Stevens appeals over the heads of his colleagues to a higher authority: the public. Now that he is off the Court, Stevens explains why six decisions in which he dissented should be overruled by constitutional ...


The Limits Of Enumeration, Richard A. Primus Dec 2014

The Limits Of Enumeration, Richard A. Primus

Articles

According to a well-known principle of constitutional interpretation here identified as the “internal-limits canon,” the powers of Congress must always be construed as authorizing less legislation than a general police power would. This Article argues that the internallimits canon is unsound. Whether the powers of Congress would in practice authorize any legislation that a police power would authorize is a matter of contingency: it depends on the relationship between the powers and the social world at a given time. There is no reason why, at a given time, the powers cannot turn out to authorize any legislation that a police ...


The Scope Of Precedent, Randy J. Kozel Nov 2014

The Scope Of Precedent, Randy J. Kozel

Michigan Law Review

The scope of Supreme Court precedent is capacious. Justices of the Court commonly defer to sweeping rationales and elaborate doctrinal frameworks articulated by their predecessors. This practice infuses judicial precedent with the prescriptive power of enacted constitutional and statutory text. The lower federal courts follow suit, regularly abiding by the Supreme Court’s broad pronouncements. These phenomena cannot be explained by—and, indeed, oftentimes subvert—the classic distinction between binding holdings and dispensable dicta. This Article connects the scope of precedent with recurring and foundational debates about the proper ends of judicial interpretation. A precedent’s forward- looking effect should ...


Enacted Legislative Findings And The Deference Problem, Daniel A. Crane Mar 2014

Enacted Legislative Findings And The Deference Problem, Daniel A. Crane

Articles

The constitutionality of federal legislation sometimes turns on the presence and sufficiency of congressional findings of predicate facts, such as the effects of conduct on interstate commerce, state discrimination justifying the abrogation of sovereign immunity, or market failures justifying intrusions on free speech. Sometimes a congressional committee makes these findings in legislative history. Other times, Congress recites its findings in a statutory preamble, thus enacting its findings as law. Surprisingly, the Supreme Court has not distinguished between enacted and unenacted findings in deciding how much deference to accord congressional findings. This is striking because the difference between enactedness and unenactedness ...


The Puzzling Presumption Of Reviewability, Nicholas Bagley Mar 2014

The Puzzling Presumption Of Reviewability, Nicholas Bagley

Articles

The presumption in favor of judicial review of agency action is a cornerstone of administrative law, accepted by courts and commentators alike as both legally appropriate and obviously desirable. Yet the presumption is puzzling. As with any canon of statutory construction that serves a substantive end, it should find a source in history, positive law, the Constitution, or sound policy considerations. None of these, however, offers a plausible justification for the presumption. As for history, the sort of judicial review that the presumption favors - appellate-style arbitrariness review - was not only unheard of prior to the twentieth century, but was commonly ...


The Jurisprudence Of Union, Gil Seinfeld Jan 2014

The Jurisprudence Of Union, Gil Seinfeld

Articles

The primary goal of this Article is to demonstrate that the interest in national unity does important, independent work in the law of vertical federalism. We have long been accustomed to treating union as a constitutionally operative value in cases involving the duties states owe one another (i.e. horizontal federalism cases), but in cases involving the relationship between the federal government and the states, the interest in union is routinely ignored. This Article shows that, across a wide range of cases relating to the allocation of power between the federal government and the states, the states are constrained by ...


Election Law's Lochnerian Turn, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2014

Election Law's Lochnerian Turn, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

This panel has been asked to consider whether "the Constitution [is] responsible for electoral dysfunction."' My answer is no. The electoral process undeniably falls well short of our aspirations, but it strikes me that we should look to the Supreme Court for an accounting before blaming the Constitution for the deeply unsatisfactory condition in which we find ourselves.


Dubious Delegation: Article Iii Limits On Mental Health Treatment Decisions, Adam Teitelbaum Jun 2012

Dubious Delegation: Article Iii Limits On Mental Health Treatment Decisions, Adam Teitelbaum

Michigan Law Review

A common condition of supervised release requires a defendant, post-incarceration, to participate in a mental health treatment program. Federal district courts often order probation officers to make certain decisions ancillary to these programs. However Article III delegation doctrine places limits on such actions. This Note addresses the constitutionality of delegating the "treatment program" decision, in which a probation officer decides which type of treatment the defendant must undergo; the choice is often between inpatient treatment and other less restrictive alternatives. The resolution of this issue ultimately depends on whether this decision constitutes a "judicial act." Finding support in lower court ...


How The Gun-Free School Zones Act Saved The Individual Mandate, Richard A. Primus Jan 2012

How The Gun-Free School Zones Act Saved The Individual Mandate, Richard A. Primus

Articles

For all the drama surrounding the Commerce Clause challenge to the in-dividual mandate provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”), the doctrinal question presented is simple. Under existing doctrine, the provision is as valid as can be. To be sure, the Supreme Court could alter existing doctrine, and many interesting things could be written about the dynamics that sometimes prompt judges to strike out in new directions under the pressures of cases like this one. But it is not my intention to pursue that possibility here. My own suspicion, for what it is worth, is that the ...


Stare Decisis And Constitutional Text, Jonathan F. Mitchell Oct 2011

Stare Decisis And Constitutional Text, Jonathan F. Mitchell

Michigan Law Review

Almost everyone acknowledges that stare decisis should play a significant role when the Supreme Court of the United States resolves constitutional cases. Yet the academic and judicial rationales for this practice tend to rely on naked consequentialist considerations, and make only passing efforts to square the Court's stare decisis doctrines with the language of the Constitution. This Article offers a qualified defense of constitutional stare decisis that rests exclusively on constitutional text. It aims to broaden the overlapping consensus of interpretive theories that can support a role for constitutional stare decisis, but to do this it must narrow the ...


But How Will The People Know? Public Opinion As A Meager Influence In Shaping Contemporary Supreme Court Decision Making, Tom Goldstein, Amy Howe Apr 2011

But How Will The People Know? Public Opinion As A Meager Influence In Shaping Contemporary Supreme Court Decision Making, Tom Goldstein, Amy Howe

Michigan Law Review

Chief Justice John Roberts famously described the ideal Supreme Court Justice as analogous to a baseball umpire, who simply "applies" the rules, rather than making them. Roberts promised to "remember that it's my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat." At her own recent confirmation hearings, Elena Kagan demurred, opining that Roberts's metaphor might erroneously suggest that "everything is clear-cut, and that there's no judgment in the process." Based on his 2009 book, The Will of the People: How Public Opinion Has Influenced the Supreme Court and Shaped the Meaning of the ...


Public Consensus As Constitutional Authority, Richard A. Primus Jan 2010

Public Consensus As Constitutional Authority, Richard A. Primus

Articles

Barry Friedman's new book The Will of the People attempts to dissolve constitutional law's countermajoritariand ifficulty by showing that, in practice,t he Supreme Court does only what the public will tolerate. His account succeeds if "the countermajoritarian difficulty" refers to the threat that courts will run the country in ways that contravene majority preference, but not if the "the countermajoritarian difficulty" refers to the need to explain the legitimate sources of judicial authority in cases where decisions do contravene majority preference. Friedman's book does not pursue the second possibility, and may suggest that doing so is ...


Constitutional Expectations, Richard A. Primus Jan 2010

Constitutional Expectations, Richard A. Primus

Articles

The inauguration of Barack Obama was marred by one of the smallest constitutional crises in American history. As we all remember, the President did not quite recite his oath as it appears in the Constitution. The error bothered enough people that the White House redid the ceremony a day later, taking care to get the constitutional text exactly right. Or that, at least, is what everyone thinks happened. What actually happened is more interesting. The second time through, the President again departed from the Constitution's text. But the second time, nobody minded. Or even noticed. In that unremarked feature ...


The Functions Of Ethical Originalism, Richard A. Primus Jan 2010

The Functions Of Ethical Originalism, Richard A. Primus

Articles

Supreme Court Justices frequently divide on questions of original meaning, and the divisions have a way of mapping what we might suspect are the Justices’ leanings about the merits of cases irrespective of originalist considerations. The same is true for law professors and other participants in constitutional discourse: people’s views of original constitutional meaning tend to align well with their (nonoriginalist) preferences for how present constitutional controversies should be resolved. To be sure, there are exceptions. Some people are better than others at suspending presentist considerations when examining historical materials, and some people are better than others at recognizing ...


Article I, Article Iii, And The Limits Of Enumeration, Gil Seinfeld Jan 2010

Article I, Article Iii, And The Limits Of Enumeration, Gil Seinfeld

Articles

Article I, Section 8 and Article Ill, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution deploy parallel strategies for constraining the power of the federal government. They enumerate powers that the national legislature and judiciary, respectively, are permitted to exercise and thereby implicitly prohibit these two branches of government from exercising powers not enumerated. According to conventional thinking, this strategy has failed in connection with Article I and succeeded in connection with Article III. That is, it is widely acknowledged that Congress routinely exercises powers that are difficult to square with the Article I enumeration; but it is commonly thought that ...


Constitutional Interpretation And Judicial Review: A Case Of The Tail Wagging The Dog, Michael Halley Jan 2009

Constitutional Interpretation And Judicial Review: A Case Of The Tail Wagging The Dog, Michael Halley

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

A response to John F. Manning, Federalism and the Generality Problem in Constitutional Interpretation, 122 Harv. L. Rev. 2003 (2009). Professor John Manning's analysis of the Supreme Court's recent federalism decisions works as a platform to further the cause of textualism. His argument fails to persuade, however, because the textualism he says the Court should embrace in federalism cases is antithetical to the atextual nature of the Court's jurisdiction to adjudicate the constitutionality of legislation. Manning prefaces his work by telling readers that his analysis is not an end in itself. His aim, rather, is to "use ...


Limits Of Interpretivism, Richard A. Primus Jan 2009

Limits Of Interpretivism, Richard A. Primus

Articles

Justice Stephen Markman sits on the Supreme Court of my home state of Michigan. In that capacity, he says, he is involved in a struggle between two kinds of judging. On one side are judges like him. They follow the rules. On the other side are unconstrained judges who decide cases on the basis of what they think the law ought to be. This picture is relatively simple, and Justice Markman apparently approves of its simplicity. But matters may in fact be a good deal more complex.


Ideological Endowment: The Staying Power Of The Electoral College And The Weaknesses Of The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, Daniel P. Rathbun Jan 2008

Ideological Endowment: The Staying Power Of The Electoral College And The Weaknesses Of The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, Daniel P. Rathbun

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The National Popular Vote (“NPV”) movement is designed to eliminate the federalist impact of the Electoral College without amending the Constitution. By fashioning an interstate compact to grant participating states’ electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, NPV proponents suppose they can induce states to forfeit their electoral “weights” and replace the current, federalist election process with a fully majoritarian one. But by leaving the Electoral College in place, the NPV movement is setting itself up for a double pushback: first, in the form of immediate legal resistance, and second, through states’ long-term involvement in a meaningfully ...


Awarding Presidential Electors By Congressional District: Wrong For California, Wrong For The Nation, Sam Hirsch Jan 2008

Awarding Presidential Electors By Congressional District: Wrong For California, Wrong For The Nation, Sam Hirsch

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The unfairness of the proposed California Presidential Election Reform Act is obvious: in a close election, the Act virtually assures that California’s fifty-five electoral votes, which would be expected to go entirely to the Democratic presidential candidate under the traditional statewide-winner-takeall system, will instead be split, with more than a third of them going to the Republican candidate. Implementing this “reform” in the nation’s largest Democratic state, but not in any of the large Republican states (like Texas), is roughly the equivalent of handing over to the Republicans the state of Illinois. What is less obvious is that ...


Reforming The Electorial College One State At A Time, Thomas W. Hiltachk Jan 2008

Reforming The Electorial College One State At A Time, Thomas W. Hiltachk

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The genius of our United States Constitution is the delicate balance our Founding Fathers struck between empowering a national government and preserving the inherent sovereignty of individual states. Any proposed governmental reform that would interfere with that balance should be looked upon skeptically. Recent proposals to do away with the Electoral College in favor of a national popular vote for President deserve such careful examination. But that does not mean that reform is out of reach. We have only to look to the Constitution itself to find that the answer lies in the self-interest of each state. I am an ...


Democratic Principle And Electoral College Reform, Ethan J. Leib, Eli J. Mark Jan 2008

Democratic Principle And Electoral College Reform, Ethan J. Leib, Eli J. Mark

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The Electoral College is a relic from another time and is in tension with the modern constitutional command of “one person, one vote.” But the Electoral College is, nevertheless, ensconced in our Constitution—and, as a result, we would need to amend the document to alter or abolish it from our political fabric. Still, some states are toying with state-based Electoral College reforms. Thus, irrespective of whether voters in those states favor the abolition of the Electoral College through a federal constitutional amendment, they must critically examine the democratic merits of these statebased reform options. Categorically rejecting all state-based reform ...