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Full-Text Articles in Law

Anti-Modalities, David E. Pozen, Adam M. Samaha Feb 2021

Anti-Modalities, David E. Pozen, Adam M. Samaha

Michigan Law Review

Constitutional argument runs on the rails of “modalities.” These are the accepted categories of reasoning used to make claims about the content of supreme law. Some of the modalities, such as ethical and prudential arguments, seem strikingly open ended at first sight. Their contours come into clearer view, however, when we attend to the kinds of claims that are not made by constitutional interpreters—the analytical and rhetorical moves that are familiar in debates over public policy and political morality but are considered out of bounds in debates over constitutional meaning. In this Article, we seek to identify the “anti-modalities” of …


Democracy, Distrust, And Presidential Immunities, Evan H. Caminker Jan 2021

Democracy, Distrust, And Presidential Immunities, Evan H. Caminker

Articles

This Essay sketches how Ely's representation-reinforcement theory of judicial interpretation might frame presidential immunity doctrines and compares that frame to the Court's current approach. To what extent might various forms of presidential immunity, or exceptions thereto, be grounded in principles of democratic accountability rather than presidential efficacy? I conclude that a plausibly constructed Elyan paradigm provides an argument for immunity in many settings but also for exceptions to that immunity in narrow but important circumstances. More specifically: immunity can protect the President's ability to focus on serving her view of the national interest, without being unduly chilled or sidetracked by …


Herein Of 'Herein Granted': Why Article I'S Vesting Clause Does Not Support The Doctrine Of Enumerated Powers, Richard A. Primus Sep 2020

Herein Of 'Herein Granted': Why Article I'S Vesting Clause Does Not Support The Doctrine Of Enumerated Powers, Richard A. Primus

Articles

Article I of the United States Constitution begins as follows: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States[.]” That text is sometimes called the Vesting Clause, or, more precisely, the Article I Vesting Clause, because Articles II and III also begin with Vesting Clauses. And there is a feature of those three clauses, when compared, to which twenty-first century constitutional lawyers commonly attribute considerable significance. Although the three Clauses are similar in other ways, the syntax of Article I’s Vesting Clause is not fully parallel to that of the other two. The Vesting …


Thin And Thick Conceptions Of The Nineteenth Amendment Right To Vote And Congress's Power To Enforce It, Richard L. Hasen, Leah M. Litman Jul 2020

Thin And Thick Conceptions Of The Nineteenth Amendment Right To Vote And Congress's Power To Enforce It, Richard L. Hasen, Leah M. Litman

Articles

This Article, prepared for a Georgetown Law Journal symposium on the Nineteenth Amendment’s one-hundred-year anniversary, explores and defends a “thick” conception of the Nineteenth Amendment right to vote and Congress’s power to enforce it. A “thin” conception of the Nineteenth Amendment maintains that the Amendment merely prohibits states from enacting laws that prohibit women from voting once the state decides to hold an election. And a “thin” conception of Congress’s power to enforce the Nineteenth Amendment maintains that Congress may only supply remedies for official acts that violate the Amendment’s substantive guarantees. This Article argues the Nineteenth Amendment does more. …


Resolving Alj Removal Protections Problem Following Lucia, Spencer Davenport May 2020

Resolving Alj Removal Protections Problem Following Lucia, Spencer Davenport

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

When the Supreme Court decided Lucia v. SEC and held that administrative law judges (ALJs) are Officers under the Constitution, the Court opened a flood of constitutional issues around the status of ALJs and related government positions. One central issue relates to ALJs’ removal protections. ALJs currently have two layers of protection between them and the President. In an earlier Supreme Court decision, the Court held that two layers of tenure protection between an “Officer of the United States” and the President was unconstitutional as it deprived the President the power to hold his officers accountable. As impartial adjudicators, ALJs …


Fixing America's Founding, Maeve Glass May 2020

Fixing America's Founding, Maeve Glass

Michigan Law Review

Review of Jonathan Gienapp's The Second Creation: Fixing the American Constitution in the Founding Era.


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.


Coin, Currency, And Constitution: Reconsidering The National Bank Precedent, David S. Schwartz May 2020

Coin, Currency, And Constitution: Reconsidering The National Bank Precedent, David S. Schwartz

Michigan Law Review

Review of Eric Lomazoff's Reconstructing the National Bank Controversy: Politics and Law in the Early American Republic.


Segregation In The Galleries: A Reconsideration, Richard Primus Feb 2020

Segregation In The Galleries: A Reconsideration, Richard Primus

Michigan Law Review Online

When constitutional lawyers talk about the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment as applied to questions of race, they often men-tion that the spectators’ galleries in Congress were racially segregated when Congress debated the Amendment.1 If the Thirty-Ninth Congress practiced racial segregation, the thinking goes, then it probably did not mean to prohibit racial segregation.2 As an argument about constitutional interpretation, this line of thinking has both strengths and weaknesses. But this brief Essay is not about the interpretive consequences, if any, of segregation in the congressional galleries during the 1860s. It is about the factual claim that the galleries …


Article Ii Vests Executive Power, Not The Royal Prerogative, Julian Davis Mortenson Jun 2019

Article Ii Vests Executive Power, Not The Royal Prerogative, Julian Davis Mortenson

Articles

Article II of the United States Constitution vests “the executive power” in the President. For more than two hundred years, advocates of presidential power have claimed that this phrase was originally understood to include a bundle of national security and foreign affairs authorities. Their efforts have been highly successful. Among constitutional originalists, this so-called “Vesting Clause Thesis” is now conventional wisdom. But it is also demonstrably wrong. Based on an exhaustive review of the eighteenth-century bookshelf, this Article shows that the ordinary meaning of “executive power” referred unambiguously to a single, discrete, and potent authority: the power to execute law. …


The Elephant Problem, Richard Primus Jan 2019

The Elephant Problem, Richard Primus

Reviews

In their new book, "A Great Power of Attorney": Understanding the Fiduciary Constitution, Gary Lawson and Guy Seidman argue that, as a matter of original meaning, the Constitution should be understood as analogous to a power of attorney, that interpretive devices applicable to powers of attorney should therefore be used in constitutional interpretation, and that interpreting the Constitution that way would produce results congenial to modern libertarian preferences, such as the unconstitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and the invalidity, on nondelegation grounds, of much of the federal administrative state. But the book fails to carry any of its central …


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 in Trump …


The Cunning Of Reason: Michael Klarman's The Framers' Coup, Charles Fried Apr 2018

The Cunning Of Reason: Michael Klarman's The Framers' Coup, Charles Fried

Michigan Law Review

A review of Michael J. Klarman, The Framers' Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution.


The Constitutional Law Of Incarceration, Reconfigured, Margo Schlanger Jan 2018

The Constitutional Law Of Incarceration, Reconfigured, Margo Schlanger

Articles

On any given day, about 2.2 million people are confined in U.S. jails and prisons—nearly 0.9% of American men are in prison, and another 0.4% are in jail. This year, 9 or 10 million people will spend time in our prisons and jails; about 5000 of them will die there. A decade into a frustratingly gradual decline in incarceration numbers, the statistics have grown familiar: We have 4.4% of the world’s population but over 20% of its prisoners. Our incarceration rate is 57% higher than Russia’s (our closest major country rival in imprisonment), nearly four times the rate in England, …


Debating Is The Constitution Special?, Richard Primus, Kevin M. Stack, Christopher Serkin, Nelson Tebbe Sep 2017

Debating Is The Constitution Special?, Richard Primus, Kevin M. Stack, Christopher Serkin, Nelson Tebbe

Articles

In 1890, Louis Brandeis wrote The Right to Privacy. Within a matter of years, the courts began adopting his theory, creating a newly articulated legal right. This article likely represented the high-water mark of legal academia in terms of real world impact. In recent years, the academy has lost much of its relevance. Chief Justice Roberts ridiculed academic work, suggesting that legal scholarship has become esoteric and irrelevant. This should not be the case. The quality of legal scholars is higher than it has ever been—young scholars now often enter the academy with doctoral degrees in related fields. Likewise, technology …


The Gibbons Fallacy, Richard A. Primus Mar 2017

The Gibbons Fallacy, Richard A. Primus

Articles

In Gibbons v. Ogden, Chief Justice John Marshall famously wrote that "the enumeration presupposes something not enumerated." Modern courts use that phrase to mean that the Constitutions enumeration of congressional powers indicates that those powers are, as a whole, less than a grant of general legislative authority. But Marshall wasn't saying that. He wasn't talking about the Constitution's overall enumeration of congressional powers at all. He was writing about a different enumeration - the enumeration of three classes of commerce within the Commerce Clause. And Marshall's analysis of the Commerce Clause in Gibbons does not imply that the enumerated …


Why Enumeration Matters, Richard A. Primus Jan 2016

Why Enumeration Matters, Richard A. Primus

Michigan Law Review

The maxim that the federal government is a government of enumerated powers can be understood as a “continuity tender”: not a principle with practical consequences for governance, but a ritual statement with which practitioners identify themselves with a history from which they descend. This interpretation makes sense of the longstanding paradox whereby courts recite the enumeration principle but give it virtually no practical effect. On this understanding, the enumerated-powers maxim is analogous to the clause that Parliament still uses to open enacted statutes: “Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty.” That text might imply that the Queen is …


Judge Posner's Simple Law, Mitchell N. Berman Apr 2015

Judge Posner's Simple Law, Mitchell N. Berman

Michigan Law Review

The world is complex, Richard Posner observes in his most recent book, Reflections on Judging. It follows that, for judges to achieve “sensible” resolutions of real-world disputes—by which Judge Posner means “in a way that can be explained in ordinary language and justified as consistent with the expectations of normal people” (p. 354)—they must be able to navigate the world’s complexity successfully. To apply legal rules correctly and (where judicial lawmaking is called for) to formulate legal rules prudently, judges must understand the causal mechanisms and processes that undergird complex systems, and they must be able to draw sound factual …


Saving Originalism, Robert J. Delahunty, John Yoo Apr 2015

Saving Originalism, Robert J. Delahunty, John Yoo

Michigan Law Review

It is sometimes said that biographers cannot help but come to admire, even love, their subjects. And that adage seems to ring true of Professor Amar, the foremost “biographer” of the Constitution. He loves it not just as a governing structure, or a political system, but as a document. He loves the Constitution in the same way that a fan of English literature might treasure Milton’s Paradise Lost or Shakespeare’s Macbeth. He loves the Constitution not just for the good: the separation of powers, federalism, and the Bill of Rights. He also loves it for its nooks and crannies, idiosyncrasies, …


Countersupermajoritarianism, Frederic Bloom, Nelson Tebbe Apr 2015

Countersupermajoritarianism, Frederic Bloom, Nelson Tebbe

Michigan Law Review

Our Constitution can change. We can amend it, update it, improve it. And so we have—twenty-seven times by one count, many more by another. Everyone recognizes this. But fewer people appreciate that the mechanics of constitutional change can change as well. A method of alteration unaddressed at the founding can grow into established practice. A procedure built into constitutional text can slip into disuse. As much as citizens can change the substance of the Constitution, they can also change the ways they change it. In Originalism and the Good Constitution, John McGinnis and Michael Rappaport make an elegant and provocative …


A Moment For Pragmatism, Jane S. Schacter Apr 2015

A Moment For Pragmatism, Jane S. Schacter

Michigan Law Review

One of the least controversial things to say about the U.S. Constitution is that it has proven very difficult to amend. The numbers are familiar. Only 27 amendments have been made since the Constitution was ratified, and 10 of those were adopted at the same time, only a few years after the original ratification. These numbers are all the more remarkable given that there have been over 11,500 attempts to amend the Constitution since it was first enacted. The paucity of amendments is also striking as a comparative matter. The national constitution that India approved in 1949 has been amended …


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 …


Plausible Absurdities And Practical Formalities: The Recess Appointments Clause In Theory And Practice, David Frisof Feb 2014

Plausible Absurdities And Practical Formalities: The Recess Appointments Clause In Theory And Practice, David Frisof

Michigan Law Review

The recent controversy surrounding President Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau while the Senate was holding pro forma sessions illustrates the need to reach a new understanding of the Recess Appointments Clause of the Constitution. For the Recess Appointments Clause to be functional, it must fulfill two essential constitutional purposes: it must act as a fulcrum in the separation of powers, and it must ensure the continued exercise of the executive power. Achieving this functionality depends not only on the formal constructions of the Clause but also on the ways in …


From Commonwealth To Constitutional Limitations: Thomas Cooley's Michigan, 1805-1886, Robert Allan Olender Jan 2014

From Commonwealth To Constitutional Limitations: Thomas Cooley's Michigan, 1805-1886, Robert Allan Olender

SJD Dissertations

In response to what he perceived as the challenges associated with republican governance in the later portions of the nineteenth century, Michigan’s Thomas McIntyre Cooley penned his treatise concerning constitutional limitations on legislative power. In it, Cooley offered a vision of government where courts would check government power and would raise constitutional barriers against the impact of improper influences on legislators. As a student of history, Cooley grounded his beliefs and doctrines in experience, not philosophical reflections. Believing that “the fruits of speculative genius in government are of little value,” Cooley submitted that governing structures and law “must be the …


Jack Balkin's Rich Historicism And Diet Originalism: Health Benefits And Risks For The Constitutional System, Neil S. Siegel Apr 2013

Jack Balkin's Rich Historicism And Diet Originalism: Health Benefits And Risks For The Constitutional System, Neil S. Siegel

Michigan Law Review

Jack Balkin's Living Originalism is a sweet read. It is beautifully written, illuminating, and provocative. It is conducive to deep reflection about foundational questions. In the book, Balkin reasons from two points of view - the perspective of the constitutional system as a whole and the perspective of the faithful participant in that system (p. 130). First, he provides a systemic account of constitutional change, which he calls "living constitutionalism." Second, he offers an approach to constitutional interpretation and construction, which he calls "framework originalism." These two components-living constitutionalism and framework originalism - together constitute his overall theory of "living …


Unbundling Constitutionality, Richard A. Primus Jan 2013

Unbundling Constitutionality, Richard A. Primus

Articles

Constitutional theory features a persistent controversy over the source or sources of constitutional status, that is, over the criteria that qualify some rules as constitutional rules. This Article contends that no single criterion characterizes all of the rules that American law treats as constitutional, such that it is a mistake to think of constitutionality as a status with necessary conditions. It is better to think of constitutionality on a bundle-of-sticks model: different attributes associated with constitutionality might or might not be present in any constitutional rule. Analysts should often direct their attention more to the separate substantive properties that are …


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 circumstances …


Assessing The State Of The State Constitutionalism, Jim Rossi Apr 2011

Assessing The State Of The State Constitutionalism, Jim Rossi

Michigan Law Review

Robert Williams's The Law of American State Constitutions is an impressive career accomplishment for one of the leading academic lawyers writing on state constitutions. Given the need for a comprehensive, treatise-like treatment of state constitutions that transcends individual jurisdictions, Williams's book will almost certainly become the go-to treatise for the next generation of state constitutional law practitioners and scholars. The U.S. Constitution has a grip on how the American legal mind approaches issues in American constitutionalism, but an important recurring theme in Williams's work (as well as that of others) is how state constitutions present unique interpretive challenges. More than …


Commerce In The Commerce Clause: A Response To Jack Balkin, Robert G. Natelson Sep 2010

Commerce In The Commerce Clause: A Response To Jack Balkin, Robert G. Natelson

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The Constitution's original meaning is its meaning to those ratifying the document during a discrete time period: from its adoption by the Constitutional Convention in late 1787 until Rhode Island's ratification on May 29, 1790. Reconstructing it requires historical skills, including a comprehensive approach to sources. Jack Balkin's article Commerce fails to consider the full range of evidence and thereby attributes to the Constitution's Commerce Clause a scope that virtually no one in the Founding Era believed it had.


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 unimportant, in part because …