The Certificate of Division and the Early Supreme Court by Jonathan Remy Nash and Michael G. Collins

Article | Constitutional Law
The Certificate of Division and the Early Supreme Court
by Jonathan Remy Nash* and Michael G. Collins†

94 S. Cal. L. Rev. 733 (2021)

Keywords: Constitutional Law; Certification by Division

The history and development of Supreme Court review over state courts in the early republic is well known. The equally important history and development of Supreme Court review of federal trial courts under the “Certificate of Division” is not. This Article addresses this largely forgotten yet critically significant feature of the early Court’s appellate power. During much of the nineteenth century, the main federal trial courts were generally staffed with two judges—a Supreme Court Justice riding circuit and a resident district judge. As a result, there were often tie votes on questions of law. Congress’s remedy was the certificate of division, which called for mandatory interlocutory Supreme Court review when the judges were divided. This unusual and understudied appellate mechanism proved critical to the development of law and the role of the Court during the Chief Justiceships of Marshall and Taney, and it implicated procedural issues that are still relevant today.

As this Article will show, many of the early Court’s most important cases came to it via certificate of division. And certification produced almost as many Supreme Court decisions as did the Court’s direct review of the state courts, the more widely studied practice. In addition, because review was obligatory when there was division, disagreement between the judges

was sometimes feigned, in order to steer certain legal questions to the Court that the judges wished it to hear, many of which might otherwise have escaped review. In this regard, we include a heretofore unavailable dataset that collects all cases—civil and criminal—that reached the Court via certification. And we undertake an empirical analysis of the dataset to ascertain, among other things, which Justices used (and sometimes abused) the practice. This Article will also show how certification by division allowed for practices that scholars tend to assume arose much later. For example, it provided an early opportunity for interlocutory appeals from lower federal courts, and it provided Supreme Court Justices with a form of discretionary control over the Court’s docket (simply by disagreeing with the district judge), long before discretionary review became the norm. Finally, certification was important as one of a variety of possible approaches that judicial systems use to break ties—here, by allowing an appeal as of right to a higher court.

*. Robert Howell Hall Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Research, Emory University School of Law; Director, Center on Federalism and Intersystemic Governance, Emory University School of Law; Director, Center for Law and Social Science, Emory University.

†. Joseph M. Hartfield Professor of Law and Joseph W. Dorn Research Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law. We are grateful to Barry Cushman, Miguel de Figueiredo, Deborah Dinner, Michael Gilbert, Daniel Klerman, Ronald Krotoszynski, Leandra Lederman, Kay Levine, Caleb Nelson, Barak Richman, Fred Smith, Dane Thorley, Ted White, John Witte, and Ann Woolhandler for helpful discussions and suggestions and to Kedar Bhatia, Lucy Gauthier, and Justin Ian Sia for excellent research assistance. We received valuable feedback from presentations at the Midwest Political Science Association annual meeting (especially the input of Justin Wedeking, who served as discussant for the paper), the Canadian Law and Economics Association annual meeting, and the Midwestern Law and Economics Association annual meeting.


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The Giant Shadow of Corporate Gadflies by Kobi Kastiel and Yaron Nili

Article | Corporate Governance
The Giant Shadow of Corporate Gadflies

by Kobi Kastiel* and Yaron Nili†

From Vol. 94, No. 3
94 S. Cal. L. Rev. 569 (2021)

Keywords: Corporate Law, Shareholders, Corporate Social Responsibility

Modern-day shareholders influence corporate America more than ever before. From demanding greater accountability of executives, to lobbying for a variety of social and environmental policies, shareholders today have the power to alter how American companies are run. Amazingly, a small group of individual shareholders wields unprecedented power to set corporate agendas and stands at the epicenter of our contemporary corporate governance ecosystem. In fact, the power of these individuals, known as “corporate gadflies,” continues to rise.
Corporate gadflies present a puzzling reality. Although public corporations in the United States are increasingly owned by large institutional investors, much of their corporate governance agenda has been and is still dominated by a handful of individuals who own tiny slivers of most large companies. How does an economy with corporate equity in the trillions of dollars cede so much governance power to corporate gadflies? More importantly, should it? Surprisingly, scholars have paid little attention to the role of corporate gadflies in this ever-changing governance landscape.
This Article is the first to address the giant shadow that corporate gadflies cast on the corporate governance landscape in the United States. The Article makes three contributions to the literature. First, using a comprehensive dataset of all shareholder proposals submitted to the S&P 1500 companies from 2005 to 2018, it offers a detailed empirical account of both the growing power and influence that corporate gadflies wield over major corporate issues and of gadflies’ power to set governance agendas. Second, the Article uses the context of corporate gadflies to elucidate a key governance debate over the role of large institutional investors in corporate governance. Specifically, the Article underscores the potential concerns raised by the activity of corporate gadflies and questions the current deference of institutional investors to these gadflies regarding the submission of shareholder proposals. Finally, the Article proposes policy reforms aimed at reframing the current discourse on shareholder proposals and potentially sparking a new line of inquiry regarding the role of investors in corporate governance.

*. Assistant Professor of Law, Tel Aviv University; Research Fellow and Lecturer on Law, Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance.

†. Associate Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin Law School and Smith-Rowe Faculty Fellow in Business Law. For helpful comments and suggestions, the Authors would like to thank Albert Choi, Asaf Eckstein, Yuval Feldman, Jesse Fried, Eric Goodwin, Zohar Goshen, Assaf Hamdani, Sharon Hannes, Cathy Hwang, Rob Jackson, Adi Libson, Amir Licht, Ehud Kamar, Kate Litvak, Dorothy Lund, James McRitchie, Gideon Parchomovsky, Ed Rock, Sarath Sanga, Bernard Sharfman, Eric Talley and the participants of the Rethinking the Shareholder Franchise Conference at the University of Wisconsin, the 2020 National Business Law Scholars Conference, the 2020 Annual Meeting of the Israeli Private Law Association, the Faculty Lunch Seminar at Tel Aviv University, the law and economics and empirical studies workshops at Bar Ilan University, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Missouri Law School Faculty Colloquium, the BYU Law 2020 Winter Deals Conference, the University of Florida 2020 Business Law Conference, and the Soshnick Colloquium on Law and Economics at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Maya Ashkenazi, Katie Gresham, Gabrielle Kiefer, James Kardatzke, Chris Kardatzke, Tom Shifter, Maayan Weisman, and Gretchen Winkel provided valuable research assistance.

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Does Fair Use Matter? An Empirical Study of Music Cases by Edward Lee and Andrew Moshirnia

Article | Intellectual Property Law
Does Fair Use Matter? An Empirical Study of Music Cases
by Edward Lee* and Andrew Moshirnia†

From Vol. 94, No. 3
94 S. Cal. L. Rev. 471 (2021)

Keywords: Intellectual Property Law, Music Law, Entertainment Law

Copyright law recognizes fair use as a general limitation. It is assumed that fair use provides breathing room above and beyond the determination of infringement to facilitate the creation of new works of expression. This conventional account presupposes that fair use matters—that is, fair use provides greater leeway to a defendant than the test of infringement. Despite its commonsense appeal, this assumption has not been empirically tested. Except for fair uses involving exact copies (for which infringement would otherwise exist), it has not been proven that fair use makes much, if any, difference in results. Indeed, in one sector, the music industry, defendants have avoided pursuing fair use as a defense in most infringement cases (except parodies) decided under the 1976 Copyright Act. This fair use avoidance is surprising given that musicians now face a spate of lawsuits due to a predicament we call copyright clutter, which occurs when copyrights protect numerous subelements of many works in a field of creation, thereby making it difficult for people to create a new work in that field without facing exposure to copyright liability simply based on a similar subelement. If fair use provides breathing room, why do musicians avoid it?
This Article provides the first empirical testing of the significance of fair use as a defense. In an experimental study involving approximately 500 subjects, we found that fair use does make a difference: subjects found no liability more frequently under fair use than the test of infringement when examining the same case. And greater knowledge of music or law resulted in higher findings of no liability under fair use. These findings provide a better conceptual understanding of how fair use operates and practical information for litigants that call into question the predominant strategy of musicians avoiding fair use as a defense. Such a strategy may result in greater findings of liability where fair use would have otherwise been found.

*. Professor of Law and Co-Director, Program in Intellectual Property Law, Illinois Tech Chicago-Kent College of Law. In the interest of full disclosure, I joined an amicus brief submitted to the Ninth Circuit in support of the jury verdict against Pharrell Williams in Williams v. Gaye, 895 F.3d 1106 (9th Cir. 2018). See Brief Amicus Curiae of the Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice Musician and Composers and Law, Music, and Business Professors in Support of Appellees, Williams, 895 F.3d 1106 (No. 15-56880) 2016 U.S. 9th Cir. Briefs LEXIS 2423. I also joined an amicus brief submitted to the Second Circuit in support of the lower court’s finding of fair use by Drake in Estate of Smith v. Cash Money Records, Inc., 253 F. Supp. 3d 737 (S.D.N.Y. 2017), aff’d sub nom. Estate of Smith v. Graham, 799 F. App’x 36 (2d Cir. 2020). Brief for Amicus Curiae Intellectual Property Professors Supporting Defendants-Appellees, Estate of Smith, 799 F. App’x 36 (No. 19-0028). In both appeals, the courts sided with the result supported by the amicus briefs. See Williams, 895 F.3d at 1120–27; Estate of Smith, 253 F. Supp. 3d at 742–43. We are grateful for the comments we received from colleagues during a presentation of a draft of this Article at the 2019 Intellectual Property Law Scholars Conference. Many thanks to our research assistants Sarah Anderson, Elizabeth Campbell, Elizabeth Jedrasek, Brittany Kaplan, and Annika Morin. This research was funded by a grant from the Chicago-Kent Center for Empirical Studies of IP and was approved for human subjects testing by the Institutional Review Board of Illinois Institute of Technology.

†. Associate Professor, and Director of Education, Business Law & Taxation, Monash University.

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On Electronic Word of Mouth and Consumer Protection: A Legal and Economic Analysis by Jens Dammann

Article | Computer & Internet Law
On Electronic Word of Mouth and Consumer Protection: A Legal and Economic Analysis
by Jens Dammann*

From Vol. 94, No. 3
94 S. Cal. L. Rev. 423 (2021)

Keywords: Internet and Technology Law, Product Reviews, Consumer Protection

The most fundamental challenge in consumer protection law lies in the information asymmetry that exists between merchants and consumers. Merchants typically know far more about their products and services than consumers do, and this imbalance threatens the fairness of consumer contracts.

However, some scholars now argue that online consumer reviews play a crucial role in bridging the information gap between merchants and consumers. According to this view, consumer reviews are an adequate substitute for some of the legal protections that consumers currently enjoy.

This Article demonstrates that such optimism is unfounded. Consumer reviews are—and will remain—a highly flawed device for protecting consumers, and their availability therefore cannot justify dismantling existing legal protections.

This conclusion rests on three main arguments. First, there are fundamental economic reasons why even well-designed consumer review systems cannot eliminate information asymmetries between merchants and consumers.

Second, unscrupulous merchants undermine the usefulness of reviews by manipulating the review process. While current efforts to stamp out fake reviews may help to eliminate some of the most blatant forms of review fraud, sophisticated merchants can easily resort to more refined forms of manipulation that are much more difficult to address.

Third, even if the firms operating consumer review systems were able to remedy all the various shortcomings that such systems have, it is highly unlikely that they would choose to do so: by and large, the firms using review systems lack the right incentives to optimize them.

*. Ben H. and Kitty King Powell Chair in Business and Commercial Law, The University of Texas School of Law. For research assistance or editing, or both, I am grateful to Jael Dammann, Elizabeth Hamilton, Stella Fillmore-Patrick, and Jean Raveney.

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The Modern American Law of Race by David E. Bernstein

Article | Anti-discrimination Law
The Modern American Law of Race
by David E. Bernstein*

From Vol. 94, No. 2
94 S. Cal. L. Rev. 171 (2021)

Keywords: Anti-discrimination Law, Public Policy

 

Most Americans believe that a person’s ethnic or racial identity is currently a matter of self-identification in the United States, but that is not entirely true. Government agencies and courts have established rules for what makes someone African American, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, or white, and for how one proves that one meets the relevant criteria.1 One can get a sense of the scope of these rules by considering how authorities would resolve some recent public controversies over individuals’ racial and ethnic identities.

For example, is golf star Tiger Woods, who calls himself “Cablinasian,” legally classified as Asian based on his predominant ethnic origin,2 African American based on his appearance and the principle of hypo-descent,3 or something else? Until 2019, in Washington State, a government employee would have determined Woods’ ethnic status by looking at his picture.4 Under federal law, Woods could claim Asian American or African American status based on his partial Asian and African ancestry, but he would need to affirm that he holds himself out as a member of the group.5 Whether identifying as “Cablinasian” counts as holding oneself out as Black or Asian is not clear. To successfully claim Native American status based on his Native American great-grandparent, Woods would generally need to show membership in a federally recognized tribe.6 There is, of course, no official Cablinasian category, nor could Woods claim a Thai or Chinese identity separate from the general Asian category.

Is George Zimmerman, charged with murder—and ultimately acquitted by a jury—in the controversial shooting of Trayvon Martin, best described as Hispanic, half-Hispanic, mixed-race, white Hispanic, or something else?7 With a Peruvian mother, assuming he self-identifies as Hispanic, Zimmerman likely qualifies as Hispanic under every extant relevant federal and state law, unless, perhaps, his mother’s ancestors immigrated to Peru from a non-Spanish-speaking country.8 Some government agencies might also question Zimmerman’s Hispanic-ness based on his German-sounding last name and his (arguably) white appearance;9 some agencies would require him to present affirmative evidence that he considers himself, and is considered by others, to be Hispanic.10

Whether Zimmerman could successfully claim African American status based on his mother’s purported partial African ancestry is less clear.11 Federal law suggests that any amount of African ancestry is sufficient to qualify someone as African American,12 but there is recent judicial precedent to the contrary.13 Some states rely on the National Minority Supplier Development Council (“NMSDC”) for racial and ethnic classification, and the NMSDC requires that a person be one-quarter African American to claim that status.14 Federal agencies would likely accept Zimmerman’s claim of African American status based on an affidavit from him, though he would have to affirm that he holds himself out as African American.15 The NMSDC would demand documentation, such as a driver’s license or birth certificate, listing Zimmerman’s race as African American.16 California, meanwhile, would require birth certificates specifying race from either Zimmerman, his parents, or his grandparents, or three letters from certified ethnic organizations attesting to Zimmerman’s group membership.17 There is no official mixed-race status to claim in any jurisdiction, though the Department of Education now has a category in its statistics for children whose parents say the children belong in two or more racial categories.

Was former NAACP official Rachel Dolezal, the offspring of two parents of European origin, pretending to be Black by identifying as an African American woman? Or was it acceptable for her to adopt an African American identity, given that race is a socially constructed concept and she sincerely adopted an African American identity?18 Under federal and the vast majority of state laws, Dolezal’s lack of African ancestry means that she would be classified as white.19 In Massachusetts, however, the fact that she held herself out as a Black woman and others treated her as such would allow her to classify herself as Black in some contexts.20

Was Senator Elizabeth Warren justified in identifying herself as Native American based on family lore that she has Native American ancestry,21 or was she engaging in “ethnic fraud”?22 Under federal law, Warren’s lack of membership in a recognized tribe means that she is not Native American for most purposes.23 Warren also likely does not come within the definition of “Indian” in statutes that don’t require tribal membership.24 For statistical purposes, including for enforcement of antidiscrimination legislation, the government includes individuals with Native American ancestry who “maintain[] cultural identification through . . . community recognition.”25 In some states, family lore plus self-identification is likely enough for the government to recognize someone as Native American.26

Some of Vice President Kamala Harris’s political opponents have questioned her Black identity. 27 Harris, the child of an Indian immigrant mother and a father of mixed-race heritage from Jamaica, has identified as Black her entire adult life (including attending a historically Black university, Howard University), is identified by others as such, and has African ancestry.28 Given those facts, legal authorities throughout the United States would recognize her as Black and/or African American.

The controversies discussed above were debated in the court of public opinion; no courts or regulatory bodies were asked to rule on the ethnic or racial identity of any of these individuals. Most Americans undoubtedly prefer it that way, understandably tending to blanch at the idea of having the government, at any level, dictate the boundaries of ethnic identity.29 Such determinations are reminiscent not only of Nazi Germany’s and South Africa’s racial obsessions,30 but of America’s sordid past.31 Not long ago, Southern states divided mixed-race individuals into categories such as “octoroons” and “quadroons” to determine whether they were “white” or “colored” by law.32 The U.S. government, meanwhile, engaged in pseudoscience and pseudo-anthropology to determine which people from Asia counted as “Asians” and were thus not legally eligible to immigrate to the United States or become naturalized citizens, and which people from Asia were sufficiently “white” or “Caucasian” to be classified as such.33

Despite Americans’ understandable modern squeamishness at official racial categorization, racial and ethnic classifications are ubiquitous in American life. Applying for a job, a mortgage, university admission, citizenship, government contracts, and much more involves checking a box stating whether one is white, Hispanic, Asian, African American, or Native American, among other extant classifications. 34

Those seeking information about individuals’ ethnicity typically rely on self-identification and voluntary compliance with general norms regarding such identification.35 As noted, however, legal rules dictate whether someone may claim “minority” status in some contexts. This should not be surprising, given that concrete benefits sometimes accompany one’s identification as a member of a racial or ethnic minority group. In the past, given Jim Crow laws, immigration and naturalization restrictions, and other forms of de jure and de facto race discrimination, it was generally considered beneficial to claim a white identity. Today, while invidious discrimination still presents impediments to minorities, claiming a non-white identity can make one eligible for affirmative action preferences.36 While university affirmative action policies receive far more public attention, there is a strong incentive to claim minority status to be eligible for racial and ethnic preferences that influence the award of hundreds of billions of dollars annually in government contracts.37

This Article addresses two distinct but related issues. This Article first discusses the categories that federal and state governments use to define the “official” racial and ethnic minorities in the United States for data gathering, civil rights enforcement, and affirmative action purposes; the boundaries of those categories; and how those categories came to be. The second issue addressed by this Article is what evidence individuals must provide to demonstrate membership in these categories, and how modern courts and agencies have adjudicated questions of racial or ethnic identity when an individual’s claim to minority status has been contested.

Most Americans take the categories of “African American,” “Native American,” “Asian American,” and “Hispanic” for granted.38 Yet there is no inherent logic to using these categories, nor to their precise scope,39 and the same, for that matter, is true of the category “[w]hite.”40 As a federal judge has pointed out, the categories are not consistent with one another: “one group [African Americans] is defined by race, another [Hispanics] by culture, another [Asians] by country of origin and another [Native Americans] by blood.”41

The Hispanic category generally includes everyone from Spanish immigrants (including people whose first language is Basque or Catalan, but not Spanish) to Cuban Americans of mixed European extraction to Puerto Ricans of mixed African, European, and indigenous heritage to individuals fully descended from indigenous Mexicans.42 Members of the disparate groups that fall into the “Hispanic” or “Latino” category often self-identify as white,43 often feel more connected to the general white population than to other Spanish-language national-origin groups, and sometimes diverge from members of other Hispanic demographic groups in political outlook as much or more than from the general white population.44 Moreover, “census data show substantial differences in levels of income and educational attainment among the national origin groups in which data about ‘Hispanics’ are usually classified.”45 Not all Hispanics, meanwhile, consider themselves to be part of a minority group, and “some who claim minority status for themselves would reject [that status] for . . . others” (for example, they might “reject it for well-educated professionals who immigrate from South American countries” and who are considered white in their home countries).46 People of Portuguese or Brazilian ancestry, who are not of Spanish culture or origin, are nevertheless sometimes defined as Hispanic by legislative or administrative fiat.

The Asian American category includes people descended from wildly disparate national groups,47 who have dissimilar physical features, practice different religions,48 speak different languages, vary dramatically in culture,49 and sometimes have long histories of conflict with one another.50 Various subgroups of Asian Americans have differing levels of average socioeconomic success in the United States51—Indian Americans, for example, on average have significantly higher-than-average incomes and levels of education, while on average the incomes of Hmong and Burmese Americans are well-below the American mean.52 Korean Americans have the highest rate of business formation for any ethnic group in the United States, while Laotians have the lowest.53 The Asian category meanwhile excludes people from the Western part of Asia, such as Muslim Americans of Yemeni origin, who may face discrimination based on skin color (often dark), religion, and Arab ethnicity.54 Only a minority of people in the Asian category identify with the “Asian” or “Asian American” labels.55

Under most federal rules,56 the Native American category includes someone of remote Indian ancestry who has inherited tribal membership, while excluding some people with much closer genetic and cultural connections to the Native American community who are not tribal members.57 The question of whether the category of African American should sometimes be limited to descendants of American slaves or include African and Caribbean immigrants and their descendants is increasingly debated, as is the question of whether multi-racial individuals with a non- Black-identified parent should be included in the African American category.58

Classification rules generally were not made by Congress or state legislatures, where they would have been subject to public discussion and debate, but by administrative agencies. These agencies have used their authority to determine which groups are covered by classification rules, as well as how to prove membership in those groups. The modern history of racial and ethnic categorization by the government is therefore an example of, among other things, administrative constitutionalism,59 with the bureaucracy creating important baseline rules for society with little input from elected officials and negligible public debate.

Part I of this Article addresses the origins and development of modern racial categorizations in the United States. These categories arose from categories used for federal antidiscrimination enforcement and affirmative action policies. The federal government has never provided a coherent or comprehensive explanation for why some minorities are deemed to be “official” minority groups and others are not, or for why the various categories have the precise, and often seemingly arbitrary, boundaries that they do.

As documented in Part I of this Article, the scope and contours of official minority status have arisen from a combination of groups being deemed analogous to African Americans in facing race discrimination; bureaucratic inertia; lobbying campaigns; political calculations by government officials; a failure to anticipate future immigration patterns; and happenstance. It was far from inevitable, for example, that Americans with ancestry in the Indian subcontinent or the Iberian peninsula would gain official minority status, but that Arab, Greek, Iranian, Italian, Jewish, and Polish Americans would not.

Part II discusses state variations on the scope of the standard ethnic categories, in particular in the states’ Minority Business Enterprise (“MBE”) programs. Federal law requires states that accept federal transportation funds—that is, all states—to have rules for certifying firms owned by members of designated minority groups as MBEs. MBEs are eligible for presumptive status as Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (“DBEs”) for federally funded contracts. States are permitted to use federal standards for this purpose, but may also create and enforce their own standards, both for participation in federally funded projects and for state purposes. Various states’ rules diverge from federal law in determining who is deemed African American, Asian, Hispanic, or Native American. For example, unlike under federal law, some states exclude persons with Portuguese and Spanish ancestry from the Hispanic category. Other states delegate authority to the

NMSDC to use its own idiosyncratic standards to certify minority status.

This Article next turns to the question of what evidence individuals must provide to demonstrate membership in these categories. Conventional wisdom is that these categories are a matter of self-definition based on informal norms. For federal purposes, this is largely true. Most federal programs require only a signed affidavit attesting that the petitioner for minority status is a member of the claimed group and holds himself or herself out as such.60

States, however, often require documentation before granting minority status. This documentation requirement can be met by providing an official document listing one’s race, providing letters of support from ethnic organizations, or relying on certification by the NMSDC. Part III of this Article discusses the evidence various states demand to support a claim that a petitioner is a member of a designated group.

Perhaps surprisingly, challenges to the under- or overinclusiveness of a governmental definition of the scope of particular racial or ethnic categories are rare. Part IV of this Article discusses the only four such cases this author found. In the first case, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that, judged by the rational basis standard, a city’s Hispanic category was neither over- nor underinclusive for equal protection purposes.61 In the second case, the Second Circuit, also applying the rational basis test, held that it was not unconstitutionally arbitrary for New York State to exclude companies owned by people from Spain from its Hispanic MBE category, even though the federal government includes such companies.62 In the third case, the Seventh Circuit held that it was unconstitutionally overinclusive to include immigrants from Spain and Portugal and their descendants in the Hispanic category in Cook County, Illinois’ MBE Program.63 In the fourth case, the Sixth Circuit held that Ohio’s MBE law was both overinclusive in including groups that had not been victims of longstanding discrimination in Ohio, and underinclusive in not including groups that had been.64

Conventional wisdom is that there has been only one case in which an individual’s claim to minority status has been adjudicated in an affirmative action context. The case involved white firefighter brothers named Malone who claimed African American status based on dubious evidence that they had an African American great-grandmother.65 It turns out, however, that the Malone case is the tip of a (small) iceberg.

Part V of this Article reviews cases in which the minority status of a petitioner seeking MBE status for his or her company has been adjudicated. Most of the cases discussed in Part V involve the question of Hispanic status, the boundaries of which have proved especially vexing to administrators and courts. Part VI of this Article turns from racial categorization in the MBE context to adjudication of claims of minority status by individuals seeking to benefit from affirmative action in employment.66

Part VII of this Article notes the existence of laws governing racial identity that are beyond the scope of this Article, in particular laws defining whom the federal government classifies as being an “Indian.”

This Article concludes by noting that laws dictating ethnic and racial categories were designed primarily to assist African Americans overcome the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, and discrimination. As the United States has become more demographically diverse, however, African Americans are now a shrinking minority of those officially classified as members of racial and ethnic minority groups.67 Given high rates of interracial marriage among other minority groups68 and the reality that mixed-race and mixed-ethnicity individuals can check whichever box most benefits them in a given circumstance, the percentage of non-African American individuals eligible for minority status for affirmative action purposes will continue to grow, putting increasing strains on the current method of categorization. The Conclusion suggests several ways to handle these strains.

*. University Professor, Antonin Scalia Law School, and Executive Director, Liberty & Law Center; B.A. 1988, Brandeis University; J.D. 1991, Yale Law School. For their comments, suggestions, and research leads, the author thanks Charles Barzun, Roger Clegg, Jonathan Bean, George La Noue, Peter Schuck, Michael Rosman, John Skrentny, and John Sullivan. The author benefited from feedback received at faculty workshops at the Antonin Scalia Law School and Northwestern University School of Law. Emily Yu provided excellent research assistance.

 

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How the States Can Tax Shifted Corporate Profits: An Application of Strategic Conformity by Darien Shanske

Article | Tax Law
How The States Can Tax Shifted Corporate Profits: An Application of Strategic Conformity
by Darien Shanske*

From Vol. 94, No. 2
94 S. Cal. L. Rev. 251 (2021)

Keywords: Tax Law, Corporate Law, State Law

 

The combination of pandemic, recession and federal dysfunction has put severe fiscal strain on the states. Given the scale of the crisis and the essential nature of the services now being cut, it would be reasonable for states to contemplate inefficient—and even regressive—revenue-raising measures. Yet surely they should not start with such measures. They should start with making the efficient and progressive improvements to their revenue systems that they should have made anyway.

Improving the taxation of the profits of multinational corporations—the topic of this Article—represents a reform that would be efficient, progressive, and relatively straightforward to administer. Not only would such a reform thus represent good tax policy, but it would also raise significant revenue. And, if substantial revenue, efficiency, progressivity and administrability are not sufficiently motivating, then I will also add that it would be particularly appropriate to make these changes during the pandemic so as to raise revenue from those best able to pay during the current crisis.

To be sure, the argument that states can and should tax multinational corporations more has the whiff of paradox. After all, there is general consensus that no nation-state is currently taxing multinational corporations very effectively and, further, that subnational governments are in an even worse position to do so. This is because multinational corporations can exploit the mobility of capital even more easily between parts of the same country. Nevertheless, I will argue that the American states find themselves in a particularly strong position to do better at taxing multinational corporations and this is in part precisely because of the missteps made at the federal level.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”), passed in December 2017, contained several provisions, including rules concerning Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income (or “GILTI”), that were meant to combat income stripping. The GILTI provision identifies foreign income likely to have been shifted out of the United States and subjects it to U.S. tax.

In this Article, I argue that the states should and can tax GILTI income. The basic policy argument is simple: states should not miss a chance to protect their corporate tax bases. The amount of revenue at stake is not trivial; it could be as high as $15 billion per year for the states as a whole or the equivalent of a 30% boost in corporate tax collections.

The basic legal argument is also simple: it cannot be the case—and it is not the case—that states need to take corporations at their word as to where their income is earned. If the states can make a reasonable argument that nominally foreign income has in fact been shifted out of the United States, then their choices as to their tax system should be respected.

This Article makes several other core arguments. First, the Article argues that returning to mandatory worldwide combination as a complete alternative to GILTI conformity would be preferable to GILTI conformity alone. Second, the Article argues that offering taxpayers a choice between GILTI conformity and worldwide combination is preferable to GILTI conformity alone.

Finally, this Article places all these issues in a larger framework of strategic conformity. As with GILTI, the states should look for other opportunities where they can take advantage of federal miscues while also advancing sound tax policy.

* Professor, UC Davis School of Law. Many thanks to audiences at the Association of Mid- Career Tax Professors, the NorCal Tax Roundtable, the University of Minnesota Law School Perspective on Taxation Lecture Series and to Eric Allen, Revuen Avi-Yonah, Kimberly Clausing, Steven Dean, Peter Enrich, Michael Fatale, David Gamage, Mark Gergen, Kristen Hickman, Ken Levinson, Michael Mazerov, Amy Monahan, Susie Morse, Michael Simkovic and Adam Thimmesch. I am particularly grateful to David Gamage who coauthored some shorter pieces on which this Article is based. All opinions and mistakes are my own.

 

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Age Diversity by Alexander A. Boni-Saenz

Article | Anti-Discrimination Law
Age Diversity
by Alexander A. Boni-Saenz*

From Vol. 94, No. 2
94 S. Cal. L. Rev. 303 (2021)

Keywords: Anti-Discrimination Law, Diversity, Civil Rights Law, Public Policy

 

This Article is the first to examine age diversity in the legal literature, mapping out its descriptive, normative, and legal dimensions. Age diversity is a plural concept, as heterogeneity of age can take many forms in various human institutions. Likewise, the normative rationales for these assorted age diversities are rooted in distinct theoretical foundations, making the case for or against age diversity contextual rather than universal. A host of legal rules play a significant role in regulating age diversity, influencing the presence of different generations in the workplace, judiciary, and Congress. Better understanding the nature and consequences of age diversity allows us to recognize the unique set of costs and benefits it entails and enriches our understanding of other forms of difference. Further, examining the law with an age diversity lens highlights fruitful avenues for legal reform in fields as varied as immigration law, employment law, and the law of juries. In an era of increased intergenerational tension and a rapidly aging population, the time is ripe to evaluate age diversity and the law’s role in shaping it.

* Associate Professor of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law. abonisae@kentlaw.edu. For helpful questions and comments, I would like to thank Lori Andrews, Susan Appleton, Kathy Baker, Felice Batlan, Naomi Cahn, Sungjoon Cho, Adrienne Davis, Graeme Dinwoodie, Danielle D’Onfro, Dan Epps, John Inazu, Andrew Ingram, Peter Joy, Pauline Kim, Hal Krent, Michelle Layser, Ron Levin, Marty Malin, Nancy Marder, Nancy Morrow-Howell, Greg Reilly, César Rosado, Mark Rosen, Rachel Sachs, Chris Schmidt, Carolyn Shapiro, Peggie Smith, Noah Smith-Drelich, Brian Tamanaha, Karen Tokarz, Andrew Tuch, Deb Widiss, the editors at Southern California Law Review, and workshop participants at the American Association of Law Schools Annual Meeting, Chicago-Kent, the Chicagoland Junior Scholars Conference, and Washington University in St. Louis, where I presented earlier versions of this Article. For valuable research assistance, I would like to thank Jessica Arencibia.

 

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A Criminal Law Based on Harm Alone: The Story Of California Criminal Justice Reform by Joshua Kleinfeld & Thomas Hoyt

Article | Criminal Law
A Criminal Law Based On Harm Alone: The Story of California Criminal Justice Reform

by Joshua Kleinfeld* & Thomas Hoyt

From Vol. 94, No. 1
94 S. Cal. L. Rev. 35 (2020)

Keywords: Criminal Law, California Law, State Law

 

For many criminal justice reformers, the Holy Grail of change would be a criminal system that ends the war on drugs; punishes minor property and public order offenses without incarceration (or does not handle them criminally at all); and reserves prison mainly for violent offenders. What few appreciate is that California over the last nine years has done exactly that, and the results are breathtaking in their magnitude and suddenness: from 2011 to 2019, California released 55,000 people convicted mostly of nonviolent offenses (a quarter to a third of all California prisoners) and has been declining imprisonment—which often means declining arrest and prosecution altogether—for tens of thousands more who likely would have been imprisoned a decade ago. The changes happened piecemeal; this Article is the first to put the whole picture together. But we are now in a position to describe and evaluate the whole.

We come to three conclusions. First, California criminal justice reform reduced incarceration without increasing violence, but in so doing increased property crime, public drug use, street-level disorder, and likely homelessness to such an extent as to change the texture of everyday life in some California cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco. Second, these changes alter the relationship between individual and state substantially enough to constitute a new social contract: California has gone farther than any other American state toward a society based on John Stuart Mill’s harm principle.

Third, this array of costs and benefits is complex and nuanced enough that it is not irrational or otherwise normatively illegitimate for someone to think them either justice-enhancing or -diminishing, good for human welfare or bad for it. But what unequivocally redeems California’s new policies for California are their democratic credentials: they were accomplished through a series of elections over multiple years at multiple levels of government with a high degree of public deliberation. Criminal justice democratizers and strong proponents of federalism should endorse what California has done as a matter of political self-determination. But they might rationally not want the same thing for their own states.

*. Professor of Law and (by courtesy) Philosophy, Northwestern University. †. JD Candidate, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law.

 

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Walling Out: Rules and Standards in the Beach Access Context by Timothy M. Mulvaney

Article | State Law
Walling Out: Rules and Standards in the Beach Access Context
by Timothy M. Mulvaney*

From Vol. 94, No. 1
93 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1 (2020)

Keywords: State Law, Beach Access, Public Policy

The overwhelming majority of U.S. states facially allocate exclusionary rights and access privileges to beaches by categorically deciding whom to wall in and whom to wall out. In the conventional terms of the longstanding debate surrounding the design of legal directives, such “rules” are considered substantively determinant ex ante and, in application, analogically transparent across similarly situated cases. Only a small number of jurisdictions have adopted “standards” in the beach access context, which—again, on the conventional account—sacrifice both determinacy and transparency for the ability to accommodate ex post the complexities of individual cases. This Article contends that beach access policy illustrates the familiar limitations of this conventional rules-versus- standards account in two elucidating ways. First, the implementation of contemporary beach access law suggests that the gap between rules and standards with respect to the virtue of determinacy is not nearly as wide as the conventional account allows. In short, beach access rules are not and cannot in actuality be divorced from context, while beach access standards take shape through applications that reveal core archetypes. Second, while beach access rules reflect the virtue of transparency in the sense that they minimize some forms of arbitrariness, standards offer their own, robust version of transparency, which is grounded in promoting dialogue and demanding accountability. The Article offers these contentions not to press the view that standards are necessarily superior to rules en masse, but, instead, to prompt reflection on the nearly uniform and seemingly impulsive rule fetishism that has held sway in the beach access context.

*. Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Faculty Research, Texas A&M University School of Law. Thank you to Gregory Alexander, Vanessa Casado Pérez, Hanoch Dagan, Nestor Davidson, Eric Freyfogle, John Lovett, Nadav Shoked, Joseph Singer, Laura Underkuffler, Brian Weeks, and Katrina Wyman for commenting on earlier drafts of this Article, and to Cole Watson for diligent research assistance. Thanks, too, to Donna, Eugene, Patrick, Jacob, and Blake Mulvaney, Ashley, Tristan, and Ryan Hedrick, Christopher, Arthur, and Amy McCann, Kevin Tray, Michael and Robert Lowe, Paul D’Elia, Edward, Mary, and Allison Norcia, Andrew Martin, Bryan Wallach, Mark Lindquist, Doug Forken, Ryan Morra, Eleanor Hish, David Manzo, James Courtney, Christopher Lilien, Robert Leichte, Chris Seiler, Marc Buttacovoli, Mary Spanburgh, Anthony Casale, Matthew Smith, Maria Dunlap, Benjamin Greer, Craig Irrgang, Maikel O’Hanlon, Matthew Duffy, John Bramlette, Richard Billings, Kevin Gregory, Matthew Popowsky, Michael Newshell, Ashley Reichelman, Michael Hazlet, and Brian Gardner, and the many others along the way who participated in and contributed to the Habitat Paddle to Build project that served as inspiration for this Article. I benefitted from the opportunity to present various iterations and components of this manuscript at Cornell Law School, Harvard Law School, Maastricht University, the University of Cambridge, the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Michigan Law School.

Consumer Expropriation of Aesthetically Functional Trade Dress: Results from a Randomized Experiment by Ian Ayres and Xiyin Tang

Article | Intellectual Property Law

Consumer Expropriation of Aesthetically Functional Trade Dress: Results from a Randomized Experiment

by Ian Ayres* and Xiyin Tang

Vol. 93, No.6 (February 2021)
93 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1189 (2020)

Keywords: Trade dress, Aesthetic functionality

Abstract

Trade dress, as a subset of trademark law, can offer potentially perpetual protection to a product’s design or packaging features if they aid consumers in identifying a product’s source. Yet these protected design features might be valued by consumers not only because of their source identifying function, but also because consumers find the design or package features beautiful, independent of the goodwill generated by the producer. Thus, under the doctrine of aesthetic functionality, manufacturers who produce red-soled shoes or whiskey with a melted wax seal might gain what courts have called a “non-reputation-related” competitive advantage, ultimately warranting the expropriation of the protected product feature into the public domain.

This Article argues that courts, in assessing questions of aesthetic functionality, should give particular weight to surveys asking consumers whether they would be better off if competitors were allowed to use a protected trade dress feature in their own products. Just as, under the doctrine of genericide, consumers are able to expropriate word marks if consumers find it more beneficial to associate the language feature of the trademark with competitors’ products, consumers should also be able to expropriate trade dress rights of a particular manufacturer if they find it more beneficial to have these design and packaging features available to the manufacturer’s competitors. Creating a genericide analog for cancelation of trade dress can further trademark’s central goal of protecting consumer welfare.

This Article reports “proof of concept” results of our proposed consumer surveys with regard to seven different forms of existing trade dress—including not only Louboutin’s red-soled shoes and Maker’s Mark’s red-drip wax seal, but also Gucci’s famous “diamond motif” and Emeco’s Navy chair. We implement our surveys as a between-subject randomized experiment that allows us to causally estimate the intensity of consumer preferences as well as the impact of “guiding” subjects on the likely consequences of forgoing trade dress protection. Our results, while at best suggestive, found that judicial assessments of functionality were often not predictive of consumer protection preferences. For example, a statistically significant majority indicated they would be better off if other manufacturers were allowed to produce Emeco’s Navy chair design, notwithstanding a contrary judicial holding. We also found that large consumer majorities chose to protect two iconic Veblen goods: the Louboutin shoe and the Gucci Diamond Motif, even when informed that such protection would likely lead to higher prices—indicating a desire to preserve trade dress’ power to sustain social distinction.


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*. William K. Townsend Professor, Yale Law School. Ian.ayres@yale.edu

†. Assistant Professor of Law, University of California, Los Angeles. Pranav Bhandarkar and Zachary Shelley provided excellent research assistance.