A woman calls 911 and says, “Please. I need an ambulance. My husband just attacked me and I’m eight months pregnant. He hit me in the stomach and I’m bleeding. I think I’m losing the baby.” The home is located outside a small town. When the police and ambulance arrive after some time, the wife is unconscious at the bottom of a staircase and the woman’s husband is there, claiming to have just arrived home to find his wife in this condition.

The wife has bruises all over her body and the baby is lost, but shortly after being admitted to the hospital and regaining consciousness, she flees and is nowhere to be found. There are no witnesses, and the husband insists the wife fell down the stairs. The husband has no prior domestic violence convictions, but the wife’s medical history reveals a number of other “accidental injuries.” The wife has no friends and has not spoken to her family since the couple married two years ago. Her coworkers can testify that they suspected the husband was abusive. They can also testify that the wife was not allowed to drive, spend money, or attend social events.

Prior to the Supreme Court’s March 2004 decision in Crawford v. Washington, the wife’s 911 call would likely have been admitted in court under a hearsay exception and used to secure the husband’s conviction. But following Crawford, if the wife could not be brought into court, the statement would be inadmissible. Given that there is no evidence besides the 911 call that directly implicates the husband as the cause of the wife’s injuries, prosecutors would be unlikely even to file a case against the husband, let alone convict him.

Over the last quarter-century, the definition of the American family has transformed from a clearly defined image of mother, father, and natural offspring to a kaleidoscopic vision of adoptive families, extended families, gay and lesbian families, stepparent families, and single-parent families. Although a vast body of law limits the state’s ability to impinge on the parental decisionmaking of intact, biological families, nontraditional families are finding that their legal right to select the persons with whom their children associate is far less protected and even subject to state court review.

The family, which was once a standardized structure, has diversified substantially because of liberal no-fault divorce rules, social acceptance of nonmarital sexuality and cohabitation, and tolerance of same-sex relationships. Detractors assert that America is in the midst of a social breakdown; however, the structure of the American family, rather than disintegrating, is merely evolving into something new.

Dana Hill is currently serving fifteen years to life in a California prison, and for the past few years, she has struggled to convince the Board of Prison Terms (“Board”) and the Governor that she is suitable for parole and ready to reenter society. Dana is but one victim of modern parole, a draconian system used as a mechanism of enforcing retributive principles. Modern parole falls far short of achieving the goals of rehabilitation and reintegration for which it was created.

The pervasive influence of administrative governance is a defining feature of modern American life. Indeed, it is hard to find an aspect of daily life that is not regulated by one federal agency or another: the Department of Labor enforces labor laws; the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) manages air and water quality; the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) regulates electricity; the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) monitors the nation’s food supply and ensures the safety of its medicine; the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (“the Fed”) supervises banking institutions; the Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) regulates consumer products; and the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) oversees radio, television, satellite, and cable communications. With so many agencies minding America, one might ask: who is minding America’s agencies?

Celebrities were recently deprived of a valuable asset. This time, however, the perpetrator was not an Internet hacker, a supermarket tabloid, or an unscrupulous business manager. It was the United States Supreme Court. Although State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Campbell concerns the constitutionality of punitive damages, it may have the unintended effect of limiting celebrities’ nationwide rights of publicity.

Stem cells present an intriguing dilemma. They tantalize with their boundless medical potential, but challenge with equally limitless questions about their ethical consequences. If not for this ethical challenge, the question of federal funding for stem cells would be simple: How much funding and to whom? Instead, ethical objections, closely related to other highly controversial political issues, sweep stem cell policy into a political vortex. In recent years, this storm has reduced science’s role in the equation – transforming the issue from a tangible question of science and technology into an abstract debate setting ethical catastrophes against as yet undiscovered miracle cures. Given the political firestorm, government actors have treaded carefully, implementing halfway measures and justifying them by obscuring portions of the real debate from the public. The resultant policy, culminating in President George W. Bush’s August 2001 limitation on federal funding to existing stem cell lines, is driven by a blend of outdated legislation and imperfect institutional arrangements – a combination that, admittedly, handicaps the nation’s ability to explore the potential benefits of human embryonic stem cells (“hES”). More importantly, the policy fails to address the fundamental problem that purportedly justifies its existence: the ability to control the issue’s controversial ethical dilemmas.

In 1995, Congress enacted the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (“PSLRA”) to address the serious flaws in the private securities litigation system. Courts, Congress, and many commentators agreed that the chief evil plaguing the system was strike suits, suits “based on no valid claim, brought either for nuisance value or as leverage to obtain a favorable or inflated settlement.” Strike suits prevailed in private securities claims because, irrespective of the merits of the claim, it was usually less costly for defendants to settle than fight the allegations. Plaintiffs’ attorneys realized that defendants would settle and took advantage of the situation, sometimes filing claims based on bad news rather than evidence of wrongdoing. Congress stepped in to put an end to these abusive strike suits by enacting the PSLRA, which, among other things, raised the pleading standards for private securities claims, stopped plaintiffs from abusing the discovery process to force settlements, and made the threat of sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 (“Rule 11”) more imposing.

On December 24, 2003, the Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, attended a special Christmas Mass at a state correctional facility about forty miles north of Gainesville, Florida. More than just celebrating the Christian holiday with the prison’s almost 800 inmates, Governor Bush was attending a milestone in modern American criminal rehabilitation. He was there to dedicate the Lawtey Correctional Institution (“Lawtey”) as the nation’s first completely faith-based prison.

The conversion of Lawtey to a faith-based format is one of the most recent examples of the growing political trend to allow more open participation of religious organizations in government supported and funded social welfare programs. This trend is in line with the much talked about charitable choice provision, which allows religious groups access to federal welfare funds without having to establish a secular service provider component. The provision also allows religious groups to incorporate their religious message into social programs and to consider religion when hiring and disciplining employees.

A corporate inversion is a paper transaction in which an American corporation reincorporates in a foreign nation without moving any of its operations to that country. The principle reason that a corporation will invert is to save money on taxes, in some cases as much as $60 million annually. Politicians, believing these companies are reincorporating in a foreign country to evade taxes, have introduced numerous bills to try to stop these companies from moving overseas. Senator John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, stated that he plans to stop inversions within 500 days of his election to office. These corporations, however, have demonstrated that they will not give up these tax savings without a fight. Leucadia National Corp., a company that underwent an inversion in 2002, has hired a high-priced lobbying firm to block congressional efforts to stop inversions.

“We are at a moment in our history at which the terms of freedom and justice are up for grabs.” Every major innovation in the history of communications – the printing press, radio, telephone – saw a brief open period before the rules of its use were determined and alternatives were eliminated. “The Internet is in that space right now.”

The technology of the Internet has revolutionized communication and information distribution throughout the world. The direction of this revolution, however, will be determined in large part by how the law chooses to regulate this new medium.