From Volume 83, Number 2 (January 2010)
The time is ripe for a nondoctrinal assessment of Justice Jackson’s famous three-category framework for challenges to presidential action, elaborated in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (also known as the Steel Seizure Case). Recent national security controversies have given the Youngstown framework a whole new lease on life, and its relevance for courts, Congress, and executive branch officials has never been higher. During the same period, empirical and analytical studies of presidential policymaking have advanced beyond the personality-driven accounts of particular administrations. Together, these developments offer a terrific opportunity to assess how well the Youngstown framework fulfills its objective of advancing congressional interests and constraining presidential power.
A political economy approach better explains the problem to which Justice Jackson was responding—the capacity of presidential unilateralism to establish policy that can withstand statutory correction, regardless of whether it has a legal basis—and also explains more formally how Youngstown’s categories offer a practical, if legally unorthodox, constraint. The assessment becomes more negative, though, once those categories are treated endogenously—that is, once the political branches are modeled as behaving dynamically and reacting to the framework itself. For example, both case studies and empirical surveys of executive orders suggest that the president may react to the risk of legislative disapproval (which, under Youngstown, will likely result in judicial disapproval as well) by avoiding Congress altogether or by seeking only its indirect blessing. Because these and other results disserve the framework’s objectives, this Article proposes several more benign alternatives—and, in general, advocates reseizing Steel Seizure.
From Volume 83, Number 1 (November 2009)
In the more than twenty years since the Supreme Court created Title VII’s workplace sexual harassment protections, judges and feminist legal scholars have struggled to create a clear, conceptual account of the harm sexual harassment inflicts. For years, many courts and scholars were content to justify sexual harassment law by arguing that harassment should be prohibited because it interferes with women’s interest in workplace gender equality; however, by the late 1990s, several feminist legal scholars had revealed the inadequacy of this account, suggesting instead that harassment law should be understood as protecting women from dignitary harm. The failure to reach a broad-based consensus about the injury sexual harassment inflicts, and relatedly about sexual harassment law’s purpose, appeared without significant consequence until federal courts began using understandings developed in the context of workplace sexual harassment law to develop new sexual harassment doctrine for nonworkplace settings. Operating without clear conceptual moorings, many federal courts created narrow, cabined sexual harassment protections governing nonworkplace settings, often without principled justifications for doing so. To demonstrate the serious nature of this problem, this Article explores the Eighth Amendment sexual harassment doctrine courts have created to govern prisoners’ sexual harassment claims against guards, demonstrating the myriad ways in which workplace sexual harassment doctrine has distorted the development of prisoners’ sexual harassment protections. Yet the prison cases discussed here are offered as an example of a potentially far broader phenomenon. To address the larger issue—the distorting effects workplace sexual harassment law has had on other areas of sexual harassment doctrine—this Article argues that we should return to the dignitary account of sexual harassment law that was introduced by feminist workplace sexual harassment scholars in the late 1990s. However, in order to use this dignity analysis for settings other than the workplace, the dignitary framework these scholars introduced must be expanded and particularized to account for the different dignity expectations a person may reasonably hold in different institutional contexts. To that end, this Article offers a nuanced, context-specific analysis that will allow federal courts to determine “what dignity demands” in each institutional setting. The Article demonstrates that this dignitary framework will allow federal courts to identify the key considerations that should be weighed when creating sexual harassment doctrine for locations other than the workplace.
From Volume 83, Number 1 (November 2009)
Proposition 8, the California ballot measure that amended the state constitution to deny marriage to same-sex couples, passed by a small margin in November 2008. The campaign was contentious, well funded by both sides, and the subject of much media attention. After Proposition 8 passed, however, the debate about same-sex marriage in California was far from over. Shortly after the election, Proposition 8 opponents organized protests against certain Proposition 8 supporters and their employers throughout California and in other states. For example, opponents protested at the Church of Latter-Day Saints in Los Angeles because the church and its members raised a significant amount of money to support Proposition 8. Opponents also organized boycotts of businesses whose owners or employees donated to support Proposition 8. Several of these protests had negative repercussions for donors. For example, following threats of boycotts of his musical works and his employer, Scott Eckern, the longtime artistic director of the California Musical Theater, resigned from his position after it was revealed that he donated $1000 to Proposition 8. Marc Shaiman, the composer of the music for Hairspray, told Eckern that he would not let his work be performed in the theater due to Eckern’s support for Proposition 8. U.S. law requires a secret ballot for both candidate and issue elections, so how did opponents of Proposition 8 identify the donors to Proposition 8? The answer lies in disclosure laws. In California, as in most states, campaigns must publicly disclose certain information about individuals who donate to a ballot measure or candidate. California’s Political Reform Act of 1974, as amended, provides that all campaign donations of $100 or more must be published on the Secretary of State’s website, allowing the public to easily search for the names of campaign donors online. Further, not only must the donor’s name and the amount of the contribution be disclosed, but the donor’s street address, occupation, and employer’s name—or, if self-employed, the name of the donor’s business—must also be disclosed. On the federal level, campaign contributions to federal candidates are also now easily accessible to the public online. Federal law requires disclosure of individuals who contribute $200 or more to a candidate. This information can be viewed online through the Federal Election Commission’s (“FEC’s”) website, as well as on other websites. Not only has technology increased the availability of donor information online, but political entrepreneurs have also taken the FEC’s campaign finance data and made it even more accessible online, allowing users to search the data by multiple categories. For example, the Huffington Post, a popular blog, runs a search engine called “Fundrace 2008,” which allows a user to search for donors to 2008 presidential candidates by a donor’s first or last name, address, city, or employer. The website boasts about the easy access to the political leanings of nearly anyone a user knows of: “Want to know if a celebrity is playing both sides of the fence? Whether that new guy you’re seeing is actually a Republican or just dresses like one?”
From Volume 82, Number 6 (September 2009)
Groundbreaking decisions on same-sex marriage, particularly those from the Hawaii, Massachusetts, and California supreme courts, have generated widespread political backlash in the form of state constitutional amendments and statutes, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), a proposed federal constitutional amendment, and more. By contrast, the first state supreme court decision to strike down a ban on interracial marriage—Perez v. Sharp, decided by the California Supreme Court in 1948—was met with barely a political whimper, even though it made international headlines and came decades before broad public acceptance of interracial marriage. This Article identifies that puzzling difference, tells the political story of the cases, explores factors that might explain the disparity in political and public reactions, and uses the contrasting case studies to elucidate the political dynamics that surround courts today and to suggest directions for the future study of antijudicial backlash.
From Volume 82, Number 6 (September 2009)
Scientists have reached a consensus that global warming is a looming threat. A surprisingly large number of national politicians are lagging behind. The U.S. federal government, though making some strides toward reducing national greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions, has only addressed the problem in a piecemeal and halting fashion. In its place, the states have taken the lead. In Canada, the provinces have likewise taken the initiative in the face of federal inaction.
In light of these locally driven efforts, it was only a matter of time before states and provinces began to collaborate in their efforts. The first of these cross-border efforts originated in 2007, when the Western Climate Initiative (“WCI”), originally a GHG reduction partnership between a number of governors in the western United States, added British Columbia and Manitoba to its ranks.
But there is an apparent barrier to such cross-border collaboration. As the U.S. Supreme Court noted in its most recent case on global warming, “When a State enters the Union, it surrenders certain sovereign prerogatives. . . . [I]t cannot negotiate an emissions treaty with China or India.”
From Volume 82, Number 5 (July 2009)
This Article deals with one of the most difficult questions arising out of the war on terror: what to do about the victims. How should the legal system respond to claims of collateral damage to constitutional rights when the government has tilted in favor of security at the expense of liberty? The war on terror has already put the American legal system to a severe test, exacerbated by the divide between those who see the problem as essentially one of preserving civil liberties and those who see it as one of preserving national security.
Increasingly, the system will have to grapple with suits by terrorism suspects who seek damages for the governmental conduct to which they have been subjected. The Supreme Court has already decided one such case; others are on their way. Apart from damages for the victims, these suits present the question of potential civil liability for federal officials, particularly those of the previous administration. Much of this litigation will be based on the Bivens doctrine, which permits damages actions for constitutional torts committed by federal officials. This Article contends that the Bivens doctrine exists in two forms: the Marbury-rights model and the prudential-deferential model. The former focuses on the plaintiff and points toward allowing the suit to proceed. The latter focuses on the subject matter and leads to emphasis on protecting the government. It is closely related to the political question doctrine and has prevailed since the 1980s.
From Volume 82, Number 5 (July 2009)
For decades, foreign nationals alleging human rights abuses were frustrated by their inability to receive their idea of adequate redress in the courts of their own countries. Beset by ills such as environmental pollution triggered by aerial drug eradication programs, the murder of union leaders by right-wing paramilitary groups allegedly financed by multinational corporations (“MNCs”), and torture and deprivation in countries like South Africa, these plaintiffs were offered a glimmer of hope by a series of rulings in U.S. courts, which had purportedly opened up to them relief through a statute passed by the American Founding Fathers themselves. But that relief has often proven elusive, as courts have hesitated to grant redress for claims brought under what they see as an outdated statute.
From Volume 82, Number 3 (March 2009)
In June 2008 the Supreme Court issued its opinion in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, its first directly concerning the Second Amendment since 1939. Heller involved a series of D.C. laws that had the effect of banning the possession of handguns. At the narrowest level, the Court was deciding whether a ban on handguns violated the Second Amendment; however, the broader issue facing the Court concerned the fundamental meaning of the Second Amendment: does the amendment protect a collective or individual right to bear arms? To that question, the Court answered the latter, thus ending an at-times heated debate among legal scholars and those on both sides of the gun control debate. But the Court left the door open for a new debate to begin in the Second Amendment context: what standard of review applies to legislation that restricts an individual’s right to bear arms? Writing for the majority, Justice Scalia noted that “[u]nder any of the standards of scrutiny that we have applied to enumerated constitutional rights, banning from the home ‘the most preferred firearm in the nation to “keep” and use for protection of one’s home and family’ would fail constitutional muster,” and—unapologetically—failed to identify which standard the majority was using in this case. Justice Breyer’s dissent chided Scalia for this move, claiming that this failure to be more specific “throw[s] into doubt the constitutionality of gun laws throughout the United States.”