From warnings of the “entitlement epidemic” brewing in our homes to accusations that Barack Obama “replac[ed] our merit-based society with an Entitlement Society,” entitlements carry new meaning these days, with particular negative psychological and behavioral connotation. As Mitt Romney once put it, entitlements “can only foster passivity and sloth.” For conservatives, racial entitlements emerge in this milieu as one insidious form of entitlements. In 2013, Justice Scalia, for example, famously declared the Voting Rights Act a racial entitlement, as he had labeled affirmative action several decades before.
In this Article, I draw upon and upend the concept of racial entitlement as it is used in modern political and judicial discourse, taking the concept from mere epithet to theory and setting the stage for future empirical work. Building on research in the social sciences on psychological entitlement and also on theories and research from sociology on group-based perceptions and actions, I define a racial entitlement as a state-provided or backed benefit from which emerges a belief of self-deservedness based on membership in a racial category alone. Contrary to what conservatives who use the term would have us believe, I argue that racial entitlements can be identified only by examining government policies as they interact with social expectations. I explain why the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action are not likely to amount to racial entitlements for blacks and racial minorities, and I present one way in which antidiscrimination law today may amount to a racial entitlement—for whites.
Theorizing racial entitlements allows us a language to more accurately describe some of the circumstances under which racial subordination and conflict emerge. More importantly, it gives us a concrete sense of one way in which laws can interact with people to entrench inequality and foster conflict. It uncovers the psychological and emotional elements of racial entitlements that can turn seemingly neutral laws as well as those that explicitly rely on racial classifications against broader nondiscrimination goals. This conceptual gain, in turn, can open up new avenues for research and thought. And it can provide practical payoff: ability to isolate laws or government programs that are likely to amount to racial entitlements for targeted change.
Below, this Article introduces the relevant case law by examining the recent case of United States v. Hill, a federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act prosecution of a battery committed on a gay fellow-employee at an Amazon Fulfillment Center. There follows a brief tour of the most crucially relevant Supreme Court Commerce Clause jurisprudence, with an emphasis on current doctrine.
In light of these materials, this Article then highlights a number of largely unsolvable problems in trying to delimit the scope of the Commerce Clause power. There is, merely to begin, the problem of the vagueness of legal language in general and of the key terms embodied in the Commerce Clause more specifically. The vagueness problem impairs attempts to clarify the meaning and bounds of the language of the Commerce Clause.
This Paper argues that in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision, Murphy v. NCAA —a case completely unrelated to immigration—there is now a single best answer to the constitutional question presented in the ongoing sanctuary jurisdiction cases. The answer is that the Trump Administration’s withholding of federal grants is indeed unconstitutional, but this is because Section 1373, the statute on which the Executive’s actions are predicated, is itself unconstitutional. Specifically, this Paper argues that the expansion of the anti-commandeering doctrine under Murphy provides a tool by which the federal appellate courts can invalidate Section 1373 as an impermissible federal regulation of state and local governments. By adopting this approach, courts can surpass the comparatively surface-level questions about the Executive’s power to enforce a particular federal statute, and instead address the more central issue: the existence of Section 1373.
This argument proceeds in the following stages. Part I provides a background for each of the central concepts in this analysis. These include (1) an explanation of the anti-commandeering doctrine in its pre- and post-Murphy forms, (2) a description of Section 1373, (3) a working definition of “sanctuary jurisdictions,” and (4) a brief overview of the sanctuary jurisdiction cases decided to date. Part II argues that, in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Murphy, there is no question that Section 1373 is subject to anti-commandeering claims. Part III then argues that, as a matter of doctrine, Section 1373 should fail to withstand such claims because it does not qualify for any exceptions to the anti-commandeering rule. Finally, Part IV argues that, aside from Supreme Court precedent, there are a series of independent, normative reasons to strike down Section 1373. This Paper concludes that Section 1373 should be held unconstitutional in its challenge before the higher federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States if necessary, and that such a ruling is the most desirable method of resolving the sanctuary jurisdiction cases.
This Note will argue that although the CCPA was imperfectly drafted, much of the world seems to be moving toward a standard that embraces data privacy protection, and the CCPA is a positive step in that direction. However, the CCPA does contain several ambiguous and potentially problematic provisions, including possible First Amendment and Dormant Commerce Clause challenges, that should be addressed by the California Legislature. While a federal standard for data privacy would make compliance considerably easier, if such a law is enacted in the near future, it is unlikely to offer as significant data privacy protections as the CCPA and would instead be a watered-down version of the CCPA that preempts attempts by California and other states to establish strong, comprehensive data privacy regimes. Ultimately, the United States should adopt a federal standard that offers consumers similarly strong protections as the GDPR or the CCPA. Part I of this Note will describe the elements of GDPR and the CCPA and will offer a comparative analysis of the regulations. Part II of this Note will address potential shortcomings of the CCPA, including a constitutional analysis of the law and its problematic provisions. Part III of this Note will discuss the debate between consumer privacy advocates and technology companies regarding federal preemption of strict laws like the CCPA. It will also make predictions about, and offer solutions for, the future of the CCPA and United States data privacy legislation based on a discussion of global data privacy trends and possible federal government actions.
Until January 2018, under the border search exception, CBP officers were afforded the power to search any electronic device without meeting any standard of suspicion or acquiring a warrant. The border search exception is a “longstanding, historically recognized exception to the Fourth Amendment’s general principle that a warrant be obtained . . . .” It provides that suspicionless and warrantless searches at the border are not in violation of the Fourth Amendment merely because searches at the border are “reasonable simply by virtue of the fact that they occur at the border . . . .” The CBP, claiming that the border search exception applies to electronic devices, searched more devices in 2017 than ever before, with approximately a 60 percent increase over 2016 according to data released by the CBP. These “digital strip searches” violate travelers’ First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights. With the advent of smartphones and the expanded use of electronic devices for storing people’s extremely personal data, these searches violate an individual’s right to privacy. Simply by travelling into the United States with a device linked to such information, a person suddenly—and, currently, unexpectedly—opens a window for the government to search through seemingly every aspect of his or her life. The policy behind these searches at the border does not align with the core principles behind our longstanding First and Fifth Amendment protections, nor does it align with the policies behind the exceptions made to constitutional rights at the border in the past.
In order to protect the privacy and rights of both citizens and noncitizens entering the United States, the procedures concerning electronic device searches need to be rectified. For instance, the border search exception should not be applied to electronic devices the same way it applies to other property or storage containers, like a backpack. One is less likely to expect privacy in the contents of a backpack than in the contents of a password- or authorization-protected devices—unlike a locked device, a backpack can be taken, can be opened easily, can fall open, and also has been traditionally subjected to searches at the border. Moreover, there are many reasons why electronic devices warrant privacy.
In its landmark District of Columbia v. Heller decision, the Supreme Court announced that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right of the people to bear arms. Although Heller answered a long-standing question about the Second Amendment’s meaning, there remain issues to be settled. One of the most pressing—and the main topic of this Note—is the proper method of review and application of this individual right. Without guidance on these issues, several circuit courts have followed different approaches. Although opportunities to provide some clarity have come before the Supreme Court, so far, it has denied certiorari.
This Note will not opine on the merits of the individualist or collectivist approaches to the interpretation of the Second Amendment, as this question has been answered conclusively in Heller. Instead, this Note will provide a suggested framework for the application of this individual right to keep and bear arms, and will progress as follows. Part I will offer a contextual history of the Second Amendment. Part II will make the case for why clarity on this issue is so desperately needed and is punctuated by a discussion of the Second Circuit’s particularly troubling application of the right. Part III will offer a proposed framework that, if adopted by the Supreme Court, can resolve the questions posed in Part II. Part IV will apply the framework to California concealed carry regulations. Finally, Part V will apply the framework to a new California law that is likely to make its way to the Ninth Circuit soon, thus allowing the Supreme Court to clarify Second Amendment jurisprudence further.
We review every California constitutional amendment to date, distinguishing between legislatively proposed amendments and initiative amendments. We solve the enduring mystery of how many times the California constitution has been amended. We prove that the initiative process does not have a disproportionate effect on the amendment rate of the California constitution, and that the state legislature (not the electorate) is responsible for the vast majority of California’s constitutional changes. We also debunk the myths that California’s is the longest constitution in the world and that the state uses the initiative more than any other.
Next, we discuss the substantive constitutional issues the electorate’s direct democracy powers can raise. Critics frequently blame the initiative for many of the state’s woes, but we argue that direct democracy in California is a net social good. We show that while direct democracy’s cumulative quantitative and individual qualitative effects are indeed significant, they are not so severe that structural change is warranted. We identify one flaw in the initiative process that merits a solution. Recognizing, however, that any change is an unlikely prospect, we argue that the existing checks on the electorate are capable. Because direct democracy’s harms are adequately mitigated, there is no urgent need for fundamental change.
This Note examines the arguments made in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard College, which allege that Harvard’s consideration of race is a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because it is not narrowly tailored to a compelling interest of diversity. The complaint filed by Students for Fair Admissions (“SFFA”) came off the back of Justice Alito’s comments in his dissent in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (Fisher II), which proposed the possibility that Asian Americans may face discrimination in admissions. While this was an important inclusion of Asian Americans in the discussion, Justice Alito’s comments in Fisher II perpetuated the logical fallacy that Asian Americans are losing admission spots to African Americans and Hispanic Americans due to affirmative action, and may have encouraged the initiation of SFFA’s action against Harvard College. However, while the frustration experienced by many in the Asian American community over what feels like racial ceilings on Asian American admissions at elite universities is valid, these ceilings are the result of negative action aimed against Asian Americans, not the result of affirmative action. Prohibiting universities from considering race as part of a holistic admissions process will not eliminate the negative action felt by Asian Americans.
Richard Fallon has written another important book about American constitutional law. Indeed, it brings to mind Hilary Putnam’s definition of a classic: the smarter you get, the smarter it gets. Fallon presents a rich, thick description of our constitutional law and practice and an argument for how we may best continue and improve this practice. While intended to be accessible to a broad readership, Fallon’s arguments cut to the core of much current constitutional scholarship, even while urging us to move past many of these sterile debates. Most importantly, Fallon takes seriously his mission of speaking to the Court, as well as to the academy, and takes a real run at changing how the Justices decide cases and articulate their decisions. He accomplishes all of this in a startlingly concise book, running only 174 pages of text and 36 pages of notes and without even a subtitle.
Fallon sets out to explain the nature of constitutional law, the constitutional disagreements of cases, constitutional argument, and the nature of the legitimacy of Supreme Court decisions and, ultimately, the Court itself. That’s a tall order for a little book, but Fallon can make a claim to have accomplished his mission.
As decisions by—and appointments to—the Supreme Court have become increasingly divisive, many observers have renewed calls for reform. For example, we could replace lifetime tenure with non-renewable terms of eighteen years, such that one term ends every two years. That way, less would be at stake with each nomination, Justices could not time their retirements for partisan reasons, and appointments would be divided more evenly between Democratic and Republican presidents. Or we could establish a non-partisan, judicial nominating commission.
Concerns about the Supreme Court are not new, but increasing political polarization and partisan maneuvering over the two most recent Court appointments have accentuated tensions. With the legitimacy of the Court at stake, reform to depoliticize the Court seems essential. And whichever reform is promoted, it is generally assumed that implementation would require a constitutional amendment, legislation, or a change in Senate rules.
But the conventional wisdom is wrong. There is a sound argument to be made that Supreme Court reform is constitutionally required.