The Anti-Injunction Act, Congressional Inactivity, and Pre-Enforcement Challenges to § 5000A of the Tax Code

Kevin C. Walsh *

Section 5000A of the Tax Code is one of the most controversial provisions of federal law currently on the books. It is the minimum essential coverage provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA” or “Act”)—a provision more popularly known as the individual mandate. Opponents challenged this provision immediately upon its enactment on March 23, 2010. The Supreme Court is poised to hear arguments about its constitutionality in one of these challenges, just over two years later.

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States’ Rights and State Standing

Stephen I. Vladeck *

Writing for the 1966 volume of the Supreme Court Review, Professor Alex Bickel was hardly bashful in his criticism of the Supreme Court’s disposition of three high-profile cases from the preceding Term, each of which had raised fundamental constitutional questions of first impression about the newly enacted Voting Rights Act of 1965. Although his objections to the Court’s decisions in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections and Katzenbach v. Morgan went to the merits, his real frustration with Chief Justice Warren’s opinion for the Court in South Carolina v. Katzenbach, which upheld several of the Voting Rights Act’s central provisions as valid exercises of Congress’s power to enforce the Fifteenth Amendment, was that it reached the merits in the first place.

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Sense and Severability

Tobias A. Dorsey *

When I was asked to speak about severability at the 2011 Allen Chair Symposium, I wasn’t sure I should, or even that I could. But the more I thought about it the more I realized I might be a good person for the task. First of all, I am not a scholar. I am a practitioner. I spent ten years working for Congress in the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Counsel of the House of Representatives. That means I spent a lot of time working with policymakers in Congress, helping them think through their policies and turn them into written proposals. I have advised clients about severability hundreds of times.

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Why Virginia’s Challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Did Not Invoke Nullification

Robert S. Claiborne

Virginia’s challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), via its minimum essential coverage provision, or individual mandate, have drawn both criticism and praise as modern invocations of nullification. The distinct doctrine of nullification entails a legal process exceeding that of a merely litigious challenge to federal law or a vocal protest from a state legislature. Its exercise by a state purportedly renders a targeted federal law unconstitutional and thus null, void, and of no effect within the respective state’s borders. At nullification’s core are the premises that the Supreme Court does not have final authority to interpret the Constitution in cases and controversies arising between a state and the federal government and that an individual state, as a party to the Constitution, has ultimate authority to interpret the compact as applied to constitutional disputes arising with the federal government.

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Executive Power and the Law of Nations in the Washington Administration

Robert J. Reinstein *

The Washington administration has attracted increased attention in the ongoing debate over the power of the President to determine and conduct the nation’s foreign policy. The actions of the first President are being seen as important precedents on the scope of executive power, much as the statutes of the first Congress are recognized as being important precedents on the scope of legislative power.

This article provides revisionist answers to three key questions concerning the Washington administration’s assumption of authority in foreign policy: What constitutional source of power did the administration actually rely upon? How did its jurisprudential understanding of the law of nations affect the exercise of executive power? And does the experience of the Washington administration demonstrate the limits of originalism as a constitutional methodology?

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Congressional Inquiry and the Federal Criminal Law

Richard Broughton *

Hardly anyone, it seems, really believes that the scope of federal criminal law is just about right. Though academics and commentators across the spectrum of law and politics rarely find general agreement when it comes to federal power, there actually appears to be relatively broad agreement these days that some things about federal criminal law are not quite right. In particular, the issue has brought together minds from both the political left and the political right, making criticism of federal criminal law one of the issues du jour among commentators struck by the marriage of these strange bedfellows. Indeed, although it is the conventional wisdom that conservatives have generally favored the government in criminal justice adjudication, it is the most conservative members of the Supreme Court who have emerged as prominent champions of structural (and even some rights-based) limits on federal criminal justice powers, often siding with criminal defendants. Whether the concern is “overfederalization” and the exercise of congressional power beyond constitutional limits, or the duplication of resources that occurs when state and federal crimes too often overlap, or the danger that people of dubious culpability will be ensnared in a vast web of obscure federal laws about which they had no reason to know, or the increasing severity of federal sentencing for crimes that cause comparatively little harm or that involve offenders who pose comparatively low risk to the community, thoughtful minds across the political spectrum are bothered by the sheer scope of the federal government’s power to prosecute and punish crimes, and the relative ease with which federal assertions of criminal law enforcement power occur.

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Tax Court Appointments and Reappointments: Improving the Process

Danshera Cords *

The partisanship of the current political dialog coupled with the constant news cycle results in an increasingly rancorous discourse about government, law, and the judicial process. Judicial appointments have become increasingly politicized. This politicization places the judicial appointment process at the mercy of politics more than any other time in recent history. The appearance of an increasingly politicized judicial appointment process is troubling as the judicial branch of government is intended to remain above the political fray.

Court watchers note that increasingly bitter partisan battles make navigating the judicial appointment process ever more difficult. The Republicans and Democrats wage increasingly hostile battles along ideological lines to keep the judiciary free of judges whom the parties find objectionable for political and moral reasons. One can see the concern over ideology throughout the judicial appointment process—presidential nomination, Senate advice and consent, and confirmation. Fierce battles arise particularly when different parties control the Presidency and the Senate. The partisanship is not isolated to either branch. While Presidents seek to appoint judges who will support their philosophical approaches to governance, the party controlling the Senate seeks to limit the influence of the other party’s ideology in the judiciary. The tension between the parties manifests itself in slower appointments to the bench, regardless of which Senate committee investigates and oversees the advice and consent process.

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Reading the Standing Tea Leaves in American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut

Bradford C. Mank *

In American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut (“AEP”), eight Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously concluded that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (the “EPA”) authority to regulate greenhouse gases (“GHGs”) pursuant to the Clean Air Act, which the Court recognized in its 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, “displace[s] any federal common law right to seek abatement of carbon-dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel fired power plants.” Thus, the AEP decision endorsed the Massachusetts decision’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act to include regulation of GHGs, stating that it “speaks directly to emissions of carbon dioxide from the defendants’ plants.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor recused herself from hearing the AEP case because she sat on the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that heard the case below, although she was appointed to the Supreme Court before the Second Circuit actually decided the case. Her absence was crucial to the Supreme Court’s decision regarding standing and jurisdiction in the case. The Court, by an equally divided vote of four to four, affirmed the Second Circuit’s decision finding standing and jurisdiction in the case.

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An Updated Quantitative Study of Iqbal’s Impact on 12(b)(6) Motions

Patricia Hatamyar Moore *

Judges, lawyers, academics, legislators, and law students have collectively spent thousands of hours over the last two years parsing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, debating whether it mandated a radical change in federal pleading standards, and predicting its future influence on rulings on motions to dismiss federal complaints under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Some have also attempted to quantitatively measure whether federal district court judges were less likely to grant 12(b)(6) motions under the old “no set of facts” standard set forth in dictum in Conley v. Gibson than under the new “plausibility” standard introduced in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly and amplified in Iqbal.

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Beyond the Formalist-Realist Divide: The Role of Politics in Judging, Reviewed by Professor Marin Roger Scordato

Marin Roger Scordato *

In 1922, Charles Grove Haines, a political scientist, wrote, “American courts have clung to the belief that justice must be administered in accordance with fixed rules, which can be applied by a rather mechanical process of logical reasoning to a given state of facts and can be made to produce an inevitable result.” Seventy-five years later, Frederick Schauer, a professor of law, wrote, “To the Legal Realist, rules serve not as sources of ex ante guidance, but as vehicles of ex post legitimation of decisions reached without regard for the rules.” These quotes are illustrative of the classic divide between what has generally come to be called legal formalism and legal realism.

In his new book, Beyond the Formalist-Realist Divide: The Role of Politics in Judging, Brian Tamanaha, a professor of law at the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, seeks to demonstrate that this conventional account of a radical change in the understanding of the nature of common law jurisprudence from formalism to realism in the 1920s and 1930s is profoundly wrong. This effort follows years of excellent work in this area by Professor Tamanaha, including his 2006 book, Law as a Means to an End: Threat to the Rule of Law, and his 2004 book, On the Rule of Law: History, Politics, Theory.

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