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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* Clifford Scott Green Professor of Law, Temple University Beasley School of Law. J.D., 1968, Harvard University School of Law; B.S., 1965, Cornell University.

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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*  Assistant Professor of Law, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. LL.M., 2000, Georgetown University Law Center; J.D., 1999, Widener University Law School; B.A., 1995, Hampden-Sydney College

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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* Professor of Law, Albany Law School. LL.M., 2000, New York University School of Law; J.D., 1998, Seattle University School of Law; B.A., 1991, University of Washington.

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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*  James Helmer, Jr., Professor of Law, University of Cincinnati College. J.D., 1987, Yale University; A.B., 1983, Harvard University.

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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* Associate Professor of Law, St. Thomas University School of Law. J.D., 1983, University of Chicago Law School; B.A., 1980, Northwestern University. A research grant from St. Thomas University School of Law supported work on this article.

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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*     Professor of Law, Columbus School of Law, The Catholic University of America. J.D., 1983, University of Virginia Law School; B.A., 1979, Haverford College.