Constitutional Law

Corpus Linguistics and the Second Amendment

August 7, 2018

Big Data rekindles the debate over the original meaning of the Second Amendment The Second Amendment provides: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” In District of Columbia v. Heller, the dissenting Justices contended that…

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A Shadow Across Our Democracy

July 24, 2018

The fate of our democracy may very well hang on the vote of Justice Kennedy’s replacement. If a newly constituted Supreme Court were to overrule (or limit to a vanishing point) Roe v. Wade, it would only matter if state legislatures restricted abortion rights. Undocumented men and women brought to this country as children and…

Lucia and the Future of Administrative Adjudication

July 13, 2018

What is to become of administrative adjudication and adjudicators? As the never-ending assault on the administrative state marches on, administrative adjudication is in the cross-hairs of reformers. The latest chapter in the ongoing controversy over the proper role of adjudication within administrative agencies is the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Lucia v. SEC, that SEC…

Not Conservative

July 3, 2018

The press and the rest of the commentariat have fallen into the habit of referring to the work of Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch as “conservative.” That is wrong. In several of the most controverted areas that the Court has entered and in which its decisions have had a profound effect…

Janus and the Law of Opt-Out Rights

July 2, 2018

A great deal of time will be spent scrutinizing the core holding in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, that the First Amendment forbids public employers to require workers to financially support a union’s costs of collective bargaining. Still more time will be spent debating state legislative approaches to soften Janus’s blow or neutralize it altogether….

Statements and Standards in Trump v. Hawaii

June 28, 2018

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court sided with the Trump Administration in Trump v. Hawaii, the challenge to the third iteration of the President’s travel ban. President Trump quickly characterized the decision as “a tremendous victory,” and in the Manichaean world the President seems to inhabit, it’s definitely a win. But the opinion itself—which leaves the…

The Problem with Zombie Constitutional Amendments

June 8, 2018

Spurred by a reenergized feminist movement in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s surprising loss in the 2016 presidential election and the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, the Illinois state legislature reached into the past and attempted to revivify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Observers were quick to declare that a ratification vote by only one…

Why the Insular Cases Must Become the Next Plessy

March 28, 2018

Americans who call U.S. territories home face unprecedented challenges. Six months after Hurricanes Maria and Irma wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, many still lack electricity. Guam continues to sit in the nuclear cross-hairs of North Korea. And the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa are experiencing severe economic upheaval following…

The Second Amendment and Second-Class Rights

March 5, 2018

Advocates for gun rights feel oppressed. It has been a decade since the Supreme Court found in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects a right to keep and bear arms for personal purposes like self-defense, and in that time Second Amendment champions have gone from euphoric to disgruntled. With some notable…

The President’s Duty to Defend Against Cyber-Attacks

February 22, 2018

Recent developments in the ongoing investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections have raised interesting questions about the obligations of the current President — or any President — in a situation where a foreign government or its agents have interfered with the American political process or used the Internet in other ways to harm…

President Trump, #MeToo, and Congressional Power

February 20, 2018

Does Congress have the power to investigate the allegations of sexual misconduct against President Trump, as Senator Kirsten Gillibrand recently demanded? Could Congress impeach the President on those grounds? Answering these difficult questions requires an appreciation of the limits of congressional authority to hold the President accountable for past transgressions. A #MeToo Reckoning for Trump?…

Judges and Religious Liberty

December 1, 2017

When it comes to debates over jurisprudence, the dividing lines can prove very real. Even when we transcend the typical political fault lines — even when we move to the substance that exists beyond the tired and boilerplate talking points — questions of judicial philosophy tend to divide. Those on the Right, generally speaking, emphasize…

The Meaning of Marriage

Laws banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation — like laws banning discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, and other significant statuses — are a moral and social good, properly expressing the intrinsic and radical equality of every human person. Marriage, however, by law and by custom, is not a statement about an…

Déjà Vu “No Cake for You”

Next week’s oral argument in Masterpiece Cakeshop involves a familiar story: Three customers walk into a small business that sells specialty foods. The owner is said to be an “artist” for his unique culinary skills and believes his religious convictions imbue his work. The owner turns the customers away entirely or denies them access to…

Actions to Decrease Gun Violence

November 6, 2017

The carnage from the massacre in Texas, which left at least 26 dead, is just the latest of so many instances of gun violence, following tragedies in places like Las Vegas, Orlando, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Tuscon, and Virginia Tech. They all share one feature in common: a disturbed man with a weapon or an arsenal…

Voting Rights: The Struggle of Our Lifetime

October 17, 2017

When our nation was founded, only a minority of the new country’s people enjoyed the right to vote. Guided by the belief that more Americans participating in our democracy would make our union stronger and more just, our foremothers and fathers fought to expand voting rights to the poor, to women, and to people of…