How to Spot a Nation in Freefall

Cornell law professor Joseph Margulies points out that when a nation doesn’t have the money to fix its roads but does give money away to help the rich get richer, that is a sign of a nation in collapse. Margulies describes the shift to neoliberal thinking under Nixon that has produced record levels of economic inequality and explains why the Trump administration’s proposed economic policies would benefit only the rich.

The Clients’ Waiver of Their Rights Under Regulation BI of the Securities and Exchange Commission

BU Law emerita professor Tamar Frankel discusses the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)’s Regulation Best Interest (BI), which imposes on broker-dealers a commitment to act in the best interests of their clients. Specifically, Frankel addresses the SEC’s treatment of client waivers of the Regulation BI, which goes even further than general fiduciary law to prohibit any waiver of the broker-dealer’s conflicting interests.

Labor Board Wrongly Rejects Employee Access to Company Email for Organizational Purposes

NYU Law professor Samuel Estreicher and 3L Christopher S. Owens criticize a recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), in which it reversed course and rejected employee access to company email to discuss union issues. Estreicher and Owens explain that the NLRB commonly reverses its position on key policy issues such as this one when the political party in the White House changes, and they call for reforms that would make the administration of labor law more consistent and reliable.

Two Constitutional Lessons Worth Remembering: Norms Are Different From Legal Rules; And Improper Intent Matters But Is Hard To Establish

Illinois law dean and professor Vikram David Amar comments on the controversy surrounding President Trump’s tweets about the sentencing of Roger Stone, addressing the important differences between norms and legal rules. Amar points out that the motive underlying such presidential decisions is ultimately what determines whether the action is improper—and that such motives are notoriously difficult to establish.

New York Sues the Trump Administration Over “Trusted Traveler” Eligibility

Cornell law professor Michael C. Dorf comments on New York’s lawsuit against the federal government over the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to exclude New York residents from eligibility for Trusted Traveler programs. Dorf describes some of the interesting legal questions the lawsuit raises in terms of administrative law, judicial standing, and constitutional law.

The Investors’ Control of Their Investment Advisers. Who Has the Final Word?

BU Law emerita professor Tamar Frankel discusses an emerging issue affecting financial advisers—when a client may exercise control over the actions of the adviser. Frankel relates the story of an investment adviser that did not follow the client’s orders to cease certain investments, at a cost of almost $5 million to the client. As Frankel explains, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) got involved, resulting in the investment adviser’s settlement for a significant payment to the client and other conditions.

How Much Worse Will Trump Become, and How Quickly?

Neil H. Buchanan, law professor and economist at UF Levin College of Law, contemplates the world in which we are likely to live if, as Buchanan argues is inevitable, President Trump refuses to leave office even after losing the 2020 election. Focusing in this column on the effects on government employees and contractors, Buchanan predicts that our society will be almost unimaginably worse a year from today and thereafter.

Letting His Hair Down: Why a School District in Texas Is Wrong to Deprive a Male Student of an Education Because of the Length of His Hair

SMU Dedman School of Law professor Joanna L. Grossman and Duke law professor Katharine T. Bartlett explain why a public school district in Texas violated both the federal Constitution and Title IX by having (and enforcing) a hair-length policy for boys but not for girls. Grossman and Bartlett describe the facts of the case and the legal landscape for sex-specific dress and appearance policies before concluding that the school district’s decision to enforce the policy was not only poor judgment but illegal.

Kansas v. Glover and Conditional Irrelevance

Cornell law professor Sherry F. Colb discusses the concept of “conditional irrelevance”—which she first identified in a law review article in 2001—and explains why the concept is useful for understanding the arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in Kansas v. Glover. Through the lens of conditional irrelevance, Colb explains why the knowledge of one fact (that the owner of the vehicle in that case lacked a valid license) should not itself provide police reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle.

A Win for Equal Pay: The Third Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds A Law Designed to Address Wage Gap

SMU Dedman School of Law professor Joanna L. Grossman comments on a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upholding a local law designed to address the wage gap. Grossman describes the landscape of equal pay law and the efforts some states and localities have made to address the inequity.

Dead Letter Office: What’s Left of the Impeachment Power After Trump’s Acquittal

Dean Falvy, a lecturer at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle, discusses what happens now, after Senate Republicans voted to acquit President Trump. Falvy predicts that (1) President Trump will be emboldened to commit further abuses of power, (2) future presidents will be less constrained by fear of impeachment, and (3) impeachment may become more routine as political practice and significantly less effective as a constitutional remedy.

What Else Might Senate Republicans Have Done, Given That They’re Too Scared to Do the Right Thing?

UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan considers whether there is anything Senate Republicans might have done, instead of outright acquitting President Trump, to maintain the role of Congress as a coequal branch with the Executive. Buchanan proposes that under the text of the impeachment clauses, those Republican senators could have voted for removal—the necessary result of finding wrongdoing—but permitted Trump to run again in the election later this year.

The Real Insidious Part of Dershowitz’s Impeachment Defense

Illinois law dean Vikram David Amar and Michigan Law dean emeritus Evan Caminker discuss Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz’s explanation of why he stands (virtually) alone in his views on impeachment—that all the scholars who disagree with him are biased partisans. Amar and Caminker explain why this claim is so insidious, with effects lasting well beyond the span of the current presidency.

Discrimination and the “Leveling Down” Puzzle

Cornell law professor Michael C. Dorf considers how much freedom the government has to “level down” in response to a finding of impermissible discrimination. Dorf discusses several of the U.S. Supreme Court’s precedents on leveling down and points out that these decisions are difficult to reconcile with each other and leave unresolved the questions whether and when leveling down is permissible.

The Law Will Not Save Us

Cornell law professor Joseph Margulies reminds us that the rule of law exists in the United States primarily to conceal politics; that is, one cannot rely on having “the law” on one’s side if politics are opposed. Margulies illustrates this point by replacing “the lawyers reviewed the law and decided” with “the high priests studied the entrails and decided”—a substitution that ultimately yields the same results.

The Unacknowledged Clash Between the Supreme Court’s Interpretation of the Religion Clauses and the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment

Illinois law dean Vikram David Amar and UC Davis law professor emeritus Alan Brownstein comment on a largely unacknowledged clash between religious accommodations and exemptions on the one hand, and core free speech principles which the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized, on the other. Amar and Brownstein describe this apparent conflict and suggest that the Court begin to resolve the conflict when it decides two cases later this term presenting the question of the scope of the “ministerial exception.”

What Will the Court Say About Religious Freedom?

UNLV Boyd School of Law professor Leslie C. Griffin comments on the oral argument the U.S. Supreme Court heard this week in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, which presents the justices with questions about the meaning of the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment. Griffin describes the questioning by the justices and predicts that the outcome in this case will demonstrate how many justices still believe in the separation of church and state.

Meet our Columnists
Vikram David Amar
Vikram David Amar

Vikram David Amar is the Dean and Iwan Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Illinois... more

Neil H. Buchanan
Neil H. Buchanan

Neil H. Buchanan, an economist and legal scholar, holds the James J. Freeland Eminent Scholar... more

Sherry F. Colb
Sherry F. Colb

Sherry F. Colb is the C.S. Wong Professor of Law at Cornell University. Colb teaches courses in... more

John Dean
John Dean

John Dean served as Counsel to the President of the United States from July 1970 to April 1973.... more

Michael C. Dorf
Michael C. Dorf

Michael C. Dorf is the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell University Law School. He... more

Joanna L. Grossman
Joanna L. Grossman

Joanna L. Grossman is the Ellen K. Solender Endowed Chair in Women and Law at SMU Dedman School... more

Marci A. Hamilton
Marci A. Hamilton

MARCI A. HAMILTON is the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program Professor of Practice, and Fox Family... more

Joseph Margulies
Joseph Margulies

Mr. Margulies is a Professor of Law and Government at Cornell University. He was Counsel of... more

Lesley Wexler
Lesley Wexler

Lesley Wexler is a Professor of Law at the University of Illinois College of Law. Immediately... more