In a Case with Blockbuster Potential, Detroit School Children Assert a Federal Constitutional Right to Literacy

University of Illinois dean and law professor Vikram David Amar takes an early look at Gary B. v. Snyder, a case recently filed in federal district court that addresses a child’s fundamental right to literacy. Amar explains how the timing may be ideal for a case of this nature, should it ultimately reach the Supreme Court, since the Court seems increasingly willing to recognize new liberties not mentioned in the Constitution, among other compelling reasons.

Good Economic News Is Good for Clinton and Bad for Trump

George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan revisits Donald Trump’s proposed economic policies in his latest column. Buchanan summarizes these policies and explains why they are counterintuitive to the reality of today’s improving U.S. economy. Trump merely repeats the same talking points and claims the economy will continue to falter without the benefit of his leadership, despite all evidence to the contrary. This, Buchanan notes, offers Hillary Clinton the opportunity to present a positive counter-view and gain much-needed momentum leading up to the election.

The Future of the Supreme Court, Regardless of Who Wins the Election

Cornell University law professor Michael C. Dorf explains what can be deduced about the Supreme Court's future, even before the 2016 US presidential election. Dorf references the role that the Court plays in American public life while also offering notable examples of areas where the Court has little to no say. Additionally, Dorf reminds readers that many more cases are decided unanimously than by a single vote and that it is difficult to predict future ideological divisions among justices, regardless of whether they were nominated by a Republican or Democratic president.

Trump’s Economic Policy Announcements Keep Changing, But They Never Get Better

George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan explores US presidential candidate Donald Trump’s frequently changing economic policy announcements. Buchanan highlights why Trump’s proposed policies are difficult to assess by noting that most lack sufficient detail to predict how they might work in practice. Buchanan also evaluates Trump’s statements, to the extent possible, compares them to Hillary Clinton’s positions on the same issues, and explains where Trump’s would ultimately fall short, should he win this November.

Criminal Justice and the Myth of a Rising Tide

Cornell University law professor Joseph Margulies breaks down the 'rising tide' strategy of criminal justice and explains why this framework is ultimately misguided in the case of drug policy. Margulies explains that neither the class of drug nor the demographic of drug user is created equal within our criminal justice system due to a variety of factors that he explores in this column.

There Is an Antidote to the Politics that Endanger Children

Marci Hamilton, a Fox Distinguished Scholar in the Program for Research on Religion at the University of Pennsylvania, discusses the continued endangering of children in the United States, specifically in the realm of politics. She suggests a simple solution after illustrating recent examples of this troubling trend: voters must choose political candidates who protect children via their stances on relevant laws and other related political matters.

The New York Court of Appeals Confers Parental Status on Same-Sex Partners Intending to Parent

Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses a recent decision by New York’s highest court expanding the definition of parental status to include same-sex partners intending to parent. Colb explains the court’s ruling and discusses a U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding the rights of non-parents that might stand in the New York court’s way.

Separated Spouses Beware: Post-Separation Adultery Bars Fault-Based Divorce

SMU Dedman School of Law professor Joanna L. Grossman comments on a recent decision by the New Hampshire Supreme Court in which it held that a man’s adultery after separating from his wife barred him from seeking a divorce on the grounds on her prior adultery. Grossman provides the historical background of fault and no-fault divorces and explains why the court reached this correct, albeit strange, conclusion.

Forcing Lawyers to Perform Pro Bono Services, Part II

Chapman University, Fowler School of Law, professor Ronald Rotunda addresses a response to his earlier column on mandatory pro bono for lawyers. Rotunda argues that mandatory pro bono for lawyers would be a unique and unwarranted burden, given that the law grants exclusive privileges to other professions, such as dentists to practice dentistry, without requiring them to provide their services to the indigent for free.

The Problem With the Texas Federal Court’s Nationwide Order Regarding Bathroom Access for Transgender Students

Illinois Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar and U.C. Davis Law professor Courtney Joslin discuss a recent decision by a federal district court in Texas issuing a nationwide order regarding bathroom access for transgender students. Amar and Joslin explain why the order almost certainly oversteps that court’s authority without providing any reasons or analysis to justify its overbroad relief.

Social Security’s Political Future in a Clinton Administration

George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan explains why young Americans and black Americans should not believe Trump’s (and Republicans’) claims that they have nothing to lose by dismantling Social Security and Medicare. Buchanan describes the so-called reduced benefits scenario that could happen in the unlikely event that the trust balance reaches zero and contrasts that with the enhanced benefits that could result from a Clinton presidency.

Pivots and Other Pathologies of American Democracy

Cornell University law professor Michael C. Dorf comments on the widely accepted phenomenon in United States elections known as the “pivot,” whereby candidates in both parties change positions between the primary and general elections to appeal to the voters in those particular elections. Dorf explains why candidates commonly pivot, and why general acceptance of this practice should be troubling.

Racism, Classism, Feminism … and Brock Turner

Cornell University law professor Joseph Margulies responds to two of the most common criticisms of the trial and sentencing of former Stanford undergrad Brock Turner, who was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. Margulies explains why a change to California law imposing a mandatory minimum sentence for this crime actually does not address these criticisms, and in fact exacerbates one of them.

Seeking to Criminalize the Clinton Foundation—A Footnote

Former counsel to President Nixon, John W. Dean argues that comparisons between former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton are inapt. Dean points out several ways in which Hillary’s behavior did not rise even to the level of that of McDonnell, and the U.S. Supreme Court found that even the latter did not support conviction.

The Re-making of America’s Cities by Religious Organizations and the Department of Justice

Marci Hamilton, a Fox Distinguished Scholar in the Program for Research on Religion at the University of Pennsylvania, denounces the involvement of the federal government in local land use issues through the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). Hamilton argues that RLUIPA incorrectly treats neutral, generally applicable land use decisions identically with discriminatory land use decisions.

Seventh Circuit Criticizes but Affirms Title VII Precedent Excluding Sexual Orientation

Attorney and editor at Justia, Sarah Andropoulos comments on a recent decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit criticizing but affirming courts’ exclusion of sexual orientation discrimination from protection under Title VII. As Andropoulos explains, the panel’s reasoning is somewhat convoluted, and its conclusion does not seem to follow from its logic.

How Zika May Affect Our Thinking About Abortion

Cornell University law professor Sherry F. Colb considers whether the termination of Zika pregnancies might affect our thinking about abortion. Specifically, Colb asks (1) whether it is right to end a pregnancy because the baby would be severely disabled if brought to term, and (2) whether it is right at all to take the life of a fetus late in pregnancy, given that birth defects caused by Zika are not detectable by ultrasound until late in pregnancy.

The Broken Clock: The Illinois Supreme Court Affirms Misguided, 37-Year-Old Ban on Economic Rights for Cohabiting Couples

SMU Dedman School of Law Professor Joanna Grossman comments on a recent decision by the Illinois Supreme Court reaffirming a decades-old decision by the same court that seemed obsolete even at the time. Grossman argues that the recent decision unfairly withholds protections from nonmarital families and does not actually serve the purported public policy purpose of favoring marriage.

The ABA Wants Copyright Royalties From Authors Who Publish the Law

Chapman University, Fowler School of Law, professor Ronald D. Rotunda comments on the American Bar Association’s assertion of copyright to its Model Rules of Professional Conduct and argues that the association should review its consent decree. As Rotunda argues, the ABA’s fees are at best arbitrary and should not determine (as they presently do) the fees required for reprinting the Model Rules.

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 Co... more

Neil H. Buchanan
Neil H. Buchanan

Neil H. Buchanan is an economist and legal scholar, a Professor of Law at The George Washington Univ... more

Sherry F. Colb
Sherry F. Colb

Sherry F. Colb is Professor of Law and Charles Evans Hughes Scholar at Cornell University. Colb tea... more

John Dean
John Dean

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

Michael C. Dorf
Michael C. Dorf

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

Marci A. Hamilton
Marci A. Hamilton

Marci A. Hamilton is one of the leading church/state scholars in the United States, a Fox Distinguis... more

David S. Kemp
David S. Kemp

David S. Kemp is an attorney, writer, and editor at Justia. He received his B.A. in Psychology from... more

Joseph Margulies
Joseph Margulies

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

Anita Ramasastry
Anita Ramasastry

Anita Ramasastry is the UW Law Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Washington School of... more

Ronald D. Rotunda
Ronald D. Rotunda

Ronald D. Rotunda is the Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence, at... more