Analysis and Commentary Posted in 2016-01
The Moral Clarity of the Pro-Life Position in Frozen Embryo Disputes

Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses the recent trend of anti-abortion groups joining custody battles over frozen embryos on the side of the parent that seeks implantation. Colb argues that this position is consistent with their deeply held view that life begins at conception—much more so than their more usual stance in battles over abortion regulation.

Have Democrats Rediscovered Unions Too Late?

Neil H. Buchanan, a law professor and economist at George Washington University, comments on the recent trend of mainstream liberal opinion makers to express public support for labor unions. Buchanan explains the tumultuous history of liberals and labor unions, and he wonders whether this overdue support is too little too late, in light of a case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.

How Un-rule-y is the First Amendment?

Cornell University law professor Michael Dorf considers an issue on which the U.S. Supreme Court recently heard oral argument: whether the First Amendment protects a government employee from adverse action based on the government’s mistaken belief that the employee was engaged in speech or association. Dorf highlights the nuances of the case and whether there is a meaningful difference between rule-guided conduct and reason-guided conduct.

Republicans Should Learn From Flint That Governing on the Cheap Costs Too Much

George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan discusses a set of issues raised by an op-ed on the public health emergency in Flint, Michigan, written by one of former president George W. Bush’s speechwriters. Buchanan argues that one of the takeaway lessons is that the government—and particularly the federal government—plays an essential role in responding adequately when disaster strikes.

The Bottoson Effect

Cornell University law professor Joseph Margulies discusses the problem of states executing death row inmates under laws subsequently found to be unconstitutional, as has happened in Texas and in Florida, and likely in many other cases. Margulies laments that the United States continues to experiment with capital punishment when experience demonstrates the procedures for imposing this irreversible sentence are rife with problems.

Heading for The Dark Side of Journalism

Former counsel to the president John W. Dean continues his discussion of the controversial investigative report by Al Jazeera Investigates that implicates several elite American athletes of illegal doping. Dean discusses the two lawsuits filed in federal court in the District of Columbia and the possible role an anti-SLAPP statute might play in those lawsuits.

Indiana Leads the Way With an Outrageous RFRA Proposal Again

Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton a recent proposal by the Indiana legislature to update that state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”) and extend that law’s legal standard to other rights. Hamilton explains why this proposed change is based on an overly simplistic view of constitutional rights and is a bad idea.

One Surrogate Birth for Man May Mean Nothing for Mankind

Hofstra University law professor Joanna Grossman discusses a surrogacy dispute filed by a California woman against a man in Georgia. Grossman points out that the facts giving rise to the dispute are highly unusual and that it would be a mistake to draw a conclusion about surrogacy in general from this particular case.

Bill Cosby and the Rule Against Character Evidence

Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses the role of Pennsylvania Rule of Evidence 404 in the criminal trial against Bill Cosby. Colb argues that the rule against character evidence serves a specific purpose in “whodunit” cases (where the perpetrator is unknown) but that it may serve a different purpose in “what was done” cases, such as the present case against Cosby.

Are Baby Boomers Better to Millennials Than Millennials Are to Themselves?

George Washington law professor and economist Neil Buchanan explains how the ways in which Baby Boomers have positively and negatively shaped the world for Millenials. Buchanan points out that Baby Boomers actually did well in some of the areas for which Millenials criticize them, though they also fell short in other areas.

The Supreme Court Could Hear a Third License Plate Case

Cornell University law professor Michael Dorf comments on a case involving free speech on license plates that may reach the U.S. Supreme Court in the near future. As Dorf points out, if the Court agrees to hear the case, it will be the third major license plate case it has decided. Dorf argues that the appeals court in the present case most likely erred in failing to protect the plaintiff’s right against compelled speech, but a broadly written Supreme Court opinion reversing the lower court could potentially undermine anti-discrimination law.

What the Detailed Data from California on the July 2015 Bar Exam Results Might Tell Us About the Bigger Picture

Illinois Law professor and dean Vikram David Amar interprets the recently released data on California’s bar exam results from July 2015. Amar expresses concern at the lower pass rates and calls upon both the profession and the academy to examine the way we train and license lawyers.

Insight From Oregon

Cornell University law professor Joseph Margulies explains how the peaceful protesters at a federal facility in Oregon could advance the cause for criminal justice reform. Margulies reminds us that that the triggering event for the protest was an order by a federal judge that two ranchers serve a prison sentence mandated by federal statute that was far longer than the judge considered fair.

Sex Abuse Statute of Limitations Reform 2015 Year in Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton discusses some of the changes 2015 saw with respect to reform of sex abuse statutes of limitations. Hamilton praises such progress as the sweeping inquiries undertaken by Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the release of the award-winning motion picture, Spotlight, which chronicles the Boston Globe journalists’ path to breaking the story of priest abuse in the Catholic church.

Trump Inadvertently Highlights Restroom Inequality

Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb draws upon recent comments by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in order to explore the sexism of having a separate “ladies’ room.” Colb responds to two of the most common objections to unisex restrooms and calls upon more people to demand them in public places.

More Than Kin: Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules That Stepfather Granted Custody Rights Also Owes Child Support

Hofstra University law professor Joanna Grossman discusses a case in which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that a stepfather who won shared custody of his former stepchildren must also pay child support. Grossman points out that this unusual ruling serves as a warning for parents and stepparents about the consequences of their choices about childrearing during marriage.

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 Fels Institute of Government 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