Analysis and Commentary Posted in 2017-01

Federal Judge Buries Unconstitutional Texas Law on the Treatment of Fetal Remains

SMU Dedman School of Law professor Joanna Grossman explains how taxpayers end up paying for legislators to pass clearly unconstitutional laws and for the state to defend those laws in court. Specifically, Grossman discusses Texas laws attempting to restrict access to abortion and attempting to mandate the burial or cremation of fetal remains, both of which have been struck down as unconstitutional.

Philadelphia’s Ban on Employers Asking Job Applicants for Salary History Raises Interesting First Amendment Questions

Illinois Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar and UC Davis Law professor Alan Brownstein discuss a law the Philadelphia mayor recently signed into law that prohibits employers in that city from asking job applicants to provide their past salary data, in an attempt to reduce the wage gap between men and women. Amar and Brownstein specifically consider some of the arguments that the law violates the First Amendment.

Who Is To Blame? Understanding Trump’s Rise In Order to Guarantee His Fall

George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan argues that two groups are primarily responsible for electing Donald Trump: Republican officeholders who knew better and non-voters (especially younger voters) who ignored their responsibility to the future. Buchanan calls upon all voters to fight now harder than ever to restore and protect our constitutional democracy.

Supreme Court to Consider When a Criminal Defendant Must Pay With His Life for His Lawyer’s Error

Cornell University law professor Michael C. Dorf comments on a case before the U.S. Supreme Court that presents the issue whether and when a criminal defendant should pay with his life for an error made by his lawyer. Dorf explains the facts behind the case as well as the relevant legal precedents. He argues that Davila, the criminal defendant in this case, might convincingly argue that his first real opportunity to complain about the ineffectiveness of counsel on direct appeal is in a state habeas proceeding.

Is Sex Necessary? (Legally Speaking)

SMU Dedman School of Law professor Joanna L. Grossman and Stanford Law professor Lawrence M. Friedman consider whether a sexual tie should continue to be a component of the institution of marriage. Grossman and Friedman describe the history of marriage and provide two examples where two people who cannot marry each other arguably still deserve some sort of legal protection for their relationships.

The Religious Liberty Shell Game Needs to End Now Before the Civil Rights of Women and LGBTQ Recede into History

Marci A. Hamilton, a Fox Distinguished Scholar in the Fox Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania, reminds of the distinction between constitutional rights and statutory rights. Hamilton argues that the so-called right to religious liberty used to excuse discrimination against LGBTQ individuals derives from federal statutes that were enacted out of animus in the first place.

Who Cares?

Cornell Law professor Joseph Margulies argues that rather than see certain individuals as monsters undeserving of empathy, we should see the humanity in every person. To illustrate his point of humanity, Margulies describes in detail the life and background of Dante Owens, who was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences.

The Sunshine the Constitution Craves: Alec Baldwin, Meryl Streep, Protesters, and Boycotters Should Not Stop Now

Marci A. Hamilton, a Fox Distinguished Scholar in the Fox Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania, defends those protesting Donald Trump’s inauguration this week in the face of those calling for “unity.” Hamilton argues that “unity” in this case is simply a euphemism for “uniformity” and that the very democratic process demands that the people speak out and have their voices heard.

Another Excuse for Possible Constitutional Overreach by Trump

George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan explores how President-elect Donald Trump could seize upon, or even create, a debt ceiling crisis as a way to enhance his executive powers. Buchanan explains that Trump could put himself into a “trilemma” on purpose, giving himself no choice but to pick and choose which of the government’s debts he would pay and which he would not.

Constitutional Lessons from the Senate’s Quick Processing of President-Elect Trump’s Cabinet Picks?

Illinois Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar describes two lessons we should take away from the Senate’s processing of President-elect Trump’s nominees for his Cabinet. First, Amar explains the constitutional difference between executive and judicial appointments. Second, Amar explains the relatively long time between the end of the election and when the president-elect actually takes office, and also proposes a way to reduce this period and ease transition.

Is It “Reasonable” For Police to Kill Dogs in the Homes that they Search?

Cornell University law professor Sherry F. Colb critiques a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit holding that it was reasonable for police officers to kill two dogs in a home they searched. Colb first explains the facts behind the case and then argues that the police should have asked the dogs’ owner to subdue the dogs prior to the search, and that not doing so was unreasonable and led to the unnecessary killing of the dogs.

An Index Fund is the Next Best Thing to a Blind Trust

Cornell University law professor Michael C. Dorf argues that for extremely wealthy government officials, in order to avoid conflicts of interests based on their financial holdings, could turn to a broad-based diversified portfolio, rather than having to utilize a blind trust. Dorf explains why this particular solution works for extremely wealthy individuals and why President-elect Donald Trump and much of his cabinet should take heed.

Donald Trump and the National Security State

Cornell University law professor Joseph Margulies considers what Donald Trump’s approach to national security might be, based on the particular combination of his ideology and the technology available to him. Margulies points out that Trump has the surveillance technology that was available to Obama without the reservations about profiling.

The Republican Fail on Sex Assault and Child Sex Abuse

Marci A. Hamilton, a Fox Distinguished Scholar in the Fox Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania, describes how many Republicans are responsible for blocking legislative change that would help victims of sexual assault and child sex abuse find justice. Hamilton argues that the current climate in the United States draws the line at protecting—whether implicitly or explicitly—perpetrators of sexual abuse and child sex abuse.

Defending a Texas Rule Requiring Fetal Burial or Cremation

Writing from the perspective of a pro-life activist, Cornell University law professor Sherry F. Colb considers the merits of a Texas rule that would require hospitals and clinics to bury or cremate the remains of embryos and fetuses resulting from terminations or miscarriages that take place in their facilities. From this perspective, Colb acknowledges that the rule might reasonably be interpreted to be consistent with Supreme Court precedent; she writes from her true (pro-choice) perspective in an accompanying blog post.

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 and a Professor of Law at The George Washington U... 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. Befo... 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 country’s leading church-state scholars and the Fox Professor of Pra... more

David S. Kemp
David S. Kemp

David S. Kemp is an attorney and managing 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