In this first of a series of columns, Illinois law dean and professor Vikram David Amar comments on a lawsuit filed in federal court in Arizona that challenges the way state officials are handling the vacancy in the US Senate created by Senator John McCain’s death four months ago. Amar explains the basis of the lawsuit and discusses the sparse case law on point that may determine the outcome of the lawsuit.
Cornell law professor Michael C. Dorf comments on the recent ruling by a federal district judge in Texas striking down the entirety of the Affordable Care Act and argues that the judge relies on a highly unorthodox (and erroneous) interpretation of the doctrine of “severability.” As Dorf explains, there is a notable lack of judicial consensus as to what courts actually do when they declare laws unconstitutional, despite that the Supreme Court established its power of judicial review over two centuries ago in Marbury v. Madison (1803).
Cornell law professor Sherry F. Colb considers the narrative of Kyle Stephens, a woman who was first abused by Dr. Larry Nassar when she was six years old, particularly as compared to the narratives of other women Nassar victimized. Colb points out that patients, parents, and law enforcement all give great deference to medical doctors, and Nassar recognized and took advantage of that deference to sexually assault so many women over such a great period of time.
Illinois law dean and professor Vikram David Amar discusses the possibility of a federal constitutional convention to propose fundamental revisions to the document. Amar points out that many fundamental legal questions about such a convention remain unanswered and highlights 24 important questions that will need to be considered if a constitutional convention seems imminent.
Marci A. Hamilton—the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program Professor of Practice, and Fox Family Pavilion Resident Senior Fellow in the Program for Research on Religion at the University of Pennsylvania—comments on the most recent report on child sex abuse, which was commissioned by the US Olympic Committee and focuses on the Dr. Larry Nassar scandal. Hamilton points out that scandal after scandal should make clear to the public that we have a systemic problem that is cultural, not isolated.
Cornell law professor Michael C. Dorf discusses the double jeopardy question raised in Gamble v. United States, in which the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week, and explains how the extraordinary nature of the Trump presidency should inform judicial decision making. Building upon a point made in a 1985 Columbia Law Review article by Professor Vincent Blasi, Dorf argues that judges construing the Constitution and other legal texts in perilous times such as these should keep in mind that the rules they adopt will also operate in normal times.
UNLV Boyd School of Law professor Leslie C. Griffin criticizes the recent order by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to permanently redact the names of eleven priests from the grand jury report on sexual misconduct by the clergy in six Pennsylvania Roman Catholic dioceses. Griffin argues that the redaction undermines the purpose of the grand jury report to promote openness and sends the negative signal to survivors that the court will protect their abusers.
Marci A. Hamilton, professor and resident senior fellow in the Program for Research on Religion at the University of Pennsylvania, explains the role of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta in allowing multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein to plead guilty to a mere 13-month sentence despite evidence he had abused dozens of girls in his home in Palm Beach. Hamilton argues that Acosta should not be in any position of power, but particularly not one such as Labor Secretary, where the welfare of children or trafficking victims is at stake.
Cornell law professor Sherry F. Colb discusses a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control that reflects a decrease in the rate of abortions in the United States. Colb explores the various reasons why this might be the case, illustrating how such reasons might differ between pro-life and pro-choice perspectives, as well as offering her own take on the report's findings.
SMU Dedman School of Law professor Joanna L. Grossman discusses a recently introduced Ohio bill that would ban abortion, regardless of circumstances. Grossman notes that while this bill may not ever be signed into law, a growing trend in recent years has seen many nearly as extreme bills become law in other states. Grossman argues that federal courts will follow Supreme Court precedent and hold most of these recently passed abortion bills invalid but cautions that the Supreme Court’s increasingly conservative lineup of justices may one day invalidate existing precedent, paving the way for the passage of similar bills.
Cornell law professor Joseph Margulies discusses a comment within a speech by Professor Marc Lamont Hill that sparked recent controversy and led to his termination as a political commentator at CNN. While critics claim Professor Hill’s speech implied a desire for the complete and total destruction of the State of Israel, Margulies argues that focusing on one line in a much longer speech is insufficient to glean the true meaning behind Hill’s message.