Analysis and Commentary Posted in 2020-02
“He Took It Like a Man”: Harvey Weinstein’s Conviction and the Limits of Discrimination Law

SMU Dedman School of Law professor Joanna L. Grossman comments on the recent conviction of Harvey Weinstein for criminal sexual assault in the first degree and rape in the third degree. Grossman points out that our country’s antidiscrimination laws do not actually protect the people they intend to protect, instead focusing on employer policies and procedures. She argues that we should take this opportunity to learn from the system of criminal law, which did work in this case, to fix the antidiscrimination laws that purport to protect against sexual harassment and misconduct.

A Tale of Two Victims Trying to Stay Above Water While Pursuing Justice: Corey Feldman and Patty Fortney (And Her Sisters)

Marci A. Hamilton, professor at the University of Pennsylvania and CEO of CHILD USA, describes two stories that show the persistent barriers to justice for child sex abuse victims, despite significant progress recently. First, Hamilton relates the story of Corey Feldman, who will finally get to tell his story of abuse in the premiere of My Truth: The Rape of Two Coreys on March 9, 2020, which will air at 11pm EST in a one-time, online showing globally. Second, Hamilton describes how Patty Fortney and her sisters are pursuing justice against the diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Searching for Even Slim Reeds of Optimism That This is Not the End of the Rule of Law in America

UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan offers two possible reasons for cautious optimism that the rule of law survives under President Trump: (1) Trump continues to lie, and (2) even the most potentially unreliable Democrats have not (yet?) decided to stop opposing him.

Is a Gunshot Wound a Seizure?

Cornell law professor Sherry F. Colb comments on a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether a police officer who shot and hit a fleeing suspect “seized” that suspect, thereby triggering the Fourth Amendment, even though the wounded suspect escaped the police. Colb explains some of the arguments and predicts an outcome that would affirm precedents and offers a compromise between competing constitutional concerns.

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.

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

Samuel Estreicher
Samuel Estreicher

Samuel Estreicher is the Dwight D. Opperman Professor, Director, Center for Labor and Employment... more

Leslie C. Griffin
Leslie C. Griffin

Dr. Leslie C. Griffin is the William S. Boyd Professor of Law at the University of Nevada, Las... 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

Austin Sarat
Austin Sarat

Austin Sarat is Associate Provost, Associate Dean of the Faculty and William Nelson Cromwell... more

Lesley Wexler
Lesley Wexler

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