Analysis and Commentary Posted in 2022-02
Picking Your Own Poison and Capital Defense Lawyers’ Ethical Quandary

Amherst professor Austin Sarat describes the ethical quandary capital defense lawyers face when they have to, under the Supreme Court’s current methods of execution jurisprudence, suggest an alternative readily available method to execute their clients. Professor Sarat argues that the only way to eliminate this ethical quandary is to end the practice altogether, particularly in light of the current Court’s apparent hostility to arguments of death row inmates.

Should Congress Ban Legacy and Donor Preferences in College Admissions?

Cornell Law professor Michael C. Dorf comments on the recent proposal to pass legislation ending legacy and donor preferences in college admissions. Professor Dorf explains the context and rationale for the proposal and describes some potential perverse effects it might have, but he concludes that its potential benefits likely outweigh these drawbacks.

An Ex-U.S. Attorney Cuts to the Chase About Prosecuting Trump. Is Attorney General Garland Doing the Same?

Harvard Law professor Laurence H. Tribe and former federal prosecutor Dennis Aftergut comment on the model prosecution memo that former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade recently published describing how to indict former President Donald Trump for his criminal actions with respect to the 2020 presidential election. Professor Tribe and Mr. Aftergut explain why the memo is so effective, how it should influence Attorney General Merrick Garland, and why seeking an indictment is critical to preventing future lawless action.

We Need to Talk About Psychopaths

Cornell Law professor Sherry F. Colb comments on the television mini-series, “We Need to Talk About Cosby,” which tells the story of Bill Cosby as both beloved celebrity and shadowy rapist. Professor Colb praises the mini-series but suggests that it would have been even better if it had also featured a psychiatrist explaining that all the sweetness and warmth and wit that made America fall in love with Cosby was not the “good” in a cost/benefit analysis of his life, but the bait that allowed him to carry out his career of serial rape on unsuspecting women.

“Hear No Evil, See No Evil,” State Responses to Botched Executions and the Danger of Indifference

Amherst professor Austin Sarat observes that many death penalty states have developed coordinated strategies of reassuring the public and denying any wrongdoing when an execution goes wrong. Professor Sarat points out that state officials demonstrate an indifference to an inmate’s evident distress and use empty, bureaucratic language to cover their tracks and avoid confronting the grim reality of what they are doing.

Second Thoughts? How the Anti-Government Protests in Canada Affect Americans Who Might Want to Move There

UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan continues his exploration of options available to Americans who are considering emigrating, considering whether the anti-government protests in Canada affect his calculus. Professor Buchanan argues that the recent news from Canada does not come close to tipping the balance toward staying the United States.

Mazars’ Resignation Shows Investigators Squeezing Trump’s Pocketbook Today, Not Just His Liberty Tomorrow

Former federal prosecutor Dennis Aftergut comments on the recent news that Mazars—Donald Trump’s long-time New York accounting firm—disclaimed the veracity of Trump’s financial statements. Mr. Aftergut explains that this development is particularly significant because it will likely threaten Trump’s ability to stay financially afloat, particularly amid other ongoing investigations into his conduct.

The Evolution of Chief Justice John Roberts

Cornell Law professor Michael C. Dorf argues that Chief Justice John Roberts is, perhaps surprisingly, on the left of the current Court partly because of the Court moving far to the right in recent years and partly because of Roberts’s evolution as a jurist. Professor Dorf explores why Roberts has shifted, noting that he seems simply to adhere to a principle that historically liberals, moderates, and conservatives all agreed upon: don’t lie about the law.

Are Procedural Rights Under Title VII and Other Antidiscrimination Laws Modifiable or Waivable Outside of an Arbitration Agreement?

NYU Law professor Samuel Estreicher and 2L Andrew Vaccaro comment on a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit suggesting that statutory procedural rights are generally waivable by contract outside of arbitration.

The DOJ Gets Aggressive in January 6 Prosecutions. Are Cases About the Pre-January 6 Coup Plot Next?

Former federal prosecutor Dennis Aftergut comments on recent revelations about how the Department of Justice is handling cases arising from the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Mr. Aftergut observes that the DOJ shows every intention of handling those cases aggressively.

Fighting Lies with Deceptions: Inflation Politics in 2022, Part Two

In this second of a two-part series of columns, UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan explains that there is nothing a president can do to reduce inflation, but there are certain things a president should do to appear to be doing something. Professor Buchanan argues that Biden administration’s announcement that it will intensify the fight against monopolies serves precisely that purpose and achieves some good in the process.

Fishgate and Schadenfreude

Cornell law professor Sherry F. Colb comments on recent reports that New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who identifies as a vegan, sometimes eats fish. Professor Colb, an ethical vegan, points out that in her opinion, being a vegan means trying to keep the products of animal exploitation and slaughter out of one’s life to the extent that one can do so, and we should celebrate Mayor Adams’s substantial success in doing that rather than criticize his (alleged) failure to do it perfectly.

Will Trump’s Narcissism Save the Republican Party and America?

Amherst professor Austin Sarat observes that former President Donald Trump’s narcissism and obsessive, compulsive refusal to talk about anything other than the 2020 election is beginning to turn off even some of his longtime allies. Professor Sarat argues that while Trump’s waning popularity might be bad for him and his most ardent supporters, it might save the Republican Party and the United States from Trump himself.

Fighting Lies with Deceptions: Inflation Politics in 2022, Part One

In this first of a two-part series of columns on inflation, UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan argues that the current concern over inflation is nonsense. He explains that the measured inflation rate is an average of all price changes, and a healthy economy will see some prices rise at any given time.

No More Prison Success Tokenism

Cornell Law professor Joseph Margulies explains why stories of people who serve extensive sentences in prison and then turn around to do wonderful things set an impossible standard for others who equally deserve freedom yet cannot demonstrate such achievements. Professor Margulies argues that hundreds of thousands of men and women are serving impossibly long terms, and they, too, deserve to be free by virtue of the change they have inevitably undergone through their years behind bars.

Why Conservatives Are Seeing the Light on Capital Punishment and Why They Should

Amherst professor Austin Sarat describes recent developments in Utah and Ohio, where conservative legislators have introduced bills that would end capital punishment in those states. Professor Sarat explains why, although conservatives have historically favored capital punishment, opposing it is more consistent with other conservative values, like opposing abortion.

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

Professor Marci A. Hamilton is a Professor of Practice in Political Science at the University of... 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 the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at... more

Lesley Wexler
Lesley Wexler

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