Analysis and Commentary Posted in 2016-10

Clear Thinking About the Ferguson Effect

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Cornell University law professor Joseph Margulies discusses the so-called “Ferguson Effect,” a hypothesis that increased public scrutiny of police violence correlates to higher rates of violent crime. Margulies argues that even if the Ferguson Effect is real—which he does not concede—the alternative of Zero Tolerance and other similar policies wreak havoc on poor communities of color. Margulies makes the case for communities having their own say in how they are policed.

Trump’s Final Strategy to Win the White House

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John W. Dean, former counsel to President Nixon, takes a close look at Donald Trump’s twofold strategy to win the election—Trump’s own electoral map, and his attempts to suppress voters. Dean argues that the only way for Trump to win is to bully his way into the White House, and Dean calls upon Democrats to prevent Trump and his supporters from using physical intimidation to suppress the vote.

Education, the 2016 Election, and the Future

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Marci A. Hamilton, a Fox Distinguished Scholar in the Program for Research on Religion at the University of Pennsylvania, discusses the connection between an educated society and a successful, effective representative democracy. Hamilton argues that a significant reason that uneducated voters are more likely to vote for Donald Trump than educated voters are highlights this country’s failure to ensure that every student is adequately educated, particularly with respect to government.

The Ripples After the Splash: Parentage Law Takes Shape After Obergefell v. Hodges

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SMU Dedman School of Law professor Joanna L. Grossman comments on some of the parentage cases that have arisen since the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Grossman describes the patchwork of cases that generally trend toward greater recognition of same-sex co-parents.

Two Big Legal Misconceptions That Have Recently Arisen in the Presidential Race

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Illinois Law dean Vikram David Amar and California civil litigation attorney Michael Schaps address two common misconceptions about the relationship between criminal law and politics that recently arose in the presidential race. Amar and Schaps explain first why the presumption of innocence does not apply to politics, and second, why the president actually does have the power to order prosecutions.

The WikiLeaks Nothingburger

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George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan describes how news outlets are stretching to try to make news out of the contents of the Clinton campaign emails released by WikiLeaks. Buchanan argues that the emails reveal nothing remarkable or problematic about the Clinton campaign’s inner workings and in fact support her claim of fitness for presidency.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Versus Colin Kaepernick

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Cornell University law professor Michael C. Dorf discusses Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent public criticism (which she has since retracted) of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for his protesting against police brutality and racial oppression by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem. Dorf distinguishes criticism ex cathedra from criticism given while off the bench and concludes that while Justice Ginsburg was within her right to speak her mind, she was also correct to subsequently take back her comments.

The Supreme Court Considers Whether to Pierce Jury Secrecy for Evidence of Racial Bias

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Cornell University law professor Sherry F. Colb considers the arguments on both sides of a difficult question currently before the Supreme Court—whether a defendant is entitled to use juror testimony to impeach a verdict based on racial bias, notwithstanding a contrary rule of evidence. Colb describes the facts leading up to the case and discusses the jurisprudence that will most likely affect the justices’ ultimate decision.

The Fury of the Mob: Comparing the Calls to Prosecute Clinton and Bush

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Cornell University law professor Joseph Margulies compares and contrasts Donald Trump’s call for Hillary Clinton’s imprisonment and the same call against George W. Bush. Although he disagrees with both attempts to seek prosecution, Margulies argues that the call for Clinton’s imprisonment is at best akin to a lynch mob, whereas at least the desire to have Bush prosecuted reflects a good-faith attempt to use the law to punish war crimes.

“Prison for Hillary”

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John W. Dean, former counsel to President Nixon, comments on Donald Trump’s recent calls for the imprisonment of Hillary Clinton. Dean points out that jailing political opponents is a tactic of dictators, not democracies.

The State Law Gauntlet Facing Child Sex Abuse Survivors: A Long Way to Go to Child-Centered Justice

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Marci A. Hamilton, a Fox Distinguished Scholar in the Program for Research on Religion at the University of Pennsylvania, explains how federal and state law interact to block survivors of child sex abuse from justice. As Hamilton explains, extending statutes of limitations for bringing abuse claims, or eliminating them altogether, is only one (albeit critically important) step state legislators must take toward helping survivors get the justice they deserve.

Notorious P.I.G.: Rape Culture Meets Presidential Politics

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SMU Dedman School of Law professor Joanna L. Grossman and University of Pittsburgh law professor Deborah L. Brake analyze the infamous video of Donald Trump boasting about what he can do to women, as well as the response of the Trump campaign. Grossman and Brake argue that Trump’s words in the video, and his non-apology following its release, epitomize the formula that creates rape-prone culture: deny harm, deflect responsibility, and normalize what happened.

Allocating Burdens of Proof in a Criminal Case: An Arizona Decision Raises Questions

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Cornell University law professor Sherry F. Colb comments on a recent decision by the Arizona Supreme Court holding that a state statute properly created an affirmative defense to sexual abuse or child molestation when it placed the burden of proving no sexual motive on the defendant. Colb describes the court’s reasoning and explains why the U.S. Supreme Court should revisit its jurisprudence affirmative defenses to crimes and hold that some conduct may simply not be classified as an affirmative defense to be proved by the defendant in a criminal case.

Battle of the Sexist: The Implicit, Explicit, and Unrelenting Bias of Trump’s Presidential Campaign

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SMU Dedman School of Law professor Joanna L. Grossman and Boston University law professor Linda C. McClain discuss the sexism that pervades Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Grossman and McClain comment not only on the presidential debates, but also on the bigger question whether (and how) a woman can be perceived as “presidential.”

Federal Investigations of Possible Corrupt Agreements by State Attorneys General who Threaten Criminal Prosecutions

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Chapman University, Fowler School of Law, professor Ronald D. Rotunda argues that, in the interest of protecting free speech, the Attorneys General of New York and Massachusetts should comply with congressional subpoenas investigating whether the state attorneys general are part of a corrupt agreement with private interests seeking to harass. Rotunda argues that the state attorneys general are effectively chilling the free speech of scientists who question the validity of the theory that humans contribute to global warming.

Do Fourth Amendment Protections Vanish After an Indictment? The Manuel v. Joliet Case on the Supreme Court’s Docket

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University of Illinois Law dean and law professor Vikram David Amar comments on a case in which the Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week. In that case—Manuel v. Joliet—the Court will consider whether an individual’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizure continues after an indictment has issued, thereby allowing a malicious prosecution claim based on the Fourth Amendment. Amar argues that the case highlights some unusual features of Supreme Court practice, as well as some important aspects of constitutional law.

Timothy Dolan Implements the Penn State Playbook for Child Sex Abuse Victims: The Best Argument Yet for SOL Reform

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Marci Hamilton, a Fox Distinguished Scholar in the Program for Research on Religion at the University of Pennsylvania, comments on the recent announcement by Cardinal Timothy Dolan of an Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Commission intended to help some clergy sex abuse victims in the New York City Archdiocese. Hamilton describes Dolan’s mixed record on justice for sex abuse victims but hails the latest development as a step in the right direction.

Republicans Always Lose the Tax Fairness Debate, and Trump Turns It Into a Rout

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George Washington law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan explains why, with the information that we currently have, there is no way to determine whether Donald Trump’s tax strategies were legal or illegal. Buchanan argues that regardless of the answer to that question, there are still too many special provisions for people like Trump—particularly with respect to the real estate sector.

Should Self-Driving Cars Be Mandatory?

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Cornell University law professor Michael C. Dorf discusses the proposed policy guidelines the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released that relate to the logistics of self-driving cars. In this column, Dorf looks ahead to a time when the majority of vehicles on the road will be self-driving and considers the potential consequences of regulating the few manual cars that will remain. While there is an argument to be made that people's choices and personal freedom should outweigh government interference, Dorf explains that the benefits to the larger population's welfare that self-driving cars may one day offer is likely to win out over time.

Meet our Columnists

Vikram David Amar

Vikram David Amar is the Dean and Iwan Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Illinois College of Law. Immediately prior to taking the position at Illinois, Amar served as the Senior Assoc... more

Neil H. Buchanan

Neil H. Buchanan is an economist and legal scholar and a Professor of Law at The George Washington University. He teaches tax law and tax policy, and he has taught contract law, law and economics, and... more

Sherry F. Colb

Sherry F. Colb is Professor of Law and Charles Evans Hughes Scholar at Cornell University. Colb teaches courses in constitutional criminal procedure, evidence, and animal rights. She has published a... more

John Dean

John Dean served as Counsel to the President of the United States from July 1970 to April 1973. Before becoming White House counsel at age thirty-one, he was the chief minority counsel to the Judiciar... more

Michael C. Dorf

Michael C. Dorf is the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell University Law School. He has written hundreds of popular essays, dozens of scholarly articles, and four books on constitutional la... more

Joanna L. Grossman

Joanna L. Grossman is the Ellen K. Solender Endowed Chair in Women and Law at SMU Dedman School of Law.  She is an expert in sex discrimination law. Her most recent book,  more

Marci A. Hamilton

Marci A. Hamilton is one of the country’s leading church-state scholars and the Fox Professor of Practice and Fox Family Pavilion Resident Senior Fellow in the Program for Research on Religion in the... more

David S. Kemp

David S. Kemp is an attorney and managing editor at Justia. He received his B.A. in Psychology from Rice University and his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Boalt Hall)... more

Joseph Margulies

Mr. Margulies is a Professor of Law and Government at Cornell University. He was Counsel of Record in Rasul v. Bush (2004), involving detentions at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Station, and in more

Anita Ramasastry

Anita Ramasastry is the UW Law Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle, where she also directs the graduate program on Sustainable International Developmen... more

Ronald D. Rotunda

Ronald D. Rotunda is the Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence, at Chapman University, Fowler School of Law. He joined the faculty in 2008. Before that, he was Univ... more