Vikram David Amar, law professor and dean at Illinois Law, and Michael Schaps, a California civil litigation attorney, critique a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit considering whether and when a government physician can take into account a patient’s race. Amar and Schaps argue that the court’s analysis is internally consistent and legally flawed, as well.
Guest columnists Igor De Lazari, Antonio Sepulveda, and Henrique Rangel comment on a recent ruling by the Brazilian Supreme Court that criminal sentences may be enforced after a challengeable appellate court decision—a ruling the authors argue departs from the clear meaning of article 5, section LVII of the Brazilian Constitution. De Lazari, Sepulveda, and Rangel suggest that the ruling was based on strategic motivations by the justices, rather than purely on interpretations of the law.
Illinois Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar describes some of the risks Senate Republicans will face if they refuse to process any Supreme Court nominee that President Obama sends them, as they have claimed they would. Among these risks, Amar argues, are the possibility that a President Hillary Clinton might appoint Obama to the Supreme Court, that the Democrats could take over the Senate and approve a nominee that a Republican-controlled Senate would not have approved, or even that Justices Breyer and Ginsburg could retire under a Democrat-controlled Senate, giving President Obama three places on the Court to fill with liberal justices.
Cornell University law professor Michael Dorf explains why Republicans’ claims that President Obama lacks democratic legitimacy in appointing a successor to the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Dorf points out that the reasons offered thus far for refusing to confirm an Obama nominee seem to imply that originalism/formalism can be validated or invalidated by popular approval, even absent a constitutional amendment.
Vikram David Amar—dean and law professor at the University of Illinois College of Law—comments on a summary reversal by the U.S. Supreme Court of a decision by the Idaho Supreme Court. While Amar agrees with the Court that the Idaho court erred in reaching its decision, but he argues that the Idaho jurists were not guilty of the particular stupidity or defiance the Supreme Court imputed to them.
Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses the role of Pennsylvania Rule of Evidence 404 in the criminal trial against Bill Cosby. Colb argues that the rule against character evidence serves a specific purpose in “whodunit” cases (where the perpetrator is unknown) but that it may serve a different purpose in “what was done” cases, such as the present case against Cosby.
Cornell University law professor Joseph Margulies explains how the peaceful protesters at a federal facility in Oregon could advance the cause for criminal justice reform. Margulies reminds us that that the triggering event for the protest was an order by a federal judge that two ranchers serve a prison sentence mandated by federal statute that was far longer than the judge considered fair.
Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton discusses some of the changes 2015 saw with respect to reform of sex abuse statutes of limitations. Hamilton praises such progress as the sweeping inquiries undertaken by Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the release of the award-winning motion picture, Spotlight, which chronicles the Boston Globe journalists’ path to breaking the story of priest abuse in the Catholic church.
Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda argues for the use of cameras in the U.S. Supreme Court to improve transparency and access for greater numbers people.
Vikram David Amar, law professor and dean at Illinois Law, and Michael Schaps, a California civil litigation attorney, discuss Spokeo v. Robins, in which the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the nature of injury required for a plaintiff to avail herself of the federal court system. Specifically, Amar and Schaps describe the justices’ various perspectives on the issue and the possible origins and significance of these perspectives.
University of Illinois law professor and dean Vikram David Amar describes the problem of race-based peremptory challenges and argues that peremptory challenges be eliminated altogether on the grounds that we should not allow a person to be denied the right to serve on a jury for any reason that would not also suffice as a reason to deny that person the right to vote in an election.
Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda discusses instances of federal judges acting in manners inconsistent with their responsibilities.
Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses a proposal by Adam Benforado, author of Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Justice, that one way to improve the criminal justice system would be to conduct and record trials outside of the jury’s presence, then to show edited versions of the recordings to juries after all of the evidence has been presented. Colb explains how this proposal could potentially improve the system and addresses some potential obstacles to its implementation.
Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton comments on the latest revelations about Bill Cosby arising out of a deposition from a civil lawsuit from ten years ago. Hamilton explains why there are so many secrets about sexual assault, including short statutes of limitations and sealed admissions in civil cases, and calls for greater transparency and publicity.
Cornell University law professor Michael Dorf discusses the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Taylor v. Barkes, which illustrates the current breadth of the doctrine of qualified immunity.
In light of recent controversy in Indiana and Arkansas over RFRAs, Cornell University law professor Michael Dorf discusses the nuanced question whether courts should interpret a general RFRA to apply in private litigation if the statute is silent on the matter.
U.C. Davis law professor Vikram David Amar discusses the current controversy in Alabama over whether state court judges must issue same-sex marriage licenses pursuant to an order to a federal district judge sitting in that state.
Former counsel to the president John W. Dean reflects on a visit he had with the late California Justice Mildred Lillie, who, due to gender discrimination, was denied appointment on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Cornell University law professor Michael Dorf discusses a lawsuit filed in the U.S. Supreme Court by Nebraska and Oklahoma against Colorado, alleging that the latter state’s legalization of marijuana undermines their ability to maintain their own prohibitions of the substance.
Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton reviews 2014 in terms of the developments (both forward and backward) in child protection issues. Hamilton concludes that while there are some good reasons to celebrate 2014, we should not slow down the fight for child protection in 2015.