Tag Archives: SCOTUS

How Un-rule-y is the First Amendment?

Cornell University law professor Michael Dorf considers an issue on which the U.S. Supreme Court recently heard oral argument: whether the First Amendment protects a government employee from adverse action based on the government’s mistaken belief that the employee was engaged in speech or association. Dorf highlights the nuances of the case and whether there is a meaningful difference between rule-guided conduct and reason-guided conduct.

The Bottoson Effect

Cornell University law professor Joseph Margulies discusses the problem of states executing death row inmates under laws subsequently found to be unconstitutional, as has happened in Texas and in Florida, and likely in many other cases. Margulies laments that the United States continues to experiment with capital punishment when experience demonstrates the procedures for imposing this irreversible sentence are rife with problems.

The Supreme Court Could Hear a Third License Plate Case

Cornell University law professor Michael Dorf comments on a case involving free speech on license plates that may reach the U.S. Supreme Court in the near future. As Dorf points out, if the Court agrees to hear the case, it will be the third major license plate case it has decided. Dorf argues that the appeals court in the present case most likely erred in failing to protect the plaintiff’s right against compelled speech, but a broadly written Supreme Court opinion reversing the lower court could potentially undermine anti-discrimination law.

How One Might Have Answered Justice Scalia’s Questions (About the Mismatch Theory) at Oral Argument in the Fisher Case

Vikram David Amar, law professor and dean at Illinois Law, and Michael Schaps, a California civil litigation attorney, discuss Justice Scalia’s provocative comments during last week’s oral argument in Fisher v. University of Texas. Amar and Schaps point out that viewed in the most charitable light, Justice Scalia’s comments are actually an attempt to articulate an academic theory—known as mismatch theory—not simply bare racism. Though the authors are not persuaded of mismatch theory, they critique Scalia’s assumption that truth of the theory would compel the abolition of affirmative action altogether.

Is the Texas Ten Percent Plan “Race Neutral”?

In light of the oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, Cornell University law professor Michael Dorf considers whether the school’s Ten Percent Plan is “race neutral.” Dorf distinguishes race consciousness from racial classifications, and he points out that Justice Kennedy—the Court’s usual swing vote on such issues—has historically found that distinction to be significant.

The Return of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC) before the Supreme Court: The Harris v. AIRC Case Argued Next Week

University of Illinois College of Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar discusses a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next week—Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. As Amar points out, that case lies at the intersection of many contentious aspects of 21st century American democracy, including dissatisfaction with elected officials, partisan zeal, racial equality, and federal–state relations.

Adjusting IQ Scores so More Minorities Are Eligible for the Death Penalty

Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses the claim that IQ scores of minorities should be upwardly adjusted for the purpose of eligibility for the death penalty. Drawing upon an article on the issue by Robert Sanger, Colb argues that even if the practice of adjusting IQ scores were scientifically supported (which it is not), doing so for death penalty purposes constitutes invidious race discrimination in violation of the federal Constitution.

When Does Congress’s Recognition of an Injury Count to the Supreme Court? Standing and the Spokeo v. Robins Case

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.

Dred Scott After Nearly Two Centuries

Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda the lead-up and history of the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous Dred Scott decision—in which the Court in 1857 held that African Americans could not be American citizens and therefore could not sue in federal court. Rotunda explains how the case progressed through the state and subsequently federal courts, and discusses how the decision affected some of the justices sitting on the Court at the time.

When One Door Opens, Another Closes: Parentage Law After Obergefell v. Hodges

Hofstra University law professor Joanna Grossman discusses the evolving landscape of parentage law after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. Grossman argues that while Obergefell has opened up some new paths to parentage for same-sex couples, it has also closed off others that had been created as workarounds in a restrictive marriage regime.

What City of Los Angeles v. Patel Might Tell Us About Abortion

Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in City of Los Angeles v. Patel, in which the Court held facially unconstitutional a statute requiring hotel operators to record, keep, and disclose upon demand by law enforcement certain information about their guests. Colb argues that the Court’s reliance on Planned Parenthood v. Casey to find the statute unconstitutional reinforces the link between substantive and procedural privacy.

What the Supreme Court Should Have Said in the Confederate Flag Texas License Plate Case

UC Davis law professor Vikram David Amar discusses the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc., in which the Court held that Texas could, consistent with the First Amendment, reject a specialty license plate design application due to its prominent use of the Confederate battle flag. Amar argues that the Court’s reasoning might lead to problems in future disputes and offers a different rationale for reaching the same result that would have avoided such problems.

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 Co... more

Neil H. Buchanan
Neil H. Buchanan

Neil H. Buchanan is an economist and legal scholar and a Professor of Law at The George Washington U... more

Sherry F. Colb
Sherry F. Colb

Sherry F. Colb is Professor of Law and Charles Evans Hughes Scholar at Cornell University. Colb tea... more

John Dean
John Dean

John Dean served as Counsel to the President of the United States from July 1970 to April 1973. Befo... more

Michael C. Dorf
Michael C. Dorf

Michael C. Dorf is the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell University Law School. He has w... 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 of L... more

Marci A. Hamilton
Marci A. Hamilton

Marci A. Hamilton is one of the country’s leading church-state scholars and the Fox Professor of Pra... more

David S. Kemp
David S. Kemp

David S. Kemp is an attorney and managing editor at Justia. He received his B.A. in Psychology from... more

Joseph Margulies
Joseph Margulies

Mr. Margulies is a Professor of Law and Government at Cornell University. He was Counsel of Record... more

Anita Ramasastry
Anita Ramasastry

Anita Ramasastry is the UW Law Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Washington School of... more

Ronald D. Rotunda
Ronald D. Rotunda

Ronald D. Rotunda is the Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence, at... more