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Full-Text Articles in Public Law and Legal Theory

The Consensus Myth In Criminal Justice Reform, Benjamin Levin Nov 2018

The Consensus Myth In Criminal Justice Reform, Benjamin Levin

Michigan Law Review

It has become popular to identify a “consensus” on criminal justice reform, but how deep is that consensus, actually? This Article argues that the purported consensus is much more limited than it initially appears. Despite shared reformist vocabulary, the consensus rests on distinct critiques that identify different flaws and justify distinct policy solutions. The underlying disagreements transcend traditional left/right political divides and speak to deeper disputes about the state and the role of criminal law in society.

The Article maps two prevailing, but fundamentally distinct, critiques of criminal law: (1) the quantitative approach (what I call the “over” frame ...


State Action And The Constitution's Middle Band, Louis Michael Seidman Oct 2018

State Action And The Constitution's Middle Band, Louis Michael Seidman

Michigan Law Review

On conventional accounts, the state action doctrine is dichotomous. When the government acts, constitutional limits take hold and the government action is invalid if those limits are exceeded. When the government fails to act, the state action doctrine leaves decisions to individuals, who are permitted to violate what would otherwise be constitutional constraints.

It turns out though that the modern state action doctrine creates three rather than two domains. There is indeed a private, inner band where there is thought to be insufficient government action to trigger constitutional constraints, but often there is also a public, outer band where there ...


Fourth Amendment Fairness, Richard M. Re Jun 2018

Fourth Amendment Fairness, Richard M. Re

Michigan Law Review

Fourth Amendment doctrine is attentive to a wide range of interests, including security, informational privacy, and dignity. How should courts reconcile these competing concerns when deciding which searches and seizures are “unreasonable”? Current doctrine typically answers this question by pointing to interest aggregation: the various interests at stake are added up, placed on figurative scales, and compared, with the goal of promoting overall social welfare. But interest aggregation is disconnected from many settled doctrinal rules and leads to results that are unfair for individuals. The main alternative is originalism; but historical sources themselves suggest that the Fourth Amendment calls for ...


The People Against The Constitution, Aziz Z. Huq Apr 2018

The People Against The Constitution, Aziz Z. Huq

Michigan Law Review

A review of Jan-Werner Müller, What Is Populism?.


Use Your Words: On The "Speech" In "Freedom Of Speech", Leslie Kendrick Mar 2018

Use Your Words: On The "Speech" In "Freedom Of Speech", Leslie Kendrick

Michigan Law Review

Freedom of speech occupies a special place in American society. But what counts as “speech” is a contentious issue. In countless cases, courts struggle to distinguish highly protected speech from easily regulated economic activity. Skeptics view this struggle as evidence that speech is, in fact, not distinguishable from other forms of activity.

This Article refutes that view. It argues that speech is indeed distinct from other forms of activity, and that even accounts that deny this distinction actually admit it. It then argues that the features that make speech distinctive as a phenomenon also make it distinctive as a normative ...


High-Stakes Interpretation, Ryan D. Doerfler Feb 2018

High-Stakes Interpretation, Ryan D. Doerfler

Michigan Law Review

Courts look at text differently in high-stakes cases. Statutory language that would otherwise be “unambiguous” suddenly becomes “less than clear.” This, in turn, frees up courts to sidestep constitutional conflicts, avoid dramatic policy changes, and, more generally, get around undesirable outcomes. The standard account of this behavior is that courts’ failure to recognize “clear” or “unambiguous” meanings in such cases is motivated or disingenuous, and, at best, justified on instrumentalist grounds.

This Article challenges that account. It argues instead that, as a purely epistemic matter, it is more difficult to “know” what a text means—and, hence, more difficult to ...