Category: General Law

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FAN 35.1 (First Amendment News) — Creative Freedom & the First Amendment

On Wednesday, October 22, Freedom House and the Motion Picture Association of America, in support of Free Speech Week, will host a discussion on Creative Freedom and the First Amendment. The event will be held in Washington, D.C.

image001Panelists

Using current on-screen examples, the discussion will focus on how movies and television shows in the United States are powerful instruments that inform and enlighten us, advancing debates on crucial social and cultural issues. The creative freedom the First Amendment protects is fundamental to the ability of storytellers to tell these stories through television and film in America.

 Free Speech Week is an annual, non-partisan national event celebrating the value of freedom of speech.

→ For more information about the Creative Freedom event, contact Ivory Zorich at ivory_zorich@mpaa.org

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FAN 35 (First Amendment News) Clear & Present Danger in the states — Holmes’s Legacy

Suppose that a code were made and expressed in language sanctioned by the assent of the courts.  – Oliver Wendell Holmes (1870)

Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes

46 States & 209 statutes 

Incredibly, commentators have long overlooked one of Holmes’s greatest contributions to American law, namely his contribution to state statutory law. Today, 46 states have codified, in one form or another, Holmes’s clear-and-present-danger formula for either civil or criminal liability. This codification, found in 209 state statutes, is not limited to criminal advocacy cases. State lawmakers have tapped Holmes’s famous formula for any variety of purposes, including but not limited to the following categories of regulation:

  • Parental rights
  • Food and drug safety
  • Witness protection
  • Bullying in schools
  • Gun safety
  • Therapist and counselor privilege
  • Building safety
  • Environmental reports
  • Banking law
  • Involuntary commitment
  • State-municipal loans
  • Treatment of the elderly

Because this body of statutory does not concern free speech cases involving criminal advocacy, Schenck and its progeny leading to and beyond Brandenburg v. Ohio need not govern the interpretative meaning of the clear-and-present-danger formula. In other words, state courts are largely free, consistent with other legal constraints, to give such statutes whatever interpretative gloss they wish.

Re Freedom of Expression

Of the 209 state laws that currently employ the clear-and-present-danger language, 40 have done so in matters relating to freedom of expression and/or assembly. Examples of such laws include the following:

  • Regulation of the content of student newspapers
  • Regulation of speech advocating the overthrow of the government
  • Regulation of speech related to the incitement of riots
  • Criminal contempt with respect to publication of court proceedings
  • Regulation of criminal syndicalism
  • Regulation of reading materials of the mentally ill
  • Regulation of free assembly
  • Regulation of expression in public places where alcohol is served
  • Regulation of prison inmate correspondence

422 State Court Opinions Read More

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More on Redistricting

Another way of looking at the Arizona State Legislature case is that the Constitution should be read to limit the freedom of states to take decisions that affect the structure or composition of the national government.  This rationale is advanced in some of the cases that discuss different uses of the word “legislature,” so let’s explore some examples.

1.  The ratification and proposal of constitutional amendments.  Article Five provides that Congress gets to decide how a constitutional amendment is ratified (either through state legislatures or conventions).  Article Five also specifies that only state legislatures may petition Congress for a second constitutional convention.  In neither instance may a state choose another method (say, by giving the Governor a role, using the initiative process, etc.)  Why?  I suppose because these are national (rather than local) decisions and thus the nation gets to choose the means.

2.  The election of Senators prior to the Sixteenth Amendment.  Only state legislatures could pick senators.  A state could not write its constitution to use another method.  Senators, of course, are national officials.

3.  The creation of new states from existing states.  Article Four says that this cannot be done without the consent of the relevant state legislatures.  Creating new states, of course, has a profound effect on the national government.

Why do I bring these up?  You could say that congressional redistricting is an example of a state action that directly affects the composition of Congress.  As a result, the Constitution’s statement that this “shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof” does limit a state’s ability to use some other method like an independent body.  On the other hand, Article One, Section expressly gives Congress the power to override a state decision of this sort.  As a result, you could say that if Congress does not prohibit what a state does in this regard then the Constitution should not be read to impose an independent barrier.  in other words, there is no “Dormant Elections Clause.”

Just food for thought.

 

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LIFE IS GRAND IN SAVANNAH!

Thanks to Sarah and the rest of the Concurring Opinion Crew for inviting me back. It’s been two years since my last run here and lot’s have changed here in Savannah.  This past month in Savannah we have seen the grand opening of our building — re-purposed from an early 19th Century hospital to a stunning Law Library.  To help us open the books on the new space, we invited several thoughtful and wonderful people to join us in thinking about how you reintegrate spaces, with a heavy emphasis on how race, space and place emerge in new environments.  Our key note Al Brophy,and other wonderful contributors, Anthony Baker, Steve Clowney, Lia Epperson, Liz Glazer, Jamilla Jefferson-Jones, Adam Kirk, Kali Murray, Connie Pikerston, Marc Poirier, Amanda Reid, Jeff Schmidt, and others.  It was a great time and a great environment.  (I plan to blog separately about the great panels that were presented and their dialogue that ensued).

On the heels of the colloquium, the New York Times this week published an article looking at what it calls Savannah’s other side — the Black side that is rarely acknowledged or confronted in a city that is “stuck in its on gauzy antebellum bubble.”

A visitor could easily spend a week sauntering along the city’s haunting boulevards and leave without a clue about the essential role Georgia’s oldest African-American community has played here….Blame the Low Country blackout, at least partly, on the fact that in the pageant of cities primping with New South sheen and aura, Savannah has perhaps made a less than eager contestant. The city is so proud of its Southern charms and traditions — Gothic Revival homes, high-on-the-hog soul food, Spanish moss canopies shading picturesque squares — that the mere suggestion of cultural evolution is enough to make an old-timer drop his mint julep. Perhaps Savannah’s legendary singer/songwriter Johnny Mercer said it best when he crooned: “I know I’m old fashioned/But I don’t mind it/That’s how I want to be/As long as you agree/To stay old fashioned with me.”

Boy is that true.  Living in the south again, (and starting a law school in the south) has been a reminder that race and poverty are quintessentially (though not uniquely) southern, along side college football, seersucker suits, and sweet tea.  Where some see spanish moss in charming trees, others see ghosts of past racial conflict..  A law school in the south (particularly a new law school) has a chance to tell a bit of the other side — to be a progressive space of thought and engagement. That’s why I came back to the South and why I call Savannah home.   Like most homes, we still have lots of work to do.

I’m looking forward to sharing more about Savannah, Property, Poverty, Law and Literature, Tenure, the Academy, and maybe a little College Football depending on how season goes (so far not so well — at least last week anyway).

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Upcoming Talk in DC

I’ll be giving a talk on John Bingham to The Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia on Tuesday, December 16th.  If you are interested in attending, here is the information.

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34.4 (First Amendment News) Freedom of Expression Scholars Conference — Call for Papers

abrams-logoThe Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression and the Information Society Project at Yale Law School invite applications for the third annual Freedom of Expression Scholars Conference.  The conference will be held on May 2-3, 2015, at Yale Law School.

 The conference brings scholars together to discuss their works-in-progress concerning freedom of speech, expression, press, association, petition, assembly, and related issues of knowledge and information policy.  The past two conferences were great successes, with many interesting conversations, dozens of papers presented, and upwards of 50 scholars attending. Diversity of views welcome.

The conference offers participants an opportunity to receive substantive feedback through group discussion. Unlike a traditional conference, authors do not give formal presentations of their work.   Rather, each accepted paper will be assigned a discussant, who will briefly introduce the paper, provide feedback to the author, and lead a discussion among participants.  This format permits substantive and lively discussion of ideas and writings that may be inchoate or not yet fully developed.

Because of the format of the conference, participants will be expected to read and be prepared to discuss at least one paper per session, and to attend the entire conference.  In the past, there have typically been eight sessions, running from Saturday morning through Sunday afternoon, with a welcome dinner on Friday evening for those already arrived in New Haven.

 Participation in the conference is by invitation only, but we welcome paper submissions–and applications to participate as a discussant–from a wide range of scholars.  Please feel free to share this call for submissions with any colleagues that may be interested.

Titles and abstracts of papers should be submitted electronically to jonathan.manes@yale.edu no later than February 20, 2015.

→ Those interested in participating as discussants or participants without submitting a paper should also contact jonathan.manes@yale.edu by February 20, 2015.

 Workshop versions of accepted papers will be due on April 3, 2014 so that they can be circulated to discussants and conference participants in advance.

The conference announcement is online here.  Information about prior conferences, including attendees and the titles of workshopped papers, is available here and here.  As before, we are expecting that scholars will ask their home institutions to cover travel expenses.

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Should More Land Use Professors Be Libertarians?: Part III (Final Post)

This is (hopefully) the last in a series of three posts. In the first, I asked why more land use professors are not libertarians, considering the strong leftist critique of local government. In the second, I suggested that one reason for the leftist commitment to local government (and specifically to local government land use control, albeit often in the guise of “regionalism”) is that the relevant libertarian alternatives – namely, the marketplace and the common law of nuisance – are far worse. Nevertheless, I conceded that this answer was unsatisfactory, considering that many leftists – myself included – betray a Tocquevillian optimism about local government that is difficult to square with the position that local governments are merely the least bad of all the alternatives. So I am left here, in this third post, with the hardest question: How can left-leaning local government scholars have any optimism about local government in light of the abusive local government practices we have witnessed (and documented)?

State Structuring of Local Governments

Alright, here goes… While there is no denying the manifold abuses of which local governments are guilty (see my initial post), the blame for these abuses really falls upon state governments, not local governments. The reason local governments act in the parochial fashion they do is because states have empowered and constrained local governments in such a way that effectively forces local governments to be parochial. In a variety of ways, states have facilitated and encouraged the proliferation of small local governments within metropolitan regions, each of which is thus coerced into a zero-sum competition with the others for scarce revenues. States have, at the same time, dumped all kinds of unfunded and underfunded mandates on local governments, which they must meet with whatever revenue they raise locally. Yet, there is one saving grace for local governments: states have given them an awesome power — the land use power. Is it any surprise that local governments use the biggest power states have given them to solve the biggest problem states have saddled them with –an ongoing obligation to provide costly services with limited funds? The local government abuses I mentioned in my initial post, including the “fiscalization” of land use, exclusion of undesirable land uses (and users), strategic annexation and incorporation efforts, and sprawl are thus not things local governments do because they are inherently corrupt; they do so because the state has structured local government law so as to make these abuses inevitable.   Read More

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34.3 (First Amendment News) Roberts Court 2014-2015 First Amendment docket — How it’s shaping up

Supreme-Court-Justices-2-570x349Earlier today the Court denied review in the following three First Amendment cases:

Review Pending

Review Granted

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Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Ind. Redistricting Comm’n

I was planning to write a post on how the Constitution uses the word “legislature,” but after reading Chief Justice Hughes’ opinion for the Court in Smiley v. Holm, 285 U.S. 355 (1932), I think that is unnecessary.  Hughes does a good job of laying out the arguments in the context of Article One, Section Four.  Let me summarize the case and then explain why Smiley‘s holding should be extended in Arizona State Legislature (the congressional redistricting case that the Supreme Court just decided to hear).

After the 1930 Census, the Minnesota Legislature passed a congressional redistricting plan that was vetoed by the Governor.  One branch of the legislature then passed a resolution ordering the Secretary of State to implement the plan in spite of the veto.  A suit was filed challenging this plan as unlawful, and the counterargument was that Article One, Section Four gave the Legislature exclusive authority over congressional districting.  The Supreme Court held that the Legislature’s position was without merit.  In part, this was because longstanding practice in the states was that governors could veto in congressional redistricting legislation.  The Court also said that there was “no suggestion in the federal constitutional provision of an attempt to endow the legislature of the state with power to enact laws in any manner other than that in which the constitution of the state has provided that laws shall be enacted.”

The Arizona case can be distinguished from Holm in two ways.  First, there is no longstanding practice for states to remove by constitutional amendment the power of the legislature to undertake congressional redistricting.  Second, one could say that the dictum just quoted assumes that the legislature will play a role in redistricting by referring to laws that are being enacted.  If the state constitution gives that power exclusively to a special commission, then law is not being enacted in the ordinary way.  On the other hand, the dictum can be read broadly to mean “whatever the State Constitution says on this question is consistent with the Federal Constitution.”  Here the Arizona Constitution is provided that no laws on congressional redistricting shall be enacted.  End of story.

Why do I think that the latter interpretation is better?  Mainly on structural grounds.  The remedy for partisan gerrymandering cannot be placed within the authority of the institution that does the gerrymandering.   In practice, there is no judicial review of partisan gerrymandering claims and Congress will not act.  Thus, the only plausible remedy is through an initiative or referendum in states that permit them.  There is the argument that a state can limit partisan gerrymandering in its constitution while still letting the legislature draw district lines.  Perhaps the Arizona referendum goes too far by cutting out the Legislature entirely.  The problem is that state constitutional provisions on partisan gerrymandering (such as in Florida) have not led to any meaningful relief, so I’m not sure this option is real.

This will be a fascinating case if the Court reaches the merits.  I must admit that my thoughts on this issue have changed as I’ve worked through the materials.  At first I was sure that the Arizona amendment was constitutional.  Now I have doubts, though I still think on balance that this amendment is constitutional.

 

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“If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.”

deathanddeclineAt high holiday services in my conservative Jewish synagogue, I reflected on the omnipresence of narratives of decline in my professional and religious life. Apparently, the approved sermon topic at many conservative pulpits this year was how to rescue the shrinking conservative movement.  The Pew Report’s stark figures on that decline, illustrated to the right, suggested the theme of the sermon (at least in my congregation): reaching out to new revenue sources applicants potential converts congregants.  As the rabbi stated, unless we find more congregants (and soon!) by opening the doors & working to engage new audiences, we will wither on the vine.

This sermon was explicitly delivered as a recruiting pitch, and I found it familiar.  Doesn’t the claim — “we’ve learned our lesson, we’re now going to innovate” — sound exactly like a thousand Law Dean speeches?   Here’s a summary of one, by an especially skillful and media-savvy Dean: Read More