The treaty process specified in Article II of the Constitution has been dying a slow death for decades, replaced by various forms of “executive agreements.” What is only beginning to be appreciated is the extent to which both treaties and executive agreements are increasingly being overshadowed by another form of international cooperation: nonbinding international agreements. Not only have nonbinding agreements become more prevalent, but many of the most consequential (and often controversial) U.S. international agreements in recent years have been concluded in whole or in significant part as nonbinding agreements. Despite their prevalence and importance, nonbinding agreements have not traditionally been subject to any of the domestic statutory or regulatory requirements that apply to binding agreements. As a result, they have not been centrally monitored or collected within the executive branch, and they have not been systematically reported to Congress or disclosed to the public. Recent legislation addresses this transparency gap to a degree, but substantial gaps remain. This Article focuses on the two most significant forms of nonbinding agreements between U.S. government representatives and their foreign counterparts: (1) joint statements and communiques; and (2) formal nonbinding agreements. After describing these categories and the history of nonbinding agreements and their domestic legal basis, the Article presents the first empirical study of U.S. nonbinding agreements, drawing on two new databases that together include more than three thousand of these agreements. Based on this study, and on a comparative assessment of the practices and reform discussions taking place in other countries, the Article considers the case for additional legal reforms.
Scholars have long demonstrated that cities are constrained by states and the federal government in the exercise of their power. While important, the emphasis on these “vertical” constraints on cities does not account for the “horizontal” constraints on city power from private actors. This Article suggests that the emphasis on vertical constraints on city power is due to a misunderstanding of the history of local government law that describes its sole function as the vertical distribution of power between cities and different levels of government. I revise the history of Dillon’s Rule, the doctrinal cornerstone of local government law’s vertical distribution of power, by arguing that local government law also distributes public and private power, between private capital and cities. Correcting the historical misunderstanding helps to show how private power still shackles cities in their efforts to address important challenges.
The test for qualified immunity states that officers are immune from liability in the absence of clearly established law that previously condemned their conduct, but the Supreme Court has not defined exactly what “clearly established law” means. In a set of conflicting cases, the Court has both repudiated the consideration of departmental policies as clearly established law and, subsequently, cited departmental policies as evidence of clearly established law. As a result of this ambiguity, lower courts have been inconsistent—even within circuits—about whether departmental policies count as clearly established law. This Comment addresses this gap in the doctrine by proposing a solution that ameliorates the legal fiction at the heart of the clearly-established-law inquiry. Using Hope v. Pelzer’s obviousness exception to the clearly-established-law requirement, this Comment proposes incorporating departmental policies into the qualified immunity doctrine as an objective measure for determining when an officer’s rights violation was obvious.
This Comment argues that one-time land-use decisions should not be categorically excluded from disparate impact liability under the FHA for three reasons. First, one-time employment decisions may serve as the basis for disparate impact liability under two analogous civil rights statutes—Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act—indicating that the same is true for one-time land-use decisions under the FHA. Second, the distinction between a policy and a one-time decision is untenable and provides little guidance for courts. Third, seminal appellate court cases which first established disparate impact liability under the FHA involved one-time land-use decisions, indicating that such decisions constitute the heartland of disparate impact theory. The Comment concludes by providing further clarity about which particular one-time land-use decisions should enable litigants to establish successful disparate impact claims.
Using Amarin Pharma, Inc. v. Hikma Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. as a jumping off point, this Comment is the first piece of legal scholarship to examine whether, and under what circumstances, health insurers can induce infringement of a method patent by providing preferential coverage of a skinny label generic when it is distributed for a patented drug indication. An evaluation of this question requires examining the standard of causation in induced infringement cases, a subject that has received startlingly little judicial or scholarly inquiry. This Comment argues that the Delaware district court’s decision in Amarin was based on an improper theory of causation that assumed insurance companies have a duty to prevent infringement. It then establishes that the proper counterfactual baseline for evaluating inducement claims against insurers reveals that insurance companies are rarely the but-for cause of infringement in the skinny label context. Ultimately, the Comment demonstrates that adopting a loss of chance theory of the injury in future cases would force courts to conduct often-ignored causation analysis and ensure that a finding of inducement corresponds with a proportionate damages award.
What role will the Fourth Amendment play in a world without police? As academics, activists, and lawmakers explore alternatives to traditional law enforcement, it bears asking whether the amendment primarily tasked with regulating police investigations would also regulate postpolice public safety agencies. Surprisingly, the answer is often no. Courts are reluctant to recognize protections from government searches or seizures outside criminal investigations, and they are even more reluctant to require probable cause or a warrant for such conduct. Thus, by removing most public safety functions outside the criminal sphere, abolitionists also move intrusive government conduct outside these traditional strictures and guardrails. This Article provides the first sustained evaluation of the Fourth Amendment’s limited role in a postpolice world and examines the implications of this reality.
Regulatory trading systems, such as the SO2 cap-and-trade system, are ubiquitous in environmental and natural resources law. In addition to cap-and-trade systems for pollutants such as SO2, NOx, and CO2, environmental and natural resources law uses trading in areas such as endangered species, water quality, wetlands, vehicle mileage, and forestry and farming practices. Trading, however, is rarely used as a regulatory approach in other areas of law. This Article seeks to identify the reasons for this dichotomy. To understand the dichotomy, the Article examines the uses of trading in environmental and natural resources law, where it has been successful, and where problems have arisen, including hot spots problems, environmental justice problems, measurement problems, and moral problems with the use of markets. It then considers the possibility of trading in six nonenvironmental areas of law to see whether trading can be helpful, and if not, why not.
This Comment argues that Justice Gorsuch’s opinion is not merely relevant for the scope of Title VII but also has ramifications for the scope of § 1985(3) because it gives rise to three key propositions: (1) federal law now condemns anti-LGBT discrimination, affording special protections to LGBT folks; (2) discrimination against LGBT folks necessarily constitutes discrimination on the basis of sex; and (3) legislative history should only be used if the relevant statute is genuinely ambiguous. Justice Gorsuch has thus provided LGBT plaintiffs with a master key, suggesting arguments tailored to each circuit’s position on sex-based discrimination, such that any circuit should permit LGBT folks to use § 1985(3) in the wake of Bostock.
In recent years, uptier transactions have emerged as a novel way for distressed companies to restructure their debt obligations, resulting in unforeseen and inequitable outcomes for investors in corporate debt. Uptier transactions depend on provisions in credit agreements that permit debtholders with a majority stake in a class of debt to make decisions on behalf of all debtholders. Distressed companies take advantage of these provisions by colluding with a majority of debtholders to shift economic value from the remaining debtholders to themselves. As this Comment demonstrates, these transactions are likely to be value destructive and present an issue for capital markets. Unfortunately, the contractual solutions available to debtholders to prevent uptier transactions either are insufficient or impose substantial costs on parties.
This Comment addresses how courts should decide whether non-verbal conduct is “speech” within the meaning of the First Amendment. In Spence v. Washington, the Supreme Court devised a two-part test for determining whether non-verbal conduct is expressive, which has subsequently become known as the “Spence test.” In its subsequent cases, however, the Court has made clear that the category of “expressive conduct” includes a wider variety of non-verbal behaviors than a literal reading of the Spence test would suggest. Drawing on the work of twentieth-century philosopher Paul Grice, this Comment proposes a two-part test that captures the expressive character of this wider variety of behaviors, and demonstrates how lower courts might employ the test either as a replacement for, or as a supplement to, the Spence test.