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.
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.
At the beginning of 2022, there were 196,714 affirmative asylum claims pending, and many applicants have waited in a state of legal limbo for over five years to receive a decision on their claim. To escape the indefinite queue, some have started bringing claims of unreasonable delay under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to federal courts. Because there are groups of asylum seekers who may be especially harmed by multiyear delays in adjudication, this Comment undertakes two separate but related tasks. First, it assesses whether the avenue for relief available to advocates and asylum seekers—federal court litigation—is actually viable for its purported ends. This Comment concludes that it is not. Second, it proposes a novel agency-side adjudicative mechanism, implemented through artificial intelligence technology, to more adequately provide reliable relief to especially vulnerable asylum seekers.
This Comment seeks to resolve an ongoing dispute among courts regarding the correct interpretation of “contrary to law” in 18 U.S.C. § 545, a statute that criminalizes the unlawful importation of goods. In particular, courts disagree about whether “contrary to law” includes administrative regulatory violations, which would massively expand the applicability of § 545’s severe criminal penalties.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has estimated that, by the end of June 2021, there were nearly 4.4 million pending asylum applications worldwide. Many asylum seekers suffer heinous abuses in both the countries from which they flee and the countries through which they travel to reach sanctuary.
The federal abstention doctrines govern the narrow circumstances under which a district court can decline to hear a case even though it has proper jurisdiction. One of those doctrines—Burford abstention—has generated a morass of confusion over when it applies and what goals it is meant to achieve. To find a way out of the morass, this Comment looks at contemporaneous developments in doctrines of federal court review—and at the procedural history of Burford itself—to pinpoint the precise problem that Burford abstention was created to solve.