Saturday, January 24, 2015

Law School Centers: The Good, the Not-So-Bad, and the Largely Unknown

I teach at a law school that does not have any centers. When I arrived, I noticed this and tried to change it. There is currently a large sign on my door that says “Future Home of the Wake Forest Constitutional Law Center.” Last spring, while I was out of the office one day, someone took a piece of paper, wrote the letters “U” and “N” on it in large type, and taped it in front of the word “Constitutional” on my sign. To be clear, I am not the director of any center. But someone out there thinks that the Wake Forest Unconstitutional Law Center exists, or at least thinks that it exists in my office.

Whenever I have visitors, they see my sign and invariably ask me about this non-existent entity. For example, last spring our dean’s office sent a prospective student to speak with me. The student told me that she was interested in election law and that she wanted to attend our law school to work with the Constitutional Law Center. I explained that this “center” was nothing more than a sign on my door. However, my honesty did not do much to sway the young woman, who later sent a thank-you letter to the dean, copying me, in which she explained how much she was looking forward to the opportunity of "participating in the life of the new Constitutional Law Center.”

That’s the power of ideas for you—or, at least, of signs.

So why do law school centers exist? Should law schools continue to have them? Do centers matter for purposes of ranking and perception? How are these centers run? Do the directors of the centers receive a reprieve from teaching? What is the budget of the typical center? And what do centers do for law schools that law schools cannot do all by themselves?

Continue reading "Law School Centers: The Good, the Not-So-Bad, and the Largely Unknown"

Posted by Eugene Mazo on January 24, 2015 at 05:24 PM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink | Comments (7)

Game theory post 4 of N: extensive form games, a deep dive

How about some Saturday game theory over brunch?

The one-round strategic form games of the previous post are the simplest possible presentation of some actual game theory. Now I want to put on my political scientist hat and dig into a slightly less simple, but much beloved, game.

We might call this the “punishment game.” It imagines a boss or a dictator or a parent giving commands to a subordinate or a subject or a child, where the boss prefers her commands be obeyed, and the subordinate prefers not to obey; if the subordinate defies the command, the boss has the power to inflict punishment at a personal cost. The following illustration (now with actual numbers, for clarity!) captures the situation, with the subordinate’s payoffs listed first; discussion is after the fold. (Sorry for the ugliness; remember how I said that I’m horrible at graphics?)

Punishment game0

Continue reading "Game theory post 4 of N: extensive form games, a deep dive"

Posted by Paul Gowder on January 24, 2015 at 01:41 PM in Games | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 23, 2015

JOTWELL: Leong on Rush on geographic diversity

The new Courts Law essay comes from Nancy Leong (Denver), reviewing Sharon E. Rush's Federalism, Diversity, Bias, and Article III (Missouri L. Rev.), which explores the role of geographic diversity in the federal judiciary.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 23, 2015 at 09:41 AM in Article Spotlight, Howard Wasserman | Permalink | Comments (0)

Game theory post 3 of N: some classic (one-shot, strategic form) games

There are a number of classic textbook games that are highly useful, primarily because if you know them well, you can often see real-world situations that have similar payoff structures; doing so, you have a pretty good initial guess at what will happen in those situations. Accordingly, I'll collect some here. (Behind the fold.)

Continue reading "Game theory post 3 of N: some classic (one-shot, strategic form) games"

Posted by Paul Gowder on January 23, 2015 at 08:55 AM in Games | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sutter Health vs. Blue Shield: War of the Gargantuas

When I think about calls for increased consumer activation in  health insurance selection, I think about how much I like the ideas of increased health insurance literacy, price transparency, and the promotion of competition in health care markets. 

But when I see consumers whipsawed as with the current War of the Gargantuas taking place in Northern California, I wonder if consumer activation alone will save us.

Continue reading "Sutter Health vs. Blue Shield: War of the Gargantuas"

Posted by Ann Marie Marciarille on January 22, 2015 at 06:39 PM in Blogging, Constitutional thoughts, Corporate, Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

When Agencies Don’t Appear on the SG’s Briefs

When the Solicitor General files briefs in the Supreme Court, the briefs always bear the names of other lawyers from the Department of Justice. In special cases, however, officials from other agencies sometimes sign on, too. For instance, in cases bearing on commerce, national security or foreign affairs, the SG’s briefs might respectively bear the names of officials from the Commerce Department, the Department of Defense or the State Department. The point of this unusual gesture, it seems, is to show the Court that other relevant agencies have been consulted for their expert views and are standing by the Department of Justice in what must be an important case.

But what if a case seems to involve issues pertinent to agencies besides the DOJ, and yet those other agencies don’t appear on the SG's brief? Does that surprising absence mean that officials from the other agency disagree with the position of the Solicitor General? Has there perhaps been an intense debate within the executive branch—an exchange of views wherein a purportedly expert agency has dissented from the litigation position ultimately taken by the United States? These kinds of thoughts can lead jurists to discount or even discredit the position that the Solicitor General has taken. The practice of including extra agency names on the SG's briefs is thus a two-edged sword--and one that seems to have been cutting the SG increasingly frequently in recent years.

Continue reading "When Agencies Don’t Appear on the SG’s Briefs"

Posted by Richard M. Re on January 22, 2015 at 11:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (13)

Game theory post #2 of ????: Basic Concepts

This is the second post in an indefinite series of game theory for law professors. In this one, I'll describe some basic concepts---the rudimentary language of game theory as a vocabulary list. This page, incidentally, has even simpler definitions of some of the concepts described here, as well as a few concrete examples.

Let us begin, however, by fixing an idea of our task in mind. We have at least two players (where a player can be any entity that makes choices and receives payoffs---depending on the level of analysis, this can be individuals, firms, governments, or a combination of them), each player can make moves, actions that, in conjunction with other players' moves, affect the state of the world (the outcomes experienced by that player as well as others), and each player has a utility function mapping probability-weighted states of the world to a preference ordering. And our goal is to say something intelligent about what the players have incentives to do---often, although not always, with the assumption that they are sufficiently rational that they will do what their incentives will point toward, but let us bracket that issue for the time being. That saying of something intelligent is also known as "solving" the game. Also, I only will be discussing non-cooperative game theory; there's a branch of game theory called cooperative game theory too, but I know it less well and never use it. (Those of you who study things like constitution-making and contracts might look into it though.)

Continue reading "Game theory post #2 of ????: Basic Concepts"

Posted by Paul Gowder on January 22, 2015 at 11:27 AM in Games | Permalink | Comments (6)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

MDL consolidation and appealability

SCOTUS on Wednesday decided Gelboim v. Bank of America, holding that a district court order dismissing the sole claim in a single-claim action, consolidated with other actions for pretrial proceedings in multidistrict litigation, was a final and appealable order, even if claims remained in other actions included in the MDL. I have an opinion analysis at SCOTUSBlog. And I am happy to say I called this one.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 21, 2015 at 04:25 PM in Civil Procedure, Howard Wasserman, Law and Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Leaker Whistleblower

Today, the Supreme Court in a 7-2 decision by Chief Justice Roberts affirmed a Federal Circuit decision that government whistleblowers are protected under the Federal Whistleblowe Act unless their disclosures are explicitly prohibited by another statute. Robert MacLean, an air marshal who flew undercover, leaked to MSNBC that the Transportation Security Administration decided to reduce overnight flights for air marshals. His report congressional criticism and led to TSA reversing itself on its budgetary cuts. The disclosure also led to the firing of MacLean disclosing "sensitive security information," which violated TSA rules. 

This is an important ruling for public accountability and disclosure. In my collaborative studies on whistleblowing, Yuval Feldman and I find that protections against anti-retaliation and firing can be more effective than monetary rewards for disclosure and that such protections are meaningful given the default silence of most employees (The Incentives Matrix: The Comparative Effectiveness of Reward, Liabilities, Duties and Protection for Reporting Illegality, Texas Law Review 2010). In another article, Citizenship, Organizational Citizenship, and the Laws of Overlapping Obligations. California Law Review, 2009, I describe the deep ambivalence of the law on the role of individual dissent in public and private organizations. I argued post-Garcetti that recent constitutional and private law cases have had the undesirable effect of denying protections to those most likely to identify and report corporate misconduct, especially in the public sector. The decision today is an important step in strengthening disclosure protections. As Neal Katyal, MacLean's lawyer, said during the oral arguments, the whistle-blower law was enacted to restrict government agencies, rather than empower them. Retroactively classifying a previously unclassified text message to fire a whistleblower is the kind of secrecy and agency empowerment we should worry about.

Posted by Orly Lobel on January 21, 2015 at 11:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Acoustic Separation and Immigration Reform

In Decisions Rules and Conduct Rules: Acoustic Separation in Criminal Law, Meir Dan-Cohen talked about the partial acoustic separation between criminal rules as understood by the public and criminal rules as understood by the courts imposing sanctions.  For example, we believe that in some cases, a person committing a crime under duress is not legally culpable - and her conduct may be excused.  But we don't want people running around factoring in this possibility of  legal excuse into their decisions at the moments they are actually under duress.  We want them to experience the full legal risk of their conduct at that moment so that we can conclude they really were acting under the most extreme pressure.  

I give this background only by way of explaining the concept.  My rumination today has a first cousin relationship to Dan-Cohen's framework.

I was struck by the decision of Republicans to take two approaches to immigration in their response to the President's State of the Union.  To English speakers, Joni Ernst made no mention of immigration at all.  That is the story the GOP wants to tell to its English language base.  But the party also needs support from the Spanish speaking community as well.  So to this pool of voters, Rep. Carlos Curbello stated in his Spanish language response,  "We should also work through the appropriate channels to create permanent solutions for our immigration system, to secure our borders, modernize legal immigration, and strengthen our economy."

I imagine that this separation will be reasonably effective - if, perhaps, not deeply consequential.  Acoustic separation is never complete, but most people don't dig that deeply into law or policy.  While the policy wonks who read Politico now know that the GOP has two slightly approaches to immigration reform - one being silence and the other marking immigration as a priority - most voters will not.  I'm not sure that Curbello's comments would have deeply alienated the GOP base - though I'm guessing that GOP speechwriters thought immigration wouldn't be a galvanizing issue for her English language listeners. Maybe they imagined it might even drive a few voters away.  (Indeed, the GOP later flipped on whether Curbello's statement was the Spanish language response - though that flip itself was presumably largely invisible.)

I know that candidates and parties commonly frame issues differently in media outlets targeted to divergent demographic groups.  Perhaps this was just a case of my own naïveté in thinking that was was such a thing as "the Republican response to the State of the Union".   In any case, it foreshadows and highlights a fundamental challenge for the GOP over the next two years. 

Posted by Dan Filler on January 21, 2015 at 11:34 AM in Current Affairs, Immigration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Experimental Game Theory Series #1 of ???

I'd like to try an experiment: methodological propaganda/skillsharing in a series of blog posts.  I had originally planned a fairly large number of these and essentially an internet course in basic game theory, but then the 20th of the month snuck up on me, and there's very little chance the whole thing gets out before my blogging residency (such as it is) runs out.  So let's get as far as we can, and see how people like these posts; if they prove popular, perhaps they can continue somewhere else.  (I'm also totally hijacking the "games" category" on the blog for this. Because, obvs.)

With no further ado: an introduction to game theory for lawyers/law professors, post 1 of N: why? 

Continue reading "Experimental Game Theory Series #1 of ???"

Posted by Paul Gowder on January 21, 2015 at 09:58 AM in Games | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Some thoughts on Holt v. Hobbs

Like Paul, I say "congrats" to Doug Laycock for the win in Hobbs.  And, while waiting for Paul's as-per-usual detailed and thoughtful take on the case, I gathered a few quick thoughts of my own:  

First, it seems to me that the opinion by Justice Alito is exceptionally well crafted.  It should win a Green Bag award or something.  It touches the necessary bases and stops.  The language is clear and functional.  (It reveals no idiosyncratic aversion to adverbs and includes no cringe-inducing attempts at grandeur.)  One knows, at every point in the analysis, where one is.

Second, Justice Alito confirmed (as he had in Hobby Lobby) that RLUIPA (and RFRA) should not be read narrowly so that it reaches no farther than did the more narrow of the Court's Free Exercise Clause decisions.  Here, he rejected the notion (which some earlier cases might have endorsed) that "the availability of alternative means of practicing religion is a relevant consideration" for purposes of deciding whether RLUIPA's protections are triggered.

Continue reading "Some thoughts on Holt v. Hobbs"

Posted by Rick Garnett on January 20, 2015 at 01:14 PM in Constitutional thoughts, Religion, Rick Garnett | Permalink | Comments (0)

Decision in Holt v. Hobbs

The result in this RLUIPA case was unsurprising: The petitioner won unanimously.  Justice Alito wrote (again) for the Court, in an opinion holding that "The Department [of Prisons]’s grooming policy violates RLUIPA insofar as it prevents petitioner from growing a 1⁄2-inch beard in accordance with his religious beliefs." Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor filed short concurrences, solo in Sotomayor's case. The opinions are here. Mazel tov to Professor Doug Laycock, who argued on behalf of petitioner Gregory Holt in the Supreme Court. 

Posted by Paul Horwitz on January 20, 2015 at 10:47 AM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink | Comments (1)

Henry Manne, R.I.P.

Henry Manne passed away over the weekend.  Thoughts and condolences to Geoff and the rest of his family.  I expect you will be hearing much more about Manne's contributions to law, law & economics, the market for corporate control, insider trading, and legal education.  We here at SLU Law, where he began his academic career, are happy to claim some small association with his legacy.  Here's an intellectual history by Manne discussing the law & economics movement and his transformational role as dean of GMU Law. 

Posted by Matt Bodie on January 20, 2015 at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Joachim Prinz, American Jews, and the Civil Rights Movement

This article is a few years old, but I came across it, appropriately, on MLK Day. It is about Joachim Prinz, the most prominent Jewish leader in the Civil Rights Movement and the only Jewish leader to speak at the March on Washington (he spoke just before King). I was personally interested in the story because Prinz performed my Bar Mitzvah in 1981 at B'nai Abraham in Livingston, N.J., where he was Rabbi Emeritus. As students at the Hebrew School, we sort of knew about his involvement with King. But my friends and I were more interested in being outside playing baseball.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 20, 2015 at 09:52 AM in Culture, Howard Wasserman, Law and Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Sleeper Case of the Supreme Court's October 2014 Term?

Over at SCOTUSblog, Will Baude has posted a helpful (and helpfully concise) preview of the oral argument that will take place before the Supreme Court later this morning in Armstrong v. Exceptional Child Center, a case I've blogged about before (and in which I've filed an amicus brief on behalf of former HHS officials and in support of the Respondents--the Medicaid providers). Rather than rehashing the arguments made by the parties or amici (or my prior posts), I wanted to use this post to make a different claim. Specifically, as I aim to demonstrate below the fold, in a Supreme Court Term the headlines from which will almost certainly be dominated by some combination of same-sex marriage, ACA subsidies, and passports for Jerusalem-born U.S. citizens, Armstrong could well be the biggest sleeper--the case that flies under the radar of all but the most ardent Court-watchers (or federal courts nerds), but produces the most significant long-term consequences for the American legal system. 

Continue reading "The Sleeper Case of the Supreme Court's October 2014 Term?"

Posted by Steve Vladeck on January 20, 2015 at 05:41 AM in Steve Vladeck | Permalink | Comments (8)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Thurgood Marshall and the limits of the judicial role

Mike Dorf poses an interesting question: Why is Thurgood Marshall never in the conversation about civil rights icon--it is only MLK, with Macolm X as the only possible alternative. Mike offers three reasons, which all seem plausible.

I want to consider a fourth option--the limits of the judicial role. Marshall spent the last thirty years of his career on the bench (with a two-year break as SG, an unusual government-attorney position that is part advocate, part court advisor, part administrative official). As such, he was less of an "advocate" for civil rights than King was or than Marshall had been earlier in his career. While he was a great liberal voice from the Court, he was no longer an advocate. And he was deciding not only civil rights cases, but cases on many other subjects--some of which were at least indirectly about civil rights and racial equality (criminal procedure), others having nothing to do with them (for example, he wrote Shaffer v. Heitner). And even in that role, Marshall was hampered by the fact that by 1971 and certainly by about 1981, he was no longer regularly in the majority on many of these issues; he was a strong voice in dissent, but he, unfortunately, was not directly shaping the law.

Finally, consider Richard Posner's suggestion that Marshall's great strength was as a trial lawyer, not as an appellate judge/justice or as SG. In other, Marshall spent the last half of a sixty-year career playing to less than his stengths, thus weakening his influence. Perhaps had Marshall remained in a different role--while continuing to have the same success in that role (and admittedly huge if)--he might have been in an even-more exalted space in the civil rights pantheon.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 19, 2015 at 12:29 PM in Howard Wasserman, Law and Politics | Permalink | Comments (3)

Bedside Collections Visits in the Emergency Room

Should acute care hospitals be prohibited from attempting to collect health insurance co-pays and other forms of co-insurance bedside in the emergency room?  

There isn't actually that much to garner a laugh in Steven Brill's new book America's Bitter Pill, but his description of how medical debt collector Accretive Health sells its services to its acute care hospital customers brought a smile to my lips. First, this was because the "Accretive Secret Sauce" is bedside Emergency Room collection and second, because Steven Brill had apparently never heard of this practice until researching this book.

Just where has he been making visits to the ER with his children? It is reported that at least half of acute care hospitals nationwide have been charging upfront ER fees.  We are on the cusp of an era of changing constraints on hospital debt collection practices, including a change to the rules about bedside debt collection in the Emergency Room.  Most of the new rules focus on those who likely would ultimately be eligible for free or reduced care and how they are to treated pending that determination. But what about the Bruce Folkens of the world-- the ones who most likely will not be eligible for free or reduced fee care? Will upfront fees in the ER remain the rule for them? 

Continue reading "Bedside Collections Visits in the Emergency Room"

Posted by Ann Marie Marciarille on January 19, 2015 at 12:09 AM in Blogging, Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Justice Rehnquist, Religious Freedom, and the Constitution

I've posted on SSRN a paper of mine called "Chief Justice Rehnquist, Religious Freedom, and the Constitution."  I wrote it a few years ago, but it's now going to be published in a forthcoming West Academic Press volume called The Constitutional Legacy of William H. Rehnquist.  And, I'll be presenting a version of it in a few weeks at a conference ("The Rehnquist Court:  Ten Years Later") at the University of Arizona dedicated to the work and memory of the late Chief.  Here's the abstract:

It might not have been foreseen that William Rehnquist would have a marked influence on the Supreme Court’s interpretation, construction, and application of the First Amendment’s Religion Clauses. And yet, he certainly did. Kent Greenawalt wrote that Rehnquist – or, more precisely, the “Rehnquist Court” – “turned the constitutional law of religion upside down.” “[W]e have moved,” he reported, “from expansive readings of both of the religion clauses to narrow readings of the Free Exercise Clause and of very important aspects of the Establishment Clause.” It is suggested in this paper that in facilitating and guiding the “move[s]” identified by Greenawalt, Rehnquist for the most part “turned the constitutional law of religion” right-side up, rather than “upside down.” He left the Court’s Religion Clauses doctrine better than it was before, that is, better rooted in the Constitution’s text, history, structure, and values than it was when he joined the Court. In any event, that the “move[s]” happened, and that they happened in no small part because of him, seems beyond dispute.

Rehnquist was able, for the most part, to exercise both judicial humility in the face of politically accountable actors’ attempts to deal with debatable questions of policy and morality – including most of the questions that arise in free-exercise and non-establishment cases – and careful review of measures and actions that might compromise the structural integrity of our Constitution. This paper’s appreciative review of his contributions to the Court’s Religion Clauses doctrine will, it is hoped, serve as a reminder that cases involving tension or collision between political and religious authority implicate the “first principles” of our constitutional experiment no less than those involving federal interference with the states’ appropriate functions or regulatory overreach by Congress.

Posted by Rick Garnett on January 18, 2015 at 05:12 PM in Constitutional thoughts, Rick Garnett | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sponsored posts, explained

You may have noticed a recent "sponsored post" on our feed, and there were some questions from our valued readers about it. We're happy to provide some information.

We were pleased to reach a sponsorship agreement with West in spring 2014. Occasional sponsored posts, written by prominent law professors, are part of that new relationship, and have appeared intermittently since last spring.

We welcome West on Prawfsblawg. But we should make clear that West provides the content of those posts. They do not necessarily represent the views of the other writers on Prawfsblawg, although their subject matter is consistent with this blog's conversation about law schools and legal education.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any of the permabloggers via email.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 18, 2015 at 02:31 PM in Blogging, Howard Wasserman | Permalink

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Little Legal Academy and the Big Idea Book

Why does law insist on remaining an article field? In law schools, many professors never aspire to write books. Perhaps worse, many don’t have a book idea in them. In my view, our lack of emphasis on books—and especially on "big idea" books—is detrimental. When legal scholars get together, their conversations seldom concern big idea books. There are too many articles, opinions, and statutes to discern. Law review articles are the coin of the realm, and, as a result, we face a dearth of big idea books—by which I mean books that try to capture or espouse a grand theory or strategy of life. Without big idea books, we are left with far fewer big ideas.

In other fields, big idea books proliferate. Take foreign affairs, where such books are a fixture. Indeed, they are the only game in town.  From Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations, to Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History, to Joseph Nye’s Soft Power, to Henry Kissinger's many home runs, ideas are backed by books. And big ideas by big idea books. Every foreign policy thinker whose ideas have withstood the test of time has written a big idea book. In the think tank world, such books are also ubiquitous. Think of Robert Kagan’s Of Paradise and Power, In many other fields, they similarly abound. Consider Stephen Hawkings’s A Brief History of Time in physics, James Waston’s The Double Helix in biology and genetics, and the many such books in economics. Thomas Piketty’s Capital is a recent example.

I’m not claiming that we don’t have best-selling authors in the legal academy. We do. And I’m not claiming that we don’t have books. That would be silly. Obviously, we have plenty of both. I’m not even claiming that we don’t have big idea books. Rather, what I’m arguing is that we don’t have enough of them. And that we don’t place enough emphasis on them, either. A law professor friend told me recently that he had no time for such books. They took too long to write, did not fit his research needs, and were not available (wait for it ... wait for it) on Hein-on-Line.

Continue reading "The Little Legal Academy and the Big Idea Book"

Posted by Eugene Mazo on January 17, 2015 at 06:03 PM in Books | Permalink | Comments (11)

An Interesting Quote from the Supreme Court of Canada on Religious Institutionalism and Pluralism

The Supreme Court of Canada yesterday issued its opinion in Mounted Police Association of Ontario v. Canada. The subject is freedom of association in the context of collective bargaining. But there is a paragraph in the judgment that speaks to the kinds of issues that I, and a number of my colleagues in the law and religion field, have been interested in over the last few years and that has been relevant in cases like Hosanna-Tabor. In particular, it's relevant to the interest of many people in the field in questions of religious institutionalism; it's also relevant to the interest of some of us, like me and like John Inazu (whose book is cited in the opinion!), Abner Greene, Perry Dane, and others, in the current state of religious and other forms of pluralism.

As a matter of interest, I note that sentence of the quote beginning "The Court has also found..." is consistent with arguments, by people like Micah Schwartzman and Rich Schragger, that any kind of institutional or corporate religious rights are at bottom derived from individual rights, not from some kind of inherent valuing of the "entity" itself. On the other hand, that sentence that follows that one is pretty rich--for a judicial opinion, at least--in finding a more structural appreciation for and protection of institutional life. It asserts, quoting an earlier opinion, that "the autonomous existence of religious communities is indispensable for pluralism in a democratic society and is thus an issue at the very heart of the protection of freedom of religion." [Internal quotations and citation omitted.] 

Here it is:

[64] First, the Charter  does not exclude collective rights.  While it generally speaks of individuals as rights holders, its s. 2  guarantees extend to groups.  The right of peaceful assembly is, by definition, a group activity incapable of individual performance.  Freedom of expression protects both listeners and speakers:  R. v. National Post, 2010 SCC 16, [2010] 1 S.C.R. 477, at para. 28.  The right to vote is meaningless in the absence of a social context in which voting can advance self-government:  Sauvé v. Canada (Chief Electoral Officer), 2002 SCC 68, [2002] 3 S.C.R. 519, at para. 31.  The Court has also found that freedom of religion is not merely a right to hold religious opinions but also an individual right to establish communities of faith (see Alberta v. Hutterian Brethren of Wilson Colony, 2009 SCC 37, [2009] 2 S.C.R. 567).  And while this Court has not dealt with the issue, there is support for the view that “the autonomous existence of religious communities is indispensable for pluralism in a democratic society and is thus an issue at the very heart of the protection” of freedom of religion (Hutterian Brethren, at para. 131,per Abella J., dissenting, citing Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia v. Moldova, No. 45701/99, ECHR 2001-XII (First Section), at para. 118).  See also Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese v. Milivojevich, 426 U.S. 696 (1976).

Posted by Paul Horwitz on January 17, 2015 at 12:55 PM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 16, 2015

SCOTUS Repeaters

Few cases ever reach the Supreme Court, but some get there twice. Recent examples include Bond v. United States (decided 2011 & 2014) and Zivotofsky v. Clinton/Kerry (2012 & pending). The Court may soon add another example: Horne v. Department of Agriculture, decided the first go-round in 2012.

What to make of these “SCOTUS repeaters”? It’s hard to draw strong conclusions from this unusual if regular phenomenon, but a few interesting possibilities present themselves.

Continue reading "SCOTUS Repeaters"

Posted by Richard M. Re on January 16, 2015 at 02:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (16)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fair Grading in a World of Curves? Concepts and an Algorithm...

One of the First World Problems of the prawfessoriat is that law school courses tend have mandatory curves, but, of course, student performance never exactly matches those curves, and so some tweaking is required.  In pursuit of improving my code-writing skills (that is, teaching myself up from barely literate to rudimentary), I've been planning to write a script that can take raw scores in numerical form and spit them back out a form fit to (any) curve in a fair fashion.  But, of course, what counts as "fair" is open to question, so I'd love to solicit your feedback on the algorithm below, and the underlying concepts, before I try to implement it in code form.  Is this fair, do you think? Are there ways to make it more fair? I'm sure there's literature on this subject, but I don't know it---do any readers?  
 
Wonky stuff below the fold: 

Continue reading "Fair Grading in a World of Curves? Concepts and an Algorithm..."

Posted by Paul Gowder on January 15, 2015 at 12:45 PM in Life of Law Schools, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (20)

Addressing Psychological Distress with Your Students

The following post is from Andrew McClurg (Memphis) and is sponsored by West Academic.

My students appear to be happy and content.  When I arrive at class, they’re chattering and laughing.  Same thing when I see them in the halls or student lounge.  On Facebook, they show that, despite the workload, law students find plenty of time to socialize.

But a less cheerful picture lurks beneath the surface, as I learned researching 1L of a Ride: A Well-Traveled Professor’s Roadmap to Success in the First Year of Law School (West Academic Publishing, 2d ed., 2013). A surprisingly large body of research shows that many law students suffer from psychological dysfunction, including depression and anxiety.  Here are some of the findings:

Continue reading "Addressing Psychological Distress with Your Students"

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 15, 2015 at 09:31 AM in Sponsored Announcements | Permalink | Comments (4)

A Further Typology of Draft Readers

I enjoyed Eugene Mazo's post below on different kinds of readers of colleagues' manuscript drafts. In the comments, I added one more category of reader/commenter: "The Bikini, whose advice is always: 'This is really two pieces.'"

That was a joke, but not a joke. Notwithstanding that comment's light tone, there certainly are people who give the "it's really two papers" advice all the time. But just because some readers tend to give the same particular advice or ask the same questions repeatedly and thus fairly predictably, that doesn't mean the advice is not valuable. Provided you give your draft to a range of readers with a range of hobby-horses, it's useful to hear even from readers with marked tendencies to ask the same questions of each paper, because as predictable as that reader's conclusions might be as a general rule, sometimes (ie., almost always) authors don't see their own piece clearly. Moreover, you might be the exception that proves the rule, and that's good to know. When someone who sees almost every piece as a bikini-in-waiting agrees that your paper is a genuine one-piece outfit, you know you're safe on that score. 

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Posted by Paul Horwitz on January 15, 2015 at 09:21 AM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink | Comments (4)

Chasing the Dragon in the Shadow of the OX

The numbers are in and it is official: deaths from heroin overdoses in much of the United States have doubled in the past two years. Whether the heroin was injected or smoked ("chasing the dragon"), there is some evidence that, in many places, heroin has increased in both availability and purity in the same time period.

How to explain this?

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Posted by Ann Marie Marciarille on January 15, 2015 at 12:30 AM in Culture, Current Affairs, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)