Monday, January 16, 2017

AALS as Trade Association vs. Learned Society, and Whether or How it Matters

This is my last post, God willing, on the AALS annual meeting. In my first post, I argued, in a nutshell, that the AALS is the American legal academy's learned society; that this is a reason to welcome and defend it against its harsher critics; that the AALS or individual executives, treating the organization more as a kind of trade association than a learned society, "have sometimes been too willing to cast themselves in the role of defenders of and advocates for law schools and legal education, rather than academicizing these questions and treating them as subjects for dispassionate and disinterested study"; and that this reflected itself this year in the annual meeting theme, "Why Law Matters," which a) assumed the answer to a genuine question and b) focused in substantial part not on why law matters, but on why American legal education and law schools matter. I did my best to display some sympathy and understanding and to recognize some of the organizational dynamics that push it in this direction, but I was still critical. 

In response, a couple of posters here and elsewhere, and one commenter on my post, pushed back on the assumption that the AALS is a learned society rather than a trade association. Mark Tushnet wrote at Balkinization that unlike most academic learned societies, the AALS is organized by law schools rather than by law professors, and said that "[t]he AALS's structure means that it almost necessarily must be something like a trade association for law schools--perhaps with something like a learned society attached to it once a year." "There is in fact," he said strikingly, "no 'learned society' for legal academics." Given that, Tushnet argued, "it's actually something of an achievement that the AALS's annual program has become as intellectually substantial as it is now." Here at Prawfsblawg, Dan Rodriguez offers a short post worth reading in its entirety. Here's a substantial chunk of the post:

[The AALS] is an association of law schools, not an association of law professors. Always has been. Perhaps there is an important place in the academy for an organization of law professors (other academic professions have such associations), but that is not the mandate, the purpose, or the function of the AALS....Prof. Mark Tushnet got us nicely riled up many years ago when he set out as the theme of his presidency, the idea of the AALS as a learned society. Whatever power this had as a normative prescription, and as an exhortation to improve the academic programming of the annual meeting and other AALS conferences, it created a trap to which Paul and other distinguished law profs have fallen into, which is seeing the AALS as an entity whose primary purpose is providing professional development opportunities and good intellectual content for a hungry professoriat. Worthy endeavors indeed (hence the great suggestions for improving the meeting), but AALS functions principally, and by design, to reflect and represent the interests of member law schools....While the AALS surely ought to focus a good part of its attention and resources on providing meaningful opportunities for law professors to engage, to exchange scholarly and pedagogical ideas,...we do our member law schools a disservice to evade and avoid squarely acknowledging its function as a trade association and an interest group.

Dan and Mark, for those of you who may not know, are both past presidents of the AALS, as well as individuals I know and admire. I have not researched the range of disciplinary associations of whatever kind, and am happy to defer to their description. I did note in my original post that "ours is a learned society related to a regulated profession, and thus faces some distinct issues, as opposed to the questions that face, say, a learned society of historians or literature professors"; if that's not a recognition that the AALS is formally a "trade association" rather than a learned society, it's at least an acknowledgment that there are reasons why it might lean in that direction. (In that sense, it's relevant that Mark points out that when he looked into it during his presidency, "the only other profession that had only an association of schools and not an association of professors was dentistry"--another regulated profession. Without my having canvassed the issue fully, note similarly the existence and function of the Association of American Medical Colleges.) So, okay, let's concede, at least arguendo, that the AALS is a trade association, albeit one that also holds an annual meeting that looks a lot like those of other academic disciplines--with more content on legal education itself, perhaps, but also with substantive programs on particular legal subjects. What then? Does it affect my criticisms, and if so how? 

As usual, my friend Orin Kerr asks the questions I would ask, and more economically, in his comments on Dan's post. One might put it simply and sympathetically by noting that, even if (as Dan argues in the comments to his post) there is no "tension" between its functions, they may make for odd bedfellows. One wouldn't expect a trade association based on the membership of individual existing law schools to argue in its official capacity, say, that some 20 or more of them ought to shut down. (I'm not averse to this argument, but neither is it an article of faith for me.) But one might expect an individual legal academic--and most key AALS officers are legal academics--to argue just that upon academic reflection. One wouldn't expect the AALS to argue that law doesn't matter, or matter much; or that whether it matters or not has little to do with whether law schools matter; or that law schools' academic function ought to be such as to exclude various measures--proliferating LL.M. programs, various one-year "certificates" that coincidentally and happily provide much-needed income, and so on--that might be crucial to some schools' survival or well-being. But an individual legal academic might conclude just that. "Tension?" Maybe not, as long as individual speakers are free to press that point at the annual meeting and in the Journal of Legal Education, as they are. (A nice test case might be a proposed "Hot Topic" program like "First, Let's Kill All the Law Schools" or "Law School Monopolies, Public Choice, and the Economic Incentives for Law School 'Innovation.'") "Odd bedfellows?" I don't think that's an especially harsh or implausible description.  

Then there is the question of the fact of the annual meeting. Again, I'm a defender of the annual meeting, and, like Dan and Mark, I think it's better than its most convinced critics argue, although obviously it's imperfect (what isn't?) and I suggested some reforms. But we might well ask why, if the AALS is a trade association first and foremost, and one organized around law schools rather than individual law professors, it exists at all. We might treat it as lagniappe. There's a flavor of this in Dan and Mark's posts. They write, respectively, that "what is more surprising to me is that the AALS has maintained such strong attendance and loyalty, warts and all," and that "it's actually something of an achievement that the AALS's annual program has become as intellectually substantial as it is now." Both of them have pushed to make the annual meeting better, however, and I don't think either of them think the reaction of law professors to the notion that an annual meeting is kind of a bonus should be gratitude and silence.

But another way to read the fact of the annual meeting is that the AALS is, functionally if not formally, at least in part a learned society, and that it wants to be and/or holds itself out to be one. The by-laws and membership structure may cut against that, or against viewing it only as a learned society. But law professors have, for lo these past hundred years (or several hundred), often argued that form can be less important than function, that organizations evolve within or despite their formal structures, that we should not elevate process over substance, and so on. So maybe the "trade association" answer is not complete. And that point is enhanced when we reflect that even if the annual meeting itself includes many programs on legal education, the AALS also holds subject-specific midyear meetings, and that many of its annual distinguished speakers end up speaking about law, or legal academic work, not just about law schools and their welfare. 

Again, I'm happy to concede that the AALS is at least a trade association, although possibly not only one, or that is a trade association "with a difference." Both Mark and Dan, as I understand them, don't rest absolutely on this point. That is, they still think the annual meeting is important and don't think it should be immune from criticism and reform, including suggestions about how to make the annual meeting itself more academically useful, just because it could dispense with an annual meeting (or midyear meetings) altogether, or limit it to a meeting of law school administrators, or what have you. And it is at least possible that we might think of the AALS in the end as being neither fish nor fowl. The question then would be whether we think of it as being free to be imperfect at both functions, or demand that be excellent at both, or suggest that it divest itself of its "learned society"-type functions, or something else.   

I come out somewhere like the following. 1) Okay, it's a trade association. 2) For many intents and purposes, the presence of things like the annual and midyear meetings suggest that it is also, in function and in the understanding of most law professors if not in form, a learned society. As Dan notes, if there has been confusion on the part of law professors about this, it's a more-than-natural confusion. But I think it's more than just confusion; it is now part of the identity of the AALS, membership structure notwithstanding. 3) Insofar as it is a trade association, I have much less (or no) cause to complain when the AALS or its executives speak up in the interest of legal education and law schools themselves. 4) Insofar as it also conducts meetings that conform more closely to the learned society model, it should at least give thought to making sure that its annual themes and programs are fairly academic in nature, broadly understood (I see nothing wrong with programs on teaching better, for instance). The AALS might need to lobby others, but it doesn't need to lobby or convince individual law professors attending the annual meeting. I don't want to attach more importance to it than is warranted, but I still take the general view that "Why Law Matters" is an imperfect theme from that perspective, especially when married to arguments that law mattering is the same as something like current legal education or law schools mattering. In dealing with others, it may take a more emphatic position (which, as it comes from a trade association, individual law professors may critique or take with a grain of salt; the conclusions of individual law professors need not conform to the interests of individual law schools, or existing legal education as a whole). At the annual meeting, it should be very catholic and open-minded about such questions. 5) Law professors are free to push for at least some aspects of the AALS to conform more closely to the model of a learned society. Doing so may create, or enhance, tensions between those different functions that might not otherwise exist. So be it.

Even at this length, this post is just a starting point on this issue, which clearly requires more introspection and discussion from law professors themselves, myself included. Mark and Dan have given us a lot to think about.      

Posted by Paul Horwitz on January 16, 2017 at 10:39 AM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sponsore Post: West Study Aids

The following post is by Anna Lawless-Collins, Associate Director for Systems and Collection Services at Boston University Law School, and is sponsored by West Academic.

The Fineman and Pappas Law Libraries at Boston University added the West Academic Study Aids Subscription in April 2016, just in time to help with end-of-year exams, and it was an immediate hit with our students. We went on a marketing blitz (aided by materials sent by West Academic) and set out table tents, posted flyers, added slides to the law school's slide show, blogged about it, and handed out materials at the circulation desk. We even wore buttons encouraging students to ask us about using the materials. Students told our library director, Ron Wheeler, that they find the online versions infinitely better than the print reserve materials - not least because they can use them anytime and anywhere. They don't have to worry about other students returning the materials late or the print versions going missing.

Continue reading "Sponsore Post: West Study Aids"

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 16, 2017 at 09:31 AM in Howard Wasserman, Sponsored Announcements, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 13, 2017

Procedure returns to SCOTUS docket

SCOTUS granted cert in sixteen new cases today. Several involve procedure/fed courts issues, including:

• The scope of general personal jurisdiction over a U.S.-based company in a state.

• In what court a fired federal employee can challenge rejection of the Merit Systems Protection Board decision, when the Board concludes that it lacks jurisdiction over a "mixed case" involving both a firing and a violation of federal employment-discrimination law.

• Whether intervenors in federal court must establish Article III standing or whether it is enough that the original parties have standing. (This issue has been around for awhile and came up back during the marriage-equality litigation).

Looks like I will have some stuff to write about late in the Term.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 13, 2017 at 05:15 PM in Civil Procedure, Howard Wasserman, Law and Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

The revolution in law practice was much like this profession's revolution

Ann Marie Marciarille had a very good recent post (here) about Brad Smith's talk at the AALS annual meeting. Smith noted that dentistry lacks diversity nearly as much as law does and off handedly said, "Why, I have no idea." Professor Marciarille used that remark to reflect on a common tendency we have to be, as she said, "uncurious" about things that may be just outside our own world. She then elaborated on some of the causes of dentistry's lack of diversity.

In that same vein, I have been struck by the similarities between the revolutions in the practice of dentistry and the practice of law. The parallels are vivid.

Continue reading "The revolution in law practice was much like this profession's revolution"

Posted by Eric Chiappinelli on January 13, 2017 at 01:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Blue Inhaler

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I carry an albuterol inhaler as my  quick relief medication for asthma. I use it infrequently, which is good news for me and good news for my asthma. Known in many other countries as the blue inhaler or the blue puffer, albuterol/salbutemol is a tremendously popular and effective relief inhaler.  First brought to market in the 1980's, sales of the blue inhaler have grown as have rates of asthma diagnosis.  

Traveling recently in the E.U., my albuterol inhaler stopped working short of its full number of available measured doses. And so I was off to my neighborhood pharmacy in  Ponta Delgada, hoping that a licensed pharmacist might be able to prescribe inhaled albuterol over the counter and spare me the quest for the Centro de Saude on New Year's Day.  Frequent travelers are no doubt aware that certain prescription only medications in the United States may be sold over the counter in other countries or dispensed at the discretion of a licensed pharmacist, even in the absence of a prescription, in still  other countries.

Continue reading "The Blue Inhaler"

Posted by Ann Marie Marciarille on January 13, 2017 at 11:00 AM in Current Affairs, International Law, Law and Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Last of its kind?

DOJ has entered into a consent decree with the Baltimore Police Department in a § 14141 action. As with many of the consent decrees we have seen from the Obama DOJ, it requires extensive changes to department policies and practices with respect to use of force, community engagement, and respect for the rights of people to speak and protest in public and to observe and record police activity. It also requires development of new practices with respect to transporting persons in custody and dealing with people with behavioral disabilities.

The question is whether this is the last such consent decree we see for awhile. Jeff Sessions does not appear to see systemic unconstitutionality in state and local police departments, nor does he appear to believe that the federal government and federal courts should oversee the operations of local agencies. It is unlikely that whoever Bush Trump appoints to head the Civil Rights Division will take a much different view of the matter. Extensive use of consent decrees through § 14141 is not in the Republican playbook--the Bush DOJ brought few civil actions and entered few consent decrees, preferring to engage in informal negotiations and letters of agreement, a less-adversarial/more-cooperative approach that does not necessarily produce as comprehensive reforms.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 13, 2017 at 12:28 AM in Civil Procedure, Constitutional thoughts, First Amendment, Howard Wasserman | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Can President Trump fire the DOJ inspector general without waiting thirty days after giving Congress a reason?

According to the Washington Post, Michael Horowitz, DOJ inspector general, has just announced that he will be conducting a "wide-ranging" investigation inyo "broad allegations of misconduct involving the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email practices and the bureau’s controversial decision shortly before the election to announce the probe had resumed."

Time, of course, is running out for such an inspection to be completed before Trump becomes President. But federal law seems to give Horowitz a little extra time to investigate even after Trump assumes office. Under the Inspector General Act of 1978, President Trump must "communicate in writing the reasons for any such removal or transfer to both Houses of Congress, not later than 30 days before the removal or transfer." In theory, therefore, Horowitz has thirty days to investigate, using the substantial powers of his office, after Trump gives his reasons for removing Horowitz. (If President Obama's reason-giving under the IG Act is any precedent, those reasons need not be very detailed: When Obama fired Gerald Walpin, the IG for the Corporation for National and Community Service, Obama simply stated to Congress that he "lacked the fullest confidence" in Walpin). Although those reason-giving requirements seem pretty toothless, the 30-day warning seems to be a hard and fast statutory requirement, meaning that Horowitz gets his month to raise hell.

But is this 30-day advance warning consistent with the President's Article II powers to execute the laws? The OLC offered an opinion back in 1977 that the 30-day limit on the President's removal power was unconstitutional, and I am not sure that OLC was mistaken. In 2008, the House tried to protect the IGs' independence with even greater insulation from presidential control with H.R. 928, a bill that would have required good cause for IGs' removal, but the Senate deleted such insulation from the bill after the OMB argued that the for-cause provision would unconstitutionally intrude on presidential authority.

Given mushy precedents like Morrison v. Olson, the 30-day requirement might be constitutional even if a full-blown for-cause limit would violate Article II. But, looking at the big picture and putting petty doctrinal considerations aside, we can say one thing for sure:

The 30-day limit makes for great constitutional law final exam question.

Posted by Rick Hills on January 12, 2017 at 02:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Third Annual Civil Procedure Workshop

The following is posted on behalf of Brooke Coleman (Seattle), David Marcus (Arizona), and Elizabeth Porter (Washington).

We are excited to announce the third annual Civil Procedure Workshop, to be co-hosted by the University of Arizona Rogers College of Law, the University of Washington School of Law, and Seattle University School of Law. The CPW will be held at the University of Arizona in Tucson on November 3-4, 2017.

Continue reading "Third Annual Civil Procedure Workshop"

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 12, 2017 at 01:36 PM in Civil Procedure, Howard Wasserman | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Jokes About Dentists

Having just returned from AALS, I have been thinking about all I saw and heard at the conference. I attended some outstanding panels and talks but it is Brad Smith's Plenary Program talk on Preparing a Diverse Profession to Serve a Diverse World that I can't get out of my head. Actually, Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft Corporation, did not really speak on his assigned topic. His talk, though interesting, was really about how disruptive technologies have changed the world and will continue to change the world.  (If his remarks in the panel discussion following his formal  remarks were more focused on the announced topic, I cannot say as I regret I had to leave the Plenary Program just after the conclusion of his formal remarks.)

Brad Smith did briefly discuss the lack of diversity in the legal profession -- noting that law is the least diverse profession, followed only by dentistry.  This last observation about the lack of diversity in the dental profession,  earned Mr. Smith his biggest laugh of the speech when he added "why, I have no idea."

Of course, it was funny in an offhand way. But it was also a marker of how uncurious we can all be about things, how uncurious we can all choose to be, and how even those of us who pride ourselves on promoting innovation can think in remarkably static ways.

That roughly three and a half percent of all American  dentists are African American  can tell us some things about the legacy of exclusion on the basis of race from dental education and the dental profession in the United States.   That African American dentists overwhelmingly serve the African American community (with a reported 62 percent same race patient panel) can also tell us some things about patterns of dental practice.

A story could also be told about how dentistry's move from an apprenticed trade to a profession arguably made the dental profession less diverse. The rise of the university-affiliated licensed dental school in the late nineteen century (first at the University of Maryland) made the roughly 120 apprentice-trained African American dentists anachronisms. Only slowly did African American enrollment in these new style dental schools grow.

Dentistry, for some time, has been a contracting profession. For a considerable period of time, few new dental schools opened and a number of dental schools closed.  The profession contracted but not uniformly as African Americans disproportionately disappeared from dental schools and from the ranks of practicing dentists.

Of course, many factors are at play. Dentistry has grayed during this period. Dental education is now overwhelmingly debt financed making the path more challenging for those who will not move into a family-owned or associated practice.  Dental services are often uninsured in the United States and more often paid out of pocket. Even Americans with the best known "dental insurance" plans often have a form of coverage that might more accurately be described as pre-paid dental for prophylactic care or limited "dental coverage" for actual low risk, high cost dental events. In short, it is not an easy time to launch a dental practice. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the demand for dental services will continue to substantially outstrip supply.  As most dental students form the intention to enter dental school through exposure to family members and friends in the field, we should all give a thought to how technology and innovation might play a role in opening the world of possibility for a more diverse dental profession.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Ann Marie Marciarille on January 11, 2017 at 11:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

AALS Addendum I: More On "Taking Attendance"

I'm grateful to those who read and commented on my series of posts on the AALS annual meeting, especially but not limited to Mark Tushnet and Dan Rodriguez, who are both past presidents of the AALS. I hope the posts afforded some food for thought, and a little amusement, for those attending the meeting. Let me say again that the three of us have something important in common: We are all inclined to be supporters, not detractors, of the AALS and its annual meeting. As I wrote in my first post, my series of suggestions was intended neither to praise nor to bury the AALS. On the whole, I find the annual meeting useful, and better than its more fervent critics are wont to suggest. No institution or annual gathering is perfect or exempt from criticism. But I am and hope to remain involved in the AALS, both at the section level and in the central organization itself, and I would rather be a part of it, while sometimes waxing critical or pushing reforms, than deride it altogether, boycott it, or give up on the idea of a central organization and gathering for legal academics. On the other hand, I'm always much more interested in criticizing the things I like or am sympathetic to than the things or people I completely disagree with or disdain. Let me also repeat what I said often during the series: my proposals were in the nature of "modest proposals," with at least something of a Swiftian touch. I understood at the outset that it's highly unlikely that the AALS will take attendance at meetings and send that information to deans, or honor overexposed speakers with a gold watch and a five-year ban on speaking. The extreme nature of the proposals served to place the issues they were raising in high relief and provoke discussion. As it turned out, and I suspect this is often the case with semi-Swiftian satirists, and with all authors who make proposals, by the end I was more attached to the proposals themselves than might have been my original intention, and I am now inclined to think it's actually not a bad idea at all to take attendance or come up with draconian rules to deal with extreme "usual suspects" at the AALS annual meeting. Still, I expected readers to take the particulars of those proposals with a large grain of salt and focus on the issues themselves, even if I am now inclined to take the proposals more seriously than I initially intended.  

I was grateful to those readers who pushed back on the "take attendance" proposal, which was meant to deal with "lobby-sitters" and "dinner-with-friends" attendees of the meeting, who rarely darken the door of actual program meetings. The upshot of the pushback was that meeting people outside the meeting rooms is a valuable form of professional networking and should not be knocked too readily or loosely. On the whole, I am happy to agree. One might view differently those social gatherings that have more to do with catching up and hanging out with friends per se, and less or little to do with catching up on each other's work. Setting that aside, I'm quite willing to agree that there is value in professional networking--and in some or many cases, it's not just value to oneself or one's personal advancement, crudely defined, but value to the legal academy, insofar as it involves learning about others' work, exposing others to one's own work, learning about what's taking place at other schools, and so on. But I would like to emphasize in response that my question was not whether this kind of networking is worthwhile--it is--but whether and to what extent it's worth subsidizing. (Remember that some of that subsidy comes from, inter alia, student tuitions and the state fisc.) More particularly, the question was whether it's worth subsidizing all that a trip to the AALS entails, including the registration fee for the meeting itself, the extra fee for the annual luncheon (the one program that those who don't attend many programs are most likely to attend), the travel and accommodation costs, and so on, in cases where the person seeking the subsidy doesn't show up for many or any of the actual meeting events. At the best of times, financially speaking, I would find that a dubious proposition--and these are not the best of times. Defending professional networking is easy. Defending asking your law school to pay a registration fee in order to obtain a conference rate at the hotel and a conference nametag (to facilitate identification for networking purposes), but without actually attending the conference proceedings, seems to me much harder. To me, at least, that holds true even if the programs ought to be better. 

Whether the AALS takes attendance at individual programs and sends those data to law school deans or not, I think we can usefully ask what those professors who value professional networking but don't intend to attend many or any actual conference proceedings might do instead of seeking reimbursement for the whole conference package when they are only going to take advantage of part of that package--namely, the "lobby" or hallway and the chance to chat with old and new colleagues. Three possibilities spring to mind. One is that the professor simply pay his or her own way. As long as a law school reasonably expects that this person is actually going to attend conference proceedings and is offering to subsidize him or her on that understanding, this seems like the right thing to do. The second is that the professor "go to the conference" but not register for it, and thus limit him- or herself to networking in the lobby or elsewhere, without access to the nametag, the programs (which he or she didn't plan to attend much if at all anyway) and luncheon, the booths downstairs, or the conference rate at the hotel. (Of course, that person could always stay at cheaper accommodations in the city and then commute to the conference hotel.) If his or her law school were willing to subsidize that, on the view that there is sufficient value in networking itself (or because it believes the professor's use of his or her PDF is discretionary as long as it is related to academic purposes), at least it would save the school the cost of the registration fee itself. Finally, if the professor really wanted the conference rate and the nametag but had no intention of attending any conference programs, he or she could tell the dean clearly and in advance that he or she planned to seek reimbursement for the conference fee, hotel costs, and the rest of it, but without attending any programs. I would be curious to find out what would happen in such cases! But surely there is nothing wrong with being transparent about one's intentions with respect to using institutional funds--and conversely, there is arguably something wrong with not doing so precisely because one wants to "attend" the conference without attending any of the programs and fears that such a request would not be approved if it were made transparently.

Again, none of this is meant to disparage professional networking. (Although some dinners with friends are just dinners with friends.) The question is what law schools ought to pay for, and whether it's fairer, and would conduce to better decision-making and resource allocation by law schools, to know what they are paying for. (And, as I said in the first place, professors could always Skype with each other, or email, or do other things. No, it's not as good. But it's a hell of a lot cheaper. And, of course, there are conferences within one's specific field as well.) 

In back of this proposal, to be sure, is a general premise: I value the annual meeting as such, including the program meetings. Professional advancement is nice, and need not be viewed in purely mercenary terms. But the AALS is an annual meeting for professional education, including exposure to ideas and speakers outside of one's usual area of focus, not just for professional advancement. I think such a conference is or ought to be a valuable thing for committed members of an academic field. My views above would hold even if that weren't my background premise. But since it is, my "attendance" proposal is not only about encouraging candor, transparency to funders and stakeholders like law students and state legislators, and better resource allocation by law schools; it's also about making the AALS annual meeting itself better, by encouraging registrants to actually attend the programs--and, where subsidy is dependent on their doing so, incentivizing them to get involved in the sections or communicate with the AALS in order to make the program meetings better. 

Whether this second point holds might seem to have something to do with whether the AALS is actually a learned society or not, or whether it's something else. That's the point on which Mark and Dan offer some interesting and useful points, and I'll take it up in my next post.             

Posted by Paul Horwitz on January 11, 2017 at 09:45 AM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink | Comments (0)

Goodyear v. Haeger oral argument

I have a piece on SCOTUSBlog covering Tuesday's argument in Goodyear Tire & Rubber v. Haeger.

Here, I want to highlight (as I do in the SCOTUSBlog piece) the analogy offered by Haeger's counsel between litigation and a train. He explains that most sanctionable conduct merely delays the train or causes a detour, although the train still arrives at the intended station. Here, the “train jumped track and it went in an entirely wrong direction.”

But does a train continue moving in any direction, right or wrong, once it jumps the tracks? Isn't it more like the beginning of The Fugitive?

 

 

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 11, 2017 at 07:50 AM in Civil Procedure, Howard Wasserman, Law and Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District: How vague statutory terms can lead to class bias in special education

Tomorrow SCOTUS will hear arguments in Endrew F v Douglas County on whether disabled students’ entitlement to a “free appropriate public education” (“FAPE”) under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (“IDEA”) entitles them to more than a non-trivial educational benefit. Both the statutory language (“appropriate public education”) and Board of Education v. Rowley (the governing precedent, calling for a plan “reasonably calculated to provide educational benefit”) are opaque. The indeterminacy of precedent and text leave an opening for the federalism canon of Pennhurst to resolve the case in favor of the school district.

Federalism, however, serves a purpose here deeper than acting as a tie-breaking canon. Pennhurst gives to elected school district leaders some power to temper the middle-class bias inherent in special education. By contrast, the mushy statutory standard of “substantial” educational benefits sought by the petitioners opens up a quagmire of litigation that only the middle class will be able to traverse. By defining "FAPE" to mean "substantially equal educational opportunity," the petitioner invite litigation over an unworkably vague standard. Inviting litigation, however, can only exacerbate the class bias of a statutory scheme already notorious for favoring wealthier and litigation-savvy parents through its litigation-oriented focus.

Continue reading "Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District: How vague statutory terms can lead to class bias in special education"

Posted by Rick Hills on January 10, 2017 at 02:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

The AALS is a Trade Association. There, I said it.

Paul Horwitz has a series of very thoughtful posts, each raising some important issues about the AALS and constructive suggestions for reforming the annual meeting.  There are some great ideas in here and as someone who has been (1) very involved in the work of the ass'n over many years, and (2) styles himself as a reformer of sorts (if only a "moderate" one), I find these criticisms and recommendations highly valuable, and some spot on.  Let's make the annual meeting great (again? once and for all?)

But let me tackle here an issue that undergirds at least a couple of these posts, as well as other AALS conversations in the past, and that is what exactly the association is.

It is an association of law schools, not an association of law professors.  Always has been.  Perhaps there is an important place in the academy for an organization of law professors (other academic professions have such associations), but that is not the mandate, the purpose, or the function of the AALS.  (No need to take my word for it; you can get the skinny from the charter up on the AALS website).  Prof. Mark Tushnet got us nicely riled up many years ago when he set out as the theme of his presidency, the idea of the AALS as a learned society.  Whatever power this had as a normative prescription, and as an exhortation to improve the academic programming of the annual meeting and other AALS conferences, it created a trap to which Paul and other distinguished law profs have fallen into, which is seeing the AALS as an entity whose primary purpose is providing professional development opportunities and good intellectual content for a hungry professoriat.  Worthy endeavors indeed (hence the great suggestions for improving the meeting), but AALS functions principally, and by design, to reflect and represent the interests of member law schools.  To be sure, it needs to be ever careful about ensuring that it effectively represents the interests of a very diverse group and, moreover, that its governance structures and institutions provide for adequate input so as to make it more likely that this trade association is advocating for causes and issues that are in the collective interest (as democratically determined) of its member law schools.  That all said, it ought not to shy away from its fundamental mission of advancing the interests of its member law schools.  (Where, of course, there are collective interests to be advanced and where the AALS has a comparative advantage in responsibly advancing them).

While the AALS surely ought to focus a good part of its attention and resources on providing meaningful opportunities for law professors to engage, to exchange scholarly and pedagogical ideas, and to develop mechanisms for improving the welfare of faculty members -- and in that sense Tushnet, Horwitz, et al, are quite right to push it hard to improve the meetings and meeting content -- we do our member law schools a disservice to evade and avoid squarely acknowledging its function as a trade association and an interest group.  The real question to me is how to develop a strategy so that, in its functioning on behalf of law schools, it is rigorously professional, data-driven, articulate, and not manifestly self-serving.  Therein lies the challenge; and a challenge built into the very purpose of the association.

Posted by Dan Rodriguez on January 10, 2017 at 01:02 PM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink | Comments (12)

Silence in the classroom

As we all start spring classes, I want to share an observation about the value of silence in the classroom. I am interactive with my students, even in my large class (Business Entities). One of the most fruitful questions I ask myself as I do my class prep is, "What questions would make a bright student who has done the reading think a bit before replying?" Those questions add particular value to the class experience because they're not something the students will get just by a careful reading of the assignment. They actually have to go to class to get that value. In turn, I feel an obligation to make the class time valuable to the students by asking questions that do more than reinforce a basic understanding of the reading.

But a necessary consequence of asking questions of that kind is that students pause before replying. Frequently they start a sentence then stop. All of that involves what can seem like considerable silence in the classroom. While the students are wrestling with a question, they are also dealing with the dynamic of silence.

Continue reading "Silence in the classroom"

Posted by Eric Chiappinelli on January 10, 2017 at 10:43 AM in Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 09, 2017

AALS Annual Meeting Reform Proposals, Part IV: Visit the (Remainder of the) United States of America

This is the last of my posts on the AALS annual meeting, post-dating the meeting itself. Mercifully, it's also the shortest. My last, and probably most logistically difficult reform suggestion, is to rethink locations.

I know there is a history here, and also that the AALS needs to lock in its commitments years in advance. But I suspect I'm not the only one who is tired of shuttling between New York (great city, expensive, tiny overpriced rooms), DC (good city, lots of friends in town, expensive, unattractive hotel, exhaustion occasioned by too many trips to the Lebanese Taverna), and San Francisco (wicked expensive). It's a big country and, even keeping in mind all the needs that have to be balanced, surely there are other possibilities. I think it's time for other cities: Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, Philly, Tampa, Birmingham, Charlotte, Salt Lake City, Memphis, Nashville, Pittsburgh....Some are expensive but many on this list are both accessible and much cheaper than the Big Three that the AALS has relied on for several years. (The last non-big three locale I remember was New Orleans; I'm not sure when that was, but a few years at least.) The AALS annual meeting is already something of a bubble, but there's something to be said for moving that bubble outside the usual bubbles of NY, SF, and DC. It is possible that some attendees might prefer to visit, say New York, than Pittsburgh, or San Francisco to Salt Lake City. But since the programs (or lobby, if you prefer) would be the same, I can't imagine why.

I'll round things out with a further comment about the "take attendance" post, and a post about AALS as learned society vs. trade association, although both will have to wait a bit. 

Posted by Paul Horwitz on January 9, 2017 at 06:57 PM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink | Comments (3)

Shorter White v. Pauly

Unless an officer walks up to an unarmed man and shoots him in the head while shouting that he knows the victim was not a threat, stop denying police officers summary judgment in excessive force cases.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 9, 2017 at 04:19 PM in Civil Procedure, Constitutional thoughts, Howard Wasserman, Law and Politics | Permalink | Comments (17)

Dialysis Care's Tangled Web

Thank you to PrawfsBlawg for the opportunity to guest blog this month. 

Christmas Day was the perfect day for the New York Times to publish its article on interesting goings on at The American Kidney Fund, one of the largest charities in the United States. Why? Well, Christmas Day is usually a slow news day and even trying to understand how dialysis care is funded for Americans is a slow read. It may be that all health insurance topics that span government-funded insurance as well as commercial insurance in the U.S. are a slow read. This is because our health insurance systems are complex but also because our health insurance systems are under-discussed.

Here, I am aiming for the fast read on the issues underlying  reports of recently issued subpoenas from the Justice Department to our two largest dialysis chains, Fresenius and DaVita. 

Renal failure patients have been  a special disease group under Medicare since 1972, when Congress extended Medicare coverage  to people of any age with kidney failure. The "kidney entitlement" (as it is sometimes known)  is distinctive in this regard. The story of the movement of dialysis from experimental to medical treatment, the rise of the dialysis industry,  and the sympathetic face of end stage renal failure patients all played a role in the dance of this legislation.  Indeed, a dialysis machine was reportedly brought to a Congressional hearing, though the account that a patient was actually dialyzed before members of Congress may be the stuff of urban legend. The early 1970's was also a time of  hope for comprehensive national health care reform, with the kidney entitlement seen by some as a stop-gap measure, not as an exercise in exceptionalism.   For all these reasons -- and more -- we saw the development of the extension of Medicare  coverage for dialysis to a disease group that included many who would formerly have been outside of the Medicare tent.

Continue reading "Dialysis Care's Tangled Web"

Posted by Ann Marie Marciarille on January 9, 2017 at 11:16 AM in Current Affairs, Law and Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Less Hollow Hope on the defensive side

Judicial appointments always seem to be less of a high agenda item for Democrats than for Republicans. At the voting level, polls show that voters who identified the composition of SCOTUS and the federal courts as the most or a very important issue broke strongly for Trump.*

[*] On an AALS panel about the presidential transition, Steven Calabresi argued that this means Trump's promises about judicial appointments, especially to SCOTUS, are the equivalent of Bush I's "read my lips," to which Republican voters will hold him. If Calabresi is right, this will affect the result of any systematic Democratic efforts to oppose any Trump nominee.

At the presidential level, Reagan appointed 50 more judges in his eight years than Obama did in his, and Obama leaves office with about twice as many judicial vacancies (more than 100) than Bush II left in 2009. (So however Obama transformed the federal judiciary likely will be undone by Trump, who has a significant number of lower-court vacancies to fill immediately, along with the Scalia seat). Although Obama nominated and praised Merrick Garland and did speak about the waiting nomination, he did not do it so loudly or so often to keep the issue from largely disappearing from the news. I do not know if more political heat would have changed anything--if Republican voters genuinely care more about the courts than Democratic voters, there was no constituency to force Republican hands on this.*

[*] Which may offer another reason that Democratic attempts to hold the Scalia seat open indefinitely will fail--the Republican voters outraged at the obstruction will be louder and more numerous than were the Democratic voters outraged over Garland.

Some of Obama's less-than-complete success is due to Republican obstruction and that the Republican-controlled Senate has confirmed virtually no nominees during the past two years. But Obama had six years of a Democratic Senate, the last two of those without a filibuster on lower-court nominees (although still blue slips), which might have allowed him to push through a bigger flood of lower-court judges into those vacancies, had he been so inclined. (And this is without getting into judicial ideology, where Obama's (and Bill Clinton's) nominees never appear to be as liberal as Bush's (and likely Trump's) have been conservative).

Continue reading "Less Hollow Hope on the defensive side"

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 9, 2017 at 09:31 AM in Civil Procedure, Constitutional thoughts, Howard Wasserman, Law and Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 08, 2017

One more round with Heather Gerken: Why federalism can still promote pluralism in our polarized times

Heather Gerken has written a typically smart and pithy response to my response to her response to my argument that federalism makes a great insurance policy against political defeat at the national level. I argued that, by limiting national power with formal rules, the Constitution can reassure Red and Blue voters that the other side will not impose their policies nationally. This allows Blue and Red states to go their separate ways on issues where disagreement is intractable.

Heather responds that federalism cannot promote pluralism in hyper-polarized times, because hyper-polarized politicians and/or voters just cannot stomach the idea of their opponents' imposing their views even subnationally. According to Heather,"[i]f you really think that what the other side is doing is monstrous, you aren’t going to allow for an exception to the national norm – which is precisely what is necessary for federalism to get up and running -- no matter what tradition or institutional practice holds." With her usual gift for a phrase, she declares that you cannot play cards in a hurricane.

In principle, I do not disagree: It might be that federalism could never contain fundamental moral disagreements like the fight in the 1850s over slavery. That was indeed a hurricane force wind that blew away any constitutional accommodation. After the jump, however, I will suggest that the sort of polarization afflicting us Americans today is more a tropical storm than a hurricane. It is nothing like the fight over slavery. Following Morris Fiorina's lead, I will suggest that the views of Red and Blue voters actually have not change that much over the last thirty years. We the People actually are not really that intensely polarized over issues. We are just intensely distrustful of each other. I suggest that firm, formal constitutional rules of federalism are actually ideal for containing this sort of polarization.

Continue reading "One more round with Heather Gerken: Why federalism can still promote pluralism in our polarized times"

Posted by Rick Hills on January 8, 2017 at 05:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Elevating judges during recess

Based on comments to my earlier post and some emails, the key question on elevation and resignation is more specific: Is a judge elevated on a recess appointment differently situated than a judge elevated through the ordinary appointment process.

It seems to me that a recess appointment is substantively the same as a regular appointment, but the process is flipped--the nominee assumes the office first and then the Senate confirms (or does not confirm). But during the recess-appointment period (the period between the appointment and Senate confirmation), the officer is in all senses identical to someone appointed through the regular process, fully occupying that office and exercising its powers to the same extent. That being the case, if acceptance of a regular appointment accompanies a resignation from the lower-court (however that happens and pursuant to whatever legal source), so should acceptance of a recess appointment.

The counter argument must be that the trigger for resignation of a lower-court judgeship (again, whatever the source of that requirement) remains Senate confirmation and acceptance of the commission to the higher court. On this view, a recess appointment is not substantively the same as appointment following Senate confirmation--it merely ensures that the work of the office gets done until the Senate returns and confirms, but does not alone alone fill the vacancy, impose the resignation obligation, or create the new vacancy on the lower court.

But that means Obama erred in not making a recess appointment. I had argued that it was not worth eleven months of Justice Garland (the longest he would have been able to serve, until December 2017) if the end result would be Garland on neither SCOTUS nor the DC Circuit. But my reasoning was that Obama would not want to create the lower-court vacancy and Garland is too young to want to no longer be a judge. But my conclusion rested on the premise that Garland would have been unable to return to the DC Circuit when the recess appointment ended. But if Garland's DC Circuit seat would have been waiting for him next December, then Obama had nothing to lose and everything to gain from this move.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 7, 2017 at 05:32 PM in Civil Procedure, Constitutional thoughts, Howard Wasserman, Law and Politics | Permalink | Comments (3)

Does the Holman Rule authorize unconstitutional bills of attainder?

House Republicans have reinstated "the Holman Rule,"a 19th century procedural rule allowing individual congresspersons to propose appropriations cuts targeting very narrow categories -- for instance, the pay of a single civil servant. House Democrats, led by Steny Hoyer, have complained that such surgical strikes on individual federal employee's pay could undermine civil service protection.

Is it an adequate response to Hoyer that any retaliatory appropriations rider directed at a specific civil servant would be barred by the prohibition on bills of attainder contained Article I, section 9? United States v. Lovett (1946) is the most relevant precedent, holding that Congress cannot amend a 1943 spending bill to bar federal funds from being spent on the salaries of three named civil servants. The Lovett majority acknowledged that the spending limit was not literally a criminal penalty but nevertheless found that "[t]he effect was to inflict punishment without the safeguards of a judicial trial and 'determined by no previous law or fixed rule.'"

Of course, the victim of a targeted cut would always have to prove that Congress's motive was retaliatory -- but they would have to do so in an ordinary proceeding before the Merit Systems Protection Board. The civil service laws, after all, do not protect against a mere reduction in force brought on by budget cuts.

So is Representative Hoyer's claim just an alarmist parade of horribles that will never get a marching permit under the Constitution? Or have I over-read Lovett -- an entirely likely possibility, since it has been awhile since I have taught this stuff? (Now that the Holman Rule is back, however, I see a potentially tricky exam question, a silver lining -- at least for law profs --around the cloud of partisan polarization in which we now live).

Posted by Rick Hills on January 7, 2017 at 09:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Friday, January 06, 2017

Elevating judges and creating vacancies

On my prior post about the expired Garland nomination and the Scalia vacancy, my former professor Steve Lubet questioned why a Garland recess appointment would have created a vacancy on the D.C. Circuit.  After much research, I am unable to find a provision expressly barring judges from simultaneously holding seats on two courts or declaring that accepting a seat on a higher court constitutes a resignation from the lower court. It simply is and seems to always have been.

A Congressional Research Service report from earlier this year declares, without citation, "[a] judicial vacancy is created by an incumbent judge['s]  . . . elevation to a higher court." When nominating lower-court judges for a higher court, presidents since Washington have contemporaneously nominated someone to the lower court, although the nomination is contingent on the elevated judge being confirmed; if she is not, the contingent nomination is withdrawn because there no longer is a vacancy. And there is extensive political science and historical literature about Presidents elevating from the lower courts precisely because it allows them to fill two vacancies--the existing one on the higher court and the one they create on the lower court by moving a judge from the lower to the higher court.

But I cannot find a statutory basis for this. The relevant provisions regarding appointments or tenure make no mention of and none of the literature cites to anything. The assumption underlying the appointment process, seemingly for everyone, is (and always has been) that  elevation means resignation and creates that new vacancy.

If anyone knows a basis for this that I am missing, please share in the comments.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 6, 2017 at 03:18 PM in Civil Procedure, Howard Wasserman, Law and Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)