Thursday, May 23, 2019

Universal declaratory judgments

Chief Judge Saris of the District of Massachusetts entered a final judgment declaring invalid a Massachusetts law prohibiting surreptitious recording of government officials. This was two consolidated actions, one brought by two individuals and one brought by an investigative-journalism organization.

The court declined to issue a permanent injunction, finding that a declaratory judgment was sufficient, in part because:

Defendants have stated they will follow this Court's ruling, and the Court will take them at their word. . . .The Court "assume[s] that municipalities and public officers will do their duty when disputed questions have been finally adjudicated and the rights and liabilities of the parties have been finally determined . . ."

But what does it mean to follow the court's ruling? Does it mean not enforcing the law against the plaintiffs in these cases or does it mean not enforcing the law against anyone? That is, can a declaratory judgment be universal to protect beyond the named plaintiffs? Or must declaratory judgments be particularized, as injunctions must be (or so I argue). This affects what might trigger conversion of the D/J into an injunction-were the government to attempt to enforce the law against someone other than the plaintiffs.

The answer should be that a declaratory judgment must be as particularized as an injunction. Under the Article III/litigation-structure arguments from Sam Bray, Michael Morley, and me, the point is that any judicial remedy must be particularized because the remedy should resolve the dispute between the parties to the action and not beyond. In endorsing particularity in federal remedies, SCOTUS explicitly treated declaratory and injunction relief the same, as stopping enforcement of the challenged law only against the federal plaintiffs and leaving the state free to enforce against others who violate the statute. Moreover, declaratory judgments are a "milder" form of relief because non-coercive, compared with the "strong medicine" of an injunction. If so, it would not make sense for the milder remedy to have broader party effects than the stronger remedy. Finally, it would be odd for these plaintiffs to be able to convert to an injunction to stop enforcement of the law against someone else, just as one individual cannot ask a court to enjoin enforcement of a law against someone else.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on May 23, 2019 at 09:15 PM in Civil Procedure, Constitutional thoughts, First Amendment, Howard Wasserman, Judicial Process, Law and Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

JOTWELL: Erbsen on Frye on Tompkins

The new Courts Law essay comes from Allan Erbsen (Minnesota), reviewing Bryan L. Frye, The Ballad of Harry James Tompkins, 52 Akron L. Rev. 531 (2019), which argues that we may have the facts of Erie wrong, that Tompkins actually was trying to jump on the train when he was struck by that protrusion.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on May 23, 2019 at 11:57 AM in Article Spotlight, Civil Procedure, Howard Wasserman | Permalink | Comments (0)

FIU Micro-Symposium: Infield Fly Rule Is in Effect (Updated)

I am happy to announce that FIU Law Review has published a micro-symposium on my book, Infield Fly Rule Is in Effect. We found nine people, in and out of legal academia, to write short comments, followed by my overall response. This was fun to put together.

I want to flag two contributions containing ideas that I really wish I had seen or thought of myself while I was writing the book, if only to respond to them.

Rob Nelson, a former minor-league pitcher and the founder of Big League Chew, introduced what he called the "Enfield Fly Rule." There are two versions, both designed to keep the basic protections of the Rule in place but denying to the defense any windfall from an unintentional drop. Under one version, an infield fly is a foul ball, so the batter is out if it is caught and the ball is foul if it is not caught. Under a second version, the ball is fair and live if caught (so the runners could tag-up), but a do-over if not caught (so it does not even count as a strike).

Spencer Waller (Loyola) identifies another non-baseball situation requiring a limiting rule--flopping in soccer and in basketball. Both fit the criteria I described for when a limiting rule is needed to deter the conduct and avoid an extraordinary benefit. What is interesting is that the solution both soccer and basketball have come up with is post-game sanctions of fines and/or suspensions should officials, upon reviewing plays on video, identify a flop. But these rules do nothing to sanction or deter the flop in the moment, thereby allowing the flopping player to gain the benefit of the flop (a penalty kick or red card in soccer, free throws or a turnover in basketball). So fines or suspensions may not provide sufficient deterrence against the conduct--a player may deem the flop worth it in the moment to allow his team to win, willing to deal with a fine or even one-game suspension after the fact.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on May 23, 2019 at 11:48 AM in Article Spotlight, Howard Wasserman, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Waiting for Nieves v. Bartlett

SCOTUS heard argument in Nieves v. Bartlett on November 26, the first case of the December sitting. This means it will be more than five six months from argument to decision, even if the case comes on the next opinion day (Tuesday, May 28). It was obvious from the argument that the Court was divided and searching for a middle ground that would leave officers free to handle disorderly conduct situations while not leaving police free to arrest government critics for minor violations, while also not having lots of cases going to trial. The long drafting time suggests a divided court and multiple opinions.

The Court heard ten cases in this sitting; seven have been decided and three remain--Gamble (Fifth Amendment separate sovereign), Carpenter (how much of eastern Oklahoma remains Indian reservation), and Nieves. Roberts and Alito have not written anything from this sitting. Both seemed inclined towards the officer in Nieves.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on May 21, 2019 at 11:49 AM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman | Permalink | Comments (4)

Florida State Law Review Summer 2019 Exclusive Submission Track

The Florida State University Law Review is delighted to open an exclusive submission track for Summer 2019. Authors who submit to the exclusive submission track agree to accept a binding publication offer, should one be extended. Authors agree to withhold submitting their manuscripts to any other journal until a decision has been made. The exclusive submission track will open from May 27th to June 16th and decisions will be rendered by June 23. Accepted manuscripts will be published in Volume 47 of the Law Review. Final manuscripts will be due November 15th for Issues 3 and 4. Articles selected for Issues 3 and 4 are expected to be published in August 2020.

Continue reading "Florida State Law Review Summer 2019 Exclusive Submission Track"

Posted by Howard Wasserman on May 21, 2019 at 10:55 AM in Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Birth Rights and Wrongs

My wonderful colleague Dov Fox has a new fascinating book out this week - Birth Rights and Wrongs: How Medicine and Technology are Remaking Reproduction and the Law. The book looks at the fast-changing science and practices of reproduction and examine what happens when mistakes are made - tests are misread, labs mess up IVF, doctors make wrong calls. Dov is a leader in the field and the book is sure to become central in any discussion about reproduction. It has already been receiving glowing reviews which you can read here. A must-read - I highly recommend it!

Image result for birth rights and wrongs

From the cover:

Millions of Americans rely on the likes of birth control, IVF, and genetic testing to make plans as intimate and far-reaching as any they ever make. This is no less than the medicine of miracles. It fills empty cradles, frees families from terrible disease, and empowers them to fashion their lives on their own terms. But every year, thousands of accidents happen: Pharmacists mix up pills. Lab techs misread tests. Obstetricians tell women their healthy fetuses would be stillborn...

The book sets forth a new way of thinking and talking about reproductive interests and injuries in law and life. We’re used to blaming randomness or cosmic injustice when we don’t get the child we want, or when we get the one we don’t. And yet cutting-edge interventions promise to deliver us from the vagaries of natural conception and the genetic lottery. Sometimes things don’t work out—but that’s no reason to turn a blind eye when bad behavior seriously impairs efforts to avoid, pursue, and shape procreation. Failed abortions, lost embryos, and switched donors may be first-world problems. But these aren’t innocent lapses or harmless errors. They’re wrongs in need of rights.

Posted by Orly Lobel on May 21, 2019 at 12:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 20, 2019

"Sponsored" Symposia: A Possible Trend--and Cause for Concern--in Elite Flagship Law Review Publishing

I have been holding on to this blog post for a while, for various and mostly obvious reasons. But when a potential trend arises that deserves to be noted and discussed, and some thought given to future policies, surely someone ought to call attention to it. You can be sure that I will do my best to be careful and descriptive, note any instances in which I lack information, and add the usual layers of caveats, although mostly at the end, not the beginning. So my warning (but not apology) in advance about any entirely typical excessive length. 

In the past year, I have noticed some top-15 law reviews (by the usual rough and customary measures) doing something I have rarely if ever seen at the elite main or flagship law reviews. There are three such examples I'm aware of--three being, by journalistic tradition, enough to count as a "trend." The trend, if it is that, hardly portends the end of the world. (Neither, by the same token, would the utter disappearance of the top ten law reviews be the end of the world--but I don't doubt that would be noted and discussed.) But its importance and possible impact is larger than it might appear at first, and does have some distinctly disquieting aspects. I am less concerned with criticizing it (although I do just that) than I am with drawing it to our attention, calling for us to think about it, and suggesting that law review faculty advisors and law school administrators ought to be aware and proactive about it rather than passive or indifferent. 

The trend, roughly, is this: A number of elite flagship law reviews have been giving over issues of their volume to symposia or special issues that are 1) sponsored by or with particular groups; 2) generally, the groups have particular positions, agendas, leanings, or however you want to describe them; 3) the topic or topics of the symposium reflect that position; and 4) it seems pretty clearly reflected too in the list of speakers.

Let me describe the examples I have in mind. I did not reach out to anyone involved, for better or worse. I'm simply basing my description on the public record, which seems entirely fair. But I would be very glad to learn more, and it might change my views or alleviate my concerns. Where I offer an opinion, I make that clear and take full responsibility for it. Of course I acknowledge that people may disagree with my own assessment. I also acknowledge that, although we are talking about unusually privileged young adults who should not be immune from criticism or treated as if they should never be publicly discussed--not if we are to treat them with genuine respect, anyway--this post does involve law students. I'll save the usual list of caveats until later, but you can take it as a given that nothing here is offered in contempt or disrespect. Indeed, my primary concern is not with the students themselves but with the advice they're getting (or not getting), or pressures they're facing, from tenured and influential law professors, and with the role of law review faculty advisors and law school administrators.

Here are the three examples:

1) The November 2018 Columbia Law Review is a symposium issue titled A First Amendment For All?: Free Expression in An Age of Inequality. The symposium was co-sponsored by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia and the Center for Constitutional Governance. I know very little about the latter center, although it looks general enough in mission and affiliated faculty based on its web site. I do roughly follow the work and publications of the former, which in my opinion does tend to have a particular focus and orientation. Readers can judge for themselves, but I think it is fair to say that the symposium as a whole had a thesis and an underlying belief in and desire to advance and promote that thesis. This is not, by a long shot, a knock on the quality of the articles, including those that share the thesis entirely. And there are two, by Leslie Kendrick and Louis Michael Seidman, that I think are reasonably and commendably skeptical about the value of the project (although I have long wondered whether or not the symposium organizers and other participants were or weren't truly delighted to find Seidman more or less outflanking everyone on the left, rather than from a position of mere progressivism, and from a posture of skepticism about shoehorning every political project into something involving judicial review). The listed participants at the symposium, including the moderators (I have also wondered whether they asked Philip Hamburger to participate or moderate or not, given his recent scholarly focus on speech and religion issues), seem, from my general knowledge, mostly sympathetic to the basic thesis. The print articles don't appear to feature any strong skeptics of the basic thesis, champions of a soi-disant "First Amendment Lochnerism" or strong civil libertarianism, or other genuinely heterodox (in this context) views. 

2) The 2019 UCLA Law Review Symposium, titled Latinx Communities, Race, and the Criminal Justice System, is listed as co-sponsored by the Law Review and "BruinX, Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion." (UCLA community members are free to correct me, but I believe BruinX is the research and development arm of UCLA's Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. I can't tell from the comma whether one or both institutions were involved, although I suspect it's the former.) The subjects covered at the symposium are not in my area, so I hesitate to offer descriptions or assessments of how and whether other or different perspectives were, were not, or could have been a part of the symposium. I assume the symposium will result in a print issue, but it has not yet, so I can't say for sure. Nor can I say what its contents will be if it does land in print. 

3) The 2019 Texas Law Review Symposium, Reclaiming Constitutional Norms, is listed as having been co-sponsored by the American Constitution Society. As is, I gather, usual for ACS events, the speakers listed for each panel feature (from my outside reading and estimation, at least) several speakers likely to line up roughly on one side of an issue and/or be ACS members or regulars and one person likely to offer a different perspective. (Of course there may be differences between those who are roughly on the same side of an issue; and conversely, of course there is no guarantee that everyone invited to offer a different perspective was as "different" as one could have asked for or actually did offer a heterodox perspective on the issue. For example, I don't know whether anyone was invited to participate who is skeptical of the very idea of constitutional "norms," or at least critical of the sudden popularity of this concept and of the potentially fair-weather use to which it is currently being put.) Despite my respect for the organizers and for the commendable fact of some obvious effort to include different views here, I suppose I find this symposium especially unusual in that the ACS has its own publications, including the Harvard Law & Policy Review. Given that the ACS's mission is openly political or ideological or however one wants to describe it--and one can definitely applaud it for its candor about this--and that it has its own publications, it is perhaps especially odd to see it partnering with the prestigious general-interest law review of a large public university law school. I assume that a symposium issue of the law review will result, but again I can't say for sure; nor do I know what the contents of such an issue would be. 

If there are other recent examples of sponsored or co-sponsored symposium issues of this sort in what I will call generally elite flagship law reviews (as opposed to secondary journals at elite schools), do speak up and let me know. I think three is enough to go on, in any event, in suggesting that there are various questions we should be asking about this and various legitimate concerns we might have about it. The questions and concerns include:

Continue reading ""Sponsored" Symposia: A Possible Trend--and Cause for Concern--in Elite Flagship Law Review Publishing"

Posted by Paul Horwitz on May 20, 2019 at 06:23 PM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink | Comments (15)

Interviewing Fellowship and VAP Directors: What Do You Want to Know?

In an earlier post, I explained my plan to interview as many VAP and fellowship directors as I can this summer, with the goal of improving transparency into how these programs work and how to make the most of them.  The series itself will start in June, but first I want your input.  What do you want to know about these programs?  For those who have done a VAP or fellowship recently, what do you wish you had known before you started?  For those of you who are contemplating these programs, what are you wondering about?  I have included a draft list of questions below, but I am open to editing them or adding more.  My goal is to make this series as helpful as possible, so let me know what you want to know!  You should also feel free to reach out to me directly at [email protected] if you want to share additional questions or thoughts.

Let me also acknowledge the elephant in the room.  I know a lot of people don’t like the gatekeeping nature of VAPs and fellowships or the exclusionary nature of the law teaching market more generally.  I get it.  I have very mixed views on it myself.  Following up on Paul’s very helpful post, I have included a few questions related to the broader policy implications of VAPs and fellowships, and I also hope Paul’s post sparks a broader discussion about these programs and law faculty hiring more generally.  My series of interviews feeds into this debate, to be sure, but I also recognize that, like it or not, this is the market reality for aspiring law faculty and we are all better off if people know as much as possible about how the system works now.  It doesn’t do anyone any good to debate the system among ourselves, while keeping information about how it works now under wraps.  And I am very open to expanding this series to include law faculty who have been on hiring committees, non-traditional candidates, etc. after the original round of interviews.  So let’s get more information out there, while also working to improve things as much as we can. 

Draft Questions:

Application Process

  1. When does the program start accepting applications?
  2. What is the timeline for conducting interviews?
  3. How are the interviews structured? Are there first-round and second-round interviews?
  4. When has the fellowship typically filled all of the positions?
  5. How many fellowships are available? Is there flexibility in the number of fellows each year, and if so, how does that affect future years?
  6. How many applications are typically received?
  7. Who selects the fellows? Is there a committee? Is there a chair?
  8. If the fellows have teaching responsibilities, how does the application process gauge their teaching ability?
  9. What additional criteria is used to select the fellows? What helps an applicant stand out in the application process?
  10. Which of the following do successful applicants typically have when they apply­— A research agenda? A draft of a paper?  One or more published papers (other than a student note)?
  11. Does the program have a preference for candidates in particular curricular areas?
  12. Does the program have a preference for candidates with PhDs?
  13. Do you make any special effort to hire candidates from diverse backgrounds?

Fellowship Basics

  1. How long does the fellowship last?
  2. Is the fellowship renewable? If so, under what circumstances?
  3. How much are fellows paid per year?
  4. Do fellows receive health benefits?
  5. Do fellows receive access to university or university-subsidized housing?
  6. Do fellows receive travel funding and/or other professional development funding?
  7. Do fellows receive funding to hire research assistants?
  8. Do fellows receive reimbursement for any law teaching market-related expenses?
  9. Are fellows expected to live in the same city as the law school?

Making the Most of a Fellowship

  1. Approximately how many fellows are at the law school in a given year?
  2. How often do the fellows get together and in what capacity (i.e., a regular workshop series)?
  3. Do fellows participate in the broader intellectual life of the law school (i.e., faculty workshops), and if so, how?
  4. Who supervises the fellows?
  5. Are fellows matched with an assigned mentor or guided towards faculty in their area of interest at the law school, and if so, how?
  6. Are fellows given assistance in making connections with law faculty in their area of interest at other law schools, and if so, how?
  7. Are fellows given other support related to their research?
  8. Are fellows given assistance in developing a research agenda?
  9. What role do fellowship directors or faculty at the school play in helping VAPs or fellows place their work?
  10. Are fellows given assistance in finding recommenders?
  11. Do you have any special advice for candidates with PhDs doing a VAP or fellowship? Are there special considerations they should keep in mind?
  12. Does the fellow have teaching responsibilities?
  13. If so, what courses do they teach? Do they have any input in what courses they teach?  Do they have the opportunity to teach one or more courses in their area of interest?
  14. What percentage of time should they expect to spend on teaching vs. scholarship vs. other administrative responsibilities?
  15. What training and/or mentoring do fellows receive related to their teaching?
  16. What other duties do the fellows have?
  17. What other advice do you have for fellows when it comes to making the most of the VAP or fellowship?

The Job Market

  1. What type of mentoring do fellows receive related to the hiring process?
  2. Do you have faculty or staff who are responsible for shepherding fellows through the market?
  3. Do fellows have an opportunity to do a mock screening interview?
  4. Do fellows have an opportunity to moot their job talk in front of faculty and/or other fellows?
  5. Does the school run a moot camp for fellows and alums?
  6. Do fellows have the opportunity to receive feedback on their application materials from faculty or others at the school?
  7. What percentage of your fellows over the past 5 or 10 years have landed in tenure-track positions at law schools? Is there a list of these fellows and their positions available online?
  8. Do you support fellows who need to go on the teaching market more than once? If so, how? Is the fellowship renewable for another year?

Broader Questions

  1. What do you think are the benefits of the rise of fellowships and VAPs as an entry point for so many law faculty positions? What do you think are the costs?
  2. Do you think that fellowship and VAP programs have any responsibility for helping to open up law faculty positions to people from diverse or non-traditional backgrounds? How does your program help to do that, if at all?
  3. How do you respond to the criticism that VAPs and fellows may get too much help on their scholarship from you or others on the faculty and that therefore it is hard for hiring committees to know how much of the work and ideas comes from the VAPs or fellows themselves?
  4. What do you want hiring committees to know about your fellowship? Any other thoughts you’d like to pass on to them about the state of law faculty hiring?

Posted by Jessica Erickson on May 20, 2019 at 04:12 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (5)

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Prof. John Copeland Nagle, RIP

My friend and colleague, John Nagle, passed away yesterday morning. Like everyone who knew John, I'm crushed. He was a warm, kind, and decent man; an insightful and thoughtful scholar; a dedicated teacher and mentor; a generous friend; a loving father and husband; a winsome and inspiring Christian. He was the first person who welcomed me, in the summer of 1999, when I moved into my office at Notre Dame Law School, and I cannot imagine the school -- or, really, my own life in the academy -- without him.

If you are not already familiar with his (voluminous!) scholarship -- on topics from moral pollution to the Desert Sands Fruitfly to severance to environmental stewardship -- have a look.  (I used to tease him for having managed to convert his love of the outdoors and our national parks into a research agenda, but -- obviously -- I was just jealous.)  And, if you have a few minutes, read this lovely tribute and remembrance by his (and my) former student, Prof. Derek Muller (Pepperdine).   

UPDATE:  Here is the announcement, with several quotes and remembrances, from Notre Dame Law School.

Réquiem ætérnam dona eis, Dómine,
et lux perpétua lúceat eis.
Requiéscant in pace. Amen.

Posted by Rick Garnett on May 19, 2019 at 09:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, May 17, 2019

What's Roe got to do with it?

Andrew Sullivan praises Elizabeth Warren's proposals to codify Roe-level protections through federal legislation, because it allows for a political debate and political compromise that Roe preempted. He also blames Roe for the "batch of truly extreme bills in red states outlawing" abortion, which are designed to gin up a Supreme Court case that, with Brett Kavanaugh on the Court, will overrule Roe and the constitutional right to reproductive choice. But neither premise makes sense.

Sullivan's argument seems to be that because public opinion has remained relatively static on abortion since 1973, that legislators would not enact such extreme laws that are bound to be unpopular. But that makes no sense.  Alabama did not enact this law to challenge Roe for the sake of challenging Roe. It enacted this law because officials want to stop women from having abortions in Alabama. Once Roe is overruled, this remains the law in Alabama; there is no reason to believe that the Alabama legislature, having had its law declared constitutionally valid and enforceable, will say "oh, let's find a compromise." This will be the law in Alabama and the governor will set about enforcing it with glee. And nothing about Alabama's political alignment suggests Republican officials would pay any sort of political price for these laws. Same with Georgia, Missouri, and other states following on this course.

Roe was decided in a world in which abortion was illegal in many states. Without Roe, many of those bans would have remained in place. Or, as some states liberalized reproductive choice (which was happening in the years prior to Roe), other states (likely the states that are in the news now) would have enacted the laws that they are enacting or seeking to enact now. Contra Sullivan, it seems as likely that, without Roe, we would have gotten where we are (or where we are headed), but would have gotten here 40 years ago.

Continue reading "What's Roe got to do with it?"

Posted by Howard Wasserman on May 17, 2019 at 06:17 PM in Constitutional thoughts, Howard Wasserman, Law and Politics | Permalink | Comments (8)

Some Suggested Questions for Fellowship and VAP Directors

I'm delighted that Jessica Erickson will be interviewing fellowship and VAP directors. I look forward to the results. I should note that a few years ago, Elizabeth Chamblee Burch and I co-chaired a panel of the AALS section on Scholarship at the annual meeting titled "The State of the Art on Placing Legal Scholarship and its Potential Consequences." A video is available here. Despite the title, as I recollect, part of the discussion was about the role of fellowships and VAPs and of fellowship and VAP directors in shaping and helping to place scholarship. I would also recommend as relevant a book which landed with a thud on my desk this morning: Ted White's third and final volume of Law in American History, specifically chapter 6, "The American Legal Academy and Jurisprudence II: From Process Theory to 'Law And.'" Among other things, it contains interesting discussions of changes in faculty hiring.

The difficulty with suggesting questions for such a series is that in our small world, with all its conventions and strategic considerations, it can be impolitic to ask the questions one actually wants answered, and being impolitic is a cardinal sin among academics, including legal academics. This is one of the academic attractions of "speaking truth to power:" it points outward, not inward, and so lets sleeping dogs lie. Some questions will necessarily reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the fellows, who are hardly unprivileged but are also only at the beginning of their careers; I do want to ask questions about them, or about the system that produces them, but with no intent to offend or make them nervous. Some questions will reflect on the people who run those programs. In either case, those of us who want to hire these candidates and want to maintain good relations with their mentors risk damaging that goal if we are impolitic. Better, on this view, to ask those questions in private or not ask them at all, on the assumption that people in the know will, well, know--even if that means both that we entrench the usual systems of hierarchy and inside baseball, and even if it means that the people who consider themselves cognoscenti think they know the real story but are actually thin on details and thick on myths and assumptions.

But one of the obligations of academic tenure, which includes responsibility for the state of one's discipline as well as one's individual institution, is to be impolitic.  I'm not sure the questions I ask here are impolitic; I just haven't worried much about whether they are or not. One should also note that there are obvious reasons for the people Jessica will interview to be politic as well, so it's important to dig down and push back if they offer bromides or generalities. In any event, here are some questions I would be happy to have asked and almost as happy to have answered. 

1) What do we lose by relying on fellowships and VAPs in hiring? It seems to me that the answers to the question what we gain from them are much more obvious, and hence less interesting and less worth asking. I'm happy to be proved wrong by answers that teach me something new about what we gain. But many of those gains seem obvious. Most prominently for me, the average level of basic quality and polish of the candidates I have seen over the past 15 years or so has increased significantly. In addition, their commitment to an academic life is more guaranteed, with the departure from (or, alas, skipping of) legal practice and the sacrifice of time involved in a fellowship serving as proxies for the demonstration of commitment to the academic life that is one of the functions of a doctoral program. (I should note that "commitment" is not the same as "calling." Whether we hire people who have an academic calling is a separate question.) In some respects the candidates are more diverse than they would be, and were, in a system that relied more heavily on individual recommendations and sponsorship at a few schools.

But what do we lose by this system? I've previously recommended Martha Nussbaum's article Cooking for a Job: The Law School Hiring Process, which is now aged but still pertinent, if not prescient, in its concern that law school hiring might prize "quickness, glibness, and aggressiveness" and undervalue "reflectiveness, quietness, and uncertainty." Nussbaum argues in part that it would be better if candidates had writing we could judge carefully instead of focusing on their marketing skills and ability to pass "lunch." Well, we now have articles a-plenty from candidates who go through the fellowship/VAP process. But have we moved away from glibness, marketing skills, "catchy phrases and slogans," passing or flunking "lunch," and the like? Or have we rather refined and improved, through the fellowship process, the job of training candidates to show those questionable qualities, in their writing as well as their selling--the job, in sum, of "polishing" candidates? We gain, I have suggested, a higher average threshold level of quality and readiness. But do we miss rough gems--individuals who are not yet "polished" but who in time might be more likely to contribute genuinely new and heterodox ideas? Do we lose promising oddballs and eccentrics? Candidates who are more high-risk but also more high-gain? Do we lose, or let diminish, the ability to see beneath the patina and make deeper judgments? Not to mention losing those practicing lawyers who not only have longer and more meaningful legal experience but also and genuinely have an academic calling, but are not inclined to go the fellowship route?

2) If there are any such losses, do fellowship and VAP directors attempt to address and remedy them, or are these losses baked in to the current system? I think this question goes to both selection and training. On the selection level, are fellowship and VAP directors looking for rough gems and people with unconventional backgrounds? Or are they already predisposed to hire as fellows or VAPs those who have already checked the same old boxes--top five (or top three) school, law review, two federal court clerkships, work for a "suitable" firm or interest group? If it's the latter, is that really the best use of these resources--to further polish the already-fairly-polished? I am asking rather than answering this question: maybe the answer is that these are the most likely best scholars and we should want them to become law teachers, just as we select the most promising undergraduates in history for graduate programs rather than the C students. But the answer to the question seems less obvious to me than that, since a doctorate is a prerequisite to become a history professor and a fellowship, despite increasing reliance on it as a qualification, is not a prerequisite to become a law professor. At the training level, do fellowship directors talk about the difference between surface polish and serious depth? Do they discourage or encourage the use of "catchy phrases and slogans" and the like? Do they serve as a chisel or cudgel or as a chamois for their fellows? When they give references, are they willing to distinguish those of their fellows who are superficially brilliant from those who have greater depths--or at least to let the superficially brilliant speak for themselves while making a greater effort to champion those who don't lunch well but show true promise as scholars and teachers?

3) How much of the "polish" comes from the programs' leaders and faculty and how much from the fellows themselves? Just as the standard level of quality of the top-school fellows and VAPs seems higher and more standardized,  so does their facility and homogeneity in using particular tropes, approaches, strategies, and so on in their scholarship, their presentations, their FAR forms, their interviews, etc. Is this a result of what they are learning from the directors of these programs, or individual faculty mentors? Or is much of it the product of horizontal exchanges of information (and lore)?   

4) Is there any point in doing a fellowship or VAP at a school beyond the top five or ten schools? Is there sufficient justification for having a fellowship program at such schools? Again, I'm answering this question, not presuming an answer. I can speak on the level of experience about how terrific some colleagues who came from fellowships outside the top five schools have been. Nevertheless, hiring rates from those programs are surely lower than from the top schools, and whether a VAP program at such a school provides serious training, mentorship, and so on will surely vary by school. Of course the choice is up to the prospective fellow, who is an adult with a law degree and everything. But it's equally true that such a school could tally up the outcomes and evaluate the depth and quality of its program and decide it's not worth it, or not fair to would-be fellows, to maintain it. If they do maintain it, do the directors at such schools give fair warning to prospective fellows that hiring outcomes go down outside of the most recognized VAP or fellowship programs? 

5) Do top fellows and VAPs over-place their work? If so, how and why? This is another potentially impolitic question, but one on which I have heard plenty of sotto voce consensus. It is true both that the quality and the placement of articles from the candidates I have seen over past 15 years has climbed significantly, but I think the latter is more true than the former. To be clear, I am not speaking ill of the quality of the pieces I am reading by fellows and VAPs; as I said, I think their average quality level has skyrocketed and that the fellowship/VAP process has much to do with that. I would nevertheless suggest that their average level of placement seems to exceed their average level of quality and contribution. (Coming up with a new bottle for old wine, or a new label for an old bottle, has its uses but is not a deep contribution.)

Would the directors agree? (I imagine they would not, or wouldn't say so if they did. But there's no harm in asking.) What role do they, or individual faculty mentors, play in article placement for fellows and VAPs under their care? Some? None? A great deal? Should they play any role in helping their fellows with placement at all? I see excellent reasons why the answer should be no, other than advice about how best to write and frame an article and even about how best to play the placement game (although I hope they include some skepticism about that game along with their advice). I think that directors could (must, really) at least be candid about saying whether or not they or other faculty members help push or place articles. But I no longer assume that they are the sole reason. Coming from another country, I did not fully participate in the networks of elite social capital when I was beginning my career in the US or in legal academia. I certainly benefited from some of that, but I didn't have the same level of network and really wasn't aware of much that goes on--and still am not, for the most part blissfully. How much does placement for fellows or VAPs at top law reviews depend less on their program (except as a basic credential that law reviews can use for plausible justification) and more on the individual fellows' past or present acquaintance with the student editors at those journals, through law school, clerkships and clerk networks, undergraduate institutions, and other elite small-world factors? If that's what's going on, it's another excellent reason to question the law review system (and perhaps the United States) as a whole, but not something I'd lay at the feet of the programs and their directors. Still, I'd like to know more. I hate to assume anything in this area without knowledge, and it's precisely knowledge that is in short supply, or kept under wraps rather than made utterly transparent. I will add again, lest I be thought too rude in asking this question, that I have heard more than a few professors suggesting that a number of recent articles by elite fellows seem clearly overplaced, even if they are good, and certainly polished, articles. Doubtless they could all be wrong, and doubtless many of them would disagree about which articles are or aren't overplaced. But it seems odd for this observation to be simultaneously widespread and not publicly discussed.     

6) Do elite fellowship and VAP programs challenge questionable versions of "meritocracy," improve them, or entrench them, or some or all of the above? One of the advantages of these systems--at least if they are fully and generously funded, and even then one must factor in those potential candidates whose family commitments in particular places may make them less willing or able to take on a fellowship or VAP--is that it relies less on the "old boy" network (which can still be an old boy network even if it extends beyond boys) under which Dean A at Law School taps Student B on the shoulder and destines him or her for a teaching job. That was the older system, and one finds constant reference to it in the memoirs of or histories discussing mid-century law professors of note. There is no doubt that along some lines, the fellowship/VAP system is more diverse. Of course, a system in which no fellowships existed but we did have a meat market could also result in diversity of hiring, but one advantage of the fellowship system--here I'm focusing on this as a plus rather than a minus--is that it teaches some promising people some of the vocabulary and polish that others imbibed from professor parents or other sources of relevant training and social capital. Do elite fellowship directors seek out such students, or concentrate on those who already have that social capital and just polish them up a little more? (See question 2 above.) Do they look for socioeconomic as well as other forms of diversity? Do they look for ideological diversity, including giving serious weight to clerkships or legal work experience for judges or groups that don't have the cachet of certain other judges or groups? Do they do the same when it comes to the hiring process? I have noticed that some fellows who take slightly more heterodox or unpopular positions on hot-button issues have placed extremely well while still fellows, but fared less well at the hiring level. That difference also means that once they're berthed at less prestigious schools compared to those at which their more orthodox fellow fellows (pardon me) have landed, articles of comparable quality will place more poorly depending on where a fellow has ended up. Again, I don't lay that at the feet of the directors. But have they noticed this--and if so, have they worked to counter it? Ultimately, is the fellowship/VAP program a way of countering the usual reproduction of hierarchy, a way of keeping it but making it fairer and more equitable, or a way of modernizing the same old phenomenon and dressing it up in more respectable garb? Is this something that the programs, their directors, and their schools think about, worry about, and discuss?

7) How can fellowship directors cultivate a knowledge of--and an interest in on the part of prospective professors--a wider spectrum of these United States? One potential problem with a reproduction of hierarchy system is that both its senior and its junior members can be caught up in a closed loop of limited life experience. To exaggerate, a person who grows up in Brookline, shuttles between Cambridge and New Haven for his or her education, and then briefly lives and works in New York and DC before returning to Cambridge or New Haven for a fellowship may lack a more comprehensive knowledge of what possibilities lie outside that rather parochial experience. And if that person's mentor has followed the same arc, traversing the spectrum all the way from A to B, the problem is compounded. I have encountered fellows for whom the idea of teaching outside about ten schools and four cities was seemingly far from their experience, and fellows who told me about rather narrow advice they were given by elite mentors about where to teach. Do directors of these programs make an effort to learn about law schools across the country and pass on what they know? Do they encourage their fellows to think beyond a short list of schools or cities? Do they feel they know enough to do so, or that their colleagues who serve as mentors do?

I'm sure others can and will come up with other questions, but this is certainly a start.  

 

Posted by Paul Horwitz on May 17, 2019 at 05:08 PM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink | Comments (12)

New Summer Series: Interviewing Fellowship and VAP Directors

Thanks, Howard, for introducing this new series!  As Howard mentioned, I am the Chair of the AALS Committee on Becoming a Law Teacher.  The Committee’s goal is to improve the available resources regarding how to become a law professor.  There is information out there already, to be sure, but it is pretty scattered and if you were new to the law professor world and didn’t have many connections, it could feel pretty puzzling.  What is a job talk anyway?  And how about a research agenda?  And why is everyone terrified about the Wardman Park Hotel?  Our goal is to demystify the process as much as we can.

That’s the big project, but we are partnering with prawfsblawg on one specific part of it.  As we started to dig into the data, it become clear to us that VAPs and fellowships are the de facto gateway into the profession.  We all know that to some extent, but the stats that Sarah Lawsky has put together are even more striking than we would have guessed. Almost everyone (literally, almost everyone!) who is hired for a tenure-track law professor job today has either done a fellowship or VAP or has gotten a PhD.  And yet, while there is some information available on the tenure-track market, there is surprisingly little information about these programs.  How do you get a fellowship?  How does one fellowship differ from another in terms of mentoring, teaching and research time, and basic employment terms?  And how can you make the best use of your fellowship time to prepare for the entry-level market?  If you have stayed in touch with your law school professors or have friends who have done VAPs or fellowships, they might be able to give you some information about specific programs.  Otherwise, though, you are on your own. 

Our hope is to change that.  Over the summer, I will interview the directors of as many VAPs and fellowships as I can.  I will ask them all of the questions I would have had when I was new on the market, along with additional questions I crowdsource here from all of you.  Then I will post edited transcripts of the interviews here on prawfsblawg and on AALS’s website.  My goal is to post one interview per week starting in June and continuing through most of the summer.  I will also maintain a spreadsheet of basic information about each program for easy comparison. 

I’ll be back in a few days with a draft list of questions for the interviews, and I would love your feedback!

Posted by Jessica Erickson on May 17, 2019 at 09:53 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (15)

Introducing Jessica Erickson on AALS hiring

Over the next few weeks and months, we will publish a series of guest posts from Jessica Erickson (Richmond). Jessica is the chair of the AALS Committee on Becoming a Law Teacher; the committee's new project is providing information on how law-faculty hiring functions, formally and behind the scenes. Jessica will interview directors of VAP and fellowship programs and will post edited transcripts here and at the AALS website.

Stay tuned.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on May 17, 2019 at 09:31 AM in Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Making of a Justice

I read Justice Stevens' memoir with interest. There are many pleasing anecdotes, and the book gives the first detailed account from a Justice about what occurred behind the scenes in landmark cases such as Bush v. Gore and Heller. The fact that he can write any book at 99 years of age is amazing.

That said, Justice Stevens either had no editor or a bad one. There are more than the expected number of errors in the book. For example, at one point he says: "My fourth term on the Court began a month before Jimmy Carter defeated Gerald Ford in the 1978 presidential election." This sentence contains two mistakes that an editor should have corrected. Justice Stevens also says that George W. Bush's second inauguration occurred in 2004, which is another unfortunate typo. The book is also too long and becomes something of a death march through the Justice's opinions. Best to just skim. 

Posted by Gerard Magliocca on May 16, 2019 at 09:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Getting the nomenclature right

I am picking on this CNN article, but it is common to the erroneously framed discussion of what happens next with Alabama's abortion law. The governor signed the bill yesterday and by its terms it becomes effective six months after it takes effect, so mid-November. Plaintiffs are getting ready to sue.*

[*] The lawsuits are ripe and plaintiffs have standing even suits are filed before the law takes effect in November. Courts treat cases as ripe when filed before a delayed effective date, at least absent some indication that the situation could change before the effective date, which is unlikely here. The most recent cases to highlight this principle were the challenges to the Affordable Care Act, which were brought years before most provisions (such as the individual mandate) took effect.

What will not happen: The courts will not stop the law from taking "effect." The courts will not "block" or "stop" or "halt" the law. Courts do not have the power to do that through private litigation, as it would impinge on the legislative power. A law takes effect whenever the enacting legislature says it takes effect and courts cannot block or halt that. The statute will remain part of the laws of Alabama forever (unless repealed), a monument to the political moment.

What will happen: The courts will enjoin the Alabama executive from enforcing that law against certain persons, presumably a class or clients of a Planned Parenthood facility. The statute remains part of the laws of Alabama, but the state executive cannot enforce it, on pain of contempt of court.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on May 16, 2019 at 08:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The new abortion laws and judicial departmentalism (Updated)

Whatever I may believe about the new abortion restrictions in Ohio, Alabama, and Georgia as a matter of policy or validity under my normative understanding of the Constitution, the process is playing as it should in a judicial-departmentalism regime:

The political branches enact--and plan to enforce--laws that they believe are valid on their best constitutional understanding. That this understanding conflicts with prevailing judicial doctrine does not matter. In fact, it cannot matter. Judicial doctrine can change only if there are new cases for the courts to hear and decide; new cases arise only if governments enact laws that might be invalid under current doctrine, then are able to argue for reversing existing law or establishing new law in defending those laws in court (whether against a defense in an enforcement action or as defendant in a pre-enforcement Ex Parte Young action). The government then takes its chances. If it is right about the readiness of the Court to overrule precedent, it wins in court and gets the legal change it sought. If it loses in court, it is on the hook for (likely substantial) attorney's fees.  This is how the system, and the interplay among co-equal branches with interpretive authority, works.

Dahlia Lithwick argues that these new abortion restrictions put Chief Justice Roberts in a bind. Roberts, Lithwick, argues, wants to maintain the facade that judicial decisionmaking is more than raw politics; one way to do so is through incrementalism, rather than overruling the right to reproductive freedom in one fell swoop. The way to do that is to allow lower courts to declare these new laws invalid (as they are under existing doctrine) and enjoin their enforcement, then deny cert (all while deciding other cases involving other laws that allow the Court to limit the right without overruling precedent). The problem is that it takes four (Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh) to grant cert in one of these cases, which might force Roberts to forego his desired institutionalism or vote to retain Roe as precedent. Unless he can convince Kavanaugh or Gorsuch to join him in slow-walking things.

This argument works both ways politically. Imagine Hillary Clinton had won, appointed Merrick Garland and Sri Srinivasin to the Court, and now want to overrule Shelby County so DOJ can resume enforcing the pre-clearance requirements of the Voting Rights Act. What would have to happen? DOJ would resume enforcement efforts, creating new litigation in which DOJ argues that Shelby County should be overruled. If it is right about the readiness of the Court to overrule precedent, it wins in court and gets the legal change it sought. If it loses in court, it is on the hook for (likely substantial) attorney's fees. But there would be no alternative way to set-up the judicial question.

Update: Gerard paints a different scenario, in which Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan rush to grant cert (perhaps after the district court issues the inevitable injunction but before judgment in the 11th Circuit), daring their brethren (literally, given the gender divides on the Court) to eliminate the constitutional right to abortion in a case involving laws that allow for no narrowing construction, provide no exceptions, and are punitive in nature. And all in an election year.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on May 15, 2019 at 06:45 PM in Civil Procedure, Constitutional thoughts, Howard Wasserman, Judicial Process, Law and Politics | Permalink | Comments (6)

Goldilocks and the Future of Legal Scholarship - Symposium Issue

Last semester, Loyola Chicago held an excellent conference on the big question of "The Future of Legal Scholarship". The symposium issue of the journal is now available and includes articles by the anonymous illustrious Law Prof co-authored with Darren Bush, LAW REVIEWS, CITATION COUNTS, and TWITTER (Oh my!): Behind the Curtains of the Law Professor’s Search for Meaning;Caprice Roberts on Unpopular Opinions on Legal Scholarship; The Law Review Follies by Eric J. Segall; Picking Spinach by Anthony Michael Kreis, and finally, my article:The Goldilocks Paths of Legal Scholarship in a Digital Networked World.

 

My piece is short and concerns the challenge of balancing traditional academic writing with more popular, shorter, digital, broader audience writing. Here is the abstract, and you can download the full paper here, and as always, happy to hear your thoughts:

Traditional legal scholarship often comes under fire. Commentators lament that law review articles are too long, too stuffy, too heavily footnoted—just “too traditional.” Legal scholars have responded by seeking out less traditional avenues of publication such as online blogs, social media, and op-eds. These also come with attendant risk—lack of nuance, lack of depth, and assertions outside one’s area of expertise. In this article, written for a symposium on the future of legal scholarship, I propose the “Goldilocks Path” of scholarship as an optimal method of spreading knowledge and ideas. This Goldilocks Path lies in a balance between producing traditional and nontraditional pieces. Doing so engages academics and broadens their audience, allowing for more diverse readership, an opportunity to obtain early critique of theories, and a chance for scholarship to create a stronger impact. Walking the multi-outlet path, where the non-traditional enhances the traditional, can facilitate a more meaningful dialogue within the legal community and with the public at large.

Posted by Orly Lobel on May 15, 2019 at 03:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Ballparks as public spaces and free speech

Interesting interview with architectural critic Paul Goldberger about his new book, Ballpark: Baseball in the American City, in which he describes baseball parks as "a key part of a whole category of public space in the American city." I have a thing for old ballparks, so I look forward to seeing the book.

Goldberger's conception of the ballpark as "public space" is key to my arguments about fan speech. Because the First Amendment is understood as making (publicly owned or controlled) public spaces open for expressive activities, at least so long as expression is not inconsistent with other uses of that space. The grandstand of a ballpark is a large speech zone--the whole point of the space is to allow fans to speak in the form of cheering, shouting, waving signs, etc.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on May 15, 2019 at 09:31 AM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman, Sports | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Exclusive Submissions: Kentucky Law Journal

The Kentucky Law Journal is opening an exclusive article submission track for interested authors. The submission track will open on Wednesday, May 15 and close on Sunday, June 2, 2019. Final publication decisions will be made by Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Authors agree to accept a binding publication offer if the manuscript is selected for publication. Authors further agree to withhold manuscripts from other publications until final publication decisions are made. Accepted manuscripts will be published in Book 2 (final manuscript deadline July 1) and Book 3 (final manuscript deadline September 3). Please include a Book 3 preference in your cover letter if you cannot make Book 2 deadline.

We welcome manuscript submissions from any area of legal scholarship. We look forward to reviewing innovative manuscripts from a diverse academic field. Please send all submissions in PDF format, including manuscript, CV, and cover letter, to Alexander Pabon, Managing Articles Editor of the Kentucky Law Journal, at [email protected] If you have already submitted your manuscript via Scholastica, we ask that you please resubmit your materials in the method described above before the June 2 deadline.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on May 14, 2019 at 06:03 PM in Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

The end of the Warren Court (Reposted and Updated)

Elsewhere, Steve  notes that today marks the 50th anniversary of Abe Fortas' resignation from SCOTUS, making it the last day that the Court had a majority of Democratic appointees.

But it is more than just the appointing party.

In his history of the Warren Court, Lucas Powe argues that what we label "The Warren Court" lasted about 6 1/2 years. It began in the fall of 1962 with the appointment of Arthur Goldberg, which provided a consistent five-person liberal/civil libertarian majority. Goldberg was replaced by Fortas three years later, continuing that five-person majority on mostly the same terms (save for perhaps a few outlier votes). And the appointment of Thurgood Marshall in 1967 solidified that majority by providing a one-vote cushion--the liberal position could afford one defection (such as Justice Black in some crim pro cases) and still retain the majority. Because of Fortas' forced resignation, that six-Justice majority became a four-Justice minority within four months of Nixon's inauguration.

Continue reading "The end of the Warren Court (Reposted and Updated)"

Posted by Howard Wasserman on May 14, 2019 at 04:50 PM in Howard Wasserman, Judicial Process, Law and Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Fun with evidence

D6h4tVFWsAAGB3bThe problem set I use in class has this as a problem in the hearsay section. Supposedly Charles Manson's lawyer would make this objection.

The answer to the hearsay problem is that the name is not an assertion, because it labels someone without saying anything about the state of the world. But I have seen the point made that the real issue is not hearsay so much as lack of personal knowledge of the fact.

Anyway, something to share next semester.

Posted by Administrators on May 14, 2019 at 11:17 AM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Permanent Disability of a Justice

Here is part of a question that I posed to my Constitutional Law class. Suppose Justice X suffers a stroke and his left alive but without any cognitive function. Justice X's family members are appalled at the prospect that he might be replaced by President Y. They invoke some statements by Justice X that he would not want to be replaced by President Y. Consequently, they decide to keep Justice X alive until President Y is no longer in office.

Two years later, President Y and his supporters argue that this situation is a disgrace. The Court needs nine functioning members! More darkly, they say that Justice X's seat should be deemed vacant. The President nominates a new Justice and the Senate (controlled by his party) confirms the new Justice. She shows up at the Court to take the oath. What happens then?

Turns out that there is no textual authority on this question. Vacancies on the Supreme Court are created by death, retirement, or resignation. There is no precedent for a seat to be declared vacant without one of these two events. (One Justice resigned in 1861 to join the Confederacy. Had he not resigned, I presume he would have been swiftly impeached and removed.)  

Posted by Gerard Magliocca on May 13, 2019 at 09:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)