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Volume 105


Constitutional Rights in the Machine-Learning State

Aziz Z. Huq

Frank and Bernice J. Greenberg Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School. 

This Article offers a start to the larger project of developing a general account of substantive rules and enforcement mechanisms to promote due process, privacy, and equality norms in the machine-learning state. Cataloging notable state and municipal adoptions of machine-learning tools, it considers how existing constitutional norms can be recalibrated (in the case of due process and equality) or retooled (in the case of privacy). It further reexamines the enforcement regime for constitutional interests in light of machine learning’s dissemination. Today, constitutional rights are (largely) enforced through discrete, individual legal actions. Machine learning’s normative implications arise from systemic design choices. The retail enforcement mechanisms that currently dominate the constitutional remedies context are therefore particularly ill fitting. Instead, a careful mix of ex ante regulation and ex post aggregate litigation, which are necessary complements, is more desirable.

Nov 2020

Presidential War Powers, The Take Care, and Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter

Brian Finucane

The author serves as an attorney-adviser at the U.S. Department of State. He prepared this Article in his personal capacity, and the views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of State or the U.S. government. 

This Article argues that by virtue of the Take Care Clause Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter binds the President as a matter of domestic law. In substantiating this proposition, this Article relies primarily upon the arguments of the Executive Branch itself in three superficially distinct, though interrelated domains. By synthesizing Executive Branch views on war powers, the Take Care Clause, and Article 2(4), this Article shows how presidential arguments advancing claims of authority also delineate the scope of the corresponding constitutional duties. The Take Care Clause gives and takes at once. If the President is not constrained by treaties, the President also lacks the power to execute them.

I rebut a 1989 Office of Legal Counsel memorandum by now-Attorney General William Barr that concluded that the President may unilaterally “override” Article 2(4) because the treaty provision is non-self-executing and because the use of force is a “political question.” I explain that, though the political question and non-self-execution doctrines may be relevant to the justiciability of Article 2(4) in the courts, neither is dis-positive as to the status of Article 2(4) as a “Law” that the President is obligated to faithfully execute. The conclusion that Article 2(4) is a “Law” has significant implications for the allocation of war powers. Contrary to Barr’s 1989 memo, by virtue of the last-in-time rule, it is Congress—not the President—that possesses the authority to “override” this treaty provision.

Nov 2020

In Defense of Breakups: Administering a “Radical” Remedy

Rory Van Loo, Associate Professor of Law, Boston University; Affiliated Fellow, Yale Law School Information Society Project  


Calls for breaking up monopolies—especially Amazon, Facebook, and Google—have largely focused on proving that companies like Whole Foods, Instagram, and YouTube are anticompetitive. But scholars have paid insufficient attention to a separate step in the analysis that may help explain why the government in recent decades has not broken up a single large company. . . . This Article asserts that the pervasive hesitancy about administering breakups renders antitrust impotent in the face of monopolies—too often a statutory right without a remedy. More importantly, the Article challenges the perception of breakups as unadministrable.

Nov 2020

Against Prosecutors

I. Bennett Capers, Professor of Law and Director of the Center on Race, Law, and Justice, Fordham Law School. B.A. Princeton University; J.D. Columbia Law School.

Each year our jails cycle through approximately ten million people, the vast majority charged with nonviolent crimes. We are at a point where one in every three adults in America has a criminal record, and where for every fifteen persons born in 2001, one will likely spend time in jail or prison. Compared to other countries, the crime rate in the United States is not exceptional, and yet we have by far the highest incarceration rate in the world. None of this can be solved by simply tinkering with the machinery of prosecution. It is time to rethink why and how we prosecute in the first place. What would it mean to turn away from public prosecutors and not rely on the criminal justice system as the first responder to address social ills, such as mental illness and poverty (two of the main drivers of our prison industrial complex)? More radically, what would it mean to turn away from state controlled prosecution as the primary way to address crime? What would it mean to replace a system where prosecutors hold a monopoly in deciding which cases are worthy of pursuit with a system in which “we the people,” including those of us who have traditionally had little power, would be empowered to seek and achieve justice ourselves? This Article attempts to answer these questions.

Sep 2020

FRAND and Antitrust

Herbert Hovenkamp, James B. Dinan University Professor, University of Pennsylvania Law School and The Wharton School.

This Article addresses one question: when is a Standard Setting Organization (SSO) participant’s violation of a FRAND commitment an antitrust violation, and if it is, of what kind and what are the implications for remedies? It warns against two extremes. One is thinking that any violation of a FRAND commitment is an antitrust violation as well. In the first instance FRAND obligations are contractual, and most breaches of contract do not violate any antitrust law. The other extreme is thinking that, because a FRAND violation is a breach of contract, it cannot also be an antitrust violation. The question of an antitrust violation does not depend on whether the conduct breached a particular agreement but rather on whether it caused competitive harm. This can happen because the conduct restrained trade under section 1 of the Sherman Act, was unreasonably exclusionary under section 2 of the Sherman Act, or amounted to an anticompetitive condition or understanding as defined by section 3 of the Clayton Act. The end goal is to identify practices that harm competition, thereby injuring consumers.

Sep 2020

Equity, Punishment, and the Company You Keep: Discerning A Disgorgement Remedy Under the Federal Securities Laws

Theresa A. Gabaldon, Lyle T. Alverson Professor of Law, The George Washington University Law School; J.D. 1978, Harvard Law School; B.S. 1975, University of Arizona.

This Article first provides background on the judicial development of the SEC disgorgement remedy, up to and through Kokesh. It then examines parallel legislative developments, touching on the fraught subject of legislative history. After describing this necessary context, the Article relies on it to illuminate a problem endemic to litigation about federal remedies. This has to do with the promiscuous use of the word “equitable,” which appears to have greatly complicated any attempt to make sense of disgorgement. The confusion resulting from a sea of unexamined assumptions about “equity” that floats throughout the relevant cases and commentary has obscured a central issue. This is the difference between whether a remedy exists—the primary subject of this Article—and whether, if it does, there are constitutional consequences. In the process of shedding light on this subject, this Article answers three specific questions. The first is whether a right to seek disgorgement could be said to exist as a function of the Commission’s express authority to seek equitable remedies. The second is whether the SEC’s right to seek disgorgement could be said to exist at law. The third, which assumes an affirmative answer to both of the first two, is which of the two characterizations is more appropriate.

Sep 2020


Too Much “Acting,” Not Enough Confirming: The Constitutional Imbalance Between the President and Senate Under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act

Christopher D. Johnson, B.S., Northwestern University, 2014; Cornell Law School, J.D. Candidate, 2021.

“While the recent uproar over acting service largely stems from perceived abuses of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act during Trump’s presidency, it is properly understood as a foreseeable consequence of the structure of the legislative lever that the President—any president, not just President Trump—can pull to temporarily fill key positions in the Executive Branch absent Senate consent. This Note charts a path toward fixing that structure. . . .

This Note proceeds as follows. Part I describes the Federal Vacancies Reform Act’s basic mechanics, highlights aspects of the statute this Note’s proposed changes seek to address, and details Trump Administration controversies illustrating how, with regard to the process of filling the upper ranks of executive agencies, the FVRA amplifies presidential authority to the detriment of the Senate’s authority. Part II analyzes the FVRA’s constitutional foundation, delineates the key tension in the statute flowing from the nexus between the President’s take care obligation and the Senate’s advice and consent function, argues that the FVRA aids the former at the expense of the latter, and contextualizes this argument by describing the increasing Senate resistance the President must overcome in today’s appointments process. Part III sets forth changes to the FVRA in view of its constitutional imbalance between the Take Care Clause and Senate advice and consent.”

Nov 2020

The Death of Retaliatory Arrest Claims: The Supreme Courts Attempt to Kill Retaliatory Arrest Claims in Nieves v. Bartlett

Michael G. Mills, B.A., Siena College, 2018; Cornell Law School, J.D. Candidate, 2021.

“The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Nieves v. Bartlett threatens to render retaliatory arrest lawsuits superfluous and allows officers to flagrantly chill speech without repercussion. An officer violates the First Amendment when she arrests an individual because of his protected speech. Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision in Nieves, the individual could bring a lawsuit against the officer under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for depriving the individual of his First Amendment rights. Nieves, however, required the individual to show that the officer lacked probable cause for the arrest. This requirement nearly eliminates retaliatory arrest claims since it is incredibly easy for an officer to show probable cause. Even if the individual could show the officer lacked probable cause, the individual could have already sued the officer for a false arrest. Thus, retaliatory arrest claims are now superfluous and no longer serve any purpose in discouraging officers from chilling free speech. The decision’s negative effects will be compounded with the increasing number of retaliatory arrests during protests of recent police killings of Black individuals, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

The Court did create an exception in Nieves for when an officer had probable cause but normally would not exercise her discretion to arrest. For example, when an officer arrests an anti-police protester for jaywalking. Nonetheless, the Court suggested such a high standard to govern this exception that very few retaliatory arrest claims will succeed. Instead, lower courts should adopt a less stringent standard. This Note advocates that lower courts adopt a burden-shifting test used in employment discrimination cases. This standard is more realistic for plaintiffs to satisfy, and thus, will allow the Nieves exception to deter officers from chilling speech.”

Nov 2020

Disciplinary Sodomy: Prison Rape, Police Brutality, and the Gendered Politics of Societal Control in the American Carceral System

David Eichert, PhD Candidate, London School of Economics; Cornell Law School 2020.

“This Note engages with critical legal scholarship about gender and race to reframe discussions about sodomy in American law. Instead of concentrating on the history and constitutionality of sodomy bans, I instead demonstrate how disciplinary sodomy remains an intrinsic part of the American carceral system. I detail several scenarios in which anal rape and the threat of anal rape have been used by prison staff and law enforcement agents to control male bodies in the American carceral system. I then identify the “audiences” of this violence, demonstrating how ideas of sexuality, gender, and race are weaponized against marginalized populations to reinforce power hierarchies in American society.”

Sep 2020

Developing a Digital Property Law Regime

Kevin Dong, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, B.A., Philosophy & Political Science, 2014; Cornell Law School, J.D., 2020.

“In this Note, I will argue that the nature of digital property requires us to radically rethink what types of property rights we have, and that ultimately a new class of specific “virtual property” or “digital property” rights is necessary. In Part I, I give a brief history of the scholarship and debate around virtual property and argue why the virtual property debate is still important today. In Part II, I consider ways in which digital property and physical property may differ, and ultimately argue that Palka’s((Przemyslaw Palka, Virtual Property: Towards a General Theory (Dec. 20, 2017) (unpublished Ph.D. thesis, European University Institute) (on file with Cadmus).)) work on virtual property takes the necessary steps toward a coherent and sensible digital property regime. In Part III, I attempt to create the basis of what a digital property rights regime may look like and suggest future developments to my theory on digital property.”

Sep 2020