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July 6, 2017

Engines of Anxiety Interview with Wendy Espeland and Michael Sauder

How have law school rankings affected legal education and the lives of admissions officers, deans, and students? Learn more in this interview with Professors Wendy Espeland and Michael Sauder on their book Engines of Anxiety.

June 13, 2017

Clarence Thomas the Questioner

One of Justice Clarence Thomas’s most remarked upon characteristics is his reluctance to ask questions during oral argument. Observers have criticized him for his silence, with some suggesting that it reflects disrespect for his colleagues and the advocates appearing before the Supreme Court. Others defend his silence, noting, for instance, that historically oral argument played a much less significant role and that Thomas’s written opinions speak for themselves. What has been overlooked in this debate, however, is the fact that Justice Thomas is very talented at asking questions. Indeed, in many ways, he is a model questioner. Drawing on the most comprehensive collection of Thomas’s oral argument questions ever compiled, we urge the Justice to ask more questions for a new reason: he is good at it.

May 29, 2017

Local Democracy on the Ballot

In this Essay, Joshua A. Douglas highlights how local voter-backed initiatives can play a significant role in dictating voting rights and election rules. The Essay provides courts with a test to employ when facing an inevitable judicial challenge to one of these local election law initiatives. Professor Douglas argues that courts should generally defer to local rules that expand the electorate or open up the political process to more people, but should not defer to local voting restrictions or rules that tend to aggrandize the majority’s control or lead to entrenchment. He concludes that local laws that enhance democratic participation by expanding the electorate or reducing campaign finance barriers to running for office epitomize the benefits of local democracy and deserve judicial deference.

April 17, 2017

Excessive Lethal Force

In this Essay, Professor Hamilton considers the recent use by Dallas police officers of a robot armed with plastic explosives to kill a suspected gunman on a shooting rampage. In the wake of Dallas, many legal experts in the news maintained that the police action was constitutional. The commentators' consensus was that as long as the police had the right to use lethal force, then the means of that force is irrelevant. This Essay argues the contrary. Under the current state of the constitutional law on the police use of force on a suspected felon, excessive lethal force is a valid consideration. The type and magnitude of lethal force may, under certain circumstances, be unconstitutional despite the suspect posing a high degree of risk to others.