Reframing (and Reclaiming) Pregnancy and Abortion

Khiara Bridges, When Pregnancy is an Injury: Rape, Law, and Culture, 65 Stan. L. Rev. 457 (2013).

In recent years, anti-abortion advocates have argued that abortion harms not only a developing fetus, it also harms the woman who chooses to terminate her pregnancy. These arguments, which Reva Siegel has termed “woman-protective anti-abortion argumentation,” have made their way into abortion jurisprudence.1  In the 2007 case Carhart v. Gonzales,  a majority of the Supreme Court characterized abortion as “a difficult and painful moral decision” that may cause women profound psychological, physical, and emotional harm.2

In response to these arguments and the judicial decisions that entrench them as truths, pro-choice advocates have sought to recast abortion in a more positive light. Katha Pollit’s recent book, Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, seeks to strip abortion of its stigma by reframing it as a common part of a woman’s reproductive life—one that may have positive implications for the woman, her family, and society. Similar themes have surfaced in popular culture. In the 2014 movie Obvious Child, Donna, a struggling twenty-something, becomes pregnant after a one-night stand and decides to have an abortion. Donna’s decision is utterly devoid of the usual angst and drama that attends television and film depictions of similar scenarios. Indeed, she is matter-of-fact about the decision, never contemplating the possibility of raising the child herself or giving it up for adoption. More radically, Donna is no worse for the wear after her abortion. Indeed, she is pleased with her decision, confident that it was the right choice for her.

Amidst these popular efforts to recast abortion in a more positive light comes Khiara Bridges’s excellent article, When Pregnancy is an Injury: Rape, Law, and Culture. In the piece, Bridges considers criminal sexual assault statutes that characterize a pregnancy that results from rape as an injury—beyond the rape itself—to the victim. As Bridges observes, these criminal statutes are notable not simply because they identify those circumstances in which the crime of rape is aggravated and subject to heightened penalties; but because they construct pregnancy as an injury to women. As Bridges explains, the construction of pregnancy as an injury “runs counter to positive constructions of pregnancy within culture.” But it is not just that these criminal statutes disrupt the conventional narrative of pregnancy as a beautiful and blessed experience; by reframing pregnancy as an injury, the criminal sexual assault statutes also provide us with an opportunity to reconceive abortion as “a healing modality, serving to heal a woman of her injury.” Continue reading "Reframing (and Reclaiming) Pregnancy and Abortion"

 
 

Higher Education’s Brands in Cyberspace

Jacob H. Rooksby, Defining Domain: Higher Education’s Battles for Cyberspace, 80 Brooklyn L. Rev. __ (forthcoming, 2015), available at SSRN.

Professor Rooksby studies the way in which higher education institutions manage their brands online by enforcing their trademarks through domain name disputes. His article sits at the intersection of two lines of scholarly discourse. The first is literature about trademark law in cyberspace and the way that it has been privatized.1  ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution policy (UDRP) is the source of law for the majority of domain name-based trademark disputes, and platforms such as eBay and Google have incorporated their private trademark laws into their Terms of Use. The second is the “Internet governance” literature about the role of the domain name system and ICANN in cyberspace and the way in which ICANN is and is not a private government.2

Because UDRP disputes are resolved through online proceedings that are formally non-binding and non-precedential, scholars in the United States tend to leave these decisions in the shadows, focusing attention instead on the work of the federal courts. Taking a different tack, Professor Rooksby set out to find out how frequently U.S institutions of higher education initiated UDRP proceedings and why, with a particular emphasis on whether their enforcement strategies aligned with the free speech values upon which the modern academy is founded. Continue reading "Higher Education’s Brands in Cyberspace"

 
 

Law, Neuroscience and Neuroethics

Jens Clausen and Neil Levy (eds.), Handbook of Neuroethics (2015).

The relationship between the mind and the brain is a topic of immense philosophical, scientific, and popular interest.1 The diverse but interacting powers, abilities, and capacities that we associate with the mind and mental life both link humans with other animals and constitute what make us uniquely human. These powers, abilities, and capacities include perception, sensation, knowledge, memory, belief, imagination, emotion, mood, appetite, intention, and action. The brain, in interaction with other aspects of the nervous system and the rest of the human body, makes these possible.

Obviously, the relationship between the mind and the brain is enormously complicated. It is one thing to say that the mind (or some particular aspect of mental life, for example, pain) “depends on” (contract supervenience—the idea of no change in mental state without underlying change in physical (i.e., brain) state) the brain and another to say that the mind (or a particular aspect of it) just is the brain, or can be “reduced” to the brain (in the sense that it can be explained or explained away). Whether it can or cannot will depend on a number of empirical and conceptual issues. Continue reading "Law, Neuroscience and Neuroethics"

 
 

Bargaining for Equality

Nancy Leong, Identity Entrepreneurs, 104 Cal. L. Rev. ___ (forthcoming 2016), Available at SSRN.

Have you ever invoked an outsider aspect of your identity? Maybe, like many applicants in academia, you’ve discussed how you would contribute to the diversity of the institution you hope to join. Possibly, like Sarah Palin, you’ve found an occasion to emphasize the “unique perspective” of women; or like John Edwards and Rick Perry, you’ve highlighted your working class roots. Or, perhaps less likely, you’ve needed to revive your fan base and found that coming out as a sexual minority could be a good career move; or you’ve embarked on stardom in adult films and discovered Asian femininity is a great asset; or your celebrity as a rap artist includes not only race and gender, but also geographic credibility.

If so, Nancy Leong contends you are hardly the only “identity entrepreneur.” While Leong acknowledges the postmodern work on “performativity,” her conceptualization is Marxian and stresses the value of identity in our capitalist society underwritten by the rule of law. For Leong, being an identity entrepreneur is neither necessarily good nor bad. Entrepreneurs, she states, are increasingly respected and popular in America, even as to be “entrepreneurial” connotes a person who is “self-promoting, grasping, inauthentic, a climber.” For Leong, the term “appropriately reflects ambivalence about the practice of identity entrepreneurship.” It is a “complicated phenomenon with both positive and negative consequences.” Continue reading "Bargaining for Equality"

 
 

An Offer You Can’t Understand

Lauren Willis, Performance-Based Consumer Law, 82 U. Chi. L. Rev. (forthcoming), available at SSRN.

Two decades ago, contract law ran headlong into online terms of service, looked around briefly in confusion, and announced that it needed to go take a nap. It has not been heard from since. In its place we have something that looks like contract law, and claims to be contract law, but is oddly ignorant of things that the real contract law would know. This usurper, part Martin Guerre and part pod person, is formalistic to a fault, obsessed with meaningless details, lazy beyond belief, and utterly devoid of human feeling.

Generations of scholars have tried to unmask this impostor, to little effect. Lauren Willis’s Performance-Based Consumer Law offers a different and more promising way of protecting consumers from overreaching and incomprehensible terms of service. Consumer law cares about form contracts, too, but it can afford to be more realistic about how well consumers actually understand them — or don’t. Continue reading "An Offer You Can’t Understand"

 
 

“Driving While Black” Redux: Illuminating New and Myriad Aspects of Auto(matic) Inequality

Charles R. Epp, Steven Maynard-Moody, and Donald Haider-Markel, Pulled Over: How Police Stops Define Race and Citizenship (2014).

In the wake of a recent spate of police killings of unarmed young, black males in various states, we have once again been reminded of the problematic connections between identity, crime and justice in the United States. For example, the stories surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown (Ferguson, MO), Eric Garner (Staten Island, NY), Tamir Rice (Cleveland, OH), and Walter Scott (North Charleston, SC) reflect the urgency of this Country’s lingering need to seriously consider the differential policing of African-American boys and men. The effect of the killings has been so dramatic that along with the death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman in Sanford, FL, they have inspired a social movement, the motto of which is “Black Lives Matter”. While socially conscious movements stressing the need for equal treatment for people of color are important, in our ostensibly post-race world, large swaths of the citizenry are still likely to view with skepticism claims that racial animus and unconscious bias routinely infect policing. Within this context, little can be done to address vulnerabilities of the socially marginalized without the assistance of compelling empirical data. A new and excellent source of such research is found in Pulled Over: How Police Stops Define Race and Citizenship (2014). This book describes the results of research conducted by University of Kansas scholars Charles Epp, Steven Maynard-Moody and Donald Haider-Markel, which powerfully demonstrates how police practices not only reflect racial bias but operate to construct understandings of race and societal status.

The study at the heart of the text analyzes survey data for over 2300 police stops of motorists in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Based on 708 survey responses for drivers stopped by police, 30 percent of which were from black drivers (P. 20), a key finding of the study is that the effect of race on traffic stops depends on the justification for the stop. For traffic safety stops, which the authors describe as “must stop” situations involving potentially serious violations (P. 60), Blacks are less likely than Whites to a statistically significant degree to be provided such justifications for their stops. This is so because the most important influence on these stops is “how people drive.” (P. 64). With investigatory stops—essentially described as stops for low-level violations—by contrast, Blacks a more likely than Whites to a statistically significant degree to be provided such justifications. Low-level stops, then, are significantly influenced not by driver conduct, but “how they look.” (P. 64). Beyond this illuminating finding connecting the consideration of race in stops to the type of traffic stop, the study considers the relevance of a number of other driver and auto characteristics for police stops. Looking at such characteristics as gender, age, class and driver behavior, the data support additional findings for investigatory stops. (P. 68-69). For example, certain low-value vehicles—a marker for socioeconomic class—were stopped more often, race mattered more when drivers were perceived as driving in locations where they were “out of place” and that young Black males driving low-status vehicles were the most vulnerable minority drivers. (P. 70-71). These survey data alone add significant nuance to our understanding of how perceived driver identity and behavior affect policing. The study, however, also collected interviews from among the survey participants. (P. 21). Using these interviews, throughout the text the researchers weave in driver narratives that provide powerful qualitative evidence of how drivers internalize the consequences of racially disparate policing. Continue reading "“Driving While Black” Redux: Illuminating New and Myriad Aspects of Auto(matic) Inequality"

 
 

A Call for Providence in Class Action Reform

Maureen Carroll, Class Action Myopia, 65 Duke L. J. __ (forthcoming 2016).

Square pegs do not generally fit in round holes. When and if they do, the fit is certainly imperfect. Maureen Carroll calls on this adage to explain how courts and lawmakers are muddling the class action. In Class Action Myopia, Carroll argues that institutional actors’ singular focus on the Rule 23(b)(3) class action—what Carroll calls the aggregated-damages class action—negatively affects other types of class actions. Institutional actors fail to assess how perceived problems in the aggregated-damages context might not even exist in other class actions. Relatedly, actors do not anticipate how proposed solutions distinctively, and sometimes negatively, affect different class actions. This myopia, Carroll argues, must give way to providence.

Carroll begins by rehearsing the different types of class actions addressed by Rule 23: logical-indivisibility (Rule 23(b)(1)(A)), limited fund (Rule 23(b)(1)(B)), injunctive civil-rights (Rule 23(b)(2)), and aggregated-damages class actions (Rule 23(b)(3)). She argues that when Rule 23 was amended in 1966, the first three subtypes were designed to reflect common practice by courts and parties who were using some version of aggregate litigation to respond to specific litigation difficulties. For example, where a defendant wished to take water from a stream, it could not do so and only affect one downstream landowner and not others. But litigating disputes between the defendant and various landowners separately might lead to inconsistent judgments. Rule 23(b)(1)(A) thus provides that a class of potential claimants can combine their claims and seek one consistent judgment. Carroll explains how this same historical pedigree applied to limited-fund and injunctive civil-rights class actions—these subtypes were created to deal with existing complexities facing courts and largely codified best practices that had developed in response. Moreover, these subtypes were meant to address unfair outcomes produced by individual litigation in these specific contexts. Continue reading "A Call for Providence in Class Action Reform"

 
 

Rethinking Insider Trading Regulation

  • Yesha Yadav, Insider Trading in Derivatives Markets, 103 Georgetown L.J. 381 (2015)
  • Yesha Yadav, Structural Insider Trading, Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 15-8 (March 27, 2015), available at SSRN.

The question of distinguishing between the informational advantages insiders and outsiders may and may not legitimately exploit in trading in the financial markets is perennial: is securities regulation about achieving a level playing field for investors or about imposing sanctions for certain fiduciary and fiduciary-like breaches of duty which go beyond traditional remedies for such breaches. The Second Circuit’s decision in US v Newman emphasizes the fiduciary duty component of liability: at least in a criminal case involving tipping by insiders “the Government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the tippee knew that an insider disclosed confidential information and that he did so in exchange for a personal benefit.”

In these papers Yesha Yadav focuses on two specific problem areas in insider trading regulation, relating to trading in credit default swaps (CDS) by lenders and “structural” trading using a combination of preferential access to information and locational advantages. Both examples present arguments for a rethinking of how insider trading regulation should address the realities of modern, complex, financial markets. Continue reading "Rethinking Insider Trading Regulation"

 
 

How Do We Know When Speech is of Low Value?

Genevieve Lakier, The Invention of Low-Value Speech, Harv. L. Rev. (forthcoming), available at SSRN.

Bedrock First Amendment law calls for the Supreme Court to apply strict scrutiny to the government’s content-based regulation of speech. Except when it doesn’t. Over time, the Court has identified several categories of expression as sufficiently “low value” to trigger a First Amendment analysis less suspicious than strict scrutiny, thus enabling greater government regulation of that speech. These categories have included commercial speech, true threats, incitement to imminent illegal action, “fighting words,” obscenity, defamation, fraud, child pornography, and speech that is integral to criminal conduct. This subject, and what we think we know about it, is the focus of Genevieve Lakier’s valuable new article, The Invention of Low-Value Speech. Especially useful and novel for its strong historical look at the long first era of First Amendment law prior to the twentieth century, it is also important as a refutation of the Court’s current approach that purports to rely entirely on historical analysis to identify categories of low-value speech.

Taking a categorical approach to First Amendment protection, of course, requires a methodology for determining which speech belongs in which categories. In its decision in United States v. Stevens, 559 U.S. 460 (2010), the Supreme Court surprised many observers with its insistence that historical tradition alone has driven its determination that a category of expression is of only low First Amendment value. The Stevens Court struck down a federal statute that prohibited the commercial creation, sale, or possession of depictions of animal cruelty. In so doing, the Court rejected as “startling and dangerous” what it characterized as the government’s proposed “free-floating test for First Amendment coverage . . . [based on] an ad hoc balancing of relative social costs and benefits.” To be sure, the Court started by acknowledging that, “[a]s the Government correctly notes, this Court has often described historically unprotected categories of speech as being ‘of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.’” The Court went on to assert, however:

But such descriptions are just that – descriptive. They do not set forth a test that may be applied as a general matter to permit the Government to imprison any speaker so long as his speech is deemed valueless or unnecessary, or so long as an ad hoc calculus of costs and benefits tilts in a statute’s favor. When we have identified categories of speech as fully outside the protection of the First Amendment, it has not been on the basis of a simple cost-benefit analysis. . . . [but we have instead] grounded [our] analysis in a previously recognized, long-established category of unprotected speech, and our subsequent decisions have shared this understanding.

Stevens thus made the descriptive clam that the Court has relied only on historical analysis to identify categories of low-value speech (i.e., that it has focused on whether courts have historically treated the contested expression as low-value), rather than on balancing analyses that identify contested expression as “low-value” when its threatened harms outweigh its capacity to further key free speech values. Continue reading "How Do We Know When Speech is of Low Value?"

 
 

The PTO Is Not the Only Patent Agency

  • Tejas N. Narechania, Patent Conflicts, 103 Geo. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2015), available at SSRN.
  • Jacob S. Sherkow, Administrating Patent Litigation, 90 Wash. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2015), available at SSRN.

In these new articles, Tejas Narechania and Jake Sherkow push the contextualizing trend in IP scholarship in a novel direction. As noted by Rob Merges, scholars are increasingly recognizing that formal IP laws are embedded in a broader economic context, and this wave of scholarship includes case studies of fields in which innovation is supported by norms and market incentives (like fashion, cuisine, roller derby names, and tattooing) and increased analysis of non-IP mechanisms like tax credits and direct transfers through which the state provides significant financial support for innovators. But in addition, I think this contextualizing move involves recognition that the innovation ecosystem is shaped not only by non-IP laws and norms, but also by a broad array of institutions.

Most discussions of institutional actors in patent law have analyzed interactions among the Federal Circuit, the Supreme Court, Congress, and the PTO. But these two new articles by Narechania and Sherkow focus on administrative agencies beyond the PTO. Building on terrific work by scholars such as Arti RaiSapna Kumar, and Kali Murray, Narechania and Sherkow provide detailed examples of the ways in which agencies such as the FTC, FCC, ITC, NIH, and FDA have played key roles in influencing patent policy. Continue reading "The PTO Is Not the Only Patent Agency"

 
 

Getting from “May We?” to “Should We?” at the NSA

Margo Schlanger, Intelligence Legalism and the National Security Agency’s Civil Liberties Gap, 6 Harv. Nat’l Sec. J. 112 (2015).

Margo Schlanger’s article, Intelligence Legalism and the National Security Agency’s Civil Liberties Gap, is an important contribution to both administrative and national security law. She explains in illuminating detail how the NSA, the hub of so much controversial electronic surveillance activity, is not a rogue enterprise, but deeply enmeshed in and committed to a complex regime of legal compliance. The question she poses is why so elaborate a compliance system is seemingly ineffective in advancing civil liberties values more robustly. Her argument is thematically related to an earlier and equally thoughtful paper, Offices of Goodness: Influence Without Authority in Federal Agencies (reviewed here), which likewise explored the difficulties for administrative agencies in honoring overarching values that are relevant to their programs, but which may appear as orthogonal to a particular agency’s specific primary objectives. (Think about the Department of Transportation promoting park land conservation or the Army Corps of Engineers protecting endangered species.)

Professor Schlanger argues that, within the NSA, the applicable legal rules are insufficient to induce a proper balance between the likely security gains from a particular surveillance initiative and the privacy and civil liberties risks and costs entailed in that initiative. Constitutional restrictions won’t produce the optimal balance between costs and benefits because the scope of constitutional rights doesn’t turn on that balance. Policy is not a major factor driving constitutional interpretation concerning the scope of individual privacy rights, especially where courts may not fully grasp the privacy implications of programs under review. (And, of course, private lawsuits are likely to exert little leverage over the intelligence community because the state secrets doctrine will insulate many government practices from effective—or any—judicial challenge.) Continue reading "Getting from “May We?” to “Should We?” at the NSA"