Saturday, December 25, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
The Dirksen Congressional Center announced that it will accept applications for grants to fund research on Congress. From the announcement:
The Center's first interest is to fund the study of the leadership in the Congress, both House and Senate. Topics could include external factors shaping the exercise of congressional leadership, institutional conditions affecting it, resources and techniques used by leaders, or the prospects for change or continuity in the patterns of leadership. In addition, the Center invites proposals about congressional procedures, such as committee operation or mechanisms for institutional change, and Congress and the electoral process.
Awards range from a few hundred dollars to $3,500. The deadline is March 1, 2011. Click here for more information.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Article I, Section 2, of the Constitution requires an "actual Enumeration" every ten years for the purpose of distributing seats in the House of Representatives among the states. Today the Census Bureau released the results of its 23rd enumeration, the 2010 census.
Take a look at the details on this interactive map at the Census Bureau web-site. In short, population gains were greatest in the South and West, with Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and Texas topping the list (with each above 20% growth since 2000). Michigan is the only state to lose people.
Texas is the big winner for new congressional seats; it gets four. Florida comes in next with two additional seats. Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania each lose a seat; New York and Ohio lose two.
The results seem to favor right-leaning states in Congress, especially because Republicans are in a strong position in state governments for redistricting. But the results also seem to favor right-leaning states in the electoral college (which elect the President): Under Article II, Section 1, the number of electors for each state equals the number of Senators (always two) plus the number of Representatives (which will now change).
Monday, December 20, 2010
Simon Lazarus, public policy counsel at the National Senior Citizens Law Center, writes in the National Law Journal today that challenges to health care reform harken back to an earlier era of judicial activism, the Lochner Era.
Lazarus writes that the challenges, which argue that Congress lacks authority under the Commerce Clause to enact the individual health insurance mandate, represent the same kind of activism we saw from the Lochner Court, which overturned hour legislation as interfering with liberty interests under the Due Process Clause. The only difference: the constitutional basis of the challenge.
But some don't see it. For example, Lazarus points out that Judge Vinson, who is handling the challenge in the Northern District of Florida by 20 Republican state attorneys general and governors, rejected an argument in his preliminary ruling on October 14 that the mandate violates due process. This way of thinking, he wrote, was a relic of the Lochner Era. Congress determined that the mandate was rationally related to a legitimate end and therefore did not violate due process.
But Judge Vinson also wrote that the mandate exceeded Congress's Commerce Clause authority, declining to extend the same kind of deference to Congress's judgment on its own authority.
Lazarus highlights the inconsistency:
Opponents' challenge to the federal provision stands or falls by the same logic, whether cast as a "fundamental" incident of due process or as an implicit carve-out from Congress' authority to regulate interstate commerce. Slipping the inquiry from one constitutional shell to another should fool no one. If conservative jurists invalidate this linchpin of the most important domestic legislation in perhaps half a century, they will restore Lochner--letter, spirit, the whole nine yards.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
We've previously posted on the problems of marriage monopoly under constitutional federalism and the E-marriage solution proposed by Mae Kuykendall and Adam Candeub.
The topic will be under discussion at AALS this January on a "hot topics" panel scheduled for January 7, 2011 at 4.00 pm. Panelists include:
Mae Kuykendall, MSU College of Law, Moderator
Adam Candeub, MSU College of Law, Presentation of the E-Marriage Concept
Larry Ribstein, Illinois College of Law, Critical Analysis
Anita Bernstein, Brooklyn Law College, Commentary on Marriage Essentials
Monu Bedi, Stetson School of Law, The Military Context
Aviva Abramovsky, Syracuse College of Law, State Export of Other Legal Arrangements
June Carbone, UMKC School of Law, Redefining Law and Geography