Saturday, December 8, 2012

Symposium to Honor Patricia Williams

Prof Patricia J. William's work has been influential for many ConLawProfs.   A terrific-looking symposium honoring her work is scheduled for March, 2013.

 

PatWmsSymp

Registration information here.

RR

December 8, 2012 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Certiorari Granted on Same Sex Marriage Cases

The Court has granted certiorari on Windsor v. United States, the Second Circuit decision finding DOMA section 3 unconstitutional and Perry v. Brown, [now Hollingsworth v. Perry] the Ninth Circuit opinion on California's Proposition 8.

The questions certified include issues of standing.

Supreme_Court2

Update: The Order provides:

12-144       HOLLINGSWORTH, DENNIS, ET AL. V. PERRY, KRISTIN M., ET AL.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted.  In addition to the question presented by the petition, the parties  are directed to brief and argue the following question:  Whether petitioners have standing under Article III, §2 of the Constitution in this case.

12-307       UNITED STATES V. WINDSOR, EDITH S., ET AL.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted.  In addition to the question presented by the petition, the parties are directed to brief and argue the following  questions: Whether the Executive Branch’s agreement with the court below that DOMA is unconstitutional deprives this Court of  jurisdiction to decide this case; and whether the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the United States House of Representatives has Article III standing in this case.

 

Interestingly, the Court did not grant certiorari in the First Circuit cases, perhaps because Justice Kagan may have had a role as Solicitor General or perhaps because of the Tenth Amendment argument.  

RR


December 7, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Daily Read: Kende on Revolution and Pragmatism in Constitutionalism

Revolution and Pragmatism?  Aren't they oppositional concepts, and indeed, opposing realities? 

KendeMark Kende (pictured) argues that we shouldn't be so sure.  In his article, Constitutional Pragmatism, The Supreme Court, and Democratic Revolution, forthcoming in Denver University Law Review and available in draft on ssrn, Kende demonstrates that the usual conceptions of "pragmatism" are incomplete.  He advances several types of pragmatic impulses that are consistent with the US constitutional revolution and subsequent jurisprudence such as "common sense,transitional, political, democratic, economic, empirical, common law,flexible, critical, and comprehensive pragmatism."  He also discusses the types of constitutional pragmatism that are less consistent with revolution: prudential and efficiency-oriented pragmatism. 

Kende aims to provide a typology of pragmatism, as a grounding for considering "constitutional pragmatism more intelligently, as well as see its complexity and ubiquity."  For Kende, it is pragmatism - - - rather than originalism or living constitutionalism - - - that has the most descriptive, and perhaps prescriptive power.

Kende's article is an excellent intervention in the ongoing debates of constitutional interpretation.

RR

December 7, 2012 in Interpretation, Scholarship, Supreme Court (US), Theory | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Court's Ruling on Medicaid Expansion Doesn't Threaten Title IX, Martin Argues

Emily J. Martin, Vice-President and General Counsel at the National Women's Law Center, published an American Constitution Society Issue Brief that argues that the Supreme Court's ruling last summer on the ACA's Medicaid expansion in Nat'l Fed. of Ind. Business v. Sebelius does not threaten Title IX.

Recall that the Court ruled in NFIB that Congress exceeded its authority in enacting the Medicaid expansion component of the ACA.  The Medicaid expansion provision provided generous federal financial assistance for states that expanded their Medicaid programs to reach those up to 133% of the federal poverty level.  Some states balked, arguing that this was way too heavy-handed, given the size of Medicaid and their reliance on it.  In other words, states argued that Congress couldn't force them to choose between expanding their Medicaid programs and foregoing all federal Medicaid funding.

The Supreme Court agreed.  Chief Justice Roberts wrote for a plurality that Medicaid expansion was a new program, not just an addition to the existing Medicaid program, and that the sheer size of Medicaid--and the threat of its entire loss--made the ACA's Medicaid expansion unduly coercive on the states.  At the same time, the plurality wrote that Congress could condition receipt of incremental and additional Medicaid funds under the ACA on a state's expansion of Medicaid.

Some thought that this approach to Congress's spending power threatened other federal spending programs, in particular Title IX.  Title IX prohibits public and private educational institutions that receive federal funds from discriminating on the basis of sex.  Some suggested that under NFIB, Title IX, like Medicaid expansion, might be unduly coercive, because it might require an educational institution to forego all federal funding if it discriminates against women.

Martin says this is wrong.  She writes that NFIB doesn't even apply Title IX and private educational institutions: NFIB's approach--and the Spending Clause approach generally--is concerned about coercion of states, not private actors.  As to states, she argues that unlike the ACA's Medicaid expansion, Title IX operates to limit the termination of federal funds "to the particular program . . . in which . . . noncompliance has been so found."  20 U.S.C. Sec. 1682.  In short, noncompliant state institutions wouldn't stand to lose their entire federal educational budget (as they could stand to lose their entire Medicaid budget under the ACA); instead, they'd lose only that portion tied to the sex discrimination.

Martin says that Title IX is protected from NFIB for another reason: Congress also had authority to enact Title IX under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment.  She argues that this belt on top of the Spending Clause's suspenders ensures that Title IX is well within congressional authority.

SDS

December 6, 2012 in Congressional Authority, Fourteenth Amendment, News, Spending Clause | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Daily Read: Bradley Manning's Attorney on C-Span

Some excellent reporting and gathering of materials from C-SPAN on the Bradley Manning case, involving constitutional issues of state secrets, First Amendment, and due process, among others.

Today's daily "read" is the video from an event discussing the Manning case features a very rare appearance by Manning's attorney, David Coombs.   The introduction of Coombs starts at 22:40.  Coombs discusses the "unlawful pretrial punishment motion" regarding Manning's treatment during detention which he describes as "criminal" before the move to Leavenworth, the public attention to the case, whistle-blowing.  He also responds to vetted questions: he lauds the military justice system, including the judges and any possible panel, as educated, open-minded, and fair; discusses his own legal career; generally discusses the relationship between the "press" and an "aiding the enemy" offense; the perils of "trying the case in the press;" and privileged communication between attorney and client.   Interestingly absent is any discussion of Manning's sexuality.

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This is definitey worth a listen!

RR

December 6, 2012 in Courts and Judging, Criminal Procedure, Current Affairs, Due Process (Substantive), Foreign Affairs, News, Sexuality, State Secrets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Oklahoma Supreme Court Finds Abortion Statute Unconstitutional

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has held its restrictive abortion statute, HB 2780, unconstitutional in two  opinions yesterday, affirming lower courts: Nova Health Systems v. Pruit and Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice v. Cline.

The nine supreme court justices, "representing" each of the nine judicial districts of the state,

State1

issued the terse (and nearly identical) opinions, the only difference being a recusal of one of the Justices in Pruit.  The opinion(s) provided in full:

PER CURIUM

¶1 This is an appeal of the trial court's summary judgment which held House Bill 1970, 2011 Okla. Sess. Laws 1276, unconstitutional. Upon review of the record and the briefs of the parties, this Court determines this matter is controlled by the United States Supreme Court decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), which was applied in this Court's recent decision of In re Initiative No. 395, State Question No. 761, 2012 OK 42, cert. den. sub nom. Personhood Okla. v. Barber et al., 81 U.S.L.W. 3065 (U.S. October 29, 2012) (No. 12-145).

¶2 Because the United States Supreme Court has previously determined the dispositive issue presented in this matter, this Court is not free to impose its own view of the law. The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution provides:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

U.S. Const. Art. VI, cl. 2. The Oklahoma Constitution reaffirms the effect of the Supremacy Clause on Oklahoma law by providing: "The State of Oklahoma is an inseparable part of the Federal Union, and the Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land." Okla. Const. art. 1, § 1. Thus, this Court is duty bound by the United States and the Oklahoma Constitutions to "follow the mandate of the United States Supreme Court on matters of federal constitutional law" In re Initiative Petition No. 349, State Question No. 642, 1992 OK 122, ¶ 1, 838 P.2d 1, 2; In re Petition No. 395, 2012 OK 42, ¶ 2.

¶3 The challenged measure is facially unconstitutional pursuant to Casey, 505 U.S. 833. The mandate of Casey remains binding on this Court until and unless the United States Supreme Court holds to the contrary. The judgment of the trial court holding the enactment unconstitutional is affirmed and the measure is stricken in its entirety.

 

 

Thus, the court rests its decision on the Supreme Court's holding in Casey, and not, as some reports have suggested, state constitutional law.  The matter is thus suitable for a petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court.

RR
[image via]

December 5, 2012 in Abortion, Fourteenth Amendment, Supremacy Clause | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Constitutional Law Exam: 2012 Possibilities

For ConLawProfs, it's time to draft the Constitutional Law final exam.  And it's time for ConLaw students to study and master the materials, arguments, and theoretical perspectives in preparation for any (all?) possible hypotheticals. 

We've previously discussed some best practices regarding final exams, and noted the time-honored strategy of using current controversies to frame the exam. 

542px-Thomas_Wyck_-_A_scholar_in_his_Study_-_Google_Art_ProjectThe caveat is that the exam question must include all the specific material and explanations that a student would need to answer the question and not rely upon extraneous information that not all students might share.

While some ideas from last year remain viable, there are some new exciting possibilities for the Constitutional Law exam.

Equal protection is a definite star this semester.  Shining brightest is the affirmative action case of Fisher v. University of Texas, argued before the United States Supreme Court in October, focuses on the continued validity of Grutter and perhaps affirmative action itself.  A well wrought exam question would provide students with opportunities to grapple with doctrine and theory, and it seems many ConLawProfs spent some time on Fisher (as I did, including having students read the excellent briefs).  

Only slightly less bright, but certainly much less focused, is equal protection in the same sex marriage cases still pending before the Court of petitions for certiorari.  The complexity of the DOMA and Prop 8 petitions can be easily distilled, however, with the Second Circuit case of Windsor providing an excellent template.  DOMA, as a federal statute, could also implicate the notion of federalism, especially as the First Circuit decided.  DOMA might also be "tweaked" to provide the basis for a Congressional powers issue. For those wishing a less complex same-sex marriage equal protection hypothetical than DOMA or Prop 8, the recent Nevada decision provides a good basis. 

The Court has also accepted certiorari on the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act, implicating equal protection, but focusing on Congressional power under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, as well as the doctrine under the Tenth Amendment.  

The Second Amendment has less vitality now than in the past few years, but the basis of a good issue (or sub issue) could be found in any number of recent gun regulations that have been upheld, including from the Second Circuit and the Fifth Circuit.

Want a takings clause issue?  Think raisins. Or temporary planned flooding.

For preemption, Arizona is a solid bet, with the newest issue to go before the Court mixing citizenship and voting). 

First Amendment issues abound, often subtly or not so subtly intertwining both speech and religion clauses.  There are anti-Islam subway/bus advertisements, the challenges to the ACA contraception requirements,(including by private companies),  prohibitions of recording of law enforcement officers, compelled disclosures regarding suicide risk in abortions, and prohibitions of sexual conversion therapy on minors. 

For those who like to draw on the popular culture zeitgeist, the Petraeus scandal could be a good springboard, spawning issues surrounding the constitutional status of adultery and perhaps state secrets and surveillance or the rights of public employees (consider a mandatory drug test?).

Good luck to professors and students alike!

RR
[image: Thomas Wyck - A scholar in his Study, 1600s, via]

December 5, 2012 in Cases and Case Materials, Current Affairs, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Temporary Flooding May Be a Taking

A unanimous Supreme Court (with Justice Kagan recused) ruled today in Arkansas Game & Fish Commission v. U.S. that government temporary flooding may constitute a taking.  The ruling is not particularly surprising and only reversed and remanded a lower court decision that read precedent to give temporary floods a pass under the Takings Clause.  Justice Ginsburg wrote for the Court that temporary floods get no such pass and may well constitute a taking, depending on a number of well-settled factors.

We covered the oral argument here.

The case arose out of the Army Corps of Engineer's varying water release rates from the Clearwater Dam, upstream from the Commission's Management Area.  The release rates caused a series of temporary floods in the Management Area during key tree-growing season, thus harming certain tree species and the wildlife that they supported.  The Commission sued, arguing that the floods constituted a taking.  The Federal Circuit read Supreme Court precedent to say that temporary floods (as opposed to permanent ones) were categorically exempt from the Takings Clause.

The Supreme Court reversed.  Justice Ginsburg wrote that the Federal Circuit misread Court precedent and that even temporary floods could constitute a taking.  How do we know when?

When regulation or temporary physical invasion by government interferes with private property, our decisions recognize, time is indeed a factor in determining the existence vel non of a compensable taking. . . .

Also relevant to the takings inquiry is the degree to which the invasion is intended or is the foreseeable result of authorized government action.  So, too, are the character of the land at issue and the owner's "reasonable investment-backed expectations" regarding the land's use. . . .  Severity of the interference figures in the calculus as well.

Op at 14-15.

The  Court sent the case back to the Federal Circuit to take a crack at applying these factors.

SDS

December 4, 2012 in Cases and Case Materials, Fifth Amendment, News, Opinion Analysis, Takings Clause | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Congressional Research Awards Applications Open

Applications for the Dirksen Congressional Center Congressional Research Awards are open and due on March 1, 2012.  The center will award up to a total of $35,000 in grants for 2013.  Individual awards are calculated on a competitive basis and range from a few hundred dollars to $3,500. 

Dclogo_2

More information is here; here's a brief overview:

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.

SDS

December 4, 2012 in News, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

In Memoriam: Arthur Chaskalson

Known as a generous and humble person, as well as an outstanding jurist, Arthur Chaskalson was a framer of the South Africa Constitution and presiding justice of the nation's inaugural Constitutional Court.

 

Images

The NYT obituary is here; he will be accorded a state funeral in South Africa.   We previously highlighted one of his speeches here.

RR

December 4, 2012 in Comparative Constitutionalism, Current Affairs, News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Federal District Judge Enjoins California's Law Prohibiting Sexual Orientation Conversion Therapy

California's SB 1172, slated to become effective January 1 and prohibiting licensed therapists from performing what is known variously as sexual conversion therapy, reparative therapy, or sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) on minors under the age of 18.  Senior District Judge William Shubb, in an opinion issued late yesterday in Welch v. Brown, has issued a temporary injunction of the statute. 

494px-Flag-map_of_California.svgConsidering the claims of two therapists and one potential therapist who had undergone SOCE as an adult, Judge Shubb first held that the plaintiffs did not have third party standing to assert the claims of minors or parents.  As to the therapists, however, Judge Shubb held that their First Amendment claims were entitled to strict scrutiny which they were unlikely to survive on the merits.

In so doing, Judge Shubb rejected the argument that lesser standards under the First Amendment should apply given that the regulation was directed at a profession.  Additionally, the judge rejected the argument that the regulation was directed at conduct rather than speech, holding that because "at least some forms" of SOCE involve "talk therapy," speech was the central issue. 

Supporting the conclusion that strict scrutiny was the correct standard, Judge Shubb focused on the legislative history of SB1172: the "Legislature’s findings and declarations convey a consistent and unequivocal message that the Legislature found that SOCE is ineffective and harmful." 

Below is a video of the legislative floor statement of the bill's sponsor, Senator Ted Lieu, and the subsequent vote:

 

 

 

For Judge Shubb, because "a mental health provider’s pursuit of SOCE is guided by the provider’s or patient’s views of homosexuality, it is difficult, if not impossible, to view the conduct of performing SOCE as anything but integrally intertwined with viewpoints, messages, and expression about homosexuality."  Thus, Judge Shubb concluded that the statute was undoubtedly subject to strict scrutiny.

In addition to Ninth Circuit precedent, Judge Shubb relied heavily upon the Supreme Court's 2011 decision in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Ass’n, finding unconstitutional California's violent video game sale to minors prohibition.  Quoting from Entertainment Merchants, Judge Shubb stressed that SB1172 cannot survive strict scrutiny "unless the state demonstrates an “'actual problem’ in need of solving” and “a direct causal link” between SOCE and harm to minors.  While protecting minors was a compelling state interest, Judge Shubb faulted the legislative findings:

evidence that SOCE “may” cause harm to minors based on questionable and scientifically incomplete studies that may not have included minors is unlikely to satisfy the demands of strict scrutiny.

Judge Shubb also faulted the "underinclusiveness" of the statutory scheme:

Here, SB 1172 prohibits only mental health providers from engaging in SOCE and, as defendants have pointed out, unlicensed individuals who do not qualify as “mental health providers” under the bill can engage in SOCE. If SOCE is harmful and ineffective, the harm minors will endure at the hands of unlicensed individuals performing SOCE is equal, if not greater,than the harm they would endure from mental health providers performing SOCE. In fact, the California Legislature has previously “recognized the actual and potential consumer harm that can result from the unlicensed, unqualified or incompetent practice of psychology.”  [citation omitted] The limited scope of SB 1172 therefore suggests that it is likely underinclusive in its application only to mental health providers.

Given Judge Shubb's reasoning, it is likely that he will issue a permanent injunction and equally likely that the decision will be appealed to the Ninth Circuit.

RR
[image via; video via]

UPDATE here

December 4, 2012 in Family, First Amendment, Opinion Analysis, Sexual Orientation, Speech, Standing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Daily Read: Corporate Free Speech

Bezanson_randy_sqIn their article, Commercial Expression and Business Regulation in the Shadow of Citizens United and Sorrell, available in draft on ssrn, authors ConLawProf Randy Bezanson (pictured), William O'Hare, and Robert Miller ask "whether the system and market- based flexibility accorded government in its regulatory action will continue to be respected." 

In interrogating this question, one of their three case studies of regulation is off-label drug marketing, the subject of yesterday's divided Second Circuit opinion reversing a criminal conviction on the basis of the First Amendment, and an application of Sorrell v. IMS Health, Inc.  In their consideration of off-label drug advertising more generally, they write:

the apparent overbreadth of specific applications of a regulation will seem obviously unconstitutional without a perspective that recognizes a speech restriction as part of a broader system of similar speech regulations that, added together, protect the systematic and market justifications of government action. It may be obvious that sophisticated consumers of off-label drug treatments, or sophisticated investors in the new issue market for stock, don’t need the information or the waiting periods or the other regulatory steps that government may impose. But if those steps do help the market system by assuring equal and complete consumer information, even if at some inconvenience to a sophisticated few, there is justification for the looser scrutiny that the Supreme Court has historically accorded regulation of commercial speech.

Worth a read for anyone teaching or writing in the commercial speech area.

RR

December 4, 2012 in Current Affairs, First Amendment, Profiles in Con Law Teaching, Recent Cases, Scholarship, Speech, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Second Circuit On First Amendment Right to Promote Drug for Off-Label Use Without Criminal Consequences

In a sharply divided and long overdue opinion in United States v. Caronia issued today, a panel of the Second Circuit reversed a conviction relying primarily on the Supreme Court's 2011 decision in Sorrell v. IMS Health, Inc.

The conviction, according to the jury verdict, was for "Conspiracy to introduce a misbranded drug into interstate commerce in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 331(a) and 333(a)(2)."  However, Judge Denny Chin, writing for the majority, emphasized that Caronia's statements - - - promoting the off-label use of the drug while he was as a pharmaceutical marketer - - - were the basis of the conviction: "Caronia was, in fact, prosecuted and convicted for promoting Xyrem off-label."  Thus, because the majority rejected the government's argument that the statements were (merely) evidence of intent, the conviction raised a First Amendment issue.  The panel then extensively discussed Sorrell, beginning with an explication of its two-step analysis:

First, the Court considered whether the government regulation restricting speech was content- and speaker-based. The Court held that it was; the regulation was therefore subject to heightened scrutiny and was "presumptively invalid."  Second, the Court considered whether the government had shown that the restriction on speech was consistent with the First Amendment under the applicable level of heightened scrutiny. The Court did not decide the level of heightened scrutiny to be applied, that is, strict, intermediate, or some other form of heightened scrutiny.

[citations omitted].  The panel concluded "that the government's construction of the FDCA's misbranding provisions imposes content- and speaker-based restrictions on speech subject to heightened scrutiny," and then that "the government cannot justify a criminal prohibition of off-label promotion even under Central Hudson's less rigorous intermediate test."  The majority seems especially troubled that the crime, at least as the court has constructed it,  is "speaker-based because it targets one kind of speaker -- pharmaceutical manufacturers -- while allowing others to speak without restriction." 

In a vigorous dissent, Judge Debra Ann Livingston stressed that speech acts are often evidence of intent and that "the majority calls into question the very foundations of our century-old system of drug regulation."  She provides a literary analogy to refute Caronia's argument that he "merely discussed “a perfectly lawful practice: the use of a lawful drug, Xyrem, for off-label purposes.” 

But the fact that a physician or a patient could legally use Xyrem for an off-label purpose is not enough to make out Caronia’s First Amendment claim. There might be no law forbidding the consumption of arsenic. But this would not endow Abby and Martha with a First Amendment right to offer arsenic-laced wine to lonely old bachelors with the intent that they drink it. See Arsenic and Old Lace (Warner Bros. Pictures 1944). And any statements Abby or Martha made suggesting their intent—even if all of the statements were truthful and not misleading—would not be barred from evidence by the First Amendment simply because arsenic might legally be consumed.

 

 

 

While Judge Chin's opinion could - - - taken to its logical conclusion - - - have a dramatic effect, it seems limited to the pharmaceutical arena.

RR

 

December 3, 2012 in First Amendment, Interpretation, Medical Decisions, Opinion Analysis, Recent Cases, Speech, Supreme Court (US) | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Jurisdictional Requirement for TSA Challenges Upheld

The Fourth Circuit upheld a federal statute requring challenges to Transportation Security Administration orders, including TSA airport checkpoint screening procedures (body scans, patdowns), to be filed in in the first instance in a federal appeals court. 

The plaintiffs in Blitz v. Napolitano challenged the jurisdictional requirement, 49 U.S.C. Sec. 46110, as violating due process and separation-of-powers principles--arguing that the requirement prevented them from developing a factual record in district court.  The Fourth Circuit rejected those claims and upheld the statute.

The court wrote that a circuit court, faced with a Section 46110 challenge, could remand the case for factual development, if necessary.  Moreover,

There is nothing unique in Congress's adoption of Section 46110, thereby vesting judicial review of orders of the TSA Administrator in an appropriate court of appeals.  Indeed, agency decisions are commonly subject to such jurisdiction-channeling provisions, and final agency actions are generally reviewed in the courts of appeals.

Op. at 14-15.

The ruling is consistent with rulings in the D.C. and Eleventh Circuits.

SDS

December 3, 2012 in Cases and Case Materials, Courts and Judging, News, Opinion Analysis, Procedural Due Process, Separation of Powers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

District Court Upholds Federal Ban on Body Armor

Judge Thomas Johnston (WDWV) ruled in U.S. v. Mark that the federal ban on body armor possession by a convicted felon did not violate the Second Amendment or Due Process Clause, and that Congress did not exceed its authority in enacting the ban under the Commerce Clause.

Mark brought his challenge after he was charged and convicted of possession of body armor by a felon under 18 U.S.C. Secs. 931 and 921(a)(35).  Federal marshalls found the body armor, along with a cache of weapons, in a protective sweep of his home after his arrest. 

Judge Johnston ruled that the statutes did not violate the Second Amendment, because there was no indication that the Framers intended to protect body armor in the Second Amendment, and there was no case law on body armor providing any additional guidance.  He wrote that the statutes were not unconstitutionally vague under due process in defining "body armor," because Section 931 gives a definition "that is readily understandable to the ordinary person."  Op. at 19.  And he held that the jurisdictional element in Section 931 was indistinguishable from the jurisdictional element in 18 U.S.C. Sec. 922(g)(1), the statute penalizing possession of firearms by convicted felons and upheld by the Fourth Circuit--on the basis of its jurisdictional element.

Judge Johnston also ruled the marshalls' search, a protective sweep of the home after arrest, didn't violate the Fourth Amendment.

SDS

December 3, 2012 in Cases and Case Materials, Congressional Authority, Criminal Procedure, Due Process (Substantive), Fourth Amendment, News, Opinion Analysis, Second Amendment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Daily Read: Joslin on the Responsible Procreation Government Interest of DOMA

Should the Court take certiorari in at least one of the circuit cases challenging DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, as is widely anticipated, the government interest will be at issue.  Courtney Joslin's article, Marriage, Biology, and Federal Benefits, forthcoming in Iowa Law Review and available in draft on ssrn, is a must-read on the "responsible procreation" interest that is often proffered.  Joslin (pictured)  argues that this interest is based on what she calls the "biological primacy:" an "underlying premise that the government’s historic interest in marriage is to single out and specially support families with biologically-related children."

Courtney-joslinJoslin's task is decidely not to assess the "fit" of DOMA's means chosen to this interest, under any equal protection standard, whether it be intermediate scrutiny as some, including the Second Circuit in Windsor  have applied, or rational basis as the First Circuit applied

Instead, Joslin interrogates whether this interest is factually true:  "Has the federal government historically accorded special solicitude and protection to families comprised of parents and their own biological children?"   She demonstrates that the interest is, at the very least, not a consistent one.  She examines the "history of federal family-based benefits in two areas: children’s Social Security benefits and family-based benefits for veterans and active members of U.S. military," and demonstrates that in a "vast array of federal benefits programs, eligibility is not conditioned on a child’s biological connection with his or her parent."

She concludes:

From the early years of federal family-based benefits, Congress both implicitly and explicitly extended benefits to children who were biologically unrelated to one or both of their parents. This unearthed history exposes that responsible procreation is based on normative judgments about sexual orientation and gender, not history and tradition.

Indeed, although Joslin does not discuss Loving v. Virginia, her article is deeply reminiscent of the Court's reasoning in Loving when it essentially rejected Virginia's proffered rationale of "racial integrity," with Chief Justice Warren writing that the "fact that Virginia prohibits only interracial marriages involving white persons demonstrates that the racial classifications must stand on their own justification, as measures designed to maintain White Supremacy."  Joslin's article should be required reading for anyone analyzing DOMA. 

RR

December 3, 2012 in Current Affairs, Family, Gender, History, Interpretation, Scholarship, Sexual Orientation, Sexuality, Supreme Court (US) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)