Friday, April 14, 2006
The release of the 2007 US News rankings of law schools has set off another round of speculation on the meanings of the rankings and what, if anything, schools can do to improve the quality of the education they provide, as well as their rankings. David Hoffman over at Concurring Opinions has been asking about where law schools should direct money. Bill Henderson over at the Conglomerate has presented some rather sobering data about how static law school peer assessments are. If you haven’t seen Dan Filler and Dan Solove’s chart over at Concurring Opinions, I think you’ll enjoy it. And our leader here at the Law Professor Blog Network, Paul Caron, has done his usually excellent job of sorting out all the changes. Of course, there's a lot of talk about how to improve the rankings. There's the recent discussion of the Hylton rankings over at elsblog (and here at propertyprof). Andrew Morriss at elsblog has suggested some alternative measures (employment data, ssrn, but not law review citations).
Drawing upon earlier evidence (summarized here) that there is a close connection between the citation rankings of law reviews and the ranking of their parent institutions, I have a new paper that looks to changes in both the US News rankings and law journal rankings over the past few years.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Tomorrow I’ll be back to posting on property stuff.
Over at Empirical Legal Studies, the Hylton rankings are continuing to gather press, though Andrew Morriss isn’t nearly as positive on them as either Jason Czarnezki or me. Morriss raises the important point that Hylton relies on US News’ peer assessment scores, which Morriss finds problematic. I don’t think they’re nearly as bad as Morriss does. For one, there’s a high correlation (.86) between a school’s US News peer assessment score and citations to the that school’s main law review (for schools in the US News top 50). And there’s a high correlation (.91) between a school’s US News peer assessment score and the midpoint of the 75th and 25th percentiles on the LSAT of the school’s entering class, as I said in my first post on the Hylton rankings. So, checking against the (readily available and I think decent) data, they seem to have some validity in terms of measuring school quality.
I, of course, agree with Morriss’ critique that there are some strange things going on with peer assessment scores. How could anyone say that UT-Austin or Vanderbilt or UCLA is anything other than outstanding-–to say nothing of Columbia or the University of Chicago? When I filled out the US News evaluation last fall, I ranked about twenty schools as five. How could I do otherwise?
So should we use SSRN instead?
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Over at Patently-O, Dennis Crouch has an interesting post on a Fed Circuit case holding that a patent is not a property right protected by the Takings Clause. My own (admittedly somewhat uninformed) comments on the related issue of state takings of IP are here and here.
[Comments are held for approval; there will be some delay in posting]
A person who had read my recent essay on Lingle v. Chevron asked me whether I thought Lingle would have an impact on how Eastern Enterprises v. Apfel should be interpreted going forward. For those unfamiliar with Eastern Enterprises, a four-member plurality of the Court (O'Connor, Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas) held that a retroactive imposition of liability on a coal company for the healthcare costs of former employees amounted to an unconstitutional taking. Justice Kennedy concurred in the judgment on the ground that the act violated substantive due process, but dissented on the takings issue.
I've never really been sure what to make of the Eastern Enterprises plurality, and unfortunately Lingle may not have clarified things much. Justice O'Connor's analysis in Eastern Enterprises certainly seems much more related to substantive due process than to other regulatory takings cases, and I think that Justice Kennedy's concurrence/dissent in Eastern Enterprises is convincing on that point. So on one level, the recognition in Lingle that the Court's regulatory takings cases have improperly incorporated elements of substantive due process analysis could be used to discount the continued significance of the Eastern Enterprises plurality opinion. On the other hand, the Court's language in Lingle that the takings test is concerned with the burden imposed on the property owner can be seen as consistent with the Eastern Enterprises approach. My own preference would be to have retroactive and disproportionate impositions of liability reviewed under a substantive due process standard that has a bit more bite than the typical rational basis level of review. I suspect that Justice Kennedy would agree with this approach. His brief concurrence in Lingle, which references Eastern Enterprises, continues to use "arbitrary or irrational" language. But in substance I think his approach, at least in this context, is less deferential than that typically applied in economic substantive due process cases.
I'd certainly welcome the thoughts of other takings geeks on this issue. (Of course, I'd welcome anyone's thoughts on this, but you have to be a takings geek to care much about Eastern Enterprises).
[Comments are held for approval, so there will be some delay in posting]
Thanks to Dr. Craig Shelley for sending a link to NPR's lovely story, "Project Gives Forgotten NYC Rail Line New, Lush Life." It's about an abandoned elevated rail in NYC (about a mile and a half long, built in the 1930s), called the High Line, that's now being converted into a park.
Film at 11--no, actually right now. Check it out--this is pretty cool. Great views of the west side and some property talk, too.
Now, where's Danaya Wright to talk about the legal implications of this conversion?
Comments are held for approval, so they will not appear immediately.
I’ve been a huge fan of J. Gordon Hylton ever since, as a youngster, I read his great work on African American lawyers in Reconstruction Virginia. I highly recommend it to you all. Gordon and my colleague David Callies and some other folks have an innovative property casebook, which I recommend to you for insights into teaching and property theory, even if you’re teaching out of another book. And if you are using another book, I recommend it to you for consideration for adoption.
When I saw, in Jason Czarnezki's post over at Empirical Legal Studies, that Gordon has a new ranking system–-“US News Without the Clutter”–-I was, to say the least, interested. (Paul Caron's picked up this story.) Gordon makes the point, which I agree with completely–-that law school rankings ought to focus on quality of students and quality of faculty. The key question for me is what’s the intellectual experience at a law school? Is it a place on fire with ideas? If so, that’s a place that deserves a good ranking, IMHO. I think that’s what ought to matter to prospective students, as well.
Gordon, then, looks at two things: student quality (as measured LSAT midpoint between 25th and 75th percentiles) and faculty quality (as measured by US News’ peer assessment scores). Good idea–I tend to think that much of the rest of that stuff is (1) manipulable (particularly self-reports on graduates’ employment) and (2) irrelevant to the intellectual experience of students and faculty at the school.
I’m enamored of what should henceforth be known in the trade as the “Hylton Rankings.”
Monday, April 10, 2006
I've posted the final version of my article Home as a Legal Concept on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
This article, which is the first comprehensive discussion of the American legal concept of home, makes two major contributions. First, the article systematically examines how homes are treated more favorably than other types of property in a wide range of legal contexts, including criminal law and procedure, torts, privacy, landlord-tenant, debtor-creditor, family law, and income taxation. Second, the article considers the normative issue of whether this favorable treatment is justified. The article draws from material on the psychological concept of home and the cultural history of home throughout this analysis, providing insight into the interests at stake in various legal issues involving the home.
The article concludes that homes are different from other types of property and give rise to legal interests deserving of special legal protection, but that these interests can be outweighed by competing interests in particular legal contexts. The result is that in many contexts special legal treatment of homes is justified. In other contexts, for example residential rent control, the strength of competing interests means that the law overprotects the home. In still other contexts, for example eminent domain law as embodied by the Supreme Court's recent decision in Kelo v. New London, the law tends to underprotect the home.
[Comments are held for approval, so there will be some delay in posting]