Wednesday, June 19, 2019
AALS Section on Federal Courts: Annual Award for Best Untenured Article on the Law of Federal Jurisdiction
Here is the announcement:
The AALS Section on Federal Courts is pleased to announce the sixth annual award for the best article on the law of federal jurisdiction by a full-time, untenured faculty member at an AALS member or affiliate school and to solicit nominations (including self-nominations) for the prize to be awarded at the 2020 AALS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
The purpose of the award program is to recognize outstanding scholarship in the field of federal courts by untenured faculty members. To that end, eligible articles are those specifically in the field of Federal Courts that were published by a recognized journal during the twelve-month period ending on September 1, 2019 (date of actual publication determines eligibility). Eligible authors are those who, at the close of nominations (i.e., as of September 15, 2019), are untenured, full-time faculty members at AALS member or affiliate schools, and have not previously won the award.
Nominations (or questions about the award) should be directed to Seth Davis at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (firstname.lastname@example.org). Without exception, all nominations must be received by 11:59 p.m. (EDT) on September 15, 2019. Nominations will be reviewed by a prize committee comprised of Tara Leigh Grove (William & Mary), Gillian Metzger (Columbia), Jim Pfander (Northwestern), Fred Smith (Emory), and Steve Vladeck (Texas), with the result announced at the Federal Courts section program at the 2020 AALS Annual Meeting.
Monday, June 17, 2019
SCOTUS Decision in Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill: Virginia House Lacks Standing to Appeal Ruling Striking Down 2011 Legislative Districts
Today the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill. Justice Ginsburg authors the majority opinion, joined by Justices Thomas, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Gorsuch. The Court rules that the Virginia House of Delegates lacks standing to appeal a three-judge district court’s decision that Virginia’s 2011 legislative districts had been racially gerrymandered in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.
The majority first rejects the argument that the State of Virginia had designated its House of Delegates to litigate on its behalf. It then finds that the House of Delegates lacks “standing in its own right,” because it had suffered no “legally and judicially cognizable” injury. Justice Ginsburg writes: “This Court has never held that a judicial decision invalidating a state law as unconstitutional inflicts a discrete, cognizable injury on each organ of government that participated in the law’s passage.”
Justice Alito authors a dissenting opinion, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Breyer and Kavanaugh.
Thursday, June 13, 2019
Eugene Volokh has published Chief Justice Robots, 68 Duke L.J. 1135 (2019). Here’s the abstract:
Say an AI program someday passes a Turing test, because it can converse in a way indistinguishable from a human. And say that its developers can then teach it to converse—and even present an extended persuasive argument—in a way indistinguishable from the sort of human we call a “lawyer.” The program could thus become an AI brief-writer, capable of regularly winning brief-writing competitions against human lawyers.
Once that happens (if it ever happens), this Essay argues, the same technology can be used to create AI judges, judges that we should accept as no less reliable (and more cost-effective) than human judges. If the software can create persuasive opinions, capable of regularly winning opinion-writing competitions against human judges—and if it can be adequately protected against hacking and similar attacks—we should in principle accept it as a judge, even if the opinions do not stem from human judgment.
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Lisa Grumet has published Hidden Nondefense: Partisanship in State Attorneys General Amicus Briefs and the Need for Transparency, 87 Fordham L. Rev. 1859 (2019). It begins:
In all fifty states, the State Attorney General (SAG)—as the state’s chief legal officer—is charged with defending state laws that are challenged in court. If an SAG declines to defend or challenges a state law on the ground that it is unconstitutional—an action scholars describe as “nondefense”— the SAG ordinarily will disclose this decision to the public.
This Essay discusses a hidden form of nondefense that can occur when SAGs file amicus curiae briefs on behalf of their states in matters before the U.S. Supreme Court. Surprisingly, some SAGs have joined multistate amicus briefs that support invalidating other states’ laws without disclosing that similar state or local laws exist in the SAGs’ own jurisdictions. This Essay explores this problem through analysis of multistate amicus briefs filed in the 2017 Supreme Court term. It proposes requiring that SAGs disclose relevant laws from their state when they file amicus briefs on behalf of their state with the Supreme Court.
Monday, June 10, 2019
There are some interesting grants of certiorari on today’s Supreme Court order list:
Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian (17-1498) presents three questions on the relationship between the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and state common-law claims, including “whether CERCLA pre-empts state common-law claims for restoration that seek cleanup remedies that conflict with EPA-ordered remedies.”
Comcast Corp. v. National Association of African American-Owned Media (18-1171) presents the question: “Does a claim of race discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 fail in the absence of but-for causation?” (There was a second question presented involving pleading standards under Twombly and Iqbal, but the Court granted cert only as to question #1.)
Intel Corp. Investment Policy Committee v. Sulyma (18-1116) presents the question: “Whether the three-year limitations period in Section 413(2) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. 1113(2), which runs from ‘the earliest date on which the plaintiff had actual knowledge of the breach or violation,’ bars suit where all of the relevant information was disclosed to the plaintiff by the defendants more than three years before the plaintiff filed the complaint, but the plaintiff chose not to read or could not recall having read the information.”
McKinney v. Arizona (18-1109) presents the question: “Whether the Arizona Supreme Court was required to apply current law when weighing mitigating and aggravating evidence to determine whether a death sentence is warranted.” The second question presented is: “Whether the correction of error under Eddings v. Oklahoma, 455 U.S. 104 (1982), requires resentencing.”
Monasky v. Taglieri (18-935) presents two questions relating to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The first is: “Whether a district court’s determination of habitual residence under the Hague Convention should be reviewed de novo, as seven circuits have held, under a deferential version of de novo review, as the First Circuit has held, or under clear-error review, as the Fourth and Sixth Circuits have held.” The second question involves “whether a subjective agreement between the infant’s parents is necessary to establish her habitual residence under the Hague Convention.”
Thursday, June 6, 2019
Today the en banc Ninth Circuit issued its decision in In Re Hyundai and Kia Fuel Economy Litigation (covered earlier here). Judge Nguyen authors the majority opinion, and Judge Ikuta authors a dissenting opinion.
Contrary to the earlier panel ruling, the en banc Ninth Circuit affirms the district court with respect to both class certification and approval of the settlement.
Wednesday, June 5, 2019
Antonio Gidi has posted on SSRN a draft of his article, Incorporation by Reference: Requiem for a Useless Tradition, which is forthcoming in the Hastings Law Journal. Here’s the abstract:
Lawyers mechanically introduce each count in a pleading with the talismanic clause of “repeat and reallege” everything said before in that same pleading. This medieval practice made sense in the formalistic common-law pleading of the sixteenth century but has no place in modern pleadings.
This article traces the origin of the practice, demonstrates that it is not used in any other country, and argues that it is an empty tradition that must stop.
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
Today on the Courts Law section of JOTWELL is Howard Wasserman’s essay, The Supreme Court is Broke, the Question is How to Fix it: Alternatives to Term Limits. Howard reviews two recent articles: Christopher Sundby & Suzanna Sherry, Term Limits and Turmoil: Roe v. Wade’s Whiplash, Tex. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2019), and Daniel Epps & Ganesh Sitaraman, How to Save the Supreme Court, 129 Yale L.J. (forthcoming 2019).
Zoe Niesel has published #PersonalJurisdiction: A New Age of Internet Contacts, 94 Ind. L.J. 103 (2019). Here’s the abstract:
No other issue has proved more challenging in the sphere of personal jurisdiction than the internet. In addition to refusing to respect territorial boundaries, the internet allows users to access, change, create, and manage content in ways that are not present in physical space. Further, the rise of social media and other more interactive technologies, such as bots and cookies, make determining a user’s minimum contacts with a forum more challenging than ever. The time has come to acknowledge that the internet has minimum contacts with every jurisdiction.
Current approaches used when personal jurisdiction and the internet collide are straining under technological developments. The premiere approach to internet jurisdiction is the so-called “Zippo test,” which bases personal jurisdiction on whether a website is “interactive.” The Zippo approach has left the case law inconsistent and does not account for recent innovations, such as social media, targeted advertising, artificial intelligence, and bots. This Article proposes a shift in the manner in which courts should think about personal jurisdiction and website interactivity. Specifically, this Article proposes that the time has come to embrace a revised analysis that incorporates traditional fairness factors with the defendant’s implicit acknowledgement that the internet is targeting a national forum.
The analytical framework proposed by this Article seeks to remove inconsistent applications of an outdated Zippo test. However, it also attempts to be proactive. The internet is moving to become even more customized, ubiquitous, and self-aware than ever before. A new way to examine internet contacts is thus needed to account for changing technologies to ensure fairness and predictability.
Monday, June 3, 2019
SCOTUS Decision in Fort Bend County v. Davis: Title VII’s Charge-Filing Requirement Is Not Jurisdictional
As a precondition to the commencement of a Title VII action in court, a complainant must first file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC or Commission). §2000e–5(e)(1), (f)(1). The question this case presents: Is Title VII’s charge-filing precondition to suit a “jurisdictional” requirement that can be raised at any stage of a proceeding; or is it a procedural prescription mandatory if timely raised, but subject to forfeiture if tardily asserted? We hold that Title VII’s charge-filing instruction is not jurisdictional, a term generally reserved to describe the classes of cases a court may entertain (subject-matter jurisdiction) or the persons over whom a court may exercise adjudicatory authority (personal jurisdiction). Kontrick v. Ryan, 540 U. S. 443, 455 (2004). Prerequisites to suit like Title VII’s charge-filing instruction are not of that character; they are properly ranked among the array of claim-processing rules that must be timely raised to come into play.
Although the charge-filing precondition is not jurisdictional, Justice Ginsburg writes that it is “‘mandatory’ in the sense that a court must enforce the rule if a party properly raises it.” [Op. at 7 (citing Eberhart v. United States, 546 U.S. 12, 19 (2005) (per curiam))]. She notes, however, that “[t]he Court has reserved whether mandatory claim-processing rules may ever be subject to equitable exceptions.” [n.5 (citing Hamer v. Neighborhood Housing Servs. of Chicago, 583 U.S. ___, ___, n. 3 (2017))].
Justice Ginsburg concludes: “Title VII’s charge-filing requirement is a processing rule, albeit a mandatory one, not a jurisdictional prescription delineating the adjudicatory authority of courts.”
Today the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Retirement Plans Committee of IBM v. Jander. The question presented relates to the Court’s decision in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer, 573 U.S. 409 (2014), on pleading ERISA claims that are based on a breach of the fiduciary duty of prudence:
Whether Fifth Third’s “more harm than good” pleading standard can be satisfied by generalized allegations that the harm of an inevitable disclosure of an alleged fraud generally increases over time.