Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Patrick Woolley has published Rediscovering the Limited Role of the Federal Rules in Regulating Personal Jurisdiction, 56 Hous. L. Rev. 565 (2019). Here’s the abstract:
It is widely taken for granted that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(k) may validly regulate whether a defendant is amenable to personal jurisdiction in federal court. But whether a person is subject to the authority of a court is a substantive matter outside the scope of rulemaking authorized by the Rules Enabling Act (REA). This fundamental principle was well understood when the Federal Rules were originally drafted. It has since been obscured by the failure of courts and commentators alike to place in historical context the 1938 version of Rule 4 and the Supreme Court’s 1946 decision validating that Rule.
The 1938 Rule reflected a paradigm shift in jurisdictional thinking that began to take hold just before the REA became law in 1934: the recognition when a defendant is otherwise amenable to jurisdiction in a federal district, requiring that notice through service of summons be given in the district itself is a formality that serves no substantive purpose. The 1938 Rule simply put aside that formality.
Almost forty years later, the Court intimated in dicta that a Federal Rule may regulate whether a person is amenable to jurisdiction. But casual dicta in a decision that did not even discuss the REA cannot override basic statutory limits on rulemaking. And in the absence of a federal statute that requires otherwise, the Rules of Decision Act generally demands that state law govern amenability to jurisdiction.
Recognizing that the REA does not authorize rules regulating amenability will have a real (albeit limited) effect on jurisdiction in federal court. To the extent that effect is undesirable, the remedy lies with Congress.
Monday, July 29, 2019
Jane Stoever has published Access to Safety and Justice: Service of Process in Domestic Violence Cases, 94 Wash. L. Rev. 333 (2019). Here’s the abstract:
Every day, in courthouses across America, numerous domestic violence protection order cases are dismissed for lack of personal service, even though law enforcement is tasked under federal law with effectuating service. Service of process presents substantial access to justice and access to safety issues for domestic violence survivors who seek legal protection, as nearly 40% of petitioners for civil protection orders are unable to achieve personal service on those against whom they seek protection. Research shows that the civil protection order remedy is the most effective legal means for intervening in and eliminating abuse, yet petitioners who fail to achieve personal service--whether because respondents evade service or are impossible to locate yet continue threats and abuse--are left without vitally needed protection. Procedural rules operate to inhibit the legal remedy's effectiveness and create a two-stage dilemma by: (1) often requiring notice prior to the temporary protection order stage, which can create danger pre-hearing, and (2) requiring personal service for a full protection order when danger may still exist and the respondent may successfully evade service.
In stark contrast, other areas of the law--including antitrust, bankruptcy, domestic and international business, eviction, divorce, and termination of parental rights--readily permit alternative service methods. In seeking to understand the law's differential treatment of domestic violence, this Article explores the historic origins of the heightened notice and service requirements for domestic violence remedies and the ongoing race, class, and gender implications, including as displayed by the #MeToo movement. In proposing expanded service methods that satisfy due process rights and address procedural justice, the Article examines both the respondent's interests and the petitioner's constitutionally protected right to a hearing on the merits, which is not normally acknowledged. States need not wait for tragedy before making the protection order remedy more accessible, as has been the pattern for several states that have adopted alternative service means for domestic violence remedies.
Saturday, July 27, 2019
Last night the Supreme Court issued an order in Trump v. Sierra Club, staying an injunction issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California that blocked the Trump Administration from funding the construction of a border wall by declaring a national emergency under Section 8005 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act. The full text is here:
The application for stay presented to JUSTICE KAGAN and by her referred to the Court is granted. Among the reasons is that the Government has made a sufficient showing at this stage that the plaintiffs have no cause of action to obtain review of the Acting Secretary’s compliance with Section 8005. The District Court’s June 28, 2019 order granting a permanent injunction is stayed pending disposition of the Government’s appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and disposition of the Government’s petition for a writ of certiorari, if such writ is timely sought. Should the petition for a writ of certiorari be denied, this stay shall terminate automatically. In the event the petition for a writ of certiorari is granted, the stay shall terminate when the Court enters its judgment.
Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan would have denied the stay.
Justice Breyer dissented in part from the majority’s order, authoring an opinion that concludes:
I can therefore find no justification for granting the stay in full, as the majority does. I would grant the Government’s application to stay the injunction only to the extent that the injunction prevents the Government from finalizing the contracts or taking other preparatory administrative action, but leave it in place insofar as it precludes the Government from disbursing those funds or beginning construction. I accordingly would grant the stay in part and deny it in part.
Friday, July 26, 2019
Sarath Sanga has published A New Strategy for Regulating Arbitration, 113 Nw. U. L. Rev. 1121 (2019). Here’s the abstract:
Confidential arbitration is a standard precondition to employment. But confidential arbitration prevents a state from ensuring or even knowing whether employees’ economic, civil, and due process rights are respected. Further, employers regularly require employees to waive rights to class proceedings (thereby foreclosing small claims) and to arbitrate under the laws of another jurisdiction (thereby evading mandatory state law). In response, states have tried to regulate arbitration provisions, arbitral awards, and arbitral processes. But these efforts have all failed because the Supreme Court says they are preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act.
In this Article, I argue that states can and should adopt a new strategy: Deter parties from forming such contracts in the first place. The Article proceeds in three parts.
First, I explain the problem. Over the last fifty years, the Supreme Court systematically immunized arbitration provisions against every plausible contract defense. Yet the Supreme Court continues to insist that, just as the Federal Arbitration Act requires, arbitration agreements are still subject to “generally applicable contract defenses, such as fraud, duress, or unconscionability.” This is false.
Second, I present the first large-scale evidence on the pervasiveness of arbitration. The Supreme Court’s arbitration precedents have effect only to the extent private parties agree to arbitrate their disputes. To study this, I use machine-learning protocols to parse millions of filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission and create a database of nearly 800,000 contracts formed by public companies. These contracts include employment agreements, credit agreements, joint ventures, purchases, and others. Employment contracts are by far the most likely to include a mandatory arbitration provision.
Finally, I argue that, because the Supreme Court has all but stripped states of their power to enforce contracts, states should adopt policies that deter formation of objectionable contracts. For example, states cannot prohibit forced arbitration of sexual harassment claims. They can, however, prohibit sexual harassment as a subject matter for employment contracts; they can also enforce this with civil penalties and whistleblower rewards. Similarly, states cannot stop an employer from arbitrating under the laws of another jurisdiction, thereby evading mandatory limits on noncompete agreements. But states can declare noncompetes illegal, levy civil fines on employers that form them, and again offer employees whistleblower rewards to report violations. These approaches work because they create a cause of action for a third party—the state—who is not subject to the arbitration agreement. And unlike past efforts, these laws would not be preempted because they do not “derive their meaning from the fact that an agreement to arbitrate is at issue.”
Thursday, July 25, 2019
Interesting Ninth Circuit Decision on the Enforceability of Forum-Selection Clauses After Atlantic Marine
Yesterday the Ninth Circuit issued a unanimous decision in Gemini Technologies, Inc. v. Smith & Wesson Corp., which discusses the relationship between the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Atlantic Marine, state law on forum-selection clauses, and the Supreme Court’s 1972 decision in Bremen.
Judge Fletcher’s opinion notes that under Bremen “a contractual forum-selection clause is ‘unenforceable if enforcement would contravene a strong public policy of the forum in which suit is brought,’ ” and that Atlantic Marine “does not support” the conclusion that “Bremen’s public policy factor is no longer good law.” “Unsurprisingly then, our sister circuits have consistently held that Bremen continues to provide the law for determining the validity and enforceability of a forum-selection clause.” [Op. at 7]
The panel then rules that Idaho law “clearly states a strong public policy” against enforcement of the forum-selection clause. [Op. at 10] And it clarifies that “satisfaction of Bremen’s public policy factor continues to suffice to render a forum-selection clause unenforceable.” [Op. at 11] Judge Fletcher writes:
Bremen held that “[a] contractual choice-of-forum clause should be held unenforceable if enforcement would contravene a strong public policy of the forum in which suit is brought, whether declared by statute or by judicial decision.” 407 U.S. at 15 (emphasis added). We have found nothing in Atlantic Marine that compels a different rule.
It concludes: “We hold that the forum-selection clause at issue here contravenes the strong public policy announced by Idaho Code § 29-110(1) and is therefore unenforceable.” [Op. at 12]
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Seth Davis has published The New Public Standing, 71 Stan. L. Rev. 1229 (2019). Here’s the abstract:
Today’s public litigants are not citizens or individual taxpayers who, suffering no injury of their own, seek instead to stand for the public. Instead, they are states that have suffered financial injuries. In recent years, states have brought many high-profile public law cases against the federal government based upon financial injuries. State standing to sue the federal government for financial injuries is the new public standing.
This Article’s goal is to offer a comprehensive account of the new public standing. It argues that we should not hope—or expect—that the federal courts will treat the new public standing with the disfavor they have shown to citizen and taxpayer standing. Nor, however, should we hope or expect that the federal courts will treat the new public standing as indistinguishable from private standing based upon financial injuries.
One aspect of this thesis is doctrinal and normative. Under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Article III jurisprudence, financial injuries are the paradigmatic example of an injury in fact that supports standing to sue, as contrasted with an ideological injury that does not suffice for standing. What makes the new public standing doctrinally difficult is that while some financial injuries to states mirror those to private parties, others do not. And what makes these cases normatively difficult is that the state attorneys general who sue based upon financial injuries to their states are ideological litigants. The new public standing thus requires us to rethink the terms of the debate about state standing to sue the federal government.
Another aspect of this thesis is descriptive and positive. To ground its normative analysis, this Article attempts to identify the ideological, institutional, and political factors that have contributed to the new public standing and that will shape its future prospects. Analysis of these factors leads to the conclusion that the Court will preserve the new public standing while tinkering with its remedial scope. The new public standing will prove more durable than citizen and taxpayer standing for the public, but will not substitute for the promise of an individual standing upon her conscience in federal court.
Monday, July 22, 2019
Banister v. Davis presents the question: Whether and under what circumstances a timely Rule 59(e) motion should be recharacterized as a second or successive habeas petition under Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524 (2005).
GE Energy Power Conversion France SAS, Corp. v. Outokumpu Stainless USA, LLC presents the question: Whether the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the “New York Convention”) permits a non-signatory to an arbitration agreement to compel arbitration based on the doctrine of equitable estoppel.
Guerrero-Lasprilla v. Barr and Ovalles v. Barr (consolidated) involve motions to reopen removal proceedings before the Board of Immigration Appeals. Here is the question presented (as phrased in the Guerrero-Lasprilla petition) is:
The deadline to file a statutory motion to reopen under 8 U.S.C. § 1229a(c)(7) is subject to equitable tolling; all the courts of appeals are in agreement. But they are in conflict as to whether they have jurisdiction to review an agency’s denial of a request for equitable tolling made by someone subject to the “criminal alien bar” pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1252(a)(2)(C).
The Fifth and Fourth Circuit say review of equitable tolling is a “question of fact” precluded from review under 8 U.S.C. § 1252(a)(2)(C). In contrast, the Ninth Circuit says equitable tolling is a “mixed question,” i.e., “a question of law,” which falls under the jurisdictional savings clause under 8 U.S.C. § 1252(a)(2)(D).
Therefore, the question presented is: Is a request for equitable tolling, as it applies to statutory motions to reopen, judicially reviewable as a “question of law?”
Lucky Brand Dungarees Inc. v. Marcel Fashion Group Inc. presents the question: Whether, when a plaintiff asserts new claims, federal preclusion principles can bar a defendant from raising defenses that were not actually litigated and resolved in any prior case between the parties.
Opati v. Sudan presents the question: Whether, consistent with this Court’s decision in Republic of Austria v. Altmann, 541 U.S. 677 (2004), the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act applies retroactively, thereby permitting recovery of punitive damages under 28 U.S.C. § 1605A(c) against foreign states for terrorist activities occurring prior to the passage of the current version of the statute.
Rodriguez v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. presents the question: Whether courts should determine ownership of a tax refund paid to an affiliated group based on the federal common law “Bob Richards rule,” as three circuits hold, or based on the law of the relevant state, as four circuits hold.
Thole v. U.S. Bank, N.A. presents two questions relating to ERISA claims, but the Court itself added a third question: Whether petitioners have demonstrated Article III standing.
Thursday, July 18, 2019
The Fifth Circuit issued an interesting decision earlier this month. A Texas federal court had enjoined the Department of Labor from enforcing its proposed Fair Labor Standards Act overtime rule. Several months later, a plaintiff in New Jersey sued her employer in a New Jersey federal court, relying on the proposed overtime rule. The Texas federal court then held the New Jersey plaintiff and her counsel in contempt, reasoning that they were bound by the injunction against the Department of Labor.
In a unanimous decision, the Fifth Circuit has now reversed the Texas district court’s contempt order. The whole opinion is worth a read, but here’s a summary from the opinion’s introductory section:
We conclude that the Texas federal court did not have the authority under Rule 65(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to hold Alvarez and her attorneys in contempt, because Alvarez and her attorneys did not act in privity with, and she was not adequately represented by, the DOL in the injunction case; hence, the Texas federal court lacked personal jurisdiction over Alvarez and her attorneys. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the District Court, including the award of attorneys’ fees against Alvarez and her lawyers, and we render judgment in their favor.
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
This month the Hague Conference on Private International Law adopted the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters.
The text is here.
(H/T: Stacie Strong)
Tuesday, July 16, 2019