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State Court Docket Watch News Clips: 10/5/2015

Compliance Nightmare Looms for Baltimore Police Department

James Scanlan February 08, 2017
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In my January 4, 2017 post titled “Will Trump Have the First Numerate Administration?,” I discussed Department of Justice (DOJ) actions regarding police practices in Baltimore, Maryland in the context of the longstanding situation where federal civil rights law enforcement policies have been based on an understanding of statistics that is the opposite of reality. Specifically, with regard to matters including lending, school discipline, employment, criminal justice, and voting, many government policies have been premised on the belief that relaxing standards or otherwise reducing the frequency of adverse outcomes tends to reduce (a) relative (percentage) racial and other demographic differences in rates of experiencing those outcomes and (b) the proportions more susceptible groups make up of persons experiencing the outcomes. In fact, generally reducing any outcome tends to increase, not decrease, (a) and (b).

[Because of the length of this post, a PDF version is available here.] [Read More]

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Exceptionalism by Michael B Mukasey

When Enforcing the Constitution Means Rejecting Precedent: A Reply to Greg Weiner

Evan Bernick December 30, 2016
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Part bull, part man, and nourished by Athenian blood, the minotaur has been the stuff of nightmares for millennia. It is to be doubted, however, that anyone has put it to more terrifying use than the French political scientist Bertrand de Jouvenel , who deployed the minotaur as a symbol of a particularly menacing kind of government power—arbitrary power, unconstrained by principles of law and hostile to individual rights.

In a recent essay at Liberty & Law, Greg Weiner trots out Jouvenel’s minotaur to frighten readers about the supposed menace of “a jurisprudence of ‘wrong the day that it was decided’”—that is, a judicial approach whereby judges reconsider and reject decisions that never did reflect an accurate understanding of the law. This judicial approach has been recommended by both Randy Barnett and Mark Tushnet, albeit on the basis of fundamentally differing understandings of the Constitution and of judicial duty. Warns Weiner, “the judicial Minotaur does not differ from other variants of the all-consuming creature . . . having been forged for one hand to brandish, [judicial power] will ultimately be wielded by another.” [Read More]

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Constitution

Deciding Unclear Originalist Cases: Towards Good-Faith Constitutional Construction

Evan Bernick December 19, 2016
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Interpreting a centuries-old document and applying it to factual circumstances unknown and perhaps inconceivable to those who ratified it into law is not an easy task. As Professor Mike Rappaport recently observed, many of the provisions of our Constitution “are simply not clear, unless one has done . . . extensive historical research.” Further, even those who maintain—as originalists do—that (1) the meaning of the Constitution’s text was fixed when each provision was framed and ratified; and (2) judges must decide cases in accordance with that fixed meaning, must acknowledge that fallible, busy judges may be unable to arrive at a single determinate answer concerning the meaning of a particular clause or how that clause applies to a particular set of facts. What are judges to do in such cases? [Read More]

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New York City Skyline
Photo Credit: Photo by Lesekreis via Wikimedia Commons. (link)

The Future Of The GOP: Cities And Judicial Engagement

Shoshana Weissmann November 03, 2016
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In 2016, the Republican Party turned down a road that many did not see coming, and came to embody something far from its highest potential.

It is important to understand what led the GOP to the problems it faces today. That includes talk radio, politicians who promise more than they can deliver, ineffective messaging, and not investing in cities.

All of these deserve serious consideration and thoughtful solutions. The former two have been discussed more thoroughly elsewhere. The latter two I believe to be part of one bigger problem to which the Institute for Justice provides instructive solutions.

For years, the Institute for Justice has proven itself to be a model for those who want to effectively defend freedom and the limits on constitutional government. The GOP purports to strive for the same. [Read More]