The Roundtable

Welcome to the Roundtable, JLPP’s online blog featuring student commentary on current cases and legal developments!

If you are interested in becoming a Staff Writer or Contributing Writer for the Roundtable, e-mail Notes Editors Kyle Reynolds (mreynolds@jd18.law.harvard.edu) or Chadwick Harper (charper@jd19.law.harvard.edu).

On Tyranny

Posted by on 7:11 pm in Musings | 0 comments

Remember when 100,000 Philadelphians destroyed Broad Street after the 2008 Phillies beat the Rays in five games? That was basically the mood in my apartment last night when I learned that the FAA was going to relax the regulations on the use of electronic devices during taxi, takeoff and landing. “Finally,” I thought, “The despotic FAA’s draconian rule tyrannically forbidding me to play Angry Birds Space read the JLPP Kindle edition during taxi, takeoff, and landing is as dead as the Stamp Act! Sic Semper Tyrannis!” My elation turned sour...

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Constitution Day

Posted by on 12:03 pm in Musings | 0 comments

Jewish holidays are remarkably diverse. On Yom Kippur, which we celebrated this past Saturday, we fast, don’t wear leather shoes, or have sex. During Sukkot, which begins tomorrow night, we eat, work, and live in small huts. During Passover, we refrain from all leavened foodstuffs. On Shabbat, we don’t turn on lights, carry money, or tie knots. Almost every Jewish ritual, however, revolves about one essential element: the Torah. The Torah is the foundational legal document of the Jewish people. Although it goes into remarkable detail on the...

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In Defense of Dictionaries

Posted by on 8:01 pm in Updates | 0 comments

Law professors James Brudney and Lawrence Baum have a new study out on Supreme Court justices’ use of dictionaries in deciding cases. Perhaps not surprisingly to court watchers, they note that the justices almost never used dictionaries prior to the start of the Rehnquist Court, but now use them in as many as one-third of statutory decisions. Although textualist justices invoke dictionaries the most, purposivist justices are not far behind. Although to the author’s credit, they recognize some proper use for dictionaries when they propose a...

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The Election’s Effect on the Judiciary

Posted by on 7:16 pm in Updates | 0 comments

Although the presidential candidates rarely discussed it, much ink has been spilled in recent months over the effect that the presidential election would have on the Supreme Court. Although often overstated, the effect is significant. To be sure, Justice Ginsburg is likely to step down during the next four years. Given Obama’s tendency to appoint fairly young justices, if Justice Breyer, 74, were to retire along with Ginsburg in the next four years, President Obama could install a sold liberal bloc of 4 justices that will all likely remain on...

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Rehnquist and the Role of Proper Reasoning in Arriving at Results

Posted by on 7:50 pm in Updates | 0 comments

John Jenkins’ recent biography of the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist has engendered anger from the right and even embarrassment from some on the left. The biography is titled The Partisan, but one could be forgiven for believing the title refers to the author rather than the subject. According to Jenkins, Rehnquist’s judicial philosophy was “nihilistic,” and “dismissive of…institutions that did not comport with his black-and-white view of the world.” Rehnquist, Jenkins tells us, yearned for “the simplicity of an...

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Supreme Court Poised to Reduce American Involvement in Foreign Human Rights Cases?

Posted by on 11:29 am in Updates | 0 comments

Does a Founding-Era statute enable foreigners to sue other foreigners in federal court for conduct that took place overseas? That was the question facing the Supreme Court yesterday when it opened its latest term with arguments in Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum. A 1789 statute, the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) states, “[t]he district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” The statute presumably was passed...

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A First Amendment Victory: Allowing Political Parties to Endorse Judicial Candidates

Posted by on 11:35 am in Updates | 0 comments

In a victory for free speech in political campaigns earlier this week, the Ninth Circuit in Sanders County Republican Central Committee v. Bullock enjoined Montana from enforcing a Montana statute that prohibits political parties from endorsing judicial candidates. The court ruled that the law violates the First Amendment’s protection of speech. The Sanders County Republican Central Committee sought a preliminary injunction against the law, in order that the Committee be able to endorse judicial candidates. Quoting the Supreme Court in...

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Texas v. Holder and the Propriety of Voter ID Legislation

Posted by on 5:04 pm in Updates | 0 comments

In Texas v. Holder, the federal district court in Washington unanimously struck down a Texas voter ID law (henceforth “SB 14”) requiring that prospective voters present photo IDs before casting their ballots. Judge Tatel, writing for the three-judge panel, deemed SB 14 to be “retrogressive” and “the most stringent in the nation” — “far more burdensome” than similar laws in Indiana and Georgia, the former of which the Supreme Court upheld in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board. In...

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Jones, Redux

Posted by on 4:57 pm in Updates | 0 comments

The Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Jones, rendered last January, proved anticlimactic for those followers of technology and the Fourth Amendment jurisprudence expecting an embrace or rejection of the mosaic theory promulgated by the D.C. Circuit in Maynard. Though the Court voted unanimously, holding that the government’s placement of a GPS tracking device on a car without warrant constituted a search under the Fourth Amendment, the Justices were divided as to why. Five, invoking common-law trespass theory, were...

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Protecting Property Left by the Homeless on the Sidewalk

Posted by on 6:46 pm in Updates | 0 comments

Does the Constitution protect the property of homeless people who leave such property in public areas while they perform tasks such as eating and showering? The answer is yes, according to the Ninth Circuit. Judge Wardlaw, writing for the court in Lavan v City of Los Angeles, ruled that the 4th and 14th Amendments protects property of the homeless left on the street from seizure and immediate destruction, despite the fact that a city ordinance prohibits individuals from leaving property upon any parkway or sidewalk. The court argued that the...

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