Fake news, libel, and press protections against executive power
The press serves an important role in checking executive power in the American system. The first article in this series deals with libel suits against newspapers; the second will cover the publication of leaked materials (the so-called “Pentagon Papers”).
Surveillance and Sodomy in 1918 Sacramento
A “cleanup” of 1918 Sacramento resulted in an intensified “[p]olice surveillance of boardinghouses, brothels, pubs, and gambling houses” and effectively turned these areas — none of which were traditional domestic homes — into “semipublic” spaces.
Women, public health, and the police power
The early twentieth century saw working men left free from government protection in the name of “liberty of contract”; women, on the other hand, received such protection, but at the cost of second-class status.
Preserving Jeffersonian ideals through government regulation
In the contentious years of Gilded Age America — 1870-1900 — the general consensus has been than the United States, laissez-faire capitalism and “liberty of contract.” Reality, unsurprisingly, was more complex.
NSA spying is not clearly unconstitutional
I’ve been noticing a trend to call the activities of the NSA — as revealed by Edward Snowden — “clearly unconstitutional.” I disagree.
Nullification and Obamacare: rejection of the rule of law
The idea of nullification — essentially, states telling the federal government that state law outranks federal law — is both seductive and persistent. As philosophically desirable as this may be, 200 years of settled law says this is a dead constitutional theory.
Warrantless wiretaps and the Fourth Amendment: why would a court allow a violation of the Constitution?
In Appeals Court OKs Warrantless Wiretapping, David Kravets summarizes a recent 9th Circuit decision regarding wiretaps by the federal government. How is this possible?
Critiquing constitutional readings: introduction and underdetermination
There are many challenges when lay people “read” the U.S. Constitution. To illustrate some of these challenges, I think it’s useful and instructive to critique a specific analysis of the Constitution.
Objectivity, science, and (a)political action
Theodore M. Porter, in Trust in Numbers, argues that the American distrust of elites — and of government itself — has led to a focus on “mechanical objectivity,” or rules to make decisions. In many ways similar to what American jurists call “procedural due process,” the idea is to diminish the necessity of personal judgement in favor of predictable, […]