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2010-2011 Supreme Court Term: Williamson v. Mazda Motor of America

By Wilson Huhn Published: February 28, 2011

On February 23 the Supreme Court rendered its decision in Williamson v. Mazda Motor of America, a preemption case.  The outcome in this case turned upon the Court's view of the intent of a regulatory agency, the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Thanh Williamson was killed in an auto accident.  She was sitting in a rear-aisle seat that was equipped with a lap-only seatbelt.  Her parents sued Mazda, the manufacturer of their automobile, on the ground that the lap-only seatbelt constituted a "design defect" or that the manufacturer should have posted a warning in the car about the dangers of lap-only belts.

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Brennan's Vision of a New Dawn - Ahmadinejad Whistling Past the Graveyard

By Wilson Huhn Published: February 27, 2011

An American justice's and a Middle East dictator's thoughts on the spread of democracy.

A foundation principle of democracy is the notion of human progress.  In his book An Affair with Freedom United States Supreme Court Justice William Brennan wrote:

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Business Law Prof Blog Named One of 40 Best Corporate Law Blogs by Bschool.com

By Stefan Published: February 26, 2011

See who else is on the list here.

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Do Workers Have a Fundamental Right to Bargain Collectively?

By Wilson Huhn Published: February 26, 2011

A previous post by Lynn Lenart Ohio Senate Bill 5 abolishing state collective bargaining rights implicitly raises a compelling question: does the Constitution protect the right of workers to bargain collectively?  Two decisions of the United States Supreme Court that were handed down within two weeks of each other in 1937 other bear upon this question.

At first thought it would seem that there is no constitutional right to bargain collectively.  Economic rights were seemingly read out of the Constitution on March 29, 1937 when the Supreme Court ruled in West Coast Hotel v. Parrish that the government has the power to establish minimum wages.  Speaking for the majority in that case, Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes stated:

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Attorney General Letter on DOMA

By Wilson Huhn Published: February 25, 2011

Attorney General Eric Holder has sent a letter notifying Congress that the administration now believes that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act - the law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages - is unconstitutional.

The letter is entitled Letter from the Attorney General to Congress on Litigation Involving the Defense of Marriage Act and is addressed to John Boehner, Speaker of the House.  Attorney General Holder informs the Speaker that the administration will continue to enforce DOMA and will continue to defend it in federal circuits that have already upheld the law, but will not defend the law in jurisdictions such as the Second Circuit where its constitutionality has not heretofore been tested. 

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The Effect of Hispanic Demographic Growth on the Interpretation of the Constitution

By Wilson Huhn Published: February 24, 2011

Will the dramatic growth of the Hispanic population in the United States affect the interpretation of the Constitution?

I conceive of the Constitution as the sum of the fundamental political and social principles held by the American people - how the American people expect their government to act.  These principles include liberty, equality, tolerance, and fairness.  The application of these principles, and even the principles themselves, change as society changes and as we become more aware of human potential and the consequences of our actions.

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Random Thoughts As Business Law Blogging

By Stefan Published: February 24, 2011

Welcoming a new blogger, shameless self-promotion, questions about an 1819 Supreme Court case, and some wireless surfing security tips ... all here.

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The Growth of Hispanic Influence in the United States

By Wilson Huhn Published: February 21, 2011

Hispanics are a rapidly-growing percentage of the American population.  This portends changes in the interpretation of the Constitution.

The ascension of Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court is emblematic of both the rapidly increasing numbers of Hispanics and their rising political influence in the United States.  In this post I provide links to surveys and demographic studies describing their increasing presence and influence.  In the next post I will speculate about what these changes potentially mean for constitutional interpretation.

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Independent Directors As a Solution to the Corporate Agency Problem

By Stefan Published: February 19, 2011

The devil is in the details--particularly that little detail of defining "independent."  Some possibly related items here.

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Ohio Senate Bill 5 abolishing state collective bargaining rights

By Lynn Published: February 18, 2011

Senate Bill 5 would affect all public employees in Ohio.

The bill is proposing to make these changes:

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Health Care Financing Reform (126): A Response to Governor Daniels' WSJ Op-Ed

By Wilson Huhn Published: February 14, 2011

Mitch Daniels spoke out on health care reform earlier this month.

Mitch Daniels, Governor of Indiana, is considering running for President.  In his speech to CPAC Friday night Daniels made an impressive address that I will devote a future post to.  His central message was that deficit spending and the national debt are the most serious threats facing America.  In this post I respond to an op-ed Daniels published in the Wall Street Journal on February 9  entitled An ObamaCare Appeal From the States

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Is all fair in love, war ... and business?

By Stefan Published: February 13, 2011

Some possibly related items here.

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S.B. 1433 - Commerce Clause, Spending Clause

By Wilson Huhn Published: February 13, 2011

The last two posts have described two aspects of proposed Arizona S.B. 1433: its attempt to nullify federal laws, as well as its notion that the Constitution is a compact among the several states and that Congress' implied powers are severely limited.  This post concerns how the Bill's sponsors conceive of Congress' powers under the Commerce Clause and the Spending Clause.

After reading the theory of nullification contained in the Bill and the notion that the Constitution is a "compact among the states" - both of which are consistent with the underlying constitutional principles of the Confederacy - it should come as no surprise that the Bill's sponsors narrowly construe Congress' powers under the Commerce Clause and the General Welfare Clause. 

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Arizona S.B. 1433: Its General Theories of Constitutional Interpretation

By Wilson Huhn Published: February 13, 2011

In yesterday's post I critiqued the substantive portion of Arizona S.B. 1433 - the discredited notion that the states can nullify federal laws - the theory that led directly to the Civil War.  Today's post deals with the bill's general theory of constitutional interpretation.

Following the substantive portion of the bill asserting the authority of the Arizona state legislature to nullify federal law, S.B. 1433 sets forth twelve findings expressing the "legislative intent" of the Arizona legislature.  The first finding sets the tone for the remainder:

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You Won! Was It Skill, God's Will, or Just Luck?

By Stefan Published: February 12, 2011

The answer may actually have something to do with business law.  Find out how here.

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Arizona S.B. 1433 - The Nullification Bill

By Wilson Huhn Published: February 12, 2011

Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce has introduced S.B. 1433, a bill that would revive the principle of state "nullification" of federal laws.  What's wrong with this?

A lot.

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Cavs Win!

By Wilson Huhn Published: February 12, 2011

Great game!

I have been a Cavs fan since I moved to this region more than 30 years ago and a sports fan forever, and I can't remember a more satisfying victory in any arena.  The game was well-played and hard-fought on both sides.  It was fitting that the game-winner was launched by Antawn Jamison, who courageously stood up at every news conference and answered every question with quiet strength and dignity.

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Egypt Free

By Wilson Huhn Published: February 11, 2011

The young people of one of the world's oldest civilizations has given their country a new birth of freedom.

All Americans can take pride that the people of Egypt have not only embraced democracy - they have won it.  Our country did not in any way "give" Egyptians this opportunity, but we did play a role.  We contributed to this day by winning our own independence and establishing a nascent democracy - by fighting a civil war that became a crusade in defense of basic human rights - by defeating the militaristic and fascist elements that had taken over Europe and Asia - and by steadfastly resisting totalitarian regimes in Russia and China.  All Americans take pride in our history and our democratic institutions, and in the sacrifices our ancestors made to preserve human freedom. 

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Best Free Reference Websites

By Lynn Published: February 11, 2011

The Best of the Best.  Librarian chosen websites and all are free.  On the next page are some government and law related sites that were added to this list in 2010.   The complete 2010 picks are here

FedSpending.org

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As a Clevelander, I try to be an optimist ...

By Wilson Huhn Published: February 11, 2011

But maybe I'm not trying hard enough!

The glass, I think, is at least a quarter full ' or a bit misty inside ' or perhaps that's just film.

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Symposium on Small Business Financing

By Stefan Published: February 10, 2011

Presented by the Ohio State Entrepreneurial Business Law Journal.  More here.

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Discover Law Day Feb. 19

By Diana Published: February 9, 2011

The Law School Admission Council has designated February as DiscoverLaw.org Month.  As part of a continuing commitment to diversity, The University of Akron School of Law and the Law School Admission Council will co-sponsor Discover Law Day Program. Prospective law students can learn about the opportunities at Akron Law by attending an open house from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 19. This is event is free and open to the public.  The program will include an admissions and financial aid session; a mock law class; and a student and alumni panel discussion. Prior to the open house, guided tours of the law school will be available beginning at noon. Free parking will be available in Lot 34, south of the law school. The law school is located at 150 University Avenue. Attendees can register to attend online here .

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Mardi Gras Costume Copyrights

By Diana Published: February 8, 2011

Akron Law Professor and Blogger Ryan Vacca is quoted in an Associated Press story on Mardi Gras costume copyrights. This story, which was picked up by several sites nationwide, is available via the New York Times  here .

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Income gap between the rich and the poor

By Lynn Published: February 5, 2011

Is there an increasing gap between the rich and poor? 

This isn't news but based on some of the comments to Thursday's blog post I decided to point readers to government information on this topic.

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Is the increasing gap between rich and poor a problem?

By Stefan Published: February 3, 2011

Some possibly related links here.

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Health Care Financing Reform (125): An Inherent Contradiction in the Florida District Court Decision

By Wilson Huhn Published: February 2, 2011

     In yesterday's post I critiqued Judge Roger Vinson's ruling in Florida ex rel. Bondi v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for failing to defer to Congress' judgment that the failure to maintain health insurance exercises a substantial effect on interstate commerce.  Today's post discusses an even more basic problem with the opinion.

     Judge Vinson's opinion in the Florida case bears several similarities to Judge Henry Hudson's ruling in Virginia v. Sebelius in which Judge Hudson struck down one portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - the "individual mandate," the requirement that American citizens must maintain health insurance coverage.  Like Judge Hudson, Judge Vinson draws a categorical distinction between "economic activity" and "inactivity," and ruled that while Congress may regulate the former, it has no power to regulate the latter.  Furthermore, like Judge Hudson, Judge Vinson fails to analyze the principle that previous limitations on the power of Congress under the Commerce Clause were drawn in the interests of federalism, not individual autonomy.  But Judge Vinson's ruling contains a more basic flaw - an inherent contradiction - that was not present in the Virginia decision.

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President Obama's Remarks on Egypt and Excerpt from Cairo Speech

By Wilson Huhn Published: February 1, 2011

     President Obama issued a statement earlier today on developments in Egypt.

     This afternoon the President issued this statement on the situation in Egypt.  At the close of his remarks, he said:

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'Tis the Season

By Wilson Huhn Published: February 1, 2011

For legal scholarship, that is!

     Is your law professor a little anxious lately?  Are there new worry lines or gray hairs?  Does he or she jump when you say the words "accepted" or "rejected?"  It must be law review season!

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Health Care Financing Reform (124): Florida District Court Decision Striking Down Health Care Reform Law

By Wilson Huhn Published: February 1, 2011

     Here is yesterday's 78-page ruling by Judge Roger Vinson declaring the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act unconstitutional.  My initial impressions follow.

     Judge Vinson issued his decision yesterday in the case of Florida ex rel. Bondi v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The judge's opinion contains four principal rulings:

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