In Part Two of a two-part series of columns, FindLaw columnist and former counsel to the president John Dean argues that Congress should take quick action in the wake of a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejecting New York's bid to protect airline passengers' rights. As Dean notes, the Second Circuit held that New York lacks the power to guarantee basic necessities such as food, water, and functioning toilets for airline passengers stranded for many hours on the tarmac at JFK or LaGuardia airports. Dean explains the implications of the Second Circuit's holding, describes progress in Congress so far, and contends that a federal statute in this area is long overdue.
Friday, Apr. 18, 2008
FindLaw columnist and visiting Princeton law and public affairs professor Marci Hamilton discusses a case in which the Supreme Court heard oral argument yesterday, April 16. The Court must decide whether a defendant convicted of raping an eight-year-old can constitutionally receive the death penalty. Hamilton argues that the offense of child rape may be seen as as grave as murder, in that it destroys a child's life and future. However, she also warns that allowing the death penalty for child rape will not be a panacea for America's problem with child sexual abuse. For that problem to be solved, she contends, repeat perpetrators must be brought to justice, and for that to happen, statutes of limitations must be lengthened or abolished.
Thursday, Apr. 17, 2008
FindLaw columnist and Rutgers law professor Sherry Colb argues that the constitutional right not to be subject to cruel and unusual punishment may have interesting implications for a possible constitutional right for suffering, terminally-ill patients to avail themselves of euthanasia with the help of a physician. Colb points out, in support of her argument, that the Supreme Court has already recognized a constitutional right to refuse medical treatment, which includes the right to refuse food and water. The anomalous result, she points out, is that Court precedents have caused a terminally-ill patient to have the painful option of starving to death, but not less painful options with which a doctor could assist.
Wednesday, Apr. 16, 2008
In Part Two of a two-part series of columns on pregnancy discrimination, FindLaw columnist and Hofstra law professor Joanna Grossman discusses the two rights the Pregnancy Discrimination Act recognizes for pregnant workers -- the right not to be subject to adverse treatment and stereotyping, and the right to be treated as well as other temporarily-disabled employees. Grossman argues that, while these rights do represent progress from the pre-PDA past, they still do not achieve full equality, since there are important gaps in the PDA's protections.
Tuesday, Apr. 15, 2008
FindLaw columnist, attorney, and author Julie Hilden urges future law students to think very seriously about combining their JDs with MBAs. Hilden offers five reasons why the combination might not only open up new professional doors, but also benefit students in other ways as well -- from fostering their ability to think more creatively and entrepreneurially, to helping them better manage the law firms of which they become partners.
Monday, Apr. 14, 2008
FindLaw columnist, attorney, and author Edward Lazarus discusses the recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to shut down class-action litigation regarding alleged fraud in the promotion of "light" cigarettes. Lazarus contends that the decision is a striking example of the limits of the law's ability to remedy mass torts. Providing a historical perspective, Lazarus covers both the power and limits of the class-action vehicle to address corporate misconduct -- citing evidence that there are serious risks in both under- and over-regulating business practices.
Friday, Apr. 11, 2008
FindLaw columnist and U.C. Davis law professor Vikram Amar discusses some of the key proposals put forth by political scientist Larry Sabato in his new book A More Perfect Constitution: 23 Proposals to Revitalize Our Constitution and Make America a Fairer Country. Amar focuses especially on Sabato's proposal to double the size of the House of Representatives, so that each individual voter has a greater voice, and notes which proposals might, and might not, require amending the Constitution.
Thursday, Apr. 10, 2008
FindLaw columnist and human rights attorney Joanne Mariner discusses the CIA's rendition program, under which detainees are transferred from U.S. custody to the custody of countries whose interrogators employ brutal forms of torture. In her account, Mariner draws upon a recent Human Rights Watch report that she authored, detailing more than a dozen cases of CIA renditions to Jordan alone -- nearly all of which resulted in interrogations that included torture. The report includes Jordanian detainees' accounts of methods of torture including falaqa, the painful beating of the feet in a manner that can break bones and cause permanent damage; other kinds of beatings; and threats of rape. Mariner notes that the detainees' accounts of how they were tortured are very credible in light of the fact that they were mutually consistent, and corroborated by secondary sources.
Wednesday, Apr. 09, 2008
FindLaw columnist and Cardozo law professor Anthony Sebok explains why, last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled against the plaintiffs in a class action alleging that consumers were defrauded by advertising that falsely claimed that "lights" cigarettes were safer than regular cigarettes. As Sebok notes, the sticking point for the Second Circuit panel was the issue of various class members' potentially individualized reliance on the allegedly fraudulent statements. Moreover, Sebok contends that an argumentative gambit by the plaintiffs' attorney may well have backfired with the court.
Tuesday, Apr. 08, 2008
FindLaw guest columnist and Pepperdine law professor Douglas Kmiec discusses what lessons we should take from a recent study that found, among other things, that women attorneys clock fewer billable hours after they have children. Kmiec asks whether there is a way to create a fairer, more equal workplace - one that actually supports, rather than undermines or competes with, families -- and suggests respects in which the law could intervene to support families who struggle under the dual burden of work and parenting.
Tuesday, Apr. 08, 2008