UCLA Law Review Volume 61, Issue 5


Opinions First—Argument Afterwards

How the California Supreme Court Actually Works: A Reply to Professor Bussel

The Best of All Possible Worlds? A Rejoinder to Justice Liu

Deprivative Recognition

Family law is now replete with proposals advocating for the legal recognition of nonmarital relationships: those between friends, relatives, unmarried intimate partners, and the like. The presumption underlying these proposals is that legal recognition is financially beneficial to partners. This assumption is sometimes wrong: Legal recognition of relationships can be harmful to unmarried partners—a reality whose impact on policy concerning regulation of nonmarital unions has not been explored. As this Article shows, a significant number of people benefit financially from nonrecognition of their relationships. While in most cases the state turns a blind eye to this financial gain, when it comes to a particular set of benefits, the state routinely recognizes partners against their will in order to withhold or terminate benefits, a subset of ascriptive recognition that I call “deprivative recognition.”

Deprivative recognition is unjust because it is asymmetrical: It deprives couples of benefits they would receive if they were unpartnered while they nevertheless remain ineligible to receive benefits granted to married couples in similar arenas. This asymmetry is particularly troublesome because those who enjoy the benefits of nonrecognition often belong to particularly vulnerable populations, such as those who qualify for means-tested programs. This Article recognizes and provides a normative assessment of deprivative recognition and the distributive injustices it creates.

Identifying deprivative recognition, in turn, unearths a larger set of theoretical questions about the interplay between cultural recognition and distributive justice in the law of unmarried partners, including a question about what kind of law promotes both cultural recognition and distributive justice for unmarried partners. The Article builds on Nancy Fraser’s theory of recognition and redistribution as a “folk paradigm of justice,” explaining why it is essential for the law of unmarried partners to adopt both of these aspects of justice and how this can be done.

Immigration Detention as Punishment

Courts and commentators have long assumed, without significant analysis, that immigration detention is a form of civil confinement merely because the immigration proceedings of which it is part are deemed civil. This Article challenges that deeply held assumption. It harnesses the U.S. Supreme Court’s instruction that detention’s civil or penal character turns on legislative intent and, buttressed by theoretical understandings of punishment, contends that immigration detention—apart from the deportation that often results—itself constitutes penal incarceration. In particular, legislation enacted over roughly fifteen years in the 1980s and 1990s indicates a palpable desire to wield immigration detention as a tool in fighting the nation’s burgeoning war on drugs by penalizing and stigmatizing criminal behavior. Indeed, the modern immigration detention system has accomplished the U.S. Congress’s punitive goal: Immigration detention is a severely unpleasant experience and immigration detainees are viewed as dangerous. In order to remain true to the Court’s guidance to draw formal boundaries between civil and penal confinement, the current immigration detention regime should be conceptualized as punishment. This Article contends that the constitutional limitations imposed by criminal procedure are ill-equipped to address immigration detention. Instead, policymakers should learn from the nation’s failed experience with mass penal incarceration—and step back from immigration detention’s punitive origins to create a truly civil immigration detention system.

Toward a Theory of Equitable Federated Regionalism in Public Education

School quality and resources vary dramatically across school district boundary lines. Students who live mere miles apart have access to disparate educational opportunities based on which side of a school district boundary line their home is located. Owing in large part to metropolitan fragmentation, most school districts and the larger localities in which they are situated are segregated by race and class. Further, because of a strong ideological preference for localism in public education, local government law structures in most states do not require or even encourage collaboration between school districts in order to address disparities between them. As a result, the combination of metropolitan fragmentation and localism in public education leads to the exclusion of poor and minority students from access to high-quality school districts, which are largely clustered in more affluent and predominately white localities.

This Article contends that, given the race- and class-based exclusionary effects that metropolitan fragmentation and localism have on public education, the time has come to reconsider the wholesale commitment to localism in public education. It suggests that in some instances, the dissemination of public education should be made on a regional basis rather than a local basis. It examines how enacting regionalism—a theoretical framework, which advocates for the installment of regional governance structures—might occur in public education. Borrowing from two specific theories of regionalism, equitable regionalism and federated regionalism, it proposes a framework entitled “Equitable Federated Regionalism” for disseminating public education on a regional basis. It suggests that enacting Equitable Federated Regionalism as a form of state law reform would help to ameliorate current disparities in public education that occur along the basis of race and class.

The Dark Side of the First Amendment

Each year, the UCLA School of Law hosts the Melville B. Nimmer Memorial Lecture. Since 1986, the lecture series has served as a forum for leading scholars in the fields of copyright and First Amendment law. In recent years, the lecture has been presented by many distinguished scholars. The UCLA Law Review has published these lectures and proudly continues that tradition by publishing an Article by this year’s presenter, Professor Steven Shiffrin.

Misdiagnosing the Impact of Neuroimages in the Courtroom

Neuroimages and, more generally, neuroscience evidence are increasingly used in the courtroom in hope of mitigating punishment in criminal cases. Many legal commentators express concern because they fear that the prejudicial effect of such evidence significantly outweighs its probative value. In light of earlier empirical studies, this concern is predominantly directed toward the visual impact of neuroimages. Thus, the conventional wisdom in the legal literature is that the visual impact of neuroimages drives the overpersuasiveness of neuroscience evidence.

However, recent empirical studies draw into question the conventional wisdom because they show that neuroimages themselves are not overly persuasive. Thus, this Comment proposes a new theory—the structure/function paradigm—as a competing theory to the conventional wisdom. This paradigm posits that the type of brain abnormality drives the prejudicial nature of neuroscience evidence, not the visual impact of neuroimages. That is, laypeople perceive structural and functional brain abnormalities differently and view structural abnormalities as more causally potent than functional abnormalities. This Comment seeks to show that the structure/function paradigm provides a more consistent and compelling story than the conventional wisdom by resolving contradictions in the empirical studies and applying the paradigm to actual cases.

Under the (Territorial) Sea: Reforming U.S. Mining Law for Earth’s Final Frontier

As mineral prices continue to rise and high-quality terrestrial supplies dwindle, hardrock mining will soon spread to the one place on this planet it currently does not occur: underwater. The United States has regulations permitting the issuance of offshore mineral leases, but these regulations rest on questionable authority from 1953 and are already obsolete even though they have never been used. The United States will need to adopt new legislation before it can effectively access and develop this final mining frontier. The history of American mineral law is littered with mistakes and scandals. But in this particular context, that tortuous past can have a silver lining if used as a precautionary tale: Learning from the mistakes of onshore mining law, onshore oil law, and offshore oil law, the United States has an opportunity to proactively reform underwater mineral law to responsibly usher in the future of hardrock mining. In light of this opportunity, this Comment examines three case studies from U.S. mineral law to extract lessons and suggests how such lessons could inform lawmakers in drafting a sensible offshore mining law.