In recent years, the use of economic sanctions—statutory fines, surcharges, administrative fees, and restitution—has exploded in courts across the country. Economic sanctions are imposed for violations as minor as jaywalking and as serious as homicide. Inability to pay the sanctions often leads to perpetual debt. This article posits that the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause may help address the debtors’ prison crisis and examines the key concerns underlying the U.S. Supreme Court’s determinations that criminal and civil forfeitures constitute fines.
In Print: Volume 65, Issue 1
Is the United States at risk of democratic backsliding? And would the Constitution prevent such decay? To many, the 2016 election campaign and the conduct of President Donald Trump may be the immediate catalyst for these questions. But structural changes to the socio-economic environment and geopolitical shifts are what make the question a truly pressing one. This article develops a taxonomy of different threats of democratic backsliding, the mechanisms whereby they unfold, and the comparative risk of each threat in the contemporary moment.
The U.S. Supreme Court has based requirements of standing and party adverseness on the “case-or-controversy” language of Article III and the history of judicial practice in England, but neither text nor history can bear the weight of justification. New research reveals that the term “case” extends more broadly to encompass what Roman and civilian jurists referred to as noncontentious jurisdiction. The article proposes a more historically defensible construct—that of the litigable interest—to regulate access to federal dockets.
Unlike in other digital arenas in which American companies are global leaders, the United States lags in consumer financial technology. The article argues that this effect can largely be attributed to the institutional design of federal regulators. Competition authority—including antitrust and the extension of business licenses—is spread across at least five agencies, none of which has the motivation and expertise to promote consumer financial competition. A reallocation of competition authority would better position regulators to navigate the future of innovation.
In Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, the U.S. Supreme Court made clear that class certification requires evidentiary proof of prerequisites required by Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Yet the Court has not clarified whether the evidence offered must be admissible. This Comment addresses the split of lower courts on the issue and argues that the Federal Rules of Evidence need not apply at the class certification stage.