This Note examines if, and to what degree, courts should consider the pressure put on universities to address sexual misconduct on campus as support for an accused student’s Title IX claim of gender discrimination during university disciplinary proceedings. This Note begins in Part II by discussing the prevalence of campus sexual assault and the ways in which Title IX is used to address it on university campuses. Part III examines reverse Title IX claims by accused students, including the various causes of action and the pleading standards required. Part III also surveys the success of reverse Title IX claims using public pressure on universities to address sexual assault to support their allegations of gender discrimination. Part IV then evaluates the way summary judgment rules and burden-shifting frameworks affect the likelihood of success for reverse Title IX claims. Finally, Part V emphasizes the need for clarity and consistency in the evaluation of reverse Title IX claims. In considering the purposes and policies of Title IX, this Note ultimately argues that reverse Title IX claims, especially those relying on external pressure on universities, should be assessed in a strict and limited manner going forward. This Note concludes in Part VI by discussing the possibilities of proposed changes to federal regulations and their impact on reverse Title IX claims.
Washington and Lee Law Review - Volume 76:4
by Bonnie Gill
Circuit courts disagree on whether participation in a pretrial diversion program counts as a favorable termination of the conviction or sentence such that a § 1983 action challenging the conviction can proceed. Following the Introduction, Part II of this Note gives an overview of federal and state pretrial diversion programs. Part III explores the statutory and doctrinal background of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, including its interaction with another civil rights statute, 28 U.S.C. § 2254, the federal habeas statute. Both statutes are essential to understanding the Heck v. Humphrey doctrine’s purpose and application to pretrial diversion participants. Part III also explores the development and interpretation of the Heck doctrine in four Supreme Court cases. Part IV discusses the circuit split as it currently stands. Part V presents three proposals for resolving the split and analyzes how closely the proposals adhere to the original purpose of § 1983 as well as the potential implications of these proposals on policy concerns. This Note concludes by suggesting that the Court revisit the issue presented by the Heck circuit split and clarify that challenges to allegedly unconstitutional investigatory practices should never be barred by Heck.
by Saurabh Vishnubhakat
Patent Office power has grown immensely in this decade, and the agency is wielding its power in predictably troubling ways. Like other agencies, it injects politics into its decisions while relying on technocratic justifications. It also reads grants of authority expansively to aggrandize its power, especially to the detriment of judicial checks on agency action. However, this story of Patent Office ascendancy differs from that of other agencies in two important respects. One is that the U.S. patent system still remains primarily a means for allocating property rights, not a comprehensive regime of industrial regulation. Thus, the Patent Office cannot yet claim broad autonomy to make substantive political judgments. Indeed, the agency until now has wielded its power mostly in disguise. The other difference is that the era of broad Patent Office power is still in relative infancy. Recent years have seen important analytical and empirical studies of the agency’s dramatic changes, but its new and controversial practices are not yet entrenched. Meaningful reform is still possible, and it is desirable. Patent Office power has grown so much so quickly in part because the political valence of that power has been obscured by a blinkered focus on technological expertise. Understanding the agency’s pernicious structural choices—such as commingling separately delegated powers in order to evade judicial review and stacking adjudicatory panels to reach desired outcomes—in terms of politicization reveals significant risks of injury upon the agency’s ability to make credible commitments, and also illuminates potential solutions.
by Elizabeth Thornburg
Fact inferences made by the trial judge are the lynchpin of civil litigation. If inferences were a matter of universally held logical deductions, this would not be troubling. Inferences, however, are deeply contestable conclusions that vary from judge to judge. Non-conscious psychological phenomena can lead to flawed reasoning, implicit bias, and culturally influenced perceptions. Inferences differ significantly, and they matter. Given the homogeneous makeup of the judiciary, this is a significant concern.
This Article will demonstrate the ubiquity, importance, and variability of inferences by examining actual cases in which trial and appellate (or majority and dissenting) judges draw quite different inferences from the same record. It will then review the psychological literature to show ways in which judges are affected by unconscious forces. It concludes by suggesting reforms to judicial education, use of decision mechanisms that promote conscious deliberation, and civil procedure rule changes designed to increase information and decrease the impact of individual judges’ inferences.
by Thomas F. Cotter, Erik Hovenkamp, and Norman Siebrasse
Patent holdup can arise when circumstances enable a patent owner to extract a larger royalty ex post than it could have obtained in an arms length transaction ex ante. While the concept of patent holdup is familiar to scholars and practitioners—particularly in the context of standard-essential patent (SEP) disputes—the economic details are frequently misunderstood. For example, the popular assumption that switching costs (those required to switch from the infringing technology to an alternative) necessarily contribute to holdup is false in general, and will tend to overstate the potential for extracting excessive royalties. On the other hand, some commentaries mistakenly presume that large fixed costs are an essential ingredient of patent holdup, which understates the scope of the problem.
In this Article, we clarify and distinguish the most basic economic factors that contribute to patent holdup. This casts light on various points of confusion arising in many commentaries on the subject. Path dependence—which can act to inflate the value of a technology simply because it was adopted first—is a useful concept for understanding the problem. In particular, patent holdup can be viewed as opportunistic exploitation of path dependence effects serving to inflate the value of a patented technology (relative to the alternatives) after it is adopted. This clarifies that factors contributing to holdup are not static, but rather consist in changes in economic circumstances over time. By breaking down the problem into its most basic parts, our analysis provides a useful blueprint for applying patent holdup theory in complex cases.
by Michael D. Cicchini
In theory, the Constitution protects us against criminal conviction unless the state can prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In reality, this lofty standard is only as strong as the words used to explain it to the jury.
Unfortunately, attempts to explain reasonable doubt often create confusion, and sometimes even diminish the burden of proof. Many courts therefore believe that the better practice is not to attempt a definition. However, empirical studies demonstrate that reasonable doubt is not self-defining, i.e., when it is not explained to the jury, it offers defendants no greater protection against conviction than the two lower, civil burdens of proof.
To solve this dilemma, courts should explain reasonable doubt on a relative basis, within the context of the civil burdens of proof. A relative, context-based instruction will allow jurors to compare and contrast the different standards, thus giving them the necessary reference points to appreciate how high the state’s burden actually is.
This approach is rooted in a psychological principle called “contrast effects,” and is now supported by empirical evidence as well. In this Article, I present the results of my controlled experiment where mock jurors read the identical case summary of a criminal trial and were then randomly assigned to two groups, each of which received a different reasonable doubt instruction. The group that received the relative, context-based instruction acquitted at a rate 30 percent higher than the group that received a simple, undefined instruction. This result was significant at p < .05. Further, participants that received this relative, context-based instruction required a higher subjective confidence level in the defendant’s guilt before they were willing to convict.
Drawing on this and other behavioral research, this Article presents a comprehensive jury instruction on the presumption of innocence and burden of proof that is designed to fulfill the Constitution’s promise: to ensure that defendants remain free of conviction “except upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”
by Clay Calvert
This Article examines how the United States Supreme Court’s 2018 decisions in the First Amendment cases of National Institute of Family & Life Advocates v. Becerra and Janus v. American Federation of State, County, & Municipal Employees, Council 31, muddle an already disorderly compelled-speech doctrine.Specifically, dual five-to-four decisions in Becerra and Janus raise key questions about the level of scrutiny—either a heightened test or a deferential variant of rational basis review—against which statutes compelling expression should be measured. Critically, Becerra illustrates the willingness of the Court’s conservative Justices to narrowly confine the aging compelled-speech test from Zauderer v. Office of Disciplinary Counsel. Furthermore, the Article explores how Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurrence in a third 2018 decision—Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission—heightens problems with the compelled-speech doctrine. The Article concludes by proposing multiple criteria for the Court to consider when determining the level of scrutiny to use in compelled-speech cases.