West Law Report

THE CORE OF AN UNEASY CASE FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW

Posted in Harvard Law Review (Article), judicial review, Richard Fallon by mrkooenglish on June 11, 2008

Richard H. Fallon, Jr.’s article in Harvard Law Review (May 2008) (.pdf) (44 pages):

The best case for judicial review in politically and morally healthy societies does not depend (as is commonly believed) on the idea that courts are more likely than legislatures to define vague rights correctly. It rests instead on the subtly different ground that legislatures and courts should both be enlisted to protect fundamental rights and, accordingly, that both should have veto powers over legislation that might reasonably be thought to violate such rights.

In developing this case for judicial review, Professor Fallon proceeds by confronting recent, influential, philosophically probing arguments against judicial review by Professor Jeremy Waldron. Professor Fallon concedes arguendo that, as Professor Waldron argues, courts are no better than legislatures at defining rights correctly, but maintains that the crucial question is not whether courts or legislatures are less likely to err, but which kinds of errors are most important to avoid ?those that result in rights being overprotected or those that result in rights being infringed. Insofar as judicial review can be designed to prevent errors in just one direction, involving failures to protect rights adequately, then judicial review may be supportable even if courts are no better than legislatures at identifying rights correctly. Professor Fallon also argues, contra Professor Waldron, that judicial review can actually contribute to the political legitimacy of an otherwise democratic scheme of government when the demands of political legitimacy are understood correctly.

Professor Fallon revised justification for judicial review, which does not presume courts to be better than legislatures at identifying fundamental rights, has important implications for how judicial review should be practiced. It implies a diminished role for courts in cases in which fundamental rights are pitted against one another, such that the overenforcement of one entails the underenforcement of the other. It also implies that courts should withhold review when legislatures conscientiously seek to protect one fundamental right without plausibly threatening another.

HABEAS CORPUS JURISDICTION, SUBSTANTIVE RIGHTS, AND THE WAR ON TERROR

An article of Richard H. Fallon, Jr. and Daniel J. Meltzer in Harvard Law Review (Jun 2007) (.pdf) (84 pages):

This Article provides a broad-lens, synoptic perspective on war-on-terrorism questions arising within the habeas corpus jurisdiction of the federal courts. Analytically, it develops a clear framework for sorting out the tangle of jurisdictional, substantive, procedural, and scope-of-review issues that habeas cases often present. Methodologically, it champions a common lawike approach to habeas adjudication under which courts must exercise responsible judgment in adapting both statutory and constitutional language to unforeseen exigencies.
The Article also takes substantive positions on a number of important issues. In the jurisdictional domain, it defends the Supreme Court controversial decision in Rasul v. Bush, which interpreted the habeas statute as it then stood to authorize inquiry into the lawfulness of detentions at Guantanamo Bay. The Article also argues, however, that a court would overstep if it read the Constitution as mandating review of detentions of aliens in such wholly foreign locales as Afghanistan or Iraq. Scrutinizing post-Rasul legislation that eliminates habeas for alien detainees and substitutes more limited review in the D.C. Circuit, the Article argues that the resulting scheme is constitutionally valid as applied to most cases in which the D.C. Circuit can exercise review, but invalid insofar as it entirely precludes detainees in the United States or at Guantanamo Bay from challenging their detention or conditions of confinement before a civilian court.

With respect to substantive rights, the Article argues that American citizens seized outside of battlefield conditions have a right not to be detained indefinitely without civilian trial. It explains why the constitutional rights of noncitizens are more limited, but argues that existing statutes should not be read to authorize aliens?detention as enemy combatants when they are seized in the United States, away from any theater of combat. Finally, the Article analyzes some of the most important procedural and scope-of-review questions likely to come before habeas courts.

Judicially manageable standards and constitutional meaning

Posted in Harvard Law Review (Article), original meaning, Richard Fallon by mrkooenglish on June 11, 2008

Richard H. Fallon, Jr.’s article in Harvard Law Review (Mar 2006) (.pdf) (59 pages):

The Supreme Court has long held that disputes that do not lend themselves to resolution under udicially manageable standards?present nonjusticiable political questions. Filling several gaps in the literature, this Article begins by exploring what the Court means by judicial manageability. Professor Fallon identifies a series of criteria that anchor the Court analysis, but he also argues that in determining that no proposed test for implementing a constitutional guarantee is judicially manageable, the Court must often make an ultimate, all-things-considered assessment of whether the costs of allowing adjudication to proceed would exceed the benefits. This determination is so discretionary, Professor Fallon argues, that if the requirement of judicial manageability applied to the Court own decisionmaking process (as it does not), the criteria by which the Court identifies judicially unmanageable standards might themselves be disqualified as judicially unmanageable.

Although the demand for judicially manageable standards is most prominent in the political question doctrine, Professor Fallon argues that the concern to develop judicially manageable tests pervades constitutional adjudication. Until glossed by judicially formulated tests, most constitutional provisions would not pass muster as judicially manageable standards. Moreover, some of the tests that courts adopt largely for reasons of judicial manageability underenforce, whereas others overenforce, the underlying constitutional guarantees. Linking the phenomena of constitutional underenforcement and overenforcement to the demand for judicially manageable standards, Professor Fallon propounds he permissible disparity thesis?that there can be acceptable gaps between the Constitution meaning and the doctrinal tests applied by courts. He then deploys the permissible disparity thesis to cast new light on the nature and significance of both constitutional theories and constitutional rights, many of which should be viewed as partly aspirational, not necessarily requiring full, immediate enforcement.