Welcome to the   Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository. This repository provides open, global access to the scholarship of Yale Law School faculty and jornals, as well as a selection of unique collections. 

  • Sex, Suffrage, and State Constitutional Law: Women’s Legal Right to Hold Public Office

    Katz, Elizabeth (2022)
    On January 20, 2021, Kamala Harris was sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor as the nation’s first woman Vice President. This occasion, marked by women of color holding two of the most crucial roles in the federal government, would have been unthinkable to many for most of United States history. While the political efforts necessary to reach this moment have been studied in great depth, the legal challenges to women’s officeholding have been overlooked and even denied. Relying on extensive historical research, this Article is the first to examine how women advocated for more than a century for the legal right to hold public office through state-level litigation, constitutional amendments, legislative lobbying, and public commentary. From the 1840s through the 1940s, women in many states were excluded from holding even minor public offices because of state constitutional language and judicial holdings. Opponents of women’s officeholding feared that permitting women to assume posts would deprive men of their rightful opportunities, radically alter gender norms, and fuel the fire of the women’s suffrage movement. The nation’s first women lawyers were particularly active in challenging officeholding restrictions, with results varying by region and reflecting distinct legal, political, and social cultures. In some states disenfranchised women could assume only a narrow range of offices related to education, children, and charity, while in other locations they could hold a wide array of appointed posts and even elected positions for which they could not vote. After women were enfranchised through either state constitutional provisions or the Nineteenth Amendment, their officeholding eligibility remained contested in jurisdictions that did not expressly authorize it. Recovering the history of women’s legal right to hold public office challenges three major conventional wisdoms. First, it undermines the commonplace claim in scholarship on women’s legal and political history that officeholding was not a meaningful part of women’s advocacy or experiences until after ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. This Article’s account instead shows that proponents of women’s rights have long demanded women’s access to public posts, and women held positions for more than a half century prior to the federal suffrage amendment. Second, this Article challenges prominent scholarship—mostly focused on interpreting the Reconstruction Amendments—that treats officeholding and suffrage as inevitably paired. Foregrounding women’s history and state-level advocacy emphasizes the legal possibility and practical reality of severing these rights. Third, and relatedly, the Article calls for more attention to state constitutional law and regional variation. The women’s officeholding story clearly demonstrates how focusing on one geographical area, providing a single national account, or limiting analysis to the federal level obscures essential developments in securing rights.
  • Achieving Justice for Disabled Parents and Their Children: An Abolitionist Approach

    Powell, Robyn (2022)
    The social uprisings following the police killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many other people of color elevated the concept of abolition to the forefront of people’s consciousness. Concurrently, there is a burgeoning body of legal scholarship calling for the abolition of the carceral regime. Some scholars also recognize that abolition efforts must include the child welfare system, more accurately termed the family policing system, noting the interdependent relationship between the family policing system and other parts of the carceral regime. Yet, despite the nascent legal scholarship calling for family policing system abolition, parents with disabilities and their children have been mostly disregarded. This Article responds to that scholarly void. In this Article, I situate the family policing system within the contemporary struggle for the abolition of the carceral regime. My overarching argument is that the family policing system is an unjust social institution for disabled parents and their children. As such, we must work towards abolishing it and replacing it with non-punitive supports and resources for families. First, the Article describes the family policing system and its legal obligations to disabled parents and their children. Drawing on legal scholarship and social science research, it then elucidates the scope of the problem, detailing the injustices and harms that disabled parents and their children experience because of the family policing system. Next, the Article argues that reforms are not sufficient because the family policing system inflicts injustices and harms on disabled parents and their children by design. Thereafter, it limns the tenets of both abolition and disability justice and the ways in which these interconnecting movements, theories, and praxes could advance justice for parents with disabilities through the abolition of the family policing system. Finally, it proposes a novel anti-ableist legal and policy agenda for abolishing the family policing system that is responsive to disabled parents and their children.
  • Sexual Dignity and Rape Law

    High, Anna
    Dignity is a famously contested concept, suggesting its deployment as a legal principle should be closely scrutinized. This Article sets out a functional and contextual analysis of dignity as an organizing principle underpinning rape law, which I term “sexual dignity.” Based on sexual violence theory, I trace the “democratization” of sexual dignity over time, as dignity and attendant rights of autonomy and equality have gradually extended from man to the (qualified) woman to women as a group, and identify an emerging contemporary feminist consensus on the meaning of sexual dignity. This framework is then applied to a critical review of how judges across common law jurisdictions understand and use dignity in decisions on rape. The caselaw of sexual dignity illustrates that dignity is a usefully capacious concept for exploring and condemning the multiplicity of rape’s harms and wrongs. However, uncritical engagement with sexual dignity can be harmful, with implications both for rape law and for the regulation of sexual behaviour generally. As such, I argue that robust and reflective engagement with sexual dignity is both necessary and productive.
  • Disclosure’s Limits

    Rodrigues, Usha; Stegemoller, Michael (2022)
    The U.S. Securities and Exchange Committee’s (SEC) proposed reforms of how it regulates special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) lean heavily on the most familiar tool in its arsenal: disclosure. The proposed rules ask for more disclosure, and more standardized disclosure, on a variety of fronts. While as researchers we generally support more disclosure, unfortunately, we are deeply skeptical of the benefits disclosure alone can provide in this particular case to retail investors—the audience to which these reforms are directed. SPACs as currently structured feature a species of empty voting, where a shareholder’s voting interest is decoupled from her economic interest. Because of this fundamental disconnect, which is anathema to corporate law, our research indicates that disclosure-based reforms will be of limited utility in protecting investors.
  • Economic Substance in SPAC Regulation

    Halbhuber, Harald (2022)
    This Essay lays out an economic substance approach to regulating special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) as sales of stock for cash. The approach presented here charts an alternative to the SEC’s recent rule proposal that better reflects the economic reality of SPAC transactions and is more firmly grounded in the structure of our existing securities laws. While the SEC’s approach does address certain gaps in the current rules, its primary drawback is that it still treats SPAC mergers as a special type of business combination that requires its own regulatory regime. We already have a regime for sales of stock to the public for cash. The SEC should adopt rules that simply apply this regime to the stock sale for cash that, in economic substance, occurs in SPAC mergers. Merging with a SPAC has become a popular alternative to an initial public offering (IPO) as a path for going public. Data has consistently shown that public investors often fare poorly in SPAC mergers, compared to the “sponsors” controlling SPACs, who frequently realize outsized gains. One recent study found that SPAC merger investments made by the public underperformed the market by close to 60% at the median after twelve months while SPAC sponsors earned median market-adjusted returns of almost 200% over the same period.

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