Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ellis on Voter Identification Laws

    This article argues that photo identification laws represent a continuation of the use of economic forces as a way to block people of lower economic status from participation in the electorate. These laws are similar to other restrictions on the franchise, such as property requirements and poll taxes, because the rules required the voter to demonstrate the ability to meet an economic test – the ability to show a certain property value, the ability to pay a tax, or the ability to obtain a photo ID. The potential effect of such photo-voter identification laws is that the voters at the lowest end of the socioeconomic scale are effectively excluded from voting because they are the least able to afford the cost of voting exacted by the law. This article contends that this type of exclusion is antithetical to the nature of democracy and ultimately constitutes a tyranny of the majority against the minority at the lowest level of socioeconomic status. This article begins by providing an overview of American photo-identification laws and discussing the modern cost of voting to the voter. Then it will discuss the history of voter access in the United States, with a focus on Harper v. Virginia, which held that the ability to pay a poll tax had no relationship with the right to vote and, the paper contends, articulated a vision of the right to vote unencumbered by class bias. The paper will then consider the potential socioeconomic impact of photo identification laws upon voters and how those impacts are similar to historical class-based discrimination. It will examine how the courts have been indifferent to the costs levied upon on the right to vote by voter identification laws – most recently in the Supreme Court's decision in Crawford v. Marion County – and how that indifference tracks the conflict over the socioeconomic burdens of voting raised in Harper. Finally, the paper will recommend how to reframe the standards articulated in Harper to take into account this structural socioeconomic bias inherent in, and damaging to, the right to vote.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Theory Of Legal Argumentation

    What is to be understood by 'rational legal argument'? To what extent can legal reasoning be rational? Is the demand for rationality in legal affairs justified? And what are the criteria of rationality in legal reasoning? The answer to these questions is not only of interest to legal theorists and philosophers of law. They are pressing issues for practicing lawyers, and a matter of concern for every citizen active in the public arena. Not only the standing of academic law as a scientific discipline, but also the legitimacy of judicial decisions depends on the possibility of rational legal argumentation. 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cohen on Wartime Cases & the Lessons of History

    References to the "lessons of history" are ubiquitous in law. Nowhere has this been more apparent than in recent debates over U.S. counterterrorism policy. In response to the Bush Administration's reliance on World War II-era decisions - Johnson v. Eisentrager, Ex Parte Quirin, Hirota v. MacArthur, and In re Yamashita - opponents have argued that these decisions have been rejected by the "lessons of history." They argue that the history of wartime cases is one marked by executive aggrandizement, panic-driven attacks on civil liberties, and overly quiescent courts - none of which should be repeated. 

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

International Law

On 17 December 2009, the Rome I Regulation (EU Regulation 593/2008) on the law applicable to contractual obligations comes into force and will be directly applicable in all EU Member States with the exception of Denmark. When we last reported on the draft Regulation, the UK was still considering whether to opt in. It decided to do so and a statutory instrument, The Law Applicable to Contractual Obligations (England and Wales and Northern Ireland) Regulations, adopting the EU Regulation into national law, will also come into force on 17 December. This will replace the Contracts (Applicable Law) Act 1990, which will then only apply to contracts concluded before 17 December 2009.


Predictions that the number of redundancies in the UK would rise sharply during the credit crunch have been substantiated by the figures from the Office for National Statistics. The impact of the economic slowdown has also been demonstrated by fewer job vacancies and a rise in the number of redundancies particularly in the finance, business services and construction industries. 

Redundancy is one of the most traumatic events an employee may experience. Announcement of redundancies will invariably have an adverse impact on morale, motivation and productivity. The negative effects can be reduced by sensitive handling of redundant employees and those remaining.

Click for full UK resources