JoshBlogs is moving on up to – Update your Bookmarks and RSS Feeds

I launched this blog about 2 months ago. 45,000 visitors, 414 posts, 402 comments, and one really cool license plate later, I’m moving on up. is born.

Please update to the new RSS Feed feed:// and subscribe to my iTunes Feed

I will no longer update JoshBlogs, and I have transferred all of the old posts to, so my loyal readers will not miss a thing.

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JoshBlogs is moving on up to – Update your Bookmarks and RSS Feeds

I launched this blog about 2 months ago. 45,000 visitors, 414 posts, 402 comments, and one really cool license plate later, I’m moving on up. is born.

Please update to the new RSS Feed feed:// and subscribe to my iTunes Feed

I will no longer update JoshBlogs, and I have transferred all of the old posts to, so my loyal readers will not miss a thing.

Posted in FantasySCOTUS. Comments Off

Now on SSRN: Opening Pandora’s Box? Privileges or Immunities, The Constitution in 2020, and Properly Incorporating the Second AmendmentIwelcome

I am proud to announce that Opening Pandora’s Box? Privileges or Immunities, The Constitution in 2020, and Properly Incorporating the Second Amendment is now available on SSRN. I co-authored this article with Ilya Shapiro from Cato. It should be published in the Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy on a blistering expedited schedule in January 2010, right in time for Oral Arguments in McDonald. This article is cited in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in McDonald. I can’t say which one, but when they are released on Monday, you will be sure to hear about it here.

I will blog about this in some detail soon, as well as my general thoughts on McDonald and privileges or immunities.

Here is the abstract:

>The purpose of this article is to provide a roadmap to welcome the Privileges or Immunities Clause back into our modern constitutional jurisprudence. The Slaughter-House Cases “sapped the [Privileges or Immunities Clause] of any meaning” but the Supreme Court now has the opportunity correct this mistake. Heeding Justice Thomas’s call, we “endeavor to understand what the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment thought” the Privileges or Immunities Clause meant, and seek to restore that original meaning. This framework ensures that the Privileges or Immunities Clause is not manipulated to constitutionalize certain modern “rights” that lack deep roots in our nation’s history and traditions. No, the Constitution cannot be properly read to protect positive rights. Pandora’s box will thus remain sealed.

This article proceeds as follows: In Part I, we discuss the history of the Privileges or Immunities Clause starting with the Articles of Confederation and continuing through the Clause’s untimely demise with the Slaughter-House Cases, its re-emergence in legal scholarship, and its potential rebirth in Supreme Court jurisprudence. In Part II, we discuss the meaning of the Second Amendment as it relates to the states by considering District of Columbia v. Heller and subsequent litigation.

In Part III, we explore the Progressive vision of the Privileges or Immunities Clause as it fits into the “Constitution in 2020” paradigm. This model recognizes rights according to national and international consensus, evolving standards, and the enactment of so-called landmark legislation. We show why privileges or immunities serves as the desired weapon of choice to achieve the “Constitution in 2020” by way of its superiority over Substantive Due Process and Equal Protection. Through the Privileges or Immunities Clause, progressives seek to reconceptualize the provision of education, health care, welfare, and other positive entitlements as inviolable constitutional rights. Thus, Pandora’s Box is cracked ajar, with all manner of governmental guarantees and policy preferences spewing forth.

In Part IV, we contend that the Second Amendment could be incorporated through the Due Process Clause, though this approach is historically deficient. In light of Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion in Heller, and applying modern selective incorporation jurisprudence, the Court is likely to find that the Second Amendment is “necessary to an Anglo-American regime of ordered liberty” and should thus be extend to the states.

In Part V, we show that, instead of dutifully treating the Second Amendment as it has almost all the other parts of the Bill of Rights, the Court should find the underlying rights to be among the privileges and immunities directly protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. Accordingly, this article is not so much concerned with why the Second Amendment should be incorporated but instead provides the Court a roadmap to protecting the right to keep and bear arms for defense of person and property through the Privileges or Immunities Clause. Indeed, the notion of “incorporation” would have been anachronistic, and considered a constitutional deviation at the time of the Fourteenth Amendment’s ratification. Historical accounts of the ratification debates reveal that the Privileges or Immunities Clause was meant to protect both more and less than the Bill of Rights. Thus reconceptualized, the clause should be viewed not as a mechanical incorporator of the first eight amendments, but rather as a limitation of the power of the states to infringe certain liberties. In 1868, these liberties were referred to as privileges or immunities.
What are these privileges or immunities, and what relationship do they have to the Second Amendment? To resolve this query we answer Justice Thomas’s call in Saenz, and seek to “understand what the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment thought that it meant.” We propose extending the Glucksberg framework for recognizing substantive rights that are deeply rooted in our nation’s history and traditions to understand how privileges or immunities were understood in 1868. By applying the Glucksberg test and adapting Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain’s opinion in Nordyke v. King, we find that the right to bear arms for the defense of person and property—independent of its enumeration in the Second Amendment—was considered a privilege or immunity of citizenship in 1868.

Part VI concludes by echoing Justice Thomas and implores originalists not to shy away from the Privileges or Immunities Clause for fear that it will become the camel’s nose of positive rights into the constitutional tent. Instead, resurrecting the Privileges or Immunities Clause can continue the process of aligning the original meaning of the Constitution with the protection of our most sacred liberties. This process will also eliminate the “current [state of] disarray” of our Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence. Failing to take control of the Privileges or Immunities narrative invites an alternative vision of the Fourteenth Amendment that further departs from the original meaning of the Constitution. Now is the time, and McDonald is the case, to advance an originalist vision of the Privileges or Immunities Clause. Only by correcting the historical record and claiming it for our own can we keep Pandora’s Box sealed.

I welcome all comments, suggestions, critiques, and any other feedback.

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FedSoc Online Debate- The Pay Czar & Appointment Clause with Profs. McConnell and Flaherty

I have blogged a bit about the President’s Czars and the appointments clause. Recently Professor McConnell posted a great WSJ Op-Ed on this point.

The Federalist Society is hosting an ongoing online debate between McConnell and Professor Flaherty.

Here are the opening salvos.

McConnell thrusts:

There is no doubt that Mr. Feinberg is an “officer” of the United States. The Supreme Court has defined this term (Buckley v. Valeo, 1976) as “any appointee exercising significant authority pursuant to the laws of the United States.” Mr. Feinberg signed last week’s orders setting pay levels for executives at Bank of America, AIG, Chrysler Financial, Citigroup, GMAC, General Motors and Chrysler. They have the force of law and are surely an exercise of “significant authority” pursuant to an Act of Congress. He is not a mere “employee,” acting at the direction of a superior. That means his office is subject to the requirements of the Appointments Clause.

While somewhat more disputable, Mr. Feinberg’s is probably an “inferior” officer, defined as one subject to supervision and removal by a member of the cabinet. Although he has substantial discretion and independence, Mr. Feinberg reports to the secretary of the Treasury, who can fire him any time for any reason. This means that Congress could, if it wished, vest the appointment of the pay czar in the secretary, without any need for Senate confirmation.

Flaherty parries:

Unless one is a Wall Street solipsist, the power to reduce executive compensation does not place Feinberg on par with Hillary Clinton or above Kenneth Starr. It follows that Congress should have had a role in determining the appointment process, either by vesting the power in the Secretary of the Treasury, the President alone, or even a court, such as the D.C. Circuit.

One point, however, calls for clarification. Judge McConnell at first says that “Congress may, if it wished, vest the appointment of the pay czar in the secretary [as Head of a Department], without any need for Senate confirmation.” So far so good. Yet he adds that, in lieu of Congressional action, he could only delegate the Pay Czar power to someone who is subject to Senate confirmation. On one hand, why could he sub-delegate at all? On the other, why not sub-delegate to someone subject to appointment in one of the three ways that the lower track of the Appointments Clause calls for?


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Egquist, Olech, and the Class of One. New Article on Erosion of Equal Protection

My article forthcoming in the Loyola Law Review, titled Equal Protection from Eminent Domain. Protecting the Home of Olech’s Class of One heavily relies on the Olech and Engquist line of cases, so this recent article by Professor Shanske posted to SSRN is of some interest (H/T Legal Theory Blog).

This article is about the erosion of the protections offered by the Equal Protection Clause resulting from the Supreme Court’s decision in Engquist v. Oregon Department of Agriculture, 128. S. Ct. 2146 (2008). Lower courts, purportedly following Engquist, have limited the reach of the Equal Protection Clause in several dozen cases in the last year. Until Engquist, it was uncontroversial that any person alleging irrational treatment by a government official could at least challenge the government official to give a reason that would satisfy rational basis review. Since the Supreme Court decided Engquist, lower courts have leapt to find that government officials cannot be found liable under the Equal Protection Clause for any action considered “discretionary.” It would be problematic if this striking curtailment of individual rights was actually required by the Supreme Court’s decision in Engquist, but the Court held no such thing, though the Court offered some expansive dicta that could be so interpreted. This article aims to counter the creep of these dicta among the lower courts and explains in particular why these dicta are not consistent with constitutional values.

I discuss this dicta at length in my article, so I will be sure to incorporate this article prior to publication. For my thoughts on dicta, see here: Much Ado About Dictum; or, How to Evade Precedent Without Really Trying: The Distinction between Holding and Dictum (one of these days I’ll get that article ready for publication).

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I want to be on Judge Braden’s List of Counsel

Judge Braden of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, a regular at Federalist Society events in Washington, D.C.. issued a pretty cool order, per BLT.

In an unusual order last month in a constitutional challenge to Section 8(a) of the federal Small Business Act, Judge Braden determined that the plaintiff’s lawyer, despite “substantial experience” before her court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, should have an appellate “lead co-counsel” with jurisdiction and constitutional law expertise. “The issues presented concern the extent of the court’s jurisdiction, as well as one of constitutional importance. As such, this is not a typical pre-bid protest,” She then offered a list of 11 lawyers who might be willing to step into that role.

Who was on this list? Sadly, not me, but a few cool names.

The lawyers on Judge Braden’s suggested list included such conservative legal stars as former solicitors general Theodore Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Kenneth Starr, dean of Pepperdine University School of Law, as well as such appellate veterans as Carter Phillips of Sidley Austin, Charles Cooper of Cooper & Kirk, David Frederick of Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, Edward Bruce of Covington & Burling, and Richard Samp of the Washington Legal Foundation.

I suppose this is the official Article I’  (Court of Federal Claims is not Article III) All Star Litigator List. But, will Ted Olson or Kenn star step in to help?

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Original Crimes: What were Federal Crimes in 1789, and Reply to Professor Kerr

I blogged a bit yesterday about what exactly was considered a federal crime in 1789 (see here and here). I argued that beyond certain crimes according to enumerated powers (securities, currency, etc), there could not be any general federal crimes.

I was pleased to see one of my favorite bloggers, and all-around nice guy, Orin Kerr, visited my comment thread.  Orin wrote:

The first set of federal crimes (that I know of) that Congress passed was 1 Stat. 112, enacted April 30, 1790. You should read Chief Justice Marshall’s opinion United States v. Wiltberger (1820) for an example of one of these laws: I don’t think it occurred to anyone at the time that such laws exceeded Congress’s commerce clause power.

Corey Carpenter, a contributor to Josh Blogs, replied:

I did a quick reading of the link you posted, and it seems that the 1 Stat. 112 particularly concerns crimes committed in places where only the federal government has jurisdiction, i.e. the high seas and federal land as opposed to a general policing power (and treason)

I just skimmed through Wiltberger, and it deals with manslaughter on the high seas, a federal offense.

All of the provisions of 1 Stat. 112 (see Library of Congress, and enter page 112) deal with matters clearly in the province of the federal government, and not traditional common law crimes.

The Federalism blog describes the crimes as such:

Sections 1 & 2 punish treason against the United States.  Id. at 112.  Sections 3 & 7 do not punish the state crimes of murder or manslauther.  Rather, it only criminalizes murders committed in “any place *** under the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, ”  id. at 113, and Section 5 punishes the theft from the federal government the body of an executed criminal.  Id.  Section 6 imposes an affirmative duty on a witness to certain listed crimes against the United States to relay his knowledge to the police.  Id.  Section 7 covers arson, but again, only against a building “under the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States.”  Id.  Section 9-13 define and punish crimes on the high seas and rivers. Id. at 114-115.  Section 14 criminalizes counterfeiting.  Id. at 115.  Section 15 punishes acts affecting an official paper of a federal court.  Id. at 115-116.  Sections 16 & 17 punish theft-related acts occurring on any place under the “sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States.”  Id. at 116. Sections 18-20 cover perjury committed in federal court.  Id. at 116-117.  Section 21 covers bribes against federal officials.  Id. at 117.  Section 22 criminalizes resisting arrest, where a federal official is the arresting officer.  Id.  Finally, Section 28 punishes violence against persons under the protection of the United States. Id. at 118.

So perhaps I should refine my initial inquiry. When did the Federal Government began criminalizing matters that were historically left to state prosecutions, namely the common law crimes, that had nothing to do with federal jurisdiction or federal property? And if this change predated the New Deal and the transformation of the commerce clause, on what enumerated power did the federal Government base this authority?

Perhaps Professor Kerr will open a thread at Volokh? :) Or maybe I’ll just buy him a beer.


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