Recent Commentary from Inter Alia

YLPR’s online edition
Amanda Parsons
Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 12:45pm

In September 2016, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden released a discussion draft of a “Retirement Improvements and Savings Enhancements Act” that would reform retirement planning policy. Among the proposed reforms is ending “backdoor” Roth individual retirement account (IRA) conversions. Backdoor Roth IRA conversion is a method for higher-income taxpayers to avoid the income limits for Roth IRA contributions by rolling funds from a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA. This method provides a variety of tax advantages for taxpayers, including paying no tax on investment gains and avoiding required lifetime distributions.

José A. Cabranes
Friday, January 13, 2017 - 2:00pm

We have good news and bad news today. The good news is that we are printing in hard copy the Woodward Report on Freedom of Expression at Yale. The bad news is that we need to reprint the Woodward Report. We are dealing today with interrelated developments at Yale that threaten freedom of expression and the institutions that protect it, including faculty due process rights, sometimes described as academic tenure. Many writers on this subject understandably focus on the fate of students. But it is important to recognize that today’s developments are also redefining the rights of faculty—and the role of faculty in the governance of this University. These are developments that, if not addressed, ultimately threaten Yale’s place among the great universities of the world.

Peter Leasure & Tia Stevens Andersen
Monday, November 7, 2016 - 10:15am

Obtaining employment is difficult for ex-offenders due to the stigma of having a criminal record. In recognition of this difficulty, some state legislatures have created certificates of relief (also known as certificates of recovery), which lift occupational licensing restrictions, limit employer liability for negligent hiring claims, and aim to ensure that employment decisions about certificate holders are made on a case-by-case basis. The current study, which examines Ohio’s program for certificates of relief, presents the results of the first empirical test of the effectiveness of such certificates. This test indicates that having a certificate of relief increases the likelihood of receiving an interview invitation or job offer more than threefold. Importantly, certificate holders and their counterparts with clean criminal backgrounds were nearly equally likely to receive an interview invitation or job offer. These promising preliminary results suggest certificates of relief may be an effective avenue for lessening the stigma of a criminal record for ex-offenders seeking employment.

Evan C. Zoldan
Wednesday, September 7, 2016 - 10:30am

In its recent Bank Markazi opinion, the Supreme Court of the United States permitted Congress to direct judgment in favor of a particular party in a pending case. This Essay explains why the Court’s failure to invalidate targeted legislation is inconsistent with constitutional history, text, and widely held jurisprudential commitments.

Katherine Shaw
Sunday, April 3, 2016 - 4:30pm

Step into any conversation about campaign finance regulation in 2016, and you’re likely to encounter the view that while the Supreme Court is well on its way to dismantling most of the legal framework that has governed money in elections for nearly forty years, disclosure requirements remain on secure constitutional footing. For many advocates of campaign finance regulation, this is a rare source of comfort in a landscape that is otherwise relentlessly bleak. But it is a decidedly second-best alternative to more robust modes of regulation. I hope in this short piece to strike a cautionary note: to suggest that, for too long, advocates of campaign finance regulation have both taken disclosure for granted and failed to take disclosure sufficiently seriously. This is understandable; until recently, disclosure questions nearly always arose in the context of challenges to other campaign finance regulations, and disclosure has invariably been treated, by both courts and advocates, as something of an afterthought. But in a dramatically shrunken regulatory landscape, there is an increasingly urgent need to develop a stronger and more fully realized set of arguments for the constitutionality of disclosure—not only with an eye to potentially expanding existing disclosure requirements, but also in order to strengthen the constitutional foundations of the existing disclosure regime.

Jennifer A. Heerwig
Sunday, April 3, 2016 - 3:45pm

I suggest in this essay that, at least from a social science perspective, the system of disclosure that currently governs the hard money system falls short of meeting some basic goals of transparency. Before describing how this system currently operates, I first suggest why we should even continue to care about hard money disclosure in an age of dark money, and offer a brief social scientific perspective on the study of money in politics. Having situated disclosure in this context, I then outline the contours of campaign finance disclosure in the federal system for individual contributors. I then suggest a few policy recommendations drawn from my work with Katherine Shaw.

Cara McClellan
Wednesday, November 11, 2015 - 2:45pm

Recently, some have argued that universities “are in a double bind.” They are required under Title VI to ensure that their campuses do not create a hostile environment for women and minorities. On the other hand, they face liability for violating students’ First Amendment rights if they act to punish students whose speech led to a hostile environment. In this essay, I argue that addressing hostile environment discrimination fits within the school’s authority to restrict speech under its pedagogical responsibility to prevent disruptions. Regardless of whether there is a noisy uproar or the threat of violence, by definition, hostile environment discrimination interferes with the right of students to access the educational program because it creates exclusion. This is a disruption in the most fundamental sense of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, and a university must have the authority to provide redress.