Category Archives: Yale Law Journal

Introducing Professor Payvand Ahdout, YLJ’s Emerging Scholar of the Year

In this episode, Vol. 131’s Editor-in-Chief, Rachel Sommers, and Executive Editor for Features & Book Reviews, Bapu Kotapati, speak with the Yale Law Journal’s inaugural Emerging Scholar of the Year: Professor Payvand Ahdout. The Emerging Scholar of the Year Award celebrates the achievements of early-career academics who have made significant contributions to legal thought and scholarship. Professor Ahdout is currently an Associate Professor of Law at The University of Virginia School of Law, where she teaches Federal Courts and a seminar on the Separation of Powers. Her scholarship uncovers judicial practices and procedures that have important implications for our understanding of federal courts as critical fora for the vindication of constitutional rights. In this wide-ranging conversation, Professor Adhout speaks about the formative professional and academic experiences of her career, discusses her scholarship and pedagogical style, shares her practical advice for law students, and answers questions from the Yale Law community.

Democratic Data: Developing Digital Counterpower

The past decade has witnessed an explosion of data collection about individuals. U.S. law has traditionally approached data governance by focusing on individual privacy and contract adequacy. This approach, however, fails to grapple with the “relational” way that data is stored, analyzed, and utilized. We speak with Salomé Viljoen, an Assistant Professor of Law at The University of Michigan Law School about how future legal regimes can benefit from an understanding of a “relational” theory of data, and how the rise of big data has immense potential to create counter-power for traditionally marginalized members of our society and the environment. To highlight how lawyers can employ big data to generate counterpower, we also speak with Uzoma Nkwonta, Partner at Elias Law Group, to discuss his litigation efforts in the voting rights space, where he has employed cellphone metadata in litigation to quantify wait times at the polls.

Using Regulatory Law to Reform Prison Conditions

When prisoners are served food with bugs in it or given medical care by unlicensed physicians, where can they turn for help? Believe it or not, such prison conditions may not be deemed cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment, but they could violate existing administrative regulations that set standards for food safety, medical licensing, building safety, and other so-called “free-world laws.” Professor Aaron Littman joins us to discuss his recently published Article, Free-World Law Behind Bars, to discuss the difficulties of prison condition litigation and how regulatory law could provide much needed relief. We open this episode on a conversation with Roy Bolus, former president of the Project for A Calculated Transition (PACT) about his first-hand experience surviving the harsh conditions of incarceration and his inspirational story of service. We also speak with renowned prison-condition litigator Easha Anand of the MacArthur Justice Center on the many possible paths reformers and advocates can take to better prison conditions.

When Lawyers Lie: The Future of Legal Ethics Rules After the 2020 Election

How should courts’ approaches to lawyer misconduct change following the flood of baseless lawsuits filed to undermine the valid results of the 2020 election? In this episode, we speak with both Professor Renee Knake Jefferson about her proposals for reforming standards of ethical conduct to apply both inside and outside the courtroom, and litigator David Fink of Fink Bressack about his experience winning the largest sanctions award to date against Donald Trump’s “Kraken” team of lawyers.

For more on this topic, take a look at Professor Jefferson’s Essay, Lawyer Lies and Political Speech, published in the Yale Law Journal Forum.

The Lasting Impact of the Insular Cases

The Insular Cases are a series of Supreme Court cases about the status of U.S. territories that were decided over a century ago. Professor Aziz Rana and attorney Celina Romany join us in this episode to speak about the lasting impact the Insular Cases have had on American constitutional law and on the status of U.S. territories like Puerto Rico.

To learn more about this topic, take a look at Professor Aziz Rana’s Essay in the Yale Law Journal Forum: How We Study the Constitution: Rethinking the Insular Cases and Modern American Empire.

Power-Shifting in Policing

The need for transformative change to policing is clear. But the United States continues to grapple with what that change should look like – and who should have the power to decide. In this episode, Professor Jocelyn Simonson speaks to why we should view the regulation of policing through what she terms “the power lens,” and outlines the importance of shifting power over policing to directly impacted communities. Tracey Corder, a Deputy Campaign Director for the Action Center on Race and the Economy and an organizer with the People’s Coalition for Safety and Freedom, joins us to discuss her work and explore what power-shifting looks like in practice.

To learn more about this topic, take a look at Professor Jocelyn Simonson’s Article, Police Reform Through a Power Lens, recently published in the Yale Law Journal.

New Fronts in the Battle for Voting Rights

While we often consider questions of who is eligible to vote and how votes are counted, the question of where votes are counted is just as important. In this episode, Professor Nicholas Stephanopoulos joins us to discuss the impact a race-blind baseline would have in racial vote-dilution case. Next, Alaa Chaker and Justin Farmer speak to us about prison malapportionment and their involvement in a federal court case challenging this practice, NAACP v. Merrill.

To learn more about this topic, take a look at The Race-Blind Future of Voting Rights, by Professors Jowei Chen and Nicholas Stephanopoulos, and Prison Malapportionment: Forging a New Path for State Courts, by Alaa Chaker – both recently published in the Yale Law Journal.

The Impact of Executive Defiance on Immigrants

What happens if a federal court issues an order in an immigration case, but the government does not obey it? As we’ll learn in this episode, it could mean that a young person who is eligible for relief under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program cannot have their application processed, or that immigrants will be deported in violation of federal-court orders. Armando Ghinaglia – a law student in Yale Law School’s Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic who has been working on DACA litigation and is a former DACA recipient himself – and Professor Jennifer Lee Koh join us to explain this important issue.

To learn more about this topic, take a look at Professor Jennifer Lee Koh’s Feature, Executive Defiance and the Deportation State, recently published in the Yale Law Journal.

Who Gets the Ventilator? Disability Rights and COVID-19 Medical Rationing

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced healthcare systems to make decisions about how to ration medical treatments – and many have chosen to explicitly de-prioritize people for these treatments based on pre-existing disabilities. Professor Samuel Bagenstos and attorney Alison Barkoff join us to talk about their work on COVID-19 medical rationing advocacy and what lessons we can take away from how this issue has played out.

To learn more about this topic, take a look at Professor Samuel Bagenstos’s Essay, Who Gets the Ventilator? Disability Discrimination in COVID-19 Medical-Rationing Protocols, recently published in the Yale Law Journal Forum.

The Power of the Many: Harnessing Law and Organizing to Combat Inequality

When wealthy individuals are spending record amounts on electoral politics and the Supreme Court has refused to limit campaign spending, how can the law help low-income communities assert their democratic rights? Professors Kate Andrias and Benjamin Sachs join us to talk about the power of mass-membership organizations to equalize the political voice of citizens who lack the political influence that comes from wealth. Ai-jen Poo, co-founder and Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, shares insights from her work building power on the ground.

To learn more about this topic, take a look at Professor Kate Andrias and Professor Benjamin I. Sachs’s article Constructing Countervailing Power: Law and Organizing in an Era of Political Inequality, recently published in the Yale Law Journal.