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Category: Essay

Cornell Law Review Online

Mitigating the PSLF Disaster: Building a Borrower-Friendly Student Loan Forgiveness Program

Michael Slomovics, J.D., Yale Law School, 2021

In 2007, Congress promised student loan forgiveness to our teachers, public defenders, nurses, and other public servants. The bargain was simple: spend ten years in public service and your debt will be eliminated. Unfortunately for borrowers, the program turned out to be a disaster, with loan forgiveness denial rates as high as 99%. Individuals frequently…

Nov 2021

Cornell Law Review Online

Do Reason-Based Abortion Bans Prevent Eugenics?

Sital Kalantry, Associate Professor of Law, Seattle University School of Law

This Essay discusses a lesser‑known case through which Roe v. Wade could be gutted—by declaring reason‑based bans constitutional.  If the Court finds that one reason‑based abortion ban is constitutionally permissible, it will open the door for states to destroy the fundamental right to abortion by enacting many more reasons for why abortion is impermissible.

Oct 2021

Protecting Pregnancy

Jennifer Bennett Shinall, Professor of Law, Vanderbilt Law School

Laws to assist pregnant women in the workplace are gaining legislative momentum, both at the state and federal levels. Last year alone, four such laws went into effect at the state level, and federal legislation advanced farther than ever before in the House of Representatives. Four types of legislative protections for pregnant workers currently exist—pregnancy…

Aug 2021


Chevron as Construction

Lawrence B. Solum, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center

Cass R. Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard University

In 1984, the Supreme Court declared that courts should uphold agency interpretations of ambiguous statutory provisions, so long as those interpretations are reasonable. The Chevron framework, as it is called, is now under serious pressure. Current debates can be both illuminated and softened with reference to an old distinction between interpretation on the one hand…

Jul 2020


Legitimate Interpretation—Or Legitimate Adjudication

Thomas W. Merrill, Charles Evans Hughes Professor, Columbia Law School

Current debate about the legitimacy of lawmaking by courts focuses on what constitutes legitimate interpretation. The debate has reached an impasse in that originalism and textualism appear to have the stronger case as a matter of theory while living constitutionalism and dynamic interpretation provide much better account of actual practice. This Article argues that if…

Jul 2020

Introduction: Reviving the Thirteenth Amendment

Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

Amendment XIII Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. What has been the legal significance…

Sep 2019

The Thirteenth Amendment: An Epilogue on the Questions of Reach, Freedom, and Equality

Michele Goodwin

The Banality of Slavery The Thirteenth Amendment served as a corrective to a vile, but strangely normalized, practice—human slavery. An institutionalized practice so common that at one point 40% of New York’s inhabitants were slaves.1Michele Goodwin, The Thirteenth Amendment: Modern Slavery, Capitalism, and Modern Incarceration, 104 CORNELL L. REV. 899, 1021(2019). Thus, on one hand, slavery’s reach can…

Sep 2019

New Textualism and the Thirteenth Amendment

Leah M. Litman, Assistant Professor of Law, University of California Irvine School of Law.

Michele Goodwin’s piece raises important questions about whether troubling modern-day labor practices in jails and prisons are consistent with the Thirteenth Amendment.1Michele Goodwin, The Thirteenth Amendment: Modern Slavery, Capitalism, and Mass Incarceration, 104 CORNELL L. REV. 899 (2019)  In Goodwin’s telling, the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment formally ended the institution of slavery, but the Amendment allowed…

Sep 2019

Thirteenth Amendment Reflections on Abortion, Surrogacy, and Race Selection

Dov Fox

Pamela Bridgewater’s Breeding a Nation: Reproductive Slavery, the Thirteenth Amendment, and the Pursuit of Freedom never had a chance.1 PAMELA D. BRIDGEWATER, BREEDING A NATION: REPRODUCTIVE SLAVERY, THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT, AND THE PURSUIT OF FREEDOM (South End Press 2014) . South End Press went under shortly after publishing it in 2006, forcing the book out…

Sep 2019

The Thirteenth Amendment and Self-Determination

Seth Davis, Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

Slavery in the American South was a system of government that denied self-determination to Black communities. The Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution promised that “[n]either slavery nor involuntary servitude . . . shall exist within the United States.”1 U.S. CONST. amend. XIII, § 1. Today, Black communities and other subordinated communities are demanding self- determination and community…

Sep 2019