A trickle of law school closures

Will any law schools close as a result of the decline in enrollment and the lingering effects of the 2008 recession?

This was how I began a draft of a blog post five years ago. (And that I'm finally revising....) It's a little strange, perhaps, now, to link some of the present status of legal education to an economic event ten years ago, or that we've been discussing the same decline in enrollment problems for many years.

In part, I confess, I had deep skepticism that any law schools would close--at least, any accredited law schools. From my research, I couldn't find a single ABA-accredited law school that had ever closed. The ABA has been accrediting law schools for about a hundred years, and there had been closures of non-accredited or state-accredited schools. I wondered, then, what closures might look like.

I had compiled a few of the most notable predictions concerning law school closures a few years ago.

June 17, 2010, Professor Bainbridge:

If admission applicants drop enough, maybe some of the bottom tier of schools will have to close for lack of qualified applicants. (Or maybe they'll just admit unqualified applicants.) 

October 19, 2010, ABA Journal:

As large law firms continue to hire fewer highly paid associates, law school applications will eventually drop and the number of law schools will likely contract, two professors predict in a recent article.

April 25, 2011, The New Republic:

I'm not saying law schools will go away -- the prestigious ones, especially, will probably come out just fine -- but vast swaths of it [sic] will probably disappear. 

October 3, 2012, Brian Leiter's Law School Reports

My own opinion was that we'll see several law schools close during the next decade, but probably not more than ten--and that was the majority view among readers by a wide margin.  Most vulnerable are going to be free-standing law schools that are relatively young.  Relatively young law schools part of universities that are in vulnerable financial shape are also likely candidates.  

Here we are, ten years after the recession, eight years after the peak law school applicant and enrollment cycle, and we've seen some fairly significant movement. (I won't include the list of prospective new law schools that were abandoned before they began in the last decade.)

Cooley closed its Ann Arbor branch campus in 2014, but that was a branch campus, not a full closure.

William Mitchell and Hamline announced a merger in 2015, but I wasn't inclined to call that a "closure," despite two schools becoming one school. And, that said, enrollment looks more like the size of one school than two schools put together.

Indiana Tech announced its closure in 2016--but, in part, I discounted that closure because the school was not fully accredited by the ABA--only provisionally.

Whittier announced its closure in 2017, and there was the first fully ABA-accredited institution to do so.

Charlotte announced its closure in 2017, a second fully ABA-accredited institution, and the first for-profit law school (six for-profit law schools arose since a consent decree in 1995).

Valparaiso announced in 2017 that it would not enroll an incoming class and was looking for future options for the school--whether closure or selling the institution.

And just yesterday, Savannah announced it would be closing--a branch of Atlanta's John Marshall.

It's been a trickle of closures--a merger, a couple of branch closures, a suspension of admissions, a couple of outright closures. It's hard to portend what else might come. Arizona Summit and Thomas Jefferson are on probation status with the ABA, but that might change. Concordia, Lincoln Memorial, and North Texas are provisionally accredited, and we might see an update on their statuses soon. And there might be fully-accredited schools out there making difficult decisions.

Professor Jerry Organ in 2014 presciently compared a historic decline in dental school enrollment and ultimate closures with what he saw to be possible future closures in legal education--the tail was long, he emphasized, before the true change in the quality of students and the long-term financial pressures closed dental schools. Here we are, a decade after the recession, and we are seeing some of the consequences. Yes, next year appears to be a relatively good year for law schools compared to the last several. But that is probably not enough to change what might be still future difficulties at many institutions. Only sustained long-term growth in quantity and quality of law school applicants, driven by a market desire for more such law graduates, will bring much-needed stability.

Five years old

I published this blog's first post on March 19, 2013, a critique of the theater of oral argument in Shelby County v. Holder. The blog has been a really useful repository of half-baked ideas (as promised in my unchanged "About" page), some of which have turned into op-eds, shorter articles, or components of longer articles. Others have sat quietly on this blog, dormant, awaiting that web search from an intrepid reporter on an obscure topic I thought amusing at one time.

I also wanted an outlet for some of my ideas on legal education, the legal job market, and crude data visualizations. It's been a quite useful medium for that, too.

It's certainly true that blogging has become less popular. (My own blogging waxes and wanes with interest and seasons.) Much discussion (and media attention) has shifted to Twitter. I've described my cutback on the use of Twitter (I've probably trimmed my use 80% or so in 2018), so I won't rehash that discussion. But I'll say that I miss some of my favorite bloggers who've moved away from the more thoughtful, longer form pieces on blogs and into the quick reactions (or Twitter canoe conversations) of social media. That's not to say they're wrong or bad. It's just to say, I miss some of the more carefully constructed longer-form reads. It's also a bit ironic, I think--blogging was seen as the "unserious" medium 15 years ago, of glib takes and hasty reactions, and here I am nostalgic for a return to that medium I view as so much more serious!

My blogging pace is irregular (but I have managed at least one major entry each month), but I'm grateful to the 370,000 visitors and 530,000 pageviews in five years. I've never earned a penny on this site (a reason it should load quickly and be quite readable!), so I am grateful for your feedback, and I hope I've offered some small enlightenment to readers over the years.

(Feel free to browse this blog's archives! Or check out my actual long-form pieces at SSRN.)

Which Supreme Court justices are the topic of the most academic articles?

A recent draft article about Justice Kennedy's influence and legacy sparked a social media discussion about which justices attract the most academic attention.

I looked at the Westlaw database and searched for "ti(justice /2 [lastname])." The "ti()" field is slightly broader than just looking at the title of the article alone, but for this purpose it captured almost exclusively articles with a justice's name in the title. I didn't distinguish between Chief Justice Rehnquist's time as an Associate Justice (with that title), but I added a "chief" to my Roberts search to separate out hits for Justice Owen Roberts (there was at least one...). This search also would typically remove results for "the Rehnquist Court" or "the Roberts Court," which are less about the chief justices in particular, but it may slightly undercapture articles about those two justices. UPDATE: This methodology somewhat undercaptures references to justices that are more colloquial (e.g., use just the last name without the title "justice") or include the justice's name as an author without a title in a book review, but it eliminates far more false positives for most other justices who have more common names than "Scalia," "Alito," and "Sotomayor."

I imagine there might also a logarithmic effect one might observe--or expect to observe--over the course of a justice's career. As a justice begins, few, if any, articles will be written about her; as her influence increases over time, we would expect to see more articles each year than the previous year. (There may also be separate bursts of scholarship around a justice's retirement and around a justice's death.) This metric is static and treats each year as the same--perhaps someone would spend more time analyzing year-by-year impact! Additionally, the increase in the volume of journals, particularly online journals available on Westlaw, may skew results for justices with more recent histories.

I narrowed my search to the "Law Reviews & Journals" database, which is broad enough to include some practitioners' publications and the ABA Journal but should work for a rough examination of justices. I then developed a charge, "Law Journal Article Title Mentions Per Year," with the denominator the years since that justice first joined the Supreme Court. I selected all of the most recent 13 justices (excluding Justice Gorsuch) to have served on the Court.

UPDATE: I transposed the dates for Justices Sotomayor and Kagan in an earlier version, and their data changed slightly.

I then added in Justice Gorsuch and looked simply at the raw citation totals, regardless of years' services.

I'll leave it to others to discern what these figures might mean, if anything. I'll note that Justice Scalia dwarfs all others, which was not surprising, but a few other results did mildly surprise me. A few pieces about Justice Gorsuch were apparently written in his days as a prospective, or actual, nominee, then converted into pieces with a title about what "Justice Gorsuch," rather than "Judge Gorsuch," has written or said in the past--one reason his number is at 5 after one years' service, to Justice Kagan's 4.

UPDATE: Dave Hoffman rightly points out that there are likely tens of thousands of law journal articles published every single year. Due to the search function in Westlaw, I could not even limit a search of articles mentioning "law" in a given year, because results cannot exceeds 10,000 hits, and I can't narrow the search database to Law Reviews & Journals in WestlawNext. Articles about a Supreme Court justice, then, are a tiny slice of all scholarship. UPDATE: And, of course, this is only a very crude metric that is assuredly overinclusive and underinclusive. But, the relative relationships between justices should be modestly illuminating.

Quick thoughts from today's oral argument in Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky

Here are a few quick running thoughts from today's oral argument in Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky. This post will be updated. The transcript PDF is here. (As an I aside, I wrote an article about the concept of "ballot speech," or the contents of the ballot itself as communicating expressive and informative content for voters, in this piece in the Arizona Law Review. Mansky involves a related question on restrictions on speech in the polling place.)

Express advocacy? Justice Kagan early in the argument, along with Justice Kennedy, wondered about more narrowly-drawn rules on matters like express advocacy for or against a particular candidate rather than broader political messages. That might be an attractive option for a Court looking to fashion a rule that offers the state some flexibility to regulate in the future.

Content and overbreadth: Justice Alito later pressed on this issue to wonder if candidate-based content might be somehow a separate matter properly subject to regulation. Justice Kagan in particular was concerned about how a proper overbreadth challenge might look. Justice Gorsuch later in the argument wondered about Minnesota acting as "outlier" when examining whether Minnesota had a compelling interest to justify the potential (as he said, "often undocumented") chilling effect.

Scope of intimidation: Chief Justice Roberts wondered about this notion of "decorum" in the polling place, emphasizing that freedom from intimidation is a distinct issue. At the same time, he wondered, "maybe bitter, sharp, political campaign going on, and maybe, just before you cast your vote, you should be able to have a time for some quiet reflection or to do that important civic obligation in peace and quiet without being bombarded by another campaign display." Later Justice Kennedy wondered about the difficulty of enforcing decorum if it largely turned on individualized determinations from polling officials.

Late in the oral argument, Justice Kagan wondered about how to evaluate "decorum." The courtroom was a good place for decorum, she thought. But she wondered why the polling place sounded "a little bit church-like," when it came at the end of "often a rowdy political process."

First Amendment issues at all? Justice Kennedy wondered, "Why should there be speech inside the election booth at all, or inside the what you call the election room?" From a justice usually known for his robust First Amendment views, this struck me as notable. Justice Ginsburg jump in to join the concern.

Facial challenge: One related question to the overbreadth concern was the scope of the challenge, as a facial challenge as opposed to as-applied. The Court's doctrine in this area has not been the most coherent, so I won't dig into issues now. But Chief Justice Roberts wondered about the "tiniest little logo" as being subject to the law and somehow affecting "decorum" as potentially a problem.

Arbitrary enforcement and defining political matters: Justice Alito wondered about the risk of arbitrary enforcement and the difficulty of election officials line-drawing in the application of this statute. In a series of hypotheticals testing this limit, Justice Alito got the state's attorney to say that a T-shirt with "the text of the Second Amendment' Could be viewed as political, but notthe text of the First Amendment. (Oral arg. transcript at 40.) It highlighted a very basic problem with a statute that had as broad a scope as Minnesota suggested--and perhaps suggests that the Court would require something narrower.

Justice Alito later worried about partisan election judges determining the political connotations of materials. The state's response? This is not terrible unusual, given that election judges make all kinds of determinations.

Burson: The Court showed no interest in overruling Burson. (But such things may remain unsaid....) Late in the oral argument, Justice Gorsuch seemed satisfied that Burson would be the narrower case of "campaign speech," compared to Minnesota's law of "additional political speech." But, returning to the definitional concerns of the Court noted earlier, that may not be satisfactory.

Compelling interests: Near the end, Chief Justice Roberts emphasized that it did not appear that the state's interest were "terribly strong." Only time will tell....

A few thoughts on improving law school test and applicant figures for 2018

Recent data from the Law School Admissions Council shows that Law School Admissions Tests administered in December 2017 were up an eye-popping 27.9% year-over-year. It's worth digging a bit into the figures to see what that really means.

First, they're up slightly more in the United States than Canada--recall that this figure includes all LSATs administered. This represents an increase of 29.1% in the United States year-over-year.

But, second, it represents a slightly less impressive total among first-time test-takers. Recall that the LSAC, as of September 2017, allows test-takers to retake an unlimited number of times. Because LSAC reports the highest score to schools (which is less reliable than the average of scores), there is increased incentive to retake tests. First-time test-takers increased 24.0% year-over-year, but repeaters increased a whopping 35.8%. That said, 24% year-over-year increase in first-time United States test-takers is nothing to scoff at.

Third, the quality of applicants is up year-over-year. Those with an LSAT score of 160-164 are up 10.2% year-over-year as of February 21, and those with a score of 165-169 are up 22.8%. The lowest scores have seen a slight decline in applicants.

This is very good news for the best law schools. Of course, the open question is what happens now: do the very good law schools that have shrunk in recent years maintain their size and improve quality, which trickles down to the benefit of many other schools? Or do those schools increase their size and seize the greatest advantage from the improved quality? Time will tell.

Applicants are up 8.8% year-over-year. This is somewhat lower than one would expect given the significant year-over-year increase in first-time United States test-takers, but it might be that the December bump will be reflected much later in the cycle. (Indeed, as schools have quietly dropped their applicant deadlines, coupled with high incentives to retake tests, we may expect that applications lag slightly in each subsequent cycle.)

Of course, these projections may change dramatically. We may see more applicants (but not as many as the increase in LSAT test-takers, for reasons noted about the higher increase in repeaters than first-time test-takers). But, the advent of the GRE in admissions in law schools may mean that these LSAT figures are less predictive than they once were, and we may see more GRE-only applicants.

Time will tell. In short, the figures offer, with some nuance, an overall good picture for legal education generally for the incoming Class of 2018 (including the cohort taking the bar exam in July 2021). How that translates into individual schools, and how precise these figures look in the months ahead, remains to be seen.

The challenge facing the challenge to winner-take-all systems in the Electoral College

David Boies is leading an effort to challenge the winner-take-all method that most states use when awarding presidential electors. There are different ways states might award electors (which I used to project alternative electoral outcomes in 2016).

Brenden Cline in 2017 nicely summarized the series of major problems with this litigation. It's been argued and rejected before. Simply put, states have essentially plenary authority to choose the method of appointing electors, and the winner-take-all method has been around for 200 years, and used basically everywhere since the Civil War--with brief exceptions in Colorado in 1876 (legislative selection), Michigan in 1892 (district method), and Nebraska and Maine (district method) in recent years. (I discuss this plenary authority in 2007 and 2008 Election Law Journal pieces, which conclude that that plenary authority does not extend to states entering into interstate compacts with one another concerning the award of electors--at least not without congressional consent. I also discuss it as an element of federalism in Invisible Federalism and the Electoral College, 44 Arizona State Law Journal 1237 (2012).)

Since Election Day, a number of litigants--admittedly, mostly (if not all!) pro se--have attempted to file just such challenges. They've lost every time (0-6 by my count).

Schweikert v. Herring (W.D. Va. 2016): "The precise issue contained in Plaintiff’s complaint was previously litigated, dismissed, and affirmed summarily by the Supreme Court. Williams v. Virginia State Bd. of Elections, 288 F. Supp. 622 (E.D. Va. 1968) (3 judge court), aff’d per curiam, 393 U.S. 320 (1969), reh’g denied, 393 U.S. 1112 (1969) . This Court lacks the authority to reach a conclusion that directly contradicts the Supreme Court’s own jurisprudence—which is precisely what Plaintiff’s complaint would ask this Court to do. Accordingly the case must be dismissed."

Birke v.The 538 Individual Members of the Electoral College (C.D. Cal. 2016): "to the extent Plaintiff challenges some states' 'winner-take-all' procedures . . . Plaintiff's challenges similarly lack merit. . . . Williams v. Virginia State Bd. of Elections, 288 F. Supp. 622 (E.D. Va. 1986), aff'd, 393 U.S. 320 (1969) (per curiam) (upholding 'winner-take-all' procedure for choosing electors)."

Conant v. Brown (D. Or. 2017), appeal pending (9th Cir. No. 17-35349): "Plaintiff's arguments are foreclosed by Supreme Court precedent. In a 1969 case, the Supreme Court summarily affirmed, per curiam, the district court's rejection of constitutional challenges to Virginia's method of providing electors to the electoral college based on a plurality vote in a statewide election. Williams v. Va. St. Bd. of Elections, 393 U.S. 320 (1969) (per curiam)."

Schultz v. Roberts (S.D. Cal. 2017): "The Electoral College system is specifically provided for by the Twelfth Amendment. Gray v. Sanders, 372 U.S. 368, 380 (1963) (“The only weighting of votes sanctioned by the Constitution concerns matters of representation, such as . . . the use of the electoral college in the choice of a President.”). Schwartz does not allege any facts to support his claim that the Electoral College system violates his constitutional right to equal protection."

Williams v. North Carolina (W.D.N.C. 2017): "Defendants conclude that Plaintiff’s claims in this matter regarding the winner-take-all method of appointing electors do not differ significantly, if at all, from those asserted in McPherson, Delaware, Penton, Williams, Schweikert, Hitson, Conant, or Birke. The opinions in these cases, particularly the Supreme Court’s opinion in Blacker and summary affirmation of Williams, apply herein."

Gordon v. Nat'l Archives & Records Admin. (D.D.C. 2017): standing

Of course, part of litigation like this is theatrical. Another part of litigation like this is to get the Supreme Court to address the merits of the dispute, even if lower courts ought, under existing precedent, summarily dismiss such claims. But, time will tell whether this effort is any more successful than the many, many failed efforts that have gone before.

Subversive gerrymandering reform in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently released its long-awaited remedy in Pennsylvania's partisan gerrymandering litigation. The court decided that the legislature's congressional district maps were an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander under the commonwealth's constitution. There are many aspects of this litigation that merit brief mention up front.

First, the question of how the state constitution or state supreme court might bind the state legislature in exercising its power as the "legislature" under the United States Constitution to regulate the "time, places, and manner" of elections. (I have some thoughts on that question in the Florida State University Law Review.) That's a question that may see ongoing litigation, but I think the legislature's likelihood of winning is slim.

Second, the question of partisanship in the judiciary as a remedy for partisan gerrymandering. Pennsylvania has not simply judicial elections, but partisan judicial elections. Some have pointed to the federal courts--judges without partisan affiliation and the security of life tenure--as a good place to solve issues of partisan gerrymandering. Here, the litigation was only successful because Democrats secured a recent majority on the Supreme Court--and the litigation undid a Republican legislature's map signed into law by a Republican governor. It might be the case that we quickly turn to the partisan affiliation of federal judges in gerrymandering disputes, but that pales in comparison to actual partisan affiliations in contested judicial elections. (It also offers conflict of interest challenges after Caperton v. Massey (which has its own challenges!), and political cries for impeachment or removal from office, a decidedly different and unsurprising look, in my view.) I think, then, one might rightly wonder about how to examine the cure for excessive legislative partisanship in a partisan elected judiciary.

Third, the question of judicial regularity in the decisionmaking process, from the not terribly persuasive distinction of a recent supreme court case that had rejected a similar claim under the commonwealth's constitution, to its decision to withhold its reasoning for weeks (n.8), to its abbreviated timeline for the legislature to remedy the ill before the supreme court would implement its own map. Each offers serious concerns.

But I want to set these aside for a moment. All these are very interesting matters that merit further discussion at other times. I think some have more merit than others--and some I don't view as having much merit at all.

Instead, I want to focus on a matter that I view as fairly subversive in the Supreme Court's process, and a method that I think bodes ill for future gerrymandering reform efforts.

On February 19, the commonwealth's Supreme Court issued its remedy, its own map. And what was the Supreme Court remedying? A claim that the map was an unfair partisan gerrymander under the commonwealth's constitution.

But what was the remedy demanded by the court? It instructed the legislature and governor to agree on a plan that adhered to three values: compactness, contiguity, and avoidance of dividing jurisdictions.

That remedy isn't very much like the remedy to the initial problem: did Republicans unfairly advantage themselves too much under the commonwealth's constitution when drawing congressional districts? Certainly, a lack of these three values were signs of concern for the court, but they were not the underlying problem with the map. But the court's remedy asked to draw maps with these three values, expressing no more conditions.

So remedies came pouring in. Unsurprisingly, a divided government in Pennsylvania meant no agreement on a new map (plus, a calculated gamble from Democrats that the court's map would be more favorable to them than a compromise with Republicans). The court issued its own map (as noted above, with little time to spare for the 2018 election).

The map, of course, adheres to these three values, albeit not perfectly (few maps do), in order to make calculated tradeoffs. Those tradeoffs were a significant benefit to Democratic candidates' chances in the commonwealth. (I'll leave to others to analyze how beneficial.)

Those tradeoffs were immediately obvious: Nate Cohn tweeted, "It is fair to say that this map was drawn with the goal of achieving partisan balance, even though that at was not a state goal of the order." Dave Wasserman noted that the map "actively help[]s Dem[ocrat]s compensate for their natural geographic disadvantage in [Pennsylvania]," and that it reflects a "ringing endorsement of the 'partisan fairness' doctrine: that parties should be entitled to [the] same proportion of seats as votes." And Harry Enten tweeted, " Different folks have different criteria on what maps a good congressional map. If vote % to seat % is what you want, that's cool. Just don't sell me stuff on compactness. (Some folks try to, some don't...)"

These snap reactions reflect that something occurred beneath the surface of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's order. Professor Nick Stephanopoulos noted that this remedy "promises actually to cure the underlying constitutional violation," unlike simply addressing the three values. The New York Times emphasized, "The court’s apparent prioritization of partisan balance is something of a surprise, since the court’s order didn’t specify that partisan balance was an objective for the new map."

Let me offer the outset that I am not doubting the sincerity or well-intentioned motives of the justices on the court or those involved in drawing maps. Partisan fairness is, in my view, as legitimate a political criterion to use when thinking about how to draw maps as partisan-blind or neutral criteria.

But the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did not, in my view, act forthrightly in its opinion dictating criteria and its ultimate map. The criteria it enunciated--its three values of compactness, contiguity, and avoidance of dividing jurisdictions--were never really going to cure the problem it had identified.

It's something like (ed: a metaphor sure to have its limitations!) a doctor diagnosing a patient with a mysterious disease and asking for ideas about how to treat the symptoms of the virus--a runny nose, a cough, a sore throat. When the ideas come in for a decongestant and lozenges, the doctor rejects them, saying, "I have my own decongestant and lozenges"--but one that also comes with blood transfusions. The blood transfusions might be useful, but it was hardly a part of the original proposal.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court apparently did not want to include language like "seats-votes ratio" or "partisan fariness" into its construction of the commonwealth's constitution. Perhaps it's understandable--doing so would be quite controversial and perhaps even politically unpopular by all parties. It would have to articulate standards about how to achieve those results. It would need to spend more time explaining how it could go about achieving those ends, much less political actors in the state.

So, it didn't include that language. But there is no doubt, from every commentator looking at the outcomes, that that is precisely what it did when drawing the new map. It consciously engaged in a partisan fairness inquiry of mapmaking, when that was not articulated expressly as one of the three criteria it asked the legislature to use in its new map, and when that was not expressly one of the criteria that it found required by the commonwealth's constitution.

That is deeply troubling, I think, from, to use a generic term, the "rule of law" perspective. It is fairly subversive, in my view, to articulate one basis for a decision but then actually act on another, or to insist that the commonwealth's constitution demand one thing but act like it insists another. Or, even if the court didn't believe that the constitution demanded it, the choice to overtly engage in a partisan fairness inquiry without any explanation or justification about how it made that choice.

(An expected contra: courts are partisan and political actors, and if the state legislature isn't going to be required to do so, maybe courts shouldn't either. That case, then, simply has to be made....)

There are two legal challenges to this decision that, I think, offer a slightly greater chance than some commentators I've seen are giving credit for.

The first is that this is simply too late in the game for these chances. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court's reasoning only came out two weeks ago; the legislature and governor had days to come up with a remedy before defaulting to the court. The United States Supreme Court has allowed "flawed" election maps to be used when the chances are too close in time to the election, and a minimal decision from the Court, citing Purcell or redistricting decisions, might simply hold off this decision for 2018.

The second, and the one that I've wondered more about, is the Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board decision. The oft-forgotten predecessor to Bush v. Gore, this was a unanimous decision from the Supreme Court. It wondered what the basis for the Florida Supreme Court's decision was in creating rules for the recount--federal law, or state law? It sent the matter back for further clarification, because the court's original order was so opaque. That's because the state legislature still had a priority in establishing a process to choose presidential electors, and a state-based decision that strayed too far from the constitutional commitment might be problematic.

I am not sure the Supreme Court would even engage in this process, except that it would assuredly, postpone the decisionmaking for the 2018 election. But, to the extent that the criteria used by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court were sufficiently opaque as to fail to offer the legislature with the opportunity to draw a map consistent with its desired outcomes, the Supreme Court might send it back to require that this commitment be taken more seriously. In LULAC v. Perry (2006), Justice Kennedy wrote that "a lawful, legislatively enacted plan should be preferable to one drawn by the courts," emphasizing adherence to the "ordinary and proper operation of the political process." To the extent that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's subversive decision failed to give the legislature adequate opportunity to address its concerns in fashioning a remedy, a challenge may have more success in at least postponing the decision for 2018 than some are giving it.

Until then, we shall see if this process plays out in other states--opaque process-based neutral criteria articulated by a state supreme court, then value judgments never previously articulated like partisan fairness incorporated into the final judicial remedy.

UPDATE: Nate Cohn has this important contribution to evaluating the premise of this analysis: that the map does tend to advantage one party over another in the drawing of lines. Whether that's an appropriate remedy depends, of course, on how one interprets the analysis above.

The Law Review RSS Project

A link to the Law Review RSS Project.

I am a dedicate user of RSS feeds. RSS is a format that strips away all the stuff that might bog down content on a site and gives a simple version of it for easy aggregation by sites like Feedly (or the long dead Google Reader).

Rather that needing to visit hundreds of websites each day (okay, so maybe I'm the only one who'd be inclined to visit hundreds of websites each day...), or several times a day to catch updated and new content, an RSS aggregator allows users to look at all these sites' content in a single stream. It also offers the advantage of time-delayed reading; unlike Twitter, where if you miss it when it's at the top of your feed you may miss it for good without some real effort or a lucky retweet, all the RSS content is held for whenever you choose to read it.

I've aggregated about 100 law review Twitter accounts in a list (which you can subscribe to here), but their levels of activity can vary wildly--some have been dormant for years, and others regularly tweet content unrelated to the articles they publish. Concurring Opinions launched a "Law Review Contents" feed years ago, but it's mostly fallen into disuse.

Therefore, I started the Law Review RSS Project. I started crawling through law review websites and extracting their RSS feeds. Some of them make this very easy to find. Others do not. Still others have no RSS feed at all.

The RSS feeds of these journals will provide you with access in your RSS reader of these journals' content as soon as it's pushed out to their website. Of course, some journals are slower than others in pushing out the content--but when it gets there, you can read it.

I hope to slowly add more feeds as I have the time to do so in the months ahead. But please let me know if you notice problems with the RSS feeds, or if you find a feed that I couldn't. I appreciate any and all feedback!