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Litigating Climate Change Infrastructure Impacts

Osofsky, Hari M. | August 31, 2023

This Essay is the first to examine ways in which the different pathways of climate change litigation—statutory interpretation, human and constitutional rights, and common law—interact with infrastructure impacts. Its analysis draws on a model of these pathways that Professor Jacqueline Peel and I developed in our book Climate Change Litigation:Regulatory Pathways to Cleaner Energy. The Essay finds that litigation across all three pathways plays a critical role in shaping how effectively we address infrastructure issues. Petitioners can use these cases to shine a spotlight on infrastructure harms, to push for or against the mitigation and adaptation measures needed to limit harm, and to seek compensation for loss and damage.

This Essay is published as part of the Northwestern University Law Review’s online essay series. The 2022 topic is “Climate Change & Infrastructure: Existential Threats to Our Built Environment.”


Dean, Myra and James Bradwell Professor of Law, and Professor of Environmental Policy and Culture (courtesy), Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. I would like to thank Professors Michael Barsa, Cary Coglianese, David Dana, Erin Delaney, Michael Gerrard, Jacqueline Peel, J.B. Ruhl, and Robert Weinstock for their thoughtful feedback and insights; Pritzker Library Fellow Freyja DePew for her helpful research assistance; and the Northwestern University Law Review Online Editor-in-Chiefs Taylor Nchako and Sasha Bryski and Editors Ella Chochrek, Adam Lefkowitz, Ezra Meren, Ryan O’Sullivan, and Xukun Rendu for their excellent editing.

Copyright 2023 by Hari M. Osofsky

Cite as: Hari M. Osofsky, Litigating Climate Change Infrastructure Impacts, 118 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 149 (2023),

Climate Change and the Law of National Security Adaptation

Nevitt, Mark | August 31, 2023

The Department of Defense (DoD) is the largest employer in the world, owns and operates an enormous global real estate portfolio, and emits more Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) than many nations. Entrusted with the national security, the DoD is now threatened by a new enemy—climate change. Climate change imperils national security infrastructure while undermining the military’s capacity to respond to climate-driven disasters at home and abroad. However, legal scholarship has yet to address what I call “the law of national security adaptation” and related questions. For example, how do environmental and climate change laws apply to the U.S. military? What laws can be employed to safeguard military installations from rising seas, extreme weather, and other climate risks?

This Essay addresses these questions, inspired by my experience as an environmental attorney in Norfolk, Virginia—home to the largest navy base in the world. I first describe how climate change has become a new “environmental enemy” that threatens national security property around the globe. Second, I describe and analyze how the law of national security adaptation has developed to apply to environmental law and property law to encompass climate adaptation efforts on military installations. In doing so, the law of national security adaptation brings together constitutional law, an amalgamation of executive branch directives and regulations, and climate legislation designed to safeguard military infrastructure. Last, I argue that insights for climate adaptation more generally can be gleaned from the military’s experience addressing climate change. Somewhat surprisingly, congressional action on national security adaptation has been a beacon of bipartisanship. It has kept the climate adaptation “flame” alive when climate action was being extinguished elsewhere. The law of national security adaptation thus offers broader, normative insights for adaptation efforts outside the military fence line.

This Essay is published as part of the Northwestern University Law Review’s online essay series. The 2022 topic is “Climate Change & Infrastructure: Existential Threats to Our Built Environment.”


Associate Professor of Law, Emory University School of Law. Prior to academia, he served for twenty years in the U.S. Navy in the rank of commander as both a tactical jet aviator and environmental lawyer (JAG). He previously served as the Sharswood Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Associate Professor at Syracuse University College of Law, and Class of 1971 Distinguished Professor of Leadership & Law at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He thanks Jack Kirkpatrick, Sara Zdeb, and the generous funding of Emory University School of Law for research assistance and support.

Copyright 2023 by Mark Nevitt

Cite as: Mark Nevitt, Climate Change and the Law of National Security Adaptation, 118 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 126 (2023),

Climate Entrenchment in Unstable Legal Regimes

Lockman, Martin | August 31, 2023

American climate law is the subject of serious and ongoing debate, and policy change is part of the ordinary process of democratic governance. However, in recent years some policymakers have deliberately undermined climate action by injecting legal instability into American climate law. This Essay addresses a simple question: how can Americans build necessary climate infrastructure in the face of an unstable political and legal regime?

Some readers may be shocked by this question. Indeed, this framing is intentionally provocative. However, this Essay recognizes a simple fact: not all American polities, and not all American policymakers, are trustworthy and predictable partners for climate infrastructure projects. Further, American climate law contains significant sources of instability which can be exacerbated by political sabotage. Actions that undermine public climate commitments create a genuine risk for both the legitimacy of American governance and the material well-being of Americans in the face of the global climate crisis.

This Essay proposes a tool kit for protecting climate infrastructure from political interference. Part I identifies sources of legal instability in America’s response to the climate crisis, places it in a theoretical context, and discusses the costs of this political instability. Part II discusses the ethical issues involved in preempting political instability in a democracy and concludes that addressing climate change aligns with historical ethical justifications for entrenchment in American law. Finally, Part III outlines doctrinal, contractual, and political techniques to entrench climate policy and protect climate infrastructure from political interference.

This Essay is published as part of the Northwestern University Law Review’s online essay series. The 2022 topic is “Climate Change & Infrastructure: Existential Threats to Our Built Environment.”


Climate Law Fellow and Associate Research Scholar at Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School. The views expressed herein are solely my own and do not reflect the views of my employers, past, present, or future. I am grateful to Professor Michael B. Gerrard for his invaluable feedback on an early draft of this paper, and to the staff of the Northwestern University Law Review for their hard work and thoughtful comments.

Copyright 2023 by Martin Lockman

Cite as: Martin Lockman, Climate Entrenchment in Unstable Legal Regimes, 118 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 98 (2023),

Cooling Infrastructure, Cooling Security, and a Warming World

Dana, David A. | August 31, 2023

This Essay shows that the climate adaptation challenge for cooling infrastructure—and especially air conditioning—can be thought of as entailing a longer-term challenge and an immediate-term challenge. The longer-term challenge is to spur innovation in air conditioning technology such that new, more environmentally friendly, yet also affordable options become available and adopted. The immediate challenge for cooling infrastructure is to ensure that people right now do not lose their lives and well-being because they lack adequate air conditioning. There are several possible means of meeting the long-term challenge of innovating better, greener, and yet affordable air conditioning, including stricter regulatory requirements, targeted research grants, and innovation prizes. Possible means of meeting the immediate challenge include the use of the federal spending power to incentivize states and localities to use current federal funding streams to better meet household cooling needs, and to take stronger measures, including reformed zoning, to address urban heat island effects. This Essay also underscores the possible national security implications of both the immediate and long-term challenges.

This Essay is published as part of the Northwestern University Law Review’s online essay series. The 2022 topic is “Climate Change & Infrastructure: Existential Threats to Our Built Environment.”


Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and Director of the Program on Sustainability and Food and Animal Law. Many thanks to Heidi Kitrosser, Michael Kremer, Nadav Shoked, Maggie Franz, and Cherie Zhang.

Copyright 2023 by David A. Dana

Cite as: David A. Dana, Cooling Infrastructure, Cooling Security, and a Warming World, 118 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 66 (2023),

The SEC’s Compensation Clawback Loophole

Walker, David I. | August 25, 2023

The SEC has recently released final rules implementing the executive incentive compensation recovery or “clawback” provisions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. These rules are aimed at recovering from executives incentive compensation determined to be excessive in light of a subsequent accounting restatement. Unfortunately, the SEC’s rules create a loophole by excluding purely time-vested stock and stock option grants from the reach of the new clawback regime. This aspect of the rulemaking seems inconsistent with the intent of Congress, and the result likely will be to distort executive pay practices in a perverse fashion, shifting compensation back in the direction of the time-vested stock option heyday of the late 1990s and early 2000s. As such, the SEC’s decision is also regrettable as a policy matter. In addition to exempting a large fraction of incentive compensation from the reach of the clawback, a renewed emphasis on time-vested options would reverse a salutary trend in executive compensation design in favor of more tightly performance-conditioned pay instruments that create incentives over a broader range of market conditions than time-vested options, often reward executives only when they outperform their peers, and minimize executives’ ability to use inside information to maximize their compensation. To be sure, institutional investors and proxy advisory firms that embrace serious linkage between pay and performance may resist firms backsliding into heavy usage of time-vested stock and options, but, given the risks to executives and the cost to firms of issuing compensation instruments subject to the new clawback, I am not optimistic


Professor of Law and Maurice Poch Faculty Research Scholar, Boston University School of Law. The author thanks Scott Hirst and David Webber for their valuable comments and suggestions and Stephen Fleury for excellent research assistance.

Copyright 2023 by David I. Walker

Cite as: David I. Waker, The SEC’s Compensation Clawback Loophole, 118 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 45 (2023),

Ending the Qualified Immunity Nightmare

Stehle, Jared | July 16, 2023


J.D. 2023, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Much credit belongs to Professor Xiao Wang and Ivan Parfenoff for their helpful comments. Thanks also to the great NULR Online team for helping to polish this piece.

Copyright 2023 by Jared Stehle.

Cite as: Jared Stehle, Ending the Qualified Immunity Nightmare, 118 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 36 (2023),

Distributive, Disjunctive, and Discombobulated: Interpreting the Word “and” in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f)(1)

Cordonnier, Bailey | June 17, 2023


Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, Class of 2023. Thanks to Professor Xiao Wang and Sudeep S. Dhanoa for their insightful edits and advice on this piece, as well as the NULR team for their helpful edits. All errors are mine.

Copyright 2023 by Bailey Cordonnier

Cite as: Bailey Cordonnier, Distributive, Disjunctive, and Discombobulated: Interpreting the Word “and” in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f)(1), 118 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 26 (2023),

Two Birds With One Stone Through MDL Interlocutory Appeal: Lessons From Rule 23(f)

Stehle, Jared | March 28, 2023

Debates rage over whether multidistrict litigation, or MDL, should have a mechanism for interlocutory appeal. Though the territory on this topic is well trod, the two sides have not fully mapped out the implications of a parallel controversy in the class action space. One side rails about the due process dangers that MDL plaintiffs face as their claims await resolution in a faraway judicial district. The other complains that defendants get stuck with legal rulings made by these same district judges, with concomitant error costs that get multiplied across many thousands of plaintiffs. Neither seems to make the point that these same issues plagued class action litigation—that is, until the adoption of an appeal mechanism in 1998’s Rule 23(f). This piece argues that the lessons of Rule 23(f) should inform our modern MDL debate. In particular, one core lesson emerges—the interlocutory appeal mechanisms defendants want have strong potential to resolve the procedural irregularities that irk plaintiffs.


Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, Class of 2023. Thanks to Counselor to the Chief Justice Robert M. Dow and Judge Amy J. St. Eve, who both directed me toward resources this paper badly needed, and to Taylor Nchako, Noah Bloomberg, Danny Damitio, Ella Chochrek, Sasha Bryski, and the rest of the NULR team for their helpful edits. All errors are mine.

Copyright 2023 by Jared Stehle

Cite as: Jared Stehle, Two Birds With One Stone Through MDL Interlocutory Appeal: Lessons From Rule 23(f), 118 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 1 (2023),

Preserving Privilege: Developing a Sound Litigation Strategy for Prison Wiretapping Cases

Cummins, Daniel J. | February 14, 2023

The attorney–client privilege is the oldest and most storied privilege in the United States common law. The justifications for the preservation of the privilege compound when applied to incarcerated individuals who wish to speak with their counsel privately over the phone to organize their criminal defense, appeal a judgment, or work through negotiations with the government. However, in recent years, private telecommunications providers operating in jails and prisons have continually violated that privilege by recording prisoners’ calls with their attorneys. Plaintiffs have taken to the courts to litigate these wrongs but have enjoyed limited and disparate degrees of success. This Note explores one possible civil cause of action available to prisoners and their attorneys in these situations: the Federal Wiretap Act. Specifically, it analyzes and rebuts defendants’ most prevalent defenses. In doing so, it offers a litigation roadmap to plaintiffs who have been harmed by these predatory recording practices and wish to hold the telecommunications companies responsible for their actions.


J.D. Candidate, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, 2023; B.S., Indiana University, 2017. I owe a deep debt of gratitude to every member of the Northwestern University Law Review Online team for their thoughtful work on this Note and support over the past year. Thanks as well to Alan Mills, Executive Director of the Uptown People’s Law Center, for his course on Prisons and Prisoners’ Rights, which provided me with the opportunity to write on this topic. To Maurice Possley, for his careful copyediting. Finally, a very special thank you to my grandfather, Robert Cummins. Not only did he inspire this Note, but he has served as the best guidepost and confidant that I could ask for as I pursue a career in the law.

Copyright 2023 by Daniel J. Cummins

Cite as: Daniel J. Cummins, Preserving Privilege: Developing a Sound Litigation Strategy for Prison Wiretapping Cases, 117 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 107 (2023),

Privacy’s Rights Trap

Waldman, Ari Ezra | November 16, 2022

A growing chorus of scholars, privacy professionals, and policymakers think that individual rights of control—rights to access, correct, and delete data, as well as rights to opt out of tracking and to have humans in the loop of automated decision-making—are effective means of regulating the data-extractive economy. Indeed, the argument for individual rights is so pervasive and hegemonic that individual rights form the backbone of every piece of privacy legislation introduced in the United States in the last several years.

This Essay offers a comprehensive critique of that argument. Individual rights fail to address the social harms of the information economy. They shift the burden of privacy regulation to individuals mostly incapable of exercising that responsibility while simultaneously giving technology companies the power to define the practical reach of the law. Individual rights cannot place limits on technology companies when the law has already immunized their business models from accountability. Individual rights also set the wrong norms: they normalize the notion that privacy should be an individual responsibility rather than a core obligation of corporate actors. And the history of using individual rights to solve structural problems proves how rights crowd out necessary reform. If individual rights of control are what pass for privacy legislation in the United States, the problems of informational capitalism will get worse, not better.


Professor of Law and Computer Science, Northeastern University; Faculty Director, Center for Law, Information, and Creativity, Northeastern University School of Law; Affiliated Fellow, Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Ph.D., Columbia University; J.D., Harvard Law School. Special thanks to Danielle Citron, Julie Cohen, Woodrow Hartzog, Margot Kaminski, Neil Richards, and Salome Viljoen. I have the individual right to make the mistakes in this Essay. But I also have the obligation to take responsibility for them.

Copyright 2022 by Ari Ezra Waldman

Cite as: Ari Ezra Waldman, Privacy’s Rights Trap, 117 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 88 (2022),

Two Comes Before Four and Five: The FAA in Campbell v. Keagle

Meshel, Tamar | October 10, 2022

Contrary to popular opinion, arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) is not intended to be forced or unfair, including in the employment context. Indeed, § 2 of the FAA permits courts to refuse enforcement of arbitration agreements on the basis of generally applicable state contract law defenses, such as unconscionability, in order to safeguard against potential abuse of the arbitral process. Yet decisions such as that of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Campbell v. Keagle threaten to nullify the FAA’s protections and reinforce the perception of arbitration as an unjust process. The district court in this case found that the parties’ employment arbitration clause was inordinately one-sided in the employer’s favor and that the offending provisions could not be severed under Illinois law to compel arbitration. Thus, the arbitration clause was unenforceable under § 2 of the FAA. The Seventh Circuit reversed, but not on the basis of state contract law. Rather, the court of appeals enforced the parties’ agreement to arbitrate on the basis of subsequent procedural provisions of the FAA, namely §§ 4 and 5. This Essay argues that the Seventh Circuit’s reliance on these provisions to circumvent the district court’s finding of unconscionability under § 2 of the FAA ignores the significance of the FAA’s internal sequencing. An arbitration agreement found unenforceable under § 2—the substantive section of the FAA— cannot escape its fate because of the Act’s subsequent procedural provisions. The Seventh Circuit’s decision also conflicts with Supreme Court jurisprudence and creates a circuit split regarding the interrelationship between §§ 2, 4, and 5 of the Act. This Essay concludes that while the Seventh Circuit enforced the parties’ arbitration agreement in Campbell v. Keagle, its reasoning does not benefit FAA arbitration. It sets a dangerous precedent for future cases involving unconscionable arbitration agreements and fuels the growing backlash against employment arbitration under the FAA.


Associate Professor, University of Alberta Faculty of Law. The author thanks Professor Jeremy Telman for his helpful comments on an earlier draft.

Copyright 2022 by Tamar Meshel

Cite as: Tamar Meshel, Two Comes Before Four and Five: The FAA in Campbell v. Keagle, 117 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 74 (2022),

The Unintended Consequences of the Court’s Religious Freedom Revolution: A History of White Supremacy and Private Christian Church Schools

Blaiklock, Vania | September 26, 2022

Although private church schools have historically received less attention than charter schools and other private nonsectarian schools in public discourse, in recent years, the Supreme Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence has allowed private church schools to make great strides in achieving state funding. At a time where public education is facing criticism on all sides, it seems natural that school choice supporters are more vocal than ever. This Essay takes a closer look at private church schools and their relationship to white supremacy in anticipation of the Court’s decision in Carson ex rel. O.C. v. Makin. Ultimately, that case will decide whether states must fund students taking part in a state school-aid program who choose to use that aid at sectarian schools without violating the First Amendment. Situated within the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education and Massive Resistance, this project examines distinctions between segregation academies and private church schools. I will argue that while there is a distinction between church schools and segregation academies, such schools seem to share the same purpose of maintaining mostly white classrooms. By examining private church schools through two theoretical frameworks that underpin Critical Race Theory: racial realism and strategic racism, I argue that unlike other private schools, church schools are uniquely situated to preserve white supremacy given their explicit constitutional protection under the First Amendment—a protection that the current Supreme Court will likely strengthen in Carson.


American Studies Ph.D. student, College of William & Mary. J.D., William & Mary Law School, 2018; B.S. Political Science, Lee University, 2015. I would like to thank Professors Jamel Donnor and Allison Orr Larsen for their insight and advice during the preparing of this Essay.

Copyright 2022 by Vania Blaiklock

Cite as: Vania Blaiklock, The Unintended Consequences of the Court’s Religious Freedom Revolution: A History of White Supremacy and Private Christian Church Schools, 117 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 46 (2022),

Banning Books or Banning BIPOC?

Shearer, Marisa | July 5, 2022

Following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, social justice movements renewed calls for the country to confront the pervasive reality of systemic racism in the United States. In response to these publicized social justice movements, however, calls for book bans relating to critical race theory began rising at an unprecedented rate. Although book ban censorship is not novel, the recent shift in focus to remove critical race theory from public school libraries marks a new era of content-based censorship.

This Essay examines why current book bans targeting critical race theory are content-based restrictions that necessarily violate the First Amendment. It explores the social and legal history of book bans in the United States and discusses recent trends in book ban censorship. This Essay then identifies First Amendment “areas of nonprotection” through which book ban proponents seek to exclude race-related content and analyzes why all are pretextual fallacies that undermine freedom of speech principles and mandate diversity in the judiciary.


Associate, Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell LLP. J.D., University of Denver Sturm College of Law, 2021; B.S. Exercise & Wellness, Brigham Young University, 2014. I would like to thank Professor Nancy Leong for her insight and guidance during the drafting of this Essay. I would also like to thank my husband for his support and inspiration.

Copyright 2022 by Marisa Shearer

Cite as: Marisa Shearer, Banning Books or Banning BIPOC?, 117 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 24 (2022),

Arbitration in the Workplace: The Need for Legislative Intervention

Wright, Jeremy | June 27, 2022

Since passage of the Federal Arbitration Act in 1925, arbitral proceedings have played an important role in American dispute resolution processes. However, the frequent application of the FAA to employment contexts is a relatively new phenomenon. Over the past thirty years, the Supreme Court has heralded an explosion in the use of mandatory arbitration agreements in employee contracts, reshaping employment law and limiting workers’ access to courts. Vast swaths of American workers are now bound to agreements they know little about that provide them only precarious protections. Justifiable backlashes to this terraforming of the employment law landscape have begun to sprout up in various workplaces.

This Essay suggests that the uninhibited expansion of arbitration to employment contexts has been a net negative for American workers. While current arbitration procedures are suitable for the commercial business-to-business disputes the FAA originally envisioned, these procedures have not been appropriately modified for workplace contexts, making such cases ripe for abuse. Documenting the history of the FAA and modern Court decisions regarding it, this Essay contends that Congress will need to act boldly in order to develop a system of arbitration suitable for workers.


J.D. Candidate, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, 2022; B.S., Adelphi University, 2012. Special thanks to James R. Ferguson for thoughtful, comprehensive comments and suggestions in the development of this Essay. Thanks, as well, to Taylor Nchako and the editors of Northwestern University Law Review Online for their close reading and excellent editorial recommendations. Finally, eternal thanks to my husband, Roy Peters, who has been my steadfast rock throughout this lengthy process.

Copyright 2022 by Jeremy Wright

Cite as: Jeremy Wright, Arbitration in the Workplace: The Need for Legislative Intervention, 117 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 1 (2022),

An Intellectual Property Fix for Platform Salesjacking

Johnson, Eric E. | March 10, 2022

The aim of this Essay is to introduce an intellectual property angle to a current controversy that has been understood to be a matter for antitrust law. The controversy arises when a platform company—most famously Amazon—uses its platform to host a marketplace for independent retailers while simultaneously hosting itself as a retailer on the platform, thus competing as a retailer with an inside advantage. Critics say this setup allows platform firms to cherry-pick the best product ideas from small, independent retailers and then hijack their sales. This Essay seeks to advance the conversation about this controversy, making at least four contributions. First, this Essay shows that the complained-about problem—in which platform providers take sales away from platform participants—is not best understood as a competition-harming concern but as an innovation-harming concern. Second, and following from the first point, this Essay suggests such problems are productively viewed as challenges for the domain of intellectual property law rather than, or in addition to, the domain of antitrust law. Third, this Essay explains how the particular anti-innovative harm in this area is to soft innovation, which is distinguished from the type of hard innovation that is the principal concern of copyright and patent law. Previously, such soft innovation has been incentivized by the lure of supracompetitive profits that are sustained by market friction, often spoken of as “first-mover advantage.” The reduction of that market friction by way of technology-enabled platform commerce has had the effect of subverting the innovation incentives that naturally existed in the brick-and-mortar world. Fourth, this Essay provides an initial foray into thinking about how a new intellectual property entitlement should be designed. To that end, this Essay identifies various ways of attempting to ensure that a newly created intellectual property right in this area does not do more harm than good.


Earl Sneed Centennial Professor of Law, University of Oklahoma College of Law. This paper benefited from feedback at the 2021 Works-in-Progress Intellectual Property Colloquium, and I thank the organizers and participants at that conference. For helpful comments and questions, I thank Michael Carroll, Margaret Chon, Nikola Datzov, Camilla Hrdy, Glynn Lunney, Tyler Ochoa, Betsy Rosenblatt, Rebecca Tushnet, and Kit Johnson. I owe particular thanks to Darla Jackson for research assistance and Leslee Roybal for help with the manuscript. © 2022 Eric E. Johnson. Konomark—most rights sharable. Please contact the author at

Copyright 2022 by Eric E. Johnson

Cite as: Eric E. Johnson, An Intellectual Property Fix for Platform Salesjacking, 116 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 306 (2022),

The Judiciary Steps Up to the Workplace Challenge

McKeown, M. Margaret | November 2, 2021

As the #MeToo movement swept the country, the federal judiciary faced its reckoning in light of allegations against several judges. In short order, with the backing of Chief Justice Roberts, workplace issues took center stage. This Essay highlights workplace risks relevant to the judiciary, then details the significant changes adopted by the federal judiciary to foster a healthy, harassment-free, and productive work environment. Major undertakings include the establishment of a national Office of Judicial Integrity; circuit-wide Directors of Workplace Relations; multiple avenues to report misconduct, including anonymous reporting; revamped employment dispute policies; revised ethics, reporting, and discipline rules; and targeted workshops and trainings. While realizing the full potential of these reforms will require continued focus and deliberate attention across our workplace of 30,000 employees nationwide, the federal judiciary—with the backing of Chief Justice Roberts—remains committed to a workplace that treats everyone with respect and dignity.


M. Margaret McKeown is a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She is Chair of the Ninth Circuit Committee on Workplace Environment and a member of the Federal Judiciary Workplace Conduct Working Group. She thanks Michael Henry, Judicial Integrity Officer, Administrative Office of the United States Courts; Yohance Edwards, Director of Workplace Relations, Ninth Circuit; Paula Raffaelli, Deputy Director of Workplace Relations, Ninth Circuit; and Stella Huynh, Workplace Relations Specialist, Ninth Circuit, for their research assistance.

Copyright 2021 by M. Margaret McKeown

Cite as: M. Margaret McKeown, The Judiciary Steps Up to the Workplace Challenge, 116 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 275 (2021),

Deploying the Internal Separation of Powers Against Racial Tyranny

Shah, Bijal | October 29, 2021

The separation of powers in the federal government exists to ensure a lack of tyranny in the United States. This Essay grounds the separation of powers in tyranny perpetuated by racialized hierarchy, violence, and injustice. Recognizing the primacy of racial tyranny also reveals a would-be tyrant: the President. Engaging the branches of federal government—including the Executive herself—to empower agencies to check presidents’ base racist impulses would imbue the separation of powers framework with additional meaning and normative force.


Associate Professor of Law, Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Many thanks to Guy-Uriel Charles for inviting me to participate in this symposium. I am particularly grateful for feedback from Aziza Ahmed, Bernie Bell, Rebecca Bratspies, Ming Chen, Sabrina Dycus, Osamudia James, Renée Landers, Jon Michaels, Kali Murray, Ricky Revesz, Josh Sellers, and Justin Weinstein-Tull. All errors are my own.

Copyright 2021 by Bijal Shah

Cite as: Bijal Shah, Deploying the Internal Separation of Powers Against Racial Tyranny, 116 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 244 (2021),

Regulating During Emergencies

Barsa, Michael & Dana, David | October 1, 2021

Presidents frequently attempt to use emergencies to push through controversial rules. We argue that the law surrounding “notice and comment” for proposed rules should be altered to reduce the risk that Presidents will exploit emergencies to entrench rules without adequate public input. Specifically, we argue that the comment periods for proposed rules should be extended during emergencies and that courts should admit extrarecord evidence in subsequent administrative litigation when agencies refuse to afford the public reasonable extensions in the comment periods.


Michael Barsa is a Professor of Practice, and David Dana is the Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. We would like to thank Zachary Clopton and Nadav Shoked for helpful suggestions.

Copyright  2021  by  Michael Barsa & David Dana

Cite as: Michael Barsa & David Dana, Regulating During Emergencies, 116 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 223 (2021),

The So-Called Series-Qualifier Canon

Crews, Adam G. | September 10, 2021

In Facebook, Inc. v. Duguid, a near-unanimous Supreme Court forcefully applied the so-called series-qualifier canon, which posits (among other things) how postpositive modifiers normally attach to certain antecedents. With this canon, the Court identified a presumptive natural reading of the statute at issue, and that presumption framed the rest of the Court’s analysis. Concurring only in the judgment, Justice Alito agreed with the Court’s interpretation but expressed concern over the majority’s heavy reliance on the canon. In Justice Alito’s view, the majority used the canon too much like a rule, despite intuitive reasons to doubt its force.

Justice Alito’s intuitions were exactly right. The so-called series-qualifier canon is an unjustified revision to a principle from a single case in the 1920s—a case that itself materially distorted the real series-qualifier principle that America borrowed from England. This Essay tells that story. Drawing on formal linguistics and interpretive history, I explain that a series-qualifier principle initially served a much smaller role than the contemporary series-qualifier canon, a supposed “rule” that does not necessarily describe ordinary English usage or processing. By relying on this contemporary misstatement and not on the true series-qualifier principle, the Court in Facebook committed a serious process error and potentially set up lower courts to approach interpretation in a way that will undermine textualism’s core commitments and goals.


Appellate Counsel, Federal Communications Commission. Thanks to the Northwestern University Law Review Online staff for excellent work on this Essay, which I dedicate to the memory of Dr. Patricia S. Burton, Ph.D. All views are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the United States, my agency employer, or any individual FCC commissioner.

Copyright 2021 by Adam G. Crews

Cite as: Adam G. Crews, The So-Called Series-Qualifier Canon, 116 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 198 (2021),

Unlocking Accommodations for Disabled Students in Private Religious Schools

Sode, Campbell | August 16, 2021

Many disabled students exercise their First Amendment right to choose to attend a private religious school only to learn that the school will not provide reasonable accommodations crucial to their academic success. Because private religious schools are exempt from Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and its reasonable accommodation mandate, disabled students that choose such schools may be forced to find a more welcoming learning environment elsewhere. As a result, disabled students are currently unable to enjoy their Free Exercise Clause right to choose to enroll in their ideal private religious schools to the same extent as their nonhandicapped peers.

This inequality can be reduced by an expansive application of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which is known as the Rehab Act and covers entities that receive federal financial assistance. The Rehab Act is a key statute for disabled students in private religious schools since there is no religious exemption from its requirement that reasonable accommodations be made for the disabled. However, the Rehab Act will achieve maximum potency only if private religious schools that hold tax-exempt status, or indirectly benefit from federal programs via a parent entity, are classified as recipients of federal financial assistance for Rehab Act purposes. Also, a Rehab Act regulation that allows private religious schools to charge disabled students for reasonable accommodations should be limited so cost-shifting is only possible if the school genuinely cannot afford the accommodations at issue. And this approach to the problems disabled students face at private religious schools would not infringe upon these schools’ First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion.


University of Virginia School of Law J.D. 2018; Rutgers University B.A. 2015. I also want to specially thank the Northwestern University Law Review Online staff, especially HanByul Chang, Allison Clark, Olga Cosme Toledo, Tyler Dallas, Julia McCartney, Emily Starbuck, Leah Beukelman, Negassi Tesfamichael, and Samuel Young for their invaluable contributions to this Essay and their exemplary editorial assistance.

Copyright 2021 by Campbell Sode

Cite as: Campbell Sode, Unlocking Accommodations for Disabled Students in Private Religious Schools, 116 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 171 (2021),