This Article operates at the intersection of privacy law, Fourth Amendment doctrine, and prescription-drug surveillance instigated by the U.S. drug-overdose crisis. Reputable reporting sources frequently frame that ongoing crisis as a prescription-drug-overdose “epidemic.” Current epidemiological data, however, indicate that the majority of American overdose deaths are now a result of illicit and polysubstance drug use and not prescription-opioid misuse. The prescription-opioid-centric frame has nonetheless sparked the rapid rise of surveillance of prescribers and patients in the form of state prescription-drug monitoring program (“PDMP”) databases. State PDMPs, which maintain and analyze significant data concerning every dispensed controlled substance, surreptitiously collect a stunning amount of sensitive health information.
PDMPs are predominantly law enforcement investigative tools dressed up in public-health-promoting rhetoric. Under the guise of rogue prescriber, pill mill, and doctor–shopper crackdowns, the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) routinely self-issues subpoenas that permit the agency to conduct warrantless sweeps of the voluminous data stored in state PDMP databases. These rampant law enforcement sweeps procure highly sensitive health information and raise serious constitutional privacy concerns. The Supreme Court’s recent Fourth Amendment decision in Carpenter v. United States , however, may limit the DEA’s otherwise unfettered access to state PDMP databases.
Carpenter and the Fourth Amendment doctrines central to its holding motivate this Article and animate its two core contentions. First, pertinent pre-Carpenter precedent requires the DEA to obtain a warrant in order to conduct sweeps of state PDMP databases. Second, courts are even more likely to rule that warrantless DEA searches of highly sensitive health-care data run afoul of the Fourth Amendment in the post-Carpenter world. Simply stated, patient prescribing records stored in state PDMP databases are entitled to Fourth Amendment protection.
Many venerable norms in inheritance law were designed to prevent forgery. Most prominently, since 1837, the Wills Act has required testators to express their last wishes in a signed and witnessed writing. Likewise, the court-supervised probate process helped ensure that a donative instrument was genuine and that assets passed to their rightful owners. But in the mid-twentieth century, concern about forgery waned. Based in part on the perception that counterfeit estate plans are rare, several states relaxed the Wills Act and authorized new formalities for notarized and even digital wills. In addition, lawmakers encouraged owners to bypass probate altogether by transmitting wealth through devices such as life insurance and transfer-on-death deeds.
This Article offers a fresh look at inheritance-related forgery. Cutting against the conventional wisdom, it discovers that counterfeit donative instruments are a serious problem. Using reported cases, empirical research, grand jury investigations, and media stories, it reveals that courts routinely adjudicate credible claims that wills, deeds, and life insurance beneficiary designations are illegitimate. The Article then argues that the persistence of inheritance-related forgeries casts doubt on the wisdom of some recent innovations, including statutes that permit notarized and electronic wills. The Article also challenges well-established inheritance law norms, including the litigation presumptions in will-forgery contests, the widespread practice of rubber-stamping deeds, and the delegation of responsibility for authenticating a nonprobate transfer to private companies. Finally, the Article outlines reforms to modernize succession while remaining sensitive to the risks of forgery.
The Constitution’s Bill of Attainder Clauses, found in Article I, Section 9 and Article I, Section 10, prohibit both Congress and state legislatures from passing targeted statutes imposing punishment on specified actors without trial. The Supreme Court has never decided whether the Clauses apply to corporations.
The Second Circuit is the only federal circuit to address the issue explicitly, holding in Consolidated Edison Co. of New York v. Pataki that Article I, Section 10’s Bill of Attainder Clause applies to corporations. Other circuits either have not faced the issue or have assumed, for the purposes of the specific cases before them and without officially deciding, that the Clauses apply to corporations. The Second Circuit’s reasoning fails as a foundation upon which courts can rely in administering future corporate attainder challenges—drawing dubious inferences from inapplicable Supreme Court precedent and performing a partial merits analysis under the guise of deciding this threshold issue.
This Note offers the first extended argument that the Bill of Attainder Clauses apply to corporations. While the Clauses’ text is silent on the issue, this Note considers the history and precedent of the Bill of Attainder Clauses before exploring the Court’s approach to corporate constitutional rights more generally. Assessing the theories of corporate personhood undergirding the Court’s corporate constitutional rights cases and the purposes for which the attainder prohibition was adopted, this Note concludes that the Bill of Attainder Clauses, properly understood, apply to corporations.
Courts have traditionally shielded the acts of malapportioned or otherwise illegally constituted legislatures from dissolution by employing the “de facto doctrine,” an ancient common law policy tool with medieval roots. In its most basic form, the de facto doctrine seeks to safeguard the acts of unlawful but well-intentioned public officials from collateral attack out of concern for third-party reliance and a bald recognition of necessity. However, the doctrine as traditionally articulated only serves to validate past official acts; once the official in question has lost the “color of authority,” the doctrine no longer affords his actions de facto validity. Although this has not prevented courts from extending the doctrine, or something like it, to cover prospective acts in certain scenarios, courts have generally avoided “taking a look under the hood” and wrestling with the policy concerns underlying the doctrine to see if they still apply prospectively.
This Note examines the potential use of the de facto doctrine in the gerrymandering context. Both racial and partisan gerrymandering present distinct challenges for courts seeking to prospectively apply the de facto doctrine to acts of a state legislature: generally, gerrymanders are created intentionally, making it harder to apply any “good faith” exception; illegal gerrymandering by its nature trespasses on important constitutional guarantees; and the traditional motivations for the de facto doctrine—necessity and reliance—arguably do not apply to legislation crafted by an unconstitutional government body seeking to preserve its power. By examining the historical roots of the doctrine, tracing its modern development, and considering its underlying policy rationales, this Note seeks to answer two questions: (1) how have courts expanded the de facto doctrine and its animating principles prospectively?; and (2) how do those expansions shape the prospective application of the doctrine in the gerrymandering context?