Paul L. Caron
Dean




Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Pittsburgh Tax Review Call For Papers: Combatting Poverty Through Federal Tax Policy

Pittsburgh Tax Review Call for Papers: Combatting Poverty Through Federal Tax Policy

Pittsburgh tax reviewAccording to the U.S. Census, in 2022 there were over 37 million people in the United States in poverty. Though, at one time, perhaps the tax code had little to do with relieving poverty, at least since 1975, with the enactment of the Earned Income Tax Credit, Congress has increasingly used tax law as a means of relieving poverty. In light of the important role that tax law and policy now plays in addressing poverty as well as income and wealth inequality in the United States, the Pittsburgh Tax Review invites contributions to a curated issue on the theme of “Combatting Poverty Through Federal Tax Policy.” Contributions will be published in the Fall 2024 issue of the journal’s twenty-second volume.

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April 23, 2024 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

The Most Important Thing I Teach My Students Isn’t On The Syllabus: Humility

Following up on my previous posts (link below):  New York Times Op-Ed:  The Most Important Thing I Teach My Students Isn’t on the Syllabus, by Frank Bruni:

I warn my students. At the start of every semester, on the first day of every course, I confess to certain passions and quirks and tell them to be ready: I’m a stickler for correct grammar, spelling and the like, so if they don’t have it in them to care about and patrol for such errors, they probably won’t end up with the grade they’re after. I want to hear everyone’s voice — I tell them that, too — but I don’t want to hear anybody’s voice so often and so loudly that the other voices don’t have a chance.

And I’m going to repeat one phrase more often than any other: “It’s complicated.” They’ll become familiar with that. They may even become bored with it. I’ll sometimes say it when we’re discussing the roots and branches of a social ill, the motivations of public (and private) actors and a whole lot else, and that’s because I’m standing before them not as an ambassador of certainty or a font of unassailable verities but as an emissary of doubt. I want to give them intelligent questions, not final answers. I want to teach them how much they have to learn — and how much they will always have to learn.

I’d been on the faculty of Duke University and delivering that spiel for more than two years before I realized that each component of it was about the same quality: humility.

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April 23, 2024 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Teaching | Permalink

Monday, April 22, 2024

Graetz Presents The Power to Destroy: How The Antitax Movement Hijacked America Today At Pepperdine

Michael J. Graetz (Columbia), presents The Power to Destroy: How the Antitax Movement Hijacked America (Princeton University Press 2024) (reviewed by Martin Sullivan here) at Pepperdine today as part of the Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Deanna Newton:

The power to destroy

The postwar United States enjoyed large, widely distributed economic rewards—and most Americans accepted that taxes were a reasonable price to pay for living in a society of shared prosperity. Then in 1978 California enacted Proposition 13, a property tax cap that Ronald Reagan hailed as a “second American Revolution,” setting off an antitax, antigovernment wave that has transformed American politics and economic policy. In The Power to Destroy, Michael Graetz tells the story of the antitax movement and how it holds America hostage—undermining the nation’s ability to meet basic needs and fix critical problems.

In 1819, Chief Justice John Marshall declared that the power to tax entails “the power to destroy.” But The Power to Destroy argues that tax opponents now wield this destructive power. Attacking the IRS, protecting tax loopholes, and pushing tax cuts from Reagan to Donald Trump, the antitax movement is threatening the nation’s social safety net, increasing inequality, ballooning the national debt, and sapping America’s financial strength. The book chronicles how the movement originated as a fringe enterprise promoted by zealous outsiders using false economic claims and thinly veiled racist rhetoric, and how—abetted by conservative media and Grover Norquist’s “taxpayer protection pledge”—it evolved into a mainstream political force.

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April 22, 2024 in Colloquia, Pepperdine Tax, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

Legal Ed News Roundup

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April 22, 2024 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Avi-Yonah & Salama: Taxation Of Autonomous Artificial Intelligence

Reuven S. Avi-Yonah (Michigan; Google Scholar) & Lucas Salama (Michigan), Taxation of Autonomous Artificial Intelligence: Socially Sustainable Expansion of Automation and Impacts on International Tax:

This paper investigates if artificial intelligence should be taxed independently from its controllers or owners and how this could be structured and used to benefit tax administration while being a positive influence for private sector stakeholders. The main question that will be investigated is whether the reasons for taxing such entities outweigh the respective negative consequences. We propose that autonomous A.I. has started a transformation in the way legal systems around the world assign rights and obligations, and creating a tax on the profits generated by autonomous systems is not only coherent with the current business entity model of taxation, it is also an effective way to address the international tax challenges arising from A.I. operating in multiple jurisdictions and in providing a reliable structure for regulation, and potentially creating a way to safeguard socially responsible expansion in the use of automation.

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April 22, 2024 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

2024-25 U.S. News Trial Advocacy Rankings

US News (2023)The new 2024-25 U.S. News Trial Advocacy Rankings include the trial advocacy programs at 196 law schools (the faculty survey had a 50% response rate). Here are the Top 50:

Rank School
1 Stetson
1 Temple
3 Baylor
4 Fordham
4 UCLA
6 Samford
6 South Texas
8 Denver
8 Drexel
8 Loyola-L.A.
8 Mercer
12 Chicago-Kent
13 Hofstra
13 Houston
13 Pace
13 South Carolina
13 St. Mary's
13 Syracuse
13 UC-Berkeley
20 Campbell
20 Northwestern
20 Pacific
23 Georgetown
23 Loyola-Chicago
25 Howard
25 Washington Univ.
27 Emory
27 Georgia
27 St. John's
27 Texas Tech
31 Illinois-Chicago
31 Nova
31 Ohio Northern
31 Quinnipiac
31 Suffolk
36 American
36 Georgia State
36 Harvard
36 Inter-American (PR)
36 Maryland
36 Texas
42 Akron
42 Case Western
42 George Washington
42 Louisiana State
42 Villanova
42 William & Mary
48 Catholic
48 Florida
48 Illinois
48 Missouri-Kansas City

2023-24 U.S. News Trial Advocacy Rankings

2024-25 U.S. News Specialty Rankings:

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April 22, 2024 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Tax Executives Institute Student Case Competition

Tax executive instituteThe deadline to apply for the TEI - International Tax Case Competition is May 1, 2024 (application): 

TEI supports students in developing a passion for taxation with our annual International Tax Case Competition. With a prize of CAD$2,000, the competition will bring together mentors from the TEI membership and judges from IFA Canada for an exciting day of studying and collaboration in beautiful Montreal, Canada. Applicants must be students at the time of application.

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April 22, 2024 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax News, Teaching | Permalink

Lat: An Exit Interview With Virginia Law School Dean Risa Goluboff

David Lat, An Exit Interview With A Top Law School’s Dean: Risa Goluboff:

Goluboff (2024)Would you want to be a law school dean in the year 2024? The once-coveted post seems less fun, given the tension and polarization on university campuses these days, as well as more challenging than ever. One misstep or missed goal—a free-speech controversy gone viral, a fundraising target unmet, a double-digit drop in your school’s U.S. News ranking—and you could be out of a job.

Surviving to the end of one’s term as dean is already an accomplishment. Concluding a deanship with multiple achievements unlocked is even more impressive.

It’s difficult, but not impossible—as reflected in the record of Dean Risa Goluboff (pronounced REE-suh GOL-u-buff, in case you’re wondering). When her eight-year term as dean of the University of Virginia School of Law ends on June 30, she can take pride in around three dozen new faculty hires, completion of a $400 million capital campaign (more than a year ahead of schedule), and a #4 ranking in U.S. News—the highest in the history of the school.

What are some of the secrets of Dean Goluboff’s success? What does she view as the two biggest challenges facing American law schools today? And what is her excellent advice… about how to respond to advice?

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April 22, 2024 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Harvard Law Prof Ruth Okediji: Music And Faith Foster Hope In Difficult Times

Harvard Law Today, A Show of Faith: Harvard Law Professor Ruth Okediji Explains Why She Believes Music — and Faith — Foster Hope in Difficult Times:

Okediji (2024)Shortly before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington in 1963, iconic gospel singer Mahalia Jackson performed an electrifying version of the spiritual “I’ve Been ‘Buked, and I’ve Been Scorned.” As Jackson sang, some in the audience closed their eyes in reverence, while others swayed gently in time with the music. At Jackson’s final note, the crowd, once transfixed, burst into applause.

Although an undeniably powerful moment, this was not the first time — nor would it be the last — that music would serve to ground, fortify, and uplift African Americans in the fight for civil rights, or others who are going through difficult times, says Ruth Okediji LL.M. ’91, S.J.D. ’96, the Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor at Harvard Law School.

In fact, Okediji says, faith has long played an important role in the lives of many Black Americans, with worship music providing strength, joy, and hope, even amid oppression. And one way that faith is made manifest in biblical Christianity is through music, particularly hymns, she adds.

“A confidence in the Bible and its life-giving precepts made it possible for people to, day after day, week after week, month after month, get up again, and say, ‘We’re going to continue with faith and in this struggle, whatever the day might hold.’”

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April 21, 2024 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

WaPo Op-Ed: It’s Not So ‘Terribly Strange To Be 70’

Washington Post Op-Ed:  It’s Not So ‘Terribly Strange to be 70’, by Anne Lamott (Author, Somehow: Thoughts on Love (2024)):

Somehow 2I I turned 70 today, a young age for an older person to be, but it is the oldest I have ever been by a long shot. It has been well over six decades since I learned in arithmetic how to carry the one, and the rest has sped by like microfiche.

One big juicy, messy, hard, joyful, quiet life. That’s what my 70 years have bequeathed me.

In my teens, already drinking and drugging, I didn’t expect to see 21, and at 21, out of control, I didn’t expect to see 30. At 30, I had published three books but, as a sober friend put it, was deteriorating faster than I could lower my standards.

Then at 32, I got clean and sober, the miracle of my life from which all other blessings flow. My son was born three years later. The apple fell close to the tree: My son went off the rails, too. He and his partner had a baby at 19, which had not been in my specific plans for him, but you know the old line: If you want to make God laugh, tell Her your plans.

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April 21, 2024 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

Pepperdine Caruso Law 3L Commissioning Service

Commissioning Service Program

We hosted our 13th annual 3L Commissioning Service at Pepperdine Caruso Law last week. Like many of the best things at our school, it is the brainchild of a student. In 2012, 2L Raija Churchill proposed that the last Wednesday night Dean's Bible study of the year model the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) as a send-off for our graduating 3Ls.

I was honored to give a gift to our 3Ls to encourage them to live the lives that God has called them to after they graduate: a paperweight to keep on their desks to remind them (on the top) of their time at Pepperdine Caruso Law and (on the bottom) a single word — the most powerful word that Jesus talked about and modeled for us — forgiveness. I shared several of the forgiveness stories I have chronicled on this blog, including this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and this.

Forgiveness

The highlight of the evening was when our faculty and staff spoke words of life over each of the graduating 3Ls (kudos to Tyler Clark (JD '12) for beginning this wonderful tradition):

Johnson Cupp

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April 21, 2024 in Faith, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink

2024-25 U.S. News Legal Writing Rankings

US News (2023)The new 2024-25 U.S. News Legal Writing Rankings include the legal writing programs at 133 law schools (the faculty survey had a 64% response rate). Here are the Top 50:

Rank School
1 Oregon
2 UNLV
3 Stetson
3 Suffolk
5 Arizona State
5 Wake Forest
7 UC-Irvine
8 Nova
8 Seattle
8 University of Arizona
11 Drake
11 Georgetown
11 Michigan
11 Rutgers
11 Texas A&M
16 Houston
16 Lewis & Clark
16 Missouri-Kansas City
16 Washburn
20 Brooklyn
20 Denver
20 Illinois-Chicago
20 Indiana (McKinney)
20 North Carolina
20 St. John's
26 Drexel
26 Marquette
26 Mercer
26 Temple
26 Texas Tech
26 University of Washington
32 North Dakota
32 Northeastern
32 Ohio State
32 South Texas
32 Wyoming
37 Baltimore
37 Case Western
37 Tennessee
40 Chicago-Kent
40 George Washington
40 Gonzaga
40 Hofstra
40 Indiana (Maurer)
40 Louisiana State
40 Loyola-L.A.
40 Mitchell | Hamline
40 Northwestern
40 Pacific
40 William & Mary

2023-24 U.S. News Legal Writing Rankings

2024-25 U.S. News Specialty Rankings:

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April 21, 2024 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

The Top Five New Tax Papers

This week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads is the same as last week's list.

  1. SSRN Logo (2018) [858 Downloads]  Don't Blame the Victims: Individuals and the MRT, by Karen Alpert (FixTheTax Treaty.org), John Richardson (TaxResidentAbroad.com) & Laura Snyder (Association of Americans Resident Overseas)
  2. [505 Downloads]  No More Tax-Free Lunch for Billionaires: Closing the Borrowing Loophole, by Edward Fox (Michigan; Google Scholar) & Zachary Liscow (Yale; Google Scholar)
  3. [434 Downloads]  Taxing People, Not Residents, by Yariv Brauner (Florida, Google Scholar) (reviewed by Mirit Eyal-Cohen (Alabama; Google Scholar) here)
  4. [369 Downloads]  Combining VPFs and Tax-Aware Strategies to Diversify Low-Basis Stock, by Joseph Liberman & Nathan Sosner (AQR Capital Management)
  5. [278 Downloads]  Designing a Powerful General Anti-Avoidance Rule: Reflections on the New Zealand Experience, by Craig Elliffe (Auckland; Google Scholar)

April 21, 2024 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink

Saturday, April 20, 2024

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Top 10 Taxprof Blog Posts - LinkedinLegal Education: 

  1. Paul Caron (Dean, Pepperdine), U.S. News Rankings Potpourri: Waning Influence, Penalizing 53 Boycotting Law Schools, And Declining T14 Lawyer|Judge Reputation Scores 
  2. Charleston Gazette-Mail, Over 40% Of Full-Time Faculty Depart West Virginia Law School 
  3. Paul Caron (Dean, Pepperdine), More Commentary On Student Protest At Berkeley Law Dean Chemerinsky's Home 
  4. Timothy Fisher (Dean, Connecticut (2013-2020)), The Experiences Of Non-Traditional Law Deans And The Law Schools That Hire Them 
  5. U.S. News Specialty Rankings
    1. Contracts/Commercial Law Rankings 
    2. Criminal Law 
    3. Dispute Resolution 
    4. Environmental Law 
    5. Health Care Law 
    6. Intellectual Property Law 
  6. David H. Schraub (Lewis & Clark), They Managed A Protest: Prohibitory, Ethical, And Prudential Policing Of Academic Speech
  7. Scott Fruehwald (Legal Skills Blog), Weekly Legal Education Roundup 
  8. Wake Forest Law Review, Symposium: Leading Change In The Legal Profession 
  9. University of Houston, Conference On The Future Of Affirmative Action In Legal And Medical Education 
  10. Paul Caron (Dean, Pepperdine), 20-Year Anniversary Of TaxProf Blog 

Tax: 

  1. Bloomberg Law, Northwestern Law School, 78-Year-Old Tax Professor Settle Age Discrimination Lawsuit 
  2. New York Times Op-Ed (Andrew W. Kahrl), How Property Taxes Drive Racism And Inequality 
  3. Jonathan Grossberg (Thomson Reuters), Kerry Inger (Auburn) & Carneil Wilson (Dentons Sirote, Birmingham, AL), Moore v. United States And The Original Public Meaning Of 'Taxes On Incomes'
  4. Loyola L.A. Law Review, Festschrift To Honor Ellen Aprill 
  5. Pittsburg Tax Review, Symposium: The Federal Income Tax—Racially Blind But Not Racially Neutral
  6. Richard Winchester (Seton Hall), Tax Day Lecture At Temple On A Simple Tax Case Complicated By Race 
  7. Blaine Saito (Ohio State), Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Saito Reviews Kern’s Progressive Taxation For The World
  8. The Tax Lawyer, New Issue 
  9. SSRN, The Top Five New Tax Papers 
  10. UC-Irvine, Symposium On Moore And The Future Of The Realization Doctrine 

Faith:

  1. New York Times, Vatican Says Gender Change And Fluidity Are Threat To Human Dignity; WSJ: Pope Francis Slams Door On 'Cafeteria Catholics'
  2. AL.com Op-Ed (Blake Hudson, Dean, Cumberland Law School), Pastors, Are You Prepared To Lose Your Job Or Half Your Congregation To Tell The Truth? Jesus Was. 
  3. New York Times Op-Ed (David French), Don’t Let Our Broken Politics Mangle Our Faith 
  4. Wall Street Journal Book Review (Peter Thonemann), Enslaved Christians And The Making Of The Bible 
  5. Pepperdine Caruso Law, Celebration of Founding Dean Ron Phillips 

April 20, 2024 in About This Blog, Faith, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Daily, Weekly Top 10 TaxProf Blog Posts | Permalink

2024-25 U.S. News International Law Rankings

US News (2023)The new 2024-25 U.S. News International Law Rankings include the international law programs at 193 law schools (the faculty survey had a 43% response rate). Here are the Top 50:

Rank School
1 NYU
2 Harvard
2 Yale
4 Columbia
5 Georgetown
6 Michigan
7 Cornell
7 UC-Berkeley
9 American
9 Chicago
9 George Washington
9 Virginia
13 Case Western
13 Duke
13 Stanford
16 Temple
16 UCLA
18 Fordham
18 UC-Irvine
20 Georgia
20 Northwestern
20 UC-Davis
20 Vanderbilt
24 Penn
25 Texas
26 Boston University
26 Notre Dame
26 Wisconsin
29 Boston College
29 Indiana (Maurer)
29 Miami
29 Washington Univ.
33 Emory
33 Pacific
33 Santa Clara
33 Washington & Lee
33 William & Mary
38 Arizona State
38 Denver
38 Houston
38 Minnesota
38 Tulane
38 University of Arizona
38 Utah
45 Colorado
45 Florida
45 Florida Int'l
45 Florida State
45 Loyola-Chicago
45 Ohio State
45 Wayne State

2023-24 U.S. News International Law Rankings

2024-25 U.S. News Specialty Rankings:

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April 20, 2024 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

D.C. Tax Profs Celebrate Tax Day

From Jeremy Bearer-Friend (George Washington; Google Scholar):

Washington, D.C. Tax Profs from Catholic, Georgetown, George Washington, and Howard joined visitors from the U.S. Treasury Department (formerly American Tax Prof) and Indiana to celebrate Tax Day:

Tax Profs Tax Day

Left to right: left to right: Alice Thomas (Howard), Goldburn Maynard (Indiana), Karen Brown (George Washington), Regina Jefferson (Catholic), Emily Satterthwaite (Georgetown), Ellis Duncan (Georgetown), Brian Galle (Georgetown), Jeremy Bearer-Friend (George Washington), & Maria Dooner (U.S. Treasury Department).

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April 20, 2024 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax News | Permalink

Friday, April 19, 2024

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Speck Reviews Elkins's Rules, Standards, And The Value Of Certainty In Tax Law

This week, Sloan Speck (Colorado; Google Scholar) reviews David Elkins (Netanya; Google Scholar), Rules, Standards, and the Value of Certainty in Tax Law.

Sloan-speck

In Rules, Standards, and the Value of Certainty in Tax Law, David Elkins brings a fresh and engaging perspective to well-traveled debates about the choice between rules and standards in taxation. Elkins juxtaposes the doctrinal significance of standard-based antiabuse doctrines in U.S. tax law with the IRS’s relatively low audit rates for self-reported tax returns. This wedge, Elkins argues, has a lottery-like effect. The “inherent indeterminacy” of standard-based antiabuse doctrines allows taxpayers to “safely ignore them when taking positions” (18). If those positions are questioned by the IRS, the after-the-fact assertion of antiabuse doctrines effectively applies an alternative body of law to the unlucky (or unfortunate) taxpayers selected for audit, which presents moral, equity, and efficiency concerns. As a result, Elkins concludes that, “in general, standards have no role to play in the tax system, even simply as a complement to a rules-based structure” (id.). Elkins’s thesis challenges a long arc in tax law and scholarship that sees a meaningful—and perhaps essential—role for antiabuse doctrines in tax law.

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April 19, 2024 in Scholarship, Sloan Speck, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Biden Administration

2024-25 U.S. News Intellectual Property Law Rankings

US News (2023)The new 2024-25 U.S. News Intellectual Property Law Rankings include the intellectual property law programs at 195 law schools (the faculty survey had a 47% response rate). Here are the Top 50:

Rank School
1 UC-Berkeley
2 Stanford
3 NYU
4 Santa Clara
5 George Washington
6 Cardozo
6 Texas A&M
8 American
8 Boston University
8 Fordham
8 Houston
12 Columbia
12 Harvard
12 Penn
15 Georgetown
15 Texas
15 UCLA
18 Chicago-Kent
18 Duke
18 Michigan
18 New Hampshire
18 San Diego
23 George Mason
23 Vanderbilt
23 Virginia
26 Utah
27 Cornell
27 Northwestern
27 University of Washington
30 DePaul
30 Indiana (Maurer)
30 Richmond
30 Temple
30 Washington Univ.
30 William & Mary
36 Akron
36 Boston College
36 Chicago
36 Colorado
36 Minnesota
36 Suffolk
36 UC-Irvine
36 USC
44 Emory
44 Loyola-L.A.
44 Ohio State
44 UC-Davis
48 Arizona State
48 Northeastern
48 Pittsburgh
48 UNLV
48 Yale

2023-24 U.S. News Intellectual Property Law Rankings

2024-25 U.S. News Specialty Rankings:

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April 19, 2024 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Raskolnikov Presents Equality Plus Equity: Law And Redistribution In A Capitalist Democracy Today At Cornell

Alex Raskolnikov (Columbia) presents Equality Plus Equity: Law and Redistribution in a Capitalist Democracy at Cornell today as part of its Faculty Workshop Series:

Alex raskolnikovIf the law of capitalism is rigged in favor of the wealthy, why is the rigging so shoddy? If majority rule offers an easy path to soaking the rich, why are the rich still not soaked? Clearly, there are real constraints on the distributional effects of legal rules in modern Western societies. These constraints are binding, long-standing, and consequential—but what are they, exactly, and why do they exist?

This paper offers an answer. Formal equality—same rules for the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak—is essential to a modern capitalist democracy. Political theories ranging from libertarianism to liberalism and Marxism all hold this view. A widely shared commitment to the rule of law reflects it as well. Even theories that reject formal equality reveal its strong influence. But the commitment to formal equality cannot be absolute. A legal system that fully reflects formal equality would allow deprivation. Not only is deprivation inequitable, it undermines, even destroys, the fundamental values underlying every political theory just mentioned. 

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April 19, 2024 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

Next Week’s Tax Workshops

Next Week's Tax Workshops - twitterMonday, April 22: Michael J. Graetz (Columbia) will present The Power to Destroy: How The Antitax Movement Hijacked America (Princeton University Press 2024) (reviewed by Martin A. Sullivan here) as part of the Pepperdine Tax Policy Workshop Series. If you would like to attend, please contact Deanna Newton

Tuesday, April 23: Natasha Sarin (Yale; Google Scholar) will present Broken Budgeting (with Safia Sayed (J.D. 2025, Yale)) as part of the Georgetown Tax Law and Public Finance Workshop. If you would like to attend, please contact Emily Satterthwaite and Dayanand Manoli

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April 19, 2024 in Colloquia, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

Thursday, April 18, 2024

The Tax Lawyer Publishes New Issue

The Tax Lawyer has published Vol. 77, No. 2 (Winter 2024):

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April 18, 2024 in ABA Tax Section, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Wake Forest Symposium: Leading Change In The Legal Profession

Symposium, Leading Change in the Legal Profession, 58 Wake Forest L. Rev. 806-1015 (2023):

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April 18, 2024 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink

UC-Irvine Hosts Symposium Today On Moore And The Future Of The Realization Doctrine

UC-Irvine hosts a symposium today on The Moore Case and the Future of the Realization Doctrine today (program): 

UCI Law (2022)The Graduate Tax Program at the University of California, Irvine School of Law will host its sixth annual UCI Law|Taylor Nelson Amitrano LLP Tax Symposium on April 18, 2024. Sponsored by the Law Offices of Taylor Nelson Amitrano LLP, the theme of this year’s symposium is The Moore Case and the Future of the Realization Doctrine.

This virtual event will feature keynote speaker, David Kamin. Kamin’s scholarship focuses on tax and budget policy, and he served in the White House under President Biden and President Obama. 

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April 18, 2024 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

2024-25 U.S. News Health Care Law Rankings

US News (2023)The new 2024-25 U.S. News Health Care Law Rankings include the health care law programs at 191 law schools (the faculty survey had a 49% response rate). Here are the Top 50:

Rank School
1 Georgia State
2 St. Louis
3 Boston University
4 Loyola-Chicago
4 Maryland
6 Georgetown
7 Harvard
7 Houston
7 Northeastern
10 Seton Hall
10 Stanford
12 UC-San Francisco
13 Arizona State
13 Yale
15 American
15 Case Western
15 Ohio State
15 Temple
19 George Washington
19 UCLA
21 Emory
21 Wake Forest
23 DePaul
24 Drexel
24 Indiana (McKinney)
24 Penn
24 Washington Univ.
28 Michigan
28 Minnesota
28 Mitchell | Hamline
28 North Carolina
28 Pittsburgh
33 Duke
34 University of Arizona
34 Utah
36 Indiana (Maurer)
36 Northwestern
36 SMU
36 Texas
36 UNLV
41 Boston College
41 Florida
41 Loyola-L.A.
41 Nova
41 Suffolk
41 University of Washington
47 Cornell
47 Georgia
47 Tennessee
47 Vanderbilt
47 Virginia

2023-24 U.S. News Health Care Law Rankings

2024-25 U.S. News Specialty Rankings:

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April 18, 2024 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Roosevelt Institute Hosts Tax Policy As Competition Policy Today

Tax policy as competition policyThe Roosevelt Institute hosts Tax Policy as Competition Policy: Reimagining How the US Tax Code Can Foster a More Equitable and Participatory Economy today at 12:00 PM EST (RSVP): 

Excessive market power by dominant corporations is widely decried across the political divide. Federal and state antitrust agencies have begun to reclaim their rightful roles in checking the power of a few firms to control so much of the economy. Historically, tax policy complemented these antitrust enforcers by leveling the economic playing field. Yet today, taxation remains overlooked both as a driver of current levels of market concentration and as a tool to remedy the problem.

Roosevelt’s Taxing Monopolies series explores how a rewriting of the tax code can work alongside other antimonopoly tools to curb the excessive economic and political power of large corporations and their owners.

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April 18, 2024 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Over 40% Of Full-Time Faculty Depart West Virginia Law School

Charleston Gazette-Mail, 'My Hand Was Forced': WVU Law School Faculty Depart Amid 'Academic Transformation' Fallout:

West Virginia LogoJoshua Weishart has called the West Virginia University College of Law home for the past 12 years.

Now, just months after university administrators reduced law faculty by five as part of “academic transformation,” the West Virginia native and WVU alum is choosing to leave the state’s only law school.

“We were not planning to leave,” Weishart said, “and that’s disappointing.”

The Berkeley School of Law graduate and 2016 Law Professor of the Year is one of seven faculty members choosing to part ways with WVU Law outside of the voted cuts. Six of these faculty announced their voluntary departure during the spring 2024 semester.

Before the voluntary departures, academic transformation efforts reduced College of Law faculty to 24. Now, the law school could have less than 20 faculty members [West Virginia reported 32 full-time faculty in its 2023 509 report].

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April 18, 2024 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Symposium: The Federal Income Tax—Racially Blind But Not Racially Neutral

Northwestern Law School, 78-Year-Old Tax Professor Settle Age Discrimination Lawsuit

Following up on my previous post, Tax Prof Philip Postlewaite Sues Northwestern, Claims $289,000 Salary Is The Result Of Age Discrimination:  Bloomberg Law, Northwestern, 78-Year-Old Law Professor Will Settle Bias Suit:

Northwestern (2018)A 78-year-old tenured law professor and Northwestern University have agreed to resolve his lawsuit accusing the school of unfairly compensating him compared to his younger counterparts, according to a docket entry in the case.

  • Philip Postlewaite alleged Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law awarded him a lower base salary increase than “his substantially younger, less tenured and less experienced counterparts,” despite Postlewaite leading the lucrative LLM tax program, according to the complaint filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

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April 17, 2024 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax News | Permalink

National Tax Association 117th Annual Conference Call for Papers: April 19th Deadline

117th_2024_CFP_1375_341-1024x254National Tax Association 117th Annual Conference Call for Papers

The 117th Annual Conference on Taxation will cover a broad range of topics in tax policy and public finance. We welcome submissions from the fields of accounting, economics, law, and public policy and administration, as well as research from other fields or by practitioners that relates to these topics.

We especially welcome submissions that can speak to current challenges facing policymakers such as the effect of digitalization/e-commerce/remote work on public finances, minimum taxes and international tax law, the child tax credit and other family policies, and global challenges to government finances.

You are invited to submit the following: individual papers to be integrated into sessions, proposals for complete sessions of papers, and proposals for panel discussions (roundtable format, just speakers, no papers). Please note that full session proposals are mere suggestions of groupings. The conference committee reserves the right to consider and accept individual papers from a complete session rather than accepting the complete session, break apart complete sessions or otherwise change the full session.

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April 17, 2024 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

2024-25 U.S. News Environmental Law Rankings

US News (2023)The new 2024-25 U.S. News Environmental Law Rankings include the environmental law programs at 195 law schools (the faculty survey had a 55% response rate). Here are the Top 50:

Rank School
1 Pace
2 UC-Berkeley
3 Lewis & Clark
4 Vermont
5 UCLA
6 Columbia
7 Colorado
7 Oregon
7 Utah
10 Georgetown
10 Harvard
10 NYU
10 Stanford
10 Vanderbilt
15 Duke
15 UC-Davis
17 Arizona State
17 Florida State
17 George Washington
17 Michigan
21 Denver
21 Maryland
23 Hawaii
23 UC-Irvine
25 Florida
25 New Mexico
25 Texas A&M
25 Virginia
25 Yale
30 Houston
30 Minnesota
30 Texas
30 Tulane
30 University of Arizona
30 University of Washington
36 Case Western
36 Indiana (Maurer)
36 Miami
36 Penn
36 UC-San Francisco
36 USC
42 Emory
42 Montana
42 Wyoming
45 North Carolina
45 Northwestern
47 Kansas
47 Louisiana State
47 Maine
50 Cornell
50 Richmond
50 Widener (DE)

2023-24 U.S. News Environmental Law Rankings

2024-25 U.S. News Specialty Rankings:

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April 17, 2024 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Moore v. United States And The Original Public Meaning Of 'Taxes On Incomes'

Jonathan Grossberg (Thomson Reuters), Kerry Inger (Auburn; Google Scholar) & Carneil Wilson (Dentons Sirote, Birmingham, AL), Moore v. United States and The Original Public Meaning of "Taxes on Incomes", 43 ABA Tax Times __ (2024):

Aba-tax-timesThe concept of a “tax on income” at the time of the adoption of the Sixteenth Amendment is best understood not from a selective dictionary definition that ignores the lack of reference to realization even when that term (or related terms) is defined in the same dictionary nor from a careful selection of phrases from a treatise but rather from a full public understanding of the term as used by those who professionally studied or practiced taxation. In particular, the misguided reliance on Macomber as establishing a universal realization requirement for all taxable income fails to read either the case or related cases accurately. 

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April 17, 2024 in ABA Tax Section, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

The Experiences Of Non-Traditional Law Deans And The Law Schools That Hire Them

Timothy Fisher (Dean, Connecticut (2013-2020); Google Scholar), Lessons Learned: The Experiences of Non-Traditional Law Deans and the Law Schools That Hire Them:, 72 J. Legal Educ. ___ (2024):

Journal of Legal Education (2024)Ten years ago, the United States legal academy confronted a surprising drop in student enrollment and corresponding financial pressures. Over the ensuing years most law schools recovered, albeit with significant trimming, and for the most part rebalanced their faculty and student body in a sustainable fashion. On today’s horizon, however, is a greater and more sustained threat. A shrunken student population pipeline has hit colleges and will soon reach law schools. Inflationary pressures on wages have risen, while students’ and parents’ tolerance for tuition increases may have peaked. These financial pressures will be greatest on “access” law schools – those with the fewest financial resources and whose students are likewise the least well off financially.

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April 17, 2024 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Maynard Presents Penalizing Precarity Today At Georgetown

Goldburn P. Maynard, Jr. (Indiana-Kelley; Google Scholar) presents Penalizing Precarity, 123 Mich. L. Rev __ (2024) (with Clinton Wallace (South Carolina; Google Scholar)), at Georgetown today as part of its Tax Law and Public Finance Workshop hosted by Emily Satterthwaite and Dayanand Manoli: 

Goldburn maynardRetirement policy in America is oriented around 401(k) accounts and other employer-sponsored savings plans, which will receive a whopping $1.5 trillion in tax subsidies over the next decade. This Article uncovers a harmful flaw in a common feature of these plans. The problem arises from a gap in the rules governing withdrawals made prior to reaching retirement age. Employees are generally required to seek approval from their plan administrator to receive a “hardship distribution,” which they are granted if they face an “immediate and heavy financial need,” like eviction or an unexpected medical expense. But even with this approval, these distributions are frequently subject to an “early withdrawal penalty,” a separate regime that is not coordinated with the hardship distribution rules.

This Article shows that the gap between the two sets of rules is little known to workers, employers and even policymakers. We document instances of taxpayers surviving financial calamity thanks to a hardship distribution only to learn that they now face a tax penalty—resulting in another cash crunch. 

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April 16, 2024 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

U.S. News Rankings Potpourri: Waning Influence, Penalizing 53 Boycotting Law Schools, And Declining T14 Lawyer|Judge Reputation Scores

Reuters, After Setbacks, U.S. News Law School Rankings Show Signs of Waning Influence:

US News (2023)[T]he influence of U.S. News’ law school rankings is waning following a widespread boycott by schools that began in 2022 and a series of data errors that plagued the rollout of the 2023 list. According to U.S. News, 53 schools out of the nation's 197 accredited by the American Bar Association declined to provide data this year.

Those factors have hurt the credibility of the rankings, [Mike] Spivey said, and amplified longstanding criticism that a one-size-fits-all ranking can’t capture meaningful differences between schools.

Above the Law, U.S. News Law School Rankings Makes Its Smartest Methodological Change: Telling Holdout Schools To Suck It:

Law schools that refused to cooperate with U.S. News saw their peer surveys ignored. It's the right call. ...

Maryland Law’s Donald Tobin wrote an op-ed for TaxProf Blog laying out his pros and cons of the new USNWR methodology. Some of his points are pretty good (“using two-year averages for bar passage and employment data” to cut back on volatility), some less so (suggesting that outcome measurements should be downplayed), but all in all it’s a thoughtful critique that concludes by re-weighting the raw numbers to generate a ranking in a way that makes a lot more sense and is worth checking out.

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April 16, 2024 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Adam Kern Joins San Diego Tax Faculty

University of San Diego Law School has announced that Adam Kern will join its tenure-track faculty in August:

Kern 2024Adam Kernis a Furman Fellow at the NYU School of Law, where he studies tax law, tax policy, and law and philosophy. Professor Kern’s scholarship has been published or is forthcoming in the New York University Law Review [Taxing Pain And Suffering]; Tax Law Review [Progressive Taxation for the World, reviewed by Blaine Saito (Ohio State) here; The Use and Abuse of Location-Specific Rent]; Tax Notes [Progressive Formulary Apportionment: The Case for “Amount D”]; Philosophy & Public Affairs [Illusions of Justice in International Taxation]; Science [An Ethical Framework for Global Vaccine Allocation]; Politics, Philosophy & Economics [The Democratic Limits of Political Experiments]; and Analysis [Our Deeds, Ourselves].

Professor Kern also recently served as a Policy Advisor in the Office of Tax Policy of the U.S. Department of Treasury. He clerked for the Hon. Jed S. Rakoff of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, and practiced as a tax associate with Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C.

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April 16, 2024 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax News, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink

2024-25 U.S. News Dispute Resolution Rankings

US News (2023)The new 2024-25 U.S. News Dispute Resolution Rankings include the dispute resolution programs at 92 law schools (the faculty survey had a 54% response rate). Here are the Top 50:

Rank School
1 Ohio State
2 Pepperdine Caruso
3 Harvard
3 Missouri-Columbia
5 Cardozo
5 Texas A&M
7 Maryland
7 Mitchell | Hamline
7 Northwestern
7 UNLV
11 Arizona State
11 Oregon
13 Fordham
14 Quinnipiac
14 UC-San Francisco
16 Stanford
17 Florida
18 Georgetown
18 South Texas
18 UC-Berkeley
21 Creighton
21 Michigan
21 Pacific
21 Suffolk
21 Washington Univ.
26 Columbia
26 Texas
26 UC-Davis
29 Arkansas-Little Rock
29 Loyola-Chicago
29 Nebraska
29 Pace
29 UC-Irvine
29 UCLA
29 USC
36 Georgia
36 Kansas
36 Marquette
36 NYU
36 Penn
36 Virginia
42 Baltimore
42 Boston College
42 Cornell
42 George Washington
42 Houston
42 Illinois
42 Minnesota
42 St. John's
42 Yale

2023-24 U.S. News Dispute Resolution Rankings

2024-25 U.S. News Specialty Rankings:

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April 16, 2024 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Jensen: The Commerce Clause Doesn’t Override Rules Governing The Taxing Power

Erik M. Jensen (Case Western), The Commerce Clause Doesn’t Override Rules Governing the Taxing Power, 182 Tax Notes Fed. 1603 (Feb. 26, 2024):

Tax Notes Federal (2022)In this article, Jensen challenges the argument that limitations on the taxing power in the Constitution can be ignored if a specific tax can be considered a regulation of commerce, and he examines the implications for Moore. ...

Libin Zhang has taken the position that the government missed the opportunity in Moore to argue — in briefs and during the December 5, 2023, oral argument — that the Supreme Court should uphold the mandatory repatriation tax (MRT) as a valid exercise of congressional power under the foreign commerce clause [Moore Implications From Forgetting the Foreign Commerce Clause, 182 Tax Notes Fed. 1031 (Feb. 5, 2024)].

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April 16, 2024 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

More Commentary On Student Protest At Berkeley Law Dean Chemerinsky's Home

Following up on my previous posts:

New York Times, At Berkeley, a Protest at a Dean’s Home Tests the Limits of Free Speech:

The dean of Berkeley’s law school is known as a staunch supporter of free speech, but things became personal for him when pro-Palestinian students disrupted a celebratory dinner party for some 60 students at his home.

Erwin Chemerinsky, the law school dean, hosted the dinner on Tuesday night in the backyard of his Oakland, Calif., home. The party was supposed to be a community building event, open to all third-year law students, with no speeches or formal activities.

But a third-year law student and a Palestinian activist, Malak Afaneh, stood up at the event, holding a microphone, and launched into a speech.

As she began to talk, Mr. Chemerinsky, a noted Constitutional scholar, can be seen shouting, “Please leave our house! You are guests in our house!”

Catherine Fisk, another Berkeley law professor and Mr. Chemerinsky’s wife, can be seen with her arm around Ms. Afaneh, trying to yank the microphone away and pulling the student up a couple steps.

Ms. Afaneh and other student protesters described Ms. Fisk’s struggle for the microphone as a disproportionate and violent response. Students, they said, had a right to speak at a university gathering.

Mr. Chemerinsky said the dinner was paid for by the university. But he said that the students, who brought their own microphone and amp, had no such free speech rights in a private home, at a dinner with no planned remarks.

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April 16, 2024 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Monday, April 15, 2024

Festschrift To Honor Ellen Aprill

Festschrift to Honor Ellen Aprill, 56 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 1135-1354 (2023):

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April 15, 2024 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Legal Ed News Roundup

How Property Taxes Drive Racism And Inequality

New York Times Op-Ed:  It’s Time to End the Quiet Cruelty of Property Taxes, by Andrew W. Kahrl (Virginia; Author,  The Black Tax: 150 Years of Theft, Exploitation, and Dispossession in America (University of Chicago Press 2024)):

Black Tax CoverProperty taxes, the lifeblood of local governments and school districts, are among the most powerful and stealthy engines of racism and wealth inequality our nation has ever produced. And while the Biden administration has offered many solutions for making the tax code fairer, it has yet to effectively tackle a problem that has resulted not only in the extraordinary overtaxation of Black and Latino homeowners but also in the worsening of disparities between wealthy and poorer communities. Fixing these problems requires nothing short of a fundamental re-examination of how taxes are distributed.

In theory, the property tax would seem to be an eminently fair one: The higher the value of your property, the more you pay. The problem with this system is that the tax is administered by local officials who enjoy a remarkable degree of autonomy and that tax rates are typically based on the collective wealth of a given community. This results in wealthy communities enjoying lower effective tax rates while generating more tax revenues; at the same time, poorer ones are forced to tax property at higher effective rates while generating less in return. As such, property assessments have been manipulated throughout our nation’s history to ensure that valuable property is taxed the least relative to its worth and that the wealthiest places will always have more resources than poorer ones.

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April 15, 2024 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

20-Year Anniversary Of TaxProf Blog

Happy Anniversary

Today (April 15, of course) marks the 20-year anniversary of TaxProf Blog (and the 29-year anniversary of the TaxProf Email Discussion Group). In 2004, I was in my fourteenth year on the University of Cincinnati College of Law faculty. I would be taking my son (age 13) to a ranch in Northern California (JH Ranch) that summer, and would return with my daughter (age 11) in summer 2005. 

It has been a wonderful ride, professionally, personally, and spiritually, these past twenty years. I have written over 52,000 posts (my first post is here), and TaxProf Blog has received over 200,000,000 page views.  The blog played a role in my selection as dean in 2017 —indeed, I may be the only dean in America with a contract provision encouraging me to continue to blog! I could not have done so without the wonderful work of my assistants the past seven years, especially the spectacular Kellie Kamimoto since June 2021.

I'm not sure how much longer I will keep TaxProf Blog going, but I am grateful for the many people who come for the tax, legal education, and faith content. (If you would like to receive a daily email with links to that day's tax or legal education posts, or a weekly email with links to Sunday's faith posts, please email me.) 

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April 15, 2024 in About This Blog, Faith, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed, Pepperdine Tax, Tax, Tax Daily | Permalink | Comments (4)

2024-25 U.S. News Criminal Law Rankings

US News (2023)The new 2024-25 U.S. News Criminal Law Rankings include the criminal law programs at 196 law schools (the faculty survey had a 49% response rate). Here are the Top 50:

Rank School
1 NYU
2 Harvard
2 Stanford
4 UC-Berkeley
5 Georgetown
5 Michigan
7 Columbia
7 Duke
7 Penn
7 UCLA
7 Virginia
12 Chicago
12 Yale
14 Vanderbilt
15 Fordham
15 Northwestern
15 Ohio State
18 UC-Davis
18 Washington Univ.
20 Brooklyn
20 Cornell
20 North Carolina
20 Texas
24 American
24 Arizona State
24 Boston University
24 George Washington
24 Illinois
24 Minnesota
24 UC-Irvine
24 Wake Forest
24 William & Mary
33 SMU
34 Emory
34 Indiana (Maurer)
34 Iowa
34 Loyola-L.A.
34 Maryland
34 Tulane
34 USC
34 Utah
34 Wisconsin
43 Alabama
43 Cardozo
43 Denver
43 Florida State
43 University of Arizona
48 Florida
48 Georgia
48 Howard
48 Rutgers

2023-24 U.S. News Criminal Law Rankings

2024-25 U.S. News Specialty Rankings:

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April 15, 2024 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Winchester Delivers Tax Day Lecture Today At Temple On A Simple Tax Case Complicated By Race

Richard Winchester (Seton Hall; Google Scholar) delivers the Phyllis W. Beck Chair In Law Lecture on A Simple Tax Case Complicated by Race at Temple today at 12:00 PM EST (registration): 

Winchester (2024)On Tax Day, Phyllis W. Beck Chair in Law Richard Winchester, an Associate Professor at Seton Hall School of Law and visiting Temple Law School tax professor, will discuss his 2023 paper, “A Simple Tax Case Complicated by Race.” Scholars and policymakers have begun to consider the racial inequities that are imbedded in the U.S. tax system. Most research addresses the racially inequitable design of the tax code or some of the racially inequitable practices that the I.R.S. employs to administer the code. However, virtually no scholarship discusses the role of the courts. This article addresses that omission by using a little-known case to show that judges are not immune from allowing race to affect their judgments in tax cases and the ramifications that follow when they do so. The case involves the white builder of a segregated Black community in New Orleans called Pontchartrain Park. Professor Winchester will discuss this case in his lecture, which is open to the public. 

About the Speaker
Richard Winchester is an Associate Professor at Seton Hall School of Law. He is visiting Temple Law School as the Beck Chair in Spring 2024.

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April 15, 2024 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Daily, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, April 14, 2024

NY Times: Vatican Says Gender Change And Fluidity Are Threat To Human Dignity; WSJ: Pope Francis Slams Door On 'Cafeteria Catholics'

Human DignityNew York Times, Vatican Document Casts Gender Change and Fluidity as Threat to Human Dignity:

The statement is likely to be embraced by conservatives and stir consternation among L.G.B.T.Q. advocates who fear it will be used as a cudgel against transgender people.

The Vatican on Monday issued a new document approved by Pope Francis stating that the church believes that gender fluidity and transition surgery, as well as surrogacy, amount to affronts to human dignity.

The sex a person is assigned at birth, the document argued, was an “irrevocable gift” from God and “any sex-change intervention, as a rule, risks threatening the unique dignity the person has received from the moment of conception.” People who desire “a personal self-determination, as gender theory prescribes,” risk succumbing “to the age-old temptation to make oneself God.”

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April 14, 2024 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

NY Times & WSJ Book Reviews: Enslaved Christians And The Making Of The Bible

Wall Street Journal Book Review: The Bible’s Hidden Contributors, by Peter Thonemann (Oxford) (reviewing Candida Ross (University of Birmingham), God's Ghostwriters: Enslaved Christians and the Making of the Bible (2024)):

God's Ghostwriters“The stupid, the lowborn, the gullible; slaves, women, and children.” For the second-century pagan writer Celsus, it was easy to sneer at the adherents of the new Christian faith as a basket of deplorables. Still, insults often contain a grain of truth. In his point-by-point rebuttal of Celsus’ anti-Christian polemic a century or so later, the theologian Origen doesn’t dispute this particular charge. Yes, the lowborn, the uneducated, the marginalized were indeed at the core of the Christian mission: That was the point. Today, most theologians would accept that Celsus was right to foreground the crucial role of women in shaping the early church. In “God’s Ghostwriters,” Candida Moss attempts to make a similar case for the role of enslaved people. It is hard to imagine a reader who wouldn’t find this a thrilling, if at times infuriating, book.

Ms. Moss, a professor of theology at the University of Birmingham, is the author of several spiky and provocative revisionist studies of the early church. ... In “God’s Ghostwriters,” she sets out to recover the contributions made by enslaved men and women to the development of the church in (roughly) the first two centuries after Christ.

In fact, “God’s Ghostwriters” is by far the best account we have of the roles played by enslaved people in supporting the high literary culture of the ancient world more broadly. ... Throughout antiquity, every stage of literary composition, dissemination and reception was facilitated by enslaved letter-carriers, copyists and readers. As Ms. Moss reminds us, even reading a book generally meant listening to an enslaved person, who was himself reading from a scroll copied out by another enslaved person.

“God’s Ghostwriters” makes a more radical and specific claim: that enslaved people were integral to the formation of the New Testament.

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April 14, 2024 in Book Club, Faith, Legal Education | Permalink