An Overdue Overturning: The Insular Cases and the Need for Heightened Judicial Review for Puerto Rico

(Source)   In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which left the entirety of Puerto Rico without power, President Donald Trump visited the island. Towards the end of his trip, President Trump began tossing paper towels into a crowd — as if he were a rock star tossing T-shirts to a concert crowd. This conduct, while disrespectful, perhaps serves as an allegory of the United States’ treatment of Puerto Rico throughout the island’s history. Despite being U.S. citizens, Puerto Ricans are treated as second-class citizens who are not afforded most of the fundamental rights of mainland Americans. Most notably, Puerto Ricans are not allowed to vote in U.S. elections. This second-class treatment is the result of Puerto Rico’s territorial status as an “unincorporated territory.” The constitutional backbone of this arrangement was cemented by the Supreme Court in the Insular Cases of the early 1900s. These cases, which justified the United States’ colonial expansion and unilateral control over its territories, are still held as good law today. In light of the disparate treatment Puerto Ricans receive and the racist context in which the Insular Cases were written, it is time for American jurisprudence and the Supreme Court to overturn these cases and [read more]

Vanishing Venue: Poof! And You Lose by Stephen Brown

I.  Disparate Results for Similarly Situated Plaintiffs Imagine two plaintiffs in Georgia, Alice and Belinda, with very similar claims.  Alice was injured by a product that was manufactured and sold in Fulton County, Georgia.  Belinda was injured by a similar product, which was manufactured in Fulton County, but which was sold in nearby de Kalb County.  Both plaintiffs live in Fulton County and were injured in Fulton County.  Alice sues both the seller and the manufacturer as joint tortfeasors in Fulton County, as that is the only county where she may sue.[1] Belinda, who may sue in either Fulton County or de Kalb County,[2] decides to sue both defendants in Fulton County, since that is where she lives. Although it was not immediately apparent at the time that their suits began, it becomes clear during the course of their respective trials that the defect in these products arose in the hands of the sellers, not the manufacturer.  Thus, the Fulton County Court relieves the manufacturers of all liability in both Alice’s and Belinda’s cases.  That presents no problem for Alice, as long as the seller is solvent—the Fulton County Court can still enter judgment against the seller for Alice’s injuries, [read more]