Voluntary Incentive Auctions and the Benefits of Full Relinquishment

Michael Selkirk

91 Texas L. Rev. 1561

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In February 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, authorizing the FCC to use voluntary incentive auctions as a mechanism for repurposing spectrum.  These auctions give television broadcasters, to which spectrum is currently tethered, the option to voluntarily sell their allocated spectrum back to the government.  The relinquished spectrum can then be relicensed for multiple uses and re-auctioned to companies that supply mobile data plans.  To participate, broadcasters have the option of (1) relocating from their current channel to a new channel that will be shared with another auction participant, (2) relocating to a new (but perhaps less desirable) frequency, or (3) fully relinquishing their spectrum.

In this Note, Mr. Selkirk argues that, from a policy and economic perspective, the third option—full relinquishment—best accomplishes the goal of reallocating spectrum.  Part II discusses the modern regulatory framework, focusing on the inadequate mechanisms for repurposing spectrum for higher value use and introduces the voluntary incentive auction.  Parts III and IV provide an overview of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, and argue that full relinquishment is the optimal broadcaster choice to help curb the spectrum inadequacies facing the nation.  Part V outlines possible incentives to coax broadcasters to fully relinquish and program on other mediums.

The Wires Go to War: The U.S. Experiment with Government Ownership of the Telephone System During World War I

Michael A. Janson & Christopher S. Yoo

91 Texas L. Rev. 983

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One of the most distinctive characteristics of the U.S. telephone system is that it has always been privately owned, in stark contrast to the pattern of government ownership followed by virtually every other nation.  What is not widely known is how close the United States came to falling in line with the rest of the world.  For the one-year period following July 31, 1918, the exigencies of World War I led the federal government to take over the U.S. telephone system.  A close examination of this episode sheds new light into a number of current policy issues.  The history confirms that natural monopoly was not solely responsible for AT&T’s return to dominance and reveals that the Kingsbury Commitment was more effective in deterring monopoly than generally believed.  Instead, a significant force driving the re-monopolization of the telephone system was the U.S. Postmaster General, Albert Burleson—not Theodore Vail, president of AT&T.  It also demonstrates that universal service was the result of government-imposed emulation of the postal system, not, as some have claimed, a post hoc rationalization for maintaining monopoly.  The most remarkable question is, having once obtained control over the telephone system, why did the federal government ever let it go?  The dynamics surrounding this decision reveal the inherent limits of relying on war to justify extraordinary actions.  More importantly, it shows the difficulties that governments face in overseeing industries that are undergoing dynamic technological change and that require significant capital investments.

Remapping the Path Forward: Toward a Systemic View of Forensic Science Reform and Oversight

Jennifer E. Laurin

91 Texas L. Rev. 1051

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The 2009 report of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on the state of forensic science in the American criminal justice system has fundamentally altered the landscape for scientific evidence in the criminal process, and is now setting the terms for the future of forensic science reform and practice.  But the accomplishments of the Report must not obscure the vast terrain that remains untouched by the path of reform that it charts.  This Article aims to illuminate a critical and currently neglected feature of that territory: namely, the manner in which police and prosecutors, as upstream users of forensic science, select priorities, initiate investigations, collect and submit evidence, choose investigative techniques, and charge and plead cases in ways that have critical and systematic, though poorly understood, influences on the accuracy of forensic analysis and the integrity of its application in criminal cases.  By broadening our understanding of how forensic science is created and used in criminal cases—by adopting a systemic perspective—the Article points to a raft of yet unaddressed issues concerning the meaning of scientific integrity and reliability in the context of investigative decisions that are by and large committed to the discretion of decidedly unscientific actors.  Critically, the Article demonstrates that systemic dynamics affecting upstream use of forensic science might well undermine the reliability-enhancing goals of the reforms advocated by the National Academy Report.  As the NAS Report begins to set the agenda for active conversations around legislative and executive action to reform forensic science, it is critical to consider these questions.  Moreover, the Article suggests that the embrace of science as a unique evidentiary contributor within the criminal justice system problematizes some of the bedrock assumptions of American criminal procedure that have, to date, prevented more robust doctrinal intervention in the investigative stages and decisions that the Article explores.

What Do We Talk About When We Talk About the Constitution?

Akhil Reed Amar & Sanford Levinson

91 Texas L. Rev. 1119

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Amar and Levinson review Akhil Reed Amar’s America’s Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By and Sanford Levinson’s Framed: America’s 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Governance.

Making Sense of the Marriage Debate

Jane S. Schacter

91 Texas L. Rev. 1185

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Schacter reviews Michael J. Klarman’s From the Closet to the Altar: Courts, Backlash, and the Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage.

Jury Unanimity and the Problem with Specificity: Trying to Understand What Jurors Must Agree About by Examining the Problem of Prosecuting Child Molesters

Brian Bah

91 Texas L. Rev. 1203

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In this Note, Mr. Bah argues that one way to approach questions about the level of specificity required for jury agreement is by examining current state laws and their various jury agreement doctrines.  Continuous course of conduct offenses in particular can be helpful in examining these types of questions.  This Note focuses on one particular type of continuous course of conduct offenses—“continuous sexual abuse of a child” (CSA) statutes—that has become popular in the last two decades.

Part I provides a general overview of CSA statutes and their history.  Part II briefly discusses the current constitutional doctrinal framework.  Part III focuses on California and Texas to show what their respective case law says about jury unanimity, specificity requirements for unanimity, and the continuous course of conduct exception.  Part IV provides an analysis of CSA statutes and will attempt to answer the questions of (1) whether these statutes are staying true to the purpose behind specificity in jury agreement and (2) whether these statutes may bump up against constitutional problems in the future.  Part V discusses some of the possible ways to address current CSA statutes and then provides possible solutions for how to better address the problem of prosecuting child molesters.

U-Turns on the One-Way Street: Public Rights and Representation Theory in Patent Validity Litigation

Brett Rosenthal

91 Texas L. Rev. 1227

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In this Note, Mr. Rosenthal contends that a vigorous challenge against a patent’s validity fully vindicates the public right to access ideas in the public domain and should preclude successive challenges by future infringers.  Part I looks at the foundational tools of group litigation—joinder and consolidation—as applied in patent law, including recently adopted restrictions in the America Invents Act of 2011.  Part II asks whether the Rule 23 class action allows certification of present and future infringers for validity determinations.  Part III examines whether the “public law” nature of the validity inquiry reinvigorates the notion of “virtual representation” rejected in Taylor v. Sturgell.  Part IV analyzes whether procedural rules that facilitate the establishment of patent validity further the substantive goals of patent law and the imperatives of wise judicial administration.