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Now showing 1 - 10 of 79
  • Publication
    Citizens United and the Ineluctable Question of Corporate Citizenship
    (2012-02-01) Sepinwall, Amy J
    As a result of the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, corporations and individuals now enjoy the same rights to spend money on advertisements supporting or opposing candidates for office. Those concerned about the role of money in politics have much to decry about the decision. But the threat to democracy posed by allowing wealthy corporations to function as political speakers arises under the same regime that allows wealthy individuals to do so. If we are not prepared to limit individuals' expenditures on political speech, we will have to find a way to distinguish individuals' and corporations 'free speech rights.
  • Publication
    Conscience and Complicity: Assessing Pleas of Religious Exemptions in Hobby Lobby's Wake
    (2015-01-01) Sepinwall, Amy J
    In the paradigmatic case of conscientious objection, the objector claims that his religion forbids him from actively participating in a wrong (for example, by fighting in a war). In the religious challenges to the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate, on the other hand, employers claim that their religious convictions forbid them from merely subsidizing insurance through which their employees might commit a wrong (for example, by using contraception). The understanding of complicity underpinning these challenges is vastly more expansive than the standard that legal doctrine or moral theory contemplates. Courts routinely reject claims of conscientious objection to taxes that fund military initiatives or to university fees that support abortion services. In Hobby Lobby, however, the Supreme Court took the corporate owners at their word: the mere fact that Hobby Lobby believed that it would be complicit, no matter how idiosyncratic that belief, sufficed to qualify it for an exemption. In this way, the Court made elements of an employee's health-care package the "boss's business" (to borrow from the nickname of the Democrats' proposed bill to overturn Hobby Lobby).
  • Publication
    Crossing the Fault Line in Corporate Criminal Law
    (2015-01-01) Sepinwall, Amy J
    Why have there been so few prosecutions in the wake of the financial crisis? Official inquiries have found that rampany mandacity and fraud contributed to the meltdown.2 Yet, if anything, the government has adopted a "gentler" response to financial wrongdoing in the last five years.3 Why is this?
  • Publication
    The Challenges of Conscience in a World of Compromise
    (2018-01-01) Sepinwall, Amy J
    The process of crafting and passing legislation might be thought to be the locus of compromise par excellence.1 Yet, where the law that results impinges upon moral or religious belief or practice, the issue of compromise arises anew, in both senses of the word: Individuals who oppose the law on moral or religious grounds believe that their political obedeience will compromise them in a fundamental way. Their plea for an exemption from the objectionable legal requirement is, then, a bid for further compromise.2 Compromise in the first sense concerns an undercutting of the self, while compromise in the second sense involves a grant of concessions. Yet, unlike compromises that arise in the legislative process, or at least in some ideal version of it,3 the compromise involved in an exemption from a neutral law of general application involves neither an exchange of benefits nor the prospect of mutual benefit-two hallmarks of compromise in, say, political (and other) negotiations.4 There are several reasons to doubt the wisdom or fairness of the requested exemptions, then.
  • Publication
    The Unemotional Corporation
    (2014-03-21) Sepinwall, Amy J
    Because corporations are not capable of experiencing emotions, we should stop thinking of them as persons. Corporations are monsters – not in the sense that they are hell-bent on evil but in the sense that they lack certain capacities that are the hallmarks of our humanity. In particular, and like most supernatural creatures populating both mythology and the movieplex, corporations lack the ability to appreciate what it might feel like to be the victim of a wrong and, not unrelatedly, the ability to feel bad when they do wrong. To put it in our folk terminology, the corporation lacks a heart.
  • Publication
    Defense of Others and Defensless "Others"
    (2005-01-01) Sepinwall, Amy J
    When the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVVA) was signed into law on April 1, 2004,1 the federal government dishonored nothing less pedigreed than its founding philosophy. The UVVA criminalizes harm to the fetus and sanctions such harm with the punishment that would have befallen the accused had the women carrying the fetus been the one to sustain the injuries instead.2 This Article argues that recent efforts at fetal protection, like the UVVA, defy and defile liberalism, the political theory underpinning this nation's constitution,3 and thereby conduce to the subordination of women. 4
  • Publication
    Responsible Shares and Shared Responsibility: In Defense of Responsible Corporate Officer Liability
    (2014-01-01) Sepinwall, Amy J
    When a corporation commits a crime, whom may we hold criminally liable? One obvious set of defendants consists of the individuals who perpetrated the crime on the corporation's behalf. But according to the responsible corporate officer ("RCO") doctrine, the government may also prosecute and punish those corporate executives who, although perhaps lacking "consciousness of wrongdoing," nonetheless have "a responsible share in the furtherance of the transaction which the statute outlaws>" In other words, under the RCO doctrine, a corporate executive can come to bear criminal responsibility for an offense of her corporation that she neither participated in nor culpably failed to prevent. As long as the executive in question had the authority to prevent the corporate crime and failed to do so, she may be targeted in a criminal suit. The RCO doctrine plainly poses a challenge to our traditional understanding of criminal culpability, according to which guilt is individual—one may be held responsible only for a wrong one has personally committed, and only if one has done so with a guilty mind. Thus, RCO liability, while representing the most common instance of strict criminal liability, has been deemed “at odds with fundamental notions of our criminal justice system,” and likened to the primitive doctrine of frankpledge, under which innocent members of a group could be punished for the wrongful deed of one of their fellows. On the other hand, corporate crimes have an irreducibly collective aspect. If we take this aspect seriously, as this paper does, then departures from the paradigm of individual culpability may well be warranted. In particular, we may be justified in assigning responsibility not just to the corporate crime’s immediate perpetrators, but also to those who held prominent positions within the corporation at the time of the crime’s occurrence, and this responsibility may license just the kind of criminal liability that the RCO doctrine contemplates. This paper seeks to determine the circumstances under which this extension of responsibility is permissible, and the grounds of its permissibility. More specifically, this Article critiques existing justifications for the doctrine by arguing that these mistakenly construe it as a kind of negligence liability, and in so doing deprive the doctrine of its transformative power. It next offers a defense of the doctrine, according to which personal guilt is not necessary, and then contends with objections to the doctrine, arguing that we need not dispense with the doctrine altogether in order to avoid the concerns of its critics. What is needed instead is a set of guidelines that guard against the doctrine’s misuse or abuse. Finally, this Article ends with a specification of these guidelines.