The U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized the constitutional importance of reproductive autonomy. However, for the unhoused the guarantees of this right can be seen as fictitious promises. This Comment aims to explore the continuum of limitations on reproductive autonomy faced by homeless individuals, and its implications for reproductive rights and justice. Homeless individuals encounter a web of overlapping and mutually reinforcing constraints on their reproductive autonomy at several stages of their reproductive lives—when they are not pregnant but have the capacity to be, during their pregnancy, and as they raise their children. First, in seeking welfare assistance and other public benefits, homeless individuals face significant coercive pressure towards marriage and/or away from pregnancy. Second, homeless individuals are particularly susceptible to the criminalization of pregnancy, which serves to further entrench their poverty. Finally, after a homeless individual gives birth, their lack of housing makes them and their families more susceptible to the child-welfare system, where they may eventually lose their child. In this Comment, I offer close examination of the above constraints and the way in which they subject the homeless population to unjust limitations on their fundamental right to decide “whether to bear or beget a child.”
Since the 1950s, prominent constitutional law professors have often invoked the notion that the Supreme Court acts as an educational institution in American society. On this view, legal scholarship portrays the Supreme Court as a beneficent and inspirational teacher, one who is responsible for imparting unusually enlightened values on the nation. Despite this uplifting analogy’s prevalence within constitutional discourse, two persistent criticisms have unsettled the notion that the Supreme Court in fact teaches any lessons at all through its written opinions. First, critics observe that citizens are generally unaware of even highly salient Supreme Court opinions, and it is hard for people to obtain a lesson from something they do not know. Second, critics note that claims extolling the Court’s educational capacities unfold almost exclusively on an abstract level, rendering it virtually impossible to determine whether anyone has absorbed the Court’s ostensible lessons and how that absorption occurred.
Few aspects of administrative law are as controversial as the major questions doctrine—the exception to Chevron deference that bars courts from deferring to an agency’s otherwise reasonable interpretation of an ambiguous statute where doing so has extraordinary policy implications. Proponents of the major questions doctrine believe that the nation’s most significant questions should be decided by Congress, not agencies. The doctrine’s critics, however, counter that there is no sound reason to treat major questions differently from ordinary questions, if such a distinction even exists. The elevation of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, two major proponents of the major questions doctrine, has reignited the debate. Both the doctrine’s friends and foes expect that the Supreme Court will soon begin more aggressively targeting major questions.
Policing imposes serious and extensive harms, from shootings and nonlethal uses of force, to stops, searches, arrests, and incarceration. And many of these harms involve pervasive racial disparities. Scholars and advocates tend to see these harms as collateral to policing and seek to address them with “harm-regulating” tools such as civil rights suits, prosecution of police offcers, elimination of quali”ed immunity, more Department of Justice investigations, civilian review boards, and the like.