Taking the Rule of Law Seriously

Michele Cotton

American legal scholars and jurists have given the rule of law their sustained attention, and the international community has treated it as an important measure of societal well-being. But still the rule of law is not taken seriously. For one thing, little effort has been made to craft a definition of the rule of law that is actually useful. And even when legal scholarship does try at empiricism that could illuminate the vitality of our rule of law, it generally starts from the wrong hypotheses and uses the wrong methods. It focuses on how to achieve “access to justice” and privileges quantitative approaches and the supposed “gold standard” of the randomized controlled trial over the qualitative assessment that is necessary to hold ourselves accountable for the rule of law. However, it is nonetheless possible to derive a workable, consensus definition of the rule of law from the varied and elaborate concepts offered by legal scholars and jurists, which would provide a metric that could be used as the basis for more directly relevant research. Further, some of the research that has already been done about what goes on in our courtrooms does suggest what work evaluating the extent to which we are achieving the rule of law would look like. Such research must be done if we intend to ensure a fundamentally important mechanism for achieving many of our most cherished values, including equal treatment and social justice. We have to take the rule of law seriously if we intend to uphold those values.

The PowerPoint Channel

Lynn M. LoPucki

This Article is the first to present a comprehensive theory and style for using PowerPoint to teach law. The theory is that presentation software adds a channel of communication that enables the use of images in combination with words. Studies have shown that combination to substantially enhance learning. The style is based on an extensive literature regarding the use of PowerPoint in teaching law and other higher education subjects as well as the author’s experimentation with PowerPoint over two decades. The Article states fourteen principles for slide or slide sequence design, provides the arguments from the literature for and against them, and explains the techniques by which the author implements them. It argues that PowerPoint is effective for eight purposes: (1) providing high-level overviews, (2) explaining concepts, (3) listing sets of rules or possibilities, (4) analyzing statutory or other language, (5) comparing statutes, rules, and concepts, (6) showing physical manifestations of the legal system such as documents or websites, (7) diagramming concepts, relationships, and transactions, and (8) supporting discussions by displaying the assumptions on which the discussions are based. The Article contains miniatures of fifteen full-color slides that exemplify both these uses and the design principles. It concludes that a PowerPoint channel that is on all the time is inevitable. But before that happens, law teachers must design the imagery through which law will be taught.

The President Who Cried Voter Fraud: A Recurring Theme of Baseless Allegations

Alyssa F. McCartney

In 2019, Pennsylvania enacted Act 77, the first update to the Pennsylvania Election Code in nearly eighty years. Passed on a bipartisan basis, the law included a measure that permitted “no reason” mail-in ballots. Act 77 allowed any registered voter to request a ballot by mail, fill it out in the applicable time frame, and send it back to be processed. In the wake of a global pandemic that left Americans unable to leave their homes, this necessary update caused quite the controversy only a few months after it was passed. The primary election used the updated process for the first time on June 2, 2020. Receiving nothing but praises and positive feedback, the measures seemed to keep tensions at ease. That is, until the sitting President’s re-election campaign filed suit against Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and the Commonwealth’s sixty-seven counties. Explaining a new process comes with challenges, but when you tack on a President purposely fanning the flames of doubt, mail-in ballots proved to be a tough sell. As President Donald J. Trump continued to allege baseless voter fraud accusations, the American people grew more restless in a year that was already full of uncertainty. As a key swing state in presidential elections, Pennsylvania took center stage in Trump’s war on the election “rigged by Democrats.” This article aims to address Trump’s relentless allegations of voter fraud—something that was sadly not new for him. By analyzing Pennsylvania and offering an insight into Centre County election protocols, this article will squash the baseless accusations to show the election results were fair, free, and unaffected by alleged fraud. Although President Trump refused to concede in hopes of the United States Supreme Court intervening, he lacked any standing and could not offer substantial evidence to support his claims. In short, these frivolous lawsuits were an attempt to undermine our democratic process by a man who has no shame spinning the narrative to suit his needs.