Technology Convergence and Federalism: The Case of VoIP Regulation

David A. Lyons*

1 U. Mich. J.L. Reform A56

The Vermont Supreme Court may soon consider whether federal law permits the Public Service Board to regulate certain voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) services. 1 Across the Hudson, Governor Andrew Cuomo recently sought to bar the New York Public Service Commission from adopting similar regulations. 2And these states are not alone: from Maine to Florida, several states are considering whether their jurisdiction over traditional telephone service encompasses this new technology, through which nearly one-third of American landline households receive telephone service. 3 If so, nationwide VoIP providers could face up to fifty new legal regimes with which they must comply before offering service. If not, consumer migration away from traditional telephone service could leave state regulators with little to regulate.

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The Facebook IPO’s Face-Off with Dual Class Stock Structure

Anna S. Han*

1 U. Mich. J.L. Reform A50

The Facebook initial public offering (“Facebook IPO”) is premised on a dual class stock structure, which the media criticizes as a circumvention of regulations designed to protect shareholders.  I argue that Facebook’s use of dual class stock not only is likely to benefit its shareholders, but also follows in the footsteps of seasoned, influential companies like Google.

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Argh, Matey! The Faux-Pas of the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act)

Anna S. Han*

1 U. Mich. J.L. Reform A45

Earlier, I posted about a network neutrality case, Verizon v. FCC,1 which could have far-reaching consequences for the Internet industry. Another concerted attempt to regulate the Internet, disguised in the form of a piracy protection bill, recently came before the House Judiciary Committee and garnered widespread disapproval. Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) and a bipartisan group of twelve co-sponsors introduced the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (“SOPA”) on October 26, 2011, which punishes websites that are accused of facilitating copyright infringement. Although touted by its supporters as a weapon against foreign sites that steal and sell American inventions, SOPA is problematic because it also affects U.S. sites that either engage in infringement or have taken “deliberate actions to avoid confirming a high probability” of such infringement.2Because the bill’s lack of procedural safeguards could have deep-seated ramifications that cripple the Internet industry, it should not be reconsidered for passage.

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Reforming the Tax Code: A Tale of Two Purposes and Paralysis

Gene Magidenko*

1 U. Mich. J.L. Reform A40

Though the presidential election of 2012 is still some time away, national politics have been in the thick of one for several months now. One of the top issues being debated is the tax code. 1 Most agree that the tax code should be simplified, but to say that the proposals to do this are various is an understatement. This perennial question of reform has been a fixture of the national debate for a long time, so little of what can be said about it is particularly novel. All the same, a brief overview of the purposes behind our system of taxation and how they inform the present debate about tax reform is useful. The ultimate conclusion, unsatisfying as it may be, is that there are serious systemic obstacles to any substantive changes to the tax code.

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Party’s Over: Admissibility of Post-Trial Juror Testimony Should Depend on the Nature of the Conduct

Justin Gillett*

1 U. Mich. J.L. Reform A34

What do you call a weeklong period in which you and a handful of acquaintances drink alcohol every day at lunch,1 sleep though the afternoons,2 smoke marijuana3 and ingest a couple lines of cocaine on occasion?4  You call it the time when a jury convicted Anthony Tanner and William Conover of conspiracy to defraud the United States and commit various acts of mail fraud.5  Under a current rule of evidence, which precludes juror testimony to impeach a verdict except on extraneous prejudicial information, juror intoxication is not an external influence about which jurors may testify.6 A new test for the admissibility of post-trial juror testimony should be adopted so that juror testimony regarding jurors’ consumption of drugs and alcohol during breaks can be received.7

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Gentle into That Good Night: Subsidy Expiration Provides a Lesson in Reform Through Inaction

Max Bulinski*

1 U. Mich. J.L. Reform A31

After thirty years, Congress let the federal subsidy for corn-based ethanol expire on December 31, 2011.1  Although the influence of “Big Corn” is not as ubiquitously known as that of “Big Oil” or pharmaceuticals, the agricultural sector is consistently ranked among the top sectors for lobbying expenditures.2 This political clout is well demonstrated by the extent of the former subsidy.  The ethanol subsidy has been in existence for the last thirty years and cost taxpayers roughly six billion dollars in each recent year.3

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Tax Exceptionalism: Wanted Dead or Alive

Gene Magidenko*

1 U. Mich. J.L. Reform A26

Tax law has just not been the same since January 2011. Did Congress pass earthshaking legislation affecting the Internal Revenue Code? Did the IRS dramatically change regulations? If only it were that exciting. Instead, eight jurists sitting at One First Street in our nation’s capital transformed tax law in a less bloody, but no less profound, way. The thought must have gone through many a tax mind – is tax exceptionalism dead?

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Chopping Down the Rainforest: Finding a Solution to the “Amazon Problem”

Erin Andrew Felleman*

1 U. Mich. J.L. Reform A19

Current economic conditions in the United States have led to a dramatic decrease in state tax revenue.1 Without these funds, states will be unable to support important public services, and hundreds of thousands of jobs in the public and private sectors are at risk of being cut, as states work to close $103 billion in budget gaps.2 Accomplishing that will involve overcoming many hurdles, such as the unpopularity of raising taxes during times of economic trouble, but one largely untapped source could provide a significant amount of income to states. States currently lose around $23 billion annually in uncollected use taxes,3 about half of which likely would have come from transactions with Web retailers.4 Use taxes act as an adjunct to sales taxes on purchased goods and services that are not subject to sales taxes.5 But because this tax is voluntarily collected from the consumer instead of the retailer, compliance is extremely low.6

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Efficiency-Wage Theory and Law Firm Pay

Dongyu ‘Eddie’ Wang*

1 U. Mich. J.L. Reform A17

Every first-year law student knows that Big Law pays $160,000 a year. In fact, this number is likely the biggest incentive for applying in the minds of most law-school hopefuls. Taking New York City as an example, a quick look at Vault’s salary data 1 reveals that, indeed, the large majority of New York firms with available salary data pay first-year associates exactly $160,000.

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The Latest 4th Amendment Privacy Conundrum: “Stingrays”

Max Bulinski*

1 U. Mich. J.L. Reform A12

Wired is reporting renewed hubbub regarding statutory and Fourth Amendment protections of individuals’ privacy in the digital age.  This time, it comes in the form of federal officers using a fake cellphone tower (called a “stingray”) to locate their suspect, Mr. Rigmaiden, by tracking the location of his cellphone.

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