Supposedly, one of the most important sticks in the bundle of property rights is the power to transfer an asset after death. This Article explores objects and entitlements that defy this norm. Indescendibility-the inability to pass property by will, trust, or intestacy-lurks throughout the legal system, from constitutional provisions barring hereditary privileges, to statutes that prohibit decedents from bequeathing their valuable body parts, to the ancient but misty doctrine that certain claims do not survive the plaintiff, to more prosaic matters such as season tickets, taxi cab medallions, frequent-flier miles, and social media accounts. The Article first identifies the common policy underpinnings of these diverse rules. It compares the related issue of market inalienability-the phenomenon of property that can be given away but not sold-and concludes that indescendibility often serves unique objectives. In particular, forbidding posthumous transfer can avoid administrative costs and signaling problems. The Article then uses these insights to propose reforms to the descendibility of body parts, causes of action, and items made non-inheritable by contract.
Are we entering an era where investors can acquire an equity stake in an individual? A new family of marketplace transactions provides individuals with financing for business, entrepreneurship, education, or diversification purposes in return for the individual's promise to pay a percentage of her income for a period of years. This Essay briefly discusses the legal, regulatory, and public policy issues these new transactions raise, and proposes an analytical approach to grappling with such issues.
To Unseal or Not to Unseal: The Judiciary’s Role in Preventing Transparency in Electronic Surveillance Applications and Orders
This essay addresses the issue of transparency in the judiciary regarding the sealing of applications for electronic surveillance. Specifically, it concerns the experiences of a federal magistrate who attempted to unseal a number of surveillance applications and orders.
For years, the Supreme Court and the Federal Circuit have dismissed state law claims by small inventors on the grounds that federal patent law preempts state laws offering patent-like protections. Recently, David Wawrzynski, a man who claims he invented the idea for Heinz’s new “Dip & Squeeze®” ketchup packet, filed state law claims against Heinz alleging it stole his idea. Instead of dismissing his claims, the Federal Circuit transferred the case to another court for a decision on the merits. This Casenote explores precedent and policy in an effort to understand why claims related to this ketchup packet invention were lucky enough to escape dismissal.
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