Posts tagged with "New York University"

How SCOTUS quietly undercut Roe v. Wade

September 6, 2021

In an extraordinary use of the so-called shadow docket, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to block a law effectively banning abortion, The New York Times reports.

According to the American Bar Association, the “shadow docket” is a mechanism that defies the court’s “normal procedural regularity.” Instead, it is a method by which the court can hand down decisions quickly—without hearing oral arguments, receiving amici curiae filings, or having to write out lengthy philosophical tracts explaining the jurisprudence underpinning their decision.

At 1 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, September 1,without a single word, the Supreme Court let the State of Texas effectively ban abortion—for the first time in nearly 50 years, the Times notes.

But it was not the first time the court had used the shadow docket so aggressively. It was not even the first time in the past week: Indeed, on Thursday, August 27, the court blocked an extension of the federal emergency ban on evictions—gutting a 1944 law that gave the CDC the authority to implement such measures to curb disease, and endangering the eight million American households that are behind on rent – and which may now, without federal eviction protection, face homelessness.

As the night of September 1 became day, and became night again, abortion providers across Texas turned away patients seeking what was, according to the court’s own precedent, a constitutional right, still the justices said nothing. When they broke their silence 23 hours later, refusing to block a law that unambiguously violates Roe v. Wade, the five-justice majority took only 400 words to describe its reasoning.

Because the shadow docket involves so little deliberation and transparency, the court historically hasn’t used it to enable major policy changes or to reverse precedents, and the rulings themselves haven’t been treated as precedents. But that restraint is a norm, not a requirement, and the court has increasingly been breaking it: using the shadow docket more often, on more consequential matters, and with more precedential weight. Last year, it issued several orders on the shadow docket concerning coronavirus restrictions and went on to cite some of them in rulings on the regular docket.

“That’s really not typical, nor is it supposed to be typical,” said Melissa Murray, a professor of law at New York University and an expert on reproductive rights.

I think it’s a reasonable question, whatever one thinks of the answers the court is reaching in these cases, whether we actually think it’s healthy for so many major questions affecting so many people to be resolved in this highly compressed, circumscribed, truncated review process,” said Stephen I. Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law and an expert on federal courts.

The court’s increasingly assertive use of the shadow docket has angered some of its members, like Justice Elena Kagan, who wrote in her dissent from the order on Texas’ law, “The majority’s decision is emblematic of too much of this court’s shadow-docket decision making—which every day becomes more unreasoned, inconsistent and impossible to defend.”

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the only conservative who dissented, criticized the process less forcefully, writing that the structure of the new abortion law was “not only unusual, but unprecedented,” and that while Texas’ legal arguments “may be correct,” the questions involved were too weighty to resolve in such a rushed way.

 Texas’ law, called S.B. 8, prohibits abortion once cardiac activity is detectable in the embryo — around six weeks’ gestation, before many people know they are pregnant. (Pregnancies are dated from the last menstrual period, so “six weeks” generally means four or less after fertilization, and two or less after a missed period.) Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 case that affirmed Roe, protects a right to abortion until the fetus can survive outside the uterus, around 23 weeks’ gestation.

What distinguishes the Texas law from bans that courts have blocked everywhere else is that, instead of making abortion a crime prosecutable by the government, it lets any citizen sue anyone whom he or she accuses of “aiding or abetting” an abortion after the cutoff point—phrasing that includes not only abortion providers but also anyone who, for instance, pays for a procedure or drives a patient to a clinic. Successful plaintiffs will get $10,000 and reimbursement of their legal fees. Defendants who prevail will not be reimbursed.

“It is quite striking and quite galling that the Supreme Court would allow a state to essentially destroy Roe under cover of night with no decision,” Leah Litman, a professor of law at the University of Michigan, said Wednesday afternoon, before the court had spoken. “I think it’s pretty cowardly, I think it’s an affront to the rule of law, and it is quite troubling about what it suggests about the enforcement of our constitutional rights going forward.”

If by outsourcing enforcement to citizens, a state can enact a law that would otherwise be blocked as unconstitutional, “there’s nothing that stops other states from enacting similar laws to undermine other constitutional rights,” Professor Litman said. “Religious liberty, Second Amendment protections, property rights, right to bodily autonomy — there’s just no limitation.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Single-minded entrepreneurs who ‘go it alone’ usually are the most successful

May 6, 2019

Surprising research findings from New York University and the The Wharton School indicate that entrepreneurs who start a business on their own are more likely to succeed than those who do so with one or more partners, Inc. magazine reports.

That’s pretty much the opposite of what most aspiring founders would guess. After all, you can’t be good at everything—-so you would assume that, by teaming up with a partner who is strong in areas in which you are weak, you would be more apt to prosper.

In fact, it’s such an ingrained belief that VCs and other investors routinely choose to fund companies founded by teams rather than those with a solo founder. But it’s also dead wrong.

In an intriguing research project, Jason Greenberg of the Stern School of Business at NYU and Ethan Mollick of Wharton sent surveys to more than 65,000 businesses that had launched on Kickstarter over a seven-year period.

More than 10,000 respondents completed the survey, according to the Inc. report. The researchers narrowed their focus to projects seeking a meaningful amount of funding—the kind that could be used to start a real business, and wound up with 3,526 businesses started with either a single founder or two or more partners.

Consistent with investors’ bias toward teams rather than solo founders (and perhaps the fact that most people have more than one friend or family member), they found that companies with multiple founders were able to raise more money than those headed by a solo entrepreneur.

But that still didn’t give them a leg up. Despite starting off with a smaller stake, companies with a single founder stayed in business longer than those with two or more at the helm—and also enjoyed higher revenues.

Why are companies with single founders more likely to survive? Two or more people cost more than one, especially if the founders are drawing salaries. Even if they aren’t, office space, phone service, travel, and so on cost more for two founders than they do for one.

The researchers also pointed to some truths about leadership dynamics. Starting a company with multiple founders may bring an advantage in terms of wider expertise—but a solo founder can also hire others to provide the expertise he or she lacks.

On the other hand, it’s much easier and quicker for a single founder to think things through and arrive at a decision than it is for two people to discuss a problem or opportunity and agree on a course of action. With three or more founders, decision-making can take even longer.

And then there’s risk, Inc. reports. Starting a company is a risky undertaking to begin with. But once they’ve made that leap, many founders prefer to be conservative and hedge their bets. Two or more people making decisions together are less likely to make bold moves and take chances than one person acting independently.

Research source: @Inc

Tweets using moral-emotional messaging are more likely to go viral

February 27, 2018

Do you want your tweets to go viral? A team of researchers at New York University’s Department of Psychology has found that posts on Twitter are most likely to “trend” if they discuss political topics in the context of morality, using language that resonates emotionally with the reader.

The recent study, Emotion shapes the diffusion of moralized content in social networks—which examined Twitter messages related to gun control, climate change and same-sex marriage—examines both the potential and limits of communicating on social media.

“The content that spreads the most may have the biggest impact on social media, so individuals, community leaders, and even political elites could see their influence enhanced by emphasizing morality and emotion in their online messaging,” explains William Brady, the lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate in NYU’s of Psychology. “However, while using this type of language may help content proliferate within your own social or ideological group, it may find little currency among those who have a different world view.”

The findings appear in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study involved the analysis of more than 560,000 tweets pertaining to an array of contentious political issues.  In reviewing each tweet, the research team separated posts containing words that were:

  • Both moral and emotional (e.g., “greed”),
  • Emotional only (e.g., “fear”), and
  • Moral only (e.g., “duty”).

They relied on previously established language dictionaries to identify them.

The researchers then examined how many times each category of messages was retweeted—as well as the political ideology of both the sender of the original messages and of the retweeted ones. Ideology was calculated using an algorithm—based on previous research that shows users tend to follow those with a similar ideology—that analyzed the follower network of each user.

They found that—across the topics of gun control, climate change and same-sex marriage— the presence of language defined as being both moral and emotional increased retweets by 20% per moral-emotional word.

By contrast, the impact of exclusively moral or exclusively emotional language was not as consistently associated with an increase in retweets. In addition, the uptick in retweets was limited to like-minded networks—a much smaller effect was established among accounts with an ideology conflicting with the sender’s.

There were also some differences among the three issues in the types of moral-emotional messages that were retweeted. For example, in contrast to same-sex marriage, in which people were more likely to retweet positive messages (e.g., tweets using the hashtag “#lovewins”), when discussing climate change people were more likely to retweet negative messages, such as those referring to environmental harms caused by climate change.

“In the context of moral and political discourse in online social networks, subtle features of the content of your posts are associated with how much your content spreads socially,” observes Jay Van Bavel, an associate professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and one of the study’s co-authors. “However, these results also highlight one process that may partly explain increased differences between liberals and conservatives—communications fusing morality and emotion are more likely to resemble echo chambers and may exacerbate ideological polarization.”

The study’s other authors were: Julian Wills, a doctoral candidate in NYU’s Department of Psychology, Joshua Tucker, a professor in NYU’s Department of Politics, and John Jost, a professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology.

The research was supported, in part, by grants from the National Science Foundation (1349089, SES-1248077, SES-1248077-001).

Research contact: williambrady@nyu.edu

Will Trump’s fitness be revealed by medical exam on Friday?

January 9, 2018

Only 40% of registered U.S. voters think that Trump is fit to be president, while 57% think he is not, based on findings of a poll by Quinnipiac University released in mid-November. But what will the doctors say on Friday when the POTUS gets his first physical exam since taking office?

Like all Americans, Trump has the right under HIPPA to protect his health information from public disclosure. However, the White House has promised that the physician to the president, Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, will issue a public report on the exam, to be conducted at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

The question of Trump’s mental and physical capabilities has come under increased, critical scrutiny since the release this month of  a book on the president’s first few months in the Oval Office by Michael Wolff. Indeed, White House top staff is quoted in Fire and Fury, citing incidents that indicate that the POTUS may not be mentally fit.

Trump hit back against the claims on January 9, describing himself as a “very stable genius.”  He then dispersed “an army of surrogates,” according to Bloomberg, “to forcefully denounce the book” on the Sunday morning political talk shows.

What’s more, the results that are offered to the American electorate may not provide much insight: Presidential medical reports are often short and to the point, featuring only such basic metrics as cholesterol levels, weight, and blood pressure, Bloomberg reports, as well as a smattering of idiosyncracies. After George W. Bush’s first physical exam, his physician said he smoked cigars and jogged 12 miles a week.

Most would guess that the president’s cholesterol could be off the charts, due to his affinity for the McDonald’s menu, including shakes, Big Macs and Filets-O-Fish.

Art Caplan, a professor of Bioethics at New York University told Bloomberg that the only way in which Jackson could legally and ethically release information about Trump’s mental state without the president’s consent is if he determined Trump posed a direct, imminent threat to another person, but that is an extremely difficult standard to meet.

“The standard is so tough to meet in a physical, I can’t imagine that happening,” Caplan said.

Research contact: @spettypi