The Government’s Role in Unleashing Impact Investing’s Full Potential

Comment by: Chelsea McGrath

44 PEPP. L. REV. 799 (2017)

Impact investing refers to investments made in organizations, companies, or funds with the intent to generate measurable social or environmental impact along with a financial return.  Since its start in 2008, this industry has become a vibrant tool to address a wide variety of local and global issues, resulting in higher standards of living, lower rates of prison recidivism, clean technology and more.

Impact investing is no longer a novel concept.  Rather, it has successfully pushed the boundaries from the separate methods of conventional investing and philanthropy, blending them together to create sustainable solutions to social and environmental problems.  By using the private sector for good, impact investing has demonstrably proven that “doing well while doing good” can make a difference—harnessing the forces of entrepreneurship, private capital, and innovation to confront today’s challenges.

However, like any emerging financial model, several barriers must be overcome before impact investing can fully flourish.  This Comment calls for the government to use its influence to enact policy and regulatory changes so the industry can achieve sustainable growth.  By reducing risk and encouraging investment, the government can also benefit from the positive social effects impact oriented investments have on communities.  This Comment concludes that promoting impact investing will permit the government to unleash an even wider net of social, environmental, and economic impact.

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Proving Identity

Article by: Jonathan Weinberg

44 PEPP. L. REV. 731 (2017)

United States law, over the past two hundred years or so, has subjected people whose race rendered them noncitizens or of dubious citizenship to a variety of rules requiring that they carry identification documents at all times.  Those laws fill a gap in the policing authority of the state, by connecting the individual’s physical body with information the government has on file about him; they also can entail humiliation and subordination.  Accordingly, it is not surprising that U.S. law has almost always imposed these requirements on people outside our circle of citizenship: African Americans in the antebellum South, Chinese immigrants, legally resident aliens.  Today, though, there’s reason to think that we’re moving closer to a universal identity-papers regime.


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Victimhood & Agency: How Taking Charge Takes Its Toll

Article by: Pam A. Mueller

44 PEPP. L. REV. 691 (2017)

This Article addresses an unexplored tension in the civil justice system regarding victims.  The goal of the civil system is to make victims whole.  We can, as is most common, attempt to do this financially, or we can consider psychological research that suggests there may be other ways of restoring victims’ statuses.  One of the most common nonfinancial solutions is to increase victim participation in the justice process.  This is a solution that appeals to many victims and may benefit them psychologically.  However, by increasing their participation, they may unknowingly trade off some of the benefits of victimhood.  For instance, they may be awarded less financial compensation and may even be blamed more for their own victimization.  Part II of this Article discusses financial and nonfinancial strategies for making victims whole in the civil justice system.  Part III addresses the paradoxical nature of victimhood in this system, and Part IV suggests that the psychological construct of agency may shed light on the issues victims face.  Part V presents three empirical studies suggesting there are unanticipated consequences for victims who play an active role in the justice process, which may have serious ramifications for their recovery.  The Article concludes with a discussion of the policy implications of these results, the limitations of the current studies, and future directions for this line of research.


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A Practical Solution to the Marriage Penalty

Article by: Margaret Ryznar

44 PEPP. L. REV. 647 (2017)

In the federal income tax code, there is a marriage penalty resulting from tax brackets that do not double upon marriage.  This marriage penalty persists despite universal condemnation of it,  penalizing a significant portion of married women who work and many same-sex couples.

This Article proposes a novel way to deal with this marriage penalty by creating a filing status for dual income couples that earn an amount within a particular percentage of each other.  This filing status would be the same as the current married filing status, except it would double the rates of single filers by accommodating two incomes.

This approach represents a break from the status quo of only separating single taxpayers from married ones, which fails to consider that in reality there are two types of married couples: one- and two-income.  This proposed solution differs from previous ones that require married couples to file as single individuals and that ignore marital status.  Adding another filing status for two-income married couples is a practical solution to the marriage penalty that causes the least upheaval to the general legal framework because it continues to treat spouses as a single economic unit.


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A Diverse Student Body Without Student Bodies?: Online Classrooms and Affirmative Action

Essay by: Ryan H. Nelson

2016 PEPP. L. REV. 65 (2017)

America’s public universities engage students in myriad classroom environments that range from traditional, entirely-in-person classroom environments to entirely-online, virtual classrooms, with every shade of grey in between.  These varied learning environments pose a fascinating question with respect to the ways such universities use affirmative action in admissions.  In Grutter v. Bollinger, the United States Supreme Court held that “student body diversity is a compelling state interest that can justify the use of race in university admissions.”  Indeed, student body diversity remains one of the few “compelling interests” that the Court has held satisfies the constitutional imperative that the “government may treat people differently because of their race only for the most compelling reasons.”  Yet, can student body diversity exist when there are no student bodies, as in an online classroom?  Is the ability of public university students to know the races of their classmates a necessary element of what makes student body diversity sufficiently compelling to justify race-based admission considerations?  What remains of Grutter if students stop seeing the color of their classmates’ skin, and instead see only their computer screens?


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Failure to Act and the Separation of Powers—The Vice Presidency and the Need to Surmount Divided Power in Pursuit of a Workable Government

Symposium article by: Douglas W. Kmiec

44 PEPP. L. REV. 477 (2017)

Is the Vice President an executive officer, a legislative officer, or both?  This query has existed since the time of the founding.  The question poses more difficulty than one might suppose, and it remains unsettled.  It can be convenient to ignore questions that one cannot answer, and thus, the Vice President has been the object of political humor and treated as an appendage without present function.  Yet, because we attribute great genius to those who drafted the Constitution, what is the effect of leaving this high-ranking officer without adequate definition or purpose?  For the first century and a half of the American experience, the Vice President was more often accorded legislative status, with offices not in the White House, but in the capitol.  Beginning in the second half of the Twentieth Century, presidents have delegated considerable and increasing executive authority to the Vice President, such that it is now commonplace to think of those occupying the office as “deputy president.”  While nominally retaining his space in the capitol, today’s vice presidents have a greater physical presence in the West Wing of the White House and are expected to be the President’s emissary in those tie-breaking moments, over which the Vice President presides as President of the Senate.  In this article, Ambassador Douglas Kmiec traces these historical developments and provocatively asks whether seeing the Vice President as either legislative or executive may well miss the point that this officer with dual loyalties is intended to exercise a degree of independence that potentially makes him neither a executive nor a legislative agent, but rather the focal point of political-branch.


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