The law of wills is steeped in tradition, including what is required for the valid execution of a document purporting to contain a testator’s intention for the distribution of her or his estate upon her or his death. This is reflected in the need to comply with certain formalities for a will to be valid. Although these formal requirements differ in extent and form throughout the world, their purposes, in common law jurisdictions such as Australia and the United States of America, are fourfold: they serve evidentiary, cautionary or ritual, protective, and channeling functions.
When a Wisconsin court deems a state statute unconstitutional, it enjoins the government from enforcing the statute. Even if the court makes that determination in the form of a temporary injunction, before full consideration of the merits or issuance of a final judgment, the government has an immediate right to appellate review. In such cases, the government frequently asks that the injunction be stayed—that is, prevented from taking effect—pending resolution of the appeal.
In March 2016, the University of South Florida (USF) received striking news. A current professor, Samuel Bradley, was under investigation for allegations of sexual misconduct2 with former students at the university where he had previously worked. Bradley had resigned during the investigation and USF failed to discover any of this information during the hiring process. When USF became aware of the allegations, which had been disclosed by news media, the university placed Bradley on administrative review and eventually terminated him.
University of Wisconsin Law Professor Miriam Seifter believes “state agencies are, on the whole, less transparent than their federal counterparts, less closely followed by watchdog groups, and less tracked by the shrinking state-level media.” This adds up to her conclusion that “[s]tate bureaucracy does not operate in a fishbowl,” which combined with its tremendous and growing power makes it “a largely unguarded giant.”
I believe there are serious counterexamples to her claims. In fact, my experience after six years working in senior roles in a governor’s office convinces me that state-level administrations, though not perfect, vindicate the framers’ vision that the states “do a lion’s share of governance affecting people’s day-to-day lives.”