In this Article, I use a case study of the Fourteenth Amendment’s state action doctrine as a vehicle to consider, and partially defend, the phenomenon of persistent doctrinal confusion in constitutional law. Certain areas of constitutional law are messy. Precedents seem to contradict one another; the relevant tests are difficult to apply to new facts and new issues; the principles that underlie the doctrine are difficult to discern. They may become a “conceptual disaster area,” as Charles Black once described the state action doctrine. By examining the evolution of the state action doctrine, this notoriously murky field of constitutional law, I seek to better understand doctrinal confusion, to examine why it often occurs and why it sometimes persists, and to argue that under certain circumstances doctrinal confusion may actually be a good thing.
© 2016 Brigham Young University Law Review
Christopher W. Schmidt,
On Doctrinal Confusion: The Case of the State Action Doctrine,
2016 BYU L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.byu.edu/lawreview/vol2016/iss2/7