International Law

“Like A War” : The Venezuelan Protests

October 23, 2017 Nora Hafez 0

Summary: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has been accused of silencing all political dissent by jailing journalists and tampering with elections. Venezuelans have responded through widespread protests. Nicolas Maduro and the United Socialist Party were elected in 2013, and ever since, his government has faced great criticism for oppressive practices.  The opposing party, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mesa de la Unidad Democratica), was founded in 2008 as a coalition of several former parties, in the hopes of preventing the control of the Socialists. The MUD initially led the National Assembly and attempted to enter discussions with Maduro, but in March 2017, he ended the assembly, sparking national protests. While Venezuela technically allows citizens to protest, Maduro specifically banned protests the weekend of the elections. He prohibited all public meetings and demonstrations, gatherings and other similar acts that might “disturb the electoral process.”  Those who violated the ban could have been sentenced […]

US Law

The Psychological Effects of Solitary Confinement: An Evolving Legal Interpretation

October 14, 2017 William Tong 0

By William Tong | October 14, 2017 While it is true that prisoners must be punished, justice and humanity necessitate that they be punished within the limits of the Constitution and accepted standards of human decency. But in contemporary American society, many prisoners are punished in the form of solitary confinement, where they have little access to external stimuli such as books or television, maintain no meaningful social interaction with others, and spend over twenty-two hours a day in barren solitude. In such a sterile environment, inmates can develop “serious psychological” issues ranging from “insomnia and confusion to hallucinations and outright insanity.”   Yet when the mental ramifications of solitary confinement are measured against the constitutional limits of punishment embodied in the Eighth Amendment, courts have consistently failed to find a violation. Although the issue of solitary confinement has been examined by many scholars, the existing academic dialogue surrounding the […]

Case Reviews

Cooper v. Harris

October 4, 2017 Neelesh Moorthy 0

By Neelesh Moorthy | October 4, 2017   Introduction   In May 2017, the Supreme Court struck down two North Carolina congressional districts (CD1 and CD12) as unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. The State argued regarding CD1 that race-based redistricting was done to comply with sections two and five of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This defense reflected an inherent tension in the Court’s jurisprudence: simultaneously condemning race-based redistricting while mandating it in certain circumstances. Responding to CD12, North Carolina argued that they engaged in partisan, rather than racial, gerrymandering. The Supreme Court rejected both arguments, unanimously for CD1 but split 5-3 with regards to CD12. This article argues that the Court reached the correct outcome for CD1, but ignored its own precedent when evaluating CD12. Whatever one thinks of the outcome of this case, however, North Carolina redistricting is not free from legal contestation. The drafters of CD12 openly acknowledged […]

US Law

The Pandora’s Box of the Criminal Justice System

September 25, 2017 Jenny Jiao 0

By Jenny Jiao |  09/25/17 In 2013, Eric Loomis pled guilty to two charges related to a drive-by shooting in La Crosse, Wisconsin, “attempting to flee a traffic officer and operating a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent.” At his sentencing hearing, the judge relied, in part, on Loomis’s score on a risk assessment algorithm called COMPAS, which deemed him at high risk for recidivism (the tendency for a criminal to reoffend). He was unable to contest the assessment’s result because the inputs and weighting of said inputs were kept secret. Since COMPAS was privately developed by Northpointe Inc., the methodology is considered a proprietary trade secret and therefore is inaccessible to all parties in the court system. Loomis was sentenced to six years in prison and five years of extended supervision. Loomis appealed, arguing that because the assessment’s methodology was kept secret, its usage violated his due process rights to […]

US Law

Redefining Contemporary Community Standards in an Evolving Sociopolitical Climate

September 20, 2017 Rachel Sereix 0

In an evolving sociopolitical climate, the law should further define “contemporary community standards” first prescribed in Roth v. United States. This article will employ the United States v. Pacifica Foundation decision for the purposes of scrutinizing the current Federal Communications Commission regulatory practices while still upholding First Amendment protections. Addressing the broadcasting of George Carlin’s “Filthy Words” monologue, Justice John Paul Stevens found that broadcasting speech which is “patently offensive” yet not necessarily obscene may be subject to restrictions and does not fall under First Amendment protections. Unlike obscenity, speech does not have to appeal to a prurient interest in order to be characterized as indecent. However, it is essential to recognize that the media market has evolved considerably since the Pacifica decision in 1978. One could now argue that what constituted indecent moral standards in 1978 are not considered indecent in 2017. In this advisement report, I recommend that […]

US Law

Running Out of Excuses: The All Too Familiar Narrative of Police Shootings

August 5, 2017 Aanan Henderson 1

On June 16, in St. Paul, Minnesota, a decision was handed down in the trial of Jeronimo Yanez, the police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile in the summer of 2016. The facts of the case were hardly in dispute: after pulling Mr. Castile over, Officer Yanez asked to see his driver’s license. To avoid any confusion, Castile then told the officer that he was armed and was carrying a gun in his pants pocket. However, when Castile complied with the officer’s command and reached for his I.D., he was summarily shot seven times in front of his fiancée and four-year-old daughter. The immediate aftermath of this was captured on Facebook Live by Castile’s fiancée, sparking a national outcry in a political climate that was already rife with similar incidents. What was even more stunning about this incident was Mr. Castile’s compliance with what most law enforcement would say is […]

Interviews

Race and Policing in Chicago: An Interview with Peter Pihos

June 6, 2017 Amir Perk 0

Summary: Peter Pihos is a lecturing fellow in the Thompson Writing Program at Duke University. He teaches Writing 101 and does research in race issues, history, and sociology. Other than inspiring his students in the classroom, Peter spends his time reading Homeric epics with his young children, fighting for social change, and maintaining a hilarious twitter and interesting blog, both of which can be found on his website: https://peterpihos.org/. Juris: How would you use [the findings from your dissertation Policing, Race, and Politics in Chicago] to advise policymakers in Chicago or other cities to grapple with institutional racism such as that which often appears in urban police forces? Peter Pihos: I’m not much for advice, but it seems like one thing is that it’s hard to understand stories of crime and policing apart from the broader story of political economy and really understanding where the jobs have gone and where […]

International Law

Apple’s Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich

June 1, 2017 Hunter Snowden 1

What do companies like Google and Apple have in common? They both love a “Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich.” As appetizing as that may sound, it is actually a form of legally-permitted tax avoidance. Through a combination of legal loopholes and financial border-hopping, Google and Apple have lowered their collective tax contribution by just under $20 billion in 2015 alone. Here’s how it works: Large companies like Google and Apple minimize their tax burdens by strategically funneling money into offshore tax havens through “shell companies” – corporate sub-entities used strictly as vehicles for transnational capital shifts. Take Apple, for example. “Apple Ireland,” a shell company owned by the U.S. tech giant, sells iPhones to another shell company, “Apple Netherlands,” which, in turn, sells the product to the customer. The Dutch franchise then collects revenue from the sale but pays as much as possible back to the Irish shell company […]

US Law

The Hero Republicans Needed: A Reflection on the Nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch

May 11, 2017 Aanan Henderson 0

On a particularly chilly Monday morning in March, the Senate Judiciary Committee began confirmation hearings for the Trump administration’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch. The hearings came at a perfect time for the Republican Party. After a failed healthcare bill, a series of blocked executive orders, and a highly contentious standstill on the federal budget, Gorsuch’s confirmation promised to be a win for a party that had so far struggled to make the tangible changes that the president promised during his 2016 campaign. During the confirmation, Senate Democrats did everything in their power to derail Gorsuch’s confirmation. But, as the hearings proceeded, the inevitability of confirmation became increasingly clear. During his hearing, Judge Gorsuch distanced himself from the president’s more controversial policies, insisting that he would not be a puppet of the Trump administration if placed on the Court. Prior to the hearings, Judge Gorsuch publicly criticized the president’s derision […]

International Law

Is Egypt Violating Its Own Freedom of the Press Laws?

May 10, 2017 Nora Hafez 0

Egypt has imprisoned more than 60 journalists, several of whom have not yet been brought to trial. Do these imprisonments violate Egyptian or international law? Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has been in office since 2014 when a military coup overthrew then-President Mohamed Morsi, member of the Muslim Brotherhood party. During his time as president, Morsi oversaw the ratification of a new Egyptian constitution, which sparked widespread controversy and often-violent protests. When El-Sisi assumed office, he sought to amend the constitution to placate demonstrators. El-Sisi was not intimately involved in the amendment process; instead he delegated the constitutional reforms to interim President Adly Mansour and a committee of ten legal experts. Although the constitutional referendum passed with an astonishing 98% voting yes, turnout was notably low. Reports of voter suppression and intimidation tactics employed by the Egyptian government began to circulate shortly before the referendum, drawing attention from international organizations […]