Articles by Andrew Touma

US Law

Supreme Court Rejects Challenges to Vaccine Mandates in “Shadow Docket” Rulings

November 2, 2021 Andrew Touma 0

In a pair of emergency docket decisions, the Supreme Court rejected two appeals challenging coronavirus vaccine mandates in educational settings. In the first, decided by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a group of Indiana University students contested the constitutionality of a vaccine mandate for students. In the second, decided by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, New York City public-school employees opposed an executive order to require proof of vaccination. These rulings bolster judicial support of vaccine mandates amidst nationwide debates of COVID-19 vaccination requirements and discredit critiques of emergency docket proceedings. Both cases attempted to exploit the Court’s emergency docket, colloquially referred to as the “shadow docket” for its alleged lack of transparency. The emergency docket consists of urgent requests to the Supreme Court that permit rulings in the form of short summary decisions, as opposed to the standard full briefing and oral argument. These appeals are given to the Justice who oversees […]

US Law

Free Speech on College Campuses: Protecting a Fundamental Aspect of the University

March 19, 2021 Andrew Touma 0

On March 8, 2021, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in favor of a college student contending that his First Amendment rights were violated by the school’s policies. By an 8-1 decision in Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, both liberal and conservative justices of the Supreme Court defended a pillar of both the modern university and the United States: the right to speak freely, regardless of whether it is convenient to others.  In 2016, Chike Uzuegbunam, an Evangelical Christian at Georgia Gwinnett College, in an attempt to share his faith with his classmates, stood outside of the campus library and handed out religious literature to students who expressed interest. Shortly after, campus police approached Uzuegbunam and notified him that he was in violation of the college’s “Freedom of Expression Policy.” This regulation held that any student who sought to engage in expressive activities must reserve a spot in one of the two […]

US Law

Supreme Court Rules Against California Restrictions On Church Services

March 5, 2021 Andrew Touma 0

In a pair of decisions late on Feb. 5, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that California’s limitations on indoor church gatherings were unconstitutional on the basis that the constraints unfairly curbed First Amendment rights. With this ruling, California churches may resume religious activities at 25 percent capacity. While the Court ruled against California’s ban on indoor services, restrictions on indoor singing and chanting—which California claims pose a greater threat to disease spreading due to the small droplets of saliva they release—were upheld in a divided decision.  The plaintiffs in the two cases—the South Bay United Pentecostal Church and the Harvest Rock Church, respectively—are both situated in purple-tiered counties of Southern California, meaning that they pose a risk to widespread transmission of COVID-19. Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, California Governor Gavin Newsom’s coronavirus guidelines prohibited indoor religious gatherings in these purple counties, which represent a vast majority of the […]