Articles by Phil Ma

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US Law

Balancing Presidential Powers: Appointment of Matthew Whitaker

November 13, 2018 Phil Ma 0

Summary: The appointment of Chief of Staff to the Attorney General Matthew Whitaker as acting Attorney General after resignation of Jeff Sessions has raised questions about the constitutionality of the appointment. Although these questions stem from concern about Whitaker’s position on the Mueller probe, they are nonetheless legitimate, unanswered questions about the constitutionality of the president appointing someone not confirmed by the Senate to an office that answers only to the president. On Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions submitted his letter of resignation at the request of President Donald Trump. Then the President appointed Matthew Whitaker, Chief of Staff to Attorney General Sessions, to become the new acting Attorney General of the United States of America. The next day, Neal Katyal and George Conway III, husband of Kellyanne Conway, wrote an Opinion article in the New York Times claiming that the appointment of Whitaker to the position […]

US Law

Swartz v. Rodriguez: A Question of Qualified Immunity

November 1, 2018 Phil Ma 0

Summary: U.S. government officials sometimes must make discretionary decisions in split-seconds with only limited information. To protect these officials from personal, civil lawsuits, the idea of qualified immunity was born. However, questions are raised when a discretionary decision kills someone who is not a citizen and it occurs outside of US territory. These are the questions that Swartz v. Rodriguez seeks to answer. Background In October 2012, Lonnie Swartz, a U.S. border patrol agent, shot and killed 16-year-old Mexican national Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez. He was shot approximately 10 times through the border fence that separated the United States and Mexico, all entering the body from behind. Agent Swartz was standing within the United States during the shooting and Mr. Rodriguez was wholly in Mexico. Swartz claimed that the deceased, referenced as J.A. in court documents, threw rocks at him; however, the First Amended Complaint submitted to the courts claim […]

US Law

SFFA v. Harvard: A New Era for Affirmative Action

October 16, 2018 Phil Ma 0

Summary: The Supreme Court will have to revisit the issue of affirmative action in SFFA v. Harvard and may drastically change the legal framework in regards to college admissions going forward. Background Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) sued Harvard University in November of 2014 alleging discriminatory admission standards. SFFA, representing a coalition of Chinese-, Indian-, Korean-, and Pakistani-American organizations across the U.S., contests Harvard’s claim that their holistic admissions process weights race fairly and argues. The coalition claims Harvard’s admissions process violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. SFFA claims that legacy and athlete admissions cannot explain the disparity in admission gaps using statistical analyses of Harvard’s admissions data conducted by Peter Arcidiacono, a labor economist and professor at Duke University. Using the same data, David Card, professor of economics at University of California, Berkeley, reached very different conclusions than Arcidiacono’s. Card’s study has been endorsed by former Federal Reserve […]