US Law

US Law

President Biden’s Supreme Court Nominee

February 28, 2022 Megan Gerges 0

In late January of 2022, it was announced that Justice Stephen Breyer would be retiring after almost 30 years on the Supreme Court of the United States. A liberal Bill Clinton appointee, Justice Breyer has been a part of many influential Court decisions including United States v. Virginia (1996), Stenberg v. Carhart (2000), Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (2016), and Mahanoy Area School District v. B. L. (2021).  Following this announcement, President Biden reaffirmed his campaign promise to nominate the first Black female justice to the Supreme Court. This generated criticism from some Republicans who argue that President Biden’s vow is offensive because it focuses on the identity of the nominee rather than on who is the best qualified candidate. Democrats argue that it is important to take into consideration demographics so that the Supreme Court is a representative institution, and that […]

No Picture
US Law

Democrats Must Get Their House in Order or They May Lose it

February 21, 2022 Vineet Chovatia 0

In January 2021, the Democratic Party assumed power in both houses of Congress and the White House with plans to pass landmark legislation on voting rights, climate change, and infrastructure. Just a year later, with the Build Back Better plan stalled and no viable path to passing voting rights reforms, the Democrats find their agenda sputtering and their momentum all but lost. Losses across the board in 2021 statewide races have led to many Democrats projecting large-scale defeat in the 2022 midterm elections.  After President Biden maintained an approval rating above 50% for the first several months of his presidency, his approval rating has sunk to 41% in recent polling. Along with  President Biden’s worsening approval, the Democratic Party has seen much of its gains following the 2021 election lost to the GOP. In a 14 point backslide, only 42% of Americans identify as Democrats with the GOP gaining considerable […]

US Law

Is Checking Your Personal Emails at Work a Federal Crime? 

November 7, 2021 Vineet Chovatia 0

In Van Buren v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled six to three in favor of Nathan Van Buren, a Georgia Police Sergeant, establishing the reach of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) in convicting individuals for improper use of “authorized information.”  By clarifying the previously vague definition of “improper use,” the ruling will protect Americans from a judge’s subjective interpretation and potentially dangerous application of the law.  Van Buren, a police sergeant from Cumming, Georgia, asked a known criminal, Andrew Albo, for a large sum of money. In response, Albo reported the request from Van Buren to the police who then referred the case to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI then conducted a sting operation by having Albo demand that Van Buren determine whether an individual was an undercover officer in exchange for the money. Van Buren, using the license plate database to which he […]

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

The Courts’ Fight with the Executive Branch in NC Education Policy

March 7, 2021 Jonah Perrin 0

The state of North Carolina violates its constitution daily. The governing document of the state declares that it must provide a “sound, basic education for all.” And yet, multiple courts have found that the state of North Carolina does not meet this standard. This standard and the state’s meager response constitute a major topic of education law in North Carolina for the past 25 years.  The court case Leandro v. State of North Carolina (referred to as Leandro from here on) drives the debate around education in North Carolina. As is the case in other states, property taxes from local areas fund much of the education system in North Carolina, meaning that public schools will look much better in the suburbs of Charlotte than in the rural northeastern part of the state, even though both are managed by the same building in Raleigh. In 1994, students from lower-income backgrounds filed […]

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 […]

US Law

Religious Hate Crimes Are Strikingly Prevalent In The United States

November 19, 2020 Allison Kunstler 0

Introduction The ADL, or Anti-Defamation League, was founded in 1913 to combat the escalating anti-Semitic sentiment in the United States. Its main purpose is to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and secure justice and fair treatment to all. . .” Yet, in the first half of 2019 alone there were roughly 780 anti-Semitic incidents in the US, a near-historic high in the number of incidents since the creation of the ADL. There is no question that there is a degradation of a sense of security overcoming the nation; people are reluctant to openly express their religious beliefs and customs granted to them by the First Amendment. Why are Anti-Semitic Attitudes so Prevalent? It seems as if Americans are regressing, shifting away from the principles of acceptance and equality that have been fought so hard for throughout the nation’s history. The end of slavery, for instance, congregated African Americans […]

US Law

Lawsuits Filed Amid Changes to H-1B Visa Program

November 15, 2020 Natalia Nunez 0

Multiple lawsuits have been filed against the Department of Labor in response to new rules tightening the applicant pool and available opportunities of the H-1B visa program. Among those filing lawsuits are universities, advocacy groups, and firms, particularly in the technology industry.  H-1B visas are widely obtained by foreign graduates of universities in the United States to be employed here after graduation. In early October, the Trump administration narrowed the eligibility requirements to obtain a H-1B skilled worker visa and increased the wages employers would have to pay H-1B visa holders. A public comment period was not provided at the time, which is required by federal law before imposing a new rule; instead, the former change was published by the Homeland Security Department with an effective date of December 7, 2020 and the latter change went into effect immediately when it was announced on October 8, 2020. According to the […]

US Law

Successful ballot initiatives condemning the War on Drugs provide hope, but we need more.

November 12, 2020 Jonah Perrin 0

Election results continue to pour in, and while we do not know about several races across the nation, there is one loser for sure: the “War on Drugs.” Connecting drug abuse to carceral punishment has long been the policy of the United States, but propositions, laws, referenda, and initiatives across the country continue to display evidence that we are headed in a better direction to end America’s longest war. But there is much more work to be done. Over the past two weeks, our nation has seen an impressive amount of change, perhaps most palpable in Oregon, which passed the nation’s first ballot measure decriminalizing possession of drugs harder than marijuana, including LSD, methamphetamines, oxycodone, and even heroin. In New Jersey, 67 percent of voters expressed support for legalizing marijuana for voters over the age of 21. In South Dakota, 70 percent voted to legalize medical marijuana and 54 percent […]