US Law

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 […]

US Law

Last-minute Election Laws Disenfranchise Countless Voters

October 26, 2020 Jonah Perrin 0

North Carolina is not new to the voter suppression scene. From “surgically” excluding African-American voters to attempting to steal an election, the state that Duke University calls home has repeatedly tried to reduce access to voting in a drive to reduce turnout. With just one week until the election, the state legislature, the NC Board of Elections, and various other echelons of decision-making power in elections across the country have disenfranchised a countless number of voters with a new tactic: last-minute changes to voting rules, confusing voters, and reducing voter turnout at the polls. Unfortunately, the laws changing and limiting access to voting are most rampant in North Carolina. In a time when roughly 37 percent of the nationwide voting population plans to vote by mail, there is still confusion within the NC State Board of Elections as to the last day when voters can mail in their ballots. Last […]

US Law

Savanna’s Act: A Victory for Indigenous Communities

October 24, 2020 Natalia Nunez 0

  Murder is the third-leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native women, and rates of violence on reservations are around ten times higher than the national average. In 2016, there were 5,712 reports of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls, but despite the enormity of this problem, the U.S. Department of Justice only logged 116 cases in their missing persons database. Because these high levels of violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women are being systemically overlooked, there was a profound need for federal legislation to remedy this crisis. As a result, U.S. Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, cosponsored Savanna’s Act, which was recently passed to protect American Indians and Alaska Natives. The Federal Government’s Jurisdiction Over American Indians While American Indian reservations are considered sovereign states, Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court grant the U.S. […]

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US Law

Increasing Demands For Reform of Social Media Liability Law

October 24, 2020 Ellen Wang 0

Summary: In May of 2020, President Trump issued an executive order to reform Section 230 – a crucial part of the 1996 Communications Decency Act that provided liability protection for internet companies and granted them the right to moderate their sites as they saw fit. While both Democrats and Republicans have increasingly demanded reform of Section 230 over the last few years, they’ve done so for different reasons. President Trump, the Department of Justice, and the FCC have catapulted discussions for the reform of Section 230 into the spotlight.   Creation of Section 230 Casually named to be the “most consequential law governing speech on the internet,” Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act was initially created to protect young internet companies from legal liability and allow innovation to flourish. The two primary components of Section 230 are centered on providing immunity to internet companies for the content created […]

US Law

Breaking Down Income Discrimination in the Housing Voucher Program

March 4, 2020 Noah Charlick 0

How Housing Vouchers Work  The Section 8 Housing Voucher Program, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, provides rental assistance to low-income Americans. In 2018, the program provided more than 2.2 million households and 5 million people with rental assistance.  Vouchers help make housing affordable for low-income individuals. Holders pay 30 percent of their monthly adjusted gross income income toward rent and utilities, while the government pays the remaining cost. If the tenants do not have any income, they pay up to a maximum amount of $50 per month. To determine eligibility for the Housing Choice Voucher Program, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sets income limits. Income limits vary by location and are based on calculations of the median income and fair market rent in the area in which the given family chooses to live. When allocating vouchers, 75 percent of recipients must be “extremely low-income,” […]