US Law

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. […]

No Picture
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,” […]

US Law

California Regulators Approve Wildfire Fund

March 2, 2020 Ellen Wang 0

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), the largest utility company in the country, has been held responsible for multiple wildfires over the past few years. These fires have burned tens of thousands of acres of land, destroyed thousands of homes and structures, and killed tens of thousands of people. In January of 2019, PG&E filed for bankruptcy protection after estimating that the company faced over $30 billion in wildfire liabilities. After being found responsible for the most destructive wildfire in California history just months later in May, PG&E faced an additional $10.5 billion in liabilities. Given the severity and urgency of the issue at hand, Governor Gavin Newsom signed comprehensive wildfire legislation within a week of the fire. After hearing arguments that this bill, Assembly Bill 1054, could be unfair and unconstitutional, the California Public Utilities Commission determined that there was no constitutional issue at hand. Thus, final approval was granted […]

US Law

Trump Administration’s “Conscience Protection Rule” Struck Down By Federal Judge

November 25, 2019 Noah Charlick 0

The Introduction of the “Conscience Protection Rule” In early May, the Trump administration announced the finalization of a new “Conscience Protection Rule” to bolster protections for religious health care providers. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sought to strengthen the ability of health workers to deny care if certain procedures violated their moral or spiritual beliefs, including abortion, sex-reassignment surgery, sterilization, and physician-assisted suicide. Also known as the Final Rule, the “Conscience Protection Rule” strengthens existing laws including the Weldon amendment, the Church amendment, and the Coates/Snow amendment, which allow doctors, nurses, and other medical providers some freedom to opt out of procedures to which they object on religious or moral grounds. In support of the Rule, Roger Severino, Director of the HHS’s Office for Civil Rights, said, “This rule ensures that healthcare entities and professionals won’t be bullied out of the healthcare field because they decline […]

US Law

Who Pays for Elections?: The Court Cases that Changed Campaign Finance

November 25, 2019 Lucy Callard 0

With less than 365 days until the 2020 Presidential and Congressional elections, campaigning for the next president and congress of the United States is in full swing. As Democratic candidates slam super-PACs, who are unrestricted in their ability to raise and spend money, and “dark money” on the debate stages, campaign finance has become an important talking point as Nov. 2020 approaches. Though it may be difficult to imagine a campaign process without major donations from wealthy corporations and individuals, campaign finance has shifted dramatically over the last several decades. The passage of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 set the stage for current campaign finance regulations, but rulings by the Supreme Court have shaped federal laws into the finance system in place today. These monumental cases are still a source of contention today, and with the pressure from current officials and candidates alike, they are likely to be […]

US Law

Power In Persistence: Unwrapping The Chicago Teachers’ Strike

November 18, 2019 Allison Kunstler 0

On Oct. 17, a Teacher’s Strike in Chicago erupted, keeping children and teachers out of the classroom for eleven days. The strike incurred after the Chicago Teachers’ Union and mayor Lori Lightfoot failed to reach an agreement for the new CBA. Ultimately, a compromise prompted the return to school, as union members were granted a raise, increased funding for sports and oversized classrooms, as well as five days to make up for the eleven days lost to the strike.    What Is a Teachers’ Strike? A strike is defined as “an organized refusal to work by employees as a means of protest. . . It is a tactic that may be used during contract negotiations if employees and employers cannot agree on terms of employment.” Since strikes are currently illegal in the majority of American states, “walkouts” have become a common replacement. The two convey barely noticeable differences and accomplish […]

Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli speaking in Washington, D.C. Photo taken by Gage Skidmore.
US Law

The Legality Of Trump’s Public Charge Rule

November 13, 2019 Ellen Wang 0

A nationwide injunction has been issued against the Trump Administration’s new “public charge” rule, which attempts to link immigration status to individual income and usage of public welfare programs. While the actual number of immigrants affected by the Department of Homeland Security’s enforcement of these rules is relatively restricted and the policy is currently on hold, the damage has already been done. Large numbers of immigrants have already unenrolled from welfare programs out of fear and confusion.  Historical Background of “Public Charge” First introduced in the Immigration Act of 1882, the term “public charge” has been used to refer to prospective immigrants that are unable to take care of themselves due to poverty or disabilities. Being classified as a “public charge” constituted grounds for denial of legal entry or citizenship because the potential immigrant was viewed as far too dependent on the U.S. government.  Although a seemingly restrictive rule, few […]

US Law

Federal Judge Blocks Alabama’s Controversial Abortion Bill

November 11, 2019 Natalia Nunez 0

The Alabama Human Life Protection Act In May 2019, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act (AHLPA), which was scheduled to take effect in November 2019. The bill criminalizes abortion by prohibiting the “performance or attempted performance” of abortions in Alabama, with the only exceptions being those performed “to avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother” and where the “unborn child has a lethal anomaly.” Abortions performed following rape or incest are considered felony offenses under the AHLPA if they do not satisfy one of the exceptions. In addition, the AHLPA bans abortions for “an unborn child in utero at any stage of development,” omitting a time restriction commonly found in abortion laws in other states. The AHLPA outlines specific classifications and ramifications for the performance and attempted performance of an abortion in Alabama. Legislative Attorney Jon O. Shimabukuro of the […]

US Law

Movement Toward Legislation Protecting Against Deepfakes

November 9, 2019 Noah Charlick 0

Introduction Deepfakes are media, primarily videos, which have been manufactured or doctored using advances in artificial intelligence. It is difficult or impossible to distinguish between deepfakes and real life, demonstrating clear and serious implications for our trust in media as technology continues to progress. Since a viral video posted in August making Bill Hader morph into Tom Cruise while doing impressions on a talk show, deepfakes have greatly risen in popularity. Deepfakes have also recently begun to demonstrate their destructive power. For example, a deepfake video surfaced in May, in which Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared to be drunk or impaired. Henry Farid, professor of computer science at the University of California Berkeley, said this is just the tip of the iceberg of the manipulation of media. While convincingly altering video has long been a difficult but possible task for humans to accomplish, deepfake videos can now be made by allowing […]