US Law

The Hero Republicans Needed: A Reflection on the Nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch

May 11, 2017 Aanan Henderson 0

On a particularly chilly Monday morning in March, the Senate Judiciary Committee began confirmation hearings for the Trump administration’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch. The hearings came at a perfect time for the Republican Party. After a failed healthcare bill, a series of blocked executive orders, and a highly contentious standstill on the federal budget, Gorsuch’s confirmation promised to be a win for a party that had so far struggled to make the tangible changes that the president promised during his 2016 campaign. During the confirmation, Senate Democrats did everything in their power to derail Gorsuch’s confirmation. But, as the hearings proceeded, the inevitability of confirmation became increasingly clear. During his hearing, Judge Gorsuch distanced himself from the president’s more controversial policies, insisting that he would not be a puppet of the Trump administration if placed on the Court. Prior to the hearings, Judge Gorsuch publicly criticized the president’s derision […]

US Law

Tweeting Away Trust: Trump’s Wiretapping Allegation and its Implications for the Intelligence Community

April 12, 2017 Isabelle Jensen 0

During an early-morning tweet session on March 4, President Trump shared that he “Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory” and asked, “is it legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire-tapping’ a race for president prior to an election?” The answer to Mr. Trump’s question is a definitive “no.” Without showing a warrant, the President does not have the unilateral authority to order a wiretap unless it is directed against non-Americans or purely overseas communications. If a sitting President were to order a wiretap of an opposing nominees’ headquarters during the height of their Presidential campaign, it could easily provoke the largest political scandal in recent memory. The very fact that President Trump would make such a claim is deeply troubling. The media was quick to question Mr. Trump’s tweet. The president gave no evidence to back up his claims. […]

US Law

Democracy for the Dissidents: The Legality of Flag Burning

April 10, 2017 Fiona Xin 0

The 1st Amendment is one of the staples of a functioning, free democracy. Yet, under the current administration, we have seen multiple attempts to undermine the freedoms of speech, expression, press, and religion enshrined in the 1st Amendment. In November 2016, a tweet by then-President-Elect Donald Trump attacking flag burners sparked controversy related to the tension between the freedom of speech and the legality of flag desecration. A quick review of the history of flag desecration in American history clearly illustrates the complex and contentious nature of the topic. Throughout the Vietnam war, antiwar activists often desecrated the American flag as a form of expressive, social protest. The ambiguity surrounding whether such an act was protected by the 1st Amendment lasted three decades; in the meanwhile, law enforcement and the lower courts held much of the discretionary power regarding each of the cases. The constitutional protection of flag desecration was finally addressed by […]

US Law

Re-Coloring Justice: Segregation in the Jury System

April 6, 2017 Cameron Beach 0

In 1875, African Americans were given the right to serve as jurors. Now, nearly 150 years later, people of color are still grossly underrepresented on jury panels across the country. In 2012, almost every criminal trial in Houston, Alabama (a county composed of nearly 30% African Americans) was heard by an all-white jury. How did this disparity between the ideal — a diverse, qualified jury — and the reality begin? The story starts with a man named James Batson, a Kentuckian accused of burglary in 1986. While the case, the crime, and even the man himself were unremarkable, the proceedings of Batson’s trial have revolutionized the way juries are created. During Batson’s voir dire, (jury selection process) all four potential African American jurors were struck from service. Batson, an African American man, was tried and convicted by an all-white jury. Resentful of the seemingly racialized treatment his jury had received, Batson appealed the decision […]