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 […]

Case Reviews

Aftermath of the Youth Climate Change Lawsuit

January 30, 2020 Dominique Karesh 0

Introduction: In 2015, 21 youth plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the United States and several executive branch officers, including former President Obama and President Trump. The plaintiffs of the Juliana v. United States suit, who are all between the ages of 12 and 23, argued that government inaction in regards to climate change violated their “fundamental constitutional rights to freedom from deprivation of life, liberty, and property.” The plaintiffs were able to meet the requirements for standing with proof that they were adversely affected by the climate crisis. For instance, Levi Draheim, a 12-year-old plaintiff, had been injured by repeat evacuations during worsening storms. At the time, the Juliana suit was one of many climate change lawsuits making their way to the US court system. The youth lawsuit stood out because it challenged the federal government, rather than fossil fuel companies themselves. As climate change remains a pressing issue, the […]

Case Reviews

Kansas v. Garcia

January 22, 2020 John Markis 0

Kansas v. Garcia focuses on the arrests and subsequent convictions of three men in separate incidents. The eponymous defendant, Ramiro Garcia, who worked as a line cook in Olathe, Kansas, was stopped in 2012 for a simple speeding violation. Upon closer inspection, the police officer on duty discovered that authorities were already searching for Garcia; by seizing his federal employment document, the Employment Eligibility Verification, known colloquially as his I-9, detectives assessed that Garcia had falsified his social security number and charged him with identity theft. Garcia was initially found guilty in Johnson County, yet the Kansas Supreme Court overturned this ruling after appeal because of the fact that the I-9 is a federal document. In effect, the Kansas Supreme Court negated prosecutors’ ability to present federally mandated statutes as evidence of disobedience of state law.    The Supreme Court will thus answer whether states have the capacity to determine their […]

International Law

New Greek Asylum Laws Attempt To Push Asylum Seekers Away

December 2, 2019 Vanessa Real Williams 0

The Current State of Greek Asylum Seekers There are currently more than 96,600 refugees and migrants in Greece. More than 35,000 of these migrants are asylum seekers living on five islands in squalid conditions. As of October 31, 2019 alone, more asylum seekers have arrived in Greece than the total number of asylum seekers that arrived in 2018. Despite the influx of asylum seekers in 2019, Greece is still receiving less compared to 2015 and 2016. On two Aegean Islands holding asylum seekers, families have created shelters on steep hillsides in a struggle to survive. Furthermore, the government cut public healthcare funding for new asylum seekers in July, forcing people to seek help from NGOs or privately fund their own healthcare, which is a big issue for people with chronic illnesses and children needing immunizations to enroll in school. Tensions are rising between migrants and Greek citizens. Asylum seekers on […]

International Law

Climate Change And Its Labyrinth Of Laws

November 27, 2019 Claire Oh 0

The 23rd of September marked an important day for climate protectors worldwide. Sixteen child petitioners — including Greta Thunberg and Alexandria Villasenor — from all around the world presented a legal complaint to the United Nations, arguing that their human rights were being violated by nations that were failing to give legislative attention to the pressing threat of climate change. Their petition shed light on an important aspect of climate change that lawmakers and politicians have been reluctant to address; climate change may not destroy their homes, but it most definitely will destroy their childrens’. The petition  argued that 5 countries, namely Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, and Turkey, have been “recklessly causing and perpetuating life-threatening climate change [and] have failed to take necessary preventive and precautionary measures to respect, protect, and fulfill the petitioners’ rights.” The complaint, filed under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child, is […]

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 […]

International Law

Facebook’s Use Of International Law To Moderate Content

November 22, 2019 Jonathan Schachter 0

While speaking at Georgetown University on Oct. 17., CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that Facebook will not be implementing any further restrictions on bad speech on their servers. This comes to the dismay of many who hope that the flux of falsified information on Facebook will come to a curb following repeated calls for better policing of fake news on the platform.  An Attempt To “Preserve Free Speech” Zuckerberg defended his stance on the issue by saying that “You can’t impose tolerance top-down.” Zuckerberg referenced the growth of less liberal Chinese technology platforms as a warning that it is up to Facebook to preserve online free speech as different social media companies compete for global users. He used America as a standard for free speech and free speech policy enactment in comparison to the global scene where the platform reaches.  Legal Compliance Because it is a publicly traded company, Facebook has […]

International Law

A New Online Iron Curtain: Russian Internet Surveillance Law

November 19, 2019 Vanessa Real Williams 0

Russia’s “Sovereign Internet” Law On Nov. 1, 2019, the Russian government finally enacted its new internet internet surveillance law that it adopted in April of this year. The Russian government refers to the law as the “Sovereign Internet Law,” a move to take control over Russia’s free internet. The Kremlin, Russia’s executive branch, framed the need for the law in light of potential external cyberattacks, the need for protection against foreign enemies such as the United States, and potential “emergencies” where the state deems censorship a necessary act.   The new system of governance over the internet allows the Russian government to track all free-flowing information and selectively block information that it deems to be a “threat”. Furthermore, the new law enables the government to reroute Russian users, without the knowledge of the users as to what they are being rerouted from or why. The enactment of the law required the […]