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 […]

International Law

The Far Reaching Implications of Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court Reversal

November 11, 2019 Amanda Turner 0

Rise to the Presidency of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is the former president of Brazil, whose term ran from 2003 until 2011. President Lula was born in Pernambuco, Brazil on October 27, 1945. He rose to acclaim in 1975, when the Metalworkers’ Union elected him to be president after he had led the legal section of the union. When elected, he spearheaded the movement in Brazil to increase wages for workers. During this movement, President Lula was arrested by the police for breaching Brazil’s National Security Law. This law, created in 1969 during the Brazilian government’s aversion to political opposition, allowed the government the ability to give their own definition to crimes against national security and allowed them to hold people in detention for up to twenty days without a charge.  After the Military Supreme Court released him from jail, President Lula established the […]

Case Reviews

Rucho v. Common Cause—The Future of Partisan Gerrymandering

November 10, 2019 Annika Agrawal 0

Introduction On June 27, 2019, the Supreme Court jointly decided Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek—two pivotal cases that defined the role of the federal courts in cases of extreme partisan gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is a political technique that has been utilized for centuries by both major political parties in order to stack elections in their favor by drawing legislative boundary maps in such a way that advantage one party. This is often done by packing one party’s supporters into as few districts as possible and/or splitting up that party’s supporters into various districts so they cannot gain a majority. The Supreme Court has heard cases of gerrymandering in the past; however, those issues were tied to racial gerrymandering. These two cases were the first to explicitly question the legality of gerrymandering purely on a partisan basis. Facts of the Case On Jan. 9, 2018, a federal court struck […]

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 […]

International Law

International Law Convention Evaluates Legal Definition Of Gender

November 6, 2019 Claire Oh 0

The legal definition of gender as ‘the two sexes, male and female, within the context of society,’ might change once and for all. The International Law Commission has recently asked the General Assembly to discard the current definition in international law as part of a new treaty on the prosecution of crimes against humanity; as the primary international body that develops and codifies international law, such a request from the ILC carries both significance and symbolic meaning. Indeed, such a change faces much controversy. The Commission had previously announced that it would not change any of the definitions from the Roman Statute in the new treaty (one of which being the current definition of gender). Moreover, the majority of countries do not seem to share the view. As of 2019, only seven countries have allowed the legal change of gender on the basis of self-identification alone; many others require psychiatric […]

Case Reviews

Department of Commerce v. New York: The Question of Citizenship

November 5, 2019 Caroline Kincaid 0

Introduction The United States Census has been taken every ten years since 1790. The census aims to gather information about the population, which is then utilized to calculate the number of seats each state will have in the United States House of Representatives. The census has never directly asked if the respondent is a citizen of the United States. However, under President Donald Trump’s administration, the United States Census Bureau planned to include the question, “Is this person a citizen of the United States,” on the 2020 census form that will be sent to all households in the country.  On June 27, 2019, the United States Supreme Court blocked the plan to include the citizenship question on the census because the government gave a “contrived” reason for requesting the information. However, the court didn’t rule out the possibility of any future citizenship questions.  Why inquiring about citizenship is controversial On […]

International Law

Syrian Officials Charged With Crimes Against Humanity

November 4, 2019 Jonathan Schachter 0

German prosecutors are launching the first worldwide criminal trial over the crimes against humanity committed by the Syrian regime governed by President Bashar al-Assad.  Earlier this month, charges were filed by the German Federal Public Prosecutor against two former officials of Assad’s Syrian General Intelligence Directorate (GID). The case, which is set to take place in early 2020, is a monumental point in the process of taking action against the terror-invoking administration of Syria.  Since 2011, Syrian conflict groups have been at war with one another, targeting different people, most of whom happen to be civilians. In an attempt to take control of the nation, acts of terror, executions, and civilian disappearances have become common occurrences in the corrupt and war-torn land, all of which worry activists and international bodies. Who Are These Mystery Defendants? The two defendants, Anwar R. and Eyad A., have had their last names withheld by […]

Case Reviews

Cameron et al v. Apple Inc: Defining an Illegal Monopoly in the Technology Sector

November 2, 2019 Arjun Rao 0

Introduction Big technology companies have seen an unprecedented increase in success within the past decade, but some would argue that their achievements have been at the cost of smaller companies. Tech giants such as Google, Apple, and Facebook challenge longstanding antitrust laws — regulations that prevent monopolies from crushing competition — with the emergence of new software and data. One example is Apple’s $250 billion in cash on hand that is often used to acquire small startups which sell similar products to them. App developers are also pursuing these claims.  In recent years, the App Store has become increasingly popular among developers and consumers. The store features more than 2 million apps that are used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. However, despite the abundance of apps, Apple’s competitors claim that Apple uses the App Store to promote their own services in favor of rivals. Spotify, Netflix, Amazon, and […]

US Law

An Evaluation of Facebook’s Free Speech Policies

November 1, 2019 James McIntyre 0

After Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg recently spoke at Georgetown University and testified on Capitol Hill in front of the House Financial Services Committee, Facebook and its free speech policies have once again come under harsh scrutiny. For years, Facebook has faced a wide range of criticisms regarding its free speech policies, many of which are back under public debate, after recent appearances by Mark Zuckerberg. A widely cited example of Facebook’s problems with free speech can be observed in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election when Facebook allowed misleading and factually inaccurate ads to run on its platform. Created by Russian “trolls,” these ads were disseminated from fake accounts that were not connected to actual people. Also, Facebook’s guidelines for removing hate speech have been accused of being insufficiently restrictive. One horrific example of this came last year when Facebook was used as a mechanism to help spark a genocide […]

International Law

How The United Nations Is Working To Reduce Hate Speech With Law

October 31, 2019 Vanessa Real Williams 0

Hate Speech Hate speech is a pervasive social phenomenon that threatens the human rights of its recipients. It occurs at all levels of society, not discriminating between democratic and authoritarian regimes. Many who spout hate speech may discount the power of their words, however, the violent history of the consequences of hate speech tell a different story. The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, cited the connection between hate speech and acts of mass violence such as the Rwandan, Bosnian, and Combodian genocides, as well as more recent acts of mass violence in the United States, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka. The increasing occurrences of violent acts provide more than enough evidence for the need for legal action to inhibit the use of hate speech in the public sphere.  Why are we talking about it now? Currently, international law prohibits the “incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence,” requiring that hate speech […]