Case Reviews

California v. Texas: Another Challenge to the Affordable Care Act

March 17, 2021 Megan Gerges 0

In 2012, the Supreme Court decided NFIB v. Sebelius, which involved the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), originally passed by Congress in 2010. Specifically, its “individual mandate” (Section 5000A) has been highly controversial because it forced many Americans to either buy a minimum amount of health insurance or pay a “shared responsibility penalty.” In NFIB, the Court invalidated the individual mandate under Congress’s commerce powers but upheld it as part of Congress’s taxing powers. In 2017, a Republican-controlled Congress set the individual mandate to zero dollars but left the rest of the ACA intact. Texas and other states sued, generating another constitutional challenge to the individual mandate. They additionally argued that if it is unconstitutional, then the entire ACA is invalid because it is impossible to sever the individual mandate from the rest of the law. California and other states have defended the ACA in response.  Oral arguments […]

International Law

Hate Thy Neighbor: How Ethiopia’s Federal Government Is Committing Potential War Crimes Against Its People

March 7, 2021 Jacob Rosenzweig 0

Little was initially known on November 4, when Ethiopian federal forces invaded their own region, as the events were transpiring. The country’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed shut off internet access to the people of Tigray, a region in northern Ethiopia along the border of Eritrea, and cut off their communication with the outside world as his troops engaged in conflict with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (T.P.L.F), the region’s ruling faction. The intelligence that has come to light three months after the conflict began provides damning details about the suffering endured both by the residents of Tigray and by the swathes of Eritrean refugees present in the region. Horrifying as may be Ethiopia’s incursion against the people of Tigray, especially shocking is that the nation’s leaders invited Eritrean military forces to join them in the oppression of its own citizens. The seeds for Ethiopia’s invasion of the Tigray region were […]

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 […]

International Law

Canary in a Coal Mine: Germany’s Democratic Warning Mechanism

March 5, 2021 Shreya Joshi 0

Over the past five years, a resurgence of far-right rhetoric in the United States and Europe has altered the political landscape in the self-proclaimed Western world. Internet activity, especially on platforms such as Facebook, has encouraged echo chambers, leading many further right, extremizing views and encouraging political action. One such party, the Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) was formed in 2013 by Alexander Gauland as a Eurosceptic movement rejecting liberalism. For its first round of election, the party failed to find enough support to unseat any existing members of the German parliament. The AfD found it’s gold mind of support after the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel,’s 2015 decision to allow over one million undocumented refugees from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to enter into Germany. It quickly transitioned into an anti-Islamic party, one that trivialized the Holocaust and found a base in reviling immigrants. Capitalizing on the influx […]

International Law

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy Found Guilty Of Corruption

March 5, 2021 Hyonjun Yun 0

On March 1st, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was sentenced to three years on charges of corruption and influence peddling. Sarkozy was president of France from 2007 to 2012.  Uncovered during a campaign finance investigation against him, Sarkozy was accused of attempting to illegally peddle information from a magistrate Gilbert Azibert by offering the magistrate a prestigious position in Monaco over a phone call. Though Azibert never received the position, the nature of the conversations being a “clearly stated promise” places it under France’s strict corruption laws, which are suggested to be the blueprint for EU-wide corruption policies.. Magistrate Gilbert Azibert was also found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison. At the time of the accusation, Sarkozy was already being investigated over claims that he received illegal payments from the cosmetics company L’Oréal’s heiress Liliane Bettencourt during his 2007 presidential campaign. The prosecution states that Sarkozy attempted to […]

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 […]

International Law

Venezeula’s Political Crisis: How Their Consitution Became a Farce

February 23, 2021 Shreya Joshi 0

For the past two decades, the socialist party PSVU has run the Venezuelan government. Initially controlling only the executive branch, the PSUV consolidated control of the judiciary, electoral council, and now the legislative body. Since the transition from the Chávez regime to Nicolás Maduro’s government, the Venezuelan economy has collapsed and prompted an exodus, largely into Colombia. A prime example of a decaying petrostate, Venezuela has fallen prey to “Dutch disease”, when a government is heavily dependent on natural resource exports, oil and fossil fuels in this case and there is little funding to other sectors. Additionally, power is concentrated in the hands of a few, and corruption is rampant in every level of the political and economic structure. The economic collapse under Maduro is due to the decrease in the outflow of oil, leaving the country with little income. With hyperinflation skyrocketing and many Venezuelans worried about putting food […]

International Law

From an Iron Curtain to Steel Bars: Alexei Navalny and Russian Democracy

February 22, 2021 Jonathan Tao 0

Russia’s premier dissident, Alexei Navalny, was sentenced to serve three years in prison earlier this February. As Vladimir Putin’s most prominent political opponent, Mr. Navalny has spent the past 20 years exposing corruption and organizing anti-establishment protests. The latest ruling against Mr. Nalvany hails from a long string of attempts from Moscow to silence anti-establishment forces, ranging from a potentially state-sanctioned poisoning attempt to allegations of embezzlement and fraud. It also sparked the largest day of protest in Russia since 2017 and subsequently one of the country’s most severe crackdowns on civil liberties in recent memory. The Kremlin has moved swiftly to crack down on the freedom of assembly, dissident fundraising, and civil protections from law enforcement. Human rights watchdogs noted that an estimated 10,000 were arrested nationwide over the two weekend rallies alone, marking the most aggressive wave of detentions since Vladimir Putin’s election in 2000. Moreover, Russian activists […]

International Law

Google Threatens To Leave Australia over Proposed News Legislation

February 21, 2021 Hyonjun Yun 0

Google is threatening to cancel their Google Search services in Australia in response to Canberra’s new law proposal. The proposed Treasury Laws Amendment (News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code) Bill 2020 is intended to help local news publishers by having media giants like Google and Facebook compensate news outlets through paying license fees for using their journalistic content on their platforms. The proposed laws are specifically in response to Google and Facebook displaying news articles without paying the news publishers. The consequences of this proposed law will be immense for all parties involved as Google has a 94.45% search engine market share in Australia. Their next competitor is Bing with only 3.63% as of January 2021. Meanwhile, 39% of Australians use Facebook as their general news source, according to the University of Canberra’s Digital News Report 2020. If passed, the law would have news outlets privately or collectively come […]

International Law

China is Full Steam Ahead on Data Privacy

February 19, 2021 Tianjiu Zuo 0

On January 8th, just a week after China’s Civil Code went into effect, the Hangzhou Internet Court heard and ruled on its first data privacy case. In this case, Sun, the defendant, sold more than 40,000 personal information records to Liu, who used this data for advertising. The records contained people’s full names, email addresses, and social media IDs. The procurator (like a U.S. federal prosecutor) determined that this action constituted an offense against the new privacy protections codified in the Civil Code. The Civil Code is a decades-long culmination of legal developments in China. It covers the full scope of civil law, such as property rights, contracts, and family law. But among these traditional pillars, the considerably large section reserved for the protection of personal information stands out. In Chapter Six of Part Four, the Civil Code defines privacy as “a natural person’s peace of life and the private […]