US Law

California Bail Reform Leaves Both Sides Unhappy

October 21, 2018 Isabella Caracta 0

Summary: California’s new bail reform bill, Senate Bill 10, goes into effect October 2019, but activist groups pull support for SB10. It is a little-known fact that the American constitution fails to guarantee its citizens the right to bail; however, the Eighth Amendment prohibits excessive bail charges. The Bail Reform Act of 1966 affords people charged with non-capital offenses a statutory right to be released, pending trial, based on personal recognizance or personal bond. This act provided people with a statutory right where a constitutional right is lacking. Contrarily, bail systems vary from state to state and can be highly discriminatory against certain racial and socioeconomic groups (particularly African American and Latino minorities). Judges are afforded great discretion as to when a defendant is detained, whether or not bail will be set, and the price of bail. Because inherent prejudices can arise from the current bail systems, there has been […]

International Law

Puerto Rico’s Debt: The Crisis of a Modern Colony

October 21, 2018 Juan Jimenez 0

Summary: Puerto Rico currently faces the most alarming financial crisis in its modern history: a bankrupt state unable to pay the more than $75 billion it owes as national debt, accompanied by a downward economic spiral of migration, high unemployment, and a shrinking labor market. Puerto Rico’s unique relationship to the United States, its status as an ‘unincorporated territory’, has undermined the island’s sovereignty, especially in relation to its plans for economic restructuring. Under the tight control of US Congress, and particularly after the devastation caused by Hurricane María’s passing on Sept. 20, 2017, Puerto Rico’s chances of a quick and stable recovery certainly seem bleak.   Background On Sept. 20, 2017, media sources all around the world presented images and videos of Puerto Rico after Hurricane María, a category 5 storm which killed over 4,600 people, plowed through the island, and caused insurmountable devastation. As disastrous as it was, […]

Case Reviews

NAACP v. McCrory: If N.C. voter ID constitutional amendment passes, will it hold up?

October 17, 2018 Ben Leonard 0

Summary: North Carolina’s law requiring voters to show ID’s was ruled unconstitutional in 2016, but lawmakers are trying to revive the provision with a state constitutional amendment in the November elections. After being struck down just months ahead of the 2016 election, North Carolina’s voter ID law has made a triumphant return. The proposed state constitutional amendment that voters will decide on Nov. 6 is expected to pass, with nearly 70 percent of adults in a September High Point University poll backing the proposed amendment. At first glance, it’s an idea that makes sense—voting is a fundamental right that should be protected. One needs an ID to get on an airplane or buy alcohol, so why is voting an exception? NAACP v. McCrory: Voter ID Law As A Politically-Motivated Move However, evidence suggests the Voter ID law is at best a politically-motivated move. First, the concept of voter fraud as […]

US Law

SFFA v. Harvard: A New Era for Affirmative Action

October 16, 2018 Phil Ma 0

Summary: The Supreme Court will have to revisit the issue of affirmative action in SFFA v. Harvard and may drastically change the legal framework in regards to college admissions going forward. Background Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) sued Harvard University in November of 2014 alleging discriminatory admission standards. SFFA, representing a coalition of Chinese-, Indian-, Korean-, and Pakistani-American organizations across the U.S., contests Harvard’s claim that their holistic admissions process weights race fairly and argues. The coalition claims Harvard’s admissions process violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. SFFA claims that legacy and athlete admissions cannot explain the disparity in admission gaps using statistical analyses of Harvard’s admissions data conducted by Peter Arcidiacono, a labor economist and professor at Duke University. Using the same data, David Card, professor of economics at University of California, Berkeley, reached very different conclusions than Arcidiacono’s. Card’s study has been endorsed by former Federal Reserve […]

US Law

Who is Actually Served and Protected? An Overview of Nuisance Property Ordinances

October 15, 2018 Isadora Toledo 0

Summary: Despite being designed to limit public harm that occurs on properties, nuisance property ordinances perpetuate systemic housing barriers faced by domestic violence victims. Today more than ever, the duty of police to “serve and protect” has come under public scrutiny. The law, however, should not be exempt from the same criticism – especially as it applies to housing. Often overlooked, laws concerning housing and property can be just as potent in criminalizing marginalized groups. This is especially true of nuisance ordinances, the latest development in a series of laws aimed at “hold[ing] property owners liable for criminal activity on the premises.” Also called disorderly house ordinances or crime-free ordinances, nuisance ordinances were originally intended to dissuade tenants from unnecessarily using police resources. Police members also consider nuisance ordinances a way to “maintain the quality of life in a community” and “provide incentives for preventing criminal activity.” From a landlord […]

US Law

NIFLA v. Becerra: Does The C.A. Reproductive FACT Act Violate Crisis Pregnancy Centers’ Free Speech Rights?

October 15, 2018 Samia Noor and Alan Zhao 0

Summary: A 2015 California law that requires crisis pregnancy centers to inform eligible women of state programs available to help them triggered opposition from anti-abortion advocates. The court decision ruled in favor of the state government, but not likely to put an end to debates as such. Since Roe v. Wade in 1973, abortion has been a mainstay cultural battleground in the United States. In the decades since, multiple challenges have been made to alter the scope of its judgement. Most relevantly, Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) largely reaffirmed Roe v. Wade. However, Planned Parenthood v. Casey opened the door to certain regulations on abortion providers, including requiring them to provide information to patients regarding the fetus, detrimental effects of abortion, and adoption. Planned Parenthood v. Casey set the stage for states to regulate abortions, even in the first trimester in some cases, as long as said regulations do not […]

International Law

The Israeli Occupation Revisited

October 4, 2018 Michelle Li 0

December 6, 2017, President Trump announced the decision to move the U.S. embassy to Israel to Jerusalem, formally declaring Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital. This move, again, made a big splash. Historically, both Israelis and Palestinians have claimed Jerusalem to be their capital. The sovereignty to East Jerusalem, part of the West Bank, is especially under dispute between the two peoples. Coincidentally, 2017 also witnessed the 50th anniversary of Israel’s military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, home to approximately six million Palestinians. 50 years has passed but the question remains: Is the Israeli occupation justified by the international law? And if not, which law does it violate? The origins of modern Israel and Palestine: two peoples, one home The root of the modern Israeli-Palestinian conflict lay in the Balfour Declaration that the British government issued in 1926 to state its support for the establishment of a “national home […]

International Law

UNCLOS and the South China Sea Disputes

October 1, 2018 Michelle Li 0

In summer 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague’s rule in terms of China and the Philippines’ territorial disputes in the South China Sea caught worldwide attention. According to the rule, China’s historical claim to the South China Sea, or the “nine-dash line” claim, has no legal basis. Although the tribunal urged China to abide by the United Nations Convention on the Law and the Sea, or the UNCLOS, and to respect neighboring countries’ sovereignties, China replied that it “neither accepts nor recognizes” the court’s award. Almost two years after the ruling, the disputes are still far from being resolved. China has constructed a number of artificial islands in this region and deployed military facilities on them. Despite the rule, the balance of power persists between China, the Philippines, the United States and other regional powers. Several questions therefore arise: if the UNCLOS sets clearcut and undisputed rules […]

International Law

Indefinite Solitary Confinement Ruled Unconstitutional in British Columbia

April 5, 2018 Hunter Snowden 0

Summary: The Supreme Court of BC has classified indefinite solitary confinement as a form of torture and a breach of Canadian prisoners’ rights. On January 17, 2018, the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled Canadian prisons’ use of indefinite solitary confinement unconstitutional. The court ruled that the practice of allowing the wardens to place an unjustified expiration date on prisoners’ time in solitary was equivalent to torture and placed them at an increased risk of self-harm and suicide. Justice Peter Leask wrote in his decision that this indefinite administrative segregation violated the rights afforded to prisoners under Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically the right to not be deprived of the security of life and the person protected by this section. While this section does clarify that these rights are subject to seizure in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice, Leask did not believe that […]

US Law

“To Seek Justice, Not Merely to Convict”: Prosecutorial Power and the Case for Restorative Justice

March 26, 2018 Jackson Skeen 0

  How Do Prosecutors Impact Incarceration? There are three significant ways in which prosecutorial power feeds mass incarceration: abuse of discretion, misconduct, and political influence. Prosecutors’ aggressive use of discretion, while legal, has sent more and more people to prison even as crime rates and arrests have dropped off. Prosecutors have increasingly filed felony charges in an effort to be perceived as “tough on crime” and in the name of public safety — but at what cost? The exponential growth of the U.S. prison population has placed a substantial economic burden on taxpayers and, more importantly, it has torn apart the social fabric of communities ravaged by mass incarceration. Moreover, social scientists have determined the incarceration rate is now so high that the excessively punitive approach of prosecutors is likely harming, rather than benefitting, public safety.[1] Prosecutorial misconduct, while less prevalent, is particularly problematic because it epitomizes the imbalance of […]