Human Rights

US Law

Plyler v. Doe: Undocumented Students and Post-Secondary Education

November 13, 2018 Isadora Toledo 0

Summary: Plyler v. Doe lay the groundwork for states to recognize the value of awarding education to every group, regardless of citizenship status. Yet the evolution of education means that over thirty years later, its shortcomings are impossible to ignore. Perhaps even from its conception, American society has recognized the value of education. Over a decade ago, Chief Justice Warren regarded education as “perhaps the most important function of state and local governments” – a “right which must be made available to all on equal terms.” In a country whose history is fraught with battles for liberty, various marginalized groups – from indigenous peoples to Latinx communities – have struggled to claim this right. And for many, specifically undocumented immigrants, the struggle continues. As immigration and naturalization policies increasingly come to conflict with education, questions of who deserves what and why are brought to the forefront. Although the struggle for […]

No Picture
US Law

East Bay Sanctuary Covenant v. Trump: The Legality of President Trump’s Asylum Ban

November 13, 2018 Ellen Wang 0

Summary: Civil rights groups have filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, Al Otro Lado, Innovation Law Lab, and the Central American Resource Center in Los Angeles that challenges the asylum ban signed by President Trump on the morning of November 9th. This lawsuit charges the Trump administration for violating the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, as well as the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act. President Trump’s invocation of national security powers could overhaul long-standing asylum laws that would lead to the deportation of thousands of refugees seeking protection from persecution. Less than six hours after President Trump signed a proclamation preventing immigrants who illegally enter the U.S. from applying for and receiving asylum, civil rights groups began legal recourse. The American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Center for Constitutional Rights filed a complaint in the US. District Court for the Northern District of […]

US Law

Social Media Privacy in Employment

November 6, 2018 Jacob Turobiner 0

Summary: As more employers use social media to evaluate a job candidate, it is raising questions of privacy rights of employees across various states. Background For years, job applications have been comprehensive, with employers requiring a plethora of information from the candidate. In the digital age, employers have access to a treasure trove of personal information: social media. It has become common practice for employers to look into one’s social media records. In 2008, about 34 percent of employers used social media in the hiring process. By 2013, this percentage jumped to 77 percent. A simple Google search can provide a mountain of information about someone–good and bad. It is entirely legal for an employer to do online research on a job candidate, however, an employer could go further and infringe on privacy rights. These types of laws vary greatly between states. What an Employer Can Do There is no […]

US Law

The Supreme Court’s Ability to Enforce Rulings

November 1, 2018 Gramal Ralph 0

Summary: The Supreme Court’s move to the right has raised questions of the Court’s ability to enforce its rulings.  To many Americans, the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh marked the Supreme Court’s move to the ideological right. The country is wondering how this will affect rulings on landmark issues such as abortion, religious liberty, the rights of the LGBTQ community, and more. Americans have long looked at the Supreme Court as an authority to protect the people from unconstitutional executive actions, laws, and statutes. It is often seen as the last line of defense to protect civil liberties. However, the Constitution does not establish a basis for the court to enforce its decisions. In early American history, the Court’s role in government was unknown. The Constitution, in Article III: sections one and two, establishes the Supreme Court as the highest court in the land. It was not until 1803, that […]

US Law

Swartz v. Rodriguez: A Question of Qualified Immunity

November 1, 2018 Phil Ma 0

Summary: U.S. government officials sometimes must make discretionary decisions in split-seconds with only limited information. To protect these officials from personal, civil lawsuits, the idea of qualified immunity was born. However, questions are raised when a discretionary decision kills someone who is not a citizen and it occurs outside of US territory. These are the questions that Swartz v. Rodriguez seeks to answer. Background In October 2012, Lonnie Swartz, a U.S. border patrol agent, shot and killed 16-year-old Mexican national Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez. He was shot approximately 10 times through the border fence that separated the United States and Mexico, all entering the body from behind. Agent Swartz was standing within the United States during the shooting and Mr. Rodriguez was wholly in Mexico. Swartz claimed that the deceased, referenced as J.A. in court documents, threw rocks at him; however, the First Amended Complaint submitted to the courts claim […]

US Law

The 13th Amendment Exclusion Leads To Modern Day Slavery

October 30, 2018 Ellen Wang 0

Summary: U.S. inmates stage nationwide prison strikes over the 13th Amendment loophole that allows for the exploitation of coerced prison labor. A hundred and fifty years after the end of the Civil War, the legality of slavery is still up for debate. Though the U.S. Constitution was amended to prohibit the existence of both slavery and involuntary servitude in the U.S., it left a very large loophole for people who are convicted of crimes – a loophole that affects 2.3 million Americans today. The 13th Amendment, ratified in 1865, states “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” This sharp exception makes it clear that incarcerated persons don’t have constitutional rights under the 13th Amendment – they can be compelled to work for as little as […]

Noose
International Law

Malaysia to Abolish Death Penalty

October 30, 2018 Eliza Farley 0

Malaysia’s Chief Minister announced on October 3rd, that the nation will abolish the death penalty for all crimes, and will nullify all pending executions. This comes after a push from human rights activists and organizations, including but not limited to Amnesty International. Malaysia has been known for keeping their death row prisoners in the dark about their execution dates as well as the results of their appeals. The country is also notoriously strict about enforcing the death penalty, as it is a mandatory punishment for a wide range of crimes, including charges such as drug possession. In fact, there have been tourists in the country executed for such crimes, despite backlash from western nations. Such an instance occurred in 1986 when two Australian citizens, Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers, were found with heroin on their person. The harsh Malaysian government had just newly prescribed death for anyone possessing over 15 grams, […]

The Aquarius in 2017
International Law

The African Refugee Crisis: Claiming Asylum in the European Union

October 26, 2018 Nora Benmamoun 0

This past summer, the Aquarius Migrant search and rescue ship run by Doctors Without Borders landed on Italy’s coast carrying 629 migrants. The migrants came from 26 countries in Africa, and includes 123 minors, 11 small children, and seven pregnant women. All of the migrants were rescued by the Aquarius from six boats that were overcrowded in the Mediterranean. Aquarius currently monitors the area between the coast of Libya and Italy, as many refugees coming from sub-Saharan Africa pass through Libya on their way to Italy. Italy’s far-right Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, refused the ship, saying “Rescuing lives is a duty, transforming Italy into an enormous refugee camp is not. Italy has stopped bowing its head and obeying.” Italy directed Aquarius towards Malta, claiming that the ship was closer to their coast. Malta also refused the ship, deferring responsibility back to Italy. After being stranded at sea for a week, […]

US Law

The Right to Refuse Service and Its Implications on Society

October 22, 2018 Jacob Turobiner 0

Summary: A business owner has the right to refuse service as long as he or she does not infringe upon federal or state discrimination laws. Background Across the nation, businesses display and enforce their right to refuse service. Whether a customer is causing a nuisance or is dressed inappropriately, the business could withhold its services without legal repercussions. Many businesses make their right clear by posting signs with phrases like “We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone.” While this statement does hold true in many cases, it depends on the reasoning behind refusing service. The Constitution, federal laws, and state laws protect certain groups of people from discrimination on the basis of being a member of that group in public accommodations, but not all groups are protected. What Constitutes Illegal Discrimination Since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, businesses cannot discriminate against any person on the basis of […]

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 […]