Supreme Court

US Law

Courthouse Dogs: Witness Comforts, Defendant’s Rights

December 12, 2018 Isadora Toledo 0

Summary: Although the 2013 case People v. Tohom explicitly determined that courthouse dogs are constitutional, the debate over whether or not the court was justified in prioritizing witness’ rights continues. From their beginnings with New York City attorneys in the 1980s, courthouse dogs have become a contentious and sensitive issue. Initially used to comfort abused children during interviews with prosecutors and therapists, courthouse dogs are now being proposed as a nationwide method of accommodating child witnesses inside the courtroom, not just outside of it. Although the 2013 case People v. Tohom explicitly determined that courthouse dogs are constitutional, the debate over whether or not the court was justified in prioritizing witness rights continues. Those who oppose the decision argue that courthouse dogs are especially problematic for defendants. By prejudicing the jury, courthouse dogs jeopardize a defendant’s right to a fair trial. When judges allow courthouse dogs to be present, for […]

US Law

9th Circuit Court Of Appeals Upholds Ban On President Trump’s Attempt To Repeal DACA

December 2, 2018 Isabella Caracta 0

Summary: In 2017, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, issued a memorandum rescinding the memo that established DACA and setting forth a plan to phase it out. Recent rulings, however, have upheld the DACA program, creating legal barriers to the Trump Administration’s attempt to end it. In 2012, the Obama Administration authored an Executive Branch Memorandum more commonly referred to as DACA, which stands for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This memorandum was previously entitled “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children,” and was issued by the then Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano. Despite the fact that Congress rejected the program on multiple occasions during the normal legislative process, DACA created a non-congressionally authorized administrative program permitting “certain individuals who came to the United States as juveniles and meet several criteria…to request consideration of deferred action for a […]

US Law

A New Approach to an Old Problem: Partisan Gerrymandering in Pennsylvania

December 2, 2018 Thomas Huck 0

Summary: In light of recent Supreme Court decisions on partisan gerrymandering, the example set forth by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court provides a promising way to challenge gerrymandered redistricting plans. As millions of Americans head to the polls, one of the most important choices on the ballot will be for congressional representatives.  But, for the millions of voters in Pennsylvania, there is something unique about this year. Following a February ruling from the state’s Supreme Court, the 2011 Congressional Redistricting Plan proposed by the state legislature was found to violate the state’s constitution. Instead of the so-called “2011 plan” or any other plan drawn up by the Harrisburg Legislature, the state’s voters will be using a map with a different author–the state’s Supreme Court. In contrast to a similar challenge in Wisconsin, the decision in League of Women Voters vs. Commonwealth found the 2011 plan unconstitutional under the Pennsylvania Constitution, rather […]

US Law

Are America’s Antitrust Laws Prepared for the 21st Century?

December 2, 2018 Thomas Huck 0

Summary: In the twenty-first century, amidst significant changes to the American and global economy, our century-old antitrust laws may be lacking the key protections needed to regulate the giants of today’s economy, despite their past successes in breaking up monopolies. In response to the increasing power of the Standard Oil Company, who controlled the refining of more than 90 percent of oil in the United States by 1880, Ohio Senator John Sherman proposed the Sherman Antitrust Act to preserve “free and unfettered competition as the rule of trade” by breaking up monopolies. 128 years later, a new challenge is faced as courts must decide whether or not the technology magnates of the twenty-first century are in violation of existing antitrust protection. In addition to the 1914 Sherman Antitrust Act, the Clayton and Federal Trade Commission Acts expanded protections against “conspiracy…in the restraint of trade” and “unfair methods of competition,” respectively. […]

US Law

The Complex Nature of US Evacuation Laws

November 26, 2018 Jacob Turobiner 0

Summary: While every state has laws regarding mandatory evacuation policy, it is usually up to the citizen whether or not to follow an order. Introduction Every year, natural disasters force millions of people across the United States to flee dangerous conditions. So far in 2018, many evacuations have been coast to coast, with most coming from hurricanes and fires. For example, government officials ordered over 1 million people to evacuate before Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina on September 14, 2018. Even more recently, wildfires across California have displaced hundreds of thousands across the state. While most citizens in high-risk areas adhere to evacuation orders from state and local governments, there will always be those who ignore them. In low-risk areas where evacuations are rare, people are far less likely to evacuate since, for some, the danger is unimaginable due to a long, positive living experience. The federal government […]

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

Balancing Presidential Powers: Appointment of Matthew Whitaker

November 13, 2018 Phil Ma 0

Summary: The appointment of Chief of Staff to the Attorney General Matthew Whitaker as acting Attorney General after resignation of Jeff Sessions has raised questions about the constitutionality of the appointment. Although these questions stem from concern about Whitaker’s position on the Mueller probe, they are nonetheless legitimate, unanswered questions about the constitutionality of the president appointing someone not confirmed by the Senate to an office that answers only to the president. On Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions submitted his letter of resignation at the request of President Donald Trump. Then the President appointed Matthew Whitaker, Chief of Staff to Attorney General Sessions, to become the new acting Attorney General of the United States of America. The next day, Neal Katyal and George Conway III, husband of Kellyanne Conway, wrote an Opinion article in the New York Times claiming that the appointment of Whitaker to the position […]

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

Internal Revenue Service or International Revenue Service?

October 25, 2018 William Tong 0

What does the eastern African nation of Eritrea have in common with the United States? Not much, aside from a shared practice that makes the two countries absolutely unique in the entire world: the practice of collecting income taxes based on citizenship as opposed to residency. The overwhelming majority of tax-collecting jurisdictions on Earth are based on the concept of residency, whereby the tax laws of a jurisdiction define a set of criteria to determine whether a person is considered a resident in said jurisdiction. For instance, two common components of residency tests include, first, the circumstances in which a particular length of physical presence within a jurisdiction would count toward residency, and second, a threshold of length of physical presence above which residency is ascertained. Most jurisdictions also have a clause that allows for stays or visits that do not contribute to residency, such as transitional presence and various […]