US Law

US Law

Is Checking Your Personal Emails at Work a Federal Crime? 

November 7, 2021 Vineet Chovatia 0

In Van Buren v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled six to three in favor of Nathan Van Buren, a Georgia Police Sergeant, establishing the reach of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) in convicting individuals for improper use of “authorized information.”  By clarifying the previously vague definition of “improper use,” the ruling will protect Americans from a judge’s subjective interpretation and potentially dangerous application of the law.  Van Buren, a police sergeant from Cumming, Georgia, asked a known criminal, Andrew Albo, for a large sum of money. In response, Albo reported the request from Van Buren to the police who then referred the case to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI then conducted a sting operation by having Albo demand that Van Buren determine whether an individual was an undercover officer in exchange for the money. Van Buren, using the license plate database to which he […]

US Law

Supreme Court Rejects Challenges to Vaccine Mandates in “Shadow Docket” Rulings

November 2, 2021 Andrew Touma 0

In a pair of emergency docket decisions, the Supreme Court rejected two appeals challenging coronavirus vaccine mandates in educational settings. In the first, decided by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a group of Indiana University students contested the constitutionality of a vaccine mandate for students. In the second, decided by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, New York City public-school employees opposed an executive order to require proof of vaccination. These rulings bolster judicial support of vaccine mandates amidst nationwide debates of COVID-19 vaccination requirements and discredit critiques of emergency docket proceedings. Both cases attempted to exploit the Court’s emergency docket, colloquially referred to as the “shadow docket” for its alleged lack of transparency. The emergency docket consists of urgent requests to the Supreme Court that permit rulings in the form of short summary decisions, as opposed to the standard full briefing and oral argument. These appeals are given to the Justice who oversees […]

US Law

Copyright Protection of Dance

January 26, 2019 Jacob Turobiner 0

Summary: Lawsuits against the popular gaming company “Epic Games” will force federal courts to expand upon copyright laws regarding dance and choreography. Introduction The video game Fortnite has over 200 million registered users, currently making it the most popular video game in the world. However, Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, is facing multiple lawsuits related to potential copyright infringement. Celebrities and media icons claim the game developers stole their dance moves and, thus, their intellectual property. Millions of Fortnite users buy these dance moves on the game, so the actual dancers behind them want a share of the billions of dollars that Epic Games has generated from the game. While there is no hiding the fact that Epic Games made a profit from dances created by others, that does not necessarily mean that these dances are protected under copyright law. How does something receive copyright protection? In order for […]

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 […]

US Law

Change and Controversy: A Review of Hate Crime Laws in America

November 7, 2018 Thomas Huck 0

Pittsburgh. Kroger. Package bombs. Over the past two weeks, the United States has been recovering from three different attacks. As the perpetrators of each face charges, the question of motivation for these hate-fueled attacks is being brought up across the nation. For the courts, the question of what constitutes a hate crime is an especially important one. Amid efforts to reform hate crime statutes, the Department of Justice released a new hate crimes website to provide resources for law enforcement agencies. Although the Department has “increased training of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers to ensure that hate crimes are identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent possible,” a report from California State University, San Bernardino, indicates that the number of hate crimes across the nation continues to rise. These studies only tell half of the story. A majority of hate crimes that were committed between 2011 and 2015 […]