Case Law

Case Law

The Constitutionality of Vaccine Mandates

November 17, 2021 Megan Gerges 0

It has been almost 22 months since the first U.S COVID-19 case, and the country has lost over 750,000 lives in that time span. This pandemic has not only generated massive change in how people structure their lives, but it has also raised important questions and debates about the role of government in public health and the constitutionality of certain public health measures.  This past September, Joe Biden directed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a regulatory agency with the Labor Department, to require private businesses with 100 or more employees to implement either COVID-19 vaccine mandates or require weekly testing. In early November, the order was officially given. There are many angles and complexities to this policy but it raises the general constitutional question of whether the federal government has the power to implement national vaccine mandates at all.  The United States has a long history of mandatory vaccines […]

Case Law

Carson v. Makin

November 15, 2021 Halle Wagner 0

In a 5-4 panel on June 30, 2020, the United States Supreme Court ruled to reverse and remand the Montana Supreme Court’s ruling on Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. Thus, the Supreme Court concluded that tax-credit funded scholarships meant to help students attend private schools cannot exclude religious institutions from receiving funding simply because they are religious. However, next month on December 8, the Supreme Court will hear Carson v. Makin, a critical case concerning a challenge to the Maine Department of Education’s use of state tuition dollars to supplement nonsectarian schools. The justices will address the question of whether or not a state violates the constitution by operating a program providing students with money to attend private schools but inhibits them from attending schools providing religious instruction. As this question was left unresolved in Espinoza last summer, the Carson case demonstrates the potential to overturn the precedent set […]

Case Law

An Epic Battle Against Apple

November 11, 2021 Isabel Rask 0

Facts of the Case Epic Games, Inc. v. Apple Inc. is a recent high-profile lawsuit involving antitrust laws in the state of California. It has the potential to pave new paths for content creation companies, such as game developers like Epic, to profit from their products without certain traditional restrictions.  The story began in August 2020, when Epic Games, the owners of the extremely popular game Fortnite, created their own in-app payment system to bypass Apple’s App Store payment system. Typically, Apple takes a 30% revenue cut of any purchases made within apps, citing their role as distributors and required digital upkeep as grounds for the built-in charge. In response to Epic’s direct payment system, Fortnite was promptly removed from the App Store and Epic Games quickly filed a preliminary injunction against the tech giant. While ten counts of various kinds were levied against Apple, all but one were struck […]

Case Law

Hog Farm Lawsuits of North Carolina

November 8, 2021 Nicole Masarova 0

Facts:  Murphy-Brown, a branch of the hog-production-industry superpower, Smithfield, was sued in 2014 by over 500 citizens in North Carolina for environmental damage, affecting community health and property enjoyment. These claims were condensed into 26 cases, the first five of which went to trial. Of those five, Murphy-Brown attempted to appeal one district court’s decision to a Fourth Circuit Court which rejected the appeal in November 2020. The decision of the district court heavily stemmed from damages citizens suffered as a result of these hog farms processing pigs at a massive scale. The pigs were held in CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), essentially metal warehouses where pigs risked suffocation due to the close proximity. Because workers were unable to clean fecal waste in such confined spaces, metal slats in the floor collected and ejected the waste into open-air lagoons. In this particular case, the hog farm produced 153,000 pounds of […]

Case Law

First Amendment Rights of Judges and other Public Employees (Part II of IV): Republican Party of Minnesota v. White (2002)

April 27, 2021 Angikar Ghosal 0

Judges are meant to be nonpartisan parts of the government, as has been emphatically mentioned by Chief Justice Roberts. Although Supreme Court justices can themselves pretend that the position of federal justices is completely devoid of partisan taint, and only considers the law from an unbiased matter, reality shows otherwise. The extreme politicization of judicial confirmations, including those of Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett, make us realize that indeed, many legal conundrums do not have an obvious, explicit formulation in the law. Entirely opposing viewpoints could be argued for, with the argument pretending to trace back to some clause in the Constitution through a flimsy line of logic. There is simply no ‘right answer’ according to the law, it simply depends on which side the judge supports – views remain irreconcilable. For example, even scholars who are otherwise personally supporters of access to abortion have considered Roe v. Wade to […]

Case Law

State of Minnesota v. Francios Momolu Khalil

April 27, 2021 Megan Gerges 0

Facts: On March 24, 2021 the Supreme Court of Minnesota ruled in State of Minnesota, Respondent v. Francois Momolu Khalil, Appellant. Francois Momolu Khalil was convicted of one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct for raping an intoxicated woman while she was unconscious in 2017. J.S, the victim, had been drinking alcohol and had taken a prescription narcotic when she and a friend were approached by Khalil and two other men who invited them to a party. They went, only to find that there was no party. While there, J.S passed out on the couch and awoke to find Khalil sexually assaulting her. Despite her protests for him to stop, he continued.   Both the State and Khalil agree that a fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct (non consensual sexual conduct) would have been appropriate based on the facts of this case. However, for first time offenders, this would result only in a […]

Case Law

Pereida v. Wilkinson

April 21, 2021 Megan Gerges 0

Facts:  In the midst of discussions regarding the surge of immigration on the southern border, the Supreme Court recently ruled against Clemente Pereida, an undocumented immigrant who arrived almost 25 years ago. Pereida, who has a wife and three children, including an American citizen and a DACA recipient, was convicted for criminal impersonation under a Nebraska state law after using a fake Social Security Number to obtain a job- a conviction that came in the midst of a removal proceeding against him for unlawful entry. Under the federal Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), undocumented immigrants who have been in the country for a minimum of 10 years, have “good moral character,” have not been convicted of particular crimes (including crimes of moral turpitude), and have relatives that are American citizens or legal residents for whom the removal would create an “‘exceptional and extremely unusual’ hardship” become eligible to request a […]

Case Law

First Amendment Rights of Judges and other Public Employees (Part I of IV): Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois (1990)

April 9, 2021 Angikar Ghosal 0

What extent do judges, or public employees in general, have freedom of speech under the First Amendment? What kind of speech, expression or even association in groups, could disqualify a person from seeking such public office, to ensure that defendants have their due process rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments protected? What evidence can be used to judge the merit of such claims, and judge the judge themselves? How does this relate to the ethical standards for judicial recusal? The Senate confirmation hearings of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Amy Coney Barrett saw an unusually reticent Barrett, unwilling to express opinions on matters of even the slightest legal controversy. Her silence could certainly be due to the politicized controversy regarding her nomination, however a larger trend has emerged. On one hand, the candidature of a nominee gets boosted by the presence of a significant paper trail if the […]

Case Law

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 […]

Case Law

Chiafalo v. Washington: Placing Faith In Faithless Electors

November 3, 2020 Leah Markbreiter 0

The Founding Fathers’ establishment of the Electoral College was an apprehensive, controversial compromise. The men sought to create a body of temporary representatives, individually appointed by the states, who would cast ballots in a presidential election for the winner of the popular vote. Though the body’s intended duty was to systematically honor the wishes of the people, the rise of a highly partisan party system has rendered this a flawed project. In a total of five elections throughout history — twice within the last five elections — the winner of the popular vote was not elected to the presidency. Many states have since taken measures to undermine “faithless electors” by enforcing electors to pledge support to the winning popular vote candidate and by sanctioning those electors who defy their pledge. The extent of state power to impose these sanctions is the issue of the Supreme Court case Chiafalo v. Washington. […]