Case Reviews

Case Reviews

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 Reviews

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 Reviews

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 Reviews

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 Reviews

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 Reviews

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. […]

Case Reviews

United States v. Robert Boling, Jr. et al – Assessing Federal Action To Address Elder Fraud

October 20, 2020 Cameron Page 0

Facts of the Case United States of America v. Robert Boling Jr., et al. details the indictment of five individuals for the perpetration of a multifaceted identity-theft and fraud scheme targeting thousands of United States veterans and service members between July 2014 and July 2019. Frederick Brown–a former U.S. Army civilian medical records administrator–exploited his post by illegally providing Robert Boling, Jr. with personal identification information (PII) belonging to thousands of U.S. military-affiliated individuals, including active service members and their dependents, employees of the Department of Defense and, predominantly, veterans. Boling then co-conspired with Allan Kerr and Jongmin Seok, utilizing the stolen PII data to access and steal from victims’ bank accounts, disability funds, and veteran benefit pay-outs via the Department of Defense benefits portal. Thereafter, Trorice Crawford recruited upward of thirty individuals as “money mules” to launder the stolen funds. Crawford then facilitated the remittance of these funds to […]

Case Reviews

Aftermath of the Youth Climate Change Lawsuit

January 30, 2020 Dominique Karesh 0

Introduction: In 2015, 21 youth plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the United States and several executive branch officers, including former President Obama and President Trump. The plaintiffs of the Juliana v. United States suit, who are all between the ages of 12 and 23, argued that government inaction in regards to climate change violated their “fundamental constitutional rights to freedom from deprivation of life, liberty, and property.” The plaintiffs were able to meet the requirements for standing with proof that they were adversely affected by the climate crisis. For instance, Levi Draheim, a 12-year-old plaintiff, had been injured by repeat evacuations during worsening storms. At the time, the Juliana suit was one of many climate change lawsuits making their way to the US court system. The youth lawsuit stood out because it challenged the federal government, rather than fossil fuel companies themselves. As climate change remains a pressing issue, the […]

Case Reviews

Kansas v. Garcia

January 22, 2020 John Markis 0

Kansas v. Garcia focuses on the arrests and subsequent convictions of three men in separate incidents. The eponymous defendant, Ramiro Garcia, who worked as a line cook in Olathe, Kansas, was stopped in 2012 for a simple speeding violation. Upon closer inspection, the police officer on duty discovered that authorities were already searching for Garcia; by seizing his federal employment document, the Employment Eligibility Verification, known colloquially as his I-9, detectives assessed that Garcia had falsified his social security number and charged him with identity theft. Garcia was initially found guilty in Johnson County, yet the Kansas Supreme Court overturned this ruling after appeal because of the fact that the I-9 is a federal document. In effect, the Kansas Supreme Court negated prosecutors’ ability to present federally mandated statutes as evidence of disobedience of state law.    The Supreme Court will thus answer whether states have the capacity to determine their […]

Case Reviews

McAdams v. Marquette University: Expanding Academic Freedom

November 13, 2019 Emma Coleman 0

Introduction: Academic freedom encapsulates the protection of the free exchange of ideas among students and faculty of academic institutions. Although the Constitution does not explicitly include the right to academic freedom,  the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld it, citing the First and Fourteenth Amendments. In essence, academic freedom is necessary to allow institutions of higher education, their students, and their faculty members to function effectively without unreasonable governmental interference or institutional regulation, thereby advancing American society through the acquisition of knowledge.  In the United States, the creation of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in 1915 formally introduced the notion of academic freedom. In 1940, this organization published its “Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure” which outlined the primary goals of academic freedom at the time.It highlighted the importance of enforcing freedom in pursuing and publishing research, freedom of instructors to teach their discipline, and freedom “to […]