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Archive for April, 2010

Equal Protection and Prejudice, Misinformation, and Scaremongering

April 26, 2010 1 comment

Summary:

  • A challenge to California’s Proposition 8, which took away same-sex marriage, is currently in federal court, which must decide whether and to what extent the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals.
  • This group is currently protected from action based on animus under Romer v. Evans under the Equal Protection Clause.
  • Hopefully, the District Court, then the Ninth Circuit, and probably the U.S. Supreme Court will be willing to extend the Equal Protection Clause, providing protections from actions based on prejudice, misinformation, and scaremongering.

This article is by Keith Southam, a 2L from Chicago-Kent.

Recently, Illinois state Representative Greg Harris came to Chicago-Kent to speak about a bill he sponsors to allow civil unions in the state of Illinois. Next door, Iowa recently celebrated one year of permitting same sex marriage. And not long ago, same-sex couples in the nation’s capital started marrying. In contrast to these jurisdictions, California took a notable step in the opposite direction came in the fall 2008 election cycle when a slim majority of Californians voted to prohibit same-sex marriage. California’s ban took the form of a referendum, Proposition 8, that rolled back rights the California Supreme Court had previously granted. Currently, a challenge to that referendum is pending in the Northern District of California. This sort of back and forth is not uncommon. Read more…

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Categories: Academic Articles

Len Bias: Drugs, Race, and the Law

April 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Summary:

  • Len Bias went to the University of Maryland where he was quickly regarded as a “can’t miss prospect” and one of the best players in college basketball.
  • The day after Bias was drafted, he signed a shoe contract with Reebok and went back to the University of Maryland to celebrate with his friends and later died.
  • Congress enacted the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 known as the “Len Bias Law,” which enacted mandatory sentences for several drugs, which many have found to be unfair.

This article is by Danny Berliant, a 2L from Chicago-Kent.

ESPN recently aired an episode of its new series, 30 for 30, entitled “Without Bias.” The episode was directed by Kirk Fraser.  “Without Bias” is the story of the rise and shocking, sudden fall of a “can’t miss” basketball prospect, Len Bias.  While I knew what happened to Bias, I did not realize how many aspects of society that Bias’ story affected, and I decided to look further into his story… Read more…

SCOTUS Strikes Down Law Banning Videos Depicting Animal Cruelty

April 21, 2010 2 comments

In an 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court yesterday struck down a federal law that criminalized the commercial creation, sale, or possession of video depictions of animal cruelty. The law defined “depiction of animal cruelty” as any video in which “a living animal is intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded, or killed, if such conduct is illegal under Federal law [or State law].” Violations of the law were punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

The law was challenged on First Amendment grounds by Robert J. Stevens, a distributor of films that depicted dog fights in Japan and the U.S. Dog fighting is prohibited in all 50 states and by federal law. Stevens sold videos of dog fights through his website and was prosecuted on three counts of violating the act. In federal district court, Stevens was found guilty and sentenced to 37 months in prison.

Read more…

Amazon Sends the Taxman Packing

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment

In an interesting case concerning consumer privacy when making online purchases, Amazon.com filed a lawsuit against North Carolina tax collectors in order to bar a request for consumer information.  The North Carolina Department of Revenue had demanded that Amazon provide it with the full details, including the name of the consumer and their home address, about the nearly 50 million purchases made in the state via Amazon between 2003 and 2010.  This information request was accompanied by North Carolina officials traveling to Seattle and explaining to Amazon that any non-compliance of their request would result in some sort of retribution in North Carolina.  In order to combat the North Carolina demand, Amazon filed its suit saying that such a demand is in violation of consumer privacy rights and the 1st Amendment.  For more information click here.

The North Carolina Department of Revenue’s basic contention is that it has been grossly underpaid for the taxes that should have been collected on all of the purchases made on Amazon in the state.  Because Amazon does not have any physical connection with the state while conducting business, it is not obligated to pay the requisite sales tax on each purchase made.  Instead, the state must rely on consumers paying the requisite use tax on the items that they purchase.  However, it is safe to assume that many consumers are not aware of their tax obligations because most purchases are subject to sales tax paid by the seller and not use tax paid by the buyer.  All in all, this is a fight pitting 1st Amendment protection against a state’s rights to collect its taxes.  I wonder who is going to win.

Categories: General

Life Lesson: Don’t Say You’re an Attorney Unless You Are

April 19, 2010 1 comment

In a hilarious story, the Naperville Sun reports that a University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) law student pretended to be an attorney representing his friend who had just been arrested for drunk driving. Just to clarify, UIC does not have a law school; however, the story goes on to state that the suspect was the co-vice president of UIC’s Pre-Law Society, a student run group for aspiring law students. See the story for the details.

It is a misdemeanor to pretend to be a licensed attorney. Apparently, this student went as far as saying he had his own family law practice and the driver was one of his clients. I don’t know of many attorneys that would let a drunk client drive them around Aurora at 1 a.m. on a Sunday morning. I wonder how the character and fitness committee will treat this.

SEC Charges Goldman Sachs With Fraud

April 16, 2010 Leave a comment

As the fallout continues from the 2008 sub-prime mortgage meltdown, a stronger, more aggressive SEC is rearing its head. This time, the Division of Enforcement is going after Goldman Sachs. The SEC release says that Goldman Sachs created a financial product that hinged on the performance of residential sub-prime loans. These are the infamous mortgage backed securities that have wreaked havoc on the world economy for the past year or so. Specifically, Goldman failed to tell investors that a major hedge fund had played a role in selecting the debt that was to be packaged in this specific line of CDOs and that the hedge fund held a short position against the CDO.

“The product was new and complex but the deception and conflicts are old and simple,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the Division of Enforcement. “Goldman wrongly permitted a client that was betting against the mortgage market to heavily influence which mortgage securities to include in an investment portfolio, while telling other investors that the securities were selected by an independent, objective third party.”

Expect to see more of these actions over time. For more information, see the SEC release here.

Categories: General Tags: , , , , , , ,

President Obama Orders Hospital Visitation Rights for Same-Sex Partners

April 16, 2010 Leave a comment

President Obama has ordered the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to formulate rules that would extend hospital visitation rights to same-sex partners. The new rules would apply to all hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, which nearly all hospitals do. The regulations would require hospitals to allow patients to decide who may visit them and prohibit hospitals from discriminating on a variety of characteristics, including sexual orientation. If adopted, the regulations would negate the policies of many hospital that restrict visitation rights to immediate family members. For more on this new policy, you can read the Presidential Memorandum to HHS here.

Categories: General Tags: , ,