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What “Stop-and-Frisk” Can Teach Us About the First Amendment and Judicial Recusal

The New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy has been widely and passionately criticized. When a panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals removed District Judge Shira Scheindlin from a case reviewing the policy, it added divisive ethical issues to an already controversial topic. Overlooked in this heated debate, however, are the constitutional ramifications of […]

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Getting Kids Out of Harm’s Way: The United States’ Obligation to Operationalize the Best Interest of the Child Principle for Unaccompanied Minors

The government estimates that by the end of the fiscal year over 70,000 unaccompanied children will enter the United States. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees fifty-eight percent of these children will have been forcibly displaced and will be potentially in need of international protection. The only protections for these children are […]

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Non-Prophets: Why For-Profit, Secular Corporations Cannot Exercise Religion Within the Meaning of the First Amendment

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, employers are required to provide their employees with insurance coverage for contraceptives.  The regulations provide certain exemptions, but those exemptions explicitly do not apply to for-profit organizations.  As a result, for-profit corporations run by religious owners have filed nearly fifty lawsuits, arguing that the contraceptive mandate violates […]

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Why Justice Kennedy’s Opinion in Windsor Shortchanged Same-Sex Couples

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in United States v. Windsor—invalidating section three of the Defense of Marriage Act—made the same mistake as his opinion in Lawrence v. Texas.  Both decisions relied upon abstract notions of “liberty” rather than a clear, text-based guarantee of equality.  Same-sex couples deserve more: they are entitled to equal treatment […]

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Defendant Silence and Rhetorical Stasis

Silence disrupts the classic arrangement of argumentation by preventing the traditional narrowing of issues—i.e., the identification of points of stasis. This burdens the side against which silence is deployed. When the defendant invokes the right to silence, the prosecution must address every possible defense. In those rare instances where a defendant’s silence may be raised […]

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Personalized Bills as Commemorations: A Problem for House Rules?

The proliferation of personalized bills in Congress has occurred despite a prohibition on commemorations in the House of Representatives.  This Essay provides a close examination of the wording behind the ban, especially the definition of “commemoration.”  It uses examples from the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 and other statutes to demonstrate […]

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Trouble in the Rockies: Could Colorado Be the Site of the Next Bush v. Gore?

Could Colorado be the site of the next Bush v. Gore?  Colorado’s current election laws could allow an election contest to occur as the new president is being inaugurated.  That, in turn, could put Colorado’s electoral votes in danger of not being counted.  This Essay argues that Colorado should amend its election laws as soon […]

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Vulnerable Victims: Increasing Animal Cruelty Sentences to Reflect Society’s Understanding of the Value of Animal Lives

When Michael Vick pleaded guilty to masterminding a dogfighting operation that resulted in the intentional killing of six to eight dogs—some by hanging or drowning—he was sentenced to only twenty-three months imprisonment.  Alarmingly, Vick’s sentence was among the harshest imposed at the federal level for animal cruelty offenses that routinely involve the torture, maiming, and […]

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National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius: The Constitutionality of Health Care Reform and the Spending Clause

The United States Supreme Court recently upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” as a valid exercise of congressional authority.  The decision, which was one of the most anxiously anticipated in years, caught many people by surprise when Chief Justice Roberts sided with the liberal wing of the Court and […]

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Dangerousness and the Civil–Criminal Distinction: Another Reason to Rethink the Indefinite Detention of Sex Offenders

This Essay builds upon the conclusions of Professor Vars in his Article, Rethinking the Indefinite Detention of Sex Offenders.  Focusing on the faultiness of an actuarial tool often used to assess dangerousness, Vars argues convincingly that the predictions of future dangerousness in sex offender civil commitment hearings are deeply flawed.  This Essay contends that Vars’s […]

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