Judging in the United Kingdom: A Man’s Job?

Christina Avgousti

The underrepresentation of women in judicial office is often at the core of judicial diversity arguments. A motivating catalyst for judicial diversity is the structural discrimination and marginalization that women in law have had to confront. Whilst equality of opportunity is a deeply rooted argument fueling the appointment of more female judges, it is nonetheless not sacrosanct. While much of mainland Europe, including France, Spain, Italy, Holland, Denmark, Poland and Greece, have a majority of female judges, Britain paradoxically has one of the lowest proportions of women on the bench. In Scotland, the proportion is only twenty-two percent, with Azerbaijan being the only state with a worse gender balance at eleven percent.British-Judiciary1 Continue reading Judging in the United Kingdom: A Man’s Job?

Drone Regulations and Fourth Amendment Rights: The Interaction of State Drone Statutes and the Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

“Current federal case law allows warrantless observation of property from manned aerial vehicles if they are in publicly navigable airspace. The increasing domestic use of unmanned aerial vehicles, colloquially known as ‘drones,’ and the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) efforts to develop regulations to integrate them into national airspace implicate sensitive constitutional privacy issues. In response, several states are enacting or have already enacted statutes to regulate drone use. This Note discusses how state drone statutes may inform the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Fourth Amendment and its protection against unreasonable searches by drones — specifically, whether state drone statutes may influence the Court’s current understanding of the ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ when it is inevitably applied in warrantless drone surveillance cases.

First, this Note reviews Fourth Amendment jurisprudence regarding surveillance technologies and searches. It then provides a survey of state drone statutes currently in effect, their purposes, and their practical effects on the use of drones by the government and private parties. Next, this Note discusses how state drone statutes may interact with Fourth Amendment jurisprudence and inform the Supreme Court’s understanding of reasonable expectations of privacy in the context of drones. As drone technology develops, state statutes can influence and reflect social norms and expectations regarding drone use and the type of information discoverable by drones, while creating a source of protection for privacy interests that is independent of the Fourth Amendment. Furthermore, policy arguments made during the development of state drone statutes may legitimate people’s expectations of privacy against drones. Ultimately, this Note predicts that state drone statutes will likely influence the Court’s jurisprudence on the reasonable expectation of privacy, whether explicitly or implicitly, as drones develop technologically and are regulated.”

Taly Matiteyahu, Drone Regulations and Fourth Amendment Rights: The Interaction of State Drone Statutes and the Reasonable Expectation of Privacy, in Volume 48, Issue 2 of the Journal of Law and Social Problems.

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Gideon and Habeas Corpus: The Evolution of Justice in a Post-Teague, Post-AEDPA World

Georgina Yeomans

On May 13, 2015, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing, with bipartisan support, on proposals to protect the right to counsel for indigent defendants charged with misdemeanors. While this unity in favor of expanding the right to counsel for indigent defendants is encouraging for criminal justice reform advocates, providing defendants with counsel won’t mean much if Congress and the Court continue to impede defendants’ ability to challenge their convictions and to urge judicial evolution on criminal justice matters.

Fifty-two years have passed since the Court’s decision in Gideon v. Wainwright guaranteed counsel to indigent defendants facing state felony charges. The fiftieth anniversary, in 2013, prompted significant discussion about how Gideon’s promise has gone unfulfilled, as Congress and state governments have not adequately funded the offices tasked with carrying out the Court’s mandate. But also disconcerting, and left largely unmentioned by these critiques, is that access to justice has been greatly restricted in other ways since Gideon’s time. Specifically, the right to be heard on a petition for a writ of habeas corpus has been restricted—by the 1989 case Teague v. Lane and by the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act—to the point that, had those rules applied in 1963, Gideon may not have happened. Continue reading Gideon and Habeas Corpus: The Evolution of Justice in a Post-Teague, Post-AEDPA World

Breaking Down the Binary: The Impact of the Civil Rights Act on Latino Communities

Mayra Joachin and Marisol Ramirez

The historic passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964[1] happened a little over 50 years ago. Many in the civil rights world have scrutinized the outcomes that those 50 years have yielded, with much of the conversation focusing on the impact on the African American community. This paints the picture of a Black/White binary that perpetually frames many civil rights conversations in America. However, the Civil Rights Act has had an impact on a range of minority groups, including Latinos. Continue reading Breaking Down the Binary: The Impact of the Civil Rights Act on Latino Communities

What about Autonomy? Applying the Legal Strategy underlying Marriage Equality to Abortion Rights

Nell Ethridge

In the first month of the 2015 legislative session, state lawmakers introduced more than one hundred bills regulating abortion in more than half of the states. In many states, although abortion is technically legal, onerous regulations make it difficult, if not functionally impossible, for a woman to exercise her constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy. Compare this to the marriage equality movement, which has seen unprecedented success in recent years and looks poised to become the law of the land later this month, when the Supreme Court hands down its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. Parts of larger movements for LGBT and women’s equality, abortion and marriage rights represent two concrete indices on which to measure the general advancement of progressive social attitudes towards these two classes of individuals. Both movements have garnered success and have faced setbacks along the way, but while the marriage equality movement has made unprecedented strides in recent years, the same time period has seen the retraction and restriction of a woman’s right to control her body. One of the reasons for these divergent trajectories is the way in which courts have framed the right itself.[1]

Image via Politico.com
Image AP via Politico.com.

Continue reading What about Autonomy? Applying the Legal Strategy underlying Marriage Equality to Abortion Rights

Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant: Public Disclosure of Electoral Advocacy in Union Member Communications

“In 1948, the Supreme Court held in United States v. CIO that the statutory ban on direct union spending in federal elections could not be applied to electoral advocacy by leaders of an organization directed at the members of that same organization. As a result, federal and state laws now generally exempt such internal communications from the definition of “expenditure” under campaign finance laws. But in its landmark 2010 decision Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court declared the ban on direct corporate campaign spending itself unconstitutional. The Federal Election Commission soon thereafter announced that the ruling would also apply to unions. There is now no doubt that an organization such as a union or a corporation may directly spend money on electoral advocacy. Given this framework, this Note argues that internal communications between the leaders of an organization — in particular, a union — and its members that directly advocate for or against the election of a particular candidate can and should be subject to mandated public disclosure.”

Sophie Mancall-Bitel, Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant: Public Disclosure of Electoral Advocacy in Union Member Communications, in Volume 48, Issue 2 of the Journal of Law and Social Problems.

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A French-American Perspective on Legal Education: Institutions, Experience, and Debate

Adrien Habermacher

French and American law students have strikingly different experiences, almost opposite to one another, during their preparation for their future profession. There are, of course, variations in legal practice between France and the United States. However, this does not justify the great differences in training and education. As a student trained in both systems, I would like to flesh out these differences and explain what distinguishes the experience of a French law student from that of an American law student; I would also like to take the opportunity to highlight the current state of the debate on legal education in both countries. Continue reading A French-American Perspective on Legal Education: Institutions, Experience, and Debate

The Plight of the Gentile, Or How to Deal with the Effects of Tear Gas

Tochi Onyebuchi

The pain will pass. When running against the wind, be sure to keep calm. Don’t touch your face. Do not rinse with water. Use Coca-Cola or milk instead to end the burning. If you are close enough to the police, they cannot use the tear gas on you. And in the event that you are without a gas mask, you can wrap a t-shirt around your nose and mouth and protect your eyes with goggles or something similar. The oblong teargas canisters are small enough that they can be hurled back at the shooter before too much gas is expelled. To properly douse them, be sure to arm yourself with a Poland Springs jug half-filled with water, and the canister that lands beside you, toss it inside, stand on the opening and wave away the remaining fumes as the device is extinguished. If there is fire nearby, toss the canister in the fire, and that too will neutralize it.

This was the advice given to protestors in Ferguson, Missouri in the conflagration that followed the August 2014 murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson.

It was given to them over Twitter. By Palestinians. Continue reading The Plight of the Gentile, Or How to Deal with the Effects of Tear Gas

From Shield to Sword: TTIP’s Lessons on Democratic Legitimacy for International Investment Arbitration

Joanna Diane Caytas

Overwhelming popular rejection in Europe imperils the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership [hereinafter TTIP], a free-trade treaty currently being negotiated between Washington and Brussels.[1] Euroskeptics have already moved to exploit negative sentiment resulting from a massive failure of public diplomacy.[2] Continue reading From Shield to Sword: TTIP’s Lessons on Democratic Legitimacy for International Investment Arbitration

Where the Law(yer) is Made: Campus Activism and Civil Rights Work

Chris Wilds

During a panel for high school students interested in law, one student asked, “How can we be sure that a law school will provide us with the skills that we need to do the things that we’d like to do?” My response was that although faculty and administrators may help students attain the skills they need, students themselves can, and should, play an active role in their own education. Had I been asked that question one year earlier I may have had a different response. My perspective on the student’s role in law school and higher education generally has been influenced by my involvement in the seminar 64@50: The Civil Rights Act of 1964.

During the Fall semester of 2014, Columbia Law students organized and led a seminar focused on the landmark civil rights legislation enacted a half-century ago. One constant throughout the sessions was the level of student involvement in shaping and leading the discussions. By taking on an increased role in fashioning their own legal education, Columbia Law students were not only studying an important event in the civil rights movement, they were also exhibiting the character that moved young people to challenge the status quo, and impact the institutions of their day, over fifty years ago.

Creating and leading a reading group may not seem like a revolutionary act, but when understood within the context of events that occurred during the Fall semester of 2014, not only at Columbia Law School but around the nation, the potential impact of the seminar is more evident. Continue reading Where the Law(yer) is Made: Campus Activism and Civil Rights Work