Author Archive

“We the People” Demand Transparency: Covid-19 and the Governmental Duty to Inform America

Ricardo “Rico” J.J. Edwards Jr.

Have you seen the movie 2012?[1] What took place in January 2020, when President Trump was informed about the danger of Covid-19, tells a similar plot. Many audiences can observe the 2012 administration’s silence about Earth’s catastrophic changes, which led to unnecessary deaths. In 2012, the President’s Chief of Staff failed to inform the public about an imminent global disaster despite pleas from the President’s chief science advisor.[2] The 2012 administration’s nondisclosure to the public was disastrous. American people were uninformed and unable to evacuate, causing a tremendous loss of life.[3] Millions of impoverished persons died though the wealthy knew about the Earth’s coming reconfiguration (i.e., deadly volcanic eruptions, shifting tectonic plates, and rising seas) for years.[4] 

If President Trump informed the public about Covid-19’s arrival, restrictions such as social distancing[5] might be a relic of the past. It is debatable if President Trump’s inaction led to more fatalities. Whether receiving little or no information is enough to blame one person is perplexing. Did he underestimate Covid-19’s vigor before spreading misinformation to the Nation and turning away from the Center for Disease Control (CDC)[6], the Nation’s leading public health institution?[7] The Executive Office of the President (EOP) was created under President Franklin in 1939.[8] It intends to communicate a U.S. President’s message “to the American people and promot[e] . . . trade interests abroad.”[9] EOP also houses several advisors traditionally close to the Nation’s President, such as the National Security Council.[10]

Denying Incarcerated People Medical Cannabis Violates the Eighth Amendment’s Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause

Sawyer Burton

Although medical cannabis is now legal in many places, it is routinely prohibited in correctional facilities even if an inmate possesses a valid medical cannabis card.[1] No one has ever succeeded in requesting medical cannabis in a correctional facility under the Eighth Amendment. Even when the legislature explicitly authorizes incarcerated persons to apply for a medical cannabis card, they are denied.[2]

Peoples’ cannabis use can differ, and while some people may use cannabis more medicinally than others, many people need cannabis much like they would any other serious prescription medication.[3] In acute cases, discontinuing someone’s cannabis use could result in death or serious injury.[4] Prison officials should not decide whether one person needs cannabis more than the next. If a doctor recommends medical marijuana for an inmate through a state sponsored system, prison officials should not have authority to decide whether that inmate’s medical needs are legitimate.

Hot Potato: How Cities Can Tackle Climate Change Through Zoning

Mariah Harrod

In the early hours of August 21, 2020, a blackened plume billowed across the skyline of Corpus Christi, Texas.[1] Helicopters wove through the haze to rescue those injured by the “Refinery Row” explosion.[2] Earlier that day, a dredging barge had collided with a submerged natural gas pipeline, igniting the highly volatile methane inside.[3] Four people died, and eight were injured.[4] Traumatic events like these serve as poignant reminders of the latent dangers of fossil fuel infrastructure. Yet the innocuous, everyday impacts from these commonplace facilities are no less perilous.

Much of the natural gas in the United comes from hydraulic fracturing (fracking), a process that shatters the rock formations containing fossil fuels.[5] This process uses several million gallons of pressurized water with added chemical agents later discharged into local reservoirs.[6] Fracking facilities contribute to air and water contamination, earthquakes, and climate impacts from fugitive emissions.[7] Proximity to these sites also correlates with birth defects and premature births.[8]

The Pandemic Special with a Side of Shut-Downs: A Note on NYC’s Restaurants in the Age of Covid-19

Noy Kruvi

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New York City’s globally renowned and diverse collection of restaurants makes it one of the world’s top culinary destinations. Economically, the industry contributes billions of dollars to the City’s tax revenue annually.[1] The industry had approximately 23,650 restaurants in 2019, with 317,800 jobs, paid $10.7 billion in total wages, and generated $27 billion in taxable sales.[2] The Covid-19 pandemic threatens to cripple, and has crippled, the once thriving NYC industry.[3] Mandatory closures, stay-at-home orders, social distancing impositions, an impending economic recession, travel restrictions, and the inherent danger of the virus itself, all threaten an adverse economic impact for the industry.[4]

Power Move: Applying FERC Orders 841 and 2222 to Mitigate Use of Peaker Plants in Environmental Justice Communities

Mary Franco

Time and again marginalized neighborhoods, often communities of color or low-income communities, bear the brunt of local pollution due to historic placement of high-polluting power plants.[1] In particular, fossil fuel peaker plants expose nearby low-income and minority communities, or environmental justice (EJ) communities, to disproportionate amounts of particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide.[2] Grid operators typically employ peaker plants when there is high demand on the electric grid, usually in extremely hot or cold temperatures. These plants need to ramp up quickly and use single-cycle operation, making them more inefficient than their baseload generation counterparts.[3] Currently, the United States has over 1,000 peaker plants.[4] Nearby neighborhoods suffer disproportionate health disparities linked to heavy air pollution from this fossil-fuel energy infrastructure, particularly on hot summer days when local pollution impacts can be more significant.[5]

Panic! at the Courthouse: A New Proposal for Amending Enacted Legislation Banning the LGBTQ+ Panic Defense

Kijana Plenderleith

The LGBTQ+ “panic” defense allows “a jury to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity/expression is to blame for a defendant’s violent reaction, including murder.”[1] Eleven states have banned the use of the LGBTQ+ panic defense; nine more have proposed legislation doing the same. However, not all states that have enacted this legislation have placed outright bans on the defense entirely. Maine, Rhode Island, and Connecticut have legislation that includes language that bars the defense only if it is based solely on the discovery of a victim’s actual or perceived sex or sexual orientation.[2] In effect, inclusion of the word solely creates a loophole allowing defendants to still claim the defense.

What About Community, Climate, and Quality; Strengthening Water Rights and Protections in the Great Lakes Basin

Madison Prokott

The Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River Basin hold twenty-one percent of the world’s fresh water, bring in billions of dollars to the region annually, and provide water to over 30 million people for uses ranging from drinking and recreation to industry.[1] The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Resources Compact (“Great Lakes Compact” or “Compact”) regulates this Basin.[2] Each of the eight states, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and the two surrounding Canadian providences, Ontario and Quebec, within the Basin collaborate through the Compact to coordinate their activities and ensure the longevity of their mutual water source.[3] However, in the thirteen years since the Compact was enacted, states have taken actions contrary to the Compact’s purpose and sought economic gains through the exploitation of loopholes. Additionally, time has shown that the Compact cannot effectively address new problems and issues such as water quality,[4] climate change,[5] and regional water access.[6] While other interstate agreements have faced similar challenges, some have successfully managed to both adapt and provide protections for their water resources.[7]

Tax Liens & Tax Deeds: Common Law Rights can Remedy the Disparate Impact on Communities

Michael Taddonio

Gladys Wisner lived on 480 acres of cropland outside of North Platte in Lincoln County, Nebraska, since 1941.[1] At 90 years old and suffering from mini-strokes, Gladys moved from her home of over 70 years to a supervised living facility.[2] Gladys’ eldest of four, Roger, handled all the finances for her and the farm.[3] Unfortunately and unexpectedly, Roger passed away and Gladys’ second son, Robin, stepped in to handle all the finances.[4] In the transition, Robin failed to pay the property taxes one year because he misunderstood the family’s land trust.[5] The County sold a property tax lien on the land to a third party.[6] The original third-party purchaser sold the property tax lien to Vandelay Investments.[7] No one told Robin or Gladys their taxes were delinquent or that interest in their land moved through so many hands.[8]

After paying Gladys’ property taxes for three years, Vandelay sent a letter to Gladys’ retirement home telling her that she would lose her family’s 480 acres if she did not pay three years-worth of property taxes, costs and fees, plus a 14% interest rate.[9] Gladys never received the letter, and Vandelay never sent a letter to Robin.[10] Ninety days after the post office returned Vandelay’s notice, the county transferred the property to Vandelay, free and clear.[11] When Robin found out about the transfer, he offered to pay the total amount of past-due taxes, costs, fees, and 14% interest to keep his family’s land, but Vandelay rejected the payment.[12] Vandelay paid roughly $50,000 in delinquent taxes to receive a farm worth $1.1 million.[13] This is the tax sale process.

Trump Against TikTok: The Limitations to Controlling Foreign Online Applications

Benjamin Fuller

President Trump’s executive order banning the use of TikTok in the United States (U.S.) violates treaties the U.S. has within the World Trade Organization (WTO) and violates Bytedance’s Constitutional due process rights as a corporation. When comparing TikTok with other social media apps, there is not a huge difference in security issues, content manipulation, or what happens with users’ data. The fundamental difference is that TikTok is subject to Chinese government censorship, and a Chinese corporation owns TikTok. The Trump administration, therefore, treats a business differently mainly because the corporation is based in a different country. This Note addresses how the executive order is improper and investigate the possible avenues that TikTok might pursue to invalidate this former President’s ban.

Assisted Suicide: Is There a Right to Die with Dignity, or Only a Duty to Live in Pain?

Brandon Sheffert

            Many patients in America currently suffer from terminal illness, with no option other than to suffer for an indeterminate amount of time. The Supreme Court of the United States denies terminally ill patients the fundamental right to hasten their death through physician-assisted suicide.[1] The case Washington v. Glucksberg declared there was no fundamental right to assisted suicide.[2] Glucksberg denies countless patients, suffering from terminal illness, a dignified end to their suffering.[3]

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