A Not so Blast From the Past: Government Concurrence with Minority Voter Suppression in the United States

Simeon Brown

The United States has a long history of mistreating its minority population. Since the founding of this country, from the 3/5 rule to modern voter-dilution practices, the U.S. has subjected minorities, and particularly African Americans, to state-mandated second-class citizenry. Of which, minority populations continue to struggle for fair apportionment and representation within our state and federal governments. After Abraham Lincoln gave his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863,[1] Congress took over seven years to draft, pass, and ratify the 15th amendment granting African American men the right to vote.[2]

MAKING AMERICA POLITICALLY EQUAL: OVERCOMING STARE DECISIS TO ENFRANCHISE RESIDENTS OF THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS USING RESTORATIVE PRINCIPLES

Diarra A. Raymond

Millions of U.S. citizens living in unincorporated territories, like the U.S. Virgin Islands, have an inferior political and legal status. Congress passed legislation organizing the territory’s government under the Revised Organic Act of 1954, extending the Bill of Rights except the Ninth Amendment and other key constitutional amendments.[1]

While Congress extends U.S. citizenship to persons in these territories, they have no right to vote in presidential elections because unincorporated territories are not states.[2] They have a delegate to Congress, but this delegate has no voting rights.[3] This is an inequitable application of constitutional rights. Restorative principles insist the Court and Congress must create equity by dismantling the laws and policies that have denied these political rights to Virgin Islanders since its acquisition by the United States.

FDA, JUST SAY NO: WHY USING BETA-AGONIST DRUGS IN ANIMALS FOR CONSUMPTION REQUIRES NEW FDA REGULATIONS

Ashely Monti

In 1999, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a beta-agonist drug commonly known as ractopamine.[1] Meat producers use ractopamine to accelerate weight gain and promote leanness in pigs, cattle, and turkeys.[2] Today, over 160 countries either restrict or completely ban the use of ractopamine.[3] However, the United States (U.S.) and 25 other countries still permit its use.[4] Most countries have banned or restricted ractopamine due to animal or human health concerns.[5] Many of these countries took a precautionary approach in reviewing the drug because studies have insufficiently demonstrated the drug’s safety.[6] Yet, the FDA fails to adopt a precautionary approach in approving animal drugs, which is highly problematic and concerning for meat consumers, animal welfare advocates, environmentalists, and others alike.[7] Even more concerning is that ractopamine is not the only non-essential, beta-agonist drug on the market. The FDA recently approved a drug known as Experior, which purports to reduce ammonia in cows.[8] Although this may sound like a good, environmentally conscious idea, its known and unknown risks substantially outweigh any benefits.[9] Overall, the U.S. must proceed with caution when approving drugs that are non-essential, non-therapeutic, and only serve some other—likely economic—purpose.

HOW AND WHY RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIALS, A STAPLE IN MEDICINE AND PSYCHOLOGY, SHOULD BE USED TO EVALUATE AND REFORM PUBLIC CRIMINAL DEFENSE

Jason Warfield

Most criminal defendants cannot afford their own attorney and instead rely on attorneys provided by the government.[1]  Ever since Gideon[2] guaranteed representation to defendants facing possible imprisonment, critics have harshly criticized the quality of that representation, focusing in particular on jurisdictions where public defenders have staggering caseloads that make it effectively impossible to routinely go beyond “meet ‘em, greet ‘em, and plead ‘em,”[3] and where appointed and contract counsel have compensation schemes that demand the rapid resolution of cases.[4]  In some jurisdictions, attorneys lack the time—sometimes best measured in minutes per case—to perform even a basic investigation of the facts much less develop a meaningful attorney-client relationship or probe the prosecution’s case for weaknesses.[5]  Public defense attorneys with too many cases often also lack support services like investigators or expert witnesses.[6]  Although the highly deferential Strickland Test provides a remedy for ineffective counsel in extraordinary cases,[7] it has done little to stop assembly-line justice from flourishing in the years since Gideon, a once-revolutionary decision that is widely considered a broken promise.[8]

LIVING IN A “MATERIAL” WORLD: THE CASE FOR MANDATORY ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL, AND GOVERNANCE (ESG) DISCLOSURES IN THE UNITED STATES

Lancee Whetman

“Sustainability momentum—that’s where the magic is going to happen.” – Eddie Perkin[1]

Investors admonish major companies for “hiding” their environmentally related plans to deal with climate change.[2] In fact, worldwide trends indicate that investors have a strong interest in companies’ climate-related plans.[3] And some companies have “bowed to [these] investor demands” already.[4] However, despite this trend, some of the world’s largest and well-known companies still remain silent on how critical climate-related issues affect their business—including Berkshire Hathaway, Facebook, Netflix, PayPal, and even the electric-car maker, Tesla.[5] And, in recent years, fossil-fuel giants—BP, Exxon, and Chevron—have stopped disclosing their climate-related plans.[6] The reason: because disclosures on environmental, social, and governance issues (ESG) are a dollar-and-cents issue, and revealing climate-sensitive information could be bad for certain businesses.[7] In 2016, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) reported that out of 1,500 disclosures by 637 companies across different 72 industries, nearly 30 percent of the disclosures did not include any climate-related information.[8] Most corporations evade climate-related disclosure because companies do not consider the risks of climate change to be material or that the company does not have a duty to report. Further, in the United States, ESG disclosures are an entirely voluntary measure, so companies have no obligation to report it—for now that is. Despite this disclosure dilemma, tackling climate change must ultimately go beyond the corporate dollar-and-cent mentality.[9]

THE SKY-HIGH COURT: DETERMINING PROPER VENUE FOR CRIMES COMMITTED ON BOARD DOMESTIC FLIGHTS

Solal Wanstok

American filmmaker and writer John Waters once said: “I’d be arrested if I still smoked because I’m the one who would be changing the battery in the airplane in the lavatory to take out the smoke detector. I would’ve been those people they warn you against.”[1] Given the current state of federal law, Waters would have not only inconvenienced the passengers and flight crew, but also given many restless nights to his attorney.

LEGAL FOUNDATIONS FOR GROWING A REGENERATION ECONOMY IN VERMONT

Lauryn Sherman

The State of Vermont has been working on designing a payment for ecosystem services (PES) system that would hire farmers to improve watershed function as a strategy to moderate and adapt to climate change.[1]  This paradigm recognizes that deep topsoil can provide “flood protection, clean water, food security, and climate resilience and mitigation.”[2] The State and other parties would invest in rebuilding the land’s capacity to provide these services, much like it would invest in rehabilitating physical infrastructure.[3] 

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: DISCUSSING NEW YORK’S NEED FOR NEW ELECTRICAL GENERATION SITING LAWS

Dan Krzykowski

On October 28, 2012, a full moon was on display over New York harbor.[1] Twenty-four hours later the pull of that same moon, paired with many other events, brought destruction into the greater New York Metropolitan Area.[2] Superstorm Sandy killed 43 New Yorkers, flooded 51 square miles of the city’s landmass, caused over $19 billion of damage, and shut the power off for weeks.[3] The storm was a tragedy, and a sign of things to come.[4]

GET IT ON THE RECORD! EXPLICIT FACT-FINDING AT BATSON’S THIRD STEP AS A COMPROMISE TO REJUVINATE THE BATSON RULE

Sean Noonan

“Object anyway!” said James Kirkland Batson to his defense attorney when the prosecutor struck the only three black jurors from the venire during jury selection for his trial.[1] When Mr. Batson first inquired about the seemingly discriminatory peremptory challenges to his public defender, his attorney replied, the prosecutor does not need to disclose why he struck the jurors.[2] This did not sit right with Mr. Batson. He encouraged his attorney to object anyway, and his attorney did.[3] This choice was the catalyst that would lead to the monumental Supreme Court decision on peremptory challenges and the Fourteenth Amendment.[4]

A SLIPPERY SKI SLOPE: APPROVAL OF VERMONT’S FIRST INTERBASIN WATER TRANSFER ILLUSTRATES THE INADEQUACIES IN RIPARIANISM AND REGULATORY CONTROL OF SURFACE WATER IN OUR CHANGING CLIMATE

Kelsey Schweitzer

This year, Vermont ski area Pico Mountain (Pico) broke ground on a project ramping up its snowmaking.[1] In the past, Pico’s snowmaking has suffered from running out of water when their “snowmaking needs are greatest.” Starting this 2019-2020 winter season, Killington Mountain Resort (Killington), another Vermont skiing destination, will be piping water from Killington’s water sources directly to the privately owned Pico ski area snowmaking pond (Killington-Pico snowmaking interconnect).[2] Vermont’s Department of Environmental Conservation (the Department) approved this 2.1 million dollar snowmaking project on September 17, 2019.[3] With access to Killington’s water supply, Pico will be able to “keep making snow without pause” ending the problem that has limited Pico’s snowmaking in the past: “running out of water when snowmaking needs are greatest.”[4] This investment is only the most recent of Pico’s improvements to take place since Killington acquired the ski area in 1997.[5] Snowmaking is not new to the ski-industry in Vermont, but becoming more quintessential to the survival and longevity of the season.[6]

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