“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. 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. This did not sit right with Mr. Batson. He encouraged his attorney to object anyway, and his attorney did. This choice was the catalyst that would lead to the monumental Supreme Court decision on peremptory challenges and the Fourteenth Amendment.
This year, Vermont ski area Pico Mountain (Pico) broke ground on a project ramping up its snowmaking. 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). Vermont’s Department of Environmental Conservation (the Department) approved this 2.1 million dollar snowmaking project on September 17, 2019. 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.” This investment is only the most recent of Pico’s improvements to take place since Killington acquired the ski area in 1997. Snowmaking is not new to the ski-industry in Vermont, but becoming more quintessential to the survival and longevity of the season.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have become the subject of public outrage in recent years after revelations that manufacturers of these chemicals have long known of their potential dangers but hid this knowledge from the public. In one of the most infamous examples, DuPont chemical company knowingly disposed of one type of toxic perfluoroalkyl substance for over fifty years in unlined pits, contaminating the drinking water of more than 100,000 people in West Virginia and Ohio near DuPont’s Washington Works facility. The Washington Works case has spurred a class-action lawsuit involving 80,000 plaintiffs that settled for $343 million, a documentary, and a feature film, and has helped focus public attention on this toxic and environmentally persistent class of chemicals. Despite increased public scrutiny, the federal government has been slow to regulate PFAS. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not yet promulgated a legally enforceable standard for any of the more than 4,700 individual chemicals in the PFAS group, in part, due to the still incomplete understanding of the effects of PFAS on human health. In the absence of formal federal regulation, a handful of states have begun to regulate PFAS, primarily in drinking water. Yet few state regulations exist that address PFAS waste, which contaminates soil, groundwater, and other media, despite the growing realization that contamination from PFAS waste is widespread.
Imagine you are an immigrant. You are legally in the United States on an F1 Visa. You have almost completed your university studies when you get an unsuspecting email from the President of another University applauding your accomplishments and enticing you to further your studies at his school. You check out the school’s website and verify its accreditation. The school appears legitimate. You send in your application, get accepted, and pay tuition. You think you are legally in the United States on an F1 Visa, until that school closes, blaming their own recruiters, and you, for scamming the system. Not only do you lose the money you paid for tuition, but you also lose your status in the United States.
The mysterious void of outer space is one of the last great unknowns yet to be understood. Is there life beyond earth? That question plaguing humans for generations has yet to be answered. However, the solution draws near. We may not know what is out there, but we do know that organisms from earth can survive the vacuum of space. Not only can simple organisms survive, but even animals have been found to survive the extreme dehydration and UV radiation they encounter beyond Earth’s atmosphere. So when we discover life, how can we be sure that we were not the ones who brought it there?
Immigration courts in the United States are facing the largest case backlog recorded since 1998. Due to a regulation imposed by Attorney General Jefferson Sessions, immigration judges are directed to complete 700 removal cases a year. Deciding 700 cases a year roughly equates to deciding a case every 2.5 hours. Immigration judges are overworked and increasingly left demoralized by directives imposed by the Trump Administration. Rightfully so, immigration judges are tasked with deciding numerous asylum decisions—pertaining to life and death situations—each day. Immigration judge Dayna Leigh Marks describes the process as “holding death penalty cases in traffic court.” Asylum hearings feel this way to immigration judges because they are tasked with deciding whether asylum applicants deserve protection from the U.S. on account of persecution in their home countries. Asylum applicants are often fleeing violence from countries where the government is unwilling or unable to protect them.
At the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, its proponents were largely wrapped up in concerns about development encroaching on wildlands, the extensive creep of new roads, and the impact of intensive and extractive land management. Today, conservationists and environmentalists see in the foreground of their challenges another issue that went unaddressed at the passage of the Wilderness Act: climate change. Howard Zahniser, the primary author of the Wilderness Act, died mere months before he could have witnessed President Johnson sign the bill into law. And it was only the following year that Johnson had his science advisory committee evaluate other ecological issues with a report that may contain the earliest recognition in the US government of the greenhouse effect and the atmospheric impact of fossil fuels. The way we grapple with our effects on the natural world has shifted monumentally in the half-century since 1964. In debates on the ramifications of climate change, the voices of the architects of the Wilderness Act are thus lamentably absent.
Under existing State Law,Vermont agritourism operators are liable to visitors who are injured on their property. This framework seems to prioritize Vermont’s tourists and consumers, but does it?
Vermont is best known for its rolling green valleys, maple sugar farms, and dairy. It is the second least populated State in the U.S., but a place worth visiting for those who enjoy outdoor activities, beautiful foliage and good food. Specifically, “great food traditions like cheese, chocolate, and ice cream” have travelers adding Vermont to their bucket lists. Moreover, as U.S. consumers increasingly demand local, sustainably produced food, the Green Mountain State has built a reputation as a “center for agritourism.”
The work of federal administrative agencies has significant societal influence. These agencies are “prime instruments for effectuation of governmental policies and programs, regulatory and non-regulatory.” Because of this substantial power, “[c]ontrol, review and improvement of the agency process have become increasingly major concerns of the legal system generally, and of administrative law particularly.” The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) regulates the procedural processes federal agencies must comply with. Historically, as the amount of federal agencies increased, the need for standardization and a method to guarantee “administrative impartiality” arose.
Qualified immunity protects government agents even in the face of blatant constitutional violations. These violations may range from violated free speech to the use of excessive force which results in death. Recently, the need for a modified use of the qualified immunity defense has become apparent with the shootings of unarmed individuals at the Mexico-United States border. United States Border Patrol Agents (Agents) killed or caused the death of at least 90 people since January 2010. These actions include negligent care provided to people in their custody, serial killings, and shootings near the border. The qualified immunity doctrine protects government agents from civil liability from claims brought by citizens unless: (1) the official violated a constitutional right; and (2) that right was clearly established at the time of the alleged action. Further, as part of the second prong, the clearly established standard is based on whether a reasonable person would have known that right was clearly established at the time of the alleged action. Qualified immunity is a common law doctrine, judicially-created, and has not been codified. A codified qualified immunity test would bar a defense of qualified immunity for certain violations and allow individuals civil suits to go forward and see a form of justice.