The James Comey Fiasco: A Primer

Abstract: On October 28, 2016, just ten days before the presidential election, Director of the F.B.I. James Comey wrote a letter to congress announcing that he would be reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of confidential materials on her private email server. In the wake of Clinton’s shocking defeat, some pundits and politicians have argued that Comey’s actions could potentially have influenced the outcome of the election. In this piece, I will examine the legal precedent (or lack thereof) in Comey’s actions, as well as the potential ways in which Comey may have broken the law through a violation of the Hatch Act.

Author: Andrew Stone is a third-year in the College majoring in philosophy.

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Self-Contradictions in Statutes: Clean Power Plan

Abstract: The litigation surrounding President Obama’s Clean Powers Plan poses an interesting legal question. The Clean Air Act of 1990, on which the Clean Power Plan was based, is the result of an imperfect integration of House and Senate Amendments resulting in a contradictory section. In one version of the Act the federal government has a legitimate claim to regulating carbon emissions of factories already being regulated for emissions of other pollutants and in another version such an action is expressly forbidden. Such a minor and previously forgotten error thus prompts a debate between whether it is the role of the Courts to consider the intent of Acts when derivative initiatives come before the Court.

Author: Mary Gen Sanner is a third year student in the College majoring in History, Law Letters and Society, and Political Science.

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The Highest Court in the World?

Abstract: The International Court of Justice is charged with serving the bodies of the United Nations along with its member-states. Its authority and objectivity has been questioned on numerous occasions. The Statute of the International Court of Justice, included in the United Nations Charter, does not require all states to recognize the jurisdiction of the Court, leading the majority of UN members to reject its power. With the Security Council charged with executing its decisions but only one permanent member recognizing its authority, there is a conflict of interest. The judge selection process has received much criticism as the Security Council elects the judges, creating a process that is open to political influence. Some argue that the practice of introducing ad hoc judges that represent each party in a case disrupts the impartiality of the Court while others claim it serves to strengthen it. This essay examines the Court’s lack of authority and, perhaps, impartiality as well.

Author: Shree Mehrotra is currently a second-year in the College pursuing a major in Environmental Science.

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Dear Internet Service Providers of 2020

Abstract: The Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA) sanctions the transmission of obscene, lascivious, and otherwise sexually explicit content to minors on the internet. Though the Act was notorious for its seemingly restrictive speech provisions, the Act in fact broadened parties eligible for liability protection: instead of holding internet service providers liable, the CDA identified the authors of the material as liable. Despite its restrictive provision, the Act in fact serves to encourage free speech and creativity on the internet by broadening eligibility for liability protection. This paper analyzes the tension and what appears to be a paradox between resortction and efficiency, namely how the Act manages to balance restricting unwanted material to minors while simultaneously encouraging free expression and creativity in the digital sphere. 

Author: Sarah Weiswasser is a second-year in the College majoring in Mathematics with a specialization in Economics. 

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Double Jeopardy, Dual Sovereignty and the Conundrum of Congressional Action

Abstract: The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment bars successive prosecutions of a defendant for the same offense. A defendant is not afforded the protections of the Clause, however, if the prosecuting authorities draw their power to enact their criminal laws from distinct sources. The test utilized by the Supreme Court to determine what constitutes a “distinct source of power” has been the subject of recent scholarly criticism after Puerto Rico’s self-governing status was dealt a blow by its application in Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle. This paper analyzes the shortfalls of the Court’s approach to the application of the dual sovereignty doctrine by examining its implications for entities that were granted full or partial sovereignty by the United States, such the Philippines and American Indian tribes.

Author: Katherine Surma is a third-year in the College majoring in Political Science and Law, Letters and Society. 

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