Weekly Round-Up #10: Nearing the End, Searching for Answers

Hello again. As I sit writing this, we here at Utica College have entered our final week of classes. As we get closer to the end of the semester, and for some of our bloggers, the end of their time in college, we see from these posts (written for last week) that we are still looking for answers to many of the topics we have been exploring all semester. In large part, as the student bloggers acknowledge, that is because constitutional law is an ever on-going process of argumentation and interpretation. This is something they will get to experience firsthand next week when they engage in a moot court during their final exam period. But, before we can get there, we need to cover last week’s posts, and eventually the posts written for this week. So, on with the posts!

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Someone is bound to get this one, right? Too esoteric? I mean, what’s the point of teaching at a liberal arts school if you cannot make incredibly niche, bizarre references? 

Let’s start our review of the posts by looking of a pair of posts on the right to privacy as it applies to access to abortion, which Erin and Grace both address in their posts. Erin writes about the right to privacy in the context of abortion rights. She discusses what it means for abortion to be considered a matter of privacy, rather than equal protection. From here, she articles an argument for why abortion should be considered an issue of equal protection, and thus covered under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, rather than an issue of the right to privacy. Similarly, Grace writes in her blog about a woman’s right to choose to obtain an abortion. She discusses the importance of this right for women’s rights more generally. She also discusses the precarious position this right is in given that it is linked to the right to privacy, which is not clearly articulated in the U.S. Constitution.

While looking more broadly than just the right to a safe, legal abortion, Taylor also addresses women’s rights, including their reproductive rights, in her post. Taylor criticizes the Trump-led efforts to take funding away from Planned Parenthood. She talks about how the stated goals are not related to the actions that are being taken, as well as addresses the costs of removing funding for Planned Parenthood. As Taylor explains, there is much more at stake than merely “defunding” abortions (which, thanks to the Hyde Amendment, have not been federally funded since 1976.

While Erin, Grace, and Taylor all discuss areas where women’s rights appear to be shrinking, Adrian looks at attempts (thus far unsuccessful) to expand rights for LGBT individuals. Adrian’s post addresses recent attempts in Hawaii to extend insurance coverage for in vitro fertilization and surrogacy to LGBT individuals. Hawaii currently requires insurance carriers to cover in vitro fertilization for married heterosexual couples. Adrian explains how efforts have been made in Hawaii to include LGBT individuals as well, and the challenges these changes face.

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Maybe this one? Better?

Moving on from here into a different direction, Efrain and Selma O. offer two very different looks at places where free speech rights (potentially) are weighed against security concerns. Efrain’s blog for last week was about the case Defense Distributed v. United States Department of State (2016). This case addresses whether the files for 3D printing handguns are protected as free speech, or subject to federal regulations on the basis of foreign policy and national security interests. Efrain walks through the issues in this case, discusses the court’s ruling, and explains why he thinks the federal district court ultimately made the right decision. Selma takes a more historical look as she discusses the Pentagon Papers in relation to free speech in the United States. She discusses the Pentagon Papers, and the related case of New York Times v. United States, in light of both freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Dan takes a bigger picture look at Trump’s travel ban as he steps back and examines his position on the ban. He discusses his opinion now and how blogging about this topic has shaped that opinion. He also looks at levels of support for the ban in the United States.

Finally, I wrap up this round-up with a look at two posts on religion that, arguably, ask different versions of the same question: what is covered by the religion clauses? Paul asks this question fairly directly, while Kaitlyn gets to the question through a current Supreme Court case. Paul, in his post, addresses one of the questions central to religion clause jurisprudence: what exactly is covered by the Establishment Clause. Paul steps back from specific cases and controversies to address, more broadly, the Establishment Clause and the Court’s mixed jurisprudence around this issue. He does look briefly at Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. (2007), but largely as a missed opportunity as the Court decided FFRF did not have standing, and thus did not rule on the merits—and thus the Establishment Clause—in the case. Kaitlyn’s post for last week was written in anticipation of Justice Gorsuch’s first oral arguments, which also includes a case about religious liberty. Kaitlyn discusses the now-argued Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Pauley. She sets up the case, and offers her own analysis on the conflict in the case. Also, while not a part of her post, I will add that this case is one of two that the students will be arguing for a moot court simulation in our class (the other case being Packingham v. North Carolina).

One more week of classes (and a moot court simulation), and one more blog post.

 

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