Weekly Round-Up #4: Just a Wee Bit Late, and Quite a Bit of Discrimination

After suffering from a wickedly bad sinus headache all weekend, I am finally getting around to finishing and posting the round-up from last week. Do not let my tardiness here detract from another round of engaging posts. While not every post, many this week take on issues of discrimination. Perhaps this is a fluke, perhaps a sign of the times, but whatever the reason, these are incredibly important posts.

But, before we get into the posts about discrimination, how about we start off with a look at some great, thorough posts about other rights and liberties? I think that’s a good idea, and, seeing as I am the one writing this, that’s what we will do. Erin, Selma, Efrain, and Laura all fall into this first category.

Erin offers up what is, effectively, a thesis exploring the origins of the right to privacy. She looks at the Constitution, cases, and broader democratic ideals that justify the existing of a right to privacy. Erin even discusses some of the challenges the right to privacy is facing now.

Building off of her previous post about Gitlow, Selma O. discusses Schenck in her post for this week. Selma explains the events that gave rise to Gitlow, as well as Holmes’s “clear and present danger test.” She relates Gitlow with Schenck to discuss government’s restrictions on the freedom of speech.

Efrain’s post this week is about Microsoft Corp v. United States (2016), a recent Second Circuit case pertaining to search warrants and what information must be turned over. The case addresses questions pertaining to what data must be turned over based on the location of the servers where it is stored. Efrain explains the case and controversy, and discusses how the ruling’s treatment of data is potentially problematic, raising more questions than it answers.

Laura, in her post, addresses one of the Affordable Care Act replacements that has been floating around, the Cassidy-Collins bill, also known as the Patient Freedom Act of 2017 (PFA). Laura explains the provisions in the bill, how it relates to the still-in-place ACA, and what it means for healthcare moving forward.

While not about discrimination, Kaitlyn and Paul discuss recent religion cases and some ongoing controversies around religion in the public sphere. Kaitlyn writes about Trump’s rally in Florida, focusing in on the choice to have Melania open the rally with a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. She discusses this decision in light of Town of Greece v. Galloway (2014), and in the context of public prayer more generally. Paul, in his post, looks at the 2005 pair of Ten Commandment cases McCreary County v. ACLU and Van Orden v. Perry. These cases were handed down on the same day, both were 5-4 cases, yet one upheld a 10 Commandment display and the other struck down a display. Paul talks about what unites and separates these cases, as well as how these cases fit within overall trend within the Court regarding religion, generally, and religious displays, specifically.

From here we hop on board the discrimination train and ride it through the rest of the posts for this week. These posts address various policies, laws, regulations, and cases that either evince a hostile attitude towards some group, or show the law working to push back against discrimination. Daniel starts us off with his post, which looks at Trump’s travel ban, and the Court ruling around it. He discusses Trump’s ranty Twitter response, as well as looks forward to the next iteration that the White House has suggested is forthcoming.  Here we get a discussion of a travel ban that many consider discriminatory, including several courts, who at least hint at the discriminatory intent if stopping short of saying it directly.

Grace, in addressing her central theme of race and the law, turns her attention to the racial disparities in the criminal justice system. She provides lots of data regarding these disparities, and discusses what they mean for our justice system.

Finally, Elise, Adrian, and Taylor address various issues pertaining to questions of LGBTQ rights. Elise writes about a recent Washington Supreme Court case involving a challenge to the state’s antidiscrimination laws. Specifically, the case involved a religion-based argument for why florists should be able to deny service to a same-sex couple for their wedding. Elise talks about the ruling that the antidiscrimination laws do not require a religious exemption.

Adrian writes his post about yet another bathroom bill that has emerged, this time in Missouri. The Missouri bill focuses on K-12 public schools, requiring students to use the bathroom and locker rooms associated with their determined biological sex at birth. The bill, however, does allow for single-stall or other accommodations for transgender students. Adrian discusses how this bill compares to others being considered by other states. He also discusses the response from various LGBTQ+ groups and activists.

Taylor, whose blog focuses on women’s rights and the challenges women face, uses her post this week to discuss transgender women. Taylor discusses the Trump administration’s decision to change the Obama administration guidelines regarding Title IX, public schools, and access to public restrooms for transgender students. She addresses the problems with these changes, as well as the problems with the “let states decide” approach to transgender rights.

Finally, by way of funny confession to attempt to partially make up for this post’s being late, let me tell you a quick story. As the class is reading and discussing First Amendment free speech cases, I often find myself getting a little distracted as we get to Gitlow v. New York (1925). This distraction has basically nothing to do with the case. It does, however, have everything to do with the exquisitely funny Hyperbole and a Half. More specifically, this:

For full context, here is the post from which this amazing image originates. So, as I review my notes, or prepare to discuss the case, moments before I read or say Gitlow, I think of this. And now you will too. Muwhahahaha.

 

Weekly Round-Up #3: Liberties in the Time of Crisis

Hello again! Welcome back for another round of thoughtful posts. While the posts are not as easily grouped this week as they sometimes are, they are all united by (A) being fantastic, and (B) largely addressing contemporary issues of civil liberties that have a degree of both backward and forward looking to them. That is, many of the posts talk about something happening now, turning to previous case law, events, and crisis, to then assess where we are now and where we are going as a country with respect to civil liberties.

Let’s start off with Efrain and Erin, both of whom address 4th Amendment concerns arising from recent developments. Efrain writes about a recent 6th Circuit case that raises important 4th Amendment issues. The case is Huff v. Spaw (2015), which Efrain explains in detail. The central question involves whether an accidental pocket dial falls within the 4th Amendment’s “plain view doctrine,” and thus would not be protected communication. Erin’s post is about 4th Amendment rights in the context of Trump’s call for the full restoration of the USA Patriot Act, which was initially passed in the days immediately after the attacks on 9/11. She discusses the act, and some of the many 4th Amendment issues the Patriot Act brought up in its previous incarnation.

Similar to Efrain’s and Erin’s posts, Paul and Kaitlyn both wrote posts that look at contemporary political developments and the legal and social antecedents that lead us to where we are now. However, unlike Efrain’s and Erin’s 4th Amendment posts, Paul and Kaitlyn both look at 1st Amendment issues pertaining to the religion clauses. Paul, in his post, focuses on the 2014 case Town of Greece v. Galloway. The case involved a challenge to a town’s practice of beginning its town board meetings, which are public legislative meetings, with a prayer. Paul walks through the events leading to the challenge, as well as explains the Court’s ruling (and Breyer’s dissent) in the case. Kaitlyn writes about the Johnson amendment in her post this week. She explains the history of the amendment, as well as covers Trump’s repeated statements that he will repeal it. Kaitlyn also explains a bit more about how the Johnson Amendment works, and the arguments surrounding its potential repeal.

While not about religion, Selma O. discusses 1st Amendment protections for freedom of speech. Selma continues her discussion of anarchism from her previous post by looking at questions surrounding free speech, advocacy for anarchism, and the Court’s ruling in Gitlow v. New York (1925). Selma provides thoughtful reflection on whether free speech protections can, or should, extend to anarchism, and what it means for our rights if these protections do or do not apply.

While a bit of a hodgepodge when considered together, Taylor, Adrian, and Grace all address issues that are a bit more local in focus, even as they invoke national concerns. Taylor writes her post this week in response to James Green, a Republican and now-former Republican Party vice chair at the county level in Utah. Green wrote and had published a letter that articulated stereotypical views of family and “men’s” and “women’s” roles in family and society, all while bashing the very notion of equal pay. I could not possibly do justice to Taylor’s response, so you’ll just need to read it for yourself (it’s very much worth you time to do so). Adrian discusses various anti-trans bathroom bills that are being proposed in states, focusing primarily on the new one introduced in Texas. Adrian ties in a theme from his previous post regarding the Super Bowl by looking at how another athletic organization, the NBA, has put pressure on Texas and other states to not pass anti-trans bathroom bills. Adrian’s post is a wonderful mix of analysis and discussion of how political and social pressure can influence laws relating to the rights Americans enjoy. Grace provides a thorough overview on the topic of racial profiling. She explains what it is, when it comes up, and why the 14th Amendment bars the practice. She also talks about the many ways in which it still exists and is used by law enforcement, as well as provides examples.

Rounding out the posts for this week is a pair of posts from Jordyn and Laura relating to two different executive orders President Trump has issued, both of which involve comparisons to President Obama. Jordyn discusses some of the differences between the Obama administration and the Trump administration regarding immigration. She looks at Trump’s recent Muslim ban, and how it compares to actions Obama took regarding visas from Iraq. Unsurprisingly, these presidents have very different approaches to immigration. Laura provides a clear, and incredibly helpful explanation of portions of Trump’s first executive order, which was aimed at limiting the Affordable Care Act in anticipation of its repeal by Republicans in Congress. Laura talks about the executive order, generally, as well as provides detailed readings and explanations of three specific sections from the order.

Weekly Round-Up #2: “I Want One Day Without a CNN Alert that Scares the Hell Out of Me.”

Wow, it is certainly an interesting time to be alive and studying politics, and in particular civil liberties. Frankly, it is exhausting trying to keep up with everything that is happening and the levels of concern that come from watching the fast-paced erosion of democratic norms and institutions. As the title I chose for this post suggests, as SNL nailed last weekend, we could all use a bit of a break. While I cannot offer a full on escape, I can offer you a variety of great student posts about various civil liberties issues.

There are lots of great posts this week (as always), and so many different ways to group and present them. For the first set of posts I’m presenting the students who have written about recent executive orders. Daniel discusses the 9th Circuit’s ruling upholding the block on Trump’s immigration ban. He looks at what is currently developing with one of Trump’s more controversial executive orders. Kaitlyn also writes about Trump’s immigration ban. Kaitlyn focuses on Trump’s immigration ban in light of our current topic in class (and part of her blog’s central topic), the Establishment Clause. She looks at the language of the order itself and puts this into the context of the First Amendment’s religion clauses.

Rounding out the executive order posts, Erin’s post this week focuses on one of President Trump’s new executive order. No, not the immigration ban, but a different one. Erin talks about a new executive order that, in part, jeopardizes privacy protections for non-US citizens and non-lawful permanent residents. As Erin points out, this goes in direct contradiction to a previously established data transfer framework to allow the EU to share information with the US where the US will protect that data on a level consistent with EU privacy protections. Erin walks through the agreement, the new executive order and what it means for privacy rights for many people. This post is a great read, especially if you are interested (and concerned about) privacy protections.

Hiding in a drawer…Lenin might be on to something here

Sticking with the theme of actions from the new administration, we turn to our attention to posts about various nominees. Elise writes about the new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos (DuVos?), and school choice. She puts the idea of allowing parents to choose private school options into context with the Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Taylor shifts our focus away from the cabinet to the Court. Taylor’s post focuses on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Gorsuch, and his record as a judge on women’s rights issues. Taylor talks about Gorsuch’s various rulings that have negatively affected women’s rights. She talks about what this would mean for the Supreme Court if Gorsuch is confirmed as the next associated justice on the Court.
Both Paul and Efrain focus on recent cases dealing with civil liberties issues, and Laura writes about a series of recent cases regarding the Affordable Care Act. Paul discusses the 2010 Supreme Court case, Christian Legal Society (CLS) v. Martinez. This case involves whether a registered student organization at a law school can require students to sign on to their statement of faith, or whether the school can force the group to abide by the school’s nondiscrimination policy. Paul talks about the development of the case, as well as the Court’s ultimate ruling in the case. Efrain’s post this week is a thorough examination of a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit case, United States v. Whitaker (2016). He provides a detailed account of the case, so I will briefly say here that the case involves a warrantless use of a drug-sniffing dog that eventually lead to an arrest on drug charges. After explaining the case, and the Seventh Circuit’s ruling, he talks about the implications of this case for Fourth Amendment rights. Laura highlights more Supreme Court cases pertaining to the Affordable Care Act in her post. She provides a chronological overview of the Court’s cases regarding the ACA, and what the Court held. She provides this review as a means of leading into current healthcare issues in her next post.

Leave the politics, take the cannoli
Cannoli and coffee…this is exactly the sort of break I need right now

While not about recent cases, Grace also takes us through how the Supreme Court has been involved in issues of civil liberties and civil rights. Grace continues her examination of race, the Court, and the law by looking at questions of school segregation. While she largely talks about Brown v. Board of Education, she also provides a more robust history of cases involving challenges to segregation and how the Court’s early 14th Amendment rulings actually enabled much of the segregation the Court eventually used the 14th Amendment to strike down.

Adrian brings our focus out a bit broader to social connection between civil liberties, local politics, and broader cultural events. Adrian writes about how the Super Bowl connects to his blog’s central theme, LGBTQ+ rights. He discusses how both the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots have taken steps to support LGBTQ+ rights, and to some extent so has the NFL. Adrian puts these actions in the context of the importance of signaling acceptance to fans, but also their importance when the Super Bowl takes place, as it is did this year, in a state that is pursuing aggressively anti-LGBTQ legislation.

Last, but certainly not least, Selma O. addresses whether anarchism is covered under freedom of speech in the U.S. She addresses this topic by looking at the case of Sacco and Vanzetti. She explains some of the details surrounding the case, and relates the nativist sentiments at the time to the ultimate outcome of the case. This is a wonderful piece, and has been featured on The Daily Context, a blog maintained by a group of historians who put current political developments into historical context.

Once again all of these posts are well worth a read, and, if you feel so inclined, leave a comment and engage with these intrepid young scholars.

Weekly Round-Up #1: Snow, Snow, Everywhere, and Some Good Blogs, Too

It is a new semester, we have a new president, and I am here to present a new round of student blogs. This semester I am teaching UC’s course on Civil Liberties. Consequently, the students in the course this semester are blogging about various civil liberties topics of their choosing. We’ve got blogs about religion, healthcare, drone strikes, same-sex marriage, and more. You can find a list of the student bloggers here, and, as always, I’ll be positing the weekly round-ups on this site to discuss the students’ posts. As there are more student bloggers this semester than I’ve had in the past, I’ll try to keep the summaries of each post shorter than I used to, in order to keep these round-ups brief. I highly encourage you to check out the students’ actual posts on their blogs (linked to here, as well as in the round-up posts). If you feel so inclined, go ahead and leave the students a comment and engage these bright young minds in conversation. Now, on to the posts!


In that we are currently studying religion clause jurisprudence in our class, I have arbitrarily decided to start the round-up with the blogs about religion. Kaitlyn and Paul are focusing their blogs on religion this semester, and Dan touches on religion in his first post. Kaitlyn started off her blog this semester with a great primer on the religion clauses and an important case regarding each clause. Paul discusses Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, a 2004 Supreme Court case that challenged the use of “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Paul explains what led to the case, how the Court addressed the issue, and his thoughts on how things could have played out had the facts been slightly different. He goes on to talk about the position of religion in the U.S. and our constitutional liberties around religion. Dan, in his post, discusses Trump’s executive order barring immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries. Dan also briefly discusses the firing of Sally Yates. All three of these posts discuss civil liberties issues around religion, and all three focus on different areas where these conflicts arise.
Both Jordyn and Laura discuss healthcare, and more specifically the Affordable Care Act. Jordyn provides a history of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare), to provide context for President Trump’s actions that he has taken to aid the efforts to repeal the ACA. She then explains what Trump has done so far, and what he cannot do, with respect to the repealing of the ACA. She ends with her own thoughts on the role of healthcare, and providing healthcare, in our society. Laura is writing her blog about healthcare in the United States this semester, and the various civil liberties issues pertaining to healthcare. As a means of setting up this topic for her blog, her first post contains a primer on the ACA. She discusses what it does and does not do, as well as the legal and political developments and challenges the ACA has faced since its inception. These posts, collectively, serve as accessible introductions and explanations of what the ACA is, and the legal and political controversies surrounding it.

Although a separate topic, the issue of women’s rights and bodily autonomy, as of late, is often connected to the issue of health care. Both Erin and Taylor (returning bloggers from last semester!) talk about women’s rights in their posts. Erin writes about Roe v. Wade, the idea of bodily autonomy (especially for women), and Trump’s various problems with women. She further connects these topics to a discussion of Trump’s recently named Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch. Taylor begins her blogging foray into women’s rights issues by discussing Roe, Casey, and various recent efforts to limit women’s access to safe abortion options. Taylor’s post is thorough, informative, and impassioned.

Both Erin’s and Taylor’s posts about women’s rights address these issues through the context of the new Trump administration. Similarly, Adrian and Garrett introduce their respective blog topics, which has nothing to do with healthcare or bodily autonomy, through a similar lens. Adrian’s blog this semester is going to look at LGBTQ+ rights, including marriage equality. Towards that end, his first post looks at President Obama’s record on LGBTQ+ rights, and the uncertainty these rights now face under President Trump’s administration. As Adrian explains, this uncertainty includes the discussed (but not yet proposed) First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which many view as a direct attempt to limit LGBTQ+ rights. Garrett’s blog this semester will focus on the use of drones in military operations, and the implications for civil liberties in how these drones are used. His first post explains a bit about how and why the U.S. uses drones. Garrett, in his post, also addresses potentials issues and concerns that Trump’s presidency may provide with respect to the use of drones. This is all the more true, as Garrett points out, in light of Trump’s approach to politics and norms, but also from the way in which Obama’s use of drones was largely unaddressed and unregulated.

Grace, another return blogger, is going to be discussing race and the law this semester. Grace writes about the history of race in and at the Supreme Court. She looks at the justices themselves, as well as the slow progress towards a Court that stands up for various minorities, especially racial minorities. Grace uses this historical context to engage with current issues of race and the law, and the Court’s role in addressing these issues.

After religion, healthcare, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, drones, and race, how about something a bit lighter? Fortunately Elise is there for all of us. Coming off of her blogging experience last semester, and the Super Bowl, Elise finds a way to connect the Super Bowl with our class for her first blog post this semester. More specifically, Elise discusses the various civil liberty themes that ran throughout many of the commercials and Lady Gaga’s halftime performance.

Finally (in the sense that I have hit the end of the way I have grouped these students’ blogs), we come to our last three student bloggers. We have two returning and one new student bloggers, as I wrap up this round-up (try saying that five times fast) with a return to the First Amendment. Both Selma J. and Selma O. (our returning bloggers) are discussing free speech issues in their blogs this semester. Selma J.’s initial post this semester looks at the nature of truth and free speech in a democracy. She discusses broad principles and her own views. She then relates these topics to the now-rampant claims of “fake news,” and the role of journalism in a democracy. Selma O. introduces her blog topic, free speech, in her first post by discussing Texas v. Johnson and Tinker v. Des Moines. Selma uses these cases to articulate what the First Amendment speech protections actual protect, and the centrality of protecting potentially disruptive expression that is more than just speech. Efrain, in is blog, looks at free speech and freedom of the press issues. In his post, Efrain discusses Detroit Free Press, Inc. v. United States Department of Justice, a case coming out of the Sixth Circuit that is currently on the Supreme Court’s docket. The case involves a Freedom of Information Act request for mugshots of police officers charged with various crimes, and broader questions of what and whose information can be released to the press to be printed.
These posts are all informative, well-constructed, and engaging. Again, go give them a read. Based on these initial offerings, I think this is going to be a great semester to follow these students.

Spring 2017 Semester Welcome

Hello, and welcome to a new semester of student bloggers. It is a new year, a new semester, and now it is time for a “mostly” new set of student bloggers. There are some student returning from Constitutional Law in the Governmental Process from the Fall 2016 semester, but there are also many new students as well.

This semester’s course is Civil Liberties, and thus focuses on questions of civil liberties in the United States. In the course we will primarily be looking at cases arising out of various First Amendment issues, such as freedom of: religion, speech, and the press. Some of the students will focus on these issues, while others will look at additional issues pertaining to civil liberties in the United States.

It promises to be a great semester, with high quality student blogs. You can find out more about the student bloggers this semester here, and find links to their blogs (once I have them all) here. Thanks for reading!

Weekly Round-Up #11: So Long, Farewell

We’ve done it! We’ve made it to the end of another semester. Well, almost the end, as this is the last week of classes and we still have finals week. But, we’ve reached (nearly) the end, and the actual end of these blogs as this is the final blog post for my students this semester. As they are all in total control of their own blogs there is the chance that some will continue to blog, but that is no long a matter for this course. What is left for us is to say goodbye to the blogs for the semester, and soon goodbye to all of 2016. The students also have to write appellate briefs and have oral arguments as part of a moot court around Coventry Health Care of Missouri, Inc. v. Nevils, that is not really a matter for this blog. Before I turn this into a Midwestern goodbye, let’s move on.

Interesting GIF - Holidayclassics Thenightmarebeforechristmas GIFs

As was the case with the previous posts, Selma O. and Elise manage to discuss the same case, but in very different ways. Selma returns to the question of Congressional redistricting in addressing Harris v. McCrory, one of two Congressional redistricting cases the Court heard on Monday. Selma discusses the history around redistricting cases, the specifics of this case, as well as the broader need for the Court to address these issues. Like Selma, Elise also addresses the Court’s new redistricting cases. However, Elise focuses her post primarily on Baker v. Carr, and how the Court decided it was allowed to be involved in redistricting cases. Elise talks about the legal challenge in Baker v. Carr, and how the Court explained its rationale for being involved in what was previously deemed to be political questions. These two posts complement each other very well.

On a similar voter-related topic, Taylor, in her post, discusses Maine’s adoption of ranked-choice voting. She discusses what it is and how it works. She also discusses why it might be a good change, as well as potentially problems with the change. This pairs nicely with the discussion of voting and redistricting, as it looks at another aspect of laws and practices around voting, and voting rights, in the U.S.

Erin examines various poll numbers regarding support for affirmative action. She discusses why affirmative action still has much to offer this country, as well as what the various poll numbers mean for the present and future of affirmative action policies in the US.

Grace discusses the tenuous existence of administrative agencies in our system of separation of powers. She discusses what administrative agencies are, and how they involve a blending of executive and legislative power. Although not an explicit part of our constitutional design, they are an integral part of how the US government functions.

Ben’s post this week is about the 2007 Supreme Court case Panetti v. Quarterman. The case involved questions over whether someone who lacked the capacity to understand why they were being sentenced could be sentenced to death. Ben discusses the case, Panetti’s condition, and the troubles of ruling in this case.

 

Snuggle GIF - Snuggle Elf GIFs

And with those wonderful posts we put a wrap on the blog for this semester. The students are working on their moot court and we are all getting ready for the break, and then the spring semester. A somewhat new group of students will be back (with a few returning voices) to blog about Civil Rights and Civil Liberties topics as the students in my Civil Liberties class in the spring will also maintain their own blogs. Those blogs will be featured here as well. Until then, happy holidays!

Weekly Round-Up #10: Not Quite Done Yet Edition

Greetings, faithful (or maybe random—no judging) reader! We are back with our post-Thanksgiving-Break-end-of-semester rush post. What fun! We are quickly approaching the end of the semester, with 1.5 weeks of classes and finals left. This makes this the penultimate round-up post and the penultimate posts for the individual student bloggers this semester. Unlike the last few weeks of posts, this week’s entries are a bit more of a hodgepodge as far as topics go. The posts are still high-quality (better than this rambling opening, for sure), just a bit less thematically mashupable (that’s a word, right?). Without further ado, on to the posts!

Two of the posts do have a strong connection, even with distinct approaches to the shared topic. This time around Selma O. gives us a post that is, in her words, “less reflective of the existing political chaos.” Frankly, I think many of us need this break. Instead, Selma focuses on patent law, looking at a case that has been petitioned to the Court, and for which the US government recently submitted an amicus brief requesting the Court to take the case. The case in question is Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc. Selma does a great job explaining this case, as well as several relevant precedents to this case. Elise must have also thought we all needed a break, as well (and I’d argue they are both right!). Elise, to honor the American past time of commerce, discusses an upcoming commerce-based case, which happens to also be Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc. Whereas Selma discusses the patent law elements of the case, Elise discusses the commerce portions of this case, and a different precedent involved. Thus, both Elise’s and Selma’s post work well together to provide a robust view of this case, which the Court is scheduled to discuss in conference on December 2nd.

Tom’s and Taylor’s posts also pair up, in a way. Both of these posts address our new PEOTUS, but in rather different ways. Tom, in his post, looks at executive power. As his blog’s overarching theme is the separation of powers, he takes the opportunity of having a new PEOTUS to drill down into what executive power entails. He looks to the Constitution and previous presidents for guidance on executive power. Taylor’s post is a bit more free-from, as she continues to respond to PEOTUS and the various transition-related stories that have emerged since the election. There is certainly a lot of material for, and in, this post.

Grace writes about the Congressional power to tax and spend, looking at the Obamacare Case as an example. Grace provides a cogent explanation of the case and the legal issues involved. She manages to do this while also explaining the rather roundabout way in which Chief Justice Roberts redefines the individual mandate and its shared responsibility payment as a tax.

Amanda, in her post, takes on the topic of how the separation of powers has played out in the so-called war on terror. She breaks down various government interactions that got us involved in Afghanistan and then Iraq. She manages to do all of his while maintaining focus on the interplay of the separation of powers.

Ben discusses McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010), the Supreme Court case that found an individual right to handgun ownership in the Second Amendment, and incorporated this right. Ben discusses the case, the rights involved, as well as his own reactions to it.

Finally, Erin’s post this week looks at a lawsuit filed in November 2014 against UNC Chapel Hill, challenging its admission policies as unconstitutional affirmative action. Erin discusses the specifics of the challenge and compares this case to Fisher II. Erin argues that the cases are almost identical, and that even with a Trump-appointed justice, Fisher II is likely to stand as precedent.