Why Tuition Is Skyrocketing: An Inconvenient Truth

(Source) The costs of college tuition have perennially risen nationwide at rates higher than inflation, saddling millions of millennials and Generation Z’ers with exorbitant debts ranging from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Vignettes about Generation X’ers paying student loans for decades are not uncommon and will likely continue for the younger generations. As if to mask the reality of the national student loan crisis, colleges and universities have downplayed the burdens they impose on students by pointing to lavish increases in financial aid. Yet seldom has such largess extended to all or even most students, at least not to the extent of paying for most of their education. America’s student-loan crisis demands analysis about the sources of burgeoning tuition costs and demands corresponding solutions. Universities often claim that tuition hikes are necessary to cover rising administrative, academic, and operational costs. The inconvenient truth behind redressing the student loan crisis, then, lies in chipping away at the bureaucratic leviathan that universities have created and reducing the number of nonacademic services universities provide students.  For instance, Harvard boasts 22,273 students and over 18,000 total employees but only a comparatively meager 2,259 professors and instructors. Thus, whereas the Ivy League school [read more]

Gender Bias in Capital Cases: Punishing Traumatized Women with Death

(Source) Introduction Women make up the minority of the death row population in the United States and globally.  In the United States, women account for only fifty of the over 2,600 individuals living on death rows around the nation.[1] The unique problems female capital defendants experience both before and after their capital sentences are overlooked and forgotten, in part because of the infrequency with which the death penalty is sought against women. This piece explores a few of the specific common themes in the cases of women facing the death penalty in the United States. We specifically focus on the effects of trauma, mental illness, and gender bias in legal proceedings, on female capital defendants. We also discuss Lisa Montgomery’s case as an example of how these themes all play out in real-life cases. Lisa is the only woman on federal death row and faces execution on January 12, 2021. Much of the information in this blog post is based on the authors’ analysis of the cases of women on death row though publicly available records, information gathered from DPIC’s databases, communications with women and their attorneys, and analysis of women’s trial transcripts. All analysis is on file with the [read more]

The Issue Spotter Podcast, Episode 1: An Interview with Ankush Khardori

http://jlpp.org/blogzine/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Interview-with-Ankush-Khardori-Final.mp3   (Image Source) Please Note: The following transcript has been edited for clarity and concision.  Christina Lee : Hello and welcome to The Issue Spotter podcast. My name is Christina Lee and I am the Senior Online Editor for the Journal of Law and Public Policy at Cornell. Today, we are really excited to welcome you to our first podcast ever, so welcome and thank you so much for tuning in. I’m going to turn it over to our Online Associate, Trevor Thompson, who will introduce our first guest. Thanks again. Trevor Thompson: Thanks, Christina. So, yeah, my name is Trevor Thompson and I’m a 2L here at Cornell Law and I’m very excited to get the podcast rolling for the Issue Spotter. Our guest today, who we’re very excited to have on, is Ankush Khardori. Ankush is an attorney and former federal prosecutor based in Washington, D.C. Until January of this year, he specialized in financial fraud and white-collar crime in the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department. Before that, he worked at a law firm in New York City and clerked for a judge in the Southern District of New York. He has written on [read more]

Neither Snow nor Rain, but Political Interference: Voter Suppression and the USPS

(Source)   In a year of unprecedented events, among the most unexpected is Trump’s ongoing attempt to erode public faith in the United States Postal Service (“USPS”) and its ability to ensure a free and fair election through mail-in ballots. How exactly did we get here?   Money Talks Congressional Republicans passed the Postal Accountability Enhancement Act (“PAEA”) in 2006 to reform USPS operations after its business model was deemed no longer viable, but PAEA’s passage was perceived as hostile to the USPS’ efforts to stay in business. PAEA, among other things, set up a pre-funding requirement that the USPS make annual payments, which amounted to between $5.4 to $5.8 billion a year, into a retirement healthcare benefits fund through 2016 to cover its obligations to current and retired employees; the USPS defaulted on these payments beginning in 2012. However, this was only one strain on the USPS’s finances. Another is the long-running decline in first-class mail volume since 2001. After 2006, the USPS went into debt and stayed in the red for 13 consecutive years. In February, the House passed the USPS Fairness Act with some bipartisan support to alleviate needless burdens on the USPS by undoing the prefunding [read more]

COVID-19 and the Criminal Justice System: How Prisons and Prisoners are Impacted

  (Source)   “The closest thing I can equate it with is…when you’re locked in a cell in a giant, old, deteriorating jailhouse, is the fear that there will be a fire and no one will come in and unlock your cell. What caught my attention about this virus is that it really feels like there’s a fire in this prison.” An inmate at Washington State describes the inevitability of COVID-19 and the powerlessness he feels at remaining incarcerated as the virus rapidly spreads. When prisoners routinely lack access to soap, and when hand sanitizer is considered contraband in prisons, it is easy to imagine the rapid proliferation of the infection. Lack of access to sanitation is only part of the conditions that make prisoners particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Close quarters, frequently used communal spaces, and lack of adequate medical care are just a few other factors that make prisons and jails petri dishes for the spread of disease. Indeed, these factors have caused a huge spike in the number of COVID-19 cases over the past months. As the number of cases rise in the general United States population, the number of cases in prison skyrockets. Though New York City [read more]

Fight or Flight: Explaining Minority Associate Attrition

Diversity has been a prominent problem in the legal profession. Law is among the least diverse professions in the nation. According to a survey conducted in 2016, racial minorities represent about 20% of all attorneys at law firms. The industry has seen efforts to incorporate minorities into law schools and law firms, including minority mentorship programs, partner training, and objective evaluation methods; however, progress has been achingly slow. In the seven years between 2009 and 2016, the percentage of women in law firms has grown by less than one percent and the percentage of minority lawyers has only increased by about two percent. The lack of diversity is exacerbated among more senior attorneys. A survey of national law firms showed that while minorities compose 32% of the summer associate class at law firms, minorities compose 8% of partners. Thus, the primary impediment to diversity in law firms is not the hiring, but the retention of minority attorneys. Minority attorneys are 1.3-1.5 times as likely to voluntarily leave their law firms compared to white, male attorneys. Minority partners are almost three times as likely to leave their positions compared to white men. Minorities’ greater dissatisfaction with private sector jobs  may be [read more]

Antitrust Scrutiny of Vertical Mergers Under the Trump Administration

The business world welcomed the Trump administration with open arms, believing it would usher in a new era of unprecedented growth by disposing of many of the barriers implemented during the Obama Administration, such as Net Neutrality. During his first week in office, President Trump signed Executive Order 13771, which requires federal agencies to cut two existing regulations for every new regulation they enforce. Since the implementation of the executive order, deregulation has ensued, the market has improved, and growth has been steady. One area where this pro-business approach has not been observed uniformly is that of vertical mergers in the cable industry. Most famously, the Department of Justice  (DOJ) sued to block the $85 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner back in November, and the case is headed for an early trial in March. The ruling in this case will be largely influential in the cable industry, as more distributors and programmers of content are merging in order to stay competitive with the relatively new threat of streaming services. The merger between AT&T and Time Warner is a vertical merger—a merger between two companies that operate at different stages of the production process for a specific finished product. [read more]

Christie v. NCAA and the Implications of Legal Sports Betting

In 1992, Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PAPSA”), prohibiting states from authorizing, licensing, regulating, and controlling sports betting. The Act grandfathered in states that had previously legalized sports betting – Nevada, Oregon, and Delaware – and offered an exemption to New Jersey if they enacted legislation within a year. The state failed to do so, and continued to prohibit sports betting within its borders. In 2010, the state changed course and initiated a referendum among its voters asking whether sports betting should be legalized in the state. The referendum was approved by a wide margin. In response, the Legislature passed the Sports Wagering Act in 2012, which legalized sports betting in private casinos and racetracks across the state. The NCAA, NFL, NHL, and MLB (“NCAA”) sued the Governor of New Jersey and various state officials (Christie I), alleging that the Act violated PAPSA. The state admitted that the Sports Wagering Act violated PAPSA, but argued that PAPSA was unconstitutional because it violated the anti-commandeering doctrine of the Tenth Amendment. The doctrine prohibits the federal government from requiring states or state officials to adopt or enforce federal law. The NCAA argued that PAPSA did not require the [read more]

Fair Play for Minor League Baseball

People are often quick to criticize professional athletes for the amount of money they make. And within the world of professional sports, baseball players often make more money than their peers in other professional sports. Some of the reasons for this, as some have pointed out, are that Major League Baseball (MLB) has no salary cap, the MLB has a strong players’ union, and sports agents wield a tremendous amount of power. Compared to other major American sports, Major League Baseball also cultivates talent in a unique way. In the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Football League (NFL), professional teams typically recruit players from college. In the National Hockey League (NHL), there are minor league teams, but there are numerous leagues, and individual teams do not have contractual control over all players on the team. In baseball, however, virtually the only way that a player reaches the MLB is by progressing through Minor League Baseball (MiLB). MLB teams typically exercise control over 3-5 MiLB teams, and the MiLB teams have contractual control over all of their players. This level of control has led to unequal bargaining power that teams have over their players, which has not only resulted [read more]

Collective Bargaining for Farmworkers

Freedom of association protects workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain. Collective bargaining is when workers negotiate with their employer over important arrangements, such as employee benefits and working conditions, with the idea that workers have more bargaining power collectively than individually. Farmworkers have been systemically denied the right to collectively bargain and organize throughout American history. The 1935 National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) excluded farmworkers from the right to collective bargaining. Although this was the progressive era for workers’ rights legislation, it was also the Jim Crow law era. Consequently, farmworkers’ legal exclusion from collective bargaining was likely approved by Congress because the profession had a majority African American workforce. New York law on the matter is in conflict. In 1937, New York passed its State Employee Relations Act (SERA), which conformed to the NLRA’s exclusion of farmworkers. The New York Constitution, passed in 1938, states that there exists a right to organize and bargain collectively. Yet, New York has continued to deny farmworkers their right to associate and bargain with employers. Despite SERA clearly violating the plain language of New York’s Constitution and international criticism of the exclusion, the conflict has now become a matter for the court. [read more]
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