Supreme Court

Partisan Gerrymandering: All or None         

                                                                                                      (Source) Each election in the 21st century has enormous political consequences.  But because of America’s increased polarization, partisan gerrymandering—the drawing of political boundaries to favor one party over the other—proliferates elections now more than ever.  Given the current political climate, the solution to achieve fairness in congressional redistricting is either for both parties to lean into gerrymandering or for Congress to introduce new legislation to curb the practice entirely. Partisan gerrymandering takes several forms, most notably cracking and packing.  Cracking a district means splitting up a solid group of voters for the opposing party and distributing those voters across several adjacent districts, so the formerly solid district becomes competitive.  On the other hand, packing is used to cram as many voters as possible from the opposing party into one district.  While the other party will likely win one seat, their power will be weakened in other districts.  The controlling [read more]

Marking the End of Forced Arbitration in Sexual Misconduct Cases

                                                                                                             (Source)            On February 10, 2022, the U.S. Senate passed the “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021.” This bipartisan bill seeks to amend the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) to make it easier for victims of sexual misconduct to litigate their legal claims in court instead of being forced to arbitrate. The bill invalidates and renders unenforceable pre-dispute arbitration agreements in cases involving sexual assault or sexual harassment. It fixes the ‘broken system’ by barring businesses and employers from using forced arbitration clauses in employment contracts to silence the victims of workplace sexual misconduct. The Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) applies to employment contracts except those involving employees working in interstate transportation. Section 2 of the FAA states that written agreements to arbitrate “shall be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such grounds as exist at law or [read more]

West Virginia v. EPA: Will the Supreme Court Defer to Chevron?

(Source) I.     Background  In 1970, with the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), Congress enacted the Clean Air Act (“CAA”), which marked the first step towards federal regulation of air pollution. Section 111(d) of the CAA authorized the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. Based on this provision, the Obama administration and the EPA promulgated the Clean Power Plan (“CPP”) in 2015, which assigned individual targets to each state for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. However, due to concerns that the CPP transcended the EPA’s mandate under the CAA and intruded states’ rights to regulate electric power, the Supreme Court stayed its implementation.  In 2019, under the Trump administration, the EPA repealed the CPP before it could take effect. Instead, it issued a weaker Affordable Clean Energy Rule (“ACE”), which directed states to “set standards of performance for each plant, essentially allowing plants to decide the amount of pollution to emit.” The EPA’s own data revealed that the ACE may result in increased carbon emissions because it “created incentives to burn more fossil fuels.” Two years later, in January 2021, the D.C. Circuit Court vacated the ACE rule while holding that [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]

Children Behind Bars: Justice for Juveniles Sentenced to Life Without Parole

“I want to know how it feels to sit with my sister and have a cup of coffee . . . to walk down the street . . . to sit in the car and hear the rain just beat down.” Six months before her death, Sharon Wiggins described her aspirations to a news reporter for a Philadelphia newspaper. In March 2014, Wiggins died at age 62 in a maximum-security prison, where she had been serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole since she was 17. While in prison, Wiggins obtained a degree from Penn State University and became employed by the university as a student services liaison; she tutored other prisoners to help them obtain GEDs and oversaw “back-on-track” programs for parole violators. Wiggins was one of about 2,500 prisoners serving life sentences without the possibility of parole for crimes they committed as juveniles (“juvenile lifers”); the United States is the only country in the world that still imposes this sentence. In consideration of the story of Wiggins, the evidence of differences between children and adults and the Supreme Court cases mandating changes in sentencing schemes, states should no longer impose mandatory life sentences without parole on [read more]

A True Underdog Story: How New Jersey Can Shape the Future of American Sports Gambling

Sports gambling is an extremely lucrative industry—and it is growing at a rapid pace. In 2016, the Nevada State Gambling Control Board reported $4.5 billion in profits from legal sports wagering. Nevada, however, is the only state currently allowed to profit off of state-sanctioned sports betting under the Professional and Amatuer Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”). PASPA is a federal law passed by Congress in 1992 that effectively banned sports betting nationwide with the exception of state-sponsored sports betting in Nevada and sports lotteries in Oregon, Montana, and Delaware. With the goal of joining these states in profiting from state-sanctioned sports betting, the New Jersey State Legislature passed the Sports Wagering Act of 2012 (“2012 Law”), which legalized certain types of sports gambling in the state. In response to the passage of the 2012 Law, five major American sports leagues (the NCAA, NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA, together, the “Leagues”) filed a lawsuit in 2012 to enjoin the 2012 Law for violating PASPA. The Third Circuit Court ruled in favor of the Leagues in National Collegiate Athletic Ass’n v. Governor of New Jersey. In 2014, New Jersey Governor Christie signed into law Senate Bill 2460 (the “2014 Law”). The major difference [read more]

America’s Favorite National Pastime: 7th Circuit Upholds Baseball’s Antitrust Exemption

Although baseball’s popularity has waned in recent years, the sport remains unique from any other professional sports league in that it is exempt from the scrutiny of federal antitrust laws. While other leagues have attempted to gain a similar exemption, and have consistently been unsuccessful, baseball has managed to maintain the exemption for close to a century. Recently, the 7th Circuit upheld this exemption in Right Field Rooftops LLC et al. v. Chicago Baseball Holdings LLC. The decision begs the question: isn’t it time for baseball’s undeserved, outdated exemption to be overturned? The exemption was originally granted to the sport in a 1922 Supreme Court decision called Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore v. National League, in which the Court ruled that federal antitrust laws did not apply to baseball because only interstate commerce was subject to federal antitrust scrutiny, and such “exhibitions” were not interstate commerce. Over thirty years later, in a 1953 decision called Toolson v. New York Yankees, the Supreme Court declined to overturn Federal Baseball, reasoning that the league had “been left for thirty years to develop, on the understanding that it was not subject to antitrust legislation” and that Congress, not the courts, should decide whether [read more]

Constitutionality of DACA Rescission

On September 5, the current administration rescinded the guarantee to many young people currently in America illegally that the government would not interfere with their work or studies. This program, known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (or DACA) was designed to allow young undocumented immigrants, brought to America illegally, work permits and safety from deportation. This group of young people, colloquially known as “Dreamers,” is a group of high-functioning, well-educated young men and women that are arguably aiding the United States economy. This rescission is extremely unpopular, with 73 percent of Americans wanting legislation that protects Dreamers from deportation. President Trump has come out in support of protecting the group, and claims that he hopes “Congress will be able to help them out and do it properly.” So if the president and the American people are in support of DACA, why get rid of it? Part of that answer stems from a 2015 case, Texas v. United States, in which 26 states challenged the lawfulness of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (“DAPA”) and the expansion of DACA. DAPA was similar to DACA, but it applied to the parents of children with permanent legal [read more]

Microsoft v. Baker

Without the class action, many consumers would have no practical remedy for damages suffered no matter how good a claim they may have. For instance, when a consumer believes he is sold a faulty Xbox 360 that damages his $30 videogame disc, it makes no sense for him to pay the $400 filing fee to go to federal court—let alone hire a lawyer. As a result, without the class action, many consumers would not bother going to court, and giant companies that mass-produce products would be left with potentially millions in undeserved profits. Once a class action lawsuit is filed, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require the court to grant or deny class certification of the potential class. Last month, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Microsoft v. Baker. In January 2016, the Court granted certiorari to review the Ninth Circuit’s decision. The issue in the case is “Whether a federal court of appeals has jurisdiction under both Article III and 28 U.S.C. § 1291 to review an order denying class certification after the named plaintiffs voluntarily dismiss their claims…” Baker v. Microsoft, 797 F.3d 607 (9 th  Cir. 2015). The district court denied the plaintiffs’ motion for class [read more]