Supreme Court

Global Warming and the Law: Why Legal Technicalities are Harming Our Environment

By Danny Ho The global warming controversy encompasses the on-going dispute about whether or not human activities, such as carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles, affect the global climate. Studies from scientific journals, such as the Environmental Research Letters, show that the general scientific community attributes global warming to human action. The Obama administration operates under the same belief and has pushed for the Clean Power Plan (CPP) in order to curb carbon dioxide emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the CPP, calling for stricter standards on carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants operating on coal and gas. Over half the states are against the CPP, arguing that the EPA is overstepping its legal authority. The CPP is currently in limbo because the Supreme Court has halted implementation of it until the D.C. Circuit Court decides on its legality. Regardless of the outcome in the D.C. Circuit Court, the decision will likely return to the Supreme Court for a final ruling. The need for the CPP is clear to its supporters. Global carbon dioxide emissions have increased by about a third since the Industrial Revolution, primarily as a result of the burning of fossil fuels. As a result, carbon [read more]

The Limits of Conscientious Objection

Professor Michael Dorf explores why conscientious objectors to gay marriage are not given the same deference as other conscientious objectors such as Quakers opposed to serving in the military. He also discusses what level of participation,in an act considered immoral, is required by a conscientious objector for an exemption to be recognized by the law. [read more]

Vaccine Torts and Bruesewitz v. Wyeth

Professors Jeff Van Detta and Joanna Apolinsky comment on Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, which ruled that federal law immunized vaccine-manufacturers from design-defect tort claims under state law. The Supreme Court cited Detta and Apolinsky's article "Rethinking Liability for Vaccine Injuries", published in the JLPP, in their holding. [read more]

Ending Gender Discrimination in the Workplace by Sarah Chon

Two recent Supreme Court decisions highlight some obstacles still impeding the goal of achieving of full gender equality in the workforce through the judicial system.  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in the workplace but in two recent cases, the Supreme Court narrowed the efficacy of Title VII as a remedial statute.  Congress has already taken action to overturn the first of the two cases but has not overturned the second.  Accordingly, significant barriers remain for female employees bringing Title VII discrimination cases.  Further, the cases establish a troubling precedent implying that pregnancy discrimination does not actually constitute sex discrimination. In the first case, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., the Supreme Court held that Lilly Ledbetter could not bring her pay discrimination claim against Goodyear because more than 180 days had passed since the alleged discriminatory act.[1] In 2009, Congress overturned the Ledbetter decision by amending Title VII to say that an unlawful employment practice occurs each time an individual is affected by the application of a discriminatory compensation decision.[2] The second case, AT&T v. Hulteen, involved a group of female employees at AT&T who took pregnancy leaves [read more]

Charting The Supreme Court’s Burden-Shifting Jurisprudence in Employment Discrimination Cases Through Gross v. FBL Services, inc. by Jeff Weber

I. Introduction “[I]t has become evident in the years since . . . that [the] burden-shifting framework is difficult to apply. . . . Thus, even if [the burden-shifting framework were] doctrinally sound, the problems associated with its application have eliminated any perceivable benefit from extending its framework to ADEA claims.”[1] With this sweeping language, Justice Thomas punctuated the Supreme Court’s repudiation of mixed-motive burden-shifting for employment discrimination claims brought under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)[2] and set age-related employment discrimination claims on a decidedly different track from its counterparts under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).[3] In doing so, the Supreme Court halted the inchoate development toward a uniform approach concerning the burden of persuasion in employment discrimination claims and, for now, instituted the coexistence of two separate analytical frameworks for allocating the burden of persuasion in employment discrimination cases. While ostensibly procedural and esoteric, the degree to which courts will ease the evidentiary burden on plaintiffs in employment discrimination cases has enormous practical significance and is an important reflection of current policy preferences. Because employers often control much of the evidence relevant to adverse employment actions, employees face significant obstacles in [read more]