Women and Gangs: A Need for a Better Social Group for Female Victims of Gang Violence by Nelsey De La Nuez

Over the last decade there has been an increase of violent crimes due to gang activity in Latin America.[1] This phenomenon has also increased various types of crimes in Latin America, especially gender-related crimes.[2] Although gangs in Latin America consist mostly of men and many of their targets are men, a large number of women fall prey to gang-related violence as well.[3] These women consistently face persecution by gangs on a daily basis.  Yet it is difficult for these women to qualify as refugees because the persecution they face does not fit into any of the five categories prescribed by the United States.   In the United States, an individual may not qualify as a refugee unless they have faced persecution based on five grounds: their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.[4] The best category women facing persecution from gangs fit into when they apply for asylum is “membership in a particular social group.”  Yet one of the most controversial parts of the definition of refugee is the phrase “membership of a particular social group.”  The requirement in the United States for persecution based on “membership of a particular social group” originated from the 1951 [read more]

The Czar Has No Clothes by Kevin Sholette

I.     Introduction One of President Obama’s most controversial executive branch appointments is Kenneth Feinberg, the Special Master for TARP Executive Compensation, informally known as the Pay Czar.  Feinberg is responsible for interpreting the TARP regulations on executive compensation standards, and more notably, for unilaterally approving the pay for top executives at the largest institutions receiving TARP funding.  In October of 2009, he invoked this authority to slash compensation for executives at seven large financial firms by an average of fifty percent.  Although most financial executives have been too timid to publically complain about Feinberg’s bold intrusion into corporate boardrooms, legitimate constitutional questions surround the validity of his decisions.  Public policy concerns abound over the TARP legislation that authorized government regulation of executive compensation.  However, this Note will focus solely on whether Feinberg constitutionally possessed the legal authority he exercised, given the method of his appointment. Executive Branch appointments fall within two categories: officers and employees.  Officers occupy an “office” of the United States, and “[e]mployees are lesser functionaries subordinate to officers of the United States.”  According to the Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeo, “the term ‘Officers of the United States’ as used in Art. II . . . [read more]

Anti-Immigrant Housing Ordinances and Comprehensive Reform by Daniel Eduardo Guzman

Introduction No fewer than 100 counties and municipalities across the nation have passed anti-immigrant housing ordinances (AIHOs) that are designed to expel or discourage undocumented immigrants from living in their communities.[1] The most infamous of these municipal ordinances, Hazleton, Pennsylvania’s Illegal Immigration Relief Act Ordinance (IIRA), was passed in 2006.[2] In addition to Hazleton-style IIRAs, AIHOs without language explicitly targeting immigrants are also fairly common.  Seeking the same ends as municipalities that employ Hazleton-style AIHOs, municipalities use housing provisions addressing “overcrowding,” “maximum occupancy” and family make-up to drive undocumented immigrants out of their communities. The latter AIHOs, by excluding language that specifically implicates immigrants, are more legally robust.  And since courts have repeatedly concluded that federal law preempts Hazleton-style AIHOs, municipalities seeking to expel immigrants are more likely to use occupancy ordinances to meet those same, anti-immigrant ends.  This Blog post argues that an effective challenge to all AIHOs and Hazleton-style and occupancy ordinances, must reserve a role for both states and the federal government.  Part I of this Blog post examines Hazleton’s aforementioned AIHO and occupancy ordinances in Prince William County, Virginia.  Part II reviews legal theories used to challenge AIHOs.  Part III offers alternative legal and public policy [read more]

Exercising Eminent Domain for Economic Development in New York by Alex Racketa

Introduction The law of eminent domain in New York is an area characterized by its lack of clarity.   How cities and municipal corporations operate within the limitation imposed by the phrase “public use” is a particularly complicated area.  Recently, they have begun to assert a more expansive interpretation of this phrase, following the national trend of broadly reading the U.S. Constitution in cases like Berman v. Parker and Kelo v. City of New London.[1] However, the U.S. Constitution is only one constraint on the eminent domain power.  The New York Constitution functions as a separate limit.[2] However, rather than explicitly rule on the independent vitality of restrictions in the New York Constitution, the Court of Appeals has repeatedly reserved judgment on the issue.  This has left open the question of whether New York recognizes the economic development as a public use, as the Supreme Court has declared the U.S. Constitution permits.[3] Because the Court of Appeals has not ruled on this point, significant confusion has resulted.  Any independent limitation on the eminent domain power retained in the state constitution has essentially been rendered meaningless.  This uncertainty is itself damaging to private property interests within the state. The Case for Not [read more]