Job Retraining and the Future of Work

                                                                                                            (Source) In recent years, the face of work in the United States has been rapidly changing. As the nation begins to adopt new technologies and automation in the workplace, the demand for unskilled labor is simultaneously declining. With the expansion of alternative energy sources, the American tech sector, electric vehicles, etc., the need for technical workplace skills and advanced training is becoming more prevalent. While this new industrial revolution offers convenience and utility to consumers, it presents the national labor force with an interesting predicament. Absent some sort of intervention, one would imagine that this change could drastically increase unemployment, particularly in those who lack the skills or educational backgrounds required to perform the skilled labor high-tech firms will demand. To adequately address this evolving issue, the federal government may be forced to explore various solutions including job retraining programs or perhaps, universal basic income. The [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]

Why is tuition rising and what can we do about it?

                                                                                                          (Source) Tuition is rising at an extraordinary rate. Over the past 20 years, the average tuition and fees have increased by 144% at private universities, and by over 170% at public universities. Over the same period, inflation has only increased by 54%. This phenomenon is not happening due to a single factor. While many theories try to explain how this phenomenon arose, I will explore some of the predominant ones, and then discuss some ways we can try to solve the issue of rising tuitions. The first theory stems from the Bennett Hypothesis. The idea is that the more money students can borrow, the more colleges are able to charge. Currently, the government can give students federal loans up to the cost of attendance.  Since students can borrow up to whatever the cost of attendance is, there is much less demand elasticity due to the price. Thus, [read more]

We Need an Afghan Adjustment Act

(Source) This article originally appeared in the New York Daily News on Apr 9, 2022. Since the fall of the Afghan government in August 2021, the United States’ treatment of our Afghan allies has fallen short of anything humane. Now, while the world’s attention justifiably turns to the devastation in Ukraine, the recent more favorable treatment of Ukrainian refugees highlights how the United States has unacceptably failed our Afghan allies. During the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover, the U.S. military evacuated around 123,000 people from Afghanistan. The U.S. military brought 83,000 of these Afghans into the United States. Others were taken to third countries. These evacuated individuals were our allies in Afghanistan. They supported and joined the U.S. military’s work in the country and worked for American NGOs. They stood with us against the Taliban, putting their lives at risk. Before evacuating these allies, the U.S. vetted them and identified them as being at risk of harm from the Taliban. While those evacuated from Afghanistan were lucky to make it out of the country alive, this sudden departure from their homeland was nonetheless a traumatic experience. Many fled without getting to say goodbye to their loved [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]

Courts Should Continue to Offer ODR In Civil Disputes

(Source) Court-annexed alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) is a process by which courts assist parties in resolving their legal disputes. Any method of dispute resolution that is hosted or supported by a court and does not involve litigation is considered court-annexed ADR. Examples of ADR include: negotiation, arbitration and mediation. Since the 1990s, ADR has been available online. Virtually conducted ADR is known as online dispute resolution (“ODR”). During ODR, parties meet by video conference. Some of the first courts to adopt ODR were located in Singapore, the Netherlands and Canada. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, courts in Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, Kentucky, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and California utilized ODR. By 2019, 66 courts offered ODR in the United States.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, courts across the country increased their reliance on ODR. Most federal courts allowed a greater number of ADR conferences to occur online. Many state and local courts also utilized ODR. The New York State Unified Court System held all of their ADR conferences through Microsoft Teams. In California, the Superior Court of Placer County conducted their civil settlement conferences through Zoom. Over the course of the pandemic, millions of civil court proceedings – including [read more]

Can The President Cancel Student Debt?

(Source) Student loan forgiveness has been a popular topic in the news lately.  This should not come as a surprise considering there are over 43 million student borrowers in the United States, each with an average debt size of $39,351. As the current total student loan debt in the United States tops $1.7 trillion, President Biden has called for cancelling $10,000 federal student loan debt for every borrower. In fact, in April 2021, President Biden even tasked the Departments of Education and Justice with drafting a memo on whether he has the legal authority to cancel student debt. However, since this memo has not yet been released to the public, the answer remains unclear. This article will broadly explore arguments regarding the President’s legal authority to cancel federal student loan debt.  To start, the Biden administration has actually already cancelled nearly $10 billion in federal student loan debt as of late 2021. However, this relief was only available to borrowers with disabilities and to victims of college fraud. The legal basis for cancelling the federal student loan debt of borrowers with total and permanent disabilities is the Higher Education Act of 1965, while the Department of Education’s “Borrower Defense to Loan Repayment” regulation [read more]

Government Sponsored Legal Research Tool That Facilitates Nonlawyers’ Access to Caselaw

(Source) Today, under Gideon v. Wainwright, any criminal defendant who risks at least one year of jail time has free access to defense counsel. But that is not the case for civil litigants and some misdemeanor defendants, many of whom could hardly afford a lawyer and have to represent themselves. They do not have access to counsel, but what is worse is that they do not have fair and effective access to law. America is a common law country, which means that its law largely consists of case decisions. Most lawyers heavily rely on legal search engines like LexisNexis and Westlaw to conduct legal research. Such tools help them efficiently locate cases that address their legal issues. But for pro se litigants who could hardly afford a lawyer, legal research tools like LexisNexis and Westlaw are too expensive and hard to use. Their access to caselaw is significantly impaired compared to professional lawyers. If they are involved in a litigation where the opposing party is represented by a lawyer or if they are prosecuted under conditions that do not guarantee a right to free counsel, then they would have to face the experienced lawyers who have full access to caselaw. [read more]

Socioeconomic Status and its Implication on Criminal Justice: Bail Reform

(Source) In January 2020, New York began implementing legislation aimed at reforming bail practices for those awaiting trial. The reform was aimed at reducing jail populations and allowing individuals who cannot afford bail to await their trial date outside of jail. The initial iteration of the reform applied to almost all misdemeanor and nonviolent felony defendants (“exempt crimes”). Further, the reform required judges to consider each defendant’s “individual financial circumstances,” “ability to post bail without posing undue hardship,” and “ability to obtain a secured, unsecured, or partially secured bond.” Under this new requirement, courts essentially could not impose cash bails for many defendants. In the City of New York alone, nearly 84% of all defendants arraigned in 2019 would not have been subject to cash bail under the reform.  The reform was immediately met with staunch opposition by both citizens of New York and Republican state officials . The backlash and criticism against the initial reform led to a fundamental overhaul and in early April 2020, the New York state legislature amended the reform. The amended reform added more crimes to the list of non-exempt crimes, thus allowing cash bails to be set for a larger range of crimes. The [read more]

The wrong way to save Afghans: America must make it easier for refugees to come here

(Source) This article originally appeared in the New York Daily News. When U.S. troops left Afghanistan, many Afghans who had supported the United States’ work there became Taliban targets due to their association with the United States. While in theory, Afghans at risk can apply for humanitarian parole to come to the United States, in reality, this option falls grossly short of humane. Humanitarian parole allows non-U.S. citizens to remain in the United States for a two-year parole period. Applicants must meet certain qualifications to be eligible, such as urgent humanitarian need. While other immigration options technically exist for Afghans, like the Special Immigrant Visa and the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, those application processes can take years. That delay renders those options nonviable for Afghans whose lives are in danger.  Humanitarian parole is theoretically the quickest way for Afghans to gain admission into the United States, making it the most appealing option for many Afghans hoping to escape the Taliban. But the application process is nearly impossible for someone in hiding. Applicants must complete several confusing immigration forms and compile many supporting evidentiary documents. The forms are in English legal jargon, which is obviously a problem for many Afghans who [read more]
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