Coverture and Economic Gender Inequality in Early America

By: Thomas Walsh

From the founding of British colonies in North America to the United States of the mid-20th century, women were denied property rights equal to those which men enjoyed. Though women still are often placed at a disadvantage in modern society compared to their male counterparts, these situations are often due to social norms and gender bias rather than inequality codified in law.[1] While it may be such that women are not given just control over property due to economic inequality, modern law recognizes no disparity between men and women in their respective abilities to own and control property. This has not always been the case. With roots in archaic British customs, restrictions on the ability of women to manage property were major features of American law for much of the nation’s history. Known as “coverture,” these chauvinistic legal traditions restrained the socioeconomic freedom and autonomy of women for centuries prior to, during, and after the founding of the United States.

Mexico’s Efforts to Curb Violence Against Journalists

By: Angelina Ramirez, University of Texas at Austin

2022 marked the tenth anniversary since the Mexican government implemented the 2012 Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists to end the significant violence against these vulnerable groups. Journalist protection mechanisms are coordinated inter-agency systems designed to ensure the safety of journalists by focusing on the prevention and prosecution of violence against journalists.[1] These mechanisms facilitate the dispatch of first responder teams and emergency protection measures for threatened reporters. Each mechanism varies greatly by state, the needs of each journalist, and the relationship between the government and community actors.[2] As the decade since the Mexican Mechanisms’ implementation has passed, there have been several discussions about whether it has been successful and met these standards. We can evaluate the mechanism’s efficacy by reviewing the conditions for Mexican journalists before 2012,  following the mechanisms’ establishment, and the system’s strengths and weaknesses. With this analysis, it will become clear that the mechanism has provided some assistance to Mexican journalists but has failed to create long-lasting changes that address the systematic violence they face.

Vega v. Tekoh: The Undermining of Miranda

By: Kate Killean

The holding in Miranda v. Arizona is one of the backbones of law enforcement in the United States, not to mention its appearance in television shows and movies. It established the well-known standard that for a statement to be admissible in court, a law enforcement officer must read certain rights, including that against self-incrimination, to detainees before questioning.[1] This rule is prophylactic, meaning it is not directly stated in the Constitution but is used to overprotect constitutional rights and make violations of these rights easier to detect.

The Connection Between Nat’l Pork Producers Council v. Ross and Abortion

By: Delaney Epley

Nat’l Pork Producers Council v. Ross is a pending case argued in front of the Supreme Court in 2022. The case revolves around Proposition 12, passed by California in 2018, which prohibits the sale of pork from animals confined in a manner inconsistent with California’s standards. The case’s central question is whether this law is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution’s dormant commerce clause. Here, the argument is that the law violates the dormant clause because it essentially forces hog farmers to comply with California’s regulations of their facilities, even though they are not in the state. As 87% of pork in the country is consumed outside of California, it primarily affects non-Californian transactions.[1] On its face, this topic certainly does not bring abortion to mind. However, they have the potential to be linked in a way that one might not think.

Fitisemanu, the Insular Cases, and Territorial Autonomy

By: Emily Evans

The Insular Cases are a longstanding series of cases from the early 20th century concerning the status of U.S. territories and their inhabitants. These cases introduced the doctrine of territorial non-incorporation, which justified the ownership of the United States over acquired foreign territories without incorporating these territories and denying inhabitants their rights and equal protection under the law as U.S. citizens.[1] Objectively, these cases were based on social Darwinist ideologies about the people indigenous to these territories, as they practiced vastly different cultures and were primarily non-white. The precedent set in these cases has allowed the United States to justify its 20th-century imperialism while perpetuating racist falsehoods about the non-white populations living in these unincorporated territories.[2] It also permits the government to actively deny certain benefits to their inhabitants who have second-class status as U.S. citizens or do not have citizenship at all.[3]

The Least Litigated Amendment

By: Thomas Walsh

The Third Amendment to the Constitution has never been the basis of a Supreme Court decision, and it has only been cited a few times throughout U.S. legal history. It states that “no Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner prescribed by law.”[1] The American founders wrote this amendment while they tried to create a nation that improved upon the issues they saw in colonial rule. However, it has seldom been applicable in its literal formulation to American society.[2] As such, the Third Amendment is largely overlooked in the legal field but has been cited in a few landmark cases throughout history and may have implications for sociopolitical issues within the United States today.

The Historical Applications of the Free Exercise and the Establishment Clauses

By: Thomas Walsh

The First Amendment to the Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”[1] Like many documents written near the time of the founding of the United States, its vague nature has led to significant conflicts over the following centuries. Recently, the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling overturned the precedent set by Roe v. Wade that determined that the Constitution protects abortion access on a federal level.[2] Additionally, this overturning has sparked discussions within the United States about the possible entanglement of religion and government within the law. These discussions are so because most arguments regarding abortion take one of two stances: the civil rights provided to a pregnant woman must be respected, thus advocating for abortion legality, or the right to life for a developing fetus is cause enough to ban abortion. The latter is the stance of most major American religious institutions, believing that the life of a human being begins with its conception, and liberal religious groups and secular groups tend to support the former stance. These conflicts have provoked reinvigorated discussion regarding the First Amendment’s wording on the protection of religion and civil protection from a state-enforced religion. A history of similar conflicts exists; from foundational rulings determining the rights granted to the unorthodox Mormon religion to the creation of the “Lemon Test,” a litany of precedent has been set in US legal history regarding the applications of the First Amendment’s Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses.

STEM Guest Workers and the U.S. Economy

By: Sara Robideaux

The STEM disciplines are widespread and valuable fields to which many of the guest workers of America contribute. The H-1B visa focuses on specialty occupations, generally requiring a degree. Although there are various specialties, STEM occupations are currently the majority, with about 90% of total H-1B visas.[1] The H-1B visa requires the employer to hold the visa while the employee (or guest worker) is the beneficiary. Beneficiaries are allowed to participate in this visa under one of these conditions; they hold a bachelor’s degree or a state license in the specialized field, or they have training or experience that is considered equivalent to a degree. With over half a million foreign workers in the United States, guest worker programs have proven to be a policy that we should consider carefully.

Kayden’s Law and the Future of Family Court

By: Sara Robideaux

In 2018, Kayden Mancuso, a seven-year-old child, was killed by her biological father during a court-ordered unsupervised custody visit in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. As appalling, tragic, and heartbreaking as this is, it is not an anomaly. During the COVID pandemic, maltreatment and abuse reports decreased, but hospital cases did the opposite.[1] This concerning trend prompts the assumption that as interactions between children and mandated reporters such as teachers decreased, reporting and proper investigations of child abuse in homes decreased also. Pennsylvania’s 2020 Child Protective Services Report disclosed that in 2020, child deaths attributed to child abuse rose by 43%.[2] With such harrowing statistics looming, Kayden’s mother and grandmother felt it was their duty to address this crisis, starting with the law.

The Effect of Foundational Law on the Environment

By: Sara Robideaux

Pierson v Post, decided in 1805 and regarding an incident in 1802, is an American legal case involving property law. This case took place in the state of New York and begged the question of rights while pursuing a wild animal. This ruling is considered both foundational and essential in future property law cases.[1]