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April 17, 2017

Excessive Lethal Force

In this Essay, Professor Hamilton considers the recent use by Dallas police officers of a robot armed with plastic explosives to kill a suspected gunman on a shooting rampage. In the wake of Dallas, many legal experts in the news maintained that the police action was constitutional. The commentators' consensus was that as long as the police had the right to use lethal force, then the means of that force is irrelevant. This Essay argues the contrary. Under the current state of the constitutional law on the police use of force on a suspected felon, excessive lethal force is a valid consideration. The type and magnitude of lethal force may, under certain circumstances, be unconstitutional despite the suspect posing a high degree of risk to others.

April 6, 2017

Human Trafficking and Pornography: Using the Trafficking Victims Protection Act to Prosecute Trafficking for the Production of Internet Pornography

In this essay, Luzwick considers one way in which the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) has been underutilized—in prosecuting pornography cases. Pornography enjoys wide latitude under the law, protected by a vast net of First Amendment protections. Luzwick argues that while these protections may preserve freedom of speech, they do nothing to protect adult victims who are trafficked to produce online pornographic media. Luzwick concludes that to provide relief for these victims and better fight all types of domestic trafficking, prosecutors can and should use the sex trafficking provision of the TVPA, 18 U.S.C. § 1591, to prosecute sex trafficking within the pornography industry.

March 6, 2017

The Public Defender’s Pin: Untangling Free Speech Regulation in the Courtroom

In this essay, Professor Kagan asserts that recent disputes in Ohio and Nevada about whether lawyers should be allowed to wear “Black Lives Matter” pins in open court expose a fault line in First Amendment law. Lower courts have generally been unsympathetic to lawyers who display political symbols in court. But, Kagan argues, it would go too far suggest that free speech has no relevance in courtrooms. This essay argues for a way to strike a balance.

February 18, 2017

Dismantling the Unitary Electoral System? Uncooperative Federalism in State and Local Elections

In this essay, Professor Morley explains that states generally conduct their elections in a “unitary” manner, applying many of the same rules, requirements, and procedures to races for offices at all levels of government. Morley argues that the unitary status of American elections has evolved into a convention: a principle that people expect to limit government officials’ discretion, despite not being constitutionally required. A few states have begun to challenge the convention of unitary elections. They have engaged in uncooperative federalism by imposing different rules for state and local elections than federal law establishes for federal races. Morley concludes that, while such changes constitute a sharp break from states’ consistent practice over the past decades, they are a valid exercise of states’ constitutional prerogatives. Congress’ authority over state and local elections, Morley demonstrates, is far narrower than its virtually plenary power over congressional and presidential elections. States therefore have discretion to protect the integrity of their state and local elections by imposing safeguards and requirements beyond those Congress has chosen to establish for federal elections.