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Washington and Lee Law Review - Developments

Development

by Danielle Weatherby, Terri Day

Next term, in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court will consider whether a baker’s religious objection to same-sex marriage justifies his violation of Colorado’s public accommodation law in refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. At the centerpiece of Masterpiece Cakeshop is a clash between the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause or, more precisely, the principles of equality in commercial life as grounded in Colorado’s public accommodation law. In exploring the purpose inherent in regulating private conduct through public accommodation laws, this Essay suggests that the reconciliation of these seemingly irreconcilable interests is rooted in their common intrinsic value: maintaining the social order. Ultimately, Masterpiece Cakeshop provides an opportunity for the Court to reclaim the grounding principles inherent in public accommodation laws that recognize the civic duty in “serving the public” and hold that free exercise must bow to equal protection when necessary to maintain the social order.

Development

by Johanna Bond

The Zika epidemic caused serious concerns about fetal health throughout Latin America and some southern states in the United States. The prevailing governmental response throughout the region continues to emphasize two disease control factors: pregnancy delay and mosquito abatement. This essay argues that the current health policy approach of the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and various national governments fails in three primary ways. First, the approach does not adequately consider the intersection of gender and poverty; thus, the current policy fails to respond to the needs of women living in poverty. Second, the health policy response fails to consider the impact of gender-based violence in its efforts to control the epidemic. The recommendation to delay pregnancy, for example, fails to account for the widespread incidence of intimate partner violence in the region. A high rate of sexual violence in intimate partnerships makes the policy less effective, because some women will be impregnated as a direct result of intimate partner violence and others will be unable to negotiate for safe sex for the same reason. Third, the policy response fails to address the broader question of access to contraception and abortion in the region. Two decades of research concerning the connections between gender and HIV/AIDS transmission have taught policymakers a great deal about the need to carefully consider gender in the design and implementation of a public health response. Those lessons, however, have not translated to the Zika context and, unfortunately, the myopic public health response will leave women and their children increasingly vulnerable to Zika infection.

Development

by Carl Tobias

Now that President Donald Trump has commenced the fifth month of his administration, federal courts experience 121 circuit and district court vacancies. These statistics indicate that Mr. Trump has a valuable opportunity to approve more judges than any new President. The protracted open judgeships detrimentally affect people and businesses engaged in federal court litigation, because they restrict the expeditious, inexpensive and equitable disposition of cases. Nevertheless, the White House has been treating crucial issues that mandate careful attention—specifically establishing a government, confirming a Supreme Court Justice, and keeping numerous campaign promises. How, accordingly, can President Trump fulfill these critical duties and his constitutional responsibility to nominate and, with Senate advice and consent, appoint judges?
This Article initially canvasses judicial appointments in the administration of President Barack Obama. The evaluation ascertains that Republican obstruction allowed the upper chamber to approve merely twenty jurists across the entire 114th Congress, leaving 105 empty seats and fifty-one expired nominations when the Senate adjourned on January 3, 2017. The Republican Senate majority’s refusal to confirm a single jurist after July 6, 2016— encompassing three circuit nominees whom the Judiciary Committee approved with bipartisan support and twenty district court aspirants whom the committee voice voted without dissent—could portend that President Trump will renominate comparatively few of President Obama’s nominees. The Article then scrutinizes the consequences for the judiciary, the Senate, the President, and the country of confronting many judicial openings. The appeals and district courts require all of their judges to deliver justice, but President Trump addresses numerous troubling concerns—which include global matters, such as the Middle East and the South China Sea, and domestic problems, encompassing health care, economic inequality, and responding to a probe of Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 United States elections—and tendered merely one lower court nominee prior to May 8. The last Part, thus, proffers suggestions to fill the numerous openings with a finely-tuned assessment of the persons nominated by emphasizing those who secured committee reports.

Development

by Carl Tobias

When Donald Trump became President, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had four judicial vacancies that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) identified as “judicial emergencies.” The court also faces a larger caseload than all the other regional circuits, and has frequently decided appeals the least swiftly. The 2016 election returns indicate that more confirmations will be necessary due to additional court members’ probable retirement or assumption of senior status during President Trump’s administration. Striking politicization could frustrate this effort, however. Soon after the inauguration, President Trump signed a novel executive order proscribing U.S. immigration travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations— which the court of appeals subsequently blocked—leading President Trump to criticize the tribunal as chaotic and the motions panel opinion and the judges who decided the case as “so political.” Because the Ninth Circuit resolves the greatest number of filings, and often does so more slowly than other regional circuits even when the tribunal is at full capacity, the compelling need for the President and the Senate to fill these four open positions deserves scrutiny.

Development

by Susan McCarter, Elisa Chinn-Gary, Louis A. Trosch Jr., Ahmed Toure, Abraham Alsaeedi, Jennifer Harrington

This article describes regional institutional organizing efforts to bring racial justice to the Charlotte courts and community through a collaborative called Race Matters for Juvenile Justice (RMJJ). The authors explain community and institutional organizing in-depth using the example of minority overrepresentation in the juvenile justice system, but recognize the pervasiveness of racial and ethnic disparities. Moreover, as the Race Matters for Juvenile Justice-Charlotte Model has gained national prominence, many jurisdictions seek to replicate the collaborative and the authors, therefore, provide RMJJ’s history as well as strategies for changing the narrative through communication and education, workforce development, data and research, community collaboration, practice change, and legislation reform.

Development

by Sonja R. West

When discussing the issue of transparency at the United States Supreme Court, most commentators focus on the line between public and private. Yet, transparency is not always such a black-or-white issue. There are, in fact, a surprising number of significant Court moments that occur neither wholly in public nor completely in private. Through policies that obstruct access by the general public and exploit real-world limitations on the press and practitioners, the justices have crafted a grey area in which they can be “public,” yet only to select audiences. The effect is that few outside the courtroom ever learn about these moments, even though they technically occurred in public. By operating in this semi-public sphere, the justices have robbed the public of important information about the workings of its Court. This essay adds to the ongoing discussion about transparency by exploring the Court’s “limited public forum” and the ways the justices have found to hide in plain sight.

Development

by Carl Tobias

On February 25, 2016, President Barack Obama appointed United States District Court Judge Lucy Haeran Koh for a judicial emergency vacancy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The jurist has served professionally for more than six years in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, ably resolving major litigation. Thus, White House efforts to confirm her were unsurprising. Nevertheless, 2016 is a presidential election year when delay infuses many court appointments. That conundrum was exacerbated because the United States Senate Republican majority refused to even consider United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland, the experienced, moderate candidate, whom President Obama nominated to replace Justice Antonin Scalia. Because Judge Koh is an exceptional, consensus nominee—and the Ninth Circuit must have its entire judicial complement to resolve promptly, inexpensively, and equitably the nation’s largest appellate docket—her confirmation process merits scrutiny.

This piece analyzes Koh’s impressive record, judicial selection under President Obama, and the Ninth Circuit’s present circumstances. The paper concludes that Judge Koh is a highly accomplished, mainstream candidate and the appellate court desperately needs all twenty-nine of its members. Republican senators, however, did not cooperate, particularly after they had captured an upper chamber majority in the 114th Congress, a situation that this presidential election year significantly aggravates. The last section, therefore, proffers recommendations for Judge Koh’s approval.

Development

by Kevin Golembiewski

This term, the Supreme Court will consider Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools. Fry implicates a circuit split on the proper scope of the exhaustion requirement in 20 U.S.C. § 1415(l) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). That section requires parents of students with disabilities to exhaust state administrative remedies “before the filing of a civil action . . . seeking relief that is also available under” the IDEA. Two different approaches to this requirement have emerged among the courts of appeals: an “injury-centered” approach and a “relief-centered” approach. Under the injury-centered approach, exhaustion is required when a child’s injuries are education-related. In contrast, the relief-centered approach demands exhaustion only if a parent seeks a form of relief that can be obtained under the IDEA. If the Supreme Court adopts the injury-centered approach in Fry, it should be cautious in its application of the approach. The Court’s application of the injury-centered approach could have important, unforeseen consequences for students with disabilities. The approach requires courts to consider what “educational” means under the IDEA—an analysis that bears on the scope of the IDEA’s substantive protections. And the Court has yet to provide guidance as to the definition of “educational.” Therefore, the Court’s application of the approach in Fry could have a significant impact on students’ access to special education services.

Development

by Peter G. Strasser

The “Cashgate” scandal has had far-reaching consequences for the southern African nation of Malawi and its people. Western donors suspended budgetary aid—circa $150 million annually—upon learning that civil servants and senior cabinet ministers in former President Joyce Banda’s administration had manipulated the government’s financial management system to embezzle more than $45 million over an eighteen-month period. As a precondition to the resumption of aid, the donors required that the government not only implement financial management reforms but also fully prosecute the perpetrators and recover the stolen assets. The donors’ position solidified when audits of Malawian government ledgers from 2009 to 2014 could not account for $356 million.

This essay examines whether Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has the institutional capacity to achieve the prosecutorial benchmarks set by Western donors. Despite the obstacles inherent in an overstretched and underfunded criminal justice system, the ACB has made some progress, with fifteen convictions on theft and money laundering charges, and $1.4 million in cash and property recovered. Yet, as this essay observes, the quest to secure convictions and recover assets in the more complex cases of senior officials will become quixotic unless the government provides the ACB with sufficient independence, authority, and resources. Lacking ACB operational success, donors seem disinclined to resume direct budgetary support to Malawi. And as Western countries retract, China moves in, extending its influence.

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