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Category: COVID-19

Can President Trump Withhold Funds When States Expand Vote-by-Mail?

Can President Trump Withhold Funds When States Expand Vote-by-Mail?

In now-deleted tweets by President Trump, Trump claimed that Michigan sent “absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election.” He alleged that the move was done “illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State” and continued onward to say “I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!” Of course, the Secretary of State of Michigan had done nothing of the sort; instead,…

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Remote Witnesses and Wills

Remote Witnesses and Wills

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a surge in the number of Americans using online services to make wills. If people are subject to shelter-in-place orders, however, the witnessing condition required by statutory law is not readily satisfied—the testator and two witnesses cannot occupy the same physical place at the same time. While some states have temporarily allowed remote witnessing, such relief has not been uniformly implemented across the country. Thus, an instrument prepared online may fail to fulfill a decedent’s…

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COVID-19 and the Shadow Docket: The Supreme Court and the Pandemic

COVID-19 and the Shadow Docket: The Supreme Court and the Pandemic

The Supreme Court has two dockets. The first—and far more public—docket comprises the roughly eighty cases each Term that undergo extensive briefing and oral arguments before the Court. These cases can take months, or even more than a year, from the filing of a cert petition to issuance of an opinion by the Court. The second, often referred to as the “shadow docket,” includes a number of requests for emergency equitable relief. For cases on the shadow docket, the Court…

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Abuse of Contract and the July 2020 Bar Exam

Abuse of Contract and the July 2020 Bar Exam

This summer, the Kansas Board of Law Examiners (KBE) is demanding that all examinees sign a statement that they have “voluntarily” assumed COVID-related risks before they sit for the July 2020 bar examination. According to the July 2020 Kansas Bar Examination Examinee Code of Conduct Agreement (KS Code of Conduct Agreement) recently distributed by the KBE, if an examinee fails to sign and return the KS Code of Conduct Agreement by July 15, “the examinee will not be allowed to…

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Access to Public Lands During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Access to Public Lands During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In an effort to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, federal, state, and local governments have acted to limit or entirely close off access to public outdoor spaces, such as local playgrounds and state and national parks. As the country begins to reopen, governments have sought to balance the need for public access to these outdoor spaces with the risks posed by such access. Where the risks are too high—whether because of the challenge of ensuring compliance with social…

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Do Prisoners Have a Right to Soap?

Do Prisoners Have a Right to Soap?

In the ongoing litigation regarding prison conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic, one request of the litigants stands out: they want more soap. And sometimes—especially at the district court level—prisoners have been able to get that soap. In a Texas case, Valentine v. Collier, the district court ordered the prison to “[p]rovide [p]laintiffs and the class members with unrestricted access to hand soap and disposable hand towels to facilitate handwashing.” Similarly, in Swain v. Junior, a Florida district court required that…

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Your Right to Sue, Goodnight!

Your Right to Sue, Goodnight!

Oh, the sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home‘Tis summer, the old folks are gayWhere the corn top’s ripe and the meadow’s in the bloomWhile the birds make music all the day Weep no more, my ladyOh, weep no more todayWe’ll sing one songFor my old Kentucky homeFor my old Kentucky home, far away Well the young folks roll all around the cabin floorThey’re merry, all happy and brightBy-and-by hard times will come a-knocking at my doorThen my old…

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Trump Weaponizes COVID-19 Against Illegal Immigrants

Trump Weaponizes COVID-19 Against Illegal Immigrants

As a criminal defense attorney in the border city of El Paso, Texas, I meet with illegal immigrants weekly, if not daily. I witness their journey firsthand. I represented families when President Trump piloted his family separation policy in El Paso. Today, I am witnessing yet another Trump assault against brown immigrants. Trump is weaponizing COVID-19. President Trump’s anti-immigration resume is extensive. It boasts, among other things, his threat to shut down the government if it doesn’t fund his “big,…

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Remember the Past: What Can a Governor Do When the Second COVID-19 Surge Comes?

Remember the Past: What Can a Governor Do When the Second COVID-19 Surge Comes?

Back on January 1st we thought that 2020 would bring clarity of vision and foresight. Since then the world has turned upside down; however, long-standing legal precedent of what states can do in times of epidemics and pandemics has not. Many are claiming that it is unlawful for any governmental entity or official, in an effort to reduce COVID-19 infections and deaths, to impose restrictions upon travel, either across state borders or in large crowds within a state. I disagree….

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Korematsu, COVID-19, and The Question of Executive Deference

Korematsu, COVID-19, and The Question of Executive Deference

“Wrong the day it was decided” is a judgment that the Supreme Court reserves for overturning its most egregious prior decisions. One of the cases that most recently received that declaration is Korematsu v. United States, a decision that infamously sanctioned the World War II internment of individuals of Japanese ancestry. The Court’s repudiation of that decision, equal parts laudable and belated, offers hope that the logic of this decision is a relic of the past, but such hope may…

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