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Category: COVID-19

Religious Practice, the Pandemic, and the US Supreme Court

Religious Practice, the Pandemic, and the US Supreme Court

Introduction In a 5–4 vote on November 25, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision in Roman Catholic Diocese v. Cuomo, granting injunctive relief (pending appeal) to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, two synagogues, and other individuals (“applicants”) against Executive Order 202.68. The Order, issued by the Governor of New York, restricted the number of individuals allowed in houses of worship due to the COVID–19 pandemic. The issue in the case concerned the Free Exercise…

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Mail-In Voting and the Twenty-Sixth Amendment in the Time of Coronavirus

Mail-In Voting and the Twenty-Sixth Amendment in the Time of Coronavirus

The right to vote is one of the most essential tenets of our liberal democracy, but in the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, many United States citizens had to weigh the importance of their health against the importance of exercising their suffrage. Accordingly, several states considered and promulgated new voting rules allowing for far safer voting means such as early and mail-in voting. That is not to say that these procedures were not already widespread; before 2020, the majority of…

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Beyond Investment in Research: What COVID-19 Policymakers Can Learn from the HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Beyond Investment in Research: What COVID-19 Policymakers Can Learn from the HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Widespread investment in biomedical research has made many Americans tentatively optimistic about the resolution of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the public sector, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has provided nearly $10 billion in funding for therapy and vaccine development through agencies like the NIH and CDC. This effort has culminated in two important milestones: the discovery that remdesivir, a drug developed to treat Ebola, reduces morbidity for patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19, and the introduction of…

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The Right to Education in the Midst of a Pandemic

The Right to Education in the Midst of a Pandemic

COVID-19 exposes the necessity of accessible education for all students and begs us to reconsider education as a fundamental right under substantive due process. In light of this current health crisis, now is the time to consider the many inequities in access to education that have existed for centuries. As schools across the nation consider their modality of instruction for the school year, equitable education for students should be a primary concern for government, policy makers, and school systems. This…

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Protecting Disabled and Aged Patients From Discriminatory Triage Protocols

Protecting Disabled and Aged Patients From Discriminatory Triage Protocols

With COVID-19 cases surging across the country, many hospitals will soon face the unthinkable—having too few resources to treat all patients in need. Already overrun, some hospitals have had to make the choice to ration Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds, ventilators, and other lifesaving care. Anticipating increased demand, many states have issued Crisis Standards of Care (CSC) that include guiding principles and criteria for allocating scarce resources. Patient advocates have challenged the triage protocols incorporated into some state CSC guidelines…

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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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