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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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Hively v. Ivy Tech

Hively v. Ivy Tech

In the summer of 2015, same-sex couples celebrated a civil rights victory following the Supreme Court’s monumental decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. The Court recognized same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marriage, protected by the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses. While the right to marriage was immediate, this decision did not mark the end of discrimination based on sexual orientation. Rather, the holding created a “legal landscape in which a person can be married on Saturday and then…

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Who Among Us Is the Reasonable Person?

Who Among Us Is the Reasonable Person?

Our cultural understanding of “criminal” heavily influences how the elements of a criminal defense are defined and applied. Kansas Supreme Court case State v. Stewart was no exception to this rule. The defendant in this case, a victim of a long-term domestic abuse by her husband, Mike, was charged with first-degree murder of her husband. After suffering years of emotional and physical abuse toward herself and her two daughters, on the morning of the murder, Stewart found her only escape…

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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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Experimental Drug Could Curb Emerging COVID Mental Health Crisis

Experimental Drug Could Curb Emerging COVID Mental Health Crisis

As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, experts warn it is triggering a national mental health crisis. Some say it could cause up to 75,000 U.S. deaths by suicide and drug overdose. Millions may experience lasting grief from losing loved ones, depression due to unemployment, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from working on the frontlines as healthcare providers and other essential workers.  Traditional medications for mental illness, such as the antidepressants fluoxetine and paroxetine, are ineffective in about half of those who try them….

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Federalism and Communicative Confusion in the Time of COVID-19

Federalism and Communicative Confusion in the Time of COVID-19

The states, rather than the federal government, have taken the lead in responding to COVID-19. This is in part because states have broad police powers that allow them to enact measures like stay-at-home orders. It is also because the federal government has avoided issuing guidance, even suppressing a recent CDC report, which has left the states without central coordination. Some praise this strategy as a prudent invocation of federalism. But any evaluation of the federalism benefits must account for the…

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