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Life Hangs in the Balance: Weighing Coronavirus Church Closings Against the RFRA

Life Hangs in the Balance: Weighing Coronavirus Church Closings Against the RFRA

On March 27, the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group unanimously issued an order restricting the gatherings of non-essential businesses and services. The Rev. Rodney Howard-Browne responded that he would only cancel church services for the Rapture and that pastors who canceled services were “pansies.” After holding church services on March 29, county authorities arrested Howard-Browne for unlawful assembly and violating the public health emergency order. While the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993 applies only to the federal government,…

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The Right to Repair in a Pandemic

The Right to Repair in a Pandemic

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, companies, organizations, and individuals have used 3D printing and other measures to address supply chain gaps, producing spare parts and products such as ventilator tube splitters, nasopharyngeal swabs, and face shields. To facilitate similar efforts, the National Institute of Health has created a 3D print exchange to share models and increase production, but it has not generally approved the use of these 3D printed products. Additionally, the FDA has adopted an emergency use authorization…

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Vaccines and IP Preparedness in the Coronavirus Outbreak

Vaccines and IP Preparedness in the Coronavirus Outbreak

The COVID-19 pandemic has shed renewed light on the importance of research and development (R&D) on biopharmaceutical products needed to prevent or lessen the burden posed by outbreaks of infectious diseases. Among these, the need for new vaccines has become of paramount importance. While a race to develop different types of vaccines unfolds at unusual speed, there are still significant shortcomings in the ecosystem that leads to the production and dissemination of vaccines targeting infectious diseases like COVID-19. In the…

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Korematsu in the Age of COVID – A Note on The Constitution in Times of Crisis

Korematsu in the Age of COVID – A Note on The Constitution in Times of Crisis

The case of Korematsu v. United States lives in constitutional infamy as the case which upheld the military policy of Japanese internment during WWII. In doing so, the Court—led by former KKK member Justice Black—did not deny that Japanese internment constituted a deprivation of constitutional rights. Instead, they found that the deprivation was justified due to the fact that the United States was at war. Because of this justification, Korematsu is one of several cases which stands for the proposition…

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Multi-Level Marketer Social Media Presence During COVID-19 Provokes FTC

Multi-Level Marketer Social Media Presence During COVID-19 Provokes FTC

MLMs and Why They Matter DoTERRA essential oils and other multi-level marketers (MLMs) are in trouble. Their social media presence during the COVID-19 crisis provoked Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforcement action in late April. But what exactly are MLMs and why are they particularly relevant during the COVID-19 crisis? MLMs sell their products directly to consumers, but, rather than using a central distribution system, they rely on a representative network for sales and recruiting. This system creates multiple levels of…

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COVID-19 Phobias About Health, Finances, Law, Leadership, and Loneliness

COVID-19 Phobias About Health, Finances, Law, Leadership, and Loneliness

COVID-19 is not just a medical and physical health pandemic; it has also led to interrelated phobias concerning health, finances, law, leadership, and loneliness. These interconnected phobias feed off each other and can alter a person’s decision-making, risk perception, and self-identity. They also create and increase anxious feelings in sufferers. Anxious people seek and take more advice, have impaired information processing and lower self-confidence, fail to differentiate between advisors with and without conflicts of interest, and fail to discern good…

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South Dakota’s COVID-19 Response is a Battleground for Tribal Sovereignty

South Dakota’s COVID-19 Response is a Battleground for Tribal Sovereignty

In a May 5 post Assistant Attorney General for the Navajo Nation Department of Justice Paul Spruhan argued that Indian tribes should have authority to restrict movement through their territories in order to stem the tide of the COVID-19 epidemic. Those very principles are now being put to the test in South Dakota, where Gov. Kristi Noem has demanded that Oglala Sioux tribal leaders remove the checkpoints set up to regulate traffic through the reservation. Gov. Noem has previously come…

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Sorry, Not Sorry: Temporary Practice in a Pandemic

Sorry, Not Sorry: Temporary Practice in a Pandemic

The American Bar Association (ABA) Board of Governors has issued a policy resolution urging states to adopt emergency rules that would authorize recent law graduates to engage in supervised law practice until the COVID-19 pandemic allows administration of the next bar exam. The ABA’s guidance encourages states to terminate these limited licenses if an applicant does not take or pass a bar examination by the end of 2021. This resolution sends a mixed message: On the one hand, emergency licensing…

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Zoom Justice: When Constitutional Rights Collide in Cyberspace

Zoom Justice: When Constitutional Rights Collide in Cyberspace

Criminal courts throughout the United States have relied upon Zoom and other videoconferencing technologies to help maintain a functioning criminal justice system amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, such technology, in place of in-person trials, potentially violates several constitutional rights afforded to the accused, and might force them to choose to exercise one right guaranteed to them by the Sixth Amendment at the expense of another. Specifically, the accused might now confront two critical constitutional choices: (1) the right to a…

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COVID-19 and Indian Country: A Legal Dispatch from the Navajo Nation

COVID-19 and Indian Country: A Legal Dispatch from the Navajo Nation

There has been much press coverage on the Navajo Nation’s struggle to contain the spread of COVID-19 on its lands. As of May 2, 2020, the Nation has 2,373 confirmed cases, and more than seventy deaths from the virus. These reports have noted the practical impediments the Nation faces in responding to the pandemic, including a high population of people with pre-existing health problems, the lack of easy access to health care, and the significant number of families without running…

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