Welcome to the Roundtable, a forum for incisive commentary and analysis
on cases and developments in law and the legal system.
on cases and developments in law and the legal system.
By Tanner Bowen
Tanner Bowen is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying business.
Although the Senate Judiciary Committee has recently been under fire for refusing to consider any presidential appointment to the Supreme Court, they have been hearing testimonies from Attorney General Loretta Lynch last week concerning the oversight of the Justice Department. This is where Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked Lynch about a recent immigration judge’s comments concerning how he thought three-year-old children could be able to represent themselves in court. Senator Leahy described the judge’s comments as: “one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard coming from a judge or a government official.” 
These quotes came from Judge Jack H. Weil, an assistant chief immigration judge who oversees training for immigration judges in all immigration courts nationally.  Recently, the American Civil Liberties Union, or the ACLU, had filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit, J.E.F.M. v. Lynch, challenging the federal government’s failure to provide immigrant children with proper legal representation in deportation hearings. Weil was called in as an expert witness to defend the Justice Department’s policies. In his deposition hearings, he made some troubling remarks such as:
By Luis Bravo
Luis Bravo is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania studying sociology.
Though it has been almost a year since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage with its momentous Obergefell v. Hodges decision, LGBTQ+ rights still remain a divisive issue in America.  Ambiguities within the law are consistently exploited to contest the rights of same-sex partners, resulting in several court battles throughout the states. Granting marriage equality has resulted in a batch of legal conundrums that our present legal system is not able to swiftly and adequately address. Divorce and custody rights for same-sex parents are a few of the many issues that are not clearly defined in our legal system, and is thus a point of legal conflict.  A recent Supreme Court decision, however, has begun to change that.
Two women, V.L. and E.L., were in a relationship from 1995 until their subsequent divorce in 2011. During their relationship, E.L. gave birth to children through donor insemination that both individuals raised together. Eventually, both parents moved to Georgia so V.L could legally adopt the children. E.L never relinquished her parental rights, but she did explicitly consent to V. L’s adoption of her children. Eventually, the entire family moved back to Alabama, and in 2011 V.L and E.L got divorced. Soon after, V.L filed a motion requesting visitation rights for her adoptive children. The Family Court in Jefferson County granted her request. However, E.L appealed the decision to the Alabama Court of Appeals, claiming that the Alabama court should not recognize the Georgia adoption decision, because the court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction in the first place. In other words, E.L argued that the Georgia court never possessed the power to grant adoption privilege to her partner; the Alabama Court of Appeals agreed and revoked V.L’s visitation rights. 
By Rachel Pomerantz
Rachel Pomerantz is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania.
June 26, 2015 was a momentous day for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights activists. The Supreme Court handed down its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, striking down bans on same-sex marriage across the country.  The steps of the Supreme Court and social media pages were filled with pictures and filters of joyous celebration and relief.
What does this mean? Can activists and allies pack up their bags and go home to enjoy their newfound rights? Surely, the days of relegating Americans to second class citizenship on the basis of sexual orientation are over.
The Penn Undergraduate Law Journal had the opportunity to sit down with Stephanos Bibas, a regarded legal scholar and professor at Penn Law. We discussed his research into modern criminal defense proceedings and the cases he’s recently argued in front of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Penn Undergraduate Law Journal: You were a prosecutor for the Southern District of New York before you began teaching at Penn. What made you decide to make the shift into academia?
Stephanos Bibas: I had been interested in teaching for some time, but I wanted to get some experience so that I had something worth teaching and writing about. Even just some time in the trenches completely changed my view of the world. What I’d been looking for was something worth saying, and what struck me was the gap between what I learned in law school, which was all about jury trials, and then the real world, in which almost all cases are plea bargained. That disconnect between what the Supreme Court, where I was clerking, was talking about, and where there was a world that was very different, that was 95% plea bargaining, gave me something important to critique about the shape of the law and about how the court and older generations didn’t understand the import of modern sentencing law and sentencing guidelines. That made it very different from the theory that I had learned in law school.
By Brónach Rafferty
Brónach Rafferty is a third-year law student at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.
I believe that reasonableness as it currently exists in law is a fallacy.
‘Fallacy’ is defined as a mistaken belief based on unsound arguments. Such ‘unsound arguments,’ which form the unstable foundations upon which uncertain beliefs as to what reasonableness is, are evident throughout both case law and legal literature. Reasonableness is invoked throughout as an answer to many things. However, there is little discussion given as to what is meant by reasonableness. From where does reasonableness come from, and what does it mean? Is this ‘reasonableness’ open to everyone, does everyone feel that it is open to them, that it grounds them? And if so, then why not have just one law: be reasonable? The law purports to exist as a means to regulate society. Therefore, if it is clear what the law requires, then why do we need reasonableness?
In Associated Provincial Picture Houses Ltd v Wednesbury Corporation , Lord Green held that, for the court to decide what is meant by reasonableness, it must first decide what is a reasonable decision maker and what decision that reasonable decision maker would take. However, it is ‘the court’ which ultimately defines what is meant by reasonableness through their interpretation as to what the ‘reasonable man’ is. Reasonableness is held to be that which the court says it is, and what the court decrees to be reasonable is that which is reasonable. There is a fallacy in this circular logic which renders reasonableness vague and problematic.
By Gabriel Maliha
Gabriel Maliha is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying criminology.
In November 2014, President Obama announced a new immigration reform program: Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). The policy would grant “lawful presence” (and right to work) for three years to unauthorized immigrants who are the parents of U.S. Citizens or permanent residents and have been in the country since at least January 2010.  Additionally, for “lawful presence” to be granted, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has to deem these immigrants not be a threat to national security.
Texas, along with 25 other states, promptly challenged the new policy on three grounds. First, the policy change is “substantive and non-discretionary” and violated the Notice-and-Comment Rulemaking provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Second, the policy violated the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Third, in enacting the new program, the president violated the “Take Care Clause” of the United States Constitution. This clause requires the president to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” By violating the APA and the INA, these states argued that these violations are causing the President to simultaneously violate the “Take Care Clause.” The states also asserted “standing” (a party that would suffer a legal injury as a result of the policy) under Article III of the Constitution based on the economic costs of increased expenditures on law enforcement, health and education due to DAPA. The states contended that the “lawful presence” status, under the new policy, would entitle a significant number of individuals to new benefits subsidized by the states, thus causing the economic expenditures of the states to increase. 
By Nayeon Kim
Nayeon Kim is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania.
Last April, Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s antitrust chief, formally accused Google of manipulating search results in favor of its other businesses. For example, she argued that Google intentionally displayed its shopping site on the front when people searched for products, diverting traffic from the sites of its competitors. Although there could be some political motives behind the actions of European regulators, the existence of this conflict itself attests to the immense amount of power Google has over the online search market and informs us of how things may go wrong when a single company virtually dominates an industry.
Not only has Google faced antitrust investigations in Europe, but in the US as well; however, the US investigation did not ultimately result in a formal charge. In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, concluded its two-year investigation on whether Google violated any US antitrust regulations. The FTC stated that it would not file a lawsuit against Google because it could not find sufficient evidence of the company breaking the law. 
By Steven Jacobson
Steven Jacobson is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying business and history.
Japan became the latest country to take the once-unthinkable plunge on January 29, announcing that it would cut its interest rate below zero for the first time. The move is the latest in the world’s third-largest economy’s efforts to banish the stagnation and deflation that has plagued it for a quarter century. The Bank of Japan hopes that the risky decision will prompt savers to start spending and also devalue the currency to make the country’s exports more attractive to trading partners. The reduction to -0.1 percent will also likely boost Japan’s long-sluggish but steadily climbing property market, but could threaten to lay the groundwork for a real estate bubble.
Japan’s real estate market, along with its stock market, soared during the country’s asset bubble in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The bubble burst in 1991 as Japan entered its Lost Decade, a period of economic malaise that has often been extended to 2010 by economists. Japan’s house price index, as measured by The Economist, plunged 43 percent from the first quarter of 1991 to the third quarter of 2007, at which point the market began a modest surge before crashing again during the global financial crisis.  The market has experienced fits and starts since bottoming out in early 2012 but has grown steadily since early 2013.  This three-year increase has been partially driven by an influx of capital from China’s newly wealthy into Japan’s property market. 
By Alice Giannini
Alice Giannini is a fourth-year law student at the University of Bologna in Bologna, Italy.
Some could say 2015 was finally the year of LGBT rights. There are now 22 nations worldwide where same-sex marriage is recognized and legal.  In May, Ireland became the first country in the world to approve it through a referendum, with a 62% “yes” vote. In June, the US Supreme Court marked a new era in its legal system in its ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, as it declared that “same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry in all States.”  However, 2016 may not be as successful for the movement to bring about greater equality.
On February 25 of this year, the Italian Senate approved a bill that regulated (for the first time) the institution of civil unions. The Italian lawmaking process is based on a perfect bicameral system, which means that both houses have the same powers and therefore both votes (on identical texts) are needed.  Nevertheless, after a very troubled political process, it can be reasonably supposed that the text that was approved on February 25 is the final one. This bill cannot be considered as a victory for the Italian LGBT community, but rather the umpteenth triumph of compromise.
By Habib Olapade
Habib Olapade is a junior at Stanford University studying political science.
On November 22, 2014, at 3:26 pm Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, two Cleveland police officers, responded to a 911 call about an African-American male brandishing what appeared to be a pistol in Cudell Commons Park.  In that same 911 call, the caller commented that the gun was “probably fake” because there was a plastic orange ring on the weapon’s exterior and that the male appeared “to be a juvenile.”  The woman working the dispatch, however, did not relay these pieces of important qualifying information to Lohemann and Garmback, and both officers proceeded to drive towards the Commons.  Four minutes later, the patrol car approached Tamir Rice. Rice reached for his ‘gun,’ and Loehmann fired two shots into Rice’s torso four seconds before the patrol car had even stopped, killing him. 
In the aftermath of the shooting, it was revealed that Rice was actually a twelve-year-old boy playing with a toy gun in a park, and every major news outlet not owned by Rupert Murdoch expressed outrage over the incident.  A Cleveland grand jury, however, deviated from the public’s overwhelming consensus on Loehmann’s criminal culpability, and decided that the evidence against the police officer did not even warrant a trial.