By Cary Holley
Cary Holley is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania studying Political Science.
Mandatory minimums, rules that apply an inflexible minimum sentence requirement to certain crimes, have been a part of our penal law since the late 18th century. Despite their long-established existence, questions remain on how to properly implement them in the court of law. A series of Supreme Court cases have deliberated the issue and those decisions have had implications for lower courts. The precedent set by Alleyne v. United States, for example, has led to confusion about mandatory minimums here in Pennsylvania.
By Nicholas Parsons
Nicholas Parsons is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying Politics, Philosophy, and Economics.
Every corner of the Earth suffers from war, contamination, and vast social problems. But there exists one place where these problems have yet to take root: outer space. Over half a century has passed since the very first space flight, and there such issues have not arisen to any significant extent. But in order to prevent problems like conflict, pollution, and property rights battles in space, laws are necessary. The field of space law is currently quite small, but as space travel becomes increasingly prevalent over the coming decades and centuries, regulation will be an exigency in order to maintain diplomatic tranquility and to discourage the suffusion of space junk.
Imagine riding a rocket into orbit, but not an astronaut, as a tourist in a commercial ride. This was once a fantasy, but with the onset of privatized space flight, this has already become a reality.  Some “space tourists” already exist, thanks to the organization known as Space Adventures.  In addition, numerous private companies, including Boeing and SpaceX, are in the midst of developing space vehicles that have the ability to ferry tourists into space. These personal space flights are not without legal ramifications. Even with training, there is a lot of risk involved in flying a rocket filled with just a few passengers. Therefore, in America, companies must be licensed by the Federal Aviation Agency’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, to ensure that all safety requirements are in check.  That said, this is just the tip of the iceberg for the regulatory measures that have been put in place to ensure space is not exploited in any way.
Tyler Larkworthy is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania studying computer science and economics.
Editor’s Note: this piece was written before the recently issued executive order instituting a new version of the travel ban.
The first month of the Trump presidency has seen divisive policy decisions and bitter legal pushback, epitomized by the controversial travel ban issued on January 27. The ban, enacted by Executive Order 13769, is valid for 90 days and applies to seven countries which have Muslim-majority populations.  After switching positions several times, the federal government decided that the ban did not apply to green card holders, meaning that US permanent residents from the seven restricted countries could still lawfully enter the country.
The ban faced near immediate challenge in numerous states.  On February 3, Judge James Robart issued a temporary restraining order against the ban, though the lawsuit in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington remains pending.  The Trump administration appealed Robart’s order to the Ninth Circuit Court. A panel of three judges on the 9th Circuit ruled against the Trump administration, leaving the restraining order in place and signifying an end to implementation of the ban.
By Justin Yang
Justin Yang is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying Politics, Philosophy, and Economics.
It is an indisputable fact that women face more barriers than men in the world. As a man, I cannot possibly understand the full extent of this injustice; as a human being, I can empathize and support efforts to limit and hopefully eradicate it from society. Perhaps the most ambitious effort intended to achieve this aim in the United States has been the Equal Rights Amendment, a proposed constitutional amendment designed to guarantee equal rights for women. By the ratification deadline, 35 states had ratified it, just three short of the required number, meaning the Amendment never became part of the Constitution.  But if three more states had ratified it and it was the law of the land, what would America be like?
The key part of the Amendment reads as follows: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”  It would’ve been only the second time the Constitution ever explicitly mentions sex or gender; the first was the Nineteenth Amendment, guaranteeing women’s suffrage.  It would’ve also been the first guarantee in the Constitution that men and women are truly equal before the eyes of the law.
By Gabriel Maliha
Gabriel Maliha is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying criminology.
The November 8th presidential election touched off an intense debate about the continued propriety of maintaining the Electoral College as the means of electing presidents. This was not a new controversy. There have been four other times in our history that a candidate won the popular vote and lost the election: Andrew Jackson in 1824, Samuel Tilden in 1876, Grover Cleveland in 1888 and Al Gore in 2000. However, the margin of popular vote loss by President Trump, at 2.1%, seems to have strengthened the calls for adopting a direct popular vote. 
Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution establishes the Electoral College, a process for selecting presidential electors, who in turn choose the president and vice president of the United States. Each state is assigned a number of electors equal to its delegation to the House of Representatives and Senate combined. The current number of electors is 538, of which a majority of at least 270 is required to elect a president.  The Constitution empowers the various state legislatures to determine the manner of selecting their electors. Throughout the 18th and 19th century, many state legislatures appointed their representatives to the Electoral College without a direct popular election of the electors. Today, all 50 states and the District of Columbia choose their electors by popular vote. 
By Thomas Cribbins
Thomas Cribbins is a junior at the University of Michigan studying political science.
A good analogy for the bankruptcy of Detroit might be sailing into uncharted waters. Chapter 9 bankruptcy had never been tried on such a large scale, with the next largest municipal bankruptcy only about ⅕ of the size of Detroit’s bankruptcy.  Needless to say, the outcome of the bankruptcy involved many complex deals. One such deal was the leasing of Belle Isle Park to the State of Michigan. This lease gave the management and operational responsibilities of Belle Isle to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to manage the island as a state park. For a minimum of 27 years, Belle Isle will be under state control while still technically owned by the City of Detroit. After the intervening 3 years, how beneficial was the Belle Isle deal for Detroit?