By Taryn MacKinney
Taryn MacKinney is an Executive Editor of the Penn Undergraduate Law Journal and a student at the University of Pennsylvania.
A recent Colorado lawsuit has sparked controversy over religious expression in public schools. Chase Windebank, a Colorado Springs high school student, is suing his school district for what he deemed a violation of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Though the lawsuit – still in its infancy – has already generated intense debate, the topic isn’t new; the issue of free speech in schools has been battled out for decades in courts. Since the landmark Tinker v. Des Moines (1965) case, which ruled in favor of student rights when it claimed that neither “students [nor] teachers shed their constitutional rights…at the schoolhouse gate,” the Supreme Court and circuit courts have ruled erratically.  In Bethel School District v. Fraser (1986), Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988), and Morse v. Frederick (2007), the Supreme Court refined Tinker by adding parameters to student free speech. In B.H. v. Easton Area School District (2014), however, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed this decades-long trend by upholding the rights of students to wear controversial breast cancer bracelets; the Supreme Court rejected the School District’s appeal, solidifying the stance taken by the lower court.  Now, only a little more than a year after B.H. v. Easton, the Windebank lawsuit promises to stir things up again.
By Sam Nadler
Sam Nadler is a senior at Vanderbilt University studying history.
This past July marked the two-year anniversary of the uncovering of a massive fraud at the commodities brokerage firm Peregrine Financial Group (PFG). PFG's CEO, Russell Wasendorf Sr., stole money from customer brokerage accounts over the course of almost two decades. Amazingly, Wasendorf managed to escape the detection of both the regulators charged with preventing such fraud, and his employees at PFG. Two and a half years later, it is instructive to look back on the institutional deficiencies that allowed Wasendorf to commit fraud, the judicial consequences that arose from the case, and the steps taken by regulators to prevent similar fraud schemes in the future.
In the wake of the fraud’s discovery, many were dismayed by how 'simple' it was for Wasendorf to embezzle funds and evade regulators. PFG represented itself as a legitimate commodities brokerage firm, matching buyers and sellers of contracts, which dealt with commodities like wheat and oil. However, in 2012, Wasendorf admitted to stealing over $200 million in investor funds for his own use beginning as early as 1993. Wasendorf doctored paper bank statements to make it look like PFG's accounts held far more than they actually did. In the note he left before his failed suicide attempt in July 2012, Wasendorf wrote, "Using a combination of Photoshop, Excel, scanners, and both laser and ink jet printers I was able to make very convincing forgeries of nearly every document that came from the bank." Wasendorf convinced the National Futures Association (NFA), the self-regulatory organization charged by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to regulate commodities brokers, that a P.O. Box he had rented belonged to the U.S. Bancorp branch that handled PFG's account. He sent the doctored accounts to the NFA with the P.O. box as the return address.