By Isabela Baghdady
Isabela Baghdady is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania with plans to study Political Science and History.
Over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the increasing availability of vaccines has offered a glimmer of hope for a return to the “normalcy” of pre-COVID times. With over 86 million Americans fully vaccinated, the Biden administration has voiced hope that by summer time, there will be a welcome reprieve from the virus as well as the grief, social distancing, and uncertainty that has come with it .
By Akshita Tiwary
Akshita Tiwary is a 3rd year law student at Government Law College, Mumbai, India. She serves as an Assistant Editor for JURIST, University of Pittsburgh, and is keenly interested in international law, human rights and constitutional law.
On 16th February 2021, France’s National Assembly passed an anti-radicalism bill in order to counter extremism within the country [1, 2]. Prima facie, the bill is expected to defeat “Islamist separatism” and unify the tenets of French secularism, which advocates for the equality of all religions. However, the bill is facing severe flak due to its xenophobic nature. It is believed that it violates the right to freedom of religion of the Muslim population in France. Hence, this article analyses several features of the proposed law to determine its compatibility with the right to freedom of religion.
The Legal Underpinnings of the South China Sea Dispute: Could Partnerships Be Biden’s Answer to the Conflict?
By Lyndsey Reeve
Lyndsey Reeve is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania studying International Relations.
Controlling the South China Sea is an imperative for actors in the Indo-Pacific. Hotly contested for decades due to its economic and geopolitical importance, the region is home to fierce displays of military might (so-called “gunboat diplomacy”). Under the surface, however, lies a complex, decades-old legal battle. To defend the rule of law, American policymakers must build stronger partnerships in the region and foster alternatives that promote economic growth without authoritarian control.
By Sneha Sharma
Sneha is a junior in the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Politics, Philosophy, & Economics and minoring in Healthcare Management, Biological Basis of Behavior, and Engineering Entrepreneurship.
“Moderna or Pfizer?” Long gone are the days of hugs and kisses as greetings. Instead, on Locust, we see Penn students have found a new conversation starter.
By Sophie Lovering
Sophie Lovering is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) and minoring in American Sign Language and Deaf Studies.
On Monday, March 29, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended a nationwide ban on evictions through June of 2021 . Prior to this announcement, the moratorium deadline was March 31, determined by President Joe Biden in December of last year . The initiative was first established at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, with landlords and tenants struggling to maintain incomes and pay their mortgages .
According to CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the goal of keeping people in their homes is to get them “out of crowded or congregated settings…like homeless shelters” . Notably, however, the moratorium on evictions applies only for nonpayment of rent; other lease violations remain valid grounds for eviction .
Digital Rust: Why a Legal Framework for Declining Infrastructure Cybersecurity is More Important Than Ever
By Joseph Squillaro
Joseph M. Squillaro is a member of the Class of 2022 at the University of Pennsylvania studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) with a concentration in cyber policy and Internet law, and is both a writer and an editor for the Penn Undergraduate Law Journal.
While most of the United States was preparing to watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Kansas City Chiefs at Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida, a much more sinister scene was unfolding a few miles away in the small bedroom community town of Oldsmar, FL on February 5th, 2021. At the municipal Bruce T. Haddock Water Treatment Plant, responsible for providing the town with fresh drinking water, a skeleton crew was assigned that Friday night, a shift that is typically as uneventful as the taste of water itself. Little did these employees know, however, that the plant was under attack, not by a physical intruder, but a digital one that was able to gain control of the plant’s controls via the internet. Covertly, malicious hackers were able to gain access to the plant’s Windows 7 computer systems via a tool called TeamViewer, which is typically used to give remote access to employees, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic . Typically, this type of attack would be stopped via modern antivirus software, but the operator was using significantly older operating systems which were never updated for necessary security patches. Furthermore, there was no adequate training to plant personnel about how software programs like TeamViewer could pose a risk. From there, because the computers and the plant control system were not air gapped (a modern protocol where two systems are not digitally connected to prevent unauthorized access), the hackers were able to access the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system and raise the lye concentration (the active component in drain cleaner which is used in small quantities to remove metals in wastewater) from 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million. If successful, the trusted tap water of Oldsmar would have become incredibly deadly. Luckily, an astute worker noticed the toxic change, took the system offline and reverted the lye concentration. While this situation had a positive outcome for Oldsmar, the situation could have become significantly worse and despite an FBI investigation, no credible leads were found to hold the attempted-murderers accountable . This incident brings to light the scary reality that our infrastructure systems, which are becoming increasingly reliant on internet-connected computing, are vulnerable to cyberattack and there is little to no effective regulatory policy for the operators of infrastructure who are negligent in maintaining their cyber defenses.
An Opportunity for Progress: How the Biden Administration Can Aid in Ending the Pandemic Worldwide and Improve Our Global Reputation
By Evelyn Bond
Evelyn Bond is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania studying Political Science and Spanish.
When COVID-19 was first declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization in early March of 2020, few knew just how devastating the effects of the outbreak would be. The virus has claimed over 2.9 million lives worldwide, including over 560,000 in the United States, and it continues to wreak havoc globally . With more than 31.1 million total positive cases, the United States has responded haphazardly to the pandemic since the beginning of the outbreak, and that disjointed response has cost hundreds of thousands of American lives . The failure and neglect began under the administration of former President Donald Trump, who swiftly dismissed the virus as being “no worse than the flu,” . The Trump administration primarily delegated the responsibility of containing the virus to the respective states, indicating that the federal government would merely act as their “back-up” . The former President continued to downplay the virus, controlling the media releases of the Center for Disease Control and other top government health experts, making it “hard for them to communicate accurate and lifesaving scientific information to the public” . National trust in the American government continued to fall rapidly , with the global image of the United States suffering substantially in response to the U.S.’s failure to handle the pandemic . Now, under the guidance of recently incumbent President Biden, the country has been afforded a new opportunity to redeem itself in the eyes of the world. Taking the initiative in tackling the virus at a worldwide level could significantly curve the virus’s devastation and greatly improve our global reputation.
By Albert Manfredi
Albert “Albi” Manfredi is a sophomore in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He majors chemical and biomolecular engineering, concentrating in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, and hopes to complete the joint legal studies and history minor between The Wharton School and the College of Arts and Sciences.
With 15% of the United States population now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the government-subsidized vaccine rollout is starting to be viewed as a massive success for public health and the pharmaceutical industry . Not only have vaccines distributed at a rapid pace, but they have managed to stay affordably priced as the government purchases and distributes them to ensure they are accessible to those in need. However, paying for quick relief while overlooking long-term regulation may come with a cost. Two weeks ago, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson executives promised investors increased prices for current vaccines and future booster shots during the “non-pandemic” phase . This profit-scheme comes in spite of the fact that the majority of vaccine funding, approximately $30 billion, came from taxpayers and the federal government . These actions call into question the ethics of the pharmaceutical industry and whether it requires government intervention to prioritize public health before investor profits.
By Joe Anderson
Joe Anderson is a sophomore in the College studying Political Science and History. In addition to writing for the Roundtable, he is a member of the Penn Policy Consulting Group and Penn Debate Society, and a fellow at the Marks Family Writing Center.
Legal conservatives have a tool at their disposal that their liberal opponents don’t: the Federalist Society. The organization officially advocates “reordering priorities within the legal system to place a premium on individual liberty, traditional values, and the rule of law” . It advances its mission by sponsoring events attended by law professors, lawyers, students, and judges, with the ultimate goal of advancing “originalism” in the legal profession—a conservative approach to law which advocates interpreting the Constitution as written. But perhaps its most influential pursuit is filling federal benches with originalist judges by touting its most qualified members to Republican presidents. In fact, Leonard Leo, a former Vice President of the Federalist Society, was Trump’s legal right hand man—with Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett all appearing on the organization’s exalted SCOTUS shortlist. And it’s not just the Supreme Court. Leo touted the Federalist Society’s key role in filling influential Federal Appellate Court seats, a third of which now have Trump-appointed judges . Liberals just don’t have the same third-party kingmaker.
By Nicholas Williams
Nicholas Williams is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences from Los Angeles, California who is majoring in History.
Although unknown to many Americans, the filibuster is an important aspect of the United States Senate and the entire legislative process in the United States. In its current form, the filibuster is a Senate procedural tool by which 41 senators can indefinitely delay a vote on most legislation . In practice, the filibuster requires that most legislation has the support of at least 60 senators to pass. Recently, there have been calls by many Democrats in the Senate to abolish the filibuster . However, to abolish or not to abolish is not a simple binary; there are many ways that the filibuster can remain intact but still be reformed and possibly weakened.