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 Christine Mitchell
Christine Mitchell is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying nursing.
With the passage of State Senate bill 717 (SB 717), Pennsylvania has become the most recent state to expand the autonomy and practice rights of nurse practitioners. The bill, which passed on a 41 to 9 vote, amends the Professional Nursing Law, which was passed in 1951.  Under the new law, certified registered nurse anesthetists, certified nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners (APRNs) can practice independently of physicians and issue oral orders. These practices will be regulated by the State Board of Nursing, as opposed to being regulated by individual facilities. Significantly, these practitioners will be permitted to prescribe Methadone, which is used to treat narcotic drug addictions. 
Advanced practice nurses are providers that have completed a bachelors of science in nursing (BSN) as well as a master's (MSN) or doctorate degree (DNP) in nursing. Throughout both the undergraduate and graduate training, students are placed in hospitals to gain direct patient care experience. Masters and doctoral students are paired with either a nurse practitioner or physician to receive advanced training in diagnosis and treatment planning. The majority of students entering master's programs have practiced as nurses, providing a foundation of knowledge about patient care.
By Lauren Pak
Lauren Pak is a senior at Vanderbilt University studying Political Science and Community Leadership Development.
One of the significant innovations in the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/1 (2005) establishing the responsibility to protect (R2P) is dictating who has the right to intervene in humanitarian disasters. According to paragraph 138 of the resolution, the state has the ultimate responsibility to “protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity”.  If the state fails to satisfy its obligations, the international community has the right to “collective action,” which paragraph 139 states is to “build capacity to protect” and “use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means” in order to prevent human rights atrocities.  The resolution proclaims the international community’s overriding authority and ability to intervene in state affairs.
The principles of R2P assume that states are primarily responsible for intervening in atrocities that are controllable and within the powers of institutional structures. R2P works under the stipulation that global peace is conditioned on state mutuality and respect of another’s sovereignty.  The legitimacy of states as a governing body by international standards are dependent on the legal ability to “prevent, punish, investigate, and redress human rights violations.” 
By Habib Olapade
Habib Olapade is a senior at Stanford University studying political science.
The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) exercises the Attorney General’s authority under the Judiciary Act of 1789 to provide the President and executive agencies with advice on legal questions. This power is significant for three reasons.
First, the post-New Deal expansion of the federal government’s scope of administrative capacities allows the OLC to render advice on a diverse range of matters including aspects of foreign U.S. military involvement, executive appointments that modify traditional democratic processes, and legislative compliance (i.e. the use of force in Libya to the propriety of recess appointments to compliance with the notice requirements in the Administrative Procedure Act.) Second, many OLC opinions are not subject to judicial review because of rules limiting the invocation of the judicial power; these loopholes in the check-and-balance structure of the U.S. government meant to limit the power of each branch include judicial concepts such as standing, mootness, ripeness, as well as the political question doctrine. OLC opinions, therefore, can be just as binding as Supreme Court rulings because they are not always subject to judicial appeal. Finally, every agency in the executive branch must comply with issued OLC opinions; in other words it defines the executive branch’s role in government.
Ginsburg on Attack
By Alicia Kysar
Alicia Kysar studied Political Science and English at Columbia University
Last week, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dominated American headlines for scathingly criticizing Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump in a series of three interviews that she conducted with, respectively, the New York Times, Associated Press, and CNN.
Speaking on the effect that his potential presidency would have on the country and, specifically, on the Supreme Court, she noted, “I can’t imagine what this place would be—I can’t imagine what the country would be—with Donald Trump as our president. For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be—I don’t even want to contemplate that.” 
By Gabriel Maliha
Gabriel Maliha is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying criminology.
On June 20th, the United States Supreme Court reversed the Utah Supreme Court in Utah v. Strieff, a case that provided a significant clarification of the exclusionary rule, which prohibits illegally obtained evidence from being admitted into the court. A police detective stopped Edward Strieff when he was seen exiting a suspected “drug house” in order to inquire about activities at the residence. A routine check on the defendant’s name turned up an outstanding arrest warrant for traffic violation, and the detective arrested and searched Strieff and found methamphetamines and drug paraphernalia. While the state admitted that the original stop was illegal, the trial court denied a motion to suppress the drug evidence used to convict the defendant, a move that the state appeals court affirmed. However, the Utah Supreme Court reversed Strieff’s conviction, based on the illegal manner in which the evidence had been obtained.   
The Supreme Court reflected on three points of inflection in Utah v. Strieff: the police stop, the arrest, and the search. The state had already stipulated that the stop was illegal and that the detective had no legal ground to stop Strieff. But the majority of the court indicated that the detective had an obligation to arrest Strieff once he discovered an outstanding warrant. The fact that the warrant was for a minor violation did not diminish that responsibility. The court also maintained that a search incident to an arrest is unquestionably legal, for the purpose of ensuring officer safety and preventing escape and destruction of evidence, as well as consistent with multiple court precedents.  .
Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin: Another Close Call at Forfeiting a Beautiful America
By Edgar Palomino
Edgar Palomino is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying political science.
In 2007, Abigail Fisher sued the University of Texas at Austin, arguing that the institution’s consideration of race as a factor in its admissions review process disadvantaged her and other Caucasian applicants . On June 23rd, 2015, the court ruled in favor of the defendant, UT. The majority opinion argues that the ten percent affirmative action plan that UT continues to use is constitutional. However, the majority was hardly overwhelming, with the decision being 4-3 .
On the contrary, the dissenting opinions are disheartening to say the least. Justice Thomas and others attacked the notion that diversity at universities had any beneficial effect: “a ‘faddish theory’ that racial discrimination may produce ‘educational benefits’”. Justice Thomas also stated his desire to overrule the ruling in Grutter V. Bollinger (2003). The Grutter ruling reaffirmed the constitutionality of racial considerations as factors in universities admissions processes, so long as the programs fulfilled a “compelling purpose” and was “necessary” to do so .