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 Nicholas Williams
Nicholas Williams is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences planning on majoring in Political Science.
In Federalist No. 78, Alexander Hamilton declared the judicial branch to be the weakest of the three branches of government . He also wrote that the judiciary must remain “truly distinct” from the legislative and executive branches so as to not encroach upon the general liberty of the people. The Supreme Court has thus historically stayed clear of any issues that fall under the purview of the legislative and executive branches; more generally, the Court will not hear cases which it determines present political questions. It will also refuse to hear cases that do not present a clear judicially-manageable, non-political standard of deciding the case on its merits. These two instances wherein the Court refuses to hear a case are collectively known as the political question doctrine. What constitutes a political question is not always clear, and the doctrine has led to some contentious cases. However, the doctrine also has significant implications for the current legal and political climate.
By Sophie Lovering
Sophie Lovering is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and minoring in American Sign Language and Deaf Studies.
In 1996, a white woman named Stacey Stites was murdered in Bastrop, Texas . Following her death, investigators administered multiple polygraph tests to her fiancé, police officer Jimmy Fennell, who was found to be deceptive ; Fennell also had a history of violence against women . Although Fennell was initially the “prime suspect” in the case, a small amount of semen linked Stites to a black man named Rodney Reed . Two years after Stites’ death, Reed was charged with capital murder and sentenced to death by lethal injection . He was scheduled to die in Texas on November 20, 2019.
By Vikram Balasubramanian
Vikram Balasubramanian is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania studying International Relations.
There is only one black member of the US Supreme Court, of two in all of history. Clarence Thomas is one of nine members of, arguably, the world’s most powerful judicial body .
The importance of black judges cannot be overstated. Besides being a hallmark of equality, they play a role in counteracting bias in the criminal justice system. In 1974, The New York Times remarked that black judges were being a powerful force for activism and saw the law as a tool “through which equality is achieved or mandated… for social change” .
By Jessica "Lulu" Lipman
Jessica “Lulu” Lipman is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying English.
Every day, eighteen people die waiting for an organ transplant. Today, there are more than 113,000 people waiting for a life-saving transplant . Organ transplants are a feat of modern medicine, in which a failing organ from one person is replaced by a healthy organ from a donor. Nearly any organ can be transplanted, including kidneys, corneas, lungs, skin, and pancreases .
By Lyndsey Reeve
Lyndsey Reeve is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania studying International Relations.
The so-called “staggering successes” of Al-Qaeda’s airborne terror tactics have prompted several terrorist organizations to find new ways to hijack in the air—from explosives hidden within shoes and carry-on bags to recruitment of airport employees. Ranging from bombing plots posted on internet forums to attempts to use of airport employees to hijack planes, these threats are as concerning as they are ongoing. While many of these attacks have failed, they demonstrate a terrorist “motivation and ability” to threaten aviation . After 9/11, increased transportation security measures including tools such as x-rays, explosive detectors, and personal examinations have been implemented to protect passengers from such terrorist threats. Consequently, airport security faces scrutiny for violating the privacy of innocents, discriminating against minorities, and creating an intrusive inconvenience.
By Georgia Ray
Georgia Ray is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Cognitive Science and Urban Studies.
The European Union is built on the foundation of mutual support between member nations. Following a disastrous economic downturn for Germany after World War I (the US dollar was worth 4,210,500,000,000 German marks)  that ultimately provided kindling for Hitler’s ideology , European countries vowed to disallow this type of economic destitution that rallies political radicalism by creating the European Union. The EU provides resources and monetary support for all member states, resulting often times in an unequal payout from those that are more prosperous, such as the United Kingdom. This pattern of economic contribution is something the British population supported in the post-war years as increased taxes seemed a small price to pay for lasting European peace. However, in the 21st century, as a new wave of nationalism swept the world, the British population started to question whether the net 9 million pounds a year  they were paying to support other EU member nations was really worth it. In a referendum held in June 2016, 52% of voters decided it was not . Thus, Brexit was born.
Surmounting the IVF Taboo: Barriers to Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy Legalization
By Shiven Sharma
Shiven Sharma is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Biology with a minor in French Studies.
Mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) is a revolutionary in vitro fertilisation (IVF) medical technique whereby the defective mitochondrial DNA of a fetus’ cells are replaced by normal, third-party mitochondrial DNA. This is done to prevent mitochondrial disease, a genetic disorder resulting in the loss of bodily energy. Prior to the creation of this prenatal therapy, scientists focused on postnatal treatment options, exploring drug screens using model organisms with a similar mitochondrial genome to find a cure. This proved very difficult since mitochondrial disease arises from a mutation that is irreversible. Thus, the discovery of MRTa—a preventative measure—has proved very beneficial.
The Rise of Administrative Law
By Nicholas Williams
Nicholas Williams is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, planning on majoring in political science.
Administrative law, the body of law that regulates the actions of administrative government agencies, has become increasingly important. Indeed, the Supreme Court barred the Trump administration from putting a question on the 2020 Census that asked people their citizenship status because the Court found that the Census Bureau gave a pretextual reason for their decision to enstate such a question. This was found to be a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act , which governs the formulation and establishment of regulations by federal agencies . This is only one of numerous lawsuits that have been filed against the Trump administration regarding violation of the act . In recent years, numerous Supreme Court cases have been decided that seek to challenge precedent regarding administrative law. In the Court’s 2018 term, two important administrative law cases were decided: Kisor v. Wilkie and Gundy v. United States.
When the Script is Deceptive: Misuse of Toehold Acquisitions in Private Placement Bidding
By Filzah Belal
Filzah Belal is a final year undergraduate law student at National Law University and Judicial Academy, Assam.
The capital market is a free platform for trading in securities, but what happens when external forces act on the market? It influences the prices of the shares, but not at all in an organic way. In this article, I will discuss one such situation when the prices are influenced by external forces in the share market to gain unfair profits – when prospective acquirers gain ‘toehold acquisitions’ in order to enjoy an upper hand in private placement procedure and do so by increasing activity in the script of the company which inorganically increases the shares’ price. Toehold acquisitions are those acquisitions which are done by a prospective investor. These acquisitions are usually done so that the target company knows that the investor is interested in investing Toehold acquisitions are often small acquisitions (hence the reference of the term to the size of a ‘toe’), but they are significant enough to come to the attention of the target company.