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 Regina Salmons
Regina Salmons is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying English.
If you wanted to bet on sports (legally, that is) you would have to find your way to Nevada, Oregon, Delaware or Montana. These four states are exempt from the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), also known as the Bradley Act. The act was named thusly due to the efforts of Bill Bradley, a senator from New Jersey and former hall of fame basketball player for the New York Knicks, who was a main sponsor of the 1992 bill. . PASPA’s intention was to stop the spread of sports betting in the United States during a time when legalized casinos were rapidly emerging.  The four exempted states were grandfathered in.
There was a clause in PAPSA that allowed any state where legalized gambling had been present for at least ten years to apply for legalized sports gambling, of which New Jersey and Nevada were eligible to do so, being the only two states to have legalized casinos prior to 1989. However, New Jersey failed to do so, losing the opportunity to legalize sports betting.  It appears that New Jersey regrets that decision. In 2011, New Jersey asked voters if sports betting should become legal, to which 64% responded yes in a non-binding referendum.  The amendment permitted the New Jersey Legislature to legalize sports gambling at casinos (with the exception of college athletics) becoming law in 2012. However, immediately following the approval of the law, five sports leagues, including the NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB sued on the grounds that it violated PAPSA.
By Nayeon Kim
Nayeon Kim is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania.
This October, Harvard Law School announced that it would digitize the vast collection of legal books in its library, which includes almost all documentations of judicial decisions made at the state and federal levels since the colonial era.  The school plans to scan the collection, which amounts to some 40 million pages, and distribute it on the Internet for free. Many legal experts tout this decision as a landmark in improving access to the legal system because it would make primary legal documents readily available for all, helping public defenders who may not be able to afford commercial information retrieval services to find the information they need.
Although Harvard Law’s decision to open up its legal resources is certainly not a small one, the school’s action is a part of a movement to democratize the practice of law with the help of digital and information technology. Ever since the Internet changed how legal discovery is done, from flipping through the pages of thick case books to finding information online, information technology has been a force seeking to standardize and systemize legal service which has been tailored to the needs of individual clients.  For example, legal documents have been prepared by lower-level associates without using any pre-existing, standard format. However, recently a number of legal startups are offering document preparation services involving standardized forms and self-service document creation. For instance, Fairdoc aims to decrease the cost of preparing legal documents by letting clients fill data into pre-existing forms and make some custom adjustments without substantive involvement of legal professionals. Not only standardizing rather routine tasks such as legal discovery and document preparation, information technology is also aiming to influence the analytical core of a lawyer’s work. Ravel, a legal startup focusing on visualizing the relationship between legal cases, which partnered with Harvard to digitize the library, is likely to drive down legal costs by making drawing connections between legal cases easier and more efficient. More experimental projects such as the Hammurabi, the goal of which is to codify certain parts of U.S. law into machine-readable form, also has the potential to make the legal system more accessible by enabling non-professionals to determine on their own what they are required to do according to the law.
By Sanjay Dureseti
Sanjay Dureseti is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania and an associate editor of the Penn Undergraduate Law Journal.
As Paris recovered from a coordinated set of brutal terrorist attacks that left hundreds dead, the rest of the world waited to see how France would respond. The government acted swiftly; President Francois Hollande threw the country into lockdown, declared a state of emergency, sealed borders, and banned public demonstrations. Given practical worries over the safety of the citizenry, such measures seemed appropriate reactions to the attacks in their immediate aftermath. However, several weeks after the incidents, these restrictive rules remain in place, threatening the very fabric of France’s constitutional values.
On November 30, peaceful protests emerged, decrying the cancellation of the Paris People’s Climate March, a large demonstration targeted at world leaders meeting in Paris for the 2015 Climate Change Conference. Thousands gathered in the Place de la Republique, but the activists soon clashed with police, and riot troops fired tear gas at masked protesters. Hundreds were arrested under rules imposed by France’s state of emergency and Hollande was quick to condemn the demonstrations as “scandalous.” By all interpretations of the law, the French government violated the age-old right to peacefully assemble, laid out in one of the crown jewels of French republicanism, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen .
By Suaida Firoze
Suaida Firoze is a senior at Clark University studying Economics and Business Management.
At what point does food become a product? Or can it still be considered food after the numerous processes it undergoes to ultimately become processed food?
The U.S. food industry is under constant scrutiny because of the controversial practices that go into making processed food. What consumers refer to as “junk food” has become the cause of extreme obesity around the nation. Yet, junk food tends to be much cheaper than naturally grown organic produce.
By Frank Geng
Frank Geng is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania and an associate editor of the Penn Undergraduate Law Journal.
This November, the House of Representatives approved a $325 billion transportation package meant to improve the state of the nation’s highways and infrastructure.  The bill comes several months after the Senate had passed a similar piece of legislation in July.  After continued funding deliberations, Congress could potentially approve a six-year transportation program. This bill, however, would still not provide adequate funding to improve the U.S.’s crumbling infrastructure.
In 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation’s highways and bridges a “C+” and its transit systems a “D.”  The U.S. Department of Transportation seems to corroborate these evaluations, estimating that at least 10% of the country’s bridges are “structurally deficient.”  The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report ranked U.S. infrastructure nineteenth in the world.  What are we doing wrong?
By Alicia Kysar
Alicia Kysar is a senior at Columbia University studying English and Political Science with a concentration in Pre-Law.
In 2005, Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which provided the firearm and ammunitions industry with unprecedented protections from tort legal actions against it. This law originally came about in November of 1998 when Richard M. Daley, then the mayor of Chicago, was searching for a way to curb the gun violence in his city. At that point, there had been 471 deaths in Chicago that were a direct result of gun violence, with many more non-fatal injuries sustained. 
Brian Crowe, Chicago’s corporation counsel, argued that gun manufacturers were largely at fault for these incidences of violence.  Most of the guns used in the shootings had been sold and exchanged illegally, as it was illegal to own a gun unless it was registered before March of 1982. Crowe contended that gun manufacturers nevertheless continued to disseminate their guns by designing them for and marketing them to criminals.  Furthermore, given the overwhelmingly large volume of guns that were sold to a relatively limited clientele, gun manufacturers and distributors should have reasonably been able to assume that people were purchasing guns in suburban areas to distribute them illegally in cities like Chicago; however, the manufacturers and distributors of firearms seemed to have taken advantage of the situation to earn higher profits, disregarding potential safety concerns.