By Ishita Chakrabarty
Ishita Chakraborty is a guest writer for the Penn Undergraduate Law Journal’s Roundtable.
The first cross-boundary targeting through drones (targeting specific individuals and facilities in a different state through remote systems being operated by persons in another state) was conducted by the US in Afghanistan in 2001. Since then, drones have been deployed in direct combat operations, despite public outcry about the “imprecise nature” of targeting. An independent report published in 2017 noted how US-led coalition strikes have killed approximately 4000 civilians, while the US Central Command claims that civilian casualties have not been more than 484 . Another report indicates US-led drone strikes in one case killed 150 civilians after repeatedly bombing a school in Syria . In the year 2013, the UN Special Rapporteur had called for a halt on the development of “killer robots” (triggered automatically by the target without the user’s intervention), which he said had zero considerations for human dignity. Robots could never have a final say over matters of life and death . The movement again gained traction, sometime around August, 2018, when 26 countries explicitly stood up to put a stop to the development of Lethal Autonomous Weapons, and more than 70 countries met at the UN to discuss the challenges involved in outlawing autonomous weapons .
By Anna Schwartz
Anna Schwartz is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying Political Science, French, and Economic Policy.
Countries surrounding the South China Sea have been competing for ownership of the ocean area for decades. Yet as of late, the tensions are beginning to peak. China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei have all recently staked claims. The disagreements have far-reaching political implications, including increasing naval hostility from China in order to establish dominance in the region. As states place increasingly greater economic and military value on the region, deciding proprietary rights becomes more pressing.
Disputes center around rights to the Paracel and Spratly islands, along with nearby rock and reef formations. Many states hope to take advantage of the region’s abundant natural resources. The body of water contains valuable fisheries and over 30% of the world’s coral reefs . In 2013, for example, the South China Sea hosted around 11 billion barrels of untapped oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas . Finally, newer data adds that approximately 40% of global natural gas trade and 30% of maritime oil trade passes through the South China Sea due to routes between Africa, the Persian Gulf, and Asia [3, 4]. Motivated by the potential benefits from resource deposits and sea lanes, neighboring countries are presenting their custody cases to the United Nations.
By Connor Gallagher
Connor Gallagher is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying chemical and bio-molecular engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Senator Orrin Hatch, the longest-serving member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote an op-ed for SCOTUSBlog in late August to convince readers that then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed to the Supreme Court.  In particular, Senator Hatch cited now-Justice Kavanaugh’s repeated commitment to reforming the acquitted conduct doctrine, which permits trial judges, during the sentencing of a criminal defendant, to consider conduct for which the defendant was acquitted by the jury. 
By Alana Mattei
Alana Mattei is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE).
To many Americans, the notion of a secret court, closed to the public, giving a government permission to surveil its own citizens seems like something straight out of a spy novel. In reality, a court exactly like this exists in Washington D.C.
Imprisonment and Rehabilitation: Why the current trajectory of drug policy in America will not stop the opioid crisis.
By Cole Borlee
Cole Borlee is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did,” – John Ehrlichman, Assistant to President Nixon for Domestic Affairs, is one of the only people directly involved with the war on drugs to give such a bare and harsh statement on its purpose. 
By Ketaki Gujar
Ketaki Gujar is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences.
This October, the highly-publicized Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard case went to trial, with Harvard University accused of discriminating against Asian-American applicants. During the trial, the plaintiff held that Asian-Americans unfairly receive lower scores on character assessments, curtailing their admission rates despite impressive academic and extracurricular accomplishments.  For its part, Harvard denied these accusations, claiming the way it evaluates applicants is nuanced and formulated to bring a range of diverse perspectives to campus.  The judge is expected to declare a verdict in the spring, though according to experts, the case may make its way to the Supreme Court.