By Georgia Ray
Georgia Ray is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in Cognitive Science and Urban Studies.
Whether it is a businessman headed to a meeting or a college student trying to avoid their designated driver responsibilities on the way to a party, one is likely to hear the phrase “I’ll call an Uber.” Ride sharing companies are one of the most innovative inventions of the 21st century, revolutionizing the way that humans get around. Uber and Lyft are so interweaved into the fabric of daily life, especially for populations that would not typically own cars, that at this point it seems almost impossible to avoid them. By creating an unavoidable system, these companies have created a culture where the population does not question them, until they are forced to. A product’s market debut often beats its legal one, and ride sharing is no exception. When ride sharing companies took the market by storm, there were not regulations in place that specifically pertained to them and since their debut, society has been playing catch up, sometimes successfully, and sometimes not so successfully. This has created a complicated framework of legal regulations for ride sharing companies today that consumers and drivers alike are often woefully unaware of, but should take into account next time before they ride.
A Crowded Intersection: The Battle Between Religious and Secular Interests in the US Political Sphere
By Georgia Ray
Georgia Ray is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in Cognitive Science and Urban Studies
The leaves are finally beginning to change, the weather is getting colder, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Soon, families will gather to prepare mash potatoes, eat so much turkey they have to loosen their pants, and avoid talking about religion and politics at all costs. Discussing politics is provocative and the only thing that rivals politics in its divisiveness is religion. The intersection of religion and politics is a collision of ideals, morals, powerful people, hidden motives, uninformed beliefs, good intentions, and age old traditions. The old meets the new as millennia old belief systems try to reconcile their power with new age democracies, creating the United States as we know it today. However, in the modern battle between church and state, religious institutions have learned to harness their power in cohesive institutions to create a balance tipped in favor of those practicing a faith.
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. 
By Omar Khoury
Omar Khoury is the Editor-in-Chief of the Penn Undergraduate Law Journal and a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences studying Modern Middle Eastern Studies and English.
In a highly controversial and televised interview, President Donald Trump told the news and information website Axios that he intends to revoke the birthright citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution by executive order. Such a move warrants comprehensive scrutiny on the legality of this intended executive order and on the veracity of the legal arguments invoked to justify it.
Manifesting itself as the Citizenship Clause, the 14th Amendment states that “[a]ll persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” Adopted in 1868, the Amendment and the Clause signified a reversal of the notorious Dred Scott v. Sandford decision, in which the United States Supreme Court declared African Americans were not and could not become citizens of the United States. 
By Emma Davies
Emma Davies is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.
Up until the 2018 Midterm Elections, Florida had one of the strictest disenfranchisement laws in the United States. Along with Iowa and Kentucky, Florida barred all people convicted of a felony from voting, unless they independently applied for a highly restrictive clemency application. Under Florida Governor Rick Scott, there were more than 20,000 pending cases, but only about 400 people were granted clemency each year . As a result, some individuals waited more than 10 years to have their case heard, and it is estimated that it would take 51 years to hear the entirety of the backlog, if no new cases were added . This policy, compounded with the fact that Florida has one of the highest incarceration rates (as a percentage of the population) , had led to Florida being one of the most disenfranchised states. However, this November, 64% of Florida voters voted in favor of the state constitutional amendment titled the “Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative,” aka Florida Amendment 4, in a referendum. This amendment automatically restored voter rights for people with past felony convictions upon completion of sentencing, including parole and probation, amounting to the enfranchisement of 1.6 million people . The results of this ballot initiative is extensive, and could potentially impact the direction of Florida’s 29 electoral votes in the 2020 National Elections .