By Sophie Lovering
Sophie Lovering is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) and minoring in American Sign Language and Deaf Studies.
In the midst of a contentious election and deadly pandemic, many Americans are facing, for the first time in their lives, the possibility that their vote might not count. As of October 25, over 59 million Americans have voted early . With debates over the validity of mail-in voting and how to vote, confusion remains over what voters must do to ensure that their votes count .
By Lyndsey Reeve
Lyndsey Reeve is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania studying International Relations.
In June, the historic “one country, two systems” principle outlined in Hong Kong’s constitution--allowing the polity to retain economic, governmental, and legal independence from mainland China--was violated with a crushing national security law. The legislation allowed Beijing to set up its own national security agency in Hong Kong and granted China total legal jurisdiction in “complex” and “serious” national security cases. Additionally, the law imposed a public “national security education” in schools and media and aimed to quell protests with jail time . Both closed-door trials and wire-tapping are permissible under the law, while internet providers may have to hand over private data, and a wide range of behaviors such as damaging public transport facilities can be considered terrorism . Pushing back against the national security law, protestors took up “five demands,” among them amnesty for arrested protestors and universal suffrage. They also advocated for an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality, an end to the protests’ characterization as riots, and the legislation’s withdrawal .
By: Evelyn Bond
Evelyn is a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences; majoring in Political Science and minoring in Spanish.
As November 3rd quickly approaches, a record number of ballots have already been cast in the 2020 election by voters across the country . Driven by a commitment to democracy, and in response to recent incidents of social injustices and the grossly negligent mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 election is nothing short of highly contentious. In the battleground state of Pennsylvania, nearly 9 million residents have registered to vote, and 3 million ballot applications have already been approved . With its 20 electoral votes, the Keystone State is crucial in determining the election’s outcome . While an unprecedented turnout of voters is guaranteed, there is litigation in place hindering the voting process. Electoral challenges plague the country as the voting-by-mail option is made available to everyone for the first time and the pandemic ravages the world. In Pennsylvania alone, legal disputes over voting rules, illegal poll watchers, and an abundance of misinformation have added to the normal challenges of a presidential election.
By Jessica "Lulu" Lipman
Lulu is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in English.
Despite the widespread belief that child marriage only occurs in third-world countries, more than 248,000 children were married in America between 2000 and 2015. Although to marry, a person must be 18, 46 states currently have loopholes that allow minors to do so. Such laws vary by state; in North Carolina, for example, if a 14-year-old becomes pregnant, she can marry as long as she has the court's approval .
By Nihal Sahu
Nihal is a B.A. LL.B (Hons.) Candidate at the National University of Advanced Legal Studies in India, and serves as the Managing Editor (Blog) of the NUALS Law Journal. At the moment, Nihal is deeply interested in the relationship between religion and the Indian state.
The conviction and sentencing of Prashant Bhushan - one of India’s leading liberal lawyers - for contempt of court was deeply troubling. The Indian Supreme Court’s judgment comes at a critical moment in India’s constitutional history, marked by serious concerns about whether the Court is fulfilling its duty as a protector of civil liberties. The Bhushan case, while dispiriting, is not entirely unprecedented. Politicians and writers critical of the Court have been prosecuted for contempt before. However, the case is still worth examining because it serves as a reminder that institutions, including courts, are merely, to paraphrase Emerson, the lengthened shadows of men. It reminds us that the judicial office is not somehow transformative, that judges do not abandon their prejudices when they don the robe.
By Astha Pandey
Astha Pandey is an undergraduate law student at Maharashtra National Law University, Nagpur (India).
In January 2020, the United Nations Human Rights Committee ruled that it is unlawful for states to deport people seeking asylum on the ground of threat to life due to climate crisis. This judgment was a result of a case brought by Ioane Teitiota, a national of Kiribati, against the government of New Zealand in February 2016 after his claim of asylum as a ‘climate refugee’ was denied by New Zealand. The ruling highlights that countries have a legal responsibility to protect lives threatened by climate change.
By Jessica "Lulu" Lipman
Jessica "Lulu" Lipman is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying English.
TikTok, the video-sharing platform owned by Chinese company ByteDance, skyrocketed in popularity in the United States during the onset of COVID-19. As of writing, the most recent data show that the app boasts of over 100 million active American users--an 800% jump from 2019 . With this surge of users, however, the Trump administration has been fighting to ban the app from American app stores, citing concerns over national security and data storage.
Enabling Ableism: Election Laws and COVID-19 Obstacles Prevent Many Cognitively Impaired Individuals from Casting their Votes
By: Hailie Goldsmith
Sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences; majoring in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and minoring in Hispanic Studies.
As citizens nationwide continue to cast their votes early in anticipation of Election Day on November 3rd, the novel coronavirus presents a unique and pressing challenge for all registered voters. While some will choose to vote in-person on Election Day, many voters applied for mail-in-ballots to reduce the risk of exposing themselves to the coronavirus. While COVID-19 hinders ease and accessibility with regards to voting, the pandemic especially affects older individuals, particularly residents of convalescent care centers with cognitive impairments. In fact, more than 23 million adults in the United States experience some variation of a limiting mental disorder, ranging from dementia to a learning disability .
By Sneha Sharma
Sneha is a junior in the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Politics, Philosophy, & Economics and minoring in Healthcare Management and Engineering Entrepreneurship.
Since the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, there have been murmurs of worry that the final nail will be hammered in the coffin of what is left of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
By Esther Lee
Esther Lee is a sophomore, studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics in the College of Arts and Sciences and Finance & Operations in The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
With the recent confirmation hearings of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court of the United States, there is undoubtedly a question of whether her presence on the bench could mark an enormous shift for future holdings. If confirmed, Barrett will give the court’s conservative wing a solid 6-3 majority. Currently, Chief Justice John Roberts is the court’s median . Barrett is a self-proclaimed originalist, meaning she believes that constitutional text should be interpreted as “what it did at the time it was ratified and that this original public meaning is authoritative” . One estimate of her ideological leanings is that Barrett will be the third-most conservative justice on the court, to the right of Trump’s previous nominees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, and just to the left of Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas. Using Alito’s career as a guide, it is expected that Barrett will reach conservative decisions in 84% of non-unanimous decisions and 71% of all cases . Though these predictions are not always correct — as several of the court’s most liberal justices were appointed by Republican presidents — the conservative legal movement has been able to bring to prominence potential justices, like Barrett, who are consistent ideological conservatives .