While the Bankruptcy Code’s automatic stay halts actions against debtors who have declared bankruptcy, the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) may nonetheless require debtors to resolve disputes with their creditors in arbitration. In this Contribution, Lorenzo Villegas (’22) argues that the passage of 11 U.S.C. § 362 and related judicial code provisions does not impliedly repeal the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). Therefore, arbitration agreements between creditors and debtors who have filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition are valid and enforceable in the face of the Bankruptcy Code’s automatic stay in some circumstances.
Contact tracing emerged during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as an important tool to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The use of cell phone applications provides a method to effectively trace potential exposures since most individuals carry cell phones that can easily gather the necessary data. The federal government has thus far failed to introduce its own regulations regarding the large volume of data that can be collected during contact tracing efforts or attempt to help coordinate the regulations of the individual states to ensure consistency; paving the way for a patchwork system of rules to govern, as each state is left to formulate its own method to protect the health and privacy of its residents. However, due to the volume of interstate travel and difficulty of restricting application usage based on state borders, states must be careful not to run afoul of the so-called “Dormant Commerce Clause” of the United States Constitution. In this Contribution, Kenneth Brown (’22) argues that it is possible for a state to effectively regulate con-tact tracing applications without violating the Constitution.
Section 11 of the Securities Act imposes liability for damage caused by untrue or misleading information in Resale Registration Statements on underwriters. The exact scope of the statutory definition of underwriter, particularly its category of “participants,” is subject to a circuit split. Thus, whether financial advisors in direct listings are liable is an open question. In this Contribution, Graham Ellis (’22) argues that the courts should not adopt a categorical rule of inclusion or exclusion related to financial advisor underwriter status, but instead, should formulate an ad hoc analysis that emphasizes Congress’s initial purpose of assigning liability to ‘gatekeepers’ in securities transactions. This test should inquire into whether the financial advisor to the transaction acted as a conduit between the issuing company and the investing public, and whether the financial advisor publicly vouched for the accuracy of the registration statement.
There is currently a circuit court split as to how the private search doctrine, a judicially-created framework under the Fourth Amendment, applies in the context of electronic media storage devices, such as flash drives—either via a “narrow approach” or a “broad approach.” Without further guidance from the Supreme Court, police officers in some jurisdictions are effectively given authority to end-run around the Fourth Amendment. In this Contribution, William Walant (‘22) argues that the Supreme Court should adopt the “narrow approach,” which focuses on the unique nature of digital media devices. This focus is embraced in Riley v. California and is consistent with the private search doctrine’s underlying principles. However, unlike as has been suggested by some recent scholarship, the private search doctrine need not be altered to fit electronic media storage devices, and the narrow approach does not create insurmountable and undesirable consequences. Instead, by adopting a narrow approach, the private search doctrine can be preserved while reaching a positive outcome for society: an officer, absent exigent circumstances or other exceptions, will be incentivized to obtain a warrant to examine the contents of an electronic device handed over by a private party.
The automatic stay, which prevents collections against debtors, is perhaps the most important part of bankruptcy law. In 2005, Congress created a limitation on the automatic stay: 11 U.S.C. § 362(c)(3)(A). The text of the new provision is not clear, and can lead to two interpretations. The text relies on odd phrasing: “with respect to the debtor.” The minority view is that the automatic stay should terminate for both the debtor and the debtor’s estate. The majority view is that the statute terminates the automatic stay only for the estate. In this Contribution, Lucas Knoll (’22) argues that the minority view’s understanding of “with respect to the debtor” should be adopted.
In Jaffee v. Redmond, the Supreme Court interpreted Rule 501 of the Federal Rules of Evidence to construct a federal therapist-patient testimonial privilege but declined to delineate the full contours of the privilege. In this contribution, Miriam Bial (’22) argues that the federal therapist-patient testimonial privilege does not contain a “dangerous patient” exception as such a carve out would undermine Jaffee’s underlying rationale. The Court recognized the federal therapist-patient testimonial privilege grounded in the public health benefits of encouraging candid therapy seekers as well as respect for state policymaking. Recognizing a “dangerous patient” exception conflicts with these goals without providing discernable evidentiary benefits. Though supporters of the exception have invoked a footnote within Jaffee alongside notions of breach of confidentiality and waiver, those interpretations clash with the holding’s plain language and intent.
After medical experts advised social distancing and quarantining in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many prisons assigned incarcerated persons to solitary confinement. This situation raises the question of whether an incarcerated individual is entitled to due process when they are placed in indefinite solitary confinement for their medical protection or to prevent the spread of a virus. In this Contribution, Julia Leff (’22) argues that the uncertainty regarding the length of the COVID-19 pandemic is sufficient to provide an incarcerated individual his right to procedural due process under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Numerous states have legalized marijuana both for recreational and medicinal use. Many of those same states have also taken the step of legalizing gambling. In this Contribution, Anthony Cruz (’22) examines the legal issues that result when two heavi-ly regulated industries like the cannabis and gaming industries overlap. State-based prohibitions on gaming licensees participating in the cannabis market, both by statute and by regulation, present issues of statutory construction in light of conflict-ing legislative signals; issues of administrative due process against a backdrop of perpetually evolving state and federal guidelines on controlled substances; and issues of intrastate federalism.
The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishments. But proving an Eighth Amendment violation based on dangerous or unfit prison conditions is difficult because it requires a showing of subjective culpability on the part of prison officials. Federal courts have grown increasingly aware of the harmful nature of solitary confinement, particularly for juveniles, the mentally ill, and inmates with special medical needs. In this Contribution, Jane M. Mahan (’22) argues that the placement of vulnerable inmates in solitary confinement for a period exceeding fifteen consecutive days should be per se unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment.
The First Amendment’s Religion Clauses provide that “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . .” The Religion Clauses clearly prohibit both the Federal and state governments from establishing an official state religion or hindering religious practice to such an extent that it results in a constitutional infringement. However, the Supreme Court has long acknowledged that absent those two clear commands “there is room for play in the joints” when addressing the constitutionality of government action that implicates religious belief. Does a tax benefit that provides a financial benefit to a limited class of religious employees and their employers violate the Establishment Clause? In this Contribution, Alec Soghomonian (‘22) argues that the Parsonage Exemption, found in 26 U.S.C. § 107(2) of the United States tax code, unlawfully provides a benefit to religious employees and employers because it does not extend to similarly situated non-religious institutions.