Exploring New Approaches to Unsettled Legal Questions

Tag: 2016–2017

Publications from the 2016–2017 academic year

The New Panopticon: Location Tracking and the Fourth Amendment

by Hogan Paschal*

Does warrantless, prolonged location tracking violate the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches? Hogan Paschal (’17) examines this question, based on her experience at the 2016 Spong Moot Court Tournament, hosted by William & Mary Law School on February 12-13th, 2016. The location tracking tools employed by Government investigators have become more sophisticated and widespread, often eroding the practical constraints that government resources previously imposed on search power. This Contribution posits a more holistic reading of the Fourth Amendment, that simultaneously acknowledges its historical context and modern investigative challenges. Ultimately, it argues that courts should restore Fourth Amendment safeguards by requiring a warrant as a precursor to the government’s use of prolonged location tracking.

The Baseball Rule is Not a Rule, It’s a Relic

by Jake Calvert*

Should stadium owners or operators be liable for injuries to spectators caused by foul balls, or is limiting such liability necessary to protect America’s pastime? Jake Calvert (’17) explores this question, based on his experience at the 2016 Tulane Mardi Gras Sports Law Invitational on February 3rd, 2016. Historically, the baseball rule has limited the duty of care game attendees on the grounds that a more typical negligence analysis would force venue owners and teams to take unreasonable precautions. The Contribution ultimately argues that the baseball rule should be supplanted by more modern notions of tort liability, such as comparative fault, that would account for the specific factors of a particular baseball game injury.

Clarifying the Liability Threshold in Copyright Infringement Claims

by Aaron Lichter*

Is the test for copyright infringement necessarily vague and ad hoc, as Judge Learned Hand once said, or can the test be made rigorous? Based on his experience in the 2016 Cardozo BMI Moot Court Competition, Aaron Lichter (’17) explores this question by discussing the various copyright infringement tests that courts use to determine liability. Specifically, the “total concept and feel” test assesses copyright infringement based on contextual, abstract concepts rather than specific details such as plot elements or characters. The Contribution concludes that, despite its ambiguity, the “total concept and feel” test provides protections that outweigh potential problems with its vagueness.

Fitting Administrative Law Judges into Appointments Clause Jurisprudence (and Determining the Proper Forum to Do So)

by Jordan Gary*

Are Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) inferior officers of the United States under the Appointments Clause of the Constitution, rendering the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) procedure for appointing ALJs unconstitutional? Procedurally, how could a respondent in an SEC administrative action make such a challenge? Jordan Gary (’17) explores this question, as presented in the 2016 Kaufman Moot Court Competition at Fordham Law School. Supreme Court doctrine places a demanding burden on plaintiffs seeking to circumvent SEC administrative processes. Additionally, the SEC is neither bound by, nor required to defer to, initial ALJ determinations in reaching its ultimate determination within a proceeding. As a result, this Contribution argues that, as a matter of both law and policy, Article III district courts should not have subject-matter jurisdiction over constitutional claims challenging SEC administrative procedure, and that SEC ALJs do not constitute inferior officers under the Appointments Clause of the Constitution.

Arbitraging Judicial Interpretation of the Delaware General Corporation Law

by Nathaniel Kiechel*

Are investors precluded from engaging in appraisal arbitrage under Delaware law, if its shares are retitled under the “street name” of a different Depository Trust Company participant before the effective date of a merger? Nate Kiechel (’17) examines this question, as presented in the 2016 Annual Ruby R. Vale Interschool Moot Court Competition, held at Widener University Delaware Law School. Delaware’s statutory definition of “stockholder” has failed to account for technological advances in underlying market systems, creating uncertainty for appraisal arbitrage investors. This Contribution argues that these arbitrageurs should be permitted to retain their right to the appraisal remedy despite underlying processes that may result in their shares being retitled, and urges the Delaware General Assembly to adopt a definition of “stockholder” that better reflects these processes and accords with the corresponding definition in federal securities laws.

The Buck Stops Here: The Limits of Bankruptcy Court Jurisdiction Post-Confirmation

by Michael Murray*

May bankruptcy courts assume “related to” jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1334(b) over a post-confirmation successor liability suit when the estate’s assets have already been disbursed? Michael Murray (’17) examines this question, based on his experience at the 2016 Duberstein Moot Court Competition, sponsored by St. John’s University School of Law. His Contribution analyzes the legal landscape of “related to jurisdiction” in bankruptcy courts. Ultimately, the Contribution proposes that the Seventh Circuit has adopted the clearest interpretation of the statute and reasonably limits “related to” jurisdiction to disputes in which either the debtor is a party or the dispute affects the amount or distribution of the debtor’s estate.

Long Hair, Don’t Care: An Analysis of Gender-Specific School Athletic Regulations & The Equal Protection Clause

by Matthew Olsen*

Does a high school men’s baseball team regulation governing player hairstyles violate players’ Due Process or Equal Protection rights? Matt Olsen (’17) examines this question, based on his experience at the 2016 Tulane Mardi Gras Sports Law Invitational Competition. His Contribution discusses the Seventh Circuit’s ruling in Hayden v. Greensburg School Community Corporation, the sole circuit court case to address the constitutionality of extracurricular athletic grooming regulations in the context of an Equal Protection claim. Although the adoption of the holding by other courts remains to be seen, the Contribution concludes that the ruling could serve as a powerful means to strike down personal appearance regulations based on gender stereotypes.

So You Think You’re a Citizen? How a United States Citizen Can Be Stripped of His Citizenship

by Sonya Chung and Zi Lin*

Do passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad constitute conclusive proof of U.S. citizenship such that the State Department’s revocation of these documents is not impermissibly retroactive? Sonya Chung (’17) and Zi Lin (’17) examine this question, based on their experience as writers of the problem for the New York University School of Law 2016 Immigration Law Competition. Their Contribution discusses the state of the law surrounding passports and CRBAs as evidence of citizenship and their revocability. The Contribution argues that courts should allow individuals to use these documents as conclusive proof of citizenship and that the State Department’s power to correct its own errors should be circumscribed carefully in cases where there has been extended reliance on citizenship rights.

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