Exploring New Approaches to Unsettled Legal Questions

Tag: Civil Rights Law

Preserving the Bivens Doctrine in the Fourth Amendment Context

by Tina LaRitz*

The Bivens doc­trine allows plain­tiffs who suf­fer con­sti­tu­tion­al vio­la­tions at the hands of fed­er­al offi­cers to claim mon­e­tary dam­ages from fed­er­al courts, absent the statu­to­ry recog­ni­tion of such a right. Recent jurispru­dence has increas­ing­ly sought to lim­it this right in a show of judi­cial con­ser­vatism at the expense of deserv­ing plain­tiffs. This Con­tri­bu­tion argues that the Bivens doc­trine must be pre­served broad­ly with­in the Fourth Amend­ment unrea­son­able search context.

Solitary Confinement Imposed in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic Entitles Incarcerated Individuals to Procedural Due Process

by Julia Leff*

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. 

Evolving Standards of Decency: Solitary Confinement and the Eighth Amendment

by Jane M. Mahan* 

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.

Ensuring Equality in Employment: A plaintiff alleging sexual orientation discrimination necessarily states a valid sex discrimination claim under Title VII

by Eri­ka Mur­doch*

Does a plain­tiff alleg­ing sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion dis­crim­i­na­tion state a valid cause of action under Title VII of the Civ­il Rights Act of 1964? In this Con­tri­bu­tion, Eri­ka Mur­dock (’19) dis­cuss­es whether sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion dis­crim­i­na­tion is encom­passed with­in the lan­guage of Title VII after recent EEOC and appel­late court cas­es. Ulti­mate­ly, this Con­tri­bu­tion argues that Title VII’s pro­hi­bi­tion of dis­crim­i­na­tion on the basis of “sex” inher­ent­ly encom­pass­es sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion as a sub­set of the sex dis­crim­i­na­tion it bans.

Criminalizing Poverty: Designing Constitutionally Sound Inquiries into Defendants’ Ability to Pay their Fees and Fines

by Leah Romm*

What prin­ci­ples should courts keep in mind when inquir­ing into a defendant’s finan­cial sit­u­a­tion? In this Con­tri­bu­tion, Leah Romm (’19) dis­cuss­es the equal pro­tec­tion and due process chal­lenges to incar­cer­at­ing indi­vid­u­als because of their inabil­i­ty to pay fees or fines. Ulti­mate­ly, this Con­tri­bu­tion argues that courts are con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly required to inquire into and deter­mine the finan­cial sta­tus of indi­vid­u­als who fail to pay the fees or fines they owe.

Reaffirming the ADA’s Promise: Disability Accommodation During Arrests

by Andrew Bre­land*

How should police offi­cers take into account the dif­fer­ent needs of a per­son with dis­abil­i­ties dur­ing an arrest? In this Con­tri­bu­tion, Andrew Bre­land (’18) exam­ines the role of the Amer­i­cans with Dis­abil­i­ties Act in gov­ern­ing arrests and inves­ti­ga­tions by police of per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties. Ulti­mate­ly, this Con­tri­bu­tion argues that the ADA’s rea­son­able accom­mo­da­tion require­ment mod­i­fies what search­es and seizures of indi­vid­u­als with dis­abil­i­ties are con­sid­ered rea­son­able under the Fourth Amendment.

Rethinking Qualified Immunity: Making America Accountable Again

by Vic­to­ria del Rio-Guarn­er*

Should the qual­i­fied immu­ni­ty doc­trine be revis­it­ed to bet­ter allow civil­ians to sue gov­ern­ment offi­cials for vio­la­tions of fun­da­men­tal rights? In this Con­tri­bu­tion, Vic­to­ria del Rio-Guarn­er (’18) dis­cuss­es how the Supreme Court’s deci­sions in Har­low v. Fitzger­ald and Pear­son v. Calla­han essen­tial­ly ren­dered qual­i­fied immu­ni­ty to Sec­tion 1983 claims unqual­i­fied. This Con­tri­bu­tion argues that qual­i­fied immu­ni­ty doc­trine should be recal­i­brat­ed in order to bet­ter ful­fill its under­ly­ing pur­pose while not dis­abling Sec­tion 1983 claims.

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