Exploring New Approaches to Unsettled Legal Questions

Tag: Evan A. Evans Constitutional Law Competition

Undo Deference: Reversing the Erosion of Public Employees’ Free Speech Rights

by Bex Rothen­berg-Montz*

Although mem­bers of the gen­er­al pub­lic enjoy a right to free speech under the First Amend­ment, gov­ern­ment employ­ees’ speech is more con­strained. Courts deter­mine whether a gov­ern­ment employee’s speech is pro­tect­ed by bal­anc­ing the inter­ests of the gov­ern­ment and the employ­ee. How­ev­er, in prac­tice, the def­er­ence afford­ed to the gov­ern­ment typ­i­cal­ly tips the scales. Because courts defer to the government’s inter­ests with­out requir­ing sub­stan­ti­at­ing evi­dence, the gov­ern­ment is able to sti­fle employ­ee speech and erode First Amend­ment pro­tec­tions for its employ­ees. Con­se­quent­ly, this def­er­ence con­di­tions free speech pro­tec­tions upon pub­lic employ­ment sta­tus. Aban­don­ing this def­er­ence will bring First Amend­ment jurispru­dence in line with the prin­ci­ples that ani­mat­ed its enactment. 

The Cruel and Unusual Nature of Denying Self-Identity: The Eighth Amendment and Gender Confirmation Surgery

by Vir­ginia Su*

This Con­tri­bu­tion exam­ines whether the denial of Gen­der Con­fir­ma­tion Surgery to a trans­gen­der inmate suf­fer­ing from severe gen­der dys­pho­ria con­sti­tutes cru­el and unusu­al pun­ish­ment under the Eighth Amend­ment. Vir­ginia Su (’22) argues that, under Eighth Amend­ment prece­dent, the denial of med­ical­ly nec­es­sary gen­der con­fir­ma­tion surgery con­sti­tutes delib­er­ate­ly indif­fer­ent con­duct by prison officials.

The Fifth Amendment: No Safe Harbor for First Amendment Retaliation

by Han­nah Beat­tie*

This Con­tri­bu­tion exam­ines whether com­pli­ance with the Fifth Amend­ment should shield a fed­er­al con­dem­na­tion action from a First Amend­ment retal­i­a­tion claim. Han­nah Beat­tie (’21) argues that the ratio­nales for carv­ing out safe har­bors for gov­ern­ment action to be free from First Amend­ment scruti­ny if in com­pli­ance with the Fourth Amend­ment do not extend to the Fifth Amend­ment con­text. Ulti­mate­ly, this Con­tri­bu­tion con­cludes that an indi­vid­ual should be able to raise a First Amend­ment retal­i­a­tion defense to a con­dem­na­tion action, even if the gov­ern­ment com­plied with the Fifth Amendment.

Inverting the Scope-of-the-Project Rule: Determining When Government Pre-Condemnation Announcements Should Change the Default Rule for Just Compensation

By Tim­o­thy Lyons*

The Fifth Amend­ment pro­hibits the tak­ing of pri­vate prop­er­ty “with­out just com­pen­sa­tion,” but the opti­mal method of deter­min­ing the pre­cise amount of mon­ey that will just­ly com­pen­sate the prop­er­ty own­er is not always clear. The gen­er­al rule has been to set com­pen­sa­tion at the fair mar­ket val­ue of the prop­er­ty at the time the gov­ern­ment takes it, with cer­tain excep­tions. In this Con­tri­bu­tion, Tim­o­thy Lyons (’21) argues that when the gov­ern­ment makes a well-pub­li­cized pre-con­dem­na­tion announce­ment, it may be appro­pri­ate to com­pen­sate the own­er based on the property’s val­ue at the time of the announce­ment rather than its val­ue at the time of the taking.

Immigration and the Second Amendment: Why Undocumented Immigrants Are Entitled to the Fundamental Right to Possess Firearms

by Kathy Buckalew*

Do undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants have Sec­ond Amend­ment rights? Can they be cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly banned from pos­sess­ing firearms? In this Con­tri­bu­tion, Kathy Buckalew (’19) exam­ines the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of a cat­e­gor­i­cal ban on pos­ses­sion of firearms and ammu­ni­tion by undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants. The Con­tri­bu­tion argues that undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants liv­ing in the Unit­ed States have the same indi­vid­ual right to keep and bear arms for pur­pos­es of self-defense as do Unit­ed States cit­i­zens. There­fore, undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants can­not be cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly pro­hib­it­ed from pos­sess­ing firearms absent an affir­ma­tive show­ing by the gov­ern­ment that such a pro­hi­bi­tion is sub­stan­tial­ly relat­ed to the achieve­ment of an impor­tant gov­ern­ment interest.

Permitting Around the Constitution: Gun License Process After Heller

by Deepa Devanathan*

To what extent can state actors lim­it an indi­vid­u­al’s Sec­ond Amend­ment right after Dis­trict of Colum­bia v. Heller? In this Con­tri­bu­tion, Deepa Devanathan (’19) argues that to prop­er­ly bal­ance Sec­ond Amend­ment rights with a State’s need to pro­tect peo­ple from gun vio­lence, gun per­mit schemes that cov­er both open car­ry and con­cealed car­ry must include a pro­ce­dur­al right to appeal per­mit denials and “good cause” require­ments to get permits.

The Importance of Privacy in Shared Spaces

by Rachel Lern­er*

Does the Fourth Amend­ment pro­tect a ten­an­t’s pri­va­cy in a shared stor­age unit? Can law enforce­ment search the whole space if her cotenant con­sents? In this Con­tri­bu­tion, Rachel Lern­er (’18) ana­lyzes whether a ten­ant has a rea­son­able expec­ta­tion of pri­va­cy in the space and whether it is rea­son­able for police to search the space upon a third-par­ty’s con­sent. The Con­tri­bu­tion argues that the Fourth Amend­ment pro­tects a shared stor­age unit either as cur­tilage under Dunn or under the Katz test, and law enforce­ment can­not rea­son­ably search a well-demar­cat­ed sec­tion of the unit if anoth­er cotenant consents.

 Search, Seizure, and the Smartphone: Rethinking Privacy Protections in the Digital Age

by Christo­pher J. Ryd­berg*

In the dig­i­tal age, how should pri­va­cy con­cerns con­strain police inves­ti­ga­tions? In this Con­tri­bu­tion, Christo­pher J. Ryd­berg con­sid­ers this prob­lem with respect to forc­ing sus­pects to unlock smart­phones and speci­fici­ty require­ments with respect to smart­phone search war­rants. Ulti­mate­ly, the Con­tri­bu­tion argues that smart­phones are dif­fer­ent in kind because of the mas­sive scope of data they con­tain, and thus his­tor­i­cal doc­trines of police process will have to change to accom­mo­date the smart­phone era.

Mincing Words: From Padilla to Practice

by Kar­tik Sameer Madi­ra­ju*

Does an attor­ney sat­is­fy a res­i­dent alien client’s Sixth Amend­ment right to effec­tive coun­sel by inform­ing the client of the mere risks of depor­ta­tion asso­ci­at­ed with a guilty plea, or must she pre­dict the like­li­hood of depor­ta­tion with even greater speci­fici­ty? Kar­tik Madi­ra­ju (’17) exam­ines this ques­tion, pre­sent­ed at the 2016 Evans Con­sti­tu­tion­al Law Moot, held at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin. Though the Supreme Court has held that attor­neys must inform their clients whether a guilty plea car­ries a risk of depor­ta­tion, sev­er­al of the Cir­cuit Courts of Appeals dis­agree on how specif­i­cal­ly an attor­ney must char­ac­ter­ize the like­li­hood of that risk. This Con­tri­bu­tion argues that the major­i­ty inter­pre­ta­tion, requir­ing only that attor­neys advise their clients of the mere exis­tence of such a risk, is more con­sis­tent with the let­ter and spir­it of Supreme Court prece­dent, and bet­ter reflects the dis­cre­tionary nature of an Attor­ney General’s deci­sion to order deportation.

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