Exploring New Approaches to Unsettled Legal Questions

Tag: Fourteenth Amendment

Federal Abortion Legislation: Looking to Dobbs, State Legislation, and the Commerce Clause to Chart a Path Forward

by Soleil Ball Van Zee *

The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization opened the door to states individually regulating, controlling, and criminalizing abortion and abortion-related care. In the emerging state legislative patchwork, conflicts between state laws demonstrate the increasing need for federal abortion legislation to ensure uniformity and halt interstate constitutional litigation before it begins. This Contribution proposes a framework for federal abortion legislation that can protect long-standing principles of federalism in this new age.

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.

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.

License Denied: Some State Occupational Licensing Laws Might be Unconstitutional Under the Equal Protection Clause

by Maya Danaher*

Are state occupational licensing laws that prohibit certain people convicted of crimes from receiving Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) licenses unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment? In this Contribution, Maya Danaher (’18) discusses the constitutional issues arising from state licensing laws that withhold EMT licensure from people convicted of crimes. Ultimately, this Contribution argues that the Equal Protection Clause prohibits such state laws.

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.

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