Gill v. Whitford and the Math of Gerrymandering

On October 3, 2017, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford, 137 S. Ct. 2268 (Mem) (2017), the latest case to reach the court contesting partisan gerrymandering. First coined in 1812 to lampoon a Massachusetts governor (Elbridge Gerry) and a particularly ugly congressional district (allegedly resembling a salamander), gerrymandering is the practice of crafting voting districts to give one group an electoral advantage over another. Erica Klarre, Gerrymandering Is Illegal, But Only Mathematicians Can Continue Reading →

Facebook, Censorship, and the First Amendment

Recently, over 70 civil rights groups wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, demanding transparency in the company’s censorship of user posts. Complaints about Facebook’s censorship arose earlier this year when Gizmodo reported that Facebook’s “trending news” section was intentionally manipulated to hide stories of interest to conservative readers. In response to these allegations, the Senate Commerce Committee sent Zuckerberg a letter requesting an explanation of Facebook’s practices in populating its “trending news” section. The Committee Continue Reading →

If You’re Going to Delete All My Facebook Posts, Then You Might As Well Do It Right

Judicial benchslap stories are juicy legal fodder, and this story was no different. Recently, the legal community eagerly gossiped about a federal judge that lashed out against a well-known New York law firm. The offense? Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the Eastern District of New York was infuriated that the firm had sent a mere junior associate instead of a partner to a hearing on two cases that “implicate[] international terrorism and the murder of innocent people Continue Reading →

ACLU’s Latest Challenge to Government Mass Surveillance: Wikimedia et al. v. NSA

The Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that runs Wikipedia, filed suit against the NSA to stop Upstream surveillance because mass surveillance violates the privacy necessary for the free exchange of knowledge in the Wikimedia community. Plaintiffs also include the Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other advocacy organizations whose activities are affected by NSA mass surveillance due to violations of privacy rights. Upstream surveillance is the NSA’s surveillance of the Internet traffic through the Internet Continue Reading →

White House Proposes to End NSA’s Mass Collection of Phone Data – But Reforms Don’t Go Far Enough for Many Privacy Advocates

Responding to mounting public pressure, President Obama announced this week that he would be proposing legislation to end the National Security Agency’s mass collection of phone records. Under the new proposal, phone metadata would be stored by telephone companies, not the NSA, and could only be obtained by the NSA through a court order.  However many members of Congress as well as privacy advocates argue that the proposal does not go far enough and that Continue Reading →

New Patent Law Cheered by Large Corporations May Prove Beneficial to Small Entities As Well

On December 5, 2013, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3309, the “Innovation Act” sponsored by Representative Bob Goodlatte of Virginia. The law has moved quickly through committee and made it to the floor of the house in just over a month. The bill has been interpreted as an attack on Non-Practicing Entities (NPEs), more commonly known as patent trolls, and numerous commentators have addressed the potential implications of the bill’s modification of infringement suits Continue Reading →

The Senate’s violent video games bill: witch hunt or legitimate concern?

Last January, in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut, Sen. Jay Rockefeller proposed S. 134: Violent Content Research Act of 2013, which has since worked its way through the Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee. Freshly amended in December, the bill would require various governmental agencies to work with the National Academy of Sciences in researching the effects of video game violence on children, and the possible disproportionate impact they have on Continue Reading →

Legal Issues in Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is when a user provides an input for a program, but some or all of the program’s processing is outsourced to another computer or set of computers (the “cloud server”). Google Maps is an easy example of this – the user provides an input, which Google’s cloud server processes in order to provide the user an output. Cloud servers, in processing inputs, will acquire data, some of which may be highly sensitive (i.e., Continue Reading →

Medication Abortions: Is a state’s limitation of drug induced abortions only to FDA-approved practices constitutional? Courts disagree.

Last week, three courts, the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the Western District of Texas and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, issued rulings regarding the constitutionality of state abortion laws, specifically, whether a state’s limitation on medication abortions is constitutionally permissible. On Tuesday October 29th, the Oklahoma Supreme Court reaffirmed its earlier ruling that the state’s 2011 preventive abortion law, H.B. 1970, is unconstitutional. The proposed law limited how medications could be administered to patients to Continue Reading →

Advancing Video Game Technology May Be Too Realistic

Technological improvements in the realistic portrayal of college athletes in video game graphics may partially be to blame for a string of recent legal disputes against major video game developer Electronic Arts, Inc. (“EA”).  NCAA college athletes have filed actions against EA for unauthorized use of their names and likenesses, a charge that falls under the statutory and common law right of publicity. This is a relatively new charge in the world of video games Continue Reading →