Online Student Essay Competition

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Most Recent Print Issue

Volume 72, Issue 6


‘Racial and Religious Democracy’

Identity and Equality in Midcentury Courts
by  Elizabeth D. Katz

In our current political moment, discrimination against minority racial and religious groups routinely makes headlines. Though some press coverage of these occurrences acknowledges parallels and links between racial and religious prejudices, these intersections remain undertheorized in legal and historical scholarship. Because scholars typically study race and religion separately, they have overlooked the legal significance of…


Disaggregating Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Doctrine

Four Forms of Constitutional Ineffectiveness
by  Eve Brensike Primus

For years, experts have blamed Strickland v. Washington’s lax standard for assessing trial attorney effectiveness for many of the criminal justice system’s problems. But the conventional understanding of Strickland as a problem for ineffectiveness claims gives the decision too much prominence because it treats Strickland as the test for all such claims. That is a…


Is Death Different to Federal Judges?

An Empirical Comparison of Capital and Noncapital Guilt-Phase Determinations on Federal Habeas Review
by  Brett Parker

Legal commentators have long believed that federal judges treat capital appeals more favorably than noncapital appeals. However, due to the bifurcated nature of capital trials and the complexity of the ensuing appeals, no empirical research to date has proven that the guilt-phase claims of capital defendants are more likely to succeed on federal habeas review…


Opening the Door

Expanding Civil Redress for Sexual Assault Through Fraternity Insurance
by  Alexandra Willingham

Campus sexual assault prevention efforts have traditionally focused on criminal prosecution and Title IX adjudication as avenues of deterrence and redress. This focus has largely ignored civil litigation, which could be a route for survivors to obtain critically helpful economic damages. While civil lawsuits often do not go forward because the tortfeasor is judgment-proof, for the…

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Recent Online Essays

Reweighing Medical Civil Rights

Craig Konnoth’s Article, using “medical civil rights” as an angle onto disability, captures the ostensible benefits of disability legal claiming. We partially agree with him on this, but we also believe that he does not fully account for the weight on the other side of the negative aspects of medical framing. This Response contextualizes the benefits and recognition granted to medicalized individuals by noting the drawbacks to medicalization. We conclude by proposing a new way forward for disability justice. 

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How Medicalization of Civil Rights Could Disappoint

Craig Konnoth’s article, Medicalization and the New Civil Rights, shows how medical framing and evidence of physically identifiable and measurable harms have been providing new pathways to vindicate civil rights harms. Longer-term, however, this Response wonders whether medicalization of civil rights might tell a more ambivalent narrative. First, medicalization could produce a sociological narrowing that could eventually limit how we think about justice. Second, and more speculatively, even the utilitarian benefits that medical framing is now producing might diminish as medicalization becomes a new situs for civil rights contests.

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Damnatio Memoriae and Black Lives Matter

This Essay defends the recent scrutiny of civic symbols, triggered by police brutality and killings, against the Trump Administration’s criticism that it constituted a frivolous exercise in cancel culture. It examines links between recent destruction of monuments and the age-old Roman legal procedure of damnatio memoriae to show that condemnation of memory may serve legitimate purposes, especially in rehabilitating public spaces to express society’s disapproval of past offensive actions.

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‘Forseeable Violence’ & Black Lives Matter

How Mckesson Can Stifle a Movement

This Essay draws from recent events to show how the Fifth Circuit’s “foreseeable violence” standard uniquely harms Black and racial justice protesters.  By contextualizing the Fifth Circuit’s opinion in Mckesson as part of a wider project spanning state and local legislatures aimed at stifling Black protest, the Author explains how even tort liability standards for protest can be, and will be, weaponized against those whose First Amendment rights are the most vulnerable.

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Contracts and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020—as well as government orders to contain it—has prevented countless people, babysitters to basketball players, from fulfilling their contracts. Are all of these parties legally liable for breaching their contracts? Or are they excused due to this extraordinary event? What about payments made in advance, such as tickets bought for a concert that has now been canceled, or a dorm room leased at a college that is now closed?

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