Issues to Watch

How Future Generations are Suing the Federal Government for a Habitable Planet


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“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” – Donald Trump*

** Joseph Rossi

In 2015, a group of twenty-one children filed an official complaint against the United States government, then-President Barack Obama, and several governmental agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Juliana v. United States, 217 F.Supp.3d 1224, 1233 (D. Or. 2016).  In the complaint, these children alleged that the government had infringed on their rights by failing to ensure a habitable climate for their future, despite decades of knowledge of the risks posed by man-made climate change.  Complaint at 3-6, Juliana v. United States, 217 F.Supp.3d 1224 (D. Or. Aug. 12, 2015) (No. 6:15-cv-01517-TC).  In the history of the United States court system, the government has been sued for climate change close to 900 times, but these claims have been dismissed due to various reasons related to the plaintiffs’ standing or claim of injury.  See Katy Scott, Can ‘Climate Kids’ Take on Governments and Win?, Cable News Network (July 24, 2018, 10:51 PM), https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/24/health/youth-climate-march/index.html.  In 2016, however, Juliana v. United States became the first such case of private citizens suing the government to survive the government’s motion for dismissal.  See Juliana, 217 F.Supp.3d at 1262.  Juliana, which is currently being argued in front of the Ninth Circuit, has the potential to drastically change not only the course of environmental law, but the entire environmental policy of the United States regarding climate change.  Id. (more…)

Issues to Watch

Patients Can Try Experimental Treatments Before They Are Approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) . . . What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Maryland’s Right to Try Law and the Potential for Federal Preemption.


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* Alana Glover

Establishing “Right to Try” legislation throughout the country has been a concept that proponents of the law have been working toward for years.  What Is Right To Try?, Right To Try, http://righttotry.org/about-right-to-try/, (last visited Nov. 8, 2018).  Many proponents of this legislation support the concept of creating alternative options for terminally ill patients who have exhausted government approved treatment options and cannot secure a position in a clinical trial.  See id.  As of today, forty-one states, and recently Congress, have passed Right to Try laws, which allow terminally ill patients to try an experimental drug or treatment that has only completed a Phase 1 trial of the Federal Drug Administration’s (FDA) multi-phased process.  Id.  Although, on its face, providing terminally ill patients with access to use an experimental drug at their choice seems ideal, there may also be many complications. (more…)

Issues to Watch

Educating the Next Generation: Is Education a Fundamental Right?


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* Jessica Rotondo

In the fall of 2018, 50.7 million children in the United States will be attending public schools.  Fast Facts: Back to School Statistics, Inst. Educ. Sci.: Nat’l Ctr. for Educ. Stat., https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372 (last visited Nov. 8, 2018).  Experiences of public school students can vary widely as a result of the amount of funds and resources expended per student, depending on their geographic location.  See Stephen Q. Cornman et al., U.S. Dep’t Educ.: Nat’l Ctr. For Educ. Stat., Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 2014-15 (Fiscal Year 2015) 2 (2018), https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2018/2018301.pdf.  The average revenue spent per pupil in the United States during fiscal year 2015 was $12,903.  Id. at 2.  During that same year, the spending per pupil varied in each state, ranging from $7,858 in Idaho, to $27,810 in the District of Columbia.  Id. at 6.  Spending per pupil is also different in each school district within a state.  Id. at A-2.  Given this financial disparity, some public schools can provide a better education than others.  See id.  What level of financial support do we consider enough to prepare the next generation for their future?  And is a certain level of educational funding a fundamental right? (more…)

Issues to Watch

Allergan’s Tribal Troubles: Sovereign Immunity and Patent Protection Measures in Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals


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* Yitzchak Besser

Major pharmaceutical companies, like their peers in other industries, are often presumed to zealously guard their patents; in fact, patent litigation in the pharmaceutical industry rose nearly 30% in 2017 .  Mike Botta, Report: Pharmaceutical Patent Litigation Increased Nearly 30 Percent in 2017, R&D (May 8, 2018, 7:00 AM), https://www.rdmag.com/news/2018/05/report-pharmaceutical-patent-litigation-increased-nearly-30-percent-2017. However, Allergan, Inc., has recently found itself in court for attempting to implement a novel approach toward safeguarding intellectual property: transferring ownership of their patents to a Native American tribe, and then filing for exemption from review under a theory of tribal sovereign immunity.  Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe v. Mylan Pharms. Inc., 896 F.3d 1322, 1325 (Fed. Cir. 2018). (more…)

Issues to Watch

Birds Take Flight in Baltimore: The City’s Attempt to Regulate the New Electric Scooters


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* Christina Araviakis

The Baltimore Orioles and Ravens have some competition because there is a new Bird in town–the electric scooter.  Bill King, Is Bird for the Birds?: Scooter Company’s Presence in Baltimore Raises Eyebrows and Questions, Balt. Sun, July 31, 2018, at A11.  A California-based company, Bird Rides Inc. (hereinafter “Bird”), recently brought over sixty electric scooters to the Inner Harbor in Baltimore.  Id.  Riders simply use an app to unlock any scooter that is available on the street after entering their credit card and driver’s license information.  Id.  Bird hopes to reduce carbon emissions, get people out of their cars, and offer an alternative to sitting in traffic or a sweaty walk to Baltimore residents.  Morgan Eichensehr, Bird Brings Fleet of Rentable Electric Scooters to Baltimore, Balt. Bus. J., (June 28, 2018, 2:31 PM), https://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/news/2018/06/28/bird-brings-fleet-of-rentable-electric-scooters.html.  Costing only one dollar to start the scooter and then fifteen cents per minute, the scooters have become a quick and efficient way for many to avoid city traffic in Baltimore; however, city regulation of the scooters has become a problem.  King, supra. (more…)