Issues to Watch

Will the Supreme Court’s Decision in the Case of the Dusky Gopher Frog Forecast the Twilight of the Endangered Species Act?


No Comments

*Adrian Aldrich

The unassuming dusky gopher frog has become a flashpoint in an ongoing struggle between private landowners advocating for stronger property rights and conservation efforts by the federal government.  Lawrence Hurley, U.S. Top Court Takes Up Property Rights Case Involving Endangered Frog, Reuters (Jan. 22, 2018, 9:45 AM), https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-court-frog/u-s-top-court-takes-up-property-rights-case-involving-endangered-frog-idUSKBN1FB1YO.  This year, the Supreme Court accepted a company’s petition for review of its lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).  Id.  The company alleged that the FWS overreached in its efforts to conserve a highly endangered animal.  Amy Howe, Justices Add Frog Case to Merits Docket, SCOTUSblog (Jan. 22, 2018, 3:02 PM), http://www.scotusblog.com/2018/01/justices-add-frog-case-merits-docket/.  The case’s central issue is whether the FWS overreached by designating private land leased by the Weyerhaeuser Company (the petitioner) as “critical habitat,” thereby imposing restrictions on use of the land, even though the species in question does not and —arguably— cannot live on the land.  Petition for a Writ of Certiorari at *i, Weyerhaeuser Co. v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv., 2017 WL 2992380 (2017) (No. 17-71) [hereinafter Cert. Petition]. (more…)

Issues to Watch

Can we be inclusive and not discriminate? What will be the effects of the proposed census questions?


No Comments

*Elizabeth Strunk

Another ten years have passed, and it is that time again.  The constitutionally required decennial census is upon us.  U.S. Const. art. I, § 2, cl. 3.  The Secretary of Commerce has been given broad discretion by Congress to carry out the decennial census through “the use of sample procedures and special surveys.”  13 U.S.C.A. § 141(a) (Westlaw through Pub. L. 115-223).  The original purpose of the census was for reapportionment; however, now “the census data is used for a myriad of other purposes.”  13 U.S.C.A. § 141(b) (Westlaw through Pub. L. 115-223); Wisconsin v. City of New York, 517 U.S. 1, 5–6 (1996).  Generally, questions on the census are justified because it is “necessary and proper” to collect data for Congress to provide government funding and programs to the communities most in need.  U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 18; Morales v. Daley, 116 F. Supp. 2d 801, 810 (S.D. Tex. 2000). (more…)

Issues to Watch

Expert Testimony in Maryland: Frye-Reed or Daubert?


No Comments

*Reginald Smallwood

Laws undoubtedly evolve over time.  However, is there ever a point when a law evolves into an entirely new law?  Many states use federal laws as guidance for creating new state laws. Michael Morgenstern, Daubert v. Frye – A State by State Comparison, The Expert Inst. (Apr. 3, 2017), https://www.theexpertinstitute.com/daubert-v-frye-a-state-by-state-comparison. However, if the state law evolves into the federal law, should the state simply adopt the federal law?  This is the current dilemma in Maryland courts regarding the evidentiary rule for evaluating scientific expert testimony.  The state is holding onto the name of its Frye-Reed test, but the test’s application is becoming more like the federal Daubert test. Sissoko v. State, 182 A.3d 874, 892 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2018).    (more…)

Issues to Watch

Guns in the Classroom? The Department of Education’s Possible Plan to Arm Teachers


No Comments

*Sarah Livingston

The Parkland school shooting in February 2018 caused yet another debate in the media about the Second Amendment and school safety.  Vann R. Newkirk II, Arming Educators Violates the Spirit of the Second Amendment, The Atlantic (Feb. 22, 2018), https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/the-absurdity-of-armed-educators/553961/.  Some states have proposed bills to permit concealed handguns in school, while others have enacted programs providing training to teachers on how to use firearms.  Id.  On August 22, 2018, the New York Times reported that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is considering a plan to use federal funding to arm teachers.  Erica L. Green, Education Secretary Considers Using Federal Funds to Arm Schools, N.Y. Times (Aug. 22, 2018), https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/22/us/politics/betsy-devos-guns.html.  This would be the first instance of a federal agency approving the purchase of weapons without a congressional mandate.  Id. (more…)