Silence or Discrimination: Is the Ban on Critical Race Theory a Violation of Teachers’ Free Speech or Does it Discriminate Against Students?

*Meriam Mossad

I. Introduction

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is an academic movement that emerged in the mid-1970s. It was founded by civil-rights scholars and activists who sought to critically examine the intersection of race and the law, and to advocate for more radical approaches to the pursuit of racial justice.[1] The late Derrick Bell, a former civil rights lawyer and the first tenured Black professor at Harvard Law School, examined CRT in connection with American jurisprudence on racial issues that, even when seemingly liberal in principle, served to entrench racism.[2] Bell also argued that facially neutral laws continue to uphold white racial dominance, despite the decline of legal segregation and institutional discrimination.[3]

Recently, conservative lawmakers have sought to ban the teaching of CRT in schools.[4] As of January 2022, fourteen U.S. states have enacted bills that would restrict the teaching of CRT or limit how teachers discuss racism and sexism, and thirty-three other states are in the process of implementing such bans.[5]

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Eroding Atkins v. Virginia: How the Courts Are Allowing Persons with Intellectual Disabilities to Be Sentenced to Death

*Alexandra K. Becnel

I. The Decision in Atkins Has Spared the Lives of People with Intellectual Disabilities

As of October 2021, there are 132 people on death row in Ohio alone.[1] Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Atkins v. Virginia,[2] more than 130 people awaiting execution have been spared because of their intellectual disability diagnoses.[3] Many people, like Danny Hill, are caught in an Eighth Amendment loophole and will face execution in the coming months.[4]

Danny Hill was born in 1967 to Vera Williams.[5] Vera was intellectually disabled, and illiterate, and dropped out of school before she entered high school.[6] As a child, doctors diagnosed Danny with multiple neurodevelopmental disorders.[7] He attended special education classes and had significant deficits in basic skills, such as hygiene.[8] Throughout his life, Danny received approximately ten intellectual disability diagnoses.[9] Danny’s three brothers were also intellectually disabled.[10]

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Inception of a New Era: Are Companies Taking Advantage of Student-Athletes?

*Zachary Seidel

I. Introduction

For years, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and its universities have yielded huge revenues through their sports programs.[1] However, the student-athletes who generate this revenue with persistent and strenuous hard work make nothing.[2] Until July 1, 2021, college athletes never had the opportunity to monetarily profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL).[3] In NCAA v. Alston, the Supreme Court upheld the district court’s injunction, enjoining the NCAA from limiting education-related benefits for student-athletes.[4] The district court noted that the “NCAA uses its monopsony power to cap artificially the compensation offered to recruits.”[5] Therefore, without “viable substitutes” in the market, the Court determined that the NCAA violated the antitrust principles of the Sherman Act as its restrictions were an improper restraint on trade that impeded the labor market from functioning.[6]

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Elephant in the Mirror: One Elephant’s Legal Journey to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

*Torra Hausmann

I. From Animal Welfare to Animal Rights

For more than two decades, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), a Florida-based animal rights group, has advocated for judicial recognition of legal personhood for nonhuman animals.[1] Although animal law traditionally focused on animal welfare and protection, NhRP has pushed animal law to expand and include a focus on legal rights for nonhuman animals.[2] NhRP’s advocacy efforts currently focus primarily on filing writs of habeas corpus, seeking to free animals from “imprisonment” within zoos and other forms of captivity.[3] NhRP’s most recent success in campaigning for animal personhood involved its habeas corpus petition for an elephant named Happy.[4]

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“The New Hotness”: Jukebox Cops and Their DMCA Threat to the First Amendment

*Chase Hoffberger

I. “Record All You Want”

Sergeant David Shelby likely did not anticipate that a video of him queuing up a recording of a Taylor Swift song, during an otherwise unremarkable standoff with activists, would go viral on Twitter and YouTube, but that’s exactly how things played out.[1] Shelby, a sheriff’s deputy within California’s Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, was running crowd containment outside the county’s courthouse during a protest of another killing of a Black man by American police.[2] In the video, Shelby speaks with James Burch, the Anti Police-Terror Project policy director, ostensibly about the efforts Shelby and his colleagues were taking to keep activists from demonstrating where they wanted.[3]

Less than thirty seconds into the recording, Shelby redirects the conversation.[4] Buying some time, Shelby pulls his iPhone from his pocket and thumbs through it to find and begin playing Swift’s 2014 chart-topper “Blank Space.”[5] “Are we having a dance party now?” Burch asks as Swift slides into the hook.[6] “No, sir,” says Shelby.[7] The woman recording the conversation asks if Shelby is playing Swift to “drown out the conversation.”[8] “You can record all you want,” he tells the woman.[9] “I just know that it can’t be posted to YouTube.”[10]

Burch points a finger at Shelby, amused. “This is the new hotness, right here,” Burch says, suggesting that Shelby began playing the Swift song “so they can get a copyright strike.”[11]

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