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- Donahue Lecture Series
The United States Constitution gives Congress the power to enact copyright laws for the purpose of promoting the “Progress of Science.” Congress has enacted five Copyright Acts since 1790, each time significantly extending the term of copyright protection. In Eldred v. Ashcroft, the United States Supreme Court examined the constitutionality of the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 (CTEA), which increased the duration of copyright protection by twenty years. The Court held that enactment of the CTEA was a constitutional exercise of congressional power. . . .
The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution serves not only as a guarantee of procedural propriety, but also as a source of substantive individual rights. Although the Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly employed ”substantive due process” to prevent government intrusion into the most intimate aspects of daily life, the Court has refused to extend its protection to private homosexual intimacy. In Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court considered whether a Texas statute criminalizing same-sex sodomy violated the right to liberty and privacy that the Due Process Clause protects. The Court struck down the statute, holding that the state may not interfere with homosexual intimacy in the privacy of one’s home. . . .
The anticipatory repudiation of a contract occurs when a promisor withdraws from an obligation prior to the agreed upon performance time. In the event of an anticipatory repudiation, the statutory period of limitations does not begin until the fixed day of contractual performance or upon the promisee’s acknowledgment of the repudiation date as the time of the contract breach. In Franconia Associates v. United States, the United States Supreme Court considered whether the United States Government’s (Government) subsequent addition of restrictions on loan agreements was either an immediate breach of contract by the Government, or a repudiation of the Government’s initial contractual obligation. The Court concluded that the Government’s added restrictions repudiated the contract, thus moving the date of breach to the time fixed for performance, and therefore, within the statute of limitations timeframe. . . .
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents states from passing laws that purposefully advance or prohibit religion, thereby ensuring the separation of church and state. In Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, the Supreme Court considered whether a state instituted school voucher program (Program) in which the majority of students used their vouchers to attend private religious institutions unconstitutionally advanced religion. The Court held that the Program does not violate the Establishment Clause because it permits individuals to choose public, secular or non-secular private institutions, and is therefore neutral to religious beliefs. . . .
According to the most recent data, ”[e]very two minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted.” Studies also estimate that ”1 in 4 imprisoned rape and sexual assault offenders has a prior history of convictions for violent crimes, and 1 in 7 ha[s] been previously convicted of a violent sex crime.” In 1994, in an attempt to reduce similar staggering statistics, Congress passed Federal Rules of Evidence 413 and 414 pursuant to the Violent Crime Control Act. These new evidentiary rules superceded Rule 404(b) by allowing the introduction of propensity evidence in cases of sexual assault and child sexual abuse. . . .
In 1918, citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts voted to amend the Massachusetts Constitution by approving Article Forty-Eight, thereby creating the right for citizens to enact a law through the initiative process. An initiative proposal to change an existing law or create a new law, if properly qualified, would be put on the statewide ballot and voted on by the citizens. If a majority approves of an initiative, the proposal becomes law, and is equal in weight to laws that the Legislature passes and the Governor signs. . . .
Every day, members of the public interact with employees of all backgrounds. Many employees have criminal histories. The public must rely on employers’ ability to appropriately hire and retain employees. Efforts to expand employment for ex-criminal offenders often face resistance from the concerned public and also from business owners who have a compelling interest in maintaining public safety.
On the other side of the spectrum is the public interest in rehabilitating ex-felons to reduce the recidivism rate. Research proves that giving ex-felons’ employment opportunities serves that interest. In recent years, many state governments have recognized the public policy behind creating employment opportunities for ex-offenders. With the increasing imposition of employer liability for negligent hiring and negligent retention, however, employers have little incentive to assist ex-felons in an effort to promote rehabilitation of criminal offenders. . . .
In Lindsey v. Normet, the United States Supreme Court reaffirmed that housing is not a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. More than one-third of the United States population lives in rental housing and may be evicted at any time. Homelessness is a serious problem in our society, and therefore, the eviction process must sufficiently balance the property rights of the landlord with the occupancy rights of the tenant. Summary process laws attempt to offer a speedy and inexpensive solution to the eviction problem by distinguishing eviction cases from other civil lawsuits. Unfortunately, for some landlords, summary process can still be a lengthy and costly endeavor. . . .
Federal appellate courts employ particular rules to address certain trial defects known as ”plain errors.” Section 52(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, a codification of old statutory and common law, governs modern day plain error appeals. The United States Supreme Court has interpreted and redefined Rule 52(b) to provide methods of analysis that resolve plain error appeals. The Court, however, has left some aspects of this analysis unsettled within the circuit courts. . . .
This Note will discuss the need for the Supreme Court to revisit the confidentiality issue, and more importantly, the need for a determination that individuals hold a privacy interest in personal, identifiable health and medical information. First, this Note will define ”medical records” and delineate when their nonconsensual disclosure implicates privacy interests of both the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Second, this Note will trace the origins of the right to privacy and the Supreme Court’s recognition of this right despite the lack of an express guarantee in the U.S. Constitution. Finally, this Note will recommend the implementation of a more stringent standard of review in the area of medical records and personal health information to safeguard privacy interests against unwarranted government intrusion. . . .