Category Archives: Articles of Note

LEGAL NEWS ROUNDUP

Neha Patel, CLS’18

On March 21, 2017, the U.S. and U.K. announced a widespread ban of certain electronic items on board flights arriving from many Middle East and North African countries. This ban meant that laptops, tablets, portable DVD players, video game devices, and other electronic devices larger than cell phones would have to be checked in to luggage rather than be allowed on board. The 10 international airports covered by the U.S. ban include, but are not limited to, major cities in Dubai, Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. The U.K. ban covers both domestic and international flights from most of the Muslim-majority countries affected by the U.S. ban, in addition to Tunisia and Lebanon, on fourteen different airlines. [Sources: CNN News, Washington Post, Wired]

The ban is motivated by concerns about terrorism, although senior officials have admitted that there are no specific plots that they are aware of in the near future. They are reporting general concerns about fear that the Islamic State is developing a bomb that can be hidden in electronic devices and make it past security without detection. According to their intel, these bombs are specifically hidden in laptop batteries. The past few years have shown a wide range of terrorist attacks on transportation hubs across the globe, including the more recent Brussels, Istanbul, and London attacks. This ban was initiated with the hope of preventing any future attacks with potential new weapons that have been created by extremist groups. Other scholars and professors have speculated that the ban may be targeting airline staff rather than passengers, that it may have more to do with economic protectionism than national security, or that it is an extension of President Trump’s executive order ban against Muslim-majority countries. [Sources: New York Times, Deutsche Welle]

These bans have significantly affected popular international flights, especially Emirates, Qatar Airways, British Airways, and Turkish Airlines. It has resulted in public outrage, financial complications for airlines, and confusion in implementation. For example, Qatar and Etihad Airways are lending laptops to business class passengers for free, with Emirates planning to follow suit. In doing so, airlines will enable passengers continuing to utilize the long flights to do work. [Sources: CNN News, The Verge, Deutsche Welle]

Drone Regulations and Fourth Amendment Rights: The Interaction of State Drone Statutes and the Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

“Current federal case law allows warrantless observation of property from manned aerial vehicles if they are in publicly navigable airspace. The increasing domestic use of unmanned aerial vehicles, colloquially known as ‘drones,’ and the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) efforts to develop regulations to integrate them into national airspace implicate sensitive constitutional privacy issues. In response, several states are enacting or have already enacted statutes to regulate drone use. This Note discusses how state drone statutes may inform the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Fourth Amendment and its protection against unreasonable searches by drones — specifically, whether state drone statutes may influence the Court’s current understanding of the ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ when it is inevitably applied in warrantless drone surveillance cases.

First, this Note reviews Fourth Amendment jurisprudence regarding surveillance technologies and searches. It then provides a survey of state drone statutes currently in effect, their purposes, and their practical effects on the use of drones by the government and private parties. Next, this Note discusses how state drone statutes may interact with Fourth Amendment jurisprudence and inform the Supreme Court’s understanding of reasonable expectations of privacy in the context of drones. As drone technology develops, state statutes can influence and reflect social norms and expectations regarding drone use and the type of information discoverable by drones, while creating a source of protection for privacy interests that is independent of the Fourth Amendment. Furthermore, policy arguments made during the development of state drone statutes may legitimate people’s expectations of privacy against drones. Ultimately, this Note predicts that state drone statutes will likely influence the Court’s jurisprudence on the reasonable expectation of privacy, whether explicitly or implicitly, as drones develop technologically and are regulated.”

Taly Matiteyahu, Drone Regulations and Fourth Amendment Rights: The Interaction of State Drone Statutes and the Reasonable Expectation of Privacy, in Volume 48, Issue 2 of the Journal of Law and Social Problems.

Read more here

Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant: Public Disclosure of Electoral Advocacy in Union Member Communications

“In 1948, the Supreme Court held in United States v. CIO that the statutory ban on direct union spending in federal elections could not be applied to electoral advocacy by leaders of an organization directed at the members of that same organization. As a result, federal and state laws now generally exempt such internal communications from the definition of “expenditure” under campaign finance laws. But in its landmark 2010 decision Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court declared the ban on direct corporate campaign spending itself unconstitutional. The Federal Election Commission soon thereafter announced that the ruling would also apply to unions. There is now no doubt that an organization such as a union or a corporation may directly spend money on electoral advocacy. Given this framework, this Note argues that internal communications between the leaders of an organization — in particular, a union — and its members that directly advocate for or against the election of a particular candidate can and should be subject to mandated public disclosure.”

Sophie Mancall-Bitel, Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant: Public Disclosure of Electoral Advocacy in Union Member Communications, in Volume 48, Issue 2 of the Journal of Law and Social Problems.

Read more here.