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Volume 19 - Issue 1


Hocus Pocus: Modern-Day Manifestations of Witch Hunts

Sherwin, Brie D. | November 20, 2023

Witch hunts have never been about facts or evidence; rather they are about beliefs often fueled by fear. Witch hunts of the past persecuted the powerless – typically women or those who did not fit into “societal norms.” More recently, the term “witch hunt” has reappeared with great fervor in the political arena, used by the powerful to generate fear that serves a distinct political narrative that those in power are the true victims. Tweets, sound bites, and political speeches rife with accusations of a “witch hunt” reflect a modern usage which has served to delegitimize the historical context of the term. This Article argues that this modern use of the term “witch hunt” is a misappropriation of what has long been used to describe illegitimate hunts of marginalized groups of people, implicating roles of gender, race, and power. This misuse is happening all while subversive, carefully veiled witch hunts are occurring in cleverly disguised legislation and litigation, supported by anecdotes and “spectral” evidence, and aimed at affecting the rights of historically oppressed groups of people based on their gender and race. This Article aims to remind the reader of what a “witch hunt” looked like in colonial New England and to propose that witch hunts are still alive today – not in the political arena, but in the legal one. Law cannot stand on conspiracy theories or perversions of truth shaped to fit a narrative, fueling fear, and resulting in the need to find a scapegoat. For as we’ve seen in the Salem witch trials, without a legal system rooted in reliable evidence and based on verifiable facts, a society can crumble.

Name Takings

Alexander, Gregory S. | November 20, 2023

Personal names are an integral part of our identity. Names belong to us; they are ours. Names are a form of personal property and should be treated as such. Nevertheless, the state, both historically and still today, has perpetrated various forms of abuse of personal names, ranging from outright takings of personal names to official denials of preferred names. This Article surveys the variety of ways in which the state has committed these name-takings, as I call them. It includes historical examples of name denials such as African slaves and Canadian Indigenous school children. It then considers various forms of name discrimination still practiced today. It then briefly surveys the various ways in which the state continues practices that discriminate against people of color, LGBTQ couples and others on the basis of their names. Treating their names as property may be a means of dealing with such abuses.

Belonging Matters: One School’s Strategy for Fostering Community and Confidence Among Students from Historically Excluded Groups

Freeman, Alexi & Carlson, Caley | November 20, 2023

For generations, law students from historically excluded and underrepresented groups—including but not limited to students of color, students with disabilities, gender diverse and gender non-conforming students, and students who identify as LGBTQIA+—have been expected to navigate their legal educations “successfully” despite the many challenges they encounter. This article describes Denver Law Ascent, a program at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law that is designed to provide critical supports to such students and cultivate a sense of belonging early on as well as throughout students’ educational journeys. Drawing from evidence-based research and best practices, Denver Law Ascent is one school’s intentional approach to fostering belonging and preparing students for academic success.

Note or Comment

Third Coast Housing Solutions: The Case for Bringing YIMBY Legal Activist Strategies to Chicago

Kuchnir, Abigail | November 20, 2023

An insufficient supply of suitable housing stock is the root cause of issues like homelessness, overcrowding, and a cost burden on renters throughout the United States. A loose collective of activists and stakeholders comprise the YIMBY movement, an acronym for Yes In My Backyard. YIMBY advocates advance the perspective that additional housing stock is a necessary stratagem to improve housing availability and affordability, and they have used litigation as a tool towards developing new and diverse housing. This Comment examines the strategies currently used by legal activists in California, where impact litigation on this issue has been most prevalent. It also investigates whether these strategies could serve to improve the housing landscape in Chicago and, if so, how they could be most effectively adapted to the unique political and legal circumstances of the Chicago region.

The DOJ OLC Transparency Act: Is Transparency Enough to Combat Problematic Norms in the Office of Legal Counsel?

Patrick, Sarah | November 20, 2023

Over the last two decades, the Office of Legal Counsel has come under scrutiny for controversial opinions that have advised the President on the constitutionality of his actions, from interrogation and detention of military detainees to presidential immunity from congressional investigation and subpoenas to testify. Its opinions tend to conform with the unitary executive theory and defer to the executive’s position—and that’s only the opinions the public knows about. The Office of Legal Counsel is not required to disclose its opinions, and often does not, citing concerns about national security and the need for confidentiality. A recent legislative effort, the DOJ OLC Transparency Act, introduced in 2022, has attempted to address secrecy and deference to the executive in the Office of Legal Counsel. Although the bill has yet to be re-introduced in the 118th Congress, this Comment addresses whether the DOJ OLC Transparency Act is enough to combat OLC secrecy and deference to the executive, with the hope that future legislative efforts would take the criticisms in the Comment into consideration. The Act would require the OLC to publish all opinions on the DOJ website and allow free access to the public. However, transparency alone is not enough to combat problematic norms in the Office of Legal Counsel. This Comment addresses concerns with the Act’s scope, its class classification measures, and its enforcement mechanism.

One-Way Ticket to Mars: The Privatization of the Space Industry and its Environmental Impact on Earth and Beyond

Nam, Yuree | November 20, 2023

In the 21st century, the space industry has changed from a government-focused practice to a rapidly growing private sector. Billionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos operate private companies for the advance of space travel and exploration. Other companies like Lunar Outpost, ispace, and Masten Space Systems were selected by NASA to collect lunar resources back in 2020. The concern is that current international space law is insufficient to regulate private actors who play a significant role in exacerbating environmental problems. Whether it be rocket emissions and environmental justice concerns on Earth, or commercial resource extraction in outer space, private actors need to be regulated to protect the environment, create a sustainable long-term process for space exploration, and maintain international relations. The 1967 Outer Space Treaty and the 1979 Moon Agreement that were created for the purpose of banning weapons of mass destruction in outer space, do not address or regulate the environmental issues caused by private actors today. With the addition of new international agreements, like the U.S.-led Artemis Accords which encourage commercial activity by private actors, regulation is even more difficult and raises international relations concerns. This Note proposes regulating U.S. rocket emissions and facilities under the Clean Air Act and regulating commercial resource extraction through an international licensing system.