“I know nothing about WikiLeaks”: The Extradition Process of WikiLeaks Founder, Julian Assange

Written by Margaret E. Talt

Introduction

On April 11, 2019, British police physically removed WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London at the request of American authorities. Shortly after his arrest, United States officials unsealed the March 2018 indictment against Assange, charging him with a single count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. The indictment further states that Chelsea Manning previously provided Julian Assange with complete databases from several U.S. departments and agencies. Documents obtained included 90,000 Afghanistan war-related activity reports, 400,000 Iraq activity reports, 800 Guantanamo Bay detainee assessment briefs, and 250,000 U.S. Department of State cables. Chelsea Manning provided WikiLeaks with the classified records, which were then published on the WikiLeaks website in 2010 and 2011.

Who is Julian Assange?

Julian Assange is an Australian/Ecuadorean national, journalist, hacker, and the founder of the website Wikileaks. Wikileaks was created in 2006 with the intention of collecting and sharing confidential information on an “international scale.” Julian Assange gained attention in 2007, when Wikileaks released a U.S. military manual which included detailed information on the Guantanamo detention center.  However, Julian Assange’s true rise to fame came in April 2010, when WikiLeaks posted a 2007 video showing a U.S. military helicopter firing and killing two Reuters journalists and several Iraqi citizens. The video was posted on YouTube under the title “Collateral Murder.”

During the 2016 presidential race, Wikileaks released 1,200 emails from the private server Hillary Clinton used during her service as Secretary of State. Emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair were also released, leading U.S. government officials to suspect that Russian agents were behind hacking into servers and supplying the emails to WikiLeaks. Although Julian Assange stated that he had no personal desire to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, the U.S. public was better informed as a result of these published emails.

Revocation of Asylum

In 2012, Julian Assange sought asylum from Ecuador to avoid extradition to Sweden for sexual assault charges (that have since been dropped). He has been hiding at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for the last seven years. However, upon “repeated violations of international conventions and daily-life protocols,” on April 11, 2019, Ecuador’s president announced the withdrawal of Julian Assange’s asylum. Ecuador’s president further alleged that Julian Assange released secret documents from the Vatican, and mistreated guards at the embassy.

U.S. and U.K. Extradition Treaty

As a result of the asylum revocation, the U.S. requested that British police detain Julian Assange as the U.S. prepares to extradite him. As Julian Assange was carried out of the Ecuadorean Embassy, he screamed “The U.K. must resist.” His attorney later clarified that Julian Assange meant the United Kingdom should resist U.S. efforts to extradite him. His attorney also made clear that Julian Assange has no intention of surrendering to the U.S. Instead, he is going to fight extradition, as he and many of his followers believe that “extradition sets a dangerous precedent for media organizations in Europe and around the world . . . for publishing truthful information about the U.S.”

The U.S. and the U.K. began renegotiating their extradition treaty after September 11, 2001. The new treaty was signed on March 31, 2003 and went into force on April 26, 2007. The treaty outlines the requirements and process in which the offender can be extradited. If the charges for extradition are not contained in the approved list or the requirements of the process are not met, the Requested State can deny the Requesting State extradition.

In 2018, the U.K.’s high court refused to send Lauri Love, a British student charged with hacking U.S. government websites, to the U.S because of concerns the student would kill himself if tried in America. In 2004, suspected terrorist Babar Ahmad was arrested in the U.K. and held for eight years before he was extradited to the U.S. in 2012. The U.K. denied the U.S. extradition for computer hacker Gary McKinnon in 2012 because then-home secretary Theresa May stated that sending McKinnon while he was “seriously ill” was a violation of his human rights. In total, the U.K. has denied the U.S. ten requests for extradition since this treaty went into effect, while the U.S. has granted all of the U.K.’s requests for extradition.

Analysis

Under the extradition treaty, the U.S. asked the U.K. for a “provisional arrest”. The Requesting State may request a provisional request under Article 12 for urgent situations, pending presentation of the request for extradition. This article gives the U.S. sixty days to compile the necessary documents and file additional charges against Julian Assange before presenting the case to the U.K. However, once the case is submitted to the U.K. for extradition consideration, no additional charges can be added pursuant to Article 18, Rule of Specialty.

Once submitted for review, the U.K. determines if the request meets the “reasonable suspicion” standard, which is similar to the U.S.’s “probable cause” standard. Julian Assange’s extradition proceeding will begin in the Magistrates Court, which mostly tries criminal offenses. The judge in the Magistrates Court can decide either to approve or deny the extradition request or to send the request directly to the U.K.’s home secretary. Either way, Julian Assange can appeal the decision of the Magistrates Court to the h, which is similar to the U.S.’s intermediate appeals court.

If the home secretary approves extradition, Julian Assange can still appeal to the high court, and continue appealing unfavorable decisions to the U.K.’s Supreme Court, similar to the U.S. Supreme Court. This process is known to take many years, and some have taken as long as thirteen years to work their way through the U.K.’s court system.

Conclusion

According to the Department of Justice, if extradited and convicted, Julian Assange faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. However, because the procedural protections afforded Julian Assange in the extradition process, it may be many years before he is back on American soil. Alternatively, if the U.K. denies the U.S. its request for extradition, Julian Assange may never face charges in the U.S.

Sources

Ben Kochman, Extradition Clash Erupts After Assange’s Arrest In London, Law 360 (Apr. 11, 2019, 9:29 AM).

Costas Pitas, Guy Faulconbridge, & Kate Holton, U.S. Charges Assange after London arrest ends seven years in Ecuador embassy, Reuters (Apr. 11. 2019, 5:43 AM).

Extradition Treaty, N. Ir.-U.K. of Gr. Brit.-U.S., opened for signature Mar. 31, 2003 T.I.A.S. No. 07-426 (entered into force Apr. 26, 2007).

Indictment at 2, United States v. Julian Paul Assange, Criminal No. 1:18 cr (E.D. Va. 2018).

Julian Assange Biography, Biography (Apr. 2, 2014).

Julian Assange: WikiLeaks co-founder arrested in London, BBC (Apr. 12, 2019).

Zoe Tillman, It Could Be Years Before Julian Assange Steps Foot In the United States, BuzzFeed News (Apr. 12, 2019 at 4:09 PM).

FAQs on the U.S.-U.K Extradition Relationship, U.S. Embassy and Consulate in The United Kingdom (last visited Apr. 14, 2019).

Photo Courtesy of Express, UK

Off the Field Goals: Women’s National Soccer Team Seeks Equal Pay for Equal Play

Written by Aubre G. Dean

 

Introduction

On March 8, 2019, International Women’s Day, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (“USWNT”) filed a lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation (“USSF”) for gender discrimination. The lawsuit names twenty-eight women as plaintiff, including some of the most recognized names in the sport: Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Cali Lloyd. Filed in the United States District Court, the complaint alleges that the USSF has created a system of “institutionalized gender discrimination” under both the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (“EPA”) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (“Title VII”). The twenty-eight women are also seeking class certification to include any female players since 2015.

Litigation Background

The case comes to the District Court after five players filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) in March 2016. After investigating the claims, the EEOC issued the players Notices of Right to Sue allowing them to file a lawsuit within 90 days. The complaint was also filed one month before Equal Pay Day, which took place on April 2, 2019. The complaint itself mirrors those often seen in cases where women are paid less than men performing the same job. The complaint focuses on the fact that a player on the USWNT can make a maximum of $4,950 per game, while a player on the Men’s National Team earns on average $13,166 per game. On average, a female player on the USWNT makes 38% what the male players make.

Legal Basis

Under federal law, an employer may not discriminate in its employee practices on the basis of sex. According to the EPA, men and women must be given equal pay for equal work. In conjunction with that requirement, Title VII makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against pay and benefits on the basis of sex. Here, once the plaintiffs show a prima facie case of salary discrimination, the burden will shift to the USSF to prove that the pay is justified by one of the four exceptions: (1) a seniority system; (2) a merit system; (3) a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality or work; or (4) a differential based on any factor other than sex.

Comparing the Pay of Men and Women

Often when pay and playing conditions for female athletes is compared to pay of male athletes, the focus turns to whether the same type of revenue is made by the individual sport. Accordingly, the complaint focuses on the fact that the pay gap exists, despite the USWNT’s performance being superior to that of the USMNT, with the female players becoming world champions. As the reigning World Cup Champions, the USWNT will be heading in as one of the favorites to win the 2019 Women’s World Cup. In fact, the USWNT is consistently one of the best teams in the world, having won three of the seven most recent Women’s Cup titles. The USWNT has also placed first in the Olympics four of the six times that women’s soccer has been played. As for the men on the USMNT, the highest they have placed is third in the World Cup, in 1930. This last year the American team missed qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. The bonus for winning the final game of the Women’s World Cup was $1.725 million, a sharp contrast to the $5.375 million paid to the men for losing in the round of 16 in 2014. The complaint states simply: “during the period relevant to this case, the WNT earned more in profits and/or revenue than the MNT.”

The complaint also alleges there are other discriminatory practices being utilized by the USSF. From 2015 to 2018, the women played nineteen more games because of their success. The women played more games on artificial turf than the men and were never flown on a charter plane, despite the men having seventeen flights. The claim also asserts that the lower ticket prices of women’s friendlies and less promotion of matches led to “USSF-manufactured revenue depression.” Additionally, the complaint also focuses on the attention and revenue that the USWNT has brought to the sport of soccer. In 2015, more than 23 million viewers in the United States tuned in to Fox to watch the USWNT beat Japan in the final round of the Women’s World Cup. To date, this is the largest audience in American history for a single soccer event.

Conclusion

The outcome of the lawsuit is unclear, and the women will most likely not get their shot at this goal before they head to France for the 2019 Women’s World Cup. Further, the USSF has rejected pay alternatives proposed by the USWNT players association, including a compensation model where the women would only receive more money in the years that the USSF derives more revenue through USWNT. However, this suit means more than just a paycheck for the women as it shines light on the gender pay gap in athletics and creates a motto of “equal play, equal pay” which is rippling throughout the sports world.

Sources

Complaint for Petitioner, Morgan et al., No. 2:19-CV-01717 (C.D. Cal. 2019)

Andrew Das, U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Sues U.S. Soccer for Gender Discrimination, N.Y. Times, (March 8, 2019).

Laurel Wamsley, U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Sues U.S. Soccer For Gender Discrimination, All Things Considered, (March 8, 2019, 1:38 PM),

Civil Rights Act, 42 USCS § 2000e (1964).

Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d) (1963).

Photo courtesy of Alex Morgan, Twitter.

Okurrr?: The Legal Implications of Trademarking a Catchphrase

Written By Shannon Knapp

 

Introduction

Since the summer of 2017, Cardi B has become one of the biggest names in the music industry (and one of the most controversial). Beyond being famous for her music and social media presence, Cardi is known for her tongue-rolling phrase “Okurrr,” a sassy and elongated way of saying “okay.” However, Cardi B arguably did not create the word. Cardi tweeted that the Kardashian sisters got her hooked on saying it. Likely, the Kardashians picked it up from contestants on RuPaul’s Drag Race, who credit the term to Laura Bell Bundy. Yet, the term has become associated with Cardi B, even becoming the basis of a Pepsi advertisement she starred in during the Super Bowl.

Cardi B (through her company Washpoppin) has filed an application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) to trademark “okurrr” for use on paper goods, namely paper cups and posters. She also filed a second application for the same term to be used on clothing, including t-shirts and caps. Prior to the above applications, Washpoppin filed a similar application for another variant of the phrase, spelled “okurr” (two r’s instead of three).

Cardi B is not the first celebrity to try to take ownership of popular phrases. Paris Hilton famously trademarked the catchphrase “that’s hot” (for use on alcohol and clothing) in 2006; Anthony Davis has trademarked the two phrases “fear the brow” and “raise the brow” (for use on a number of products including aftershave and entertainment services); and Will.I.Am attempted to trademark the phrase “willpower” (although that application was rejected by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board).

This particular trademark application by Cardi B has been met with criticism and confusion due to concerns that the term will be taken out of the public domain and inhibit people from being able to say the phrase. Misunderstanding about the trademark process perpetuates this confusion. So what is a trademark? If Cardi B is successful, will we never be able to say “okurrr” again?

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is one of many types of intellectual property protected under United States law (both at the federal and state level). A trademark serves a number of functions, including identifying a single source of origin for goods and services, distinguishing the owner’s goods and services from those of others, and providing the owner of the mark with the right to prevent others from adopting similar marks likely to cause confusion in the marketplace. Trademarks are usually for specific commercial uses and spellings. In this case, Cardi B is only looking to use the specific spelling of “okurr/r” on merchandise. There can be trademarks for words, names, symbols, and devices, as well as for trade dress, colors, sounds, and scents.

To successfully acquire federal trademark protection, the mark must be distinctive, be of acceptable subject matter, and be used in commerce. The first requirement, distinctiveness, can be achieved in two primary ways. A mark is distinctive if it is inherently distinctive, which means that it is immediately capable of identifying a source of origin for a good or service. Or, a mark can have acquired distinctiveness, which means that it is not inherently distinctive, but has gained secondary meaning over time from use and promotion in the market. Second, a mark is of acceptable subject matter if it is defined in Section 45 of the Lanham Act, which includes words, names, symbols, images, sounds, etc. Lastly, a mark must have been used in interstate commerce in connection with the good or service.

Will Cardi B be Successful?

It is ultimately up to the USPTO whether Cardi B will be successful in her trademark application. She is covering her bases by submitting multiple spellings, but she still might have difficulty. The spoken word in which the written phrase is representing has no standard form, which can cause difficulties. Also, Cardi B is not the originator of the phrase, which could hinder her application. However, her lawyers could claim she has achieved “acquired distinctiveness” because people have come to commonly associate her with the expression. But, Cardi B may be facing other challenges to her application, including a potential registration challenge from a drag queen named Alaska.

Conclusion

No matter what happens with Cardi B’s trademark application, no one needs to worry about a crackdown on using the fun phrase. Cardi B is only seeking protection for certain merchandise, and this is not the first time a celebrity has trademarked famous words or sayings.


Sources

Aleksi Tzatzev, 10 Celebrity Trademarks We Can’t Believe Exist, Business Insider.

Ben Zimmer, Cardi B Didn’t Invent “Okurrr,” but That Might Not Matter to a Trademark Judge, The Atlantic.

Hugh McIntyre, Cardi B Wants to Trademark The Phrase ‘Okurrr,’ Forbes.

Practical Law Intellectual Property & Technology, Trademark: Overview (2019).

Withrop & Weinstine, P.A., Cardi B, You (Probably) Can’t Trademark “Okurrr,” Okay?, JDSUPRA.

Photo courtesy of JD Supra.

Universities & Parents Face Civil Suits as College Admissions Scandal Continues to Unfold

Written by Jeffrey Fasoldt

 

Federal prosecutors charged 50 peopleincluding 33 parentswith colluding to buy spots at selective universities last week in the largest college admissions scandal the country has ever seen. The charges have stirred up a discussion in the national mediapartly due to the wealthy business-persons and celebrities involved, and partly due to the economic and social issues intertwined in the overall discussion. Collectively, the parents paid millions of dollars to secure admission for their kids. Now, as the criminal charges against the parents play out, several current students, as well as students that had been denied from the universities involved, are filing civil lawsuits claiming these schools were negligent in failing to oversee the admissions process, and their own academic and future success potentially suffered from the incident.

The Initial Indictment

According to the indictment filed in United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, William “Rick” Singer founded The Edge College & Career Network, as a “college counseling and preparation business” in 2007, as well as the Key Worldwide Foundation, a non-profit. Using these two companies, Singer allegedly used illegal and fraudulent techniques to help children gain admission to selective universities, while avoiding federal income taxes.

The indictment states that Singer (1) “facilitated cheating on the ACT and SAT exams in exchange for bribes,” and (2) designated “applicants as purported recruits for competitive college teams, without regard for the applicants’ athletic abilities.”

Singer allegedly used donations from parents to bribe standardized test officials who sometimes allowed another person to take the test in place of the applicant. Parents also allegedly paid Singer approximately $25 million from 2011 to 2019 to bribe college athletics coaches to designate their children as recruited athletes in order to increase chances of admission by the admissions committee at several schools.

Singer, as well as the other defendants named in the indictment face potential prison time for their involvement in the alleged conspiracy. At this point, no colleges have been named in any criminal indictment, and neither have any of the children involved. Some of the colleges have begun their own investigations into the matter.

The Response

In addition to the criminal charges, some parents, as well as a few of the colleges involved, are now facing class-action civil lawsuits. Erica Olsen and Kalea Woods, two current Stanford students, allege being denied admission from Yale and U.S.C. respectively, despite both having near-perfect ACT and SAT test scores. In addition, the students also claim that their degrees have been “devalued” since they both attend Stanfordone of the schools linked to the scandal.

Analysis

Olsen and Wood’s first claim is that the universities involved were negligent in their admissions process. The complaint states “[e]ach of these students had a right to know that their application was going to be part of a review process corrupted by rampant fraud and back-door bribery.”

In North v. West Virginia Board of Regents, the West Virginia court stated “[a]s long as the conduct of educators is not high-handed, arbitrary or capricious,” educators should be left alone to do their job without interference from those of us in the judiciary who have neither the expertise nor the insight to evaluate their decisions. However, the facts of that case involved a medical student challenging the administrative procedures the school took prior to expelling him for falsifying his application to get into medical school.

Still, in Ross v. Creighton University, Ross alleged the school was negligent for accepting him. Ross was an athlete, but the college should have known he was not prepared academically. The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit court rejected this argument, stating “determining who is a ‘reasonably qualified student’ necessarily requires subjective assessments of such things as the nature and quality of the defendant institution and the intelligence and educability of the plaintiff. Such decisions are not open to ready determination in the judicial process.”

As for the second claimthat the scandal devalues their degreesin Gomez-Jimenez v. New York Law School, plaintiffs, graduates of New York Law School alleged that “the disclosures of post-graduate employment and salary data by defendant New York Law School to prospective students” caused “them to enroll in school to obtain, at a very high price, a law degree that proved less valuable in the market-place than they were led to expect.” The students asserted claims of fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation as well as a claim for deceptive acts in violation of New York’s General Business Law.

The appellate court was “sympathetic” to the plaintiff’s claim, but ultimately upheld the law school’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.

Conclusion

Because this is the largest college admissions scandal in school history, there are going to be a few issues that courts may have not dealt with before. However, based on the law that exists, as well as the reluctance of the judiciary to get involved in the educational admissions process, it will likely be an uphill battle for the civil plaintiffs.


Sources

Brief for Plaintiff, Olsen v. Singer, No. 19-CV-01351 (D. Cal. filed Mar. 13, 2019).

Brief for U.S., U.S. v. Ernst, No. 19-CR-10081 (D. Mass. filed Mar. 5, 2019).

Elie Mystal, Current Standford Students File Class-Action Because Scammers ‘Devalued’ Their Degree, ABOVE THE LAW (Mar. 14, 2019, 1:13 PM).

Gomez-Jimenez v. New York L. Sch., 956 N.Y.S.2d 54, 57 (App. Div. 2012).

Hannah Fry, College admissions scandal fallout: Stanford students sue UCLA, USC and Yale, L.A. TIMES (Mar. 14, 2019, 9:10 AM).

Jennifer Medina, Katie Benner, & Kate Taylor, Actresses, Business Leaders and Other Wealthy Parents Charged in U.S. College Entry Fraud, N.Y. TIMES (Mar. 12, 2019).

North v. W. Virginia Bd. of Regents, 332 S.E.2d 141, 146–47 (W. Va. 1985).

Ross v. Creighton U., 957 F.2d 410, 415 (7th Cir. 1992).

Photo courtesy of Hollywood Reporter.

Supreme Court to Rule on Establishment Clause Challenge to the Bladensburg Peace Cross Memorial

Written By Gaity Hashimi

 

Background

The Supreme Court recently heard arguments regarding the constitutionality of the display and maintenance of a 40-foot tall cross in Bladensburg, Maryland which was erected in 1919 to honor veterans. Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission purchased both the cross and the land in 1961, and has since spent a significant amount of money to maintain and repair the cross. The American Humanist Association, a non-profit organization which advocates for the separation of church and state, brought suit against the Commission, claiming that their activities violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The American Legion, a U.S. war veterans organization, is also involved in the suit.

History of the Establishment Clause

The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”. In Lemon v. Kurtzman, the Supreme Court created the Lemon test to decide whether a statute which provided state funding for private, non-secular schools violated the Establishment Clause. The Court articulated that the statute must (1) have a secular legislative purpose, (2) its principal or primary effects must be one that neither promotes nor inhibits religion, and (3) it must not foster “excessive government entanglement with religion.”

Since Lemon, the Supreme Court has resolved Establishment Clause challenges in a variety of ways. For example, in Stone v. Graham, the Supreme Court held that a Kentucky statute requiring posting of a copy of the Ten Commandments on the walls of each public classroom violated the Establishment Clause because the statute had a clear, non-secular purpose. On the other hand, in Van Orden v. Perry, the Supreme Court did not rely on the Lemon test and instead, relying on the nature of the monument and the Nation’s history, held that the display of a monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments on the grounds of Texas State Capitol was constitutional.

District Court Ruling

In American Humanist Association v. Maryland-National Capital Park, the District Court applied the Lemon test and held that the monument had a secular purpose, that “within the context of its long history . . . a reasonable observer would not view the Monument as having the effect of impermissibly endorsing religion, and that the display did not create excessive government entanglement with religion because “the Monument itself [was] not a governmental endorsement of religion.” The Court also held that it was constitutional under the context and history test in Van Orden, since the Monument had been “used almost exclusively as a site to commemorate veterans on secular patriotic holidays for its entire history.”

Fourth Circuit Ruling

The Fourth Circuit reversed the District Court’s decision and held that the display was unconstitutional under the Lemon test. Although the Court found that the Commission’s maintenance of a significant war memorial had a legitimate secular purpose, it found that the meaning and history of the cross had the primary effect of endorsing Christianity to a reasonable observer. Furthermore, the Court found that there was excessive government entanglement because the Commission owns and maintains the cross on government property, set aside a significant amount of money for its restoration and it was “displaying the hallmark symbol of Christianity in a manner that dominates its surroundings and not only overwhelms all other monuments at the park, but also excludes all other religious tenets.” Therefore, the Court held that the display and maintenance of the Cross was an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause.

Supreme Court Grants Certiorari

The Supreme Court granted certiorari and heard arguments on February 27, 2019. The American Humanist Association argued that the public display should be viewed in context, and that the giant Latin cross was clearly Christian. The Commission argued that the cross was constitutional because its purpose was primarily secular and that it was a symbol marking the deceased in World War I, giving the cross a dual meaning.

The other petitioner, The American Legion, argued for the application of the “coercion test,” which would hold a display unconstitutional if a religious minority was “tangibly hurt.” Essentially, it would allow public religious displays, unless they coerce religious minorities into believing something against their principles.

Possible Outcome

If the Supreme Court agrees with American Legion and adopts the “coercion test,” prior cases adopting the Lemon test would be overruled, and the landscape of the First Amendment Law would change entirely. There potentially would be no limit on the power of the government to erect religious monuments and symbols on government property, since it would likely be hard to prove that a certain religious display proselytized or tangibly hurt a religious minority.

There is a high possibility that this conservative Supreme Court will declare the monument constitutional, as the conservative view generally leans toward accommodating religion. The Court could agree with the District Court and the Commission and rule that under the Lemon test, the monument had a secular purpose, did not primarily endorse religion, and that there was no excessive government entanglement with religion. The Court could also elect to adopt the Van Orden reasoning and rule that the Monument’s rich history warrants a finding that it is constitutional. The effect of this outcome will likely mean that other similar monuments will be allowed to stand. This outcome may be viewed by a part of society as the government aligning itself with a single religion, as the Latin cross is a symbol of Christianity.

If the Supreme Court agrees with the Fourth Circuit, and declare the monument unconstitutional, it could mean that similar monuments of the Peace Cross may have to be taken down. Furthermore, expenditures of tax revenues on government speech that has a religious aspect, such as expenditures for cross-shaped military medals, would potentially be declared unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court is expected to reach a decision by June, 2019.


Sources

Am. Humanist Ass’n v. Maryland-Nat’l Capital Park, 147 F. Supp. 3d 373 (D. Md. 2015), rev’d sub nom. Am. Humanist Ass’n v. Maryland-Nat’l Capital Park & Planning Comm’n, 874 F.3d 195 (4th Cir. 2017).

Am. Humanist Ass’n v. Maryland-Nat’l Capital Park & Planning Comm’n, 874 F.3d 195 (4th Cir. 2017), cert. granted sub nom. The Am. Legion v. Am. Humanist Ass’n, 139 S. Ct. 451 (2018), and cert. granted, 139 S. Ct. 451 (2018).

Erwin Chemerinsky, Chemerinsky: Do religious symbols on government property infringe on First Amendment?, ABA Journal (Feb. 26, 2019).

Jimmy Hoover, Up Next At High Court: Opinions, Orders And 1st Amendment, Law360 (Feb, 22, 2019).

Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971).

Nina Totenburg, Cross Clash Could Change Rules for Separation of Church And State, NPR Law (Feb, 25, 2019).

Nina Totenburg, Supreme Court Appears Ready to Let Cross Stand But Struggles With Church-State Test, NPR Law (Feb, 27, 2019).

Photo courtesy of Snopes.

The Kardashian-Jenner Family, Jordyn Woods, and the Law: How Non-Disclosure Agreements Operate

Written by Kendra Peterson

 

Introduction: The Scandal That Started It All

For those that keep up with the Kardashians, it came as a shock when the news broke about Jordyn Woods’ cheating scandal. Jordyn Woods is the best friend of the world’s youngest billionaire and pop culture icon, Kylie Jenner. Allegedly, Jordyn Woods got a little too close with Khloe Kardashian’s boyfriend and father of her child, NBA player Tristan Thompson. Almost immediately after the news broke, rumors flew about Kylie Jenner removing Jordyn Woods from her house and cutting ties altogether. While Kylie Jenner is reportedly heartbroken over the betrayal of her best friend, one thing stands true: the Kardashians put family first and stand as a united front against anyone who crosses them.

While the versions of what really happened flooded the internet, Jordyn Woods agreed to talk about the incident on Red Table Talk, a show hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith that airs on Facebook. People were undoubtedly on the edge of their seats waiting to hear Jordyn Woods tell her side of the story, but it begged the question: there must be an NDA, right?

What is a Non-Disclosure Agreement?

An NDA is short for a Non-Disclosure Agreement. It is a contract that both parties sign which requires them to keep certain information in the contract confidential for a defined period of time. Non-disclosure agreements are used for a wide range of reasons, from protecting non-public business information, to protecting trade secrets, to ensuring people around celebrities do not spill all the secrets of the high-life. Here, the alleged non-disclosure agreement likely included language to keep the private affairs of the Kardashian family confidential.

However, non-disclosure agreements are contracts and can be held unenforceable by a judge. For example, if the contract is too broad or general, the court can refuse to enforce the contract, effectively making the non-disclosure agreement non-existent. Also, contract law is governed by state law, meaning each state has different laws regarding the enforceability of non-disclosure agreements. As the Kardashian-Jenners are residents of Calabasas, it is likely that the non-disclosure agreement in question will be governed by California law. While California generally does not recognize non-competes and customer non-solicits, it does have a reputation to enforce non-disclosure agreements. There are many cases interpreting non-disclosure agreements, giving lawyers guidance of what will be enforced. Good drafting is key to ensure a non-disclosure can be enforced in court. Given that Kylie Jenner is a billionaire, she likely had competent lawyers draft her non-disclosure agreements, making them as ironclad as can be. So, what happens when one party violates a non-disclosure agreement?

Breach of a Non-Disclosure Agreement

A suit for violation of a non-disclosure is a breach of contract claim and can only be brought by the non-breaching party. Because this is a civil rather than criminal act, the non-breaching party will likely seek monetary damages. Yet sometimes absolutely nothing happens when someone violates a non-disclosure agreement. Suing someone for breaching a contract costs a significant amount of money, including attorney’s fees and court costs, and can take up a substantial amount of time. While this may not be a worry for the rich and famous, there are also non-tangible costs in suing someone for breaching a non-disclosure agreement. Case in point, Kylie Jenner would be suing her former best friend of over a decade, which carries with it some potential emotional consequences. The non-breaching party will likely take all these considerations into mind before making the decision to sue.

Conclusion

Regardless of the potential consequences of breaching the allegedly “ironclad NDA,” Jordyn Woods spoke candidly with Jada Pinkett-Smith on Red Table Talk, which was posted on March 1, 2019. Now the (basket)ball is in Kylie Jenner’s court (pun intended). If a non-disclosure does exist, and Jordyn Woods breached it, it is now up to the non-breaching party (Kylie Jenner) to enforce it by means of a lawsuit.


Sources

Gary D. Knopf, Risky Business: The Dangers of Overbroad Confidentiality Agreements, Troutman Sanders (last visited March 10, 2019).

Katherine Gillespie, Jordyn Woods Might Violate Her NDA on ‘Red Table Talk’, PAPER MAGAZINE (last visited March 10, 2019).

Katherine J. Igeo, What Happens If You Break an NDA? Jordyn Woods Is Reportedly About to Find Out, MARIE CLAIRE (last visited March 10, 2019).

Natalie Robehmed, At 21, Kylie Jenner Becomes The Youngest Self-Made Billionaire Ever, Forbes (last visited March 10, 2019).

Todd Spangler, Jordyn Woods Interview With Jada Pinkett Smith on ‘Red Table Talk’ Sets Facebook Viewing Record, VARIETY (last visited March 10, 2019).

Photo courtesy of Pop Sugar.

Federal Court Judge Declares the Male-Only Draft Unconstitutional

written by thomas clifford

 

Nearly four decades after the United States Supreme Court upheld the Military Selective Service Act (MSSA), a federal District Court judge declared that the act’s male-only draft violates the Equal Protection Clause. U.S. District Court Judge Gary Miller relied on new developments in the military and recent sex-discrimination cases in issuing the ruling.

Background

The MSSA requires all American men––but not women––to register for the draft when they turn 18. They remain draft-eligible through the age of 25. Although no one has been conscripted into the United States military in over 40 years, failure to comply with the draft can result in fines, jail time, or denied federal services.

In 1981, the Supreme Court in Rostker v. Goldberg upheld a challenge to the male-only draft. The Court held that the Act did not violate the Fifth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause because Congress did not arbitrarily treat men and women differently in passing the act. Specifically, Justice William Rehnquist’s majority opinion argued that men and women were not “similarly situated” because women could not participate in military combat at the time. Therefore, because the purpose of the draft was to prepare troops for combat, the Court concluded that the male-only draft did not violate equal protection principles.

In 2013, however, the Department of Defense ended the ban on women’s participation in combat. Then, two years later, the Department of Defense eliminated all other gender-based restrictions.

District Court Ruling

Following the integration of women into all military service roles––including combat positions––two male plaintiffs renewed a decades-old constitutional question: does the male-only draft violate the Equal Protection Clause? In National Coalition for Men v. Selective Service Systems, a district court held that it does.

At the outset of the opinion, Judge Miller noted that classifications based on sex require proponents of the legislation to show that the “classification serves important governmental objectives and that the discriminatory means employed are substantially related to the achievement of those objectives.” After analyzing the governmental objectives, the court yielded to Congress’s broad authority over the military, and held that the male-only draft serves important governmental objectives.

The court, however, ruled that the male-only draft is not “substantially related” to the achievement of the governmental objectives. Judge Miller rejected the Selective Service System’s argument that Congress preserved a male-only draft because of concerns about a perceived female physical inability to participate in combat. Any reference by Congress to this notion, according to Judge Miller, was not rooted in statistical data, but rather “assumptions and overly broad stereotypes about women and their ability to fulfill combat roles.” Judge Miller appealed to United States v. Virginia to bolster the rejection of the defendant’s argument, noting that the Supreme Court held that justifications of sexual classifications “must not rely on overbroad generalizations about the talents, capacities, or preferences of males over females.”

Moreover, Judge Miller distinguished National Coalition from Rostker based on the factual differences between the two cases. He contended that the dispositive fact in Rostker was that women were not similarly situated because they were not combat eligible. Thus, now that women are combat eligible, Judge Miller reasoned that they now are similarly situated as men. Accordingly, Judge Miller found that the MSSA’s male-only draft now violates the Fifth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

Importantly, however, Judge Miller did not order the government to make immediate changes to the selective service.

Looking Ahead

The National Coalition ruling comes as Congress is set to release a report next year from an 11-member commission regarding the male-only draft. Nevada Representative Joe Heck, chairman of the commission, insisted that the District Court’s ruling will neither expedite nor influence their report.

Even if the National Coalition ruling does not influence Congress in issuing the report, when the case is inevitably appealed to the Court of Appeals––and perhaps the Supreme Court after that––Congress may need to completely overhaul the MSSA’s male-only draft. Specifically, if the District Court’s decision is affirmed, Congress would have three options: (1) integrate women into the Selective Service when they turn 18; (2) make registration in the Selective Service voluntary, but withhold certain benefits for those that don’t register; or (3) abolish the Selective Service completely. But if National Coalition is overturned, then Congress would not be required to do anything.

Ultimately, the future of the Selective Service is unclear, but significant changes may take effect in the near future.


Sources

Gregory Korte, Q&A: A judge has ruled the male-only military draft unconstitutional. What happens now?, USA TODAY (Feb. 25, 2019).

Matthew Schwartz, Judge Rules Male-Only Draft Violates Constitution, NPR (Feb. 25, 2019).

Nat’l Coal. for Men v. Selective Serv. Sys., No. H-16-3362, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28851 (S.D. Tex. Feb. 22, 2019).

Paul J. Weber, Federal Judge Rules Against Male-Only Draft, but no Changes Imminent, PBS (Feb. 26, 2019).

Rostker v. Goldberg, 453 U.S. 57 (1981).

Tyler Pager, Drafting Only Men for the Military is Unconstitutional, Judge Rules, NY TIMES (Feb. 24, 2019).

United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996).

Photo courtesy of Air Force Times.

State Civil Asset Forfeiture Curtailed by the Supreme Court

Written by Katherine Brisson

 

When Tyson Timbs pleaded guilty in Indiana state court for selling $225 of heroin to undercover officers, he never expected his case to result in a major Supreme Court decision incorporating a Bill of Rights provision to the States. With the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Timbs v. Indiana, however, that is exactly what happened.

Background

In 2015, Mr. Timbs pleaded guilty to a controlled substance offense and conspiracy to commit theft. The Indiana trial court sentenced him to one year of home detention, five years probation, and required him to pay fees and court costs totaling $1,203, which was much less than the $10,000 maximum fine assessable against him for the drug conviction.

When the police arrested Mr. Timbs, they seized his $42,000 Land Rover that he purchased with money from his father’s life insurance policy, claiming that he used it to transport heroin. The State of Indiana brought a civil forfeiture suit for Mr. Timbs’ Land Rover, which the trial court denied. The court explained that the Land Rover was worth more than four times the maximum monetary fine for his drug conviction and that forfeiture would be grossly disproportionate to his offense, making it unconstitutional under the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment. The intermediate appellate court upheld the state court’s denial of forfeiture, but the Indiana Supreme Court reversed, ruling that the Excessive Fines Clause does not apply to the states.

Timbs v. Indiana: Excessive Fines Clause Incorporated to the States

Writing for the Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg explained, “the historical and logical case for concluding that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Excessive Fines Clause is overwhelming.” Justice Ginsburg detailed the tradition of hostility towards excessive fines through a discussion of the Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, colonial-American excessive fine and bail provisions, and State excessive fine provisions. The Court then explained that “the protection of excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history” against the undermining of other constitutional liberties. At the same time, the Court highlighted the ways in which excessive fines were used after the Civil War to target African-Americans and “subjugate newly freed slaves and maintain the prewar racial hierarchy.”

The Court used the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as the vehicle to incorporate the Excessive Fines Clause form the Eighth Amendment to the states. Interestingly, Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote separately concurring in the judgment, argued that the Excessive Fines Clause should be incorporated to the States using the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment instead. Justice Neil Gorsuch, who also wrote separately but still joined the Court’s opinion, mirrored Justice Thomas’ sentiment but reasoned that “regardless of the precise vehicle, there can be no serious doubt that the Fourteenth Amendment requires States to respect the freedom from excessive fines enshrined in the Eighth Amendment.”

Impact of Incorporation: The Future of Civil Forfeiture

For better or worse, civil forfeiture is an important source of revenue for many law enforcement agencies across the country that rely on a steady flow of forfeiture proceeds to purchase equipment. Civil forfeiture does not require a criminal conviction; rather it only requires a showing that the property in question was used in connection with a crime. This practice has received near-universal criticism as a practice that can be egregiously abused for the monetary profit of law enforcement agencies. Wesley Hottot, Mr. Timbs’ attorney, noted that “[t]oday’s ruling should go a long way to curtailing what is often called ‘policing for profit’ – where police and prosecutors employ forfeiture to take someone’s property then sell it, and keep the profits to fund their departments.”

In light of Timbs, police and prosecutors may be required to think differently about when—and against which property—they choose to initiate. One consideration that has not always been at the forefront of the decision is the relationship between the value of the property to be forfeited and the crime it is allegedly connected to. This relationship could be the deciding factor between constitutional and unconstitutional forfeitures from here on.

All 50 states have constitutional provisions prohibiting excessive fines in some form. The Supreme Court’s decision in Timbs will likely influence how state courts interpret these provisions and how they apply to civil in rem forfeiture practices. Alternatively, Timbs may render these state provisions useless if they are not more protective of an individual’s rights than the protections afforded by Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment. Individuals who lose property to forfeiture suits may choose to pursue a claim under the Eighth Amendment instead of a state provision, which both impacts the utility of state provisions and increases the amount of litigation in federal court.

Ultimately, the Court’s decision in Timbs is an important one. After Timbs, the only Bill of Rights protections not incorporated to the states is the Third Amendment’s right against the quartering of soldiers, the Fifth Amendment’s right to a grand jury indictment, and the Seventh Amendment’s right to a civil jury trial. The application of the Excessive Fines Clause to the states will have many practical consequences for law enforcement agencies and federal court litigation, and it gives those who lose property to civil forfeiture a way to challenge that decision.


Sources

Adam Liptak and Shalia Dewan, Supreme Court Limits Police Powers to Seize Private Property, New York Times, (Feb 20, 2019).

Amy Howe, Opinion Analysis: Eighth Amendment’s Ban on Excessive Fines Applies to the States, SCOTUSblog (Feb. 20, 2019).

Chris Geidner, The Supreme Has limited How Much Private Property States Can Seize, Buzzfeed News (Feb. 20, 2019).

Timbs v. IN, 586 U.S. ____ (2019).

Photo courtesy of the New York Post.

Trapped in the Freezing Cold: Federal Defenders File Lawsuit Against the Metropolitan Detention Center

Written by Julia Wingfield

 

Last week’s “Polar Vortex”, caused sub-zero temperatures and high-speed winds to grip the east coast. New York City was particularly affected by this weather pattern—with temperatures plunging into the single digits. It was so cold that firefighters, combating a fire in a commercial building, took turns warming up on nearby buses. Schools, services and businesses shut down, and people hunkered down in their homes to stay warm.

At the Metropolitan Detention Center, a federal jail located in Brooklyn, the inmates were not given such an option. At the end of January, an electrical fire knocked out the power in most of the building, which resulted in inmates being confined in their cells, without hot water or heat.

As news of the conditions reached the general public, both the warden of the jail and the Bureau of Prisons initially denied there was any loss of power, claiming inmate housing conditions had been minimally impacted.

After dozens of interviews with staff, inmates, and inmates’ family members, this proved not to be the case. The week-long blackout resulted in freezing cold temperatures inside the cells. Inmates could see their breath, food was served undercooked, and to keep warm inmates filled cans with water and used contraband lighters to heat them. Inmates were kept locked in their cells for twenty-three hours a day in the dark and cold.

After public outcry and a series of protests, on February 3 power was restored. A few days later the Bureau of Prisons opened an investigation into the conditions of the jail. The Justice Department, in their oversight capacity of the Bureau of Prisons, released a statement, declaring they were “committed to the safe and humane living and working conditions of all inmates and employees.”

Not the First Accusation of Mistreatment

This is not the first time the Metropolitan Detention Center has been accused of mistreatment. Investigations by the Inspector General have been opened in the facility before.

First, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, investigations showed that staff were physically abusing Muslin inmates. These inmates were slammed into walls, and staff threatened their lives while they were behind bars. The Inspector General has also looked into other physical abuse. Both in 2002 and in 2006, investigations were opened after claims of staff beating inmates.

More recently, in 2013 and 2016, the Inspector General opened investigations into officers who were accused of sexually assaulting female inmates. After the investigation, three staff members were convicted. One of the staff members was convicted of repeatedly raping a victim and threatened to send her to solitary confinement if she reported it.

The Lawsuit

As a result of this pattern of mistreatment, and because of the recent conditions in the jail, the Federal Defenders of New York have filed a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Detention Center. According to the Federal Defender’s office, ““The I.G. previously has investigated M.D.C. and issued harshly critical reports. But nothing has changed.”

The complaint names both the Bureau of Prisons and the jail’s warden as parties to the lawsuit. After outlining the conditions at the jail, and the Bureau of Prison’s lack of response to those conditions, the complaint states two causes of action.

First, the Bureau of Prisons violated the inmates’ Sixth Amendment right to Counsel. The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees that, “in all criminal prosecution, the accused shall enjoy the right…to have Assistance of Counsel for his defense.”

During the blackout, the Bureau of Prisons cancelled nearly all legal visitation to one of the buildings from January 27 until February 4. No detailed information was provided to defense attorneys regarding the reasons for these cancellations. Additionally, no information was provided to attorneys about the “dire” conditions in the Metropolitan Detention Center. The Federal Defender argues that these actions substantially interfere with the right to counsel, and constitute a violation of the Sixth Amendment.

Second, the complaint claims the Bureau of Prisons violated their own regulations, the Administrative Procedure Act. These regulations require wardens to “provide the opportunity for pretrial inmate attorney visits on a seven-days-a-week basis.” Additionally, they prohibit the limitation of the frequency of visits for all inmates, requiring wards to “make every effort to arrange for a visit.” The Federal Defender argues that these failures show the BOP’s inability to follow its own regulations is “arbitrary and capricious and contrary to the law.”

The complaint seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, specifically the appointment of an outside monitor for the jail.

The Bureau of Prisons continues to underscore their narrative, with their lawyer arguing that the conditions only affected a handful of inmates, which does not warrant the appointment of an outside monitor. They also point out that the conditions have been fixed.

Ultimately, the Bureau of Prisons is investigating into the conditions of the jail, and the effect those conditions had on the inmates. The question remains: will this internal investigation be sufficient to address any mistreatment? The pressure of a lawsuit, and the public outcry, may be enough to push the Bureau of Prisons toward change.


Sources

Complaint for Petitioner, Federal Defenders of N.Y., Inc., No. 1:19-cv-00660-MKB-SMG, (E.D.N.Y 2019).

Annie Correal and Joseph Goldtein, ‘Its Cold as Hell’: Inside a Brooklyn Jail’s Weeklong Collapse, N.Y. Times, (Feb. 9, 2019.

Benjamin Weiser and Ali Winston, Brooklyn Federal Jail Had Heat Failures Weeks Before Crisis, Employees Say, N.Y. Times, (Feb. 5, 2019.

28 C.F.R. §551.117(a).

28 U.S.C. § 543.13(b), (d).

5 U.S.C. § 706(2).

Photo courtesy of the Washington Post.

New York Abandons Link Between Students’ Standardized Test Scores and Teacher Evaluations

Written by Kristian Stefanides

 

History

In 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo spearheaded a national movement in American public education to revamp the system by determining a teacher’s rating by their students’ standardized test results. Cuomo promised that half of a teacher’s ratings would be based on how well (or how poorly) students performed on standardized tests.

The decision was met with resistance by parents and educators, who felt the system was an unfair way to evaluate job performance, as well as the anticipated stress this initiative would produce. Advocates held news conferences and rallies in protest of Cuomo’s new plan. New York parents, backed by teacher’s unions, showed the largest display of opposition by refusing to permit their children to sit for portions of the tests. As a result, 240,000 students did not sit for the English and math sections of the test last year.

Moving in a New Direction

Four years later, Cuomo has moved in a new direction, and New York is about to become a part of a larger group of states, including Colorado and California, dispensing with this form of teacher evaluations.

In Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest school district, the city’s teachers’ union held a massive strike, partly due to this issue, and after one week, they were offered a deal by the city’s school district to create a new plan that would be less focused on the use of standardized exams. In Denver, the city’s teachers authorized a strike by vote that was in part due to a bonus system that rewarded teachers who had the privilege of working at schools with high exam scores.

The New York State Legislature’s new bill was originally passed last spring in the Assembly but did not move through the Senate until this year. Now that it has passed, teachers’ unions and local school districts in New York, along with some guidance from the Education Department, will be the official determinants of an educators rating. Standardized tests will not be a requirement in this evaluation, a move heavily backed by the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) Union and Democrats. The NYSUT is fearful of a future reversion to Cuomo’s previous stance, but many have shown support for Cuomo’s new direction.

“Most parents believe their local school and teachers are good. To have evaluations that contradict that creates some dissonance,” said Columbia University Teachers College professor, Aaron Pallas. “The state tests seem so far removed from day-to-day classroom practice.”

When his original evaluation plan passed a few years ago, Cuomo pushed the Board of Regents to place a ban on the use of standardized testing scores as a means for the evaluation of teachers due to the protests. Essentially, this ban will be codified into New York state law with the new bill.

Data shows that in 2016, ninety-six percent of teachers were rated “highly effective” or “effective” while only one percent was found to be “ineffective.” However, that same year, less than forty percent of students passed the standardized exams in math and English.

What evidence of low test scores was once used as a factor for rating a teacher as ineffective and as a way to fire them will now be disregarded in determining a teacher’s fate. Rather, educators will not be penalized over poor test results, but instead, will be protected.

President of the United Federation of Teachers based in New York City was pleased with Cuomo’s new plan stating, he “now understands what standardized tests are, and their limitations, and I give him credit for that.” No longer will teachers have to worry that their students’ standardized test scores will be linked to their teaching evaluations, and potentially the loss of their jobs.

Although many teachers, parents, and scholars are in favor of the new bill, evaluation advocates are unsatisfied.

“People overplayed their hands,” president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, Kate Walsh, said. “Instead of adjusting, they threw the cards in and went home sulking.

But Cuomo’s new plan came from listening to local communities. Jim. Malatra, former top aide, served as the governor’s office’s soundboard for the 2015 education agenda. Parents and teachers voiced concerns about the old bill and wanted something different.

New York City is Following Suit

Similar to Cuomo’s prior stance, longtime New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg envisioned a teacher evaluation system where students’ test results defined a teacher’s rating. But since taking office in 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio has worked to take the City into a new direction.

The Future of Teacher Evaluations

“What we’ve heard from teachers is that there’s a sweet spot where assessments are useful for informing the teaching and learning process,” Paula White, executive director of Educators for Excellence in Excellence, a teacher organization in New York, said. “Teachers invented tests” after all, she noted.

With notable advantages and disadvantages to both sides, a compromise in the middle may be suitable to not overly rely on standardized tests for teacher evaluations, but not to eliminate those tests completely.

While basing teachers’ evaluations on students’ exam performances may motivate teachers to give students their best efforts, it is difficult to determine whether test scores are the best way to evaluate more than half of a teacher’s performance when many other factors can play into a student’s score. “Our teachers and students are more than their test scores,” bill sponsor, Senator Shelley Mayer, said in a statement. “Thank you to Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and

my colleagues for changing state law to allow districts to determine the most effective ways to measure student and teacher performance.”


Sources

Eliza Shapiro, New York Joins Movement to Abandon Use of Student Tests in Teacher Evaluations, THE NEW YORK TIMES (Feb. 1, 2019.

Rick Karlin, Major education bills on tap for New York Legislature next week, TIMESUNION (Jan. 18, 2019.

Zak Failla, New York Abandons Use of Tests In Teacher Evaluations, DAILY VOICE (Feb. 3, 2019.

Photo courtesy of Washington Post.