constitution

Praying hands resting on a book.

Williamson v. Brevard County

William Burkett*

In Williamson v. Brevard County, the Eleventh Circuit held that the commissioners of Brevard County unconstitutionally exercised their unfettered discretion to select opening invocation speakers based on religion. In addition, the court clarified requirements for cities that wish to open city council meetings or legislative sessions with sectarian prayer.

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HOW I STOPPED WORRYING AND LEARNED TO LOVE THE DORMANT COMMERCE CLAUSE

Robert J. Sewell

Photo Credit: https://verdict.justia.com/2015/05/20/is-the-dormant-commerce-clause-a-judicial-fraud

During its recent term, the Supreme Court decided Tennessee Wine & Spirit Retailers Ass’n v. Thomas, a case pitting the Commerce Clause, or rather the Dormant Commerce Clause Doctrine (“DCCD”), against Section 2 of the Twenty-first Amendment.  In a 7-2 decision, the Court held that the DCCD’s prohibition of state-level protectionist legislation trumped the Twenty-first Amendment’s grant of seemingly plenary authority over alcohol sales.  The Court’s opinion indicates, much to the chagrin of law students and bar examinees, that the DCCD remains an enduring part of the United States Constitution’s structure.

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Supreme Court Will Hear Second Amendment Case for the First Time in a Decade

Sarah Baldwin*

Photo Credit: https://cornellsun.com/2018/04/22/benitez-justifying-the-second-amendment/

On January 22, 2019, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to hear its first Second Amendment case in nearly a decade.  Prior to this decision to grant cert, the Supreme Court last heard cases relating to an individual’s right to own a firearm in 2010 and 2008, choosing to leave many firearm issues to the states.  In the 2008 decision, District of Columbia v. Heller, the Court held the District of Columbia’s prohibition on the possession of handguns in the home violated the Second Amendment because the Amendment guarantees the right to possess and carry firearms for the purpose of self-defense.  In the 2010 decision, McDonald v. City of Chicago, the Court incorporated the Second Amendment right to bear arms for the purpose of self-defense into the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, making the Second Amendment applicable to the states.

The case set for the Court’s review, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York, concerns Title 38, Chapter Five, Section 23 of the Rules of the City of New York.  This New York statutory provision prohibits handgun owners from removing their weapon from the address specified on their license except for a purpose allowed under the statute, such as transporting the gun to an approved shooting range.

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Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals seal.

Doe v. Valencia College

Sarah Baldwin*

Photo Credit: https://wlflegalpulse.com/2015/10/01/eleventh-circuit-has-opportunity-in-u-s-v-clay-to-reshape-prosecutors-courts-approach-on-criminal-intent/

On September 13, 2018, the Eleventh Circuit concluded that the district court did not err in holding that Valencia College did not violate Jeffery Koeppel’s statutory or constitutional rights when it suspended him for his conduct towards another student.  During the summer of 2014 Koeppel and a female student, whom the court referred to as Jane Roe, were assigned to be biology lab partners at Valencia College, a public university in Florida.  As the semester went on, Koeppel began to contact Roe outside of class and eventually told her he was attracted to her.  Roe told Koeppel she was not interested and she was already in a relationship.  Roe and Koeppel finished the summer semester with no further issues.

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