Battle at the Border: National Northern Border Counternarcotics Drug Strategy

By Caroline Murray, Albany Government Law Review

I. Introduction

“It’s our dirty little secret,” said Franklin County District Attorney Derek P. Champagne.[1]  He was speaking of the U.S.- Canadian border drug trafficking issue.[2]  At the time of his statement, Mr. Champagne was prosecuting the drug bust of smuggler, Lee Marlowe, who was apprehended after an alert went out, “for a vehicle from the border with a load of marijuana.”[3] Congressman Bill Owens claimed this bust was the result of winning House approval of the Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy Act one-month prior.[4]  Senator Charles Schumer, pushed the bill through the Senate and President Obama signed it into law on January 4, 2011.[5] Continue reading “Battle at the Border: National Northern Border Counternarcotics Drug Strategy”

The Obama Administration Rescinds Old Regulations Affecting Provider Conscience Laws

By Melissa Dizon, Albany Government Law Review Class of 2011

Introduction

On February 18, 2011 the United States Department of Health and Human Services announced its new rule regarding health care and conscience clauses.[1]  The new rule replaces a controversial rule that the Bush Administration issued in 2008, during George W. Bush’s  last days in office.[2]  The new rule ensures that the law protects health care providers who object to performing or assisting an abortion, while eliminating confusion of the previous rule that the definition of abortion also included contraception.[3]  This is undoubtedly a point for the pro-choice faction, but one can imagine it will spark the conscience clause debate anew.

Continue reading “The Obama Administration Rescinds Old Regulations Affecting Provider Conscience Laws”

The Fate of the Marital Union: Is DOMA Approaching Its Last Day?

Written by Lisa Alexander, Public Relations Chair, Albany Government Law Review

Introduction

DOMA’s days might be numbered.  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court.[1] While the DOJ will continue to appear in litigation and “represent the interests of the United States,”[2] it will no longer argue that Section 3 of DOMA is constitutional as it is applied to same-sex couples.[3] This decision has sparked heated debate and a flurry of proposed legislation.  Though riddled with controversy, the facts support that the executive made an appropriate, and arguably necessary, decision.

A Brief History of DOMA

The Defense of Marriage Act was enacted in 1996.  The crux of the current controversy is Section 3, which defines marriage as a “legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word “spouse” refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”[4] DOMA was enacted, at least in part, as a response to Hawaii’s Supreme Court decision Baehr v. Lewin.[5] In Baehr, the court found that while the applicant same-sex couples did not have a fundamental right to marry pursuant to the right to privacy, they could argue their equal protection theory on remand.[6] The possibility that homosexual men and women might attain a marriage license in Hawaii and that their home states would have to recognize the unions’ legality under the Full Faith and Credit Clause was too much for Congress to bear. DOMA easily passed through both the House and Senate and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.[7]

The legislative record illustrates Congress’ judgments about the definition of marriage and the morality behind it.  Some members of Congress firmly believed that marriage could only be between a man and a woman.  For instance, Representative Barr remarked that “[M]arriage throughout the entire history of not only our civilization but Western civilization has meant the legal union between one man and one woman.”[8] Others emphasized that the homosexual marriage question was a moral one, and that such marriages were morally wrong.  Representative Hoke remarked:

One of the things that was said during the debate that I think is probably the most preposterous . . .  is that Congress has no business legislating morality . . . The fact is that we legislate morality on a daily basis. It is through the law that we as a nation express the morals and the moral sensibilities of the United States, and what is morality except to decide what is right and what is wrong? That is what morality is all about.[9]

Continue reading “The Fate of the Marital Union: Is DOMA Approaching Its Last Day?”

A Moot Point: Final Thoughts on the 2008 Election Symposium

Robert Magee, Staff Writer, RMagee@albanylaw.edu

     Today, Albany Law School was host to the Election 2008 Symposium. It was the product of collaboration between no fewer than 11 of Albany Law School’s politically oriented student groups, from the OUTLaws to the ALS Republicans, brought together by the Albany Government Law Review’s own Ali Chaudry.  The symposium’s presence, ensconced in the third floor of a law school situated in the capital of state in which participation in presidential politics has been a futile act for as long as most of us can remember was a poetic exercise in democratic innovation.

     The premise of the symposium was that local politicos would stand in for the McCain and Obama campaigns to talk with the local polity about The Issues as a means of facilitating a discussion about who to vote for next Tuesday or (more likely) the fleshing out of our existing decision. 

     The opportunity to do so is a rare one in a state like New York which has been spared (or denied) down and dirty presidential politicking.  Those few occasions in which the national campaigns appear in the state occur in sterile and predictable settings.1  Even this most momentous, long, tumultuous presidential election has pitched and heaved just beyond New York’s boarders in Pennsylvania2 or, during the primaries, New Hampshire.3

      New York’s persona non grata status is conferred upon it by the Electoral College.  The college itself is the product of compromise.  As a political invention, it is the product of the Constitutional Convention’s foundational controversy over whether population or mere statehood should determine representative power in the national government.4  As a compromise to reality it was an alternative to the “extreme inconveniency [and] the considerable expense, of drawing together men from all the States for the single purpose of electing the Chief Magistrate.”5  To further confuse its purpose, the Electoral College was originally proposed on June 1, 1787 by James Wilson of Pennsylvania as a plan to divide states into districts which would appoint an elector to vote for the President as a means of cutting out state participation in presidential elections altogether.6 Continue reading “A Moot Point: Final Thoughts on the 2008 Election Symposium”