Law Quarterly

The Case For Killer Rhymes

Nov
28

Rap and hip-hop’s association with violent and graphic images has always been contentious. Geraldo Rivera’s now-infamous comment “Hip-Hop has done more damage to black and brown people than racism in the last 10 years” is a clear indication of the thoughts of some towards these genres of music(1).

In a 1996 study performed by Carrie Fried at Indiana University, the lyrics of a song were presented to two groups of subjects as excerpts from a rap song and then as excerpts from a country song(2). When presented as a rap, subjects argued the lyrics were objectionable and merited some form of government regulation. When told excerpts were taken from a country song, the reception was less critical. Fried also noted the same phenomenon was apparent when subjects were told the lyrics were from a black singer versus a white singer.

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The Legality of a Sex Offender’s Facebook

Nov
28

Lester Packingham, a 21 year old college student, was convicted of taking “indecent liberties” with a minor in 2002. In line with North Carolina Law, he served a sentence of 10-12 months and then a 24 month supervision period upon release (1). Flash forward to 2010, where he posted a status on his Facebook that was thanking God in reference to a parking ticket that he was able to get dismissed. Despite the fact that his conviction had no special stipulations, he was arrested after posting that status due to North Carolina’s sex offender laws that prohibit previously convicted offenders from accessing social media websites altogether. Packingham argued that it violated his First Amendment rights. /Packingham v. North Carolina/ (2017) made its way to the Supreme Court and established important precedents for future sex offender cases, as well as questioned the validity of previous cases in dealing with sex offenses. It also brings up a much larger question: to what extent should previous sex offenses limit the rights of those that have been released?

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Near Perfect Surveillance

Nov
28

On June 22, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States decided the case of /Carpenter v. United States/. The issue at hand was whether the government has permission to obtain cell phone data—specifically location data—from a third-party provider in the course of a criminal investigation without obtaining a warrant (1). The Court ruled in favor of the petitioner, Timothy Carpenter, ruling that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when the government gained access to his cell phone location data without a warrant. The ruling established for the first time that the government, in order to obtain cell phone location records from a third party, must act under a warrant based upon probable cause. Widely seen as a landmark ruling, the Court’s decision in /Carpenter/ provided a needed update to its interpretation of the Fourth Amendment and the right to privacy in the digital age.

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The Value and Role of Supreme Court Dissents

Sep
27

In a time in American political and legal life, when the deep and often long-lasting impact of the Supreme Court is at the nexus of contentious, and even vitriolic, debate over core Constitutional issues, the nature and history of Supreme Court dissents is worthy of consideration. Dissenting opinions can be minority views that, through the power of their reasoning and arguments, lay the groundwork for later majority opinions and new legal precedent. Historically, this has given rise to the best and most influential dissents (more…)