- Professor Stephanos Bibas, Pennsylvania Law
- Professor John Rappaport, Chicago Law
Under Attorney Generals Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, the Department of Justice entered into a number of consent decrees with local police departments to change certain police practices. Given the ongoing review of these decrees, how will the federal government’s approach to police practices change during Jeff Sessions’ tenure as Attorney General? What alternative methods might the DOJ employ or encourage states and municipalities to employ to help remedy problematic police practices?
In June 2013, documents leaked by Edward Snowden sparked widespread debate about secret government surveillance of Americans. Just over a year later, the shooting of Michael Brown, a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, set off protests and triggered concern about militarization of law enforcement and discriminatory policing. In Unwarranted, Barry Friedman argues that these two seemingly disparate events are connected―and that the problem is not so much the policing agencies as it is the rest of us. We allow these agencies to operate in secret and to decide how to police us, rather than calling the shots ourselves. And the courts, which we depended upon to supervise policing, have let us down entirely.
The book's author, Professor Barry Friedman, the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, Professor Orin Kerr the Fred C. Stevenson Research Professor of Law at The George Washington University Law School, and John Malcolm, Director and Senior Legal Fellow at the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies for the Heritage Foundation, joined us to discuss this new book.
In Packingham v. North Carolina, the Supreme Court will decide whether the First Amendment bars a state from banning citizens from accessing social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. A North Carolina state makes it a felony for any person on the state's registry of former sex offenders to "access" a wide array of websites--including Facebook, YouTube, and nytimes.com--that enable communications among users if the site is known to allow minors to have accounts. The statute does not require the state to prove the defendant has actually had contact with a minor, intended to do so, or accessed a website for any illicit or improper purpose. Lester Packingham was convicted of violating the law for a Facebook post in which he celebrated the dismissal of a traffic ticket, declaring "God is Good!" Packingham and his supporters contend that law amounts to a sweeping, overbroad, and vague ban on protected speech untailored to any legitimate interest and unjustified by any compelling need.
On February 21, the Supreme Court will hear argument in Hernandez v. Mesa. In July of 2010, a 15-year-old adolescent named Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca and his friends were playing along a concrete structure on the border of the U.S. and Mexico. When Jesus Mesa, Jr., a U.S. Border Patrol Agent arrived, he detained one of the youths on the border, and shot and killed Hernandez, who was hiding behind a pillar of the Paso Del Norte Bridge on the Mexican side of the border. Hernandez’s parents sued Agent Mesa under the Fourth and Fifth Amendment for the use of unlawful and disproportionate force. Agent Mesa argued that the Fourth and Fifth Amendments did not apply because Hernandez was not a U.S. citizen. The District Court found for Agent Mesa, while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that the Fifth Amendment Protections against deadly force applied but the Fourth Amendment did not, and that Agent Mesa should not receive qualified immunity.
Professor Andrew Kent of Fordham University School of Law and Professor Stephen I. Vladeck of UT Austin Law School joined us to examine the case and its implications for extraterritorial application of the Bill of Rights and for qualified immunity.