Volume V, Issue 2 Published!

June 2nd, 2014 No comments

WJLERCOVER
The Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race is proud to announce that Volume V, Issue II is now available! Click the link, read, and enjoy!

 

Will Increased Crude Oil Rail Transportation Affect Rail Safety?

September 1st, 2014 No comments

By: Caitlin Conk

Blog Category: Economics of Environmental Regulation

The safety of rail transportation of crude oil is a hot topic in California, as it will soon see a surge in the number of trains carrying crude oil into the state from North Dakota and Canada. The California Senate Environmental Quality Committee and Natural Resources Committee has raised significant questions regarding the best way to regulate oil by rail in California, how to foster inter-agency cooperation and ensure adequate emergency response in cases of accidents.

In just two years, California has seen a 4 million barrels of oil by rail increase, with a projection of up to 150 million barrels by 2016, according to Energy Commission data. While the increase is economically favoring, it comes with serious concerns of regulations with regards to railroad operations and safety. Although California’s Public Utilities Commission is responsible for regulating railroad safety, the Federal Railroad Safety Act preempts state law raising questions as to whether the existing federal regulations are stringent enough and what states can do to protect public health and the environment.

Source:

Jayni Foley Hein, As oil by rail gains momentum, is California on track to protect human health and the environment?, The Berkeley Blog, http://blogs.berkeley.edu/2014/03/31/as-oil-by-rail-gains-momentum-is-california-on-track-to-protect-human-health-and-the-environment.

Statelessness in the Dominican Republic and What It Says About International Law

August 25th, 2014 No comments

By: C. Nicholas Konetski 

Blog Category: International Law & Race

For most Americans, proving their citizenship is not a difficult task. For example, if I want to prove that I am a U.S. citizen, I can simply show my birth certificate or passport. If I cannot find either of these documents, I can obtain a certified copy from the appropriate agency. This task, however, would be a lot harder if the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that required these agencies to deny my request for a copy and inform me that those documents should never have been issued to me in the first place. A similar situation is essentially what is happening to thousands of Haitians with Dominican citizenship.

As a result of a recent decision by the highest court in the Dominican Republic, over 200,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent could lose their citizenship. The Court’s ruling is based on the claim that their birth certificates are invalid due to “irregular circumstances.” The background for this decision dates back almost 100 years, during a time when thousands of Haitians migrated to the Dominican to work in the sugar industry. Until recently, birthright citizenship, or jus soli, was followed by the Dominican government. Under jus soli, any child born to a Haitian migrant worker was automatically a citizen of the Dominican Republic.

Over the next decade, Haitians enjoyed both citizenship and work. Naturally, they developed many ties to the Dominican Republic. Towards the end of the 20th century, the sugar industry came to a halt, leaving thousands of Haitians without employment. This surplus of idle workers sparked a feeling of animosity among the Dominican people towards the Haitian race. In response to these feelings, the Dominican government informally began denying citizenship to Haitians that were born there and deportations began to rise. A few years later, in 2007 and in 2010, the government reformed its constitution to no longer accept birthright citizenship. Even worse for the Haitian migrants, the government decided to apply these reforms retroactively. This meant that after 1929, any citizen who obtained their citizenship through jus soli was not actually a citizen because their birth certificate was given under “irregular circumstances.”

The effects of these constitutional reforms and the recent high court decision are being felt by thousands of Haitians who have now become stateless. Most of these people, having spent their whole life in the Dominican Republic, have never even been to Haiti and are unable to obtain Haitian citizenship. Furthermore, any child born during this time is unable to be registered and therefore may not have even have documentation to prove their existence.

The decisions of the Dominican government have been heavily criticized on an international level. The Inter-American Commission has had these issues brought to its attention and has spoken out against the government’s actions. In addition, the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Refugees, as well as the U.S. Department of State, have both denounced the unjust treatment of these Haitians. Still, nothing has been done to effectively solve the problem.

The injustices that are occurring in the Dominican are just another example of the shortcomings of International law. The right to nationality, which has seemingly been lost for these Haitians, is one that is guaranteed by the Inter-American Convention. Unfortunately, because of under-funding and the lack of an enforcement mechanism, the Inter-American System cannot adequately protect that right. Furthermore, international cases and complaints often move too slowly to evoke change, which has been a problem in some of the cases against the Dominican government. The various treaty bodies within the UN can issue reports and comments, but while they are persuasive, they are not binding.

Thus, there is a problem not only with the situation in the Dominican Republic, but also with the ability of the international community to effectively respond to these problems. In order to put an end to the racial and ethnic discrimination by governments throughout the world, international law, as well the organizations that have a duty to uphold it must be strengthened.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. 

Sources:

Veronica Aragón, Statelessness and the Right to Nationality, 19 Sw. J. Int’l Law 341 (2013).

Julia Harrington Reddy, Don’t be Fooled by the Dominican Republic’s Judicial Laundering of Racism, Open Society Justice Initiative (Mar. 11, 2014), available at http://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/voices/dont-be-fooled-dominican-republicsjudicial-laundering-racism.

Natalia Lippmann Mazzaglia & Pedro F. Marcelino, Migratory Policy as an Exclusionary Tool: The Case of Haitians in the Dominican Republic, 3 Laws 163 (2014).

Mark Kurlansky, Dominican Republic Makes Racism the Law, Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines (Jan. 6, 2014), available at http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/dominican_republic_makes_racism_the_law_20140106.

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Domestic Violence: An Issue Affecting All Communities

August 18th, 2014 No comments

By: Sarah Phillips

Blog Category: Domestic Violence Issues and the Law, Economics, & Race 

Domestic violence is an issue no matter what race or economic class an offender is placed in.   There is a myth that domestic violence only occurs in non-white communities and lower-class levels.  This is not the case.  In fact, domestic violence occurs all levels of people with no bias towards their race or economic level.   The difference between the different sets of communities is the help that they seek.  While affluent more middle to upper-class individuals have the means to find private help, lower class individuals are more likely to utilize the public agencies and police available to the public at large.   The availability of resources and subsequent handling of the circumstances surrounding the domestic violence allows for the public to come to wrong conclusion that domestic violence only affects those that are in lower-class communities and non-white.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.  

Source:

Boston University, BUPD Online, Domestic Violence Myths (Mar. 30, 2014 12:17PM), available at https://www.bu.edu/police/prevention/domestic_violence_myth.htm.

The Influence of Race and Religion on Voting Trends in the United States

August 11th, 2014 No comments

By: Olivia Italiano

Blog Category: Religion & Race

Over the past several decades, the United States has seen significant cultural and societal shift of increased racial and ethnic diversity, as well as a stark divide of moral and religious values.  In the political sphere, Democrat and Republican supporters are drastically more divided by religious beliefs, ideological orientations, and race than in the past.  Since the 1960s, the racial and ethnic population of the United States has changed drastically, resulting in more non-white voters, including African American, Asian American, and Hispanic voters.

Despite significant improvement in race relations over the last 50 years, American society continues to reflect racial inequality with respect to economic, educational, and employment opportunities. For example, minorities overwhelmingly subjected to inferior housing, higher unemployment rates, and dramatically lower incomes than white Americans.  Unfortunately, minority voters are far more likely to experience prejudice and discrimination on behalf of public and private bureaucracies.

Differing life experiences and disproportionate opportunities are demonstrated through contrasting views on political issues, party identification, and voting behavior.  Morality based issues including abortion and same-sex marriage are frequently rooted in deeply held religious beliefs.  However, religion is not the sole or even primary factor that racial and minority groups rely on when voting.  For example, in the 2012 Presidential Election, the majority of Latino registered voters favored Obama, and stated that they identify with or lean towards the Democratic Party, regardless of their religious beliefs.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. 

Sources:

Alan I. Abramowitz, How Race and Religion Have Polarized American Voters, (Jan. 20, 2014), available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/01/20/how-race-and-religion-have-polarized-american-voters.

Additional Factors: Gender, Age, Religion, Race, and Ethnicity, available at https://www.boundless.com/political-science/political-participation-and-voting/why-people-vote/additional-factors-gender-age-religion-race-and-ethnicity.

Latinos, Religion, and Campaign 2012, (Oct. 12, 2012), available at http://www.pewforum.org/2012/10/18/latinos-religion-and-campaign-2012.

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Environmental Regulations Impact on the Bottom Line

August 4th, 2014 No comments

By: Jaclyn Crittenden

Blog Category: Economics of Environmental Regulation
 
Environmental regulations, through compliance costs, cause businesses to raise prices in order to make up for the decrease in their bottom lines. Regulations, such as those promulgated by the EPA, have cost as much as $45 billion over the past 10 years. However, these regulations also contributed to the economy as much as $640 billion. A complete cost-benefit analysis includes more than mere monetary considerations; it also focuses on social policies. While many economic and societal benefits outweigh the costs associated with environmental regulation compliance, this blog only briefly discusses two.

Former Senator Arlen Specter once noted that “[t]here’s nothing more important than our good health – that’s our principal capital asset.” There is no denying that a person’s well-being improves when they are not as heavily exposed to ozone and particle pollutants, such as those that environmental regulations seek to reduce. Such pollutants include gasoline vapors, chemical solvents, and combustion products caused by various fuels. These are often byproducts of large industrial facility processes, gas stations, vehicle exhaust, electric utilities, and small businesses such as dry cleaners, just to name a few. Billions in healthcare costs are spent every year on treatment of pollutant-related illnesses, such as respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, reproductive and developmental ailments, cancer, strokes, diabetes, and many other illnesses that cause premature deaths.  Additionally, a healthier population is a more productive population – a more productive population can earn more money that they can then spend on consumer products in the marketplace rather than medical bills.

Moreover, the economy is stimulated when new environmental compliance jobs are created due to new regulations. One result of environmental regulation is that companies must employ more people to clean up pollution, manage prevention and abatement efforts, and devise new, more environmentally friendly, production processes. While many businesses dislike eco-friendly regulations because they take away from their bottom lines, companies’ failure to respond to regulations by creating these new jobs risk a negative impact on their profit. This is because unemployment benefits are funded heavily through taxes assessed on businesses. So, when the unemployment rate is high, companies pay higher taxes, which then reduces their net-earnings.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.  

Sources:

Am. Lung Ass’n, Particle Pollution, available at  http://www.stateoftheair.org/2013/health-risks/health-risks-particle.html#whatis (last visited March 13, 2014).

Jeff Spross, New Study: The Economic Benefits of EPA Regulations Massively Outweigh the Costs (May 3, 2013, 11:00 AM), available at http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/05/03/1955891/new-omb-study-the-economic-benefits-of-epa-regulations-massively-outweigh-the-costs.

Stephen D. Simpson, The Cost of Unemployment to the Economy (Aug. 9, 2011), available at http://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0811/the-cost-of-unemployment-to-the-economy.aspx.

Racism In The International Criminal Court

July 28th, 2014 No comments

By: Jason Staloski

Blog Category: International Law & Race

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is located in the Netherlands and was established in 2002. The ICC was created in order to prosecute individuals charged with either genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, or crimes of aggression. The ICC currently has jurisdiction over 122 states where these crimes occur. Recently, the African Union (AU) has levied allegations against the ICC claiming that the institution is racially discriminatory in deciding which cases to prosecute.

To support their allegation of racism, the AU notes that every prosecution pursued by the ICC originated from a country located in Africa. At the most recent AU Summit, the member nations of the AU unanimously agreed that a sitting head of state in a member nation of the AU should be hauled in front of ICC in response to William Ruto, the sitting Deputy President of Kenya, being forced to attend his trial in front of the ICC regarding the pending crimes against humanity charges. While the AU has not threatened to withdraw from ICC jurisdiction, the possibility has been discussed by AU nations.

Hailemariam Desalegn, chairperson of the African Union and Ethiopian President, has stated that, “The process [of the ICC selecting who to prosecute] has degenerated into some kind of race hunting.[1]” The ICC has defended itself by stating that a majority of its member nations come from Africa, therefore, it is only logical that there would be more cases arising from AU nations. The ICC also defended itself by indicating that of the 8 current investigations regarding AU nations, four of the ICC was requested by that state itself to investigate.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. 

Sources: 

Richard Lough, African Union accuses ICC prosecutor of bias, Reuters (Apr. 5 2014), available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/30/ozatp-africa-icc-idAFJOE70T01R20110130.

Jacey Fortin, African Union Countries Rally Around Kenyan President, But Won’t Withdraw From The ICC, International Business Times (Apr. 5, 2014), available at http://www.ibtimes.com/african-union-countries-rally-around-kenyan-president-wont-withdraw-icc-1423572.

Al Mariam, The International Criminal Court on an African Safari?, Salon, (Apr. 5, 2014), available at http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/2013/09/29/the_international_criminal_court_on_an_african_safari.