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Category Archives: Legal Research

A Conservative Group’s Closed-Door ‘Training’ of Judicial Clerks Draws Concern

The New York Times: “The closed-door “training academy” was aimed at a select group: recent law school graduates who had secured prestigious clerkships with federal judges. It was organized by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative group that has played a leading role in moving the courts to the right, and it had some unusual requirements. “Generous donors,” the application materials said, were making “a significant financial investment in each and every attendee.” In exchange, the future law clerks would be required to promise to keep the program’s teaching materials secret and pledge not to use what they learned “for any purpose contrary to the mission or interest of the Heritage Foundation.” The conservative legal movement has made bold moves before, and it has long cultivated law students and young lawyers, partly to ensure a deep bench of potential judicial nominees. The Heritage Foundation, along with the Federalist Society, helped compile the lists of potential Supreme Court nominees from which President Trump chose his two appointees, Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh. The two groups also helped identify many of the scores of Mr. Trump’s appointees to the lower federal courts. But legal experts said the effort by Heritage to train and influence law clerks raised serious ethical questions and could undermine the duties the clerks have to the justice system and to the judges they will serve.

  • “Law clerks are not supposed to be part of a cohort of secretly financed and trained partisans of an organization that describes itself on its own web page as ‘the bastion of the American conservative movement,’” said Pamela S. Karlan, a law professor at Stanford. “The idea that clerks will be trained to elevate the Heritage Foundation’s views, or the views of judges handpicked by the foundation, perverts the very idea of a clerkship.”…

SEC Launches New Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology

“The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today announced the launch of the agency’s Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (FinHub). The FinHub will serve as a resource for public engagement on the SEC’s FinTech-related issues and initiatives, such as distributed ledger technology (including digital assets), automated investment advice, digital marketplace financing, and artificial intelligence/machine learning. The FinHub… Continue Reading

USDA’s enforcement of animal welfare laws plummeted in 2018

Washington Post: “Two years ago, the Agriculture Department issued 192 written warnings to breeders, exhibitors and research labs that allegedly violated animal welfare laws, and the agency filed official complaints against 23, according to agency data. This year, those figures plummeted: The department had issued 39 warnings in the first three-quarters of fiscal 2018, and… Continue Reading

FOIA Suits Filed by Nonprofit/Advocacy Groups Double Under Trump

“Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suits filed by nonprofit and advocacy organizations seeking access to federal government records have more than doubled since President Trump assumed office. This sudden burst in FOIA activity is a marked departure from the slower rise that had prevailed during much of the previous two presidential administrations. In FY 2001,… Continue Reading

Felony Disenfranchisement Reforms in 23 States Restored Voting Rights to 1.4 Million People

Sentencing Project: “As Florida voters consider an Election Day initiative to end the state’s lifetime ban on voting for citizens with a felony record, a new report from The Sentencing Project finds that since 1997 changes to state felony disenfranchisement laws across the country have restored voting rights to 1.4 million people. Expanding the Vote:… Continue Reading

Records Show DHS Ignored Privacy, First Amendment Threats of Media Monitoring Program

“EPIC has obtained records concerning “Media Monitoring Services,” a controversial DHS project to track journalists, news outlets, and social media accounts. The records, released in EPIC’s FOIA lawsuit against the federal agency, reveal that the DHS bypassed the agency’s own privacy officials and ignored the privacy and First Amendment implications of monitoring the coverage by… Continue Reading

Legal Analysis: There’s a Template for that!

White, Nancy J., Legal Analysis: There’s a Template for that! (September 12, 2018). ALSB Journal of Business Law & Ethics Pedagogy, Volume 2, Forthcoming . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3248471 “Legal analysis is often one of the more difficult skills to teach undergraduate and first-year law students. This skill, related to what is called “legal frame… Continue Reading

Apple Launches Portal for U.S. Users to Download Their Data

The Verge: “Starting on Wednesday [October 17, 2018], Apple will allow US users to download all of their data from the company, following a GDPR-mandated feature for EU citizens that launched in May. The download tool is accessible from the company’s Data and Privacy page, and it encompasses device-syncing data like iCloud bookmarks as well… Continue Reading

Saving Tweets on Internet Archive – Save Page Now

The Verge: “…Mark Graham – Director, Internet Archive Wayback Machine – …So we archive some tweets — not all of them and not even nearly most of them — but we do archive tens of millions of tweets every week, and we archive them from a variety of sources. For example, there’s a service on… Continue Reading

FTC is Making Consumer Complaint Data More Accessible

“The Federal Trade Commission hears from millions of consumers each year about fraud, identity theft, and other problems, allowing us to warn other consumers about scams they should watch out for, while also providing the agency with an important source of information to support our enforcement actions. Starting today, the FTC will be making this… Continue Reading

Twitter releases large data archive of potentially state-backed information operations

Twitter news release on Election Integrity: “Data archive In line with our principles of transparency and to improve public understanding of alleged foreign influence campaigns, Twitter is making publicly available archives of Tweets and media that we believe resulted from potentially state-backed information operations on our service…While this dataset is of a size that a… Continue Reading

FBI Releases Article on Defending Against Payroll Phishing Scams

US-CERT: “The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has released an article on building a digital defense against phishing scams targeting electronically deposited paychecks. In these schemes, scammers use phishing emails to direct employees to fraudulent websites and collect their work credentials. Scammers then use victims’ credentials to replace legitimate direct deposit information with their own… Continue Reading