terça-feira, 4 de setembro de 2012

Legal English: Final Case Quiz

I - Please, answer the following questions in essay form, under 200 words each (20 pts each, 100 pts total):

1) Primarily from a procedural standpoint, how is it that same-sex marriage cases out of the First and Ninth Circuits of Appeal are converging toward the USSC?

2) If the USSC decides to take up any of those cases, will it ultimately issue a ruling on same-sex marriage as a constitutional right?

3) How are the same-sex marriage cases out of the First and Ninth Circuits similar, and how are they different?

4) How would you sum up the reasoning behind the First Circuit's ruling?

5) How would you sum up the reasoning behind the Ninth Circuit's ruling?

quinta-feira, 26 de julho de 2012

Legal English: Same Sex Marriage

Extra: How will the Supreme Court rule on same-sex marriage, if — or when — they hear a case? (Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer)




DOMA - Massachusetts Case / Massachusetts v. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Superseding Brief for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
First Circuit Ruling: http://www.clearinghouse.net/chDocs/public/PB-MA-0005-0007.pdf

House Petition

CALIFORNIA - 9th Circuit

The Case - Perry v. Brown (formerly Perry v. Schwarzenegger)

Ninth Circuit Panel Ruling

PBS Newshour

Same-Sex Marriage on SCOTUSblog

Gay marriage issue reaches Court (UPDATED)

UPDATED Tuesday 7/3 at 3:55 p.m. For those who wish to start following this case, it has now been docketed as 12-13. The Court switched to new OT 12 numbers on the docket last week.


California Case - Proposition 8



terça-feira, 26 de junho de 2012

Legal English: Quiz 2 / 2012-01

I.    Mark the statements below true (T) or false (F):

1.  _____ The SEC fraud complaint against Countrywide does not charge that the company’s mortgage underwriting guidelines violated federal law.

2.   _____ The SEC action against Countrywide is within US District Court/Central District of California jurisdiction solely because the plaintiffs reside in that district.

3.   _____ The SEC seeks jail time for the three Countrywide executives being charged with fraud.

4.   _____ The Dodd-Frank Act, President Obama’s financial reform law, reduces SEC funding and enforcement authority.

5.  _____ Under Dodd-Frank, security-based swaps (SBS’s), or over-the-counter (OTC) securities, are defined as securities under SEC enforcement authority.

6.  _____ Dodd-Frank allows the SEC to bring fraud cases relating to transactions outside the US.

7.  _____ The Act repeals monetary incentives and employment protections for whistleblowers.

8.  _____ Dodd-Frank will take years to be fully implemented, as the law requires extensive rule-making by various agencies.

9.  _____ The new agencies created by Dodd-Frank will have examination and enforcement authority over all financial institutions.

10.  ____ The Dodd-Frank Act has been praised for adopting a strong version of the Volker Rule.

II.            Use words from the list below to complete the sentences that follow:


reporting / statute / conduct / bounty / complaint / practices

to mislead / to conceal / to pursue / to originate / to bring

entitled / forthcoming / lax / bankrupt / mortgage-backed


  • The executives’ (1) __________, as well as the company’s (2) __________, caused the regulator to (3) __________ a fraud claim against them.
  • Countrywide Financial was not (4) __________ with investors regarding how much risk it was taking.
  • The SEC charges that, in their (5) __________, the defendants (6) __________  from investors how dependent their business model had become on the sale of (7) __________ securities.
  • They also (8) __________ investors and analysts about how many sub-prime loans they were actually (9) __________ and how (10) __________ their lending criteria were.
  • The law now allows for a __________ (11) to be paid to whistleblowers in some cases.

III.           Choose the best options for completing the statements below:

  • Justice Kennedy (1) delivered / heard the opinion of the court in the case and, for the most part, all other justices (2) dissented / concurred.
  • It is charged that company executives (3) engaged / sustained in fraudulent (4) enforcement / disclosures designed to hide from investors how (5) prudent / exposed they were.
  • Countrywide’s business model was highly dependent on the sale of mortgages to the (6) prime / secondary market, and its (7) excessive / underwriting guidelines became extremely (8) wide / narrow.
  • All (9) ill-gotten / pursuant gains from fraudulent conduct must be (10) challenged / disgorged.

Legal English: USSC's Ruling on AZ SB1070

USSC Opinion



quarta-feira, 25 de abril de 2012

Prime Communication: The Island and Spare Parts

The Island Trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtyC3jFh6eM

A man goes on the run after he discovers that he is actually a "harvestable being", and is being kept as a source of replacement parts, along with others, in a Utopian facility.


Michael Bay


Caspian Tredwell-Owen (screenplay), Alex Kurtzman (screenplay), and 2 more credits »
VIDEO: Artificial Organ Regrowth - Science...the way forward
PBS NewsHour
REPORT AIR DATE: April 20, 2012

Tech's Next Feats? Maybe On-Demand Kidneys, Robot Sex, Cheap Solar, Lab Meat


Optimists at Silicon Valley think tank Singularity University are pushing the frontiers of human progress through innovation and emerging technologies, looking to greater longevity and better health. As part of his series on Making $ense of financial news, correspondent Paul Solman explores a future of "exponential growth."

terça-feira, 24 de abril de 2012

Legal English: Quiz 1 / 2012-01

       I.      Mark the items below true (T) or false (F) according to our class materials and discussions.

    1)      _____Rather than a freestanding statute, SB 1070 is an enactment that amended and created new sections on immigration matters to the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS).

    2)      _____In U.S. v. Arizona, the plaintiff asserts that the defendant’s intent to set its own immigration policy and enforcement scheme makes SB 1070 invalid because the federal government occupies the field on immigration.

    3)      _____Arizona argues that SB 1070 cannot be preempted by federal law because Congress has enacted legislation expressly encouraging cooperation from state and local authorities in the enforcement of immigration laws.

    4)      _____Among other enjoined provisions of SB1070 are ones criminalizing an alien’s failure to complete or carry alien registration documentation and attempt to solicit employment, in violation of federal immigration law.

    5)      _____SB1070, Section 6, gives state police the authority to arrest an alien without warrant when there is reasonable suspicion said alien has committed an offense that makes him/her removable from the United States.

    6)      _____In U.S. v. Arizona, the district judge ruled that SB 1070, Section 2(B), on mandatory status verification, is certain to impermissibly burden lawfully-present aliens and disrupt the federal immigration enforcement scheme.

    7)       _____In DHHS v. Florida, as argued before the USSC, the petitioner characterizes the health insurance market as a unique one where virtually everyone has transaction, whether they have used health care services or not.

    8)      _____Central to the respondents’ argument against the Obama health care reform is the unprecedented step by Congress of mandating the purchase of health insurance by individuals who have not used health care services or do not intend to use them in the near term.

    9)      _____The US argues that the minimum coverage provision compels individuals into commerce but is a necessary and proper exercise of power by Congress under the Commerce Clause because of the unique features of the health care market, such as the cost-shifting that occurs as a result of the uncompensated costs caused by the uninsured.

    10)  _____ The respondents argue that a proper means for Congress to achieve the goals of the reform would be to impose guaranteed issue and community rating regulations on insurers, or to subsidize health care through a tax.

      II.   Underline the best choices to complete the sentences below.

·         (1 – 2) The US argues that the individual decision to COMPEL/FORGO health insurance is one with a COMPREHENSIVE/SUBSTANTIAL impact on commerce.

·         (3 – 4) An ALLOCATION/INFLUX of state requests for status verification may IMPERMISSIBLY/LIKELY shift federal immigration enforcement priorities.

·         (5 – 6) Congressional STATUTE/FINDINGS on the matter were thought to JUSTIFY/IMPOSE the rules under discussion.

·         (7 – 8) The states contend that the regulatory WEB/REVENUE of the proposed scheme would not allow anyone to WITHDRAW/ESCAPE regulation.

·         (9 – 10)  Insurance cost is based on calculations of PREVENTIVE/ACTUARIAL risk, and the states argue that the POOL/RATES of young, healthy individuals without insurance could be covered at lower premiums.

·         (11 – 12) When deciding on a preliminary injunction, a judge must find that the balance of EQUITIES/ BURDENS tips in the favor of the moving party and that they are likely to suffer REASONABLE/ IRREPARABLE harm.

·         (13 – 14) Section 2(B) frustrates the POLICY/CONCERN of Congress for uniform rules PREEMPTING / GOVERNING the treatment of aliens.

·         (15 – 16) The requirement is found to be in CONTRAVENTION/PROSECUTION of a Supreme Court DIRECTIVE/LIKELIHOOD against subjecting aliens to police surveillance.

·         (17 – 18) Section 5 makes it a MISDEMEANOR/DETENTION for an unlawfully present alien to look for work, and Section 6 allows police to arrest without a WARRANT/PRECEDENT.

·         (19 – 20) Those provisions may lead to the ENFORCEMENT/HARASSMENT of legal residents who do not DETER/CARRY documentation.

           III.   Use words from the box to fill in the blanks below.

     to  enjoin
     to place
     to conflict
     to deter
     to  misconstrue
     to  move
     to err
     to vacate
     to  prevail
     to hinder

·         Arizona has asked the appeals court to (1)__________ the injunction granted by the lower court judge, whom it charges with (2)__________ principles of law in reaching her decision.
·         The US seeks to have SB 1070 declared null and (3)__________ on the grounds that it (4)__________ with and is preempted by federal law; the district court found that it is likely to (5)__________ on the merits.
·         While federal regulations bar unauthorized aliens from (6)__________ applying for work, Congress has also (7)__________ expressed the (8)__________ not to criminalize such conduct.  The Supreme court has also determined that aliens not be subjected to (9)__________ practices.
·         Arizona wants to set a policy of (10)__________ through enforcement in order to (11)__________ illegal immigration through SB 1070.  The US sued and (12)__________ for a preliminary injunction claiming, for example, that one provision may lead to (13)__________ arrests.  The US also argues that the Constitution does not allow for a (14)__________ of different immigration policies in different states.
·         The US also argues that SB 1070 will (15)__________ the federal government’s efforts to implement a uniform, well-balanced immigration policy by (16)__________ a counterproductive burden on federal resources.
·         The judge says she applied (17)_________ legal standards based on well established (18)__________ in deciding to (19)__________ SB 1070 provisions.  She also held a (20)__________ where the parties presented their arguments.

quarta-feira, 18 de abril de 2012

Legal English: The Case in 100 Words

Health Care Reform in 100 Words
  The constitutionality of the Obama health care reform has been challenged in several lawsuits.  Three district judges have ruled the reform constitutional.  Two others, in Florida and Virginia, have ruled it invalid.
  At issue is a mandate that individuals purchase health insurance or pay a penalty, and whether it goes beyond the authority granted the Federal Government by the Commerce Clause of the constitution.
  26 states, plaintiffs in the Florida case, also argue that the reform commandeers them into expanding Medicaid and absorbing the cost.  The judge ruled against that claim, but held the entire reform scheme unconstitutional because of the individual mandate.

OBAMACARE IN 164 words
(from http://www.healthaffairs.org/healthpolicybriefs/brief.php?brief_id=54)

Following enactment of the Affordable Care Act in March 2010, approximately 30 lawsuits were filed in federal courts by state governments, organizations, lawmakers, and private citizens challenging various aspects of the law. Most sought to overturn it on the grounds that certain provisions were unconstitutional.

The central argument in these cases has been that the law's "minimum coverage requirement," popularly called the individual health insurance mandate, exceeds the scope of the US Constitution's commerce clause. This is the constitutional provision that gives Congress the authority to regulate interstate commerce.

To date, 10 lawsuits have been decided by US District Court judges. Seven of these were to uphold the constitutionality of the health care law, and three have ruled that all or part of the law is unconstitutional. At least nine other cases have been dismissed for lack of standing or for other reasons. Of the approximately 19 cases that have been decided or dismissed, nine have been appealed to various US Courts of Appeals.


Obama's DOMA Policy
President Obama has directed the DOJ to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court.  The President has made the determination that DOMA Section 3, which bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages legal under state law for the purposes of granting federal benefits, violates the Equal Protection Clause.
In a letter communicating the policy shift to Congress, the Attorney General reasons that in jurisdictions without a binding precedent for a rational-basis standard in reviewing classifications based on sexual orientation, the government is unable to defend the law.  That is so because the President concludes that heightened scrutiny should apply.

terça-feira, 17 de abril de 2012

Obamacare Mandate argument review

The government argues that the Affordable Health Care Act _____ a fundamental and _____ problem in our health care system and our economy. Insurance has become the predominant _____ of paying for health care. People not covered by employer-provided insurance must _____to the individual market, and that market does not operate under ERISA and HIPAA regulations that _____ discrimination against people based on their medical history. That is an economic problem that _____ another economic problem.

preclude     addresses    begets  enduring    resort     means

Congress is addressing the problem directly through this Act by _____ the means by which health care is _____. The minimum _____ provision is necessary to _____ into execution those insurance reforms. What is being regulated is the method of _____ health -- the purchase of health care. That itself is economic activity with _____ effects on interstate commerce. The health care market is _____ by the fact that virtually everybody is either in that market or will be in that market, and the distinguishing _____ of that is that they cannot -- people cannot generally control when they _____ that market or what they need when they do.

coverage     substantial     regulating    carry     financing     feature     enter     characterized     purchased

It isn't _____ to say that somebody who is doing absolutely nothing about health care is _____ health care services. The respondents _____ that it is _____ the authority of Congress under Article I, under the commerce power, to _____ guaranteed-issue and community-rating reforms, to _____ a minimum coverage provision. One big difference, with respect to other markets, is that you don't have the cost shifting to other market _____. In the health care market, many billions of dollars of _____ costs are transferred directly to other market _____.

impose(2)     acknowledge     artificial     financing     participants(2)     within      uncompensated

“If congress is imposing on individuals the _____ duty to act, to go into commerce, do you not have a heavy _____ of justification?” the court asks.  The US responds that all this minimum coverage provision does is say that, instead of requiring insurance at the _____, that Congress has the authority under the commerce power and the necessary and _____ power to _____ that people have insurance in advance of the _____ because of the _____ nature of this market.

point of sale(2)     ensure     unique     affirmative    proper     burden

The food market, while it shares that _____ that everybody's in it, is not a market in which your participation is often _____ and often _____. That is a _____ basis for distinguishing this from other situations, a basis which shows that this is not going _____ what the system of _____ powers allows the government to do.  Here Congress is regulating _____ commerce, economic activity that is already going on, people's participation in the health care market, and is regulating to deal with _____ effects of _____ commerce.

involuntary     principled     beyond     trait    enumerated     existing(3)     unpredictable

The principle that the US is _____ here under the Commerce Clause does not take the _____ of justifying the _____ of commerce. This is not a _____ mandate. This is a law that _____ the method of paying for a service that the _____ of people to whom it _____ are consuming.

purchase    class     advocating    step    applies     regulates     creation

The _____ here that Congress has chosen, the minimum coverage provision, is one that regulates economic activity, _____ your _____ in the health care market, with _____ effects on interstate commerce. To the _____ that we are looking at the _____ scheme, it is regulating commerce that already exists out there. And the _____ in which that regulation is made effective here, the minimum coverage provision, is a regulation of the way in which people _____, the method of their payment in the health care market.

transaction     means(2)    substantial     participate     comprehensive     namely    extent

The states argue that the mandate represents an _____ effort by Congress to _____ individuals to _____ commerce in order to better regulate commerce, a far _____ power than _____ allowed under the Commerce Clause.
unprecedented    that    enter     compel   greater

When Congress passed the _____, it did make _____ about why it thought it could regulate the commerce here, and it _____ the mandate as a regulation of the economic decision to _____ the purchase of health insurance. That is a theory without any _____ principle. If you regulate the _____, you regulate commerce, that's _____ Congress's commerce power.
forgo     findings    statute    justified    point of sale    within     limiting

Most of the discussion so far has _____ on the _____ that the only thing that's at issue here is emergency room visits, and the only thing that's being _____ is catastrophic care _____. But, as the Chief Justice _____ earlier, a lot of the insurance that's being covered is for ordinary _____ care, ordinary office visits, and those are the kinds of things that _____ can predict.

imposed     proceeded    one     coverage     preventive     assumption    indicated

If Congress tried to _____ at the point of sale, the one group that it wouldn't _____ at all are the people who don't want to _____ health insurance and also have no plans of using health care services in the _____. And Congress very much wanted to ­­­­­_____ those people. Those people are _____ the golden geese that pay for the entire _____ of the premium.
near term     essentially     regulate    purchase     lowering     capture(2)

Somebody who is not in the insurance market is sort of _____ as an _____ risk. I mean, we could look at the people not in the insurance market, and what we'd find is that they're relatively young, relatively healthy, and they would have a certain _____ of _____ risks that would _____ lead to lower premiums. One of the things, Congress _____ to accomplish here was to force individuals into the insurance market to _____ those that are already in it to lower the _____.
pool     rates    irrelevant     actually     sought     actuarial(2)    subsidize

The court commented that, if Congress could see this as a problem, when we need to have a group that will _____ the ones who are going to get the _____, it seems to me you're saying the only way that could be done is if the government does it itself; it can't _____ the private market, it can't _____ the private insurers. The states replied that the most _____ way to regulate would be to figure out what amount of _____ to the insurance industry is necessary to pay for guaranteed issue and community rating. And once we calculate the amount of that _____, we could have a tax that's spread generally through everybody to raise the _____ to pay for that _____.
benefits     subsidize   revenue     straightforward      subsidy(3)     involve(2)

Lots of people in Manhattan, for example, don't have car insurance because they don't have cars. And so they have the option of _____ from that market. It's not a _____ imposition from the government, where there is no way to get _____ of the regulatory _____. The question that's a _____ question for this Court, though, is _____ or not, for the first time ever in our history, Congress also has the power to _____ people into commerce, because that would be a very efficient way of doing things for purposes of Congress's _____ regulation of that market.
web     withdrawing      proper     compel      optimal     outside     direct    whether

And with _____to the health insurance market that's designed to have payment in the health care market, everybody is not in the market. And that's the _____ of the _____, and that's the problem Congress is trying to solve. And if it tried to solve it through _____, we wouldn't be here; but, it's trying to solve it in a way that nobody has ever tried to solve an economic problem before, which is saying, you know, it would be so much more efficient if you were just _____ this market.

JUSTICE KENNEDY: But they are in the market in the sense that they are _____ a risk that the market must _____ for.
MR. CLEMENT: Well, Justice Kennedy, I don't think that's right, certainly in any way that distinguishes this from any other context. When I'm sitting in my house deciding I'm not going to buy a car, I am causing the labor market in Detroit to go south.
in      respect    account      premise    incentives     creating     statute