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There is no explicit right to privacy set out in the United States Constitution.  It is referred to in the 4th Amendment with the language "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects…”. [i]   The Fifth Amendment includes the right not to be a “witness against himself” [ii] and the 14th Amendment has the due process clause [iii] .  There are some federal and state laws protecting privacy in certain circumstances, but no overall right to privacy.    In three cases the Supreme Court developed a theory of a right to privacy.  In Griswold v. Connecticut [iv] the court held that a right to privacy could ...
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Climate Change Blog 27 Facts on the Ground: Extreme weather, it appears, will always lead off this Blog. It is what climate models have predicted for years, and the models predict more to come. Only worse. California again was hit with deadly, costly and disruptive fires. The Tick Fire burned over 4,300 acres and was one of a dozen fires in the state propelled by strong winds. Schools were closed in the Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys and 50,000 people evacuated in Los Angeles County where the fire spread through canyons north of Los Angeles, jumping a freeway and threatening thousands of homes. 16,000 acres of Sonoma County were engulfed by the ...
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Voting Rights Part 4

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In the past I have discussed voting rights and the attempts by some to limit or restrict certain groups’ right to vote.  I have written about voter purges, voter ID laws and the reduction in the number of polling places.  You won’t be surprised to hear that the voter purges are still going strong. Wisconsin has been ordered by a judge to remove approximately 234,000 voters from the voting registration rolls. [i]   The Wisconsin Election Commission sent a letter to 234,000 registered Wisconsin voters telling them they had to re-register because the commission believed they may have moved from the address on their registration.  The list was generated using ...
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In May, 2019 the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued The Denial of Care Rule, a rule that would allow any health care worker to deny medical treatment to patients because of personal religious or moral beliefs. [i]   “Health care worker” includes doctors, nurses, EMTs, administrators, janitors and clerical staff.  Since the landmark ruling of Roe v Wade in 1973, anti-abortion groups have been searching for ways to limit women’s access to abortion services.  At that time so called “conscience protections” were brought forth to allow doctors and others to refuse to perform abortions if it conflicted with their personal beliefs.  Over the ...
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Climate Change Blog 26 Facts on the Ground: I had just written that hurricane (usually a violent storm over water) season is over so now it’s wildfire season in the US, but then a tornado (usually a violent storm over land) tore into Dallas, TX. The tornado caused panic at the Memphis airport and at least one death in Arkansas and destruction in Missouri and Tennessee. Passengers at Memphis International Airport were pulled off planes and directed to take shelter in terminal restrooms. In Dallas, the tornado brought golf-ball-size hail and lightning. About 85,000 people in the Dallas-Fort Worth region lost power. In California, given the persistent drought ...
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Climate Change Blog 25. Facts on the Ground: Environmental injustice is an important part of discussions involving climate change. The fact is that those least culpable for the existence of climate change suffer disproportionately from it. Dorian, a Category 5 hurricane destroyed much of the Bahamas over two deadly, terrifying days. When Dorian made land-fall on the Bahamas, its winds were a sustained 185 mph gusting to 220 mph, making it the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded on land. At least 51 people were killed. Over 2,500 people have been reported missing. All survivors are traumatized. Many will suffer PTSD. None can imagine a future on ...
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Vaccines For School

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In 2000 the United States declared that measles had been eradicated in the country. [i]  Yet, as most of us are aware, there has been a resurgence of measles in the United States.  One of the hotbeds of the disease is New York State. Since the beginning of the epidemic there have been 654 measles cases in New York City and 414 in other parts of the state. [ii]   The epicenters of these outbreaks has been Hasidic communities in Brooklyn and Rockland County.  Thankfully the threat seems to have run its course.  This week Mayor Bill DeBlasio and Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the NYC Health Commissioner, announced an end to the outbreak, noting that there have been no ...
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Climate Change Blog 24 Facts on the Ground: The US women’s soccer team beat and heat and the Netherlands to win the World Cup. The Tour de France rode through record-breaking heat. But in NYC, I was denied the opportunity to compete in my 10 th NYC Triathlon as the heat forced the cancellation of the event for the first time ever. It’s summer and it’s record-breaking hot in many places globally. The Arctic, including much of Siberia, is warming at least twice as fast as the rest of the world, and the permafrost — “permanently” (i.e., year-round) frozen ground — is thawing. As it thaws it releases huge amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas which ...
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I haven’t written on the current immigration crisis, mostly because it is in the forefront of the news and I didn’t have much to add.  The situation is appalling and inhumane.  As I discussed previously [i] , entering the United States at a designated border crossing and requesting asylum is legal.  Those doing so have not committed any crime and there is no reason for them to be detained, let alone sent to a concentration camp. Throughout this process, the administration has been looking for ways to deport asylum seekers from the US. We have seen examples of people brought to the United States as small children, who grew up and whose entire life has been ...
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A Further Update on Transgender troops in the Military As we know, President Trump has gone ahead and instituted a ban on all transgender service members in the United States military. Following the April 12, 2018 decision by the Court of Appeals to deny an injunction on enforcement of the ban and the Supreme Court’s decision to not review the case [i] , the administration has decided to go ahead with the ban. His ban applies to the US military, but the Federal Government does not control the various state’s National Guards.  The National Guard is controlled by the Governor of each state. At last count, at least six states have announced they will ...
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Climate Change Blog 23. Facts on the Ground: Hurricane Barry, the first of the season, had sustained winds of 75mph on July 13 and flooded coastal Louisiana. Its immense scope reached much of the midwest, southeast, the Gulf Coast, Arkansas, Oklahoma, the Great Lakes region, the northeast and southern Ontario. Over 23” of rain fell in LA., the French Quarter was flooded, a flash-flood emergency was declared in New Orleans and a tornado struck the Gentilly neighborhood there. Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency, deployed search and rescue teams and requested a federal disaster declaration for the entire state on July 11 which was granted. ...
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A quick informational post. The New York State Senate and Assembly have passed legislation that will amend the NYS Human Rights Law. [i]   It is expected to be signed by Governor Cuomo and will go into effect as soon as he signs. The amendments will do the following: Independent contractors and domestic workers will now be protected under the law for all forms of discrimination and harassment, not just sexual harassment. In other words, independent contractors and domestic workers will be treated the same as employees. It changes the definition of “employer” to include “all employers within the state, including the state and all political subdivisions ...
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Climate Change Blog 22. Facts on the Ground: A rare tornado warning was issued in the New York region on May 28, causing confusion and concern as a thunderstorm struck. That was unusual. But given the horrific storms in much of the Rocky Mountains, the Midwest and South, why not here?  Between April and May alone, tornadoes have caused at least 40 deaths and scores of injuries there. Floods damaged parts of Oklahoma in late May. The town of Braggs was turned into an island. To get gas, people wrote their names on their gas cans as a friend or neighbor made a gas run by boat to the mainland. There were feed runs for livestock, medicine runs, and grocery ...
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Climate Change Blog 22. Facts on the Ground: A rare tornado warning was issued in the New York region on May 28, causing confusion and concern as a thunderstorm struck. That was unusual. But given the horrific storms in much of the Rocky Mountains, the Midwest and South, why not here?  Between April and May alone, tornadoes have caused at least 40 deaths and scores of injuries there. Floods damaged parts of Oklahoma in late May. The town of Braggs was turned into an island. To get gas, people wrote their names on their gas cans as a friend or neighbor made a gas run by boat to the mainland. There were feed runs for livestock, medicine runs, and grocery ...
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Climate Change Blog 22. Facts on the Ground: A rare tornado warning was issued in the New York region on May 28, causing confusion and concern as a thunderstorm struck. That was unusual. But given the horrific storms in much of the Rocky Mountains, the Midwest and South, why not here?  Between April and May alone, tornadoes have caused at least 40 deaths and scores of injuries there. Floods damaged parts of Oklahoma in late May. The town of Braggs was turned into an island. To get gas, people wrote their names on their gas cans as a friend or neighbor made a gas run by boat to the mainland. There were feed runs for livestock, medicine runs, and grocery ...
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Blog 22

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Climate Change Blog 22. Facts on the Ground: A rare tornado warning was issued in the New York region on May 28, causing confusion and concern as a thunderstorm struck. That was unusual. But given the horrific storms in much of the Rocky Mountains, the Midwest and South, why not here?  Between April and May alone, tornadoes have caused at least 40 deaths and scores of injuries there. Floods damaged parts of Oklahoma in late May. The town of Braggs was turned into an island. To get gas, people wrote their names on their gas cans as a friend or neighbor made a gas run by boat to the mainland. There were feed runs for livestock, medicine runs, and grocery ...
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Chalk Talk

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In a groundbreaking [i] decision, the 6 th Circuit Court of Appeal has ruled that the practice of making chalk marks on the tires of parked cars for the purpose of parking enforcement is a violation of the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches. In ­ Alison Taylor v. City of Saginaw , [ii] Ms. Taylor, who had received 15 parking violations from the City of Saginaw, Michigan over the course of three years, decided to challenge those tickets.  She sued the City alleging that the practice of chalking was a violation of her right to be free from unreasonable searches. The District Court dismissed her complaint reasoning that while ...
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It was announced this week that the Supreme Court would take on three cases related to discrimination based on sexual orientation and identity. The cases are: Altitude Express v. Zarda , [i] a case from New York where an employee claims he was fired for being gay. The trial court dismissed the claim, but the 2d Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the claims made under Title VII Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia , [ii] a case from Georgia where a man who worked as a child welfare coordinator for the county alleges that when his employer learned he was gay they fabricated an excuse to fire him, claiming he mismanaged public funds. R.G. & ...
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Climate Change Blog 21 Since Blog 20, huge, deadly, record-breaking storms occurred in Nepal, Mozambique and in the US major floods occurred in Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and nearby states. In addition, 25 states are at risk of flooding this Spring. In southern Nepal, at least 28 were killed and over 500 injured in a rainstorm with destructive winds that struck in the night. While thunderstorms outside of the regular monsoon season are common in Nepal, this was the deadliest single storm on record. Hundreds were killed in 2017, when multiple storms led to flooding which devastated much of South Asia. In Mozambique, Cyclone Idai caused devastating destruction ...
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Dear Colleagues and Friends:   I am writing to provide a friendly reminder that next week, Steve Hochman and I will be presenting our annual Three Day Commercial Mediation training.  The training, which is celebrating its tenth straight year, will run from Tuesday, March 19 th  through Thursday, March 21 st (from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day) and will be held at Fordham University School of Law, conveniently located at 150 West 62 nd Street.  It is being offered through the New York State Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution Section, and has been approved for three of the five training days required by Part 146 for mediators interested in serving on ...
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