The 2016 Presidential Race: A Chance for History

By John Evans

If you are anything like me, right now two sets of stories dominate your social media feeds; stories of the Olympics and stories about the presidential elections. With the Olympics already receiving a blog post, I figured I will focus on the presidential election.  What is a possible implication of the Electoral College?

 

1908The 12th amendment to the Constitution of the United States changed the Electoral College and in part established that in the event no candidate receives a majority of electoral votes, the House of Representative shall choose the president from the top three candidates. However, each state only gets one vote.

As of 8/15 the fivethiryeight.com forecasts Clinton receiving 322 votes and Trump receiving 216. 270 electoral votes are needed for a majority. If Trump is able to rally and win back Florida and North Carolina that would change the totals to Clinton 278 and Trump 260.

But what happens when a third party candidate breaks up the two party political monopoly?  The only candidate currently running who seems to have any chance would be Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party.  To stage this upset, Johnson would only need to take away 9 electoral votes from Clinton. Johnson’s home state, New Mexico, holds 6 votes and the “Free State Project”–New Hampshire–holds 4 more.  If Johnson wins these two states the final tally would be Clinton 268, Trump 260 and Johnson 10.  The election would then move to the House.

Many people, at this point, would say that the idea of a third party candidate winning even one state is impossible and not worthy of any analysis. However Gary Johnson may be the first third party Candidate even allowed to debate in modern history. Presidential debates are planned and sponsored by The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD).  The FEC requires the CPD to choose the participants in the debates based on “pre-existing, objective” criteria.

The CPD’s criteria: “[c]onstitutionally eligible … appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to have a mathematical chance of winning a majority vote in the Electoral College, and have a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations.”

Historically, many third party choices have met the first two criteria and are held out by the third.  Johnson has recently received his own bump in the polls.

Johnson media attention has also been significant, including large articles in Politico and Time Magazine. This additional media attention could lead to a last big push to the 15% mark and get Johnson on the big stage. Johnson could then use the momentum from getting into the debate to win some electoral votes.

With the likelihood the republicans retaining the house, and the unpopularity of Trump among house republicans, who knows the outcome.

 

WANTED: Class of 2016 Student Commencement Speaker

A speaker from the 2015 GSU Law Commencement

A speaker from the 2015 GSU Law Commencement

Calling all graduating 3Ls! Do you enjoy public speaking? Have you dreamed of giving the commencement address to your fellow classmates? Do you have something awe-inspiring to share? THIS IS YOUR CHANCE.

SBA is seeking applications from 3Ls who will be graduating this May to represent our class as the student commencement speaker. If you’re interested (and you should be), email your resume and a short description of what you would talk about if you were chosen to speak (a few paragraphs) to Dean Timmons (kctimmons@gsu.edu).

The deadline for submission is Wednesday, April 6. That’s tomorrow! So, take this afternoon and tonight to gather your thoughts and sum up your law school experience at GSU. What have the past three years meant to you? What do your classmates mean to you? What have you learned about yourself or the law along the way? Who would you like to thank for making this possible? We want to hear what you have to say!

Here’s Reese Witherspoon’s Legally Blonde speech for some inspiration:

Summer Classes!

by Veselin Simonov

As summer veers ever closer, students – especially 1Ls – face the decision of whether to take classes during the summer. It’s a complicated issue and it’s ultimately up to how each individual student’s schedule shakes out. That said, here are some basic tips that might help you make up your mind.

  • To be a full time student in the summer and qualify for financial aid, you need at least six credit hours. That’s two three-credit courses.
  • If you’re doing a full time summer internship, it may prove tricky to reconcile that with your class schedule.
  • Luckily, the College of Law offers a variety of day and evening courses. There’s also a selection of online courses. This should offer you some flexibility when you’re figuring out your schedule.
  • If you’re participating in the externship program, those credits count towards the minimum you need to qualify for financial aid. That means that you can take an externship and only one class and still meet the six hour minimum.
  • You still have required courses as a 2L. Two of those are Constitutional Law I and Professional Responsibility. Both are offered over the summer. If you knock one of them out in the summer, that can leave you with more options to take electives in the fall and spring of your second year.
  • The College of Law has added some interesting new electives this summer. For example, there’s the mediation clinic and the brand new animal law course.
  • Be prepared for a somewhat more intense class experience. Because of the short time frame, courses are more condensed which means longer classes and potentially a denser workload.

If you’re still not sure whether you should take summer classes, try contacting your adviser or the faculty members teaching the courses you’ve got your eye on. They should be able to help you craft a schedule that makes sense.

Volunteer Opportunities for Spring Break

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Image courtesy of Jacob Moyer via Flickr Creative Commons

By: Murtaza Khwaja

Staying in town over Spring Break? Need a way to catch up on your pro bono hours?

Want to help out in your local community?

Well, here are just a few of the many volunteer opportunities available via Hands on Atlanta during this year’s spring break. Check the Hands on Atlanta Volunteer Calendar for the full schedule: (http://www.handsonatlanta.org/HOC__Volunteer_Opportunity_Calendar_Page)

Sunday 13th March:

  • 1:00pm: Urban Farming at Truly Living Well East Point

Monday 14th March: – Friday 18th March

  • 9:00am : Trees Atlanta Weekday Plant Guardians (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)
  • 9:00am: Books for Africa (everyday)
  • 10:00am: West End Community Urban Garden (may be cancelled)
  • 1:00pm: Trees Atlanta Weekday Plant Guardians
  • 1:00pm: Books for Africa
  • 3:00pm: Girls Inc. of Greater Atlanta Program Volunteer
  • 4:00pm: Elementary Homework Help

Saturday 19th March:

  • 7:00am: Green Market – Piedmont Park Conservancy
  • 8:00am: Discovery Program at Thomasville Heights Elementary School
  • 8:00am: Discovery Program at Perkerson Elementary School
  • 8:30 am: Teen Service Saturdays: Trees Atlanta
  • 8:30am: Food Pantry at Clarkston United Methodist Church
  • 9:00am: Books For Africa

 

The Muslim Law Students Association is also planning to take a visit down to Clarkston to meet with the refugee population Saturday March 13th, so if you are interested in immigration law or in working with refugees be sure to reach out to Haroun Mcclellan (MLSA President) @ amcclellan1@student.gsu.edu to reserve a slot.

And don’t forget to stay on the lookout for any PILA events including their Criminal Law panel (March 15th) and their annual Law week talk.

Also, if you’re interested in further volunteer opportunities throughout the year make sure to check out these two organizations and the different projects they have going on.

Glitter of Hope Foundation (The Glitter of Hope Foundation is a not-for-profit organization devoted to addressing the basic needs of orphan* children rescued from refugee camps in Africa and Asia and brought into the US as refugees. ) http://www.glitterofhope.org/

Helping Organizations and People Everywhere (H.O.P.E. teams up with non-profit organizations and charities worldwide to support many initiatives including: financial empowerment, ambassadorship and networking, strengthening local communities, physical & mental health, youth leadership, and non-profit consulting.) http://hopefsm.weebly.com/

March 1 is Super Tuesday!

by Veselin Simonov

Image by flickr user Erik Thauvin

Image by flickr user Erik Thauvin

It’s primary election season and Georgia voters will soon get to pick their preferred presidential nominees! For both parties, Georgia votes on Tuesday, March 1 along with Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia. The Republican-only contests on March 1 are the Alaska, North Dakota, and Wyoming caucuses. The Democrats hold the American Samoa caucus on March 1 as well. This group of primaries is called Super Tuesday, and it’s the day on which candidates have a chance to win more delegates than on any other single day of the primary calendar.

As the name implies, Super Tuesday happens on a Tuesday in either February or March of a presidential election year. It started out in 1988 as a way for some states to pool their electoral power in the primaries in order to secure a more prominent national role. It’s also an effort to offset the retail politics targeted towards early states that resulted in frontloaded primary contests. Super Tuesday is one of the first significant electoral tests of a campaign’s national appeal and its ability to conduct broad-reaching, wholesale politics.

Super Tuesday does not come without issues, however. First, it’s expensive to campaign all over the country on a packed schedule. This can force candidates with smaller war chests to drop out. Second, the time crunch results in less expansive, shallower campaign efforts in the immediate lead-up to Super Tuesday. Finally, the mass primary also has the potential to overshadow primaries that come after it by, in effect, picking the nominees early.

This year, Super Tuesday consists mostly of southern state primaries (leading some to dub it the “SEC primary”) in a bid to increase the region’s political influence. So, if you’re looking to have your voice heard, go out and vote for your preferred nominee. As a reminder, Georgia has open primaries. You pick which primary you want to vote in at your polling place by taking an oath to affiliate with the party you are voting for. If you don’t know where your polling place is, you can always check at the GA Secretary of State’s My Voter Page.

Sources:

Meet govinfo: Federal Law Research Gets a Makeover

govinfo

By: Chloe Martin

This month, the U.S. Government Publishing Office introduced the world to govinfo, a beta website that will eventually replace the Federal Digital System (FDsys) as the go-to resource for federal primary law from all three branches of government. Read our Q&A to learn more.

How does govinfo differ from FDsys?

The content available for access will not change, but govinfo offers some new and improved features:

  • New ways to browse content (alphabetically and by category);
  • Responsive design for better display on mobile devices;
  • More choices for sharing pages and content on social media;
  • Enhanced search filters; and
  • The brand new “related documents” feature which will display other documents within govinfo that relate to or reference a particular document.

Who can access govinfo?

Everyone. Govinfo, like FDsys, is available to the public.

What major resources are available to search and browse on govinfo?

  • The Federal Register
  • The Code of Federal Regulations
  • The Federal Budget
  • The U.S. Code
  • Congressional Bills
  • Statutes at Large
  • The Congressional Record
  • Congressional Calendars, Hearings, and Reports
  • U.S. Court Opinions, including SCOTUS decisions

How can I access govinfo?

Visit https://www.govinfo.gov/

The GPO is requesting public feedback on its new site; visit this survey to tell the GPO what you think!

Runoff Election in House District 58 on Tuesday, Feb. 16!

by Veselin Simonov

If you live in the neighborhoods of East Atlanta, Cabbagetown, Reynoldstown, Edgewood, Gresham Park, Grant Park, Kirkwood, Ormewood Park or Boulevard Heights – listen up! You may be eligible to vote in the Georgia House of Representatives runoff election in District 58 that’s happening TODAY! The district covers residents from just south of Piedmont Park to around Turner Field to over by Fort McPherson. If you aren’t sure whether you live within the district lines or where your polling location is, you can check the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page.

District 58 was previously represented by Simone Bell (D-Atlanta), who resigned late last year to become Lambda Legal’s Southern regional director. As reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, former Representative Bell held the distinction of being the nation’s first African-American lawmaker, serving in a State House, who is out as a lesbian.

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Park Cannon

The special election was held on January 19, 2016 between three candidates: Kwame Thompson, Park Cannon, and Ralph Long, III. The runoff held today is between Park Cannon and Ralph Long, III. Park Cannon won the special election with 47.43% of the vote and Ralph Long, III came in second with 33.65%. Only 835 people voted in the special election.

ralph_long_iii_shot_by_micheal_bond

Ralph Long, III

So if you live in District 58 and have a few minutes to spare today, we encourage you to stop by your polling location and fulfill your civic duty! And, of course, if you would like to research the candidates or check your voter registration status, please feel free to use the technology and resources available in the law library.