Week in Review

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Supreme Court strikes down law banning sports betting, Senate votes to disapprove the FCC’s rollback of net neutrality, and more…

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  • The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal law banning sports betting in most states. The American Gaming Association stated that the “ruling makes it possible for states and sovereign tribal nations to give Americans what they want: an open, transparent, and responsible market for sports betting.” Although the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has held a longtime stance against sports betting, in a statement the NCAA said it “will adjust sports wagering and championship policies to align with the direction from the court.”
  • By a 52-47 vote, the U.S. Senate approved a resolution to disapprove the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) rule rolling back net neutrality. The U.S. House of Representatives has not yet voted on the measure, which would be required to nullify the rule under the Congressional Review Act. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai reportedly expressed confidence that the effort “to reinstate heavy-handed government regulation of the Internet will fail.”
  • In a 3-2 vote, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) confirmed Andrew Smith as director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. Previously an FTC staff attorney, Smith rejoins the Commission from the law firm Covington & Burling, where Smith was a partner and represented companies previously investigated or under investigation by FTC, including Equifax, Facebook, and Uber. Democratic Commissioners Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Rohit Chopra each dissented, expressing concerns about Smith’s conflicts of interest with FTC matters.
  • The U.S. Department of Commerce proposed a rule that would authorize the Department to approve semi-automatic rifle and ammunition exports, which the U.S. Department of State currently does. With the proposal, the Commerce Department intends to ease the burden on manufacturers and promote American exports while keeping weapons intended for military use under State Department oversight. The Violence Policy Center, a gun control advocacy organization, criticized the proposal, stating that it would likely lead to more U.S. guns in the hands of criminal and terrorist organizations.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt announced a new Office of Continuous Improvement (OCI) to aid implementation of the EPA Lean Management System. The goal of the Lean Management System is to improve the speed and accuracy of agency processes by reducing errors and waiting times. Serena McIlwain, who will lead the OCI, stated that the OCI will help make the EPA “more efficient and effective.”
  • The New York State Department of Financial Services granted its fifth virtual currency license to Genesis Global Trading, a digital currency. Such a BitLicenses grant authorizes trading platforms to offer digital currency services to New York residents. Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo called the licenses a “commitment to protecting consumers and the virtual currency market while encouraging innovation.” Eric Voorhees, chief executive officer of a virtual trading platform that has not been granted a BitLicense, reportedly questioned the propriety of the BitLicense, noting that its architect, former Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky, subsequently left the Department to serve on the board of a virtual currency company that holds a BitLicense.
  • Vermont Governor Phil Scott (R) signed legislation permitting the importation of prescription drugs from Canada. Vermont is the first state to permit this kind of measure as an attempt to reduce rising drug prices. Alex Azar, U.S. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, called the bill a “gimmick,” stating that “the last thing we need is open borders for unsafe drugs in search of savings that cannot be safely achieved.”
  • The Charlotte School of Law sued the American Bar Association (ABA) after the ABA revoked the school’s accreditation. Charlotte, which shut down in 2017 after it lost accreditation, claimed that the ABA’s accreditation process is arbitrary and capricious, failing to satisfy the due process requirement the U.S. Department of Education places on the ABA. The suit may force the ABA to restore Charlotte’s accreditation according to Above the Law, which noted that the ABA backed away from revoking another law school’s accreditation under less legal pressure.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would change its policy on calculating the length of visa overstays for foreign students and exchange visitors. USCIS will now count each day since a visa holder’s status has lapsed, as opposed to starting the count when the lapse was first reported. USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna stated that these individuals “are admitted to the United States for a specific purpose, and when that purpose has ended, we expect them to depart, or to obtain another, lawful immigration status.”


  • In an article for The Journal of the National Association of Administrative Law Judiciary, Robert R. Kuehn, associate dean of the Washington University School of Law, discussed the effects of various biases on administrative environmental decisions. Kuehn outlined various types of biases present in these decisions, noted effects on the credibility of public agencies, and conducted an empirical study finding that claims relating to environmental bias have increased over the last forty years – and in some cases have met increased success.
  • In an article for The Hill, David Gattie, an associate professor of engineering at the University of Georgia, wrote that California’s new rule requiring solar panels on all new homes is not the only viable way for states to reduce carbon output through energy policy. Gattie praised Georgia’s alternative solution of diversified electricity production through natural gas, solar power, and two new nuclear reactors currently under construction. Gattie argued that in addition to providing low-carbon electricity, “the construction of these reactors represents a vital contribution to national security as it sustains activity in the U.S. nuclear power sector” and helps maintain U.S. leadership in safety standards.
  • A leaked draft Department of Labor regulation signals an unprecedented rollback of child labor laws, Kim Kelly wrote for Teen Vogue. Kelly reviewed the history of child labor regulations such as the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) and argued that the proposed regulation will reverse the FLSA and leave minors unprotected from employment in dangerous occupations. “Deregulating child labor is a new low in Trump’s prolonged assault on the American worker,” Kelly said.