Week in Review

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President Biden releases gun violence prevention strategy, the Supreme Court strikes down the FHFA’s structure, and more…

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IN THE NEWS

  • President Joseph R. Biden released a comprehensive strategy to address gun violence and other violent crime. The strategy called for measures that could prevent violent actors from accessing guns. These measures included a new zero-tolerance approach for gun dealers who willfully violate the law, which would include revoking the licenses of dealers who intentionally transfer a firearm to a prohibited person. The strategy also incorporated the creation of five task forces that will target illegal gun trafficking.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) leadership structure—which shields the agency’s director from presidential removal— violates separation of power principles. The Court reasoned that because the director could only be removed by the President for “inefficiency, neglect, or malfeasance,” the President’s power was unconstitutionally restricted. The Court also dismissed shareholders’ claim that the FHFA exceeded its authority when it changed a rule about company payouts to shareholders. Shortly after the Court’s ruling, President Biden appointed Sandra Thompson to replace former FHFA Director Mark Calabria.
  • The Supreme Court held that the head of the Patent and Trademark Office must have the ability to review decisions issued by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, which includes members who are Administrative Patent Judges. Administrative Patent Judges are appointed by the Secretary of Commerce to oversee patent challenge trials. The Court concluded that Administrative Patent Judges do not have the authority to issue final decisions that bind the executive branch because they have not been nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate and that the structure of the Board violated the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reportedly will add warnings about a rare risk of heart inflammation to COVID-19 vaccines after a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory committee determined that some small number of cases of heart inflammation in adolescents and young adults are likely connected to COVID-19 vaccinations. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services released a statement, co-signed by the CDC, commenting that heart inflammation is a very rare and typically mild side effect, that young individuals often recover easily from the heart inflammation, and that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines “far outweigh any harm.”
  • The Supreme Court unanimously held that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) cannot ban schools from providing their athletes with education-related benefits, such as graduate scholarships or tutoring. The Court ruled, however, that the NCAA was still free to enforce rules that prohibit benefits to athletes unrelated to education and that the NCAA was free to determine what types of benefits are related to education. The Association had previously argued that such a ruling would blur the line between college and professional sports. Herbert Hovenkamp, professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, stated that, although the current ruling does not allow “a free for all for the big colleges to start competing for athletes,” there may be future cases that seek to expand the ability of schools to bid on college athletes.
  • The CDC extended through July 31, 2021 a national eviction moratorium, which prohibits landlords from evicting tenants who cannot make rental payments. The CDC intends this extension to be the final eviction moratorium extension issued during the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) praised the extension for “providing essential protections to millions of renters during the pandemic.” President of the National Apartment Association, Robert Pinnegar, criticized the eviction moratorium as “flawed” for leaving renters with large debts while housing providers bear the expenses upfront.
  • The Administrative Conference of the United States adopted four recommendations aimed at improving government programs during its 74th Plenary Session. Two of the recommendations focused on technology, providing best practices for managing large volumes of comments on agency rulemakings and for improving virtual hearings. The other two recommendations were centered on the rulemaking process and included best practices for periodically reviewing regulations and for soliciting input prior to issuing notices of proposed rulemaking.
  • A federal district court temporarily banned the CDC from enforcing an order in Florida that required cruise ship operators to test for COVID-19 to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus onboard ships. The court ruled that the CDC had overreached its regulatory authority in issuing the order and stated that the order was “unprecedented in duration and scope.” The court decided that the CDC’s cruise regulations will serve only as recommendations in Florida starting July 18. Maritime and cruise attorney Jim Walker stated that the ruling could worsen the “chaos and confusion of cruising during an ongoing pandemic” and that cruise ships will “crash into a stark reality when cruise ports enforce their own protocols.”

WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK

  • In a recent article in Nature Climate Change, Matthew H. Goldberg, associate research scientist at the Yale Program on Climate Communication, and his coauthors explored ways of shifting Republican Party members’ views on climate change. Goldberg and his coauthors explained that changing Republican climate perspectives is crucial for Democrats who propose ambitious climate policies because Democrats often need bipartisan support to pass these policies. Goldberg and his coauthors analyzed a recent advertising campaign designed to appeal to Republicans and concluded that Republicans are more likely to be persuaded about the existence, causes, and risks of the climate crisis if other Republicans relay the information.
  • In a recent report prepared by the Free Migration Project, David Bennion, the organization’s executive director, and his coauthors discussed medical deportations. Medical deportations occur when private actors, without the involvement of the Department of Homeland Security or immigration courts, remove ill or injured immigrant patients from the country without the patient’s or the patient’s caretaker’s consent. Bennion and his coauthors highlighted the lack of data on the frequency of medical deportations, and they noted an increase in the number of reported airplane ambulances, which can be used for medical deportations. Bennion and his coauthors discussed potential federal, state, and local solutions, including their suggestion that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services develop standards requiring hospitals to provide additional information and resources to patients who are vulnerable to medical deportation.
  • In a recent Brookings Institution report, Andre M. Perry, Marshall Steinbaum, and Carl Romer argued that the Biden Administration must cancel student debt to achieve its goal of narrowing the racial wealth gap. Perry, Steinbaum, and Romer described how canceling student debt would improve labor markets for Black workers. Furthermore, Perry, Steinbaum, and Romer explained that canceling student debt would better position Black Americans to purchase homes, start businesses, and contribute to the economy in other ways. Perry, Steinbaum, and Romer noted that, although student debt cancellation alone will not close the racial wealth and employment gaps, it will allow Black Americans to participate more fully in the economy.

FLASHBACK FRIDAY

  • In an essay in The Regulatory Review, Robert Spitzer, professor at SUNY Cortland, explained how gun rights are compatible with effective gun regulation. Spitzer analyzed the history of gun laws in the United States, including the Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986, the National Firearms Act of 1934, and state laws banning fully automatic weapons. Spitzer explained that although the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has at times demonstrated regulatory incompetence in the enforcement of gun laws, the United States’ history of gun regulation shows no conflict between effective regulation and the ability of law-abiding citizens to exercise their constitutional rights to own guns. Spitzer concluded that ineffective regulation undermines the integrity of law-abiding gun dealers and owners and that gun rights are best protected when people who violate gun laws “are effectively regulated and prosecuted.”