Inequality Inquiry >> Category

The Newclear Family: The Broadening Recognition of Non-Traditional Families and Where to Draw the Line

April 11, 2018

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by Ally Nicol
In the past fifty years, American politics and public opinion have shifted regarding parentage and what constitutes a family.  In the wake of cases such as Holtzman v. Knott, Johnson v. Calvert, K.M. v. E.G., Obergefell v. Hodges, and In re M.C., the rights of same-sex and other “non-traditional” parents have been clarified and expanded.  Biology and marriage have long been the most commonly used means of establishing parental rights, and now those recognitions, particularly in the wake of Obergefell, are widely available to most couples. While this recognition has been long-awaited in the LGBT community, issues remain regarding legal parent status based solely on biology and the legal status of non-traditional families. As the law expands to recognize a more diverse spectrum of parents, new issues will arise regarding when parental status should not be granted, as opposed to how parental rights should be expanded.

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Children’s Online Privacy in the Age of Influencers

September 24, 2021

The children of family vloggers are often on-screen from the moment they are born—“birth vlogs” are a popular subgenre. Pregnancy is chronicled in excruciating detail, often with a focus on “gender reveals” and a highly anticipated buildup to the reveal of the child’s name.

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Gentrification, Displacement, and Disparate Impact Liability: How Gentrification Theory is Not Cognizable Under the Fair Housing Act

May 2, 2022

by Adam Mikell*   In the United States, the topic of housing has an ugly history comprised of decades of government-sanctioned discrimination and segregation carried out through racially-motivated practices such as “neighborhood composition” rules, racial covenants, steering, and redlining. In 1968—the tail end of the Civil Rights Movement—the Fair Housing Act (FHA) was passed to…

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Stretched Thin: Parents Lacking Resources Who Are Accused of Negligent Child Abuse Need Solutions, Not Prisons

January 21, 2020

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The purpose of punishment is not served when the criminal justice system prosecutes poor, and often undereducated, parents for the unintended deaths of their children. Punishment as retribution is excessive for an already grieving parent, and an act cannot be deterred, either specifically to the offender or generally to society, if it was unintended in the first place. Finally, incapacitating parents by way of imprisonment does not ultimately serve the social good because their imprisonment sets up their surviving children for increased risk factors. Punishing a parent who has already received the worst punishment of all—loss of a child—cannot be justified.

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The Law in Politics: A Conversation with Rep. Ryan Winkler

January 12, 2021

    In this interview, staff member Jon Erik Haines met with Minnesota House Majority Leader Rep. Ryan Winkler. Mr. Winkler is the Democratic Majority Leader in the Minnesota House of Representatives and represents suburban district 46A, which contains Golden Valley, St. Louis Park and Plymouth. As a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law…

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Constitutional Arguments for the Legal Recognition of Bigamous Marriages

October 7, 2021

by Esther Raty* Introduction Bigamy, “the act of entering into a marriage with one person while still legally married to another,”[1] is illegal in the United States.[2] If a person’s first marriage remains intact, their second marriage is not legally binding and can even lead to criminal charges.[3] Bigamy laws prohibit individuals in polygamous and…

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2020 Summit for Civil Rights – Opening Statements

November 16, 2020

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  The Minnesota Journal of Law & Inequality (JLI) co-hosted the virtual 2020 Summit for Civil Rights with the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity and Georgetown Law’s Workers’ Rights Institute on July 30 and 31, 2020. The Dean of the University of Minnesota Law School, Garry Jenkins, provided the welcome remarks to kickstart the 2020 Summit…

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Covid-19 in Prisons: Human Rights Violations and Inmate Exploitation

January 29, 2021

Heather Chang* The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in the Spring of 2020 required unprecedent changes. While business and individuals have adapted their policies and behaviors to reflect health and safety recommendations, the prison system remains rigid and dangerous.  As of January 12, 2021, The Marshall Project reports that at least 343,008 prisoners tested positive…

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Purging False Narratives Around Cash Bail

October 28, 2022

By Christian Purnell.   With Illinois’ Pretrial Fairness Act (PFA) set to take effect in a matter of months, opponents are stepping up their efforts to spread misinformation about the law on social media. Homing in on a provision of the PFA that abolishes cash bail in the state’s pretrial system, Twitter trolls, and even…

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Eviction/Housing Issues During COVID-19—Interview with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid’s Joey Dobson

April 30, 2020

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JLI staff members Maddie Sheehy, Adam Johnson, and Peter Schuetz recently interviewed Joey Dobson (Housing Policy Attorney at Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid). The group discussed how the pandemic can exacerbate health and safety issues in housing (mold, infestations, heat, etc.), the eviction moratorium, and how housing attorneys are advocating for their clients now and will be moving forward.

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The Burying of Boumediene v. Bush

February 11, 2021

Kevin Thomson* At the University of Minnesota Law School in 2018, Chief Justice John Roberts declared that the court “erred greatly” when it gave into political pressure and upheld the internment of Japanese Americans in the “shameful” decision Korematsu v. United States. The Court is at its best, said the Chief Justice, when it stands…

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Where is the U.S. Military?: An Update on the Department of Defense’s Efforts to Prevent Sexual Assault and to Protect Victims

November 17, 2021

by Thor Hawrey* Currently, a female military member is more likely to get post-traumatic stress disorder from being sexually assaulted or harassed than from actual combat. Due to this trauma, as well as the many other complex reasons associated with sexual assault, many victims feel trapped, have suicidal thoughts, and opt to leave the military. Those who desire to serve and protect us must forfeit their careers due to an inability for us to protect them. 

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What’s Brewing with Bruen?

October 30, 2022

Kenneth Cooper examines the impact of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, 142 S.Ct. 2111 (2022), and New York’s public defender and legal aid offices unexpected involvement in the case. 

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Attacks on Reproductive Rights During COVID-19—Interview with Gender Justice’s Megan Peterson

May 7, 2020

JLI staff members Kristin Trapp, Anna Berglund, and Anwen Parrott recently interviewed Megan Peterson, who serves as the Executive Director of Gender Justice. Gender Justice is a nonprofit legal and policy advocacy organization devoted to addressing the causes and consequences of gender inequality, both locally and nationally. In this conversation, the group discussed how some states are trying to use COVID-19 to restrict access to abortion and reproductive services, the effects of not being able to access essential health care, and how advocates can strive to safeguard reproductive rights during a pandemic.

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The Sex Offender Registry is a Life Sentence for Juveniles

December 2, 2021

by Layni Sprouse* In 1990, in the wake of her 11-year-old son Jacob’s kidnapping, which grabbed the attention of the entire county, Minnesota native Patty Wetterling believed it crucial to take action to protect children against sexually violent offenders. Due to her efforts and the tragic story of her son, the first sex offender registry…

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Inmate Rights and the Prison/Jail System During COVID-19—Interview with Prof. Susanna Blumenthal

May 9, 2020

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JLI staff members Abbie Hanson and Jen Davison recently interviewed Professor Susanna Blumenthal in a conversation about COVID-19’s effects on inmate rights and the prison/jail system. Professor Blumenthal co-directs the Program in Law and History at the University of Minnesota and she is an expert in criminal law. Professor Blumenthal’s research and writing focuses on the historical relationship between law and the human sciences. In this discussion, the group highlights the challenges of containing a virus in inherently constrained spaces, the damaging results on inmate rights, and how groups are working to ensure that incarcerated individuals receive adequate protection during a pandemic.

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How a New Ohio Law and Other State Reforms Are Changing the Landscape of Mental Health and Criminal Justice

January 24, 2022

By Bailey Martin* In 2021, Ohio became the only active death penalty state with a law that allows for resentencing of people on death row who have serious mental health conditions. While this kind of law provides an important starting point for thinking about mental health and criminal justice, courts have much further to go to protect all persons with mental health conditions from disparate impacts in the justice system.

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