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An extinction event for foundations?

Private foundations – the legal entities that have funded social innovations as diverse as breakthrough civil rights litigation and the development of the 911 emergency response system – may be nearing an end. This is certainly not because they have spent down their endowments; the largest still contain billions of dollars and as of 2014 independent and family foundation endowments still contained over $700 billion in assets.

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Sharia courts in America?

Islamic courts need not be scary so long as they adopt the general framework used for religious arbitration in America. Islamic arbitration tribunals have a place in America (just like any religious arbitration does), but Sharia Courts must function consistent with American attitudes and laws towards religious arbitration tribunals generally. By observing how Jewish rabbinical courts are regulated by US law and function within their religious communities, one sees that Islamic courts could be another example of the kind of religious arbitration that is a well-established feature of the American religious life.

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The constitutionality of the parsonage allowance

Under Internal Revenue Code Section 107(2), “ministers of the gospel” can exclude from the federal income tax cash payments from their congregations and other religious employers for such ministers’ housing. The IRS and the courts have held that this income tax exclusion applies to clergy of all religions including rabbis, cantors, and imams. Income tax-free housing payments to clergy are commonly denoted as “parsonage allowances.”

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Catalan independence in the Spanish Constitution and Courts

Following the recent ‘referendum’ and now declaration of independence, the status of Catalonia has become a hotly debated issue. As often happens in such cases, context is everything. It is not possible to appraise the perceived legitimacy of the respective claims without a clear picture of who says or does what in the particular legal environment (see mutatis mutandis the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada on the secession of Québec, para. 155).

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Cybercrime as a local phenomenon

Nicolae Popescu was born in the small city of Alexandria, a two-hour bus ride south of Bucharest. After organising a digital scam to sell hundreds of fictitious cars on eBay, and pocketing $3 million, he was arrested in 2010 but eventually was released on a technicality.

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Which fictional TV Lawyer are you? [quiz]

Have you ever watched a legal drama on TV and wondered what kind of lawyer you’d be? Perhaps you’d have a soft spot for the underdog, or maybe you’d take on any case so long as the money was good? Perhaps you are particularly keen on criminal justice, or maybe overseeing takeovers and mergers is more your style. Take our quiz to find out which TV lawyer you might be.

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From segregation to the Supreme Court: the life and work of Thurgood Marshall

Marshall (2017) recounts one of the most contentious Supreme Court cases in American history, represented by Thurgood Marshall, who would later serve as the first African American Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Directed by Reginald Hudlin, with Chadwick Boseman playing the title role, the film establishes Marshall’s greatest legal triumph, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, in which the Court declared the laws allowing for separate but equal public facilities (including public schools) inherently unconstitutional. The case, handed down on 17 May 1954, signalled the end of racial segregation in America and the beginning of the American civil rights movement. In 2013, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Editor in Chief of the Oxford African American Studies Center, spoke with Larry S. Gibson, Professor of Law at the University of Maryland, whose book Young Thurgood: The Making of a Supreme Court Justice recounts the personal and public events that shaped Marshall’s work.

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Legal scholarship and methodology in the era of big data

In a recent Financial Times article, the journalist and anthropologist Gillian Tett reflected on the significance of Cambridge Analytica’s (CA) work in relation to Donald Trump’s successful 2016 Presidential Campaign. While Hilary Clinton had run a campaign using what was understood as traditional ‘political’ data, CA had collected many thousands of data points on people, much of it amassed from their online consumer and social identities.

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Constitutional resistance to executive power

In a blog post following the election of Donald J. Trump, Professor Mark A. Graber examined the new president’s cavalier attitude toward constitutional norms and predicted that, “[o]ver the next few years, Americans and constitutional observers are likely to learn whether the Framers in 1787 did indeed contrive ‘a machine that would go of itself’ or whether human intervention is necessary both to operate the constitution and compensate for systemic constitutional failures.”

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Workplace bullying and the law

Is the law able to offer any assistance to victims of workplace bullying? Let me recite an example, which is all too commonplace. Daniel* worked in an office in local government in the UK. When he was bullied by his manager he didn’t even realise it at first. The conduct was subtle. He would be given more than his fair share of the unpopular tasks. Everything he did was criticised, not aggressively, but constantly.

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The reign of law in international investment decision-making

The second Investment Claims Summer Academy took place on 6-7 July 2017 at Lady Margaret Hall and focused on the role of international law in international investment decision-making. The Summer Academy opened with a quote from Sir Hersch Lauterpacht’s 1933 The Function of Law in International the International Community:

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Perpetual peace

In the fall of 1697, the great powers of Europe signed a series of peace treaties at Rijswijk [Ryswick], near The Hague, which ended the Nine Years’ War (1688–1697), in which France was opposed by a great coalition of the Holy Roman Emperor, Britain, the Dutch Republic, and Spain. In its first article, the peace treaty between Britain and France, signed on 20 September 1697 (21 CTS 409), stated that, henceforth, there would be ‘universal and perpetual peace’

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Can marriage officers refuse to marry same-sex couples?

Freedom of religion and same-sex equality are not inherently incompatible. But sometimes they do seem to be on a collision course. This happens, for instance, when religiously devout marriage officers refuse to marry same-sex couples. In the wake of legal recognition of same-sex marriage around the world, states have grappled with civil servants who cannot reconcile their legal duties with their religious beliefs.

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Time for international law to take the Internet seriously

Internet-related legal issues are still treated as fringe issues in both public and private international law. Anyone doubting this claim need only take a look at the tables of content from journals in those respective fields. However, approaching Internet-related legal issues in this manner is becoming increasingly untenable. Let us consider the following: Tech companies feature prominently on lists ranking the world’s most powerful companies.

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The House Appropriations Committee and the Johnson Amendment

he Committee on Appropriations of the US House of Representatives, in a so-called rider to the pending federal budget bill, has proposed significant procedural restrictions on the IRS’s ability to enforce the Johnson Amendment. The Johnson Amendment is the provision of the Internal Revenue Code which prevents all tax-exempt institutions (including churches) from participating in political campaigns.

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H is for History: making the case for studying environmental law history

In our ‘time of change’ – which in the United Kingdom largely revolves around Brexit but takes different forms elsewhere – it is important for environmental lawyers to think about history. How, though, are we to do so, given that history is the most underdeveloped area of socio-legal environmental law, with very little literature to guide the way?

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