Most Americans are aware of the Plessy V. Ferguson Supreme Court case, however many are not familiar with the Insular cases, which were decided by the same Supreme Court justices. The Insular cases were a series of Supreme Court cases from the early 20th century which determined the constitutional rights of those who live in United States territories. Currently, the United States territories are composed of Puerto Rico, the American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S Virgin Islands. In these cases, the courts concluded that Americans living in American territories are not granted automatic citizenship and that Congress has the authority to grant citizenship to these territories. Although there have been several improvements to their conditions, these cases have yet to be overturned; in some of the American territories, citizenship continues to not be an automatic right.
In the 1990s, Five Mualimm-ak was a successful real estate investor, a passionate community leader, and a loving father of a 5-year-old boy. In 2000, he was wrongfully arrested for possession of illegal weapons and spent twelveyears in prison until the Innocence Project exonerated him. During his imprisonment, Mualimm-ak spent five years in solitary confinement. He was not put in solitary for dangerous behavior, but rather for minor infractions that include having too many postage stamps in his cell and not eating his apple. While in confinement, Mualimm-ak would spend 23 hours a day in his 6×9 foot cell with no social interactions. Another former inmate, who spent over seven years in isolation, described the smell as a combination of “defecation, unwashed armpits … [mixed] with the pepper spray officers use to extract prisoners from their cells”. After being released, Five Mualimm-ak was dropped off in Times Square by a bus filled with inmates who had also been in solitary confinement. Of the 15 people who were on the bus, 5 committed suicide within a year.
The water scarcity crisis in the American West is an imminent threat that directly affects more than 78 million people. As climate change unleashes its devastating impacts, the local groundwater supply is drying up and creating optimal conditions for droughts, wildfires, and desertification. Although California Governor Gavin Newsom has not yet ordered statewide water restrictions, many local municipalities have instated limitations on water usage guidelines. These restrictions prevent the non-essential use of water, such as washing a car, landscape irrigation, and drawn-out showers. As California residents have had their water usage restricted and their lives threatened by wildfires and droughts, local governments must turn their heads to an industry that has continued to use exorbitant amounts of water to cultivate their crops: the almond industry.
Full-time college students have been left out of the stimulus checks for the length of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students aged 18 to 24 are still eligible to be claimed as dependentson their parents’ taxes and are therefore unqualified for the $1,400 stimulus checks. In addition to this oversight, because many college students are over 17, their parents do not receive the additional $500. Why are they different from any other dependents?
In the aftermath of violent winter storms across Texas, the articles, conversations, and social media representations have stalled out. With temperatures rising and power grids functioning once again, the nation turns its head with satisfaction for the end of the storm. Yet, as we all look away, the story is far from over for the disproportionately impacted minority and low-income communities trudging through the remains of a debilitating week.
As the general election approaches, most eyes lay on the key battleground states in the U.S. to predict who will be the next United States President. Pennsylvania is notorious for being a toss-up red or blue state in the general election. Joe Biden and Donald Trump have spent much of their campaign directed toward winning Pennsylvania to sway their twenty electoral votes. For the previous six elections, Pennsylvania voted for the Democratic Party, but in 2016, they turned red and supported Donald Trump leading him to a victory campaign. Each year, the race was a close call with almost a fifty-fifty split in electoral votes for each political party. This year, Pennsylvania is seen as a tipping point in the election and it is said by most that the fate of who wins the election will be entirely dependent on the winner of Pennsylvania.
President Donald Trump cast his ballot in Palm Beach County, Florida, on October 24. As we know, winning Florida is crucial for a presidential candidate in the election, yet it has always been difficult to determine how Florida will vote. The state does not typically show a strong loyalty to either political party and has often been called the “bellwether state” for accurately predicting the national moods of the presidential elections. In fact, since 1928, Florida has only twice voted against the winner of the presidential race.
The state of North Carolina can pride itself on their barbecues, their beaches within the Outer Banks and their status as an election battleground. The future of the presidency of Donald Trump will be on the ballot tomorrow: whether voters approve of his unorthodox handling of key issues enough to give him a second term may be decided by North Carolina, a must-win state for the Republican incumbent. If judging his chances based on past elections – including in 2016 when he carried North Carolina by 3.7 percentage points – this shouldn’t be an extremely difficult task. In the last 50 years, only two Democrats have managed to carry the Tar Heel State on the presidential level – Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Barack Obama in 2008. That said, even as the President carried this state four years ago, it is not a guarantee that he can hold onto this state again.
The Virginia 2nd Congressional District encompasses Accomack, Northampton, and York counties and is considered one of the most competitive congressional districts in Virginia. As a district, it has traditionally held conservative representatives in office, with 8 in 10 being Republican in the past ten elections. The district is 67% white and has an average income of $70K, about $15K higher than the average, giving some reason behind a Republican history and reason to the district being R+3. Moreover, there was redistricting in 2012 that was deemed unconstitutional in 2016 and had no effect on the party that held office the year the redistricting was changed.
I have been following the Jeff Van Drew vs. Amy Kennedy U.S. Congressional race for the New Jersey 2nd District. This race is being impacted by local issues, the Presidential race, and a difference in campaign money. Right now, the race is considered a “toss-up,” but a recent poll shows Kennedy in the lead by 6 percentage points. Will the incumbent, Jeff Van Drew, changing parties and becoming Republican help him, or will it show him as a traitor to the Democratic party, and possibly even “pull him down” because of President Trump’s low favorability ratings in the district?