Legal Commentary - Barton Aronson Archive


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SAFETY FIRST, PART TWO:
REVAMPING THE STATUTORY TOOLS TO COMBAT TERRORISM

In Part Two of a two-part series, FindLaw columnist and federal prosecutor Barton Aronson discusses ways to amend federal statutes to protect our security after the September 11 attacks. Having discussed the security of our borders and skies in Part One of the series, Aronson goes on in this part to advocate revising the barriers between the CIA and FBI that prevent them from exchanging information, and amending the wiretaps laws to better fit our cellphone society.
Monday, Oct. 08, 2001

HOW TO ENFORCE LIMITS ON UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS: THE ISSUE THE CURRENT IMMIGRATION REFORM PROPOSALS LEAVE OUT
FindLaw columnist and federal prosecutor Barton Aronson argues that, at a time when immigration reform is likely to soon become reality, we should focus on the neglected, widespread problem of employers using undocumented workers. Requiring the I-9 form is not enough, Aronson contends; he suggests additional measures.
Friday, Aug. 24, 2001

MARYLAND'S PROPOSED ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAW FOR GAYS: A CONTROVERSIAL MEASURE THAT REALLY SHOULDN'T BE
FindLaw columnist and federal prosecutor Barton Aronson weighs in on Maryland's Anti-Discrimination Act, the equal protection measure for gays that will be presented to voters in 2002. Since the Act provides only the most basic of civil rights protections, Aronson argues, it ought to be uncontroversial; instead, it has faced strong opposition, based more on its projected cultural effect than on its legal meaning.
Friday, Jul. 27, 2001

HOW A RECENT SUPREME COURT ATTORNEYS' FEES DECISION WILL DRAMATICALLY CHANGE THE ENFORCEMENT OF CIVIL RIGHTS AND OTHER LAWS
FindLaw columnist and federal prosecutor Barton Aronson contends that the Supreme Court's recent Buckhannon decision was wrongly decided, and will have a damaging effect on suits to enforce important federal civil rights and environmental statutes. Buckhannon held that a plaintiff suing under these statutes is not a "prevailing party," entitled to attorneys' fees, if the defendant voluntarily -- without a settlement or judgment -- changes its conduct to conform to the plaintiff's demands.
Friday, Jun. 29, 2001

A SOUTH CAROLINA CONVICTION BASED ON A PREGNANT WOMAN'S COCAINE USE: SHOULD WE CRIMINALIZE HARM TO UNBORN CHILDREN?
FindLaw columnist and federal prosecutor Barton Aronson reflects on the recent South Carolina conviction based on the theory that a woman's cocaine use caused her daughter to be stillborn. Aronson explains the history of the common law rule that pregnant women could not be criminally charged for harm to unborn children. He discusses South Carolina's departure from the rule, and other states' compliance with it.
Friday, Jun. 01, 2001

FIGHTING FOR CELL PHONE USERS OR JUST FOR LEGAL FEES? WHY THE CELL PHONE CLASS ACTIONS ARE MISGUIDED
FindLaw columnist and federal prosecutor Barton Aronson discusses the cell phone class action lawsuits Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos has filed -- and the more general topic of lawsuits that are based on risks, not actual injuries.
Monday, May. 07, 2001

WHO'S DRIVING THIS BUS?: GAYLE NORTON'S RIGHT TO SET THE AGENDA FOR ENFORCING THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT
FindLaw columnist and federal prosecutor Barton Aronson counters the recent criticism of Interior Secretary Gayle Norton's decision to set her own priorities for her department, rather than allowing them to be set in part by citizens' suits to enforce environmental statutes. Aronson discusses the important role of citizens' suits in the enforcement of environmental statutes. But he also stresses that it is ultimately up to heads of government departments, like Norton, to decide what priorities their departments will pursue -- and rightly so.
Friday, Apr. 20, 2001

SHOULD STUDENTS' PRIVACY RIGHTS BAR RANDOM DRUG TESTING?
FindLaw columnist and federal prosecutor Barton Aronson discusses the recent ruling by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, in the Tecumseh case, that a school cannot, consistent with the Fourth Amendment, randomly drug test all students involved in extracurriculars, even if the purpose of testing is to offer treatment, not to punish. Aronson reviews Supreme Court precedent on students' privacy rights, and notes the legal question in the Tenth Circuit case is a close one. He also argues that the real problem in the case is not a legal one; it is the adversarial posture of students versus school. Schools, he contends, should be able to act as the guardians of their students, rather than being put in the position of adversary, and the ACLU should acknowledge that its pro-treatment position on drug use may imply that programs like the one in the Tecumseh case are a good thing, not a rights violation that should be litigated.
Monday, Apr. 09, 2001

THE CASE OF ROBERT DOWNEY, JR., AND OTHERS LIKE HIM: WHAT TO DO WHEN TREATING DRUG USERS FAILS
FindLaw columnist and federal prosecutor Barton Aronson reflects on the question of what the law should do when -- as in the case of Robert Downey, Jr. -- a drug addict repeatedly receives treatment, but treatment still fails. Aronson notes the increasing trend of requiring treatment, not jail time, for first-offense and second-offense drug users, and even for drug sellers who seem to be selling in order to fund their personal drug use. Aronson argues, however, that we should admit that sometimes treatment fails, and that in that event, incarceration should be the alternative we choose - if we want to protect not just the addict, but society as a whole, and if the justice system seeks to avoid becoming an enabler of drug abuse.
Friday, Mar. 23, 2001

NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND THE FOURTH AMENDMENT
FindLaw columnist and federal prosecutor Barton Aronson discusses how judges interpreting the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures attempt to deal with new technologies -- such as the thermal imaging device at issue in Kyllo v. United States, a case in which the Supreme Court recently heard oral argument. Aronson explains how the "reasonableness" standard that is an express part of the Fourth Amendment puts judges in a jury-like position, requiring them to gauge the zeitgeist, and intuit the feelings of society as a whole on privacy issues.
Friday, Mar. 09, 2001

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