Cornell professor Joseph Margulies comments on the recent news, reported by the Sentencing Project, that between 2000 (the peak year) and 2020, the number of children detained by the criminal legal system experienced a 77% decline; indeed, the number fell every year between 2000 and 2020. Professor Margulies points out that even while we inevitably construct social meaning from crimes in general, we should celebrate the bare fact of this reduction in juvenile incarceration.
In light of 2022 marking the tenth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama, Amherst professor Austin Sarat points out how important that decision was and how much still remains to be done to stop juvenile life without parole (LWOP) sentences. Professor Sarat points out that with the scientific recognition that the development of the human brain is not complete until a person is in their 20s, it does not make sense to treat child offenders the same way we treat adult offenders.
Former federal prosecutor Dennis Aftergut writes a hypothetical speech that, unfortunately, those grieving the suffering and loss of life from the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, will likely never hear from their elected officials. In the speech, Mr. Aftergut rhetorically points out that the speaker’s approach is common sense yet also highly unlikely to be embraced by those with the power to do so.
SMU Dedman School of Law professor Joanna L. Grossman describes the American child welfare system and argues that Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s attempt to weaponize state child abuse law against trans children and their parents is grossly unconstitutional. Professor Grossman points out that the child welfare system gives parents broad discretion to make medical decisions for their children, and a state cannot simply decide that a particular type of medical treatment constitutes child abuse because it is politically opposed to it.
Kathryn Robb, executive director of CHILD USAdvocacy, praises Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for her poise and grace during her Supreme Court confirmation hearing and points out the hypocrisy of Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, who sacrificed the true problem of child sexual abuse and child pornography and sharpen the issue for their own devices. Ms. Robb points out that their states—Texas and Missouri, respectively—have abysmal records when it comes to protecting children and calls upon the senators to focus instead on introducing legislation that offers real protection for children and young athletes, such as zero tolerance statute of limitations reform, Chapter 11 bankruptcy reform, and Title IX reform.
Cornell law professor Sherry F. Colb describes how religion gives an air of respectability to many cruel and reprehensible practices, such as forcing people to carry pregnancies to term, homophobia, and child marriage. Professor Colb argues that Americans’ commitment to “respecting everyone’s religion,” however coercive, violent, or misogynistic, precludes an actual respect for the bodily integrity, liberty, and privacy of women, LGBTQI+ people, and girls.
Kathryn Robb, executive director of CHILD USAdvocacy, explains how and why child sexual abuse is more insidious and long-lasting than “typical” civil wrongs recognized by law. Robb points out that while survivors of child sexual abuse may lack the physical injuries that the law and jurors often look for, they carry deeper wounds that affect their entire bodies and minds well into adulthood.
Penn professor Marci A. Hamilton and UNLV Boyd School of Law professor Leslie C. Griffin explain why the separation between church and state is such an important principle in American democracy and describe ways in which this separation is being eroded. Professors Hamilton and Griffin urge courts and lawmakers to keep the states and the nation from being run by the world’s religions.
UF Levin College of Law professor Neil H. Buchanan considers whether the current COVID-19 pandemic changes the way we think about the ongoing crises of climate catastrophe and the escalating threats to the rule of law. Perhaps counterintuitively, Professor Buchanan concludes that neither this pandemic nor even the threat of future pandemics changes how we should think about our obligations to future generations because nothing about it requires our focus to the exclusion of those two existing threats.
University of Pennsylvania professor Marci A. Hamilton describes how Texas’s extreme anti-abortion law threatens the lives of female children in that state. Professor Hamilton argues that the law is effectively encouraging citizens to engage in economic trafficking of vulnerable girls, particularly girls who have been subject to sexual predators.
Penn professor Marci A. Hamilton describes how New York and Pennsylvania differ in their approaches to protecting child victims. Professor Hamilton praises New York for taking substantial steps to protect abuse survivors, in sharp contrast to Pennsylvania, where the state legislature has repeatedly failed to take meaningful action to give survivors access to justice.
Kathryn Robb, executive director of CHILD USAdvocacy and survivor of child sexual abuse, praises gymnast Simone Biles for setting a stellar example of courage and self-care. Robb points out that as a result of Biles’s actions, USA Gymnastics may have lost a team gold medal, but more importantly, future young elite athletes and children worldwide observed the actions of a hero.
Marci A. Hamilton, professor at the University of Pennsylvania and CEO of CHILD USA, discusses several decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court this past term that affect children’s rights: Fulton v. Philadelphia, addressing whether a religious social services agency can refuse to place children with same-sex couples; Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., addressing whether a teen could be punished for speech on Snapchat, off school grounds and addressed to her own audience; and NCAA v. Alston, addressing whether the NCAA can deny student-athletes education-related benefits while exploiting their athletic achievements. Professor Hamilton notes that two of these three benefit children, while Fulton, which focuses exclusively on the adults involved and not the children, leaves open the possibility that states can pass neutral laws to meaningfully value the needs of children.
Marci A. Hamilton, professor at the University of Pennsylvania and CEO of CHILD USA, comments on the recent decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturning Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction. Professor Hamilton argues that the decision illustrates the need for states to reform both civil and criminal statutes of limitations (SOLs) to give sexual assault and abuse survivors their day in court.
Cornell Law professor Sherry F. Colb responds to an observation made by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence in his concurring opinion in Jones v. Mississippi, noting an ostensible inconsistency in the language liberals use in discussing incarceration, as compared to pregnancy. Professor Colb acknowledges the face value of Justice Thomas’s point—that liberals refer to minors seeking an abortion as “women” and minors facing life imprisonment without the possibility of parole (“LWOP”) as “children”—but she points out that the difference in terminology reflects a consistent view that minors are not fully developed and should not be forced to do irreversible “adult” things like carry a pregnancy to term or serve a mandatory LWOP sentence.
SMU Dedman School of Law professor Joanna L. Grossman comments on a Texas bill that would allow teens to access birth control without parental involvement. Professor Grossman describes the current state of reproductive health laws and policies in Texas and explains why the proposed bill is so important.
Cornell law professor Sherry F. Colb comments on a case the U.S. Supreme Court will consider this term that presents the question whether the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment prohibits sentencing a juvenile offender to life without the possibility of parole. Colb considers the wisdom and constitutionality of imposing such a sentence on a person who was under 18 at the time of his crime.
Kathryn Robb, executive director of CHILD USAdvocacy, describes how the COVID-19 pandemic uniquely endangers children who are being sexually abused by people close to them. Robb describes ways in which teachers, coaches, and other adult figures in children’s lives must do to ensure the safety of children in this time when schools and other safe spaces are shut down.
Kathryn Robb, executive director of CHILD USAdvocacy, comments on a public-health crisis that is getting relatively less attention right now: the scourge of child sex abuse. To address this crisis, Robb calls for greater public awareness, stronger laws protecting children, and legislative action
Marci A. Hamilton, professor at the University of Pennsylvania and CEO of CHILD USA, describes two stories that show the persistent barriers to justice for child sex abuse victims, despite significant progress recently. First, Hamilton relates the story of Corey Feldman, who will finally get to tell his story of abuse in the premiere of My Truth: The Rape of Two Coreys on March 9, 2020, which will air at 11pm EST in a one-time, online showing globally. Second, Hamilton describes how Patty Fortney and her sisters are pursuing justice against the diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.