Should Rapists Have Parental Rights? Alabama Thinks So

By Kelly Barrett

In Alabama, a survivor of rape can be forced to co-parent with their rapist. Further exacerbating the problem of rapist parents are abortion bans passed in several states in recent years. Alabama’s 2019 abortion ban, which was preliminarily enjoined by a federal court as applied to pre-viability abortions, mixes with Alabama’s absence of laws allowing for termination of parental rights based on rape to create a toxic environment for rape survivors. Women should be free to choose to terminate their pregnancies, and rape survivors should not be forced to have their children and potentially be forced to enter into a co-parenting relationship with their rapist.

Alabama’s abortion ban legislation does not allow for abortions at any stage of pregnancy, except in limited health related circumstances that do not include rape or incest.  Thus forcing a woman to have a child if she does not act quickly after conception to end her pregnancy or seek a risky illegal abortion (as noted here in amicus briefs in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt and June Medical Services v. Gee, many women may be at risk for health complications or death if they pursue unregulated illegal abortions). Further as far as risks to women’s health, childbirth is a greater risk than an abortion.

Thirty-two states allow for termination of parental rights based on if the rapist was convicted of sexual assault against the mother. Twenty states have legislation limiting parental rights of rapists (with some overlap). However, in contrast with some states that allow for termination of parental rights based on any conviction for rape or sexual assault (including Kansas and Massachusetts), or that do not require a conviction at all (Alaska and Colorado for example), Alabama requires a conviction for rape in the first degree, sodomy in the first degree or incest in order for parental rights to be terminated for this reason.… <Read More>

Raising the Age, Lowering the Crime

Effective October 1, 2018, the Raise the Age law took effect in New York. What does it mean to “raise the age”? New York no longer automatically charges all 16-year-olds as adults. Why is New York raising the age? Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that youth incarcerated in adult facilities are not only more likely to suffer abuse but they are also more likely to recidivate. By raising the age, New York is lowering the crime rate.

Why did New York “raise the age”? The results in other states indicate success. Studies by the Connecticut Juvenile Jurisdiction Planning and Implementation Committee show that young people prosecuted as adults are likely to reoffend. Young adults in stricter facilities are also at an increased risk for suicide. Raising the age for young adults to be prosecuted in family court instead of being tried as adult, may decrease the number of reoffenses.

In 45 states, 17 years old is the maximum age of juvenile court jurisdiction. Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Texas and Wisconsin are the only states that draw the juvenile/adult line at age 16. Since 2007, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and South Carolina passed laws to raise the age so that the majority of young people who are arrested will be served by the juvenile justice system. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR), between 2005 and 2015 juvenile crime fell in Connecticut, Illinois, and Massachusetts, and in the United States in general: the federal violent crime index fell 29% and property crime rates fell by 42%.… <Read More>

The Real Cost of Student Debt: Why New York State Should Allow Common Law Marriages

By Raelynn Leggio

As law students we are experiencing first hand the crushing weight of debt in order to obtain our degrees. In 2012 the average law student had incurred approximately $140,616 of debt. This figure doesn’t include undergraduate debt, and millennials are truly feeling the pressure as tuition for undergraduate and graduate programs only continues to increase.

So what does that have to do with marriage?

Although many millenials face significant debt burdens, the cost of a formal wedding continues to increase. Wedding spending is at an all time high in the U.S., with a 2015 survey from The Knot revealing that couples shell out an average of $32,641 for their big day; that’s about the same price as the average tuition at a private undergraduate university. If you want your big day to be in Manhattan, you could be spending about $82,299. Every reception category from the venue price, to custom guest entertainment, to wine and liquor tastings has increased, while the lists of invitees have gone down to an average of 139 guests.

But that is the reality we face today. The cost of getting married is just added to the mountain of debt that students owe. Student debt has become the new normal and so is the delay of experiencing many life milestones. Marriage, buying a home, and purchasing a car are the top three things that are being delayed by the recent graduate, according to the Consumerist, with 56% of the millennial age bracket stating that their debt has turned them away from investing or starting a family.… <Read More>

The Every Student Succeeds Act

By: Jarienn James

On December 10, 2015, a bipartisan bill revising the National Education Law was signed into law by President Obama. Using twelve pens, President Obama repealed the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The ESSA prepares children for college and affirms the government’s commitment to ensuring each child receives quality education. President Obama remarked NCLB had the right goals such as:

high standards, accountability and closing the achievement gap… [However,] it didn’t always consider the specific needs of each community. It led to too much testing during classroom time. It often forced schools and school districts into cookie-cutter reforms that didn’t always produce the kinds of results that we wanted to see.

This war on education began in 1965 when President Lyndon B. Johnson enacted the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). President Johnson believed that “full educational opportunity” should be “our first national goal.” This civil rights law would expire every three to five years, leaving Congress to reauthorize it. In 2001, the Government, in response to the significantly low achievement standards of the poor and the minority students created the NCLB.

Purpose of the Acts

The purpose of the NCLB was “…to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards and state academic assessments.” The NCLB delved further and listed twelve steps that States may use to achieve its goal.… <Read More>

Remembering Judith Kaye: A Pioneer for Women in the Legal Profession and Advocate for Children and Families


By: Mallory McGee


On Wednesday, January 6, 2016, former New York Court of Appeals Chief Judge Judith Kaye passed away at the age of 77 years old, leaving behind a legacy as an advocate for social justice who paved the way for many women in the legal profession.


Born Judith Ann Smith on August 4, 1938 in Monticello, New York to Polish immigrants Benjamin and Lena, Judge Kaye skipped two grades and was admitted to Barnard College at the age of fifteen. At Barnard, she studied Latin American Civilization and worked for local newspapers in the hopes of pursuing a career in journalism. Post graduation, Judge Kaye landed her first journalism job at the Hudson Dispatch, a newspaper in Union City, New Jersey where she reported on the society pages. In the hopes of furthering her journalism career, she decided to enroll in New York University’s law school. She attended law school part time and worked as a copy editor by day. The law began to appeal to her more and in 1962, Judith Kaye graduated from N.Y.U Law School; she was one of ten women in her graduating class of 300.


Following law school graduation, Judge Kaye worked at Sullivan and Cromwell for two years and then went to IBM’s legal department. While raising her family, Judge Kaye worked as an assistant to the dean at N.Y.U. Then she went to Olwine, Connelly, Chase, O’Donnell & Weyher, where she became the first female partner. Her career took a different turn when former Governor Mario Cuomo stated that if elected, he would appoint the first female judge to the Court of Appeals.… <Read More>