The University of Chicago Undergraduate Law Review (UCULR) is a student-run publication dedicated to the discussion, analysis, interpretation, and evaluation of a variety of legal issues. It aims to provide a better understanding of the law in all of its ambiguities and contradictions in order to reveal how complex compilations of regulatory components can not only serve as reflections of social attitudes towards general ideas of order, agency, consent, power, and choice, but influence the most minute details of everyday life.
The first issue of the UCULR's third volume investigates how ambiguities in the distribution of power within and between sovereign governments obstruct the implementation of codified laws. By examining how American Indian tribes were forced to exert extra-legal pressures in order to reclaim land that federal and state authorities had illegally seized; how Kuwait Airways faced unexpected complications after attempting to rely upon English judgments in Canadian courts; and how Americans wondered if Ohio’s early regulation of the securities industry unconstitutionally infringed upon federal power, this issue illuminates how the contest of power between sovereigns comes to bear upon the construction and enforcement of legal texts. Ultimately, the articles included here demonstrate that the laws of our communities do not exist as self-executing machines that inevitably and freely march toward their stated ends. Thus, we must not conceive of laws as abstracted ideals but, instead, as malleable instruments unavoidably implicated by the motivations and prejudices of the human actors who breathe life into their very terms.
With the emergence of extensive cases of fraud in the field of speculative securities markets at the beginning of the 20th century, the state of Ohio passed an act “to regulate the sale of bonds, stocks and other securities and of real estate not located in Ohio and to prevent fraud in such sale.” The law joined the rows of those already enacted all over the United States, known generally as Blue Sky laws. These laws aimed to protect people from buying fraudulent securities by means of imposing strict licensing rules over the dis- tribution and sale of those financial instruments. For instance, Ohio’s Blue Sky law, which was passed in 1913, prohibited individuals and corporations from distributing securities within the state without first receiving a license from the state Securities Commissioner. The process of acquiring the license included the payment of a fee and the disclosure of particular information about the activities of the company, including copies of all of its advertising. The term “securities”, as defined by Ohio’s Blue Sky law, included such financial instruments as stocks, stock certificates, bonds, debentures, and collateral trust certificates, among others. Then, amendments made to the law in 1914 allowed for, inter alia, the regulation of bonds, stocks, and other securities not located in Ohio. Several classes of securities, however, were exempt from the license requirement, including Ohio public bonds, standard listed stocks, mortgages on Ohio real estate, and other financial instruments already under state regulation. While aimed at protecting consumers from fraud, the law aroused much indignation from companies that had been working for decades, had established reputations, and now were required to pay extra, onerous fees every year.
FEATURED BLOG POST
Imagine walking home from school, or traveling to your part-time job, or running errands. Imagine going about your business, without a single intention of committing a crime. Imagine just trying to get along and live your daily life. Imagine being approached by a police officer. Imagine being stopped and questioned—you’re not sure why, but suddenly someone is in your face, asking what you’re doing, where you’re going, who you are, seemingly out of nowhere. Imagine being searched—for guns, for contraband, for something—without knowing the reason. Imagine when you find out this doesn’t just happen to you, that this isn’t a unique experience. Imagine when it happens to your friends, your family members, your neighbors. Imagine when it happens to you, again and again. Imagine when you get used to it. Imagine when it’s just another part of life.
The idea of being stopped and searched by the police because of the color of your skin is merely a thought experiment for some. But for others, it is a harsh reality that has become part of daily life in New York City, thanks to a ‘stop and frisk’ policy exercised by the New York Police Department over the last decade, leading up to the current mayor Bill de Blasio’s commitment to reform the city’s police procedures. The use of stop and frisk policies has historically been praised by New York City officials as part of the battle against crime. Yet, many critics have claimed that it unfairly and unconstitutionally targets people of color–primarily black and Hispanic men–and that, ultimately, it is not even effective when it comes to its goal of crime reduction. Legal challenges to the laws have been made, changing in theory the way the city polices, but the question remains: is it enough?