A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: Hurricane Sandy

Gray Skies, Blue Laws, $800 Shoes

Gold sneakers

By José I. Ortiz

As a poor law student, I don’t get very many opportunities to shop. When I do, the fact that I live in New Jersey makes shopping a little more complicated because one of my favorite malls — located in Paramus — is closed all day on Sundays. As a Saturday Sabbath-keeping Christian, this makes finding the time to shop particularly challenging for me, but it probably affects everyone in the area. Most people work Monday through Friday, so Sunday would appear to be a prime shopping day.

Bergen County lawmakers don’t seem to care.

As we all know, “Superstorm Sandy” caused devastating damage across the Northeastern United States. As the New York Times reported in one article, Bergen County’s executive, Kathleen A. Donovan, thought a good way to help New Jerseyans recover was to lift the county’s laws banning the operation of certain businesses on Sunday known as “blue laws.” Though the reprieve would only be temporary, it still rankled Paramus’ Mayor Richard LaBarbiera who wanted to make sure shoppers’ sprees would be limited to “necessities” and not “$800 shoes”.

I live near Hoboken, an area that Sandy was particularly unkind to. After I read about the Mayor’s reaction to temporarily allowing shopping on Sundays (and after my fall semester finals), I decided to look into the legality of the mandated Sunday closings in honor of the Sabbath. Why are these laws constitutional in a country where separation of church and state is recognized as a basic democratic principle? LASIS investigates.

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Surviving Sandy

Storm surf kicked up by the high winds from Hurricane Sandy break onto homes in Southampton, New York

By Meghan Lalonde

Last Monday, Hurricane Sandy took New York and New Jersey by storm. And if losing power was the biggest imposition to your daily schedule, well, then you’ve got a lot to be thankful for.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the tri-state area has been left with an estimated $50 billion in damage. Lower Manhattan was dark and flooded for nearly a week, and the Jersey Shore decimated.

Since all the LASIS reporters are students at New York Law School in TriBeCa, many of us were stranded inside the belly of the beast, uncertain how the school, our friends and families, or the surrounding areas would fare.

I hunkered down in New Jersey, where I’d been for the weekend, and watched the lights flicker until finally everything went dark and stayed that way for several days. Other members of the LASIS team were left in flooded buildings, watching transformers explode, or crowded around radios without power and water. One of us was even ambitious enough to do some reading for class by strapping on a battery-powered headlamp.

We were in as much contact as possible with each other, thanks largely to our Google Group for this site and our iPhones. We checked in regularly to see that the others were safe. Thankfully, we were.

After the storm cleared there was more damage than most anticipated and the tragic stories came pouring in like the tidal waves that overwhelmed the subway system and beaches.

We learned that one of our reporters went outside to help cut downed trees on a neighbor’s lawn, others offered up their couches to friends who’d been displaced.  Several of us were donating clothes, food, anything we could.

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