Princeton Legal Journal


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The Princeton Legal Journal is a student-run organization based at Princeton University. The Journal is meant to serve as a center of the best legal thinking and research of the undergraduate student body. It aims to foster rigorous and in-depth legal debate at Princeton and other undergraduate institutions.


Overview of Articles

The Education of a Contract: Smart Contracts Defined

Feature Article

Zhao, Avery, Valkonen, Pantoja

“Blockchain” refers to an open, distributed ledger that records transactions between parties in a verifiable and permanent way. “Smart contract” refers to the general-purpose computation that takes place on a blockchain. This seems relatively straightforward, and it also seems of little import legally. But then why did the state of Tennessee, in 2018, pass legislation establishing the legal authority of smart contracts in the marketplace? Why do some argue that smart contracts will revolutionize computing, ushering in a “decentralization singularity,” while others are concerned about whether smart contracts are even feasible given the linguistic flexibility inherent to traditional contracts? The reason is that, when one asks what is a smart contract, one receives multiple and distinct definitions. Currently, there is no settled definition for the term. In this note, we discuss how smart contracts have been defined and what this means for their legal treatment.

A Critique of the Inconsistencies Between State and Federal Laws Pertaining to Marijuana Use

Long Form Article


In the United States, a key aspect of the Constitution is federalism, or the division of power between state governments and the federal government. The Tenth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Traditionally, the federal government has held undisputed control over areas such as interstate commerce, immigration, and declaration of war. Individual states have autonomy over public education, local governments, and other statewide affairs that are not enumerated in the Constitution. The Constitution also includes a provision to ensure the supremacy of federal laws, which guarantees that the “Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof…shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” However, due to the oftentimes-vague nature of this division of powers—especially in modern times, when, as a result of new technological advancements and cultural norms, most scholars disagree over the correct interpretation of the Constitution—inconsistencies between federal and state laws have arisen. Cannabis regulation is one of the most prominent areas in which there exist inconsistencies between federal and state laws.

Reviewing Plenary Power: Chae Chan Ping v. United States (1889) and Executive Order 13769

Feature Article


The United States has long been a nation of immigrants. Despite this reputation, many groups have faced hardship and prejudice upon their entry to the United States. In recent years, xenophobic rhetoric has been on the rise. Included in this is a strong anti-immigrant sentiment. On January 27, 2017, President Trump propelled this idea to the national stage when he issued Executive Order 13769. This order came after promises of a “Muslim ban” throughout his campaign and it prohibited all immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. After numerous legal challenges, President Trump has refined and revised his Executive Order. The most recent iteration restricts travel for citizens from Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, as well as North Korea, Chad, and some groups in Venezuela.

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