Now That’s What I Call Meta

In another post, this writer discussed Covid through a discussion of what is normal and mentioned, briefly, this concept of the metaverse. As we embrace things that are becoming normal, many legal professionals have conducted a large amount of business virtually utilizing platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Many more may not even realize that these “normal platforms” are, at minimum, precursors to what companies plan for the metaverse.

You may have seen the news that Facebook, Inc., changed its name to Meta Platforms, Inc., in the fall of 2021. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, says the company did this to showcase its commitment to the development of a metaverse. But Meta Platforms isn’t the only player in the metaverse game, nor can it be. More recently, Microsoft purchased the video game holding company Activision Blizzard to continue its development of its idea of the metaverse. And Nvidia has been developing the Omniverse as its own metaverse. The list of companies participating in metaverse activities is numerous and varied. But what are these companies doing and why does it matter to the readers of a law school blog?

These companies are shaping Internet 3.0, what is popularly called the metaverse.

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What Is Normal?

Here we are . . . .  It’s January 22, 2022. It’s windy outside. Cold, yet blindingly bright. What snow we had in Milwaukee County has mostly melted, yet winter isn’t even a month old at this writing. Classes resume for the “spring” semester on Monday, the 24th of January 2022, having been delayed for a week so Marquette University can address the burgeoning Omicron variant of the COVID virus. It is this writer’s second “spring” semester at Marquette University Law School and the second spent in the global COVID pandemic.

Back when acceptance letters were being delivered to the class of law students who will graduate in May 2023, scarcely a person on the planet predicted—or even truly considered—that two years hence, we would still be in the throes of a devastating pandemic. And yes, devastating is the correct word to use here, but it isn’t the only word that can be used. The pandemic, for some aspects of life, has been confusingly constructive and progressive. Despite this, many still ask, “When will things return to normal?”

Personally, this writer struggles to comprehend what is normal in most situations—a flaw, perhaps, that has existed since youth. But let’s put the question to the reader: What is normal?

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Texas Deputies and S.B. 8

If you’re like the rest of the United States, then you are aware of the recent attempts to restrict the right to abortion pre-viability — a right affirmed by the Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood v Casey., 505 U.S. 833. Despite the holding in Planned Parenthood, States continue to pass legislation restricting abortion. In some States, these attempts are no more than a brazen attempt to ban nontherapeutic pre-viability abortions.

By the end of 2021, some fifteen States had passed legislation that banned non-therapeutic pre-viability abortions, commonly referred to as “Heartbeat bills.” (As of this writing, the states are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.) Though neither the progenitor nor the ultimate occurrence, S.B. 8, passed by Texas’s legislature and signed into law by Governor Abbott, has created rather significant waves in the legal landscape. Perhaps predictably, other States have emulated Texas’s approach, an approach that some commentators call the most restrictive abortion legislation to be passed post-Roe v. Wade (410 U.S. 113). A quick perusal of one’s favorite internet search engine will reveal the myriad commentary discussing the ways in which Texas and other States have been ingeniously skirting the dictates of the Supreme Court.

So, what is it that makes Texas’s legislation so newsworthy? Truly, it is not the restrictions that Texas has imposed that makes this law exceptional. After all, States have been passing restrictions on abortion long before the right was recognized by the Supreme Court. It is, also, not the fact that Texas is attempting to make it impossible for women, other than victims of rape and incest, to obtain an abortion once a heartbeat is detected; Texas is hardly novel in its endeavors in this area. What makes Senate Bill 8 so exceptional is its novel enforcement scheme.

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