• November 25, 2015
    Guest Post

    by B. Jessie Hill, Judge Ben C. Green Professor of Law, Case Western Reserve University School of Law

    What is at stake for reproductive rights in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, which will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this Term? In a word, everything. Whole Woman’s Health may well be the most significant abortion case in 24 years.

    The Supreme Court established the “undue burden” standard for evaluating the constitutionality of abortion restrictions in 1992 in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The vagueness of that standard, combined with the Court’s apparent willingness to uphold numerous restrictions in that case, opened the door for states to continually pass new and ever more restrictive regulations on abortion in the decades since Casey was decided. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has largely declined to speak further on the meaning or scope of the undue burden standard.

    What’s more, states began to try a new kind of restriction – restrictions adopted in the name of protecting women’s health but really aimed at reducing access to abortion. These differed from the sorts of restrictions at issue in Casey, which were primarily laws aimed at affecting the woman’s decision making process, such as waiting periods, parental consent requirements, and informed-consent requirements. Casey was relatively deferential toward measures intended to ensure the woman’s choice was fully informed, but it did not have occasion to consider the sort of pretextual health regulations at issue in Whole Woman’s Health.

    In Whole Woman’s Health, the Court will decide the constitutionality of a Texas law that imposes onerous requirements on abortion providers—namely, that doctors providing abortions have admitting privileges at a local hospital and that abortion clinics conform to the requirements for “ambulatory surgical centers,” including requirements pertaining to the physical plant, staffing, parking, and the like. These requirements are often impossible for older clinics to meet without spending enormous sums of money. Although other types of ambulatory surgery centers—clinics that provide minor surgery on an outpatient basis—are generally offered waivers or grandfathered from when new regulations are instituted, abortion providers are specifically denied grandfathering and waivers.

  • November 25, 2015

    by Jim Thompson

    On Tuesday, outgoing Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) issued an executive order restoring voting rights for 170,000 nonviolent ex-offenders who have completed their sentences, reports Ari Berman in The Nation.

    In The Atlantic, Gillian B. White states that supply-constricting zoning regulations greatly increase the cost of living in urban areas, deterring many Americans from moving to cities where jobs and resources are plentiful and subsequently exacerbating inequality in the United States.

    At The Guardian, Zach Stafford writes about growing tensions in Chicago following the release of video footage showing the inhumane death of Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old black teenager who was shot 16 times by a white police officer in 2014. 

    Victoria Cavaliere reports in Reuters that the NAACP has asked a federal judge to halt the implementation of a photo identification requirement for North Carolina voters, saying  that the law disproportionately burdens “minority voters who might have less access to legal documents needed to obtain driver's licenses or other official identification.”

  • November 24, 2015
    Guest Post

    by J. Chris Sanders, Attorney, Chris Sanders Law PLLC

    Two things I’m not going to say in this brief post. First, I’m not going to explain the Citizens United decision. Ever since the Supreme Court spoke in 2010, there’s been plenty of explanation. More than explanation, there are a number of campaigns to reverse the decision, to pass a constitutional amendment overturning it, and/or to blunt its worst effects. Those campaigns do a complete and admirable job of explaining the decision, its ramifications, and the fix that we’re in. But just to keep us on the same page, here’s my two cents. I keep it short: “the Supreme Court perverted Freedom of Speech into legalized corruption by promoting unlimited campaign cash in our elections.”

    We know what the problem is. The question for this post is what to name the problem, or rather, what not to name the problem. We just have to stop saying, “we hate Citizens United.” Or “end citizens united.” Or “citizens united is bad for democracy.” I’m sorry to step on friends’ toes, but I’m concerned. Standing alone, without backstory about the decision, “we’re against citizens united” is counterintuitive. Unless the hearer knows that “citizens united” means the Supreme Court legalized giant money’s control over our politics, it makes no sense.

    You can almost see the baffled stares and hear the snide rhetorical questions in the media. “Why are progressives against united citizens?” We aren’t- we are the united citizens! Not them- they’re organized and united money, remember? The organization “Citizens United” was just a multi-million-dollar “nonprofit” masquerading as a movement. It’s Orwellian to get people to believe that organized money is really united citizens, but that’s exactly what CU was trying to do.

  • November 24, 2015

    by Jim Thompson

    Charles M. Blow at The New York Times blasts the base bloviations emanating from politicians since the Paris terrorist attacks, writing "There seems to be no bottom to the cesspool of Islamphobic rhetoric coming" from Republican politicians.

    At Vox, Dara Lind reports that five activists were shot at a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis on Monday evening. This shooting follows renewed white supremacist attitudes in America, writes Chauncey Devega at Salon.

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled Monday that a Wisconsin law requiring abortion providers to get admitting privileges at nearby hospitals is unconstitutional, reports Todd Richmond at the Associated Press. The U.S. Supreme Court will consider similar but more extensive restrictions upheld by the Fifth Circuit in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole this term.

    Nina Liss-Schultz writes for Mother Jones that Planned Parenthood is suing Texas officials for stripping the organization of Medicaid funding.

  • November 23, 2015

    by Jim Thompson

    Maurice Chammah at The Marshall Project writes about a burgeoning campaign in California to save the death penalty. 

    Andy Newman reports in The New York Times that a growing number of students at Princeton University are urging the school to rethink its use of symbols bearing the name of former President Woodrow Wilson, because of his well-documented racist views and actions. In The Huffington Post, University of Chicago law school professor Geoffrey R. Stone comments on the matter. 

    UC Hastings College of Law has announced that it will establish a fund in the name of Professor Joseph Grodin to support social justice education programming. Professor Grodin was also recognized in a tribute on Nov. 12, where federal appeals judge Marsha Berzon delivered a speech in his honor.