Civil rights

  • May 5, 2014

     
    The effects of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission are being felt in elections across the country. Writing for the Brennan Center for Justice, Ian Vandewalker discusses how the Republican primary in Florida’s 19th congressional district “illustrates how individual wealth can be an avenue to a seat in Congress — a body in which millionaires now have a majority.”
     
    As calls for the retirement of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg persist, the justice remains steadfast in her decision to continue her “pathmarking” career. Jess Bravin at The Wall Street Journal  discusses Ginsburg’s tenure on the court and a life representing both “historic significance and present-day power.”
     
    Writing for The New York Times, ACS Board Member Linda Greenhouse addresses Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action and why “the decision stopped short of a direct hit on affirmative action.”
     
    Jennifer Bard at Prawfsblawg notes Senator Elizabeth Warren’s A Fighting Chance and why “student loan reform is necessary but not sufficient to developing a legal education that better prepares our students for the important role they will play in society.”
     
    Robert Tsai at Concurring Opinions proposes “the creation of a new national office dedicated to the protection of civil and human rights.” 
  • May 2, 2014

    At The New York Times, Erik Eckholm and John Schwartz describe the timeline leading up to the controversial execution of Clayton D. Lockett, while Jan Hoffman reports that “4.1 percent of death row defendants  are falsely convicted.” Meanwhile, at Slate, Dahlia Lithwick explains why “Oklahoma’s botched execution was the grim but predictable result of a state more concerned with vengeance than justice.”
     
    At California Lawyer, Rory Little talks with U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. about the Affordable Care Act, clerking for Justice Brennan and the possibility of becoming a Supreme Court Justice.
     
    As the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education fast approaches, Sherrilyn Ifill at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund reflects on the landmark case.
  • May 1, 2014
    BookTalk
    Reproducing Racism
    How Everyday Choices Lock In White Advantage
    By: 
    Daria Roithmayr

    by Daria Roithmayr, George T. and Harriet E. Pfleger Professor of Law, University of Southern California Gould College of Law

    This is a book about why racial inequality persists.  Six years after the President Obama’s inauguration, blacks and Latinos have barely a nickel of wealth for every dollar that whites have. The wealth gap between black and white has increased by fourfold in the last generation. Poverty rates for Latinos are almost three times that of whites.  The black unemployment rate is double, as are dropout rates for young Latino and black men. Incarceration rates are respectively three and seven times the rate of white men.  Far from being post-racial, then, race continues to matter on almost every measure of well-being. Why do we see these huge racial gaps—in jobs, housing, education, wealth, incarceration—decade after decade?

    Reproducing Racism argues that racial inequality reproduces itself automatically, generation after generation, in the everyday choices we make about our lives—like choosing where to live or deciding to refer a friend for a job. Light on the subject comes from a most unexpected place—innovative work on a phenomenon called “lock-in.” Economists like Brian Arthur have developed the “lock-in model” to explain why an early lead for one technology can sometimes persist for extended periods even when the technology faces competition from a superior alternative. The lock-in model describes the way that unfair competitive advantage can begin to reproduce itself over time, automatically, without any ongoing illegal behavior.

  • April 29, 2014

    Earlier this morning, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in two cases which raise the question of whether or not police can search confiscated cellphones of arrestees without a warrant. In both cases, the defendants argued that the information obtained from their cell phones by police was in violation of the Fourth Amendment. NPR’s Nina Totenberg discusses Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie.
     
    Yesterday, the Supreme Court denied cert in Jackson v. Louisiana, a case that examined whether or not a non-unanimous jury verdict violates the Sixth Amendment. At CAC’s Text & History Blog, Brianne Gorod explains why the high court’s failure in taking the case “is not only tragic, it’s inexplicable.”
     
    Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard arguments concerning whether a state law can close the last abortion clinic in Mississippi. Writing for MSNBC, Irin Carmon asserts that “what’s at stake stretches far beyond Mississippi.”
     
    At Just Security, Marty Lederman explains why the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s Directive 119, which “prohibits employees of the Intelligence Community from unauthorized ‘contacts’ with the media about intelligence ‘sources’ ” isn’t a “clear-cut matter.”
     
    As the 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education fast approaches, The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund commemorates the Supreme Court’s landmark decision.  
  • April 24, 2014

     
    A new Justice Department initiative could expand clemency eligibility for nonviolent drug offenders. Announced Wednesday by Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, the plan “would canvass the entire federal prison population for the first time to find inmates who committed low-level crimes and could be released early.” Matt Apuzzo at The New York Times examines the implications of the DOJ’s decision. 
     
    Justice Sonia Sotomayor read her impassioned dissent in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action from the bench Tuesday, stating that the plurality were “out of touch with reality [and] one not required by our Constitution.” MSNBC’s Adam Serwer reports on the “simmering tensions over the high court’s approach to race.”
     
    Garret Epps at The Atlantic explains how Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner’s opinion involving a chicken-gutting case, demonstrates “how judges change details they don’t like.”
     
    Joel Mintz at the CPRBlog explains why the Environmental Protection Agency’s Final Enforcement Strategic Plan “contains a modest silver lining in an ominous dark cloud.”
     
    At Womenstake, Beccah Golubock Watson discusses a bipartisan effort by a group of senators to reduce sexual assault on college campuses.