Civil rights

  • May 30, 2014

    Acclaimed writer, poet and professor Maya Angelou died Wednesday at the age of 86. In a life that inspired many influential figures of the twentieth century including Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, Angelou eloquently merged the lines between artist and civil rights activist. Adam Serwer at MSNBC celebrates the legacy of an American hero. 
     
    Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has signed a bill that would close many of the state’s remaining abortion clinics. Writing for Salon, Katie McDonough comments on what the legislation could mean for women throughout the region.
     
    Alicia A. Caldwell at The Associated Press notes the Obama administration’s decision to delay a review of the nation’s deportation policy until the summer in an attempt to pressure Congress to act on immigration reform.
     
    On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that Florida’s IQ requirements were too strict in assessing whether or not a prisoner was mentally competent enough to be executed. At The New York Times, Adam Liptak breaks down Hall v. Florida
  • May 29, 2014
    Guest Post

    by Leah Aden, Assistant Counsel, Political Participation Group, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

    When Black voters in Fayette County, Georgia took to the polls during a primary election earlier this month, they experienced, for the first time in the county’s 191-year history, the opportunity to elect their candidates of choice to the Board of Commissioners and Board of Education.

    It is more than just serendipity that this election took place almost exactly 60 years to the day that our nation celebrated the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education on May 17, 1954. Brown ended legally enforced segregation in our country’s public schools and overturned the "separate but equal" doctrine that segregated all aspects of American society. The Brown decision also breathed life into the Civil Rights movement, which in turn led to the creation of the Voting Rights Acts of 1965, widely considered the movement’s greatest victory.

    But for the voters of Fayette County, that victory was a long time coming. Prior to the historic election in May 2014, Fayette County used at-large voting to maintain a racially segregated Board of Commissioners and Board of Education. Although Black voters comprise nearly 20 percent of Fayette County’s population, are geographically concentrated within the County, and consistently vote together to attempt to elect candidates of their choice, no Black candidate has ever been elected to either body under the at-large system of election. Indeed, because Black-preferred candidates are not meaningfully supported by white voters, who comprise 70 percent of Fayette County’s population, those candidates cannot win a county-wide election under the at-large electoral scheme.

  • May 27, 2014

    by Charles Withers

    While May 17 marked the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, inequality along racial lines remains an important concern in today’s classrooms. In recent years, courts have addressed the egregious effects of education inequality within American higher education by weighing the necessity of race sensitive admission policies. According to a study conducted by The New York Times, in states that have banned race-cautious admissions, “prominent public universities have tended to enroll fewer black and Hispanic freshmen.” With these realities in hand, many have turned their focus to Supreme Court decisions like Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action to measure America’s progress in combating these inequalities in today’s college classrooms.

    Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action challenged an amendment to the Michigan constitution banning race sensitive admissions policies in public universities and addressed whether voters can choose to prohibit state universities from considering race in the admissions process. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the plurality, upholding Michigan’s ban and overturning the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit’s ruling that the voting policy violated the Equal Protection Clause.  

  • May 21, 2014

    The legacy of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education remains mixed. While the Court’s 1954 ruling set a necessary precedent for education equality, many argue that it has been a “repository of unmet expectation.” Writing for ISCOTUSnow, Christopher Schmidt explains why “that’s not all bad.” 
     
    The Supreme Court has stayed the scheduled execution of Russell Bucklew. His lawyers contend that Bucklew’s  rare health condition would cause excruciating pain if the lethal injection was administered. Andrew Cohen at The Atlantic reports on the constitutional issues at play. 
     
    Writing for OnLabor, Benjamin Sachs discusses the union issues facing workers at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee and whether the automobile company can implement a works council without violating labor law.
     
    At Womenstake, Gail Zuagar explains why we must support the The Strong Start for America’s Children Act in order to “make high-quality preschool available to children from low- and moderate-income families.” 

     

  • May 20, 2014
     
    Amid some calls to step down from the bench, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer have remained adamant that retirement is not in their near future. L.J. Zigerell at The Monkey Cage explains why Court watchers should not hold their breath.
     
    Yesterday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving the unfair firing of Robert J. MacLean, an air marshal for the Transportation Security Administration who was dismissed after releasing sensitive information to the media. Robert Barnes at The Washington Post  discusses the possible implications of the case.
     
    At the Brennan Center for Justice, Ciara Torres-Spelliscy follows the recent history of money and politics in New York as the state gets closer to meaningful campaign finance reform.
     
    Jason Mazzone at Balkinization notes his visit to the UK Supreme Court and describes the casually civilized courtroom environment.
     
    Writing for Demos, Devin Fergus examines racial inequality 60 years after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision Brown v. Board of Education.