Civil rights

  • March 7, 2014

    by ACS Staff

    Following the Senate’s failure to invoke cloture on the nomination of Debo Adegbile to be Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, Andrew Cohen takes to The Atlantic and says that Chief Justice John Roberts should discuss his previous representation of serial killer John Ferguson.  The Chief Justice “should explain why every criminal defendant deserves a lawyer…and why lawyers have professional obligations to advocate on behalf of even the most despised members of our society.”

    Eighteen years after California voters adopted Proposition 209, which, among other provisions, prohibits affirmative action in public education, University of California officials are struggling to enroll robust levels of diverse students. Erica E. Phillips at the Wall Street Journal has the story.

    At Above the Law, Elie Mystal discusses changes to the student loan forgiveness program outlined in the White House’s latest budget proposal.

  • March 6, 2014
    The Senate has blocked President Obama’s nomination of Debo Adegbile to be Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division. Adegbile, who was a prominent lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, has faced criticism for overseeing an appeals process for a convicted murderer while at the LDF. NPR’s Carrie Johnson comments on why the president’s nominee is facing criticism for “one controversial episode in his long career.”
     
    The D.C. Council passed a bill Tuesday that would decriminalize private possession and smoking of marijuana. As anticipation grows surrounding Mayor Vincent Gray’s signing of the bill, Aaron C. Davis of The Washington Post describes how the law is developing into a civil rights issue.
     
    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has cancelled plans for three new charter schools. Al Baker and Javier C. Hernández of The New York Times discuss the mayor’s unyielding support for public education in the face of a growing  “charter school empire.”
     
    Ryan Goodman at Just Security reports on the Obama administration’s lethal operation against a U.S. citizen in Pakistan for “production and distribution of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).”
     
    A study conducted by Rachel West and Michael Reich at the Center for American Progress reveals that “a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage [would] reduce SNAP enrollment.”
     
    At The Root, Jenée Desmond-Harris notes how the 2015 White House budget report highlights civil rights, the reduction of racial disparities and access to higher education. 

     

  • March 4, 2014

    by ACS Staff

    The Supreme Court heard oral argument yesterday in a case that centers on Florida’s rigid policy of determining whether it can move forward on executing a mentally disabled death row inmate. Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog reviews Florida’s standard for evaluating intellectual disability in the death penalty case, Hall v. Florida. For more on this case, please see analysis by Diann Rust-Tierney and Prof. John H. Blume at ACSblog as well as Jeremy Leaming’s piece on the controversial execution of Herbert Smulls.

    Writing for The Boston Globe, Prof. Kent Greenfield argues why for-profit companies should not be exempt from regulatory controls because of religious belief. In the article, Greenfield—a faculty advisor to the ACS Student Chapter at Boston College Law School—comments on the grave implications of providing the commercial businesses, such as Hobby lobby, an exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s policy on coverage of contraception. For more on the corporate challenges to the ACA’s contraception policy see the ACS Issue Briefs, “Corporate Religious Liberty: Why Corporations are not Entitled to Religious Exemptions” by Caroline Mala Corbin, a law professor at the University of Miami, and “With Religious Liberty for All: A Defense of the Affordable Care Act’s Contraception Coverage Mandate” by Frederick Mark Gedicks, a law professor at Brigham Young University.

    Despite efforts by lawmakers in Georgia and Ohio to create more hurdles to voting, Jennifer L. Clark and DeNora Getachew at the Brennan Center for Justice report on some of the “good news on voting rights.”

    Frank Pasquale at Balkinization briefly reviews Raul Carrillo and Rohan Grey’s The Cost of Justice, arguing that “law students need macroeconomics … and macroeconomics needs us."

    The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund comments on President Obama’s landmark initiative, “My Brother’s Keeper.”

  • February 24, 2014
    Guest Post

    by Mary Beth Tinker, Petitioner, Tinker v. Des Moines

    * Editor’s Note: Ms. Tinker is currently traveling the United States to promote youth voices, free speech and a free press as part of the Tinker Tour. For updates, follow the Tour on Twitter and read its February 2014 newsletter. You can support the Tour at startsomegood. The Tour ends on March 7.

    The smiling face of a seventh-grader named Jake is on my laptop screen. Jake is explaining why he wrote “We will never forget you, Newtown... 12/14/12” on the front of his shirt last year after the Newtown Elementary School shooting.  On the back of the shirt, he wrote the name of every person who had been killed there. He explains that he did it because “I felt very emotional. That school was close to mine.” 

    When Jake wore the shirt to school the day after the shooting, the principal asked him to remove it, a possibility that Jake’s parents had prepared him for. He refused, and was sent home. Later, the parents heard that school administrators were worried that students would be upset by the shirt, and that a parent had complained.

    Jake went back to school, but the experience inspired a new interest: students’ rights. Now, he’s doing a documentary for National History Day on “rights and responsibilities” that will feature the Supreme Court case, Tinker v Des Moines, in which I was a plaintiff.

    Jake is asking why I wore an armband to school when I was in eighth grade back in 1965, knowing—like him—that I would get in trouble. He’d also like to know how the case led to the Supreme Court and a landmark victory for students’ rights on February 24, 1969.

  • February 24, 2014

    by ACS Staff

    Federal District Court Judge William J. Martini dismissed a case against the New York Police Department for “engaging in blanket surveillance” of Arab Muslim communities after September 11, 2001. Adam Serwer of MSNBC exposes why the court’s decision shows that “religious profiling is okay, as long as you have a really good reason.”
     
    Christopher Sprigman of Just Security examines the public relations effort by the National Security Agency’s Director of Compliance John DeLong and the agency’s General Counsel Rajesh De concerning the NSA’s controversial surveillance activities. In the article, Sprigman reveals why these efforts “create the appearance but not the reality of lawfulness.”
     
    Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency. Robert Barnes at The Washington Post breaks down Utility Air Regulator Group v. Environmental Protection Agency. For more on this case, please visit the ACSblog.
     
    Writing for the Brennan Center for Justice, Andrew Cohen comments on the lack of media coverage on states’ secrecy laws concerning the types of lethal injections used in executions. Cohen discusses the implications of the media’s inaction.   
     
    At ACLU’s Blog of Rights, Nusrat Choudhury deconstructs Lee Daniels' The Butler and how its depiction of the arduous legal battles of the 1960s Civil Rights movement reminds viewers that “considerable distance remains on the path to true racial equality.”