Emily Bazelon

  • August 5, 2014

    by Caroline Cox

    Adam Liptak of The New York Times discusses Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent comments on the Supreme Court’s different treatment of cases involving gay people and women. Justice Ginsburg comments suggest that the five-justice conservative majority does “not understand the challenges women face in achieving authentic equality.”

    In Slate, Emily Bazelon explains the recent decisions by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama that blocked major restrictions on abortion clinics. Despite these pro-choice victories, the legal fight against allegedly burdensome regulations on abortion clinics remains an uphill battle as a Texas law goes before the Fifth Circuit.

    Robert Barnes of The Washington Post reports that a Florida judge has found two of the state’s congressional districts unconstitutional. The decision, one of several challenging gerrymandering throughout the country, sets the stage for a possible Supreme Court case in the fall. 

    Shawn DuBravac, the chief economist of the Consumer Electronics Association, writes for the Harvard Business Review that the Supreme Court’s view on the Fourth Amendment is increasingly taking into account changing technology and the importance digital privacy.

    The New York Times’ James Barron provides the obituary for James S. Brady, White House press secretary for President Ronald Reagan and a major champion of gun control legislation.

    The Alliance for Justice published a comprehensive report detailing each federal case on the legality of a same-sex marriage ban. 

  • February 13, 2013

    by Jeremy Leaming

    In a State of the Union Address largely focused on economic policy aimed at helping the middle class as opposed to measures long trumpeted by conservative lawmakers that coddle the superrich, President Obama also highlighted the unequal effects that too many state laws had on voting last year. As The New York Times recently reported, African Americans and Latinos “waited nearly twice as long to vote as whites, according to a study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute for Technology.”

    Obama called for a bipartisan commission, including his campaign lawyer Robert Bauer and Mitt Romney’s counsel Ben Ginsberg, to investigate the voting difficulties and irregularities of the 2012 election cycle.

    That’s a commendable action, but we must not forget that the nation’s strongest law to combat racial discrimination in voting remains the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and especially its major enforcement provision, Section 5. Section 5 applies to certain states and localities with deep histories of discriminating against potential voters because of their race. And in 2006, Congress developed an exhaustive record showing that racial discrimination in voting still persisted and indeed remained most invidious in those jurisdictions. Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act provides citizens nationwide with the ability to challenge discriminatory practices wherever they occur.

    But Section 5 is the bulwark against those state officials bent on creating ways to keep minorities away from the polls. Indeed, the Department of Justice and several civil liberties groups relied on Section 5 to halt or blunt efforts in Texas, South Carolina and Florida (all covered by Section 5) that would have disproportionately impacted the minority vote.

    While Section 5 is integral to the Voting Rights Act, it is also despised by some state officials in the covered jurisdictions. Alabama officials are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate Section 5, arguing in part that racial discrimination in voting is largely a relic. The high court will hear oral argument in the case, Shelby County v. Holder on Feb. 27 and is expected to issue a ruling in late spring or early summer. (For more information about the Voting Rights Act and the Shelby County case see ACS’s Voting Rights Act Resource Page.)