First Amendment

  • March 20, 2014
    This week, the American Civil Liberties Union advised the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to reject an Arizona law denying bail to immigrants in the country illegally. While those defending the law claim that it is meant to “improve public safety, not punish people for federal immigration violations,” the ACLU maintains that “Latino detainees are [being] unfairly held while other nationalities are allowed to put up bond.” Paul Elias of the The Associated Press has the story.
     
    In Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which required select jurisdictions to submit all changes in voting rules to the Justice Department for review. Writing for MSNBC, Adam Serwer comments on the role Chief Justice John Roberts played in the controversial decision and the implications of “equal sovereignty.” For further analysis on Shelby County, please see ACSblog analysis by Spencer Overton, former ACS Board Member and the President and CEO of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.
     
    At CPRBlog, James Goodwin follows the developing legal dispute concerning Duke Energy’s violation of the Clean Water Act. Goodwin explains why “federal prosecutors are now looking into whether North Carolina’s environmental regulators engaged in any criminal activity in their efforts to shield Duke.”
     
    Steven R. Morrison at PrawfsBlawg notes “a rare move in terrorism (and all criminal) cases” concerning former Al-Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghayth.
     
    On C-SPAN, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan reflects on her “life and career” in a conversation with Georgetown University Law Center students.

     

  • March 13, 2014

    by ACS Staff

    Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) accused the Central Intelligence Agency of illegally searching her committee’s computers. Mark Mazzetti and Jonathan Weisman of The New York Times  report on the controversy that has “one of the C.I.A.’s staunchest defenders deliver[ing] an extraordinary denunciation of the agency.”

    The conviction of William Jeffrey Dumas on three counts of rape was overturned last week by Judge Christopher McFadden of the Georgia Court of Appeals. Dumas was accused of raping a woman who is diagnosed with Down syndrome. David M. Perry at CNN describes how this “troubling case reveals the intersections between rape culture and the way we strip agency from people with disabilities.”

    Ronald K. L. Collins at Concurring Opinions explains why, when it comes to the issue of cell phone privacy and First Amendment rights, “there is more here than meets the constitutional eye.”

    Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson is testifying this week on the White House’s 2015 DHS budget request. Georgeanne M. Usova at ACLU’s Blog of Rights answers the major questions on immigration.

    At Dorf on Law, Michael Dorf explains why granting certiorari and ruling for the petitioners in Elane Photography, LLC v. Willock“would open up a pandora's box of businesses seeking exemptions from anti-discrimination law.”

     

  • March 10, 2014
     
    Fifty years ago yesterday, the Supreme Court expanded First Amendment rights in the landmark case of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan. Former ACS Board Chair and current Co-Chair of the Board of Advisors for the ACS Chicago Lawyer Chapter as well as Co-Faculty Advisor for the University of Chicago Law School ACS Student Chapter Geoffrey R. Stone discusses the case that “re-framed the constitutional law of libel” at The Huffington Post. For more anniversary coverage of Sullivan, read Katie Townsend’s guest post at ACSblog.
     
    At the Constitutional Accountability Center’s Text & History Blog, CAC and their co-counsel Ben Cohen of The Promise of Justice Initiative discuss the certiorari petition they filed in Jackson v. Louisiana.  The Sixth Amendment case considers “whether an individual may be convicted of a crime even if the jury in his case cannot reach a unanimous verdict.” 
     
    At Prawfsblawg, Sarah Lawsky reviews a study by Loyola-Chicago Law School ‘s Alexander Tsesis which examines last year’s entry-level law school hires.
     
    At Womenstake, Emily Martin, Vice President and General Counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, discusses the importance of the West Virginia Pregnant Workers’ Fairness ers’ Fairness
  • March 6, 2014
    BookTalk
    Taking Liberties
    Why Religious Freedom Doesn’t Give You the Right to Tell Other People What to Do
    By: 
    Rob Boston
    by Rob Boston, Director of Communications, Americans United for Separation of Church and State
     
    Religious freedom is crucial to the American experience. Indeed, a longing for the right to worship according to the dictates of conscience is one of the reasons our nation exists.
     
    Religious freedom encompasses many concepts. Fundamentally, it means the power to choose where and how you will worship—or if you’ll worship at all. It also means that the government has no right to compel anyone to take part in religious exercises or force its citizens to directly subsidize houses of worship. It means that decisions about faith are private and belong firmly anchored in what Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark once eloquently referred to as the “inviolable citadel of the heart.”
     
    That’s what religious freedom is. Here is what it is not: a tool to control others or to diminish their rights. Yet, increasingly, this is how some Americans are defining religious liberty. Because religious freedom is central to our democracy, it’s important that we get this right.
     
    I wrote Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn’t Give You the Right to Tell Other People What to Do because I was concerned that a noble principle designed to protect individual freedom was being warped into an instrument of mass oppression. This must not happen.
     
  • March 6, 2014
    Guest Post
    by Katie Townsend, Associate, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP
     
    Editor's Note: The 50th anniversary of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan is this Sunday, March 9.
     
    For me, and for other media attorneys of my generation, it is almost impossible to conceive of a world without New York Times Co. v. Sullivan. Certainly, the “actual malice” standard announced in Justice Brennan’s celebrated opinion, and the interplay between that standard’s twin elements of fault and falsity have, throughout my lifetime, been the defining features of the law of defamation. But the impact of that landmark decision extends far beyond the realm of reputational torts.
     
    Sullivan has shaped our very understanding of the First Amendment—as a reflection of “a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust and wide-open”—and it serves as a touchstone in virtually every case that calls for an interpretation of the constitutional guarantees of free speech and a free press.
     
    For evidence of Sullivan’s enduring and continued role in shaping First Amendment thought and jurisprudence beyond the scope of defamatory speech, one need look no further than the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in United States v. Alvarez. Alvarez addressed the constitutionality of the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, a federal statute that made it a crime for an individual to falsely claim that she or he had been “awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States.”
     
    A six-justice majority concluded, albeit for different reasons, that the statute was unconstitutional under the First Amendment. While Justice Kennedy in his plurality opinion, and Justice Breyer in his concurrence, disagreed as to the proper analysis, they agreed in at least one critical respect, finding that false speech is not outside the scope of the First Amendment—an idea rooted in the reasoning and holding of Sullivan.