• 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 14, 2014
    Yesterday, President Obama requested a review of the administration’s enforcement policies for immigration laws. The White House asked Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to oversee the process. Seung Min Kim and Reid J. Epstein at POLITICO report on the president’s effort to create a more humane immigration system.
    In 1975, Sen. Frank Church (D- Idaho) organized a Senate committee to review American intelligence activities.  Referred to as the Church Committee, the group uncovered secret wrong-doings by the U.S. government.  Frederick A. O. Schwarz, Jr. at The Nation argues “why we need a new Church Committee to fix our broken intelligence system.”
    Mississippi lawmakers voted to “study” a bill that gay rights activists believe would promote discrimination on the basis of religion. Adam Serwer at MSNBC comments on “the latest setback for the religious right.”
    Writing for Voices at the Open Society Foundations, Viorel Ursu explains why Ukraine’s future will be decided “by the new government’s response to the fundamental demands for justice.”
    At The Atlantic, Andrew Cohen notes the “problem of lengthy delays in capital cases.”
    Dan Markel at Prawfsblawg breaks down a new paper by Larry Krieger that helps answer the question, “What makes lawyers happy?”
  • 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.”


  • February 25, 2014
    The Supreme Court held yesterday that an Alabama death row inmate had “constitutionally deficient” counsel at trial. The Court agreed that Anthony Hinton, who was convicted of two 1985 murders, “is entitled to a new trial if he was prejudiced by his lawyer's deficient performance.” The Equal Justice Initiative reports on the case and includes the per curiam opinion.
    The New York Times editorial board calls on the Obama administration to address the lack of due process for federal immigrant detainees who are being held without bond hearings. The paper cites a plethora of cases involving the detention of immigrants without hearings or formal charges—evidence of a broken immigration system.
    The United Automobile Workers filed a formal objection with the National Labor Relations Board after Volkswagen workers at a Chattanooga, Tennessee plant decided not to join the UAW. Lydia DePillis at The Washington Post considers the possibility that the UAW “get a do-over in Chattanooga.”
    In an article for The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin argues why Clarence Thomas’ behavior on the bench is “demeaning the Court.”
    The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund notes a significant victory for voting rights in Fayette County, Georgia.  
  • August 15, 2013

    by Jeremy Leaming

    As the radically right-wing U.S. House of Representatives works to scuttle comprehensive immigration reform, a new study shows President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a year old on Aug. 15, is providing relief to thousands of undocumented immigrants who arrived here as children.

    The Brookings Institution study shows that DACA “confers two important advantages to approved applicants: a temporary suspension of deportation and the authorization of work in the United States.”

    The report finds that since its announcement “more than half a million people have applied for DACA through June 2013; 72 percent have been approved, while just 1 percent have been denied. The majority of the remaining applications are still under review.”

    The report also provides demographics of those being helped by the program. Brookings obtained information on DACA via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. For example, the report notes more than “half (54 percent) of all DACA applicants were under age 21.” The applicants were “fairly evenly split between males and females. Fifty one (51) percent of DACA applicants were female; 49 percent were male. The most common year of birth for applicants was 1994.”

    Moreover, the study, shows the “vast majority of DACA applicants” have “lived in the United States for at least ten years and nearly one-third were age five or younger at arrival.”

    Additionally most of the DACA applicants hail from Mexico, but many others come from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, South Korea, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and the Philippines.

    Audrey Singer, co-author of the report, told The New York Times, “If we think about what they’ve done in their lives and how they’ve spent time in this country, the fact is that they’ve been part of the American school system. This is one of the big things that makes them American.”

    In a post for the National Council of La Raza’s blog, the group says the success of DACA “can be measured by the stories of the more than 400,000 people whose applications have been approved and who can now live without fear of deportation while continuing their education and contributions for their communities.”

    While the Senate was able to come together to pass a long overdue immigration reform bill, the House, in the grip of a party devoted to hobbling government, DACA is a significant example of an executive branch action that is making a positive difference in the lives of many young immigrants.