Privacy rights

  • April 30, 2014

    Last night, the Oklahoma execution of Clayton D. Lockett was “halted when the prisoner, began to writhe and gasp” in a horrific scene, which had onlookers witnessing “agonizing suffocation and pain.” Lockett suffered a fatal heart attack after the botched lethal injection attempt which used untested compounded drugs. Erik Eckholm at The New York Times reports on this troubling story while Andrew Cohen at The Atlantic highlights its grave implications. According to Cohen, “what happened last night was the inevitable result of a breakdown in government in Oklahoma, where frustration at the continuing delay in the resolution of Lockett's case blinded state officials to the basic requirements of due process. From these officials' perspectives, the fight over this man's fate seemed to be personal, rather than a dispassionate exercise in bureaucracy.”   
     
    Peter Williams at NBC News reports on yesterday’s Supreme Court oral argument in Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie, suggesting that “the court could allow police to search phones for evidence in serious crimes but not to rummage through them in minor ones.”
     
    Writing for Reuters, Lawrence Hurley explains why the high court handed “President Obama a victory on Tuesday by upholding a federal environmental regulation requiring some states to limit pollution that contributes to unhealthy air in neighboring states.”
     
    At Balkinization, David Fontana discusses Bruce Ackmerman’s “We the People” trilogy and how understanding “where American constitutional change comes from” can help us “better understand many unique features of constitutional order [in] the United States.”
  • April 28, 2014

    Leading gay rights groups are directing their efforts to promoting civil rights for gays and lesbians throughout the south. The “new strategy reflects the growing worry within the movement that recent legal and political successes have formed two quickly diverging worlds for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Americans: one centered on the coasts and major cities, and another stretching across the South.” Nicholas Confessore and Jeremy W. Peters at The New York Times have the story.
     
    Writing for The Atlantic, Andrew Cohen discusses Louisiana’s “broken justice system” and why, “by allowing non-unanimous verdicts in murder trials, the state makes it possible for prosecutors to accept minority jurors—and then discount their views.”
     
    Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in two cases which raise the question of  whether or not police can search through confiscated cellphones of arrestees without a warrant.  Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog previews Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie.
     
    At ISCOTUSnow, Christopher Schmidt discusses Justice Sotomayor’s dissent in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, and why the Justice’s “portrayal of oral dissenting as ‘entertainment for the press’ is not only refreshingly candid, it also happens to be a remarkably accurate.”
     
    Debbie Elliott at NPR discusses one Mississippi abortion clinic’s fight to stay open. 

     

  • April 14, 2014

     
    The Justice Department has accused the Albuquerque Police Department of “a pattern or practice of use of excessive force that routinely violated people’s constitutional rights.” Fernanda Santos at The New York Times reports on the 16-month investigation which found that “too often, the officers kicked, punched and violently restrained nonthreatening people … many of whom suffered from mental illnesses,” while other victims “were disabled, elderly or drunk.”
     
    Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit heard oral arguments in Kitchen v. Herbert, a case challenging Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage. State officials filed an appeal after the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah held the ban to be unconstitutional last December. Writing for Jost on Justice, Kenneth Jost comments on the legal and “unmistakably personal” implications of the case.
     
    The Federal Trade Commission won an important victory in a case that challenged its authority to “regulate data security under the FTC Act.” Daniel Solove at Concurring Opinions breaks down Federal Trade Commission v. Wyndham Worldwide Corporation, et al.
     
    In a study conducted by the Center for American Progress, Jenny DeMonte and Robert Hanna reveal that in some areas, impoverished students are “less likely to receive highly effective teaching.” In their report, DeMonte and Hanna provide ways to combat this troubling inequality.  
     
    In an excerpt from Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution highlighted in The Washington Post, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens discusses the recent shooting massacres, the influence of the National Rifle Association and “the five extra words that can fix the Second Amendment.”
  • April 9, 2014
    Guest Post
    by Harley Geiger, Senior Counsel and Deputy Project Director, Center for Democracy & Technology
     
    The police are at your door. They say they want to search the papers you keep in your house. What do you tell them? “Show me your warrant.”
     
    But what if the police come a-knocking at your email service provider, your online social network, or your cloud storage provider? The police say they want to search your private digital communications, which together add up to much more content than the papers you keep in your house. The service provider may demand a warrant, and the government could respond “We don’t need a warrant. Under ECPA, we only need a subpoena.”
  • March 25, 2014


    This morning, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius. Adam Liptak of The New York Times provides a helpful analysis of the cases while Robert Barnes at The Washington Post breaks down the “vocally devout justices” and the role religion may play in their decision. For more discussion, watch an ACS briefing on the dual challenges known as the “contraception mandate cases.”
     
    Twenty-three years ago, Anita Hill accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. In an interview with Hill, Dahlia Lithwick at Slate reviews the new documentary Anita and describes how “Hill’s testimony had a huge impact on sexual harassment law, and in the public discourse.”
     
    Officials in Mississippi are waiting for approval from the state supreme court to execute Michelle Byrom, a mentally ill woman accused of murdering her husband. Andrew Cohen at The Atlantic explains why “the case of Michelle Byrom contains the unholy trinity of constitutional flaws sadly so common in these capital cases.”
     
    The Obama administration is expected to propose “an end to the [National Security Agency’s] mass collection of Americans' phone call data.” The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman has the story.
     
    Karen Tani at Legal History Blog reviews The Crusade for Equality in the Workplace: The Griggs v. Duke Power Story by the late Robert Belton.