A growing trend of private probation companies is influencing our court and prison systems. Implemented now in ten states, these companies provide an inexpensive means for courts to ensure that fines are paid. However, in what is referred to as the “debtor’s prison,” many of today’s poor are being jailed because they can’t afford to pay their fines. PBS NewsHour reports on this controversial phenomenon which is proving how “without funds to pay fines, minor incidents can mean jail time.”
Calls for an investigation into the leak of a classified Senate report on torture to McClatchy newspapers continue. The leak came after Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) accused the Central Intelligence Agency of illegally searching her committee’s computers. Adam Serwer at MSNBC has the story.
Andrew Cohen at The Atlantic explains why President Obama is right to speak out on voter suppression, “but he needs to preach to someone other than the converted.”
As voters prepare to head to the polls this election season, many are concerned with how last year’s Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder will affect voter turnout. Carrie Johnson at NPR reports on an ACS-sponsored voting rights training in Atlanta that is working to prevent voter disenfranchisement.
When did the Supreme Court’s stance on campaign finance reform begin to change? For Kenneth Jost at Jost on Justice, the court began to “open its door to more money in politics” as soon as Justice Sandra Day O’Connor closed the door on her career in 2005. In his analysis, Jost breaks down McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission and explains why it’s “no mere coincidence that O’Connor’s departure marks the court’s turning point on issues of campaign finance regulation.”
Attorneys have filed a lawsuit to stop Texas’ expansive restrictions on abortion. Irin Carmon at MSNBC reports on the new challenge from abortion rights activists.
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 ACSbloganalysis 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.
Spencer Overton, former ACS Board Member and current President and CEO of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, visited Selma, Alabama for the 49th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.” Overton chronicled his experience on Twitter as civil rights leaders urged Congress to remember the legacy of Selma following last year’s controversial Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder. For further analysis of Shelby County, please see Overton’s guest post at ACSblog.
In an interview with NPR’s Carrie Johnson, Attorney General Eric Holder shares his stance on softening prison sentences, the Senate’s vote to block the nomination of Debo Adegbile for Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, and former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
The Supreme Court has declined to hear a Pennsylvania school district’s appeal of a lower-court decision to uphold the right of students to wear breast-cancer-awareness bracelets. Mark Walsh at Education Week reports on the student-speech case.
Walter Shapiro at the Brennan Center for Justice discusses the legal issues surrounding the Federal Election Commission and single-candidate Super PACs.
Ann Havemann at CPRblog explains how budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency will affect enforcement of environmental laws.
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.
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."