Women's rights

  • March 21, 2014

    by Nicholas Alexiou

    The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) should not be read to provide for-profit employers the extraordinary power to block women workers from access to the most effective contraceptive methods, states an amicus brief lodged with the Supreme Court on behalf of the Guttmacher Institute and Professor Sara Rosenbaum, an expert in law and policy surrounding healthcare concerns.

    The friend-of-the-court brief authored by Dawn Johnsen, a distinguished professor at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law (and a member of the ACS Board), and includes former U.S. Solicitor General Walter Dellinger as Counsel of Record explains that the for-profit companies – an arts-and-crafts chain store and a cabinet manufacturer – have “failed to recognize the vastly different effectiveness and cost of different forms of contraception, the substantial degree to which cost determines which contraceptive methods are actually used, the health and social factors that affect a woman’s method of choice, and the resulting consequences for women’s health, family and well-being, and risk of unintended pregnancy and abortion.”

    In the brief, Johnsen and Dellinger note that cost-sharing promoted by the Affordable Care Act is critical to allowing every woman to have access to the most effective forms of contraception available. It is claimed that hormonal intrauterine devices (IUD) are “45 times more effective than oral contraceptives and 90 times more effective than male condoms in preventing pregnancy based on typical use” and that “[a]lmost one-third of American women report that they would change their contraceptive method if cost were not an issue.” However, the cost of IUDs is an overwhelming issue for many Americans as implantation can cost “a month’s salary for a woman working full time at minimum wage.”

    To rule in favor of the corporations in these cases “would deny to female employees and their insured family members vital access to the full range of contraceptive methods, inflicting financial harm and erecting obstacles to needed medical care.”

  • March 18, 2014
    Students from Yale Law School wrote a letter admonishing Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) for voting against the nomination of Debo Adegbile to head the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. Sen. Coons voted against Adegbile because he oversaw an appeals process for a convicted murderer while at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. Ryan J. Reilly at The Huffington Post reports on the letter.
     
    On Monday, Tarek Mehanna’s lawyer asked the Supreme Court to review his client’s seventeen-year imprisonment by a Boston jury for “providing material support to the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.” Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog notes the First Amendment implications of Mehanna’s conviction.
     
    Anticipation is growing as the Supreme Court prepares to hear oral argument for Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. In an article for Slate, Adam Winkler—Faculty Advisor for the UCLA School of Law ACS Student Chapter—explains why corporations should have the rights of “legal personhood that are essential to their operations” and why “Hobby Lobby should lose.”
     
    Kirk Siegler at NPR discusses why “California is shaping up to be the next major battleground over the Second Amendment.”
     
    Celebrating Women’s History Month, Cortelyou Kenney at Womenstake discusses the “gains women have made in terms of their representation on the federal judiciary … under the Obama administration.”
  • 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
  • February 21, 2014
     
    Arizona lawmakers passed a bill that allows businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbian customers and to deny equal pay to women. GOP lawmakers are fervently defending the legislation, claiming that it protects the religious freedoms outlined in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. MSNBC’s Adam Serwer reports on the controversial law.
     
    Oregon officials announced that they will no longer uphold the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Although the fate of the ban has yet to be decided in the courts, the state’s decision remains a significant victory for gay couples in Oregon. Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSBlog has the story.
     
    Environmentalists are engaged in a legal dispute with the Environmental Protection Agency after a North Carolina energy company polluted a nearby river with hazardous coal ash. Rena Steinzor and Michael Patoka of the CPRBlog discuss the need to regulate toxic coal ash and the alleged mishandling by the state’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
     
    Human Rights Watch explains why a deadly U.S. drone strike on a wedding procession in Yemen may have “violated the laws of war.”
     
    Writing for Balkinization, David Gans responds to Prof. Douglas Laycock’s claim that corporations can exercise religion.
     
    At Womenstake, Stephanie Glover provides an update on women’s enrollment in health insurance plans through the new Health Insurance Marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act.