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  • March 16, 2017
    Guest Post

    *This piece originally appeared on Demos' PolicyShop

    by Adam Lioz, Counsel and Senior Advisor, Policy & Outreach, Demos

    Hearings on Trump’s Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch are less than a week away—and whomever is confirmed to the lifetime appointment will have a decisive vote on whose voices carry weight in our democracy. 

    In a new report released today, Court Cash: 2016 Election Money Resulting Directly from Supreme Court Rulings, Demos demonstrates exactly what is at stake by quantifying—for the first time—the direct impact of four of the Supreme Court’s most significant money in politics cases on 2016 election spending.

    The Supreme Court’s rulings in Buckley v. Valeo (1976), Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee v. FEC (1996) and Citizens United v. FEC (2010) led to more than $3 billion in spending on the 2016 elections, which is equivalent to 45 percent of the total cost of the elections.

  • March 16, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Joshua Matz, Publisher of Take Care

    Since Donald J. Trump took office, we have all been drinking from a fire hose trying to keep up with the latest legal news. He has besieged the rule of law in so many ways at once that the American public can barely grasp the latest havoc before Trump causes yet another disaster. We have even had to learn new words—like “emoluments”—to capture all this illegality.

    As a result, the legal left has struggled to keep pace with the president, and there is a pressing need for new resources and institutions to protect our legal order.

    Rising to the occasion, over fifty of the nation’s foremost legal scholars have now joined together to ensure that the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”  At Take Care (@ShallTakeCare), they will cover the major legal issues of our time, from immigration and healthcare to conflicts of interest, civil rights, free speech and more. Contributors include Larry Tribe, Walter Dellinger, Marty Lederman, Dawn Johnsen, Daniel Tokaji, Douglas NeJaime, Leah Litman and Jamal Greene, among many others. 

    In addition, Take Care has created—and will continue to create—resources useful to lawyers, journalists, policymakers and citizens. To start, it offers a daily update, which pulls together legal analyses of Trump Administration policies from around the web. Take Care also hosts dozens of topic pages, which will evolve into curated archives of first-rate legal commentary. The end result will be a veritable arsenal of progressive ideas and insights.

  • March 15, 2017
    Guest Post

    *This piece originally appeared on the Stanford Law School Blog.

    by Nora Freeman Engstrom, Professor of Law, Associate Dean for Curriculum and Deane F. Johnson Faculty Scholar at Stanford Law School

    All eyes are on health care. We are watching Congress take a hammer to the Affordable Care Act and threaten to wreak havoc on a $3 trillion-a-year industry, on which all of us rely. Concern about this congressional action is roiling op-ed pages, spilling out into town hall meetings, and even resulting in pro-Obamacare TV spots, airing across the United States.

    Yet, just out of view, Congress is hard at work dismantling another system—a system that is arguably just as vital to our economy and just as critical to our collective well-being. It is the civil justice system. And the threats it currently faces are serious.

    At this moment, numerous bills that alter the civil justice system are speeding through the House of Representatives. Each bill would, in its own way, upend time-honored procedures for where cases are brought, how they are litigated and whether plaintiffs get a fair shot or, instead, face a stacked deck. That, in turn, will determine whether the laws on the books are adequately enforced or, instead, whether corporations, governmental actors and others can violate our laws—whether involving the environment, civil rights, product safety, consumer protections or just about anything else—with impunity.

  • March 15, 2017
    Guest Post

    *This piece is part of the ACSblog Symposium: 2017 ACS National Convention. The symposium will consider topics featured at the three day convention, scheduled for June 8-10, 2017. Also, this piece was written in response to the March 9 ACS National Symposium on Policing in a New Political Era. The full video of this event can be found here.

    by Thomas Nolan, Associate Professor of Criminology, Merrimack College; 27-year veteran of the Boston Police Department

    One of the attendees at last week’s symposium on “Policing in a New Political Era,” co-sponsored by the American Constitution Society and New America, asked whether we should consider the abolition of policing in America. My fellow panelist, Cardozo School of Law Professor Ekow Yankah, deftly responded that it may indeed be time to “reimagine” policing in America. And so it is.

    An insightful March 12 Washington Post article by Katie Zezima observed “police officers [are] acting as drug counselors and medical workers and shifting from law-and-order tactics to approaches more akin to social work” and that the police now envision their roles as mental-health workers and doctors. In fairness to the police, these are roles into which they have been, unwittingly and perhaps unwillingly, thrust in a societal expectation that the police are the default “responders” with responsibilities for dealing with the social marginalia that they are neither properly trained or qualified to undertake.

    The police are deserving of praise for adopting strategies in dealing with the opioid crisis that no longer see enforcement strategies as the only tactics in dealing with drugs and drug abusers, but it is fair to question whether or not policing in this nascent political era should include having police “generalists” providing medical, mental health and social work services to vulnerable populations of people, throwaways whom those charting course in this political era would just as soon see disappear. The police are filling voids here in professional disciplines and in providing medical and mental health services that will almost invariably be inadequate to the task. Reimagining the role of the police recognizes that these vital services need to be provided to those who need them the most by professionals trained to treat the sick, the broken and the mentally ill.   

  • March 15, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Caroline Fredrickson

    This week marks a national initiative to highlight transparency, accountability and open government. The timing could not be better.

    Sunshine Week, March 12-18, falls the week before confirmation hearings begin for Trump’s Supreme Court pick.

    National discourse has centered on the president’s commitment to core constitutional values and his understanding of the importance of rule of law. Indeed, leading constitutional scholars have already raised red flags on numerous issues and lawsuits have been filed.

    Events of the last few months have increased the gravity of the decision about who should fill the ninth seat on the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is often the last defense for our Constitution and it is imperative that any nominee not be beholden to any one person, let alone the president of the United States.

    Throughout his campaign and since his election, the president repeatedly emphasized that his Supreme Court nominee would be the most conservative jurist he could find, and he made sure his nominee passed a series of litmus tests, including on reproductive rights and gun safety laws. This compromises the independence of the judiciary at a time when we especially need to rely on the courts to make their own assessment of the constitutionality of legislative and executive actions. Decisions from federal judges across the country impact the lives of all of us, from how we are treated in the workplace, how the law regards women, racial minorities and those with disabilities, among others, consumer protections, the safety of our environment, our right to vote and our immigration system – just to name a few issues.