ACSBlog

  • September 29, 2014

    by Zoltan HajnalThe author is a professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego and author of “America’s Uneven Democracy: Race, Turnout and Representation in City Politics." 

    This post originally appeared on Political Violence At a Glance. 

    It appears that violence in Ferguson is fading away. That is certainly a welcome development.  But before the eyes of the media and the attention of the public shift to the next pressing issue, we should use this opportunity to think about reforms that can prevent future Fergusons.  A solution that is easy to legislate and remarkably effective is readily available.

    There are many factors driving the anger in Ferguson. But the fact that African Americans had almost no representation in city government shaped almost everything that happened in that Missouri suburb.  The figures are stark.  Blacks represent two-thirds of the city population, yet the mayor, five of six city council members, six of seven school board members, and 50 of 53 police officers are all not black.

    Ferguson is not alone on this front. Across the nation, racial and ethnic minorities are grossly underrepresented in city government. African Americans make up roughly 12 percent of the population but only 4.3 percent of city councils and 2 percent of all mayors. The figures for Latinos and Asian Americans are even worse.

  • September 29, 2014

    by Caroline Cox

    Burgess Everett of Politico reports that judicial confirmation hearings are likely to return after the November elections.

    In The Nation, Ari Berman examines the voting rights record of Eric Holder. In The Washington Post, E.J. Dionne, Jr. looks at Eric Holder’s legacy in comparison to Robert F. Kennedy.

    Adam Liptak writes in The New York Times on the popularity of judicial elections and the legal challenges facing them.

    The New Republic features Jeffrey Rosen’s lengthy interview of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on topics ranging from the Scalia/Ginsburg opera to rumors of her retirement.

    Eric Segall and Lisa McElroy criticize the secrecy of the Supreme Court in an article for Salon.

     

    In The New York Times, Richard Fausset reports on the underrepresentation of African Americans in politics even in large African American communities. 

  • September 26, 2014

    by Paul Guequierre. This post is part of our 2014 Constitution Day symposium.

    In terms of constitutional law, it might seem these days like we take two steps forward and then two steps back. Last year we saw significant victories for marriage equality in the Supreme Court opinions of Hollingsworth v. Perry and U.S. v. Windsor, but the day after the high court issued those opinions, it dealt a major blow to Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder. We have conservative activist judges and a conservative activist movement hell-bent on reframing the Constitution and what it stands for. Last week we celebrated Constitution Day, the 227th anniversary of the singing of the Constitution. And as we near the end of Constitution month, it’s worth taking a look back at what the Constitution means and where we are going.

    Three years ago, legal scholars  Geoffrey R. Stone and William P. Marshall wrote in an ACS Issue Brief titled “The Framers’ Constitution: Toward a Theory of Principled Constitutionalism,” that “The Framers of the American Constitution were visionaries. They designed our Constitution to endure. They sought not only to address the specific challenges facing the nation during their lifetimes, but to establish the foundational principles that would sustain and guide the nation into an always uncertain future.

  • September 26, 2014
    Guest Post

    by Neil J. Kinkopf, Professor of Law, Georgia State University College of Law

    A growing chorus of legal scholars has argued that President Obama’s move against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) lacks legal authority. Professor Noah Feldman has most recently added his voice. He first made the claim on Tuesday in a blog post and repeated it Thursday on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Feldman assures his readers that “We can dispense quickly the justifications that the administration has proffered ….”   True to his word, Feldman dispenses with the arguments quickly – too quickly, leaving his analysis facile and utterly unpersuasive. 

    In fact, at least three sources firmly establish the President’s authority to proceed against ISIL. 

    1.  Days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress specifically empowered the President to respond.  Under the 2001 Authorization of Use of Military Force, “the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons ….”   Prof. Feldman argues that this law does not support the President’s action against ISIL.  Here’s the full argument:

    The 2001 authorization is less applicable still. In it, Congress told the president he could make war on anyone he determines to have “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the Sept. 11 attacks. The George W. Bush and Obama demonstrations [sic] have vastly expanded this language to cover al-Qaeda affiliates and spinoffs that didn't exist in 2001. But even these extensions don't cover Islamic State, which is not only unaffiliated with al-Qaeda but also at war with its affiliate in Syria, known as the Nusra Front.

  • September 26, 2014

    by Caroline Cox

    Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight challenges the assertion that someone like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg could not be confirmed to the Supreme Court today.

    In the New Republic, Yishai Schwartz looks at the possible cases the Supreme Court could hear on same-sex marriage and argues the Court should follow the lead of the U.S. Court for the Tenth Circuit.

    The current Supreme Court is primarily concerned with protecting majority rights argues Garrett Epps for The Atlantic.

    Geoffrey R. Stone writes for The Daily Beast on the mixed legacy, particularly on issues of civil liberties, of Eric Holder.

    In Slate, Jamelle Bouie presents a more positive message of Eric Holder’s record, and argues that the partisan environment was his major challenge.