ACSBlog

  • 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.”
  • April 9, 2014
    At The Atlantic, Andrew Cohen discusses “secession by attrition” in which a collection of senators are “starving the federal courts of the trial judges they need to serve the basic legal needs of the litigants who come to court each year seeking redress of their grievances.”
     
    Writing for Daily Kos, Jon Perr criticizes Politico’s recent piece “Obama now outpaces George W. Bush on judges,” for its misleading message. While the Obama administration has made some “headway” against Senate Republicans’ egregious obstruction of the president’s judicial nominations, Perr reveals how  Politico’s data shows that President Obama’s nominations have been “confirmed at a lower rate than President Bush’s.”
     
    Yesterday, President Obama signed two executive orders that “will prevent retaliation against employees who disclose compensation information and will require businesses to include race and gender information when reporting compensation data.” Keli Goff at The Root comments on this critical step towards ensuring workplace equality. 
     
    At the Daily Journal, Richard L. Hasen discusses Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission and the "faux judicial restraint" of the chief justice’s “gradualism.” 
     
    Michelle Olsen at Appellate Daily notes a recent petition to the high court requesting oral argument in a case involving threats made on Facebook.
  • April 8, 2014

    Writing for Verdict, Michael C. Dorf compares last week’s decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission with the political philosophy of fictional House of Cards majority whip Francis Underwood to reveal “a Court with an utterly benighted view of politics.” At CAC’s Text & History Blog, Brianne Gorod notes how Chief Justice John Roberts’ ruling in McCutcheon is inconsistent with his stated beliefs as a judge on the U. S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
     
    While the Affordable Care Act remains “too entrenched, among consumers and providers, either to fail on its own or be dispatched by legislative ‘repeal,’” its opponents continue to resist the law, bringing lawsuits that could “wreak havoc beyond the exchanges.” Writing for The New Republic, Simon Lazarus explains what needs to be done to counter these challenges.
     
    The Obama administration continues to face criticism for its deportation of immigrants living in the country illegally. Ginger Thompson and Sarah Cohen of The New York Times reveal how an “examination of the administration’s record shows how the disconnect evolved between the president’s stated goal of blunting what he called the harsh edge of immigration enforcement and the reality that has played out.”
     
    On Monday, the Supreme Court decided not to grant certiorari in a case asking whether a business can “refuse to serve gay and lesbian customers.” Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog breaks down Elane Photography v. Willock and other orders from the high court.
     
    Andrew Cohen at The Atlantic reviews former Supreme Court Justice John Paul StevensSix Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, and highlights the justice’s change of heart on the constitutionality of capital punishment.

     

  • April 7, 2014

    by Jeremy Leaming

    Nationwide fasts of immigration reform supporters that started last year will culminate this week after a 48-hour fast in Washington, D.C. SEIU, We Belong Together and the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) have coordinated the fasts and will bring 100 women together in D.C. to cap the nationwide movement.

    Thousands of supporters have participated in the fasts and last month, renowned immigrant rights leader Eilseo Medina was arrested while trying to visit Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart at his Miami office to deliver the groups' messages about immigration reform. Medina was released from a Miami jail on March 22.

    After the 48-hour-fast on April 9, the groups will share stories from across the country of people supporting immigration reform with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, urging them to pass comprehensive immigration reform and to stop deportations of undocumented persons. (In a lengthy piece from The New York Times government records show that the Obama administration has been deporting far more undocumented immigrants because of minor offenses than it has stated. The Times' analysis reveals that since Obama “took office, two-thirds of the nearly two million deportation cases involve people with who had committed minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all.”)

    Last summer the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill containing a path toward citizenship for a large portion of the country's more than 11 million undocumented people. But House leaders have continued to argue they would consider piecemeal actions instead of the Senate bill.  

    In an April post for SEIU blog, Sylvia Ruiz, wrote, “We want to meet with Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor on April 9 to share the stories we have gathered from across the country from people of faith, businessmen and women, immigrants, community members and constituents who are all supporting reform.”

    Those leaders, Ruiz continued, “have the rare opportunity to end the pain and suffering of millions of people that is caused by our broken immigration system. These two individuals are responsible for setting the House voting schedule. If they call for a vote on immigration reform, that vote will happen, and the House and Senate will finally be moving forward to fix a system that has needed fixing for years.”

    More information on the events of Fast for Families is here. A recent ACS event explored some positive actions a few states are taking to make the lives of undocumented persons easier as they seek citizenship.

  • April 7, 2014
    Guest Post
    by Robert N. Weiner, Litigation Partner, Arnold & Porter LLP
     
    * From 2010-2012, Mr. Weiner was Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice, where he oversaw the defense of the Affordable Care Act. He has written and lectured extensively about the ongoing challenges to health care reform.
     
    Retired Judge Max Wright was walking across Agora Park when he spotted Professor Justin Good sitting on a bench. It had been quite a while since the old professor had held forth in his usual spot, engaging passers-by with the Socratic skills that had terrified his former law students. Max Right was not happy to see Professor Good. He seemed to prove Max wrong about something every time they met. Max looked for a detour, but Professor Good was already calling his name.
     
    Professor:   Hello, Max. Nice to see you again. It’s been a while.

    Max:           Uh, hi.

    Professor:    Are you in a hurry?

    Max:           No. I was just watching an argument in the Court of Appeals. (To himself: “Why did I say that?”)

    Professor:    Really? What case?

    Max:           Uhhh. It involves the tax subsidies for low income people to buy health insurance under Obamacare. I really have to g—

    Professor:    Tell me about it.

    Max:           I don’t, I mean, I’m not ... (sighs).

                        Okay. The law requires States to set up an insurance exchange—you know, it’s supposed to be like Travelocity for insurance.  But if the State doesn’t do it, the Secretary of HHS has to. Poor people are supposed to get a federal tax break so they can afford insurance. But here’s the problem—they only get it if they buy the insurance on an exchange established by the State. If they live in a State where the Secretary established the exchange, they’re out of luck. The Obamacare statute says in black and white, “established by the State.” But the IRS puts out this rule saying that it means “established by the federal government or the State.” There’s the federal government and there are the States. They’re not the same.