• July 24, 2015

    by Jim Thompson

    Terri Lively quotes ACS President Caroline Fredrickson in a Fortune article about our misguided views on overtime pay and the challenges this creates for working parents.   

    Heather Digby Parton reports at Salon about the frequent and dangerous use of force by America’s police.  

    At Jacobin, Jennifer Mittelstadt discusses the exclusionary realities of the New Deal and imagines a more inclusive, socially-responsible welfare system.  

    In The Washington Post, Harold Meyerson discusses the partisan implications of a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in the forthcoming Supreme Court case Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association.

  • July 24, 2015
    Video Interview

    by Nanya Springer

    Some talk this week centered on the issue of reforming the U.S. Supreme Court, with one irresponsible proposal gaining moderate attention, but Erwin Chemerinsky has been talking about fixing the Supreme Court for years.  In an interview with ACSblog, Chemerinsky ‒ the Distinguished Professor of Law and Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law at the University of California, Irvine School of Law ‒ describes the Supreme Court’s greatest failures and proposes responsible solutions.

    Chemerinsky recalls the Lochner Era ‒ a period during which the high court struck down more than 200 laws enacted to protect consumers and employees, using the rationale that such laws interfere with freedom of contract. While the Lochner Era ended nearly a century ago, Chemerinsky explains that today’s Roberts Court “is the most pro-business Supreme Court that we’ve had since the mid-1930s.”

    This claim, as Chemerinsky notes, is backed up by empirical studies. From restricting the availability of class action suits and favoring binding arbitration to weakening the influence of unions, the Roberts Court has consistently sided with corporations over consumers and employees—all while refusing to recognize poverty as a suspect classification and determining that education is not a fundamental right.

    Chemerinsky offers reasonable proposals, such as imposing 18-year nonrenewable term limits, allowing cameras inside the Court and insisting that the justices conform to the same ethical standards, particularly with regard to recusal, as judges on other courts.

    Watch the full interview here or below.

  • July 22, 2015

    by Jim Thompson

    Patrick McGeehan reports at The New York Times about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to raise the minimum wage in New York City, an initiative that will eventually benefit low-wage workers across the state.

    During today’s hearing of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts, Neil Siegel, co-faculty advisor for the ACS Student Chapter at Duke Law School, refutes claims of judicial activism in recent Supreme Court cases.

    In The Washington Times, Alan Morrison, co-faculty advisor for the ACS Student Chapter at George Washington University Law School, examines Supreme Court decisions that have perpetuated an increased flow of money into elections.

    The editorial board of The Star Tribune discusses feasible strategies to make voting easier in Minnesota. 

  • July 21, 2015

    by Jim Thompson

    In the Huffington Post, Dana Liebelson discusses how the proposed First Amendment Defense Act could undermine anti-discrimination protections for women and LGBT individuals.

    This Wednesday, Neil Siegel, co-faculty advisor for the ACS Student Chapter at Duke Law School, will serve as a witness before a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts entitled “With Prejudice: Supreme Court Activism and Possible Solutions.”

    Stephanie Luce writes at Jacobin that employers’ increasing tendency towards “zero-hours contracts” and irregular work schedules present new concerns for America’s existing labor struggles.  

    In the Denver Post, Timothy Garvey, president of the Colorado Lawyer Chapter, urges Colorado senators to work quickly to fill a “future vacancy” on the U.S. District Court for Colorado to maintain the efficacy and accessibility of the state’s judicial system.      

  • July 21, 2015
    Guest Post

    by Reuben Guttman, partner, Guttman, Buschner & Brooks, PLLC; Guttman is a member of the ACS Board of Directors.

    In the suffocating heat of a Washington, DC July, my thoughts drift back 30 years to a sweltering Beaumont, Texas summer. A fried fish sandwich and a milkshake at the “Pig Stand,” the smell of hydrocarbons wafting from nearby petrochemical plants, and talk of football – at any level – was Beaumont back then. 84 years after Beaumont’s 1901 Spindletop gusher gave rise to the formation of Gulf Oil and Texaco, it seemed that nothing in Beaumont had moved it forward to a new identity. It was a city stuck in time.

    The biggest event in Beaumont during that summer of 1985 was the strike by several hundred black women at the A.W. Schlesinger Geriatric Center. The strikers, ranging from cooks to nursing staff, were fighting over an attempt to roll back the average wage from $4.10 to $3.90 an hour. Fresh out of law school, I had been assigned by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to assist the strikers. Our office was a wooden structure with two small offices and a multipurpose room used for union meetings, press briefings, and cooking gumbo. It was in that office that I first met Cecile Richards and Kirk Adams who were SEIU’s organizers on the ground. All of us were in our 20s. Cecile, of course, would later become president of Planned Parenthood and speak at the Democratic National Convention. Kirk rose to become an International Executive Vice President of the SEIU.

    Although I had worked with SEIU though law school, the summer of 1985 was for me a crash course in the working person. In this case the workers cleaned bed pans and cooked food for the elderly; they set work aside for Sunday church services and rose to the occasion as organizers and press spokesmen during the Schlesinger labor dispute. I learned that dignity, intelligence, and perseverance are not traits reserved for those who wear a suit and tie. As the strike turned into a lockout and dragged through the heat of the summer, from that small union hall I learned to view things from the lens of workers, not just from the technical vantage point of a labor and employment lawyer whose analysis of case law is akin to dancing on the head of a pin. I learned for myself – but of course had to explain to others – that justice under the law and fundamental fairness are not necessarily the same thing. At the end of the day, neither Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act nor the National Labor Relations Act offered any relief for the Beaumont strikers. There was law but no rights under it.