• May 19, 2014
    In 2008, before he was the Solicitor General of the United States, Donald B. Verrilli Jr. argued the dangers of administering the three drug lethal injection protocol in Baze v. Rees. Now, following the botched execution of Clayton D. Lockett, many of the risks highlighted by General Verrilli have come true. Writing for The New York Times, ACS Board Member Linda Greenhouse discusses the state of capital punishment.
    Adam Liptak at The New York Times describes the troubling case of Billy Wayne Cope, a man convicted of raping and murdering his 12 year-old daughter. After confessing three times to the crime, Cope’s lawyers are appealing his conviction, blaming intense police interrogation for his multiple confessions.
    The Utah Supreme Court has granted a stay in response to previous orders for the state’s Department of Health “to issue birth certificates in same-sex parent adoptions.” The Associated Press has this story.
    As we celebrate this year’s college graduates, Henry Louis Gates Jr. at The Root  introduces his readers to America’s “first black collegians who faced a system that explicitly favored the white elite.”
    Gerard Magliocca at Concurring Opinions examines the influence of M’Culloch v. Maryland and The Federalist
  • May 16, 2014
    Guest Post

    by A. Anthony Antosh, Ed.D. and Andrew Imparato.  Antosh is the Director of the Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities and a Professor of Special Education at Rhode Island College. Imparato is the Executive Director of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities and formerly served as Senior Counsel and Disability Policy Director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Chaired by Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa.

    *May 17 is the 60th Anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court opinion, Brown v. Board of Education. This post is part of an ACSblog symposium noting the landmark decision and exploring the ongoing inequalities in our society.

    The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling laid the foundation for the 1975 federal law (now called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) requiring access to a free appropriate public education for all children with disabilities. Before 1975, about one million American children with disabilities were receiving no education from the public school system. Since then, we have made progress in securing quality, integrated educational opportunities for American children with disabilities, but we still have a long way to go – particularly for children with intellectual disabilities. 

    There is a history of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities learning, living and working in separate settings. As the Court noted in Brown, “Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” That statement was a stimulus for a civil rights movement that sought to integrate people with disabilities into every aspect of society. In the 1960s it was rare to find any public school that integrated students with intellectual disabilities. Although progress has been made, we still find widespread segregation of these students. Fifty-six percent of students (ages 6-21) with intellectual disabilities are primarily educated in separate classes or separate schools (United States Department of Education. 31st Annual Report to Congress on the Implementation of IDEA, 2009). The effects of segregation are significant. Twenty-seven percent of people with intellectual disabilities (aged 21-64) do not have a high school diploma (American Community Survey, 2012). The curriculum offered in segregated settings is often vastly different than the curriculum offered in typical classrooms (Wehmeyer, 2003). Students in segregated classrooms are less engaged and spend more time alone (Hunt, Farron-Davis, Beckstead, Curtis, & Goetz, 1994).

  • May 16, 2014

    by Rebekah DeHaven

    The Senate began this week’s judicial nominations action on Monday, May 12 with the confirmation of Robin S. Rosenbaum to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit by a vote of 91-0.

    Also on Monday, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture on the following three nominees:

    Steven Paul Logan, U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona;

    John Joseph Tuchi, U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona; and

    Diane J. Humetewa, U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

    The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on seven judicial nominees from Georgia the following day.

    Julie E. Carnes, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit;

    Jill A. Pryor, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit;

    Leslie Joyce Abrams, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia;

    Michael P. Boggs, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia;

    Mark Howard Cohen, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia;

    Leigh Martin May, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia; and

    Eleanor Louise Ross, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

  • May 16, 2014
    An unclassified report released Wednesday by the departments of Justice and Defense assured  members of Congress that “if Guantánamo Bay detainees were relocated to a prison inside the United States, it is unlikely that a court would order their release onto domestic soil.” Charlie Savage at The New York Times discusses how the report “addresses concerns over President Obama’s plan to close the controversial prison.
    Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg upheld Washington, D.C.’s strong post-Heller gun regulations, finding that they “pass constitutional scrutiny.” Ann E. Marimow at The Washington Post has the story.
    At The Week, Matt Bruenig argues in favor of term-limiting Supreme Court justices. In his article, Bruenig supports a proposal that would enable Supreme Court judges to serve single, staggered 18-year terms.
    Earlier this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit struck down several sections of Wisconsin’s campaign finance law. At Concurring Opinions, Ronald K.L. Collins breaks down Wisconsin Right to Life v. Barland
  • May 15, 2014
    Guest Post

    by Rachel M. Kleinman, Assistant Counsel, Education Group, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

    *May 17 is the 60th Anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court opinion, Brown v. Board of Education. This post is part of an ACSblog symposium noting the landmark decision and exploring the ongoing inequalities in our society.

    This week we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education and its promise and vision of equality. While there is indeed much to celebrate, both in the principles of Brown itself and its now six decade legacy, the fight for equal access to quality education in this country is still being waged on many fronts. At the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund (LDF), we are commemorating this landmark decision by looking back at our history and by doubling down on our current efforts to use law and advocacy to fulfill the promises of Brown.

    While Brown marked the beginning of the end of a legally-sanctioned, racially segregated, dual system of education, we have a long way to go to reach a day when all students have equal access to a quality education. Our country’s history of discrimination, along with deeply entrenched residential segregation, has left us with racially-identifiable schools that do not enjoy equality of resources. We still fight to ensure that all children have access to early childhood education, to adequate school facilities, to safe schools with positive climates, to certified teachers and to rigorous and inspiring courses of study. We also fight to keep our black and brown students free from the myriad policies, including overly harsh and damaging discipline practices, which conspire to push them out of schools and into the criminal justice system.