ACSBlog

  • May 13, 2014
    Guest Post

    by Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law, Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law, University of California, Irvine School of Law

    *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 sixtieth anniversary of the decision in Brown v. Board of Education, on May 17, is an occasion for celebrating what it accomplished and reflecting on how it failed. Brown began a social revolution that ultimately ended the apartheid and Jim Crow laws that segregated every aspect of life in the south and in many other places as well. Brown was a crucial part of the foundation for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the most important federal civil rights laws since Reconstruction.

    Yet, it is a mistake to think that Brown brought about an end to the enormous racial inequalities in American society. The most recent census data indicates that 9.7 percent of whites live below the poverty line, compared with 25.6 percent of Latinos and 27.22 percent of African–Americans. Seventeen percent of white children are in families below the poverty line, compared with 32.5 percent of Latino and 35.3 percent of African-American children. This is the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow laws and the racism that has existed throughout American history.

    It also is a reflection of the historic and continued inequality in American public education. The profound irony is that schools, the focus of Brown, are the area where racial segregation most persists. The tragic reality is that American public schools remain separate and unequal and are becoming ever more so.

  • May 13, 2014
    In an op-ed for The Boston Globe Harvard Law Professors Charles Fried and Laurence H. Tribe discuss why the concerns raised by some over the nomination of David Barron to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit do not  “justif[y] delaying a vote, or denying Barron a seat on the First Circuit.”
     
    At Just Security, David Cole notes “why civil libertarians and drone critics should support David Barron.”
    Fred Wertheimer at Democracy 21 explains why, when it comes to campaign finance, “one day, there will be a new majority on the Supreme Court that reflects the views about ‘corruption,’ contribution limits and corporate spending in elections, held by the Supreme Court for decades until 2010.”
     
    Douglas Laycock at Balkinization discusses why the Supreme Court’s decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway “was no surprise…but [still] deeply disappointing.”
     
    “What is it like to visit your mom in prison on Mother’s Day?” Katie Rose Quandt at MotherJones addresses the realities surrounding the “1 in 28 children in the US [who] have a parent behind bars.”
  • May 12, 2014
    BookTalk
    Place, Not Race
    A New Vision of Opportunity in America
    By: 
    Sheryll Cashin

    by Sheryll Cashin, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center. This essay is adapted from parts of Cashin’s book Place, Not Race: A New Vision of Opportunity in America. Professor Cashin will also participating in a panel discussion, “Race and the law in 2014: Still Separate and Unequal?” at the ACS 2014 National Convention.

    Despite the Supreme Court’s compromise decision in Fisher v. Texas, affirmative action is on life support. In Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, the Supreme Court upheld the ability of Michigan voters to ban race-based affirmative action. Conservative opponents will continue to attack the policy in politics and the courts. There will always be another Abigail Fisher. One important response to the demise of race-based affirmative action should be to incorporate the experience of segregation into diversity strategies. I argue that use of place, rather than race, in diversity programming will better redress the separate and unequal schooling that most black and Latino children endure, while enhancing the possibility that we might one day move past the racial resentment that affirmative action engenders.

    While I propose substituting place for race in university admissions, I am not suggesting that American society has become post-racial. My proposal accounts for the racial architecture of opportunity in this country through the race-neutral means of place. Ultimately, I conclude that the social costs of racial preferences outweigh any marginal benefits when race-neutral alternatives are available that will create racial diversity by expanding opportunity to those most disadvantaged by structural barriers. The truly disadvantaged—black and brown children trapped in high-poverty environs—are not getting the quality of schooling they need, partially because backlash wedge politics undermines any possibility for common sense public policies. Affirmative action as currently practiced in admissions at most elite institutions does little to help this group and may make matters worse by contributing to political gridlock borne of racial cleavage.

  • May 12, 2014

    As education inequality increases, hostilities between public education and charter schools continue. Although many charter schools were established to “develop test kitchens for practices that could be exported into the traditional schools” it has “proved difficult to encourage the kind of sharing of ideas that charter schools were originally supposed to foster, given competitive dynamics.” Javier C. Hernandez at The New York Times comments on “charter and public schools and a chasm between.”
     
    Garrett Epps at The Atlantic describes a troubling scene which resulted in the shooting of an innocent man when a law enforcement official mistakenly accused him of car theft. In his article, Epps breaks down Tolan v. Cotton, in which for “the first time in a decade” the Supreme Court “held against law enforcement in a ‘qualified immunity’ case.”
     
    Adam Liptak at The New York Times discusses how “the deep and often angry divisions among [Supreme Court] justices are but a distilled version of the way American intellectuals — at think tanks and universities, in opinion journals and among the theorists and practitioners of law and politics — have separated into two groups with vanishingly little overlap or interaction.”
     
    The controversial execution of Clayton Lockett raised new questions about the merits of capital punishment in America. Boer Deng and Dahlia Lithwick at Slate explain why “in the push to abolish capital punishment, opponents of the death penalty have made it less safe.”
     
    Last week, an Arkansas state trial judge struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog breaks down Wright v. Arkansas

     

     

  • May 9, 2014
    Guest Post

    by Eric Lesh, Fair Courts Project Manager, Lambda Legal

    *Lambda Legal brought the case of Garden State Equality, et al. v. Dow, et al., which secured the right to marry for same-sex couples in New Jersey.   

    New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has until June 29 to decide whether he will preserve the independence of the state’s nationally renowned judiciary or continue to retaliate against members of the New Jersey Supreme Court for decisions that he characterizes as “liberal” and “activist.”

    On October 21, 2013, the fight to bring the freedom to marry to New Jersey ended in a resounding victory when the New Jersey Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, refused to delay the lower court win in Garden State Equality v. Dow. The Supreme Court agreed that there was no public interest in depriving a group of New Jersey residents of their constitutional right to equal protection while the appeals process continued.