ACSBlog

  • August 7, 2014

    by Caroline Cox

    David Firestone writes in The New York Times about the myth of large-scale voter fraud. New research from Justin Levitt, Co-Faculty Advisor for the Loyola Law School, Los Angeles ACS Student Chapter, shows that voter impersonation almost never happens and raises serious questions about motivation behind voter ID laws. In June 2012, Levitt wrote an ACS issue brief entitled “The New Wave of Election Regulation.”

    Charles Lane of The Washington Post compares the immigration reform President Obama is contemplating to the Emancipation Proclamation. Not since 1862 “has a president considered ordering a more sweeping adjustment to membership in the American community.”

    New data from the Pew Research Center shows shifting opinions of the Supreme Court among Americans, including a growing number of individuals who view the court as conservative. 

    Dennis Henigan writes in Politico about the “Jim Brady effect” and the current state of the gun-control movement.

    The National Commission on Voting Rights released a new report showing continued voter discrimination against African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans throughout the United States.

  • August 6, 2014
    Guest Post

    by Nicole Austin-Hillery, Director and Counsel of Washington, D.C. Office, The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law 

    *This post originally appeared on The Brennan Center’s blog

    Congress went home last week without tackling several critical issues facing our country. This is common in an election year. But this year should have been different. For the first time in nearly five decades, Americans will go to the polls in November without a key protection under the Voting Rights Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court gutted last year in Shelby County v. Holder. When Congress comes back in September, leaders of both parties must act to ensure every citizen can freely cast a ballot.

    Today, on the 49th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, it’s worth looking back at how far our nation has come on voting discrimination and race, and how we can move forward together to ensure equality and justice for all.

    The America we knew in 1965 was vastly different than the one we know now. The civil rights struggle showed our country through a black and white prism. President Lyndon Baines Johnson spoke of this race divide when he signed the VRA, which made it illegal for states to discriminate based on race in voting.

    “The stories of our Nation and of the American Negro are like two great rivers,” he said, “flow[ing] through the centuries along divided channels.” Only after the Civil War, Johnson remarked, did the two rivers begin “to move toward one another.” And a century later, the VRA would allow the two currents to “finally mingle and rush as one great stream across the uncertain and the marvelous years of the America that is yet to come.”

  • August 6, 2014
    Guest Post

    by Michael Scimone, Associate, Outten & Golden LLP.

    Last Tuesday, the National Labor Relations Board’s (“NLRB”) General Counsel announced that his office would prosecute McDonald’s USA, LLC for unfair labor practices committed by its franchisees (i.e., the individual restaurants not owned by the corporation, which is most of them).  That means that the NLRB may hold McDonald’s liable if its nominally “independent” franchisees interfere with or retaliate against workers who try to form unions, strike, or demand better pay or working conditions. 

    The GC’s move is an effort to apply common sense to an all-too-common legal dodge.  McDonald’s claims that its franchisees are free to make their own decisions about labor matters.  But that’s hardly true in practice.  Fast food franchisors like McDonald’s have enormous leverage over their franchisees.  McDonald’s computers track franchisees’ sales and labor costs, monitor employee schedules, and calculate how much labor the stores need.  And McDonald’s is famous for controlling just about everything else in its restaurants – where they buy supplies, how they cook their food, and how they advertise the brand.  It even owns the restaurants themselves.  What’s left for the franchisee to control?  Is it realistic to imagine that a franchisee could bargain over wages, schedules, or health and safety without McDonald’s at the table?

    The franchisor-franchisee smokescreen allows McDonald’s to avoid responsibility for a range of labor abuses, from anti-union interference to wage theft.  McDonald’s workers have filed multiple lawsuits seeking to hold McDonald’s, along with its franchisees, responsible for ripping off workers by making them work off the clock and stealing their already-low wages.  McDonald’s, of course, denies all responsibility.

  • August 6, 2014
    Guest Post

    by Estelle Rogers, Legislative Director, Project Vote

    *This piece originally appeared on Project Vote’s Voting Matters.

    Forty-ninth anniversaries don’t usually garner much attention, but today a 49th anniversary—though filled with pathos—is worth commemorating. The Voting Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on August 6, 1964. Often called the “crown jewel” of the civil rights movement, the Voting Rights Act has now lost a bit of its luster, tarnished by the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder.

    The passage of the Voting Rights Act took barely four months after the President sent the bill to Congress; he called it “one of the most monumental laws in the entire history of American freedom.” And it passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both chambers, foreshadowing the four reauthorization votes that reaffirmed its vitality over the years since. The last, in 2006, passed by a vote of 98-0 in the Senate and 390-33 in the House. But no more.

    Since the Supreme Court eviscerated preclearance, one of the most important tools written into the VRA to fight racial discrimination, the law’s historical bipartisan support seems but a distant memory.  Preclearance requires states and smaller jurisdictions with particularly troubling histories of voting discrimination to secure federal approval in advance for any voting changes. The law swept broadly, recognizing that even seemingly trivial statutory or administrative changes often operate to disadvantage racial and language minorities. One of its most significant advantages was to mitigate the necessity to file expensive and time-consuming lawsuits to redress voting discrimination on a case-by-case basis. As part of the VRA, it was reauthorized four times. But no more.

  • August 6, 2014

    by Caroline Cox

    Nicholas Bagley argues at The Incidental Economist that the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit should rehear Halbig v. Burwell. If sustained, Halbig puts millions at risk of becoming uninsured, meeting the standard for en banc review as a case of “exceptional importance.”

    Niraj Chokshi reports for The Washington Post that Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court. The cert petition asks for a review of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit decision, last month, that affirmed a lower court’s determination that Utah’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional.

    In The Wall Street Journal, Michelle Hackman interviews Adam Cox, Faculty Advisor for the New York University School of Law ACS Student Chapter, on the steps President Obama could take to help undocumented immigrants.

    The Diane Rehm Show hosts a debate on President Obama’s use of executive orders. Jonathan Turley, Stanley Brand and Jeffrey Rosen weigh in.

    Jamelle Bouie of Slate explains the dangers of “broken window” policing and the civil rights implications of being tough on minor offenses.