ACSBlog

  • 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.   

  • April 7, 2014
    As voters prepare to head to the polls this election season, many are concerned with how last year’s Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder will affect voter turnout. Carrie Johnson at NPR reports on an ACS-sponsored voting rights training in Atlanta that is working to prevent voter disenfranchisement. 
     
    Writing for The Daily Beast, Geoffrey R. Stone—former ACS Board Chair and current Co-Chair of the Board of Advisors for the ACS Chicago Lawyer Chapter as well as Co-Faculty Advisor for the University of Chicago Law School ACS Student Chapter—explains why the Supreme Court’s ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission presents a  “dangerous misunderstanding of the First Amendment and why it exists.”
     
    When did the Supreme Court’s stance on campaign finance reform begin to change? For Kenneth Jost at Jost on Justice, the court began to “open its door to more money in politics” as soon as Justice Sandra Day O’Connor closed the door on her career in 2005.  In his analysis, Jost breaks down McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission and explains why it’s “no mere coincidence that O’Connor’s departure marks the court’s turning point on issues of campaign finance regulation.”
     
    Attorneys have filed a lawsuit to stop Texas’ expansive restrictions on abortion. Irin Carmon at MSNBC reports on the new challenge from abortion rights activists.
  • April 4, 2014
     
    On Monday, the Senate voted to confirm John B. Owens to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, filling the longest-running vacancy in the country. The seat that Owens filled was a judicial emergency and had been vacant since December of 2004 when Judge Trott took senior status.
     
    On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for four nominees to Florida district courts, all of whom would fill judicial emergencies if confirmed:
     
    Beth Bloom to the S.D. of Florida;
    Paul G. Byron to the M.D. of Florida;
    Darrin P. Gayles to the S.D. of Florida; and
    Carlos Eduardo Mendoza to the M.D. of Florida.
     
    On Wednesday, the Center for American Progress released a report entitled “Texas, Where Are the Judges?” The report discusses the vacancy crisis throughout Texas and found that “19 years’ worth of cases could have been decided by the Texas district and circuit courts had judges been appointed on schedule.”
     
    On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to report four nominees to the full Senate for consideration:
     
    Cheryl Ann Krause to the 3rd Cir. (Penn.) by voice vote;
    Richard Franklin Boulware II to the D. of Nevada, 11-7;
    Salvador Mendoza, Jr. to the E.D. of Washington, 17-1; and
    Staci Michelle Yandle to the S.D. of Illinois, 17-1.
     
    Also on Thursday, President Obama announced two district court nominations: André Birotte, Jr. to the C.D. of California and Randolph D. Moss to the D. of the District of Columbia.
     
  • April 4, 2014
    Guest Post
    by Georgina Yeomans, 2L, Columbia Law School
     
    I am very concerned about the Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, though perhaps not for the reasons you’d think. I will leave it to others to be concerned that the Court is moving toward a system in which the richest among us have significantly louder political speech than the rest of the country; I won’t even lament the irony of the Chief Justice’s opening line acknowledging that “[t]here is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders,” when juxtaposed with the Shelby County opinion from last term. I won’t comment, as Ari Berman eloquently has in The Nation, on the Court’s disturbing trend toward “More Money, Less Voting.” My concern right now is more selfish—I’m concerned because I’m a second year law student, exams are a few weeks away, and the Chief Justice has fundamentally confounded my understanding of stare decisis.
     
    In McCutcheon, the Court struck down aggregate spending limits imposed by the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). This is a conclusion that would seem to require overruling the Court’s decision in Buckley v. Valeo upholding that very same provision. And yet the Court did not go through the “prudential and pragmatic considerations” announced in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, when deciding whether to overrule precedent. In Casey, in which the Court refused to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Court stressed the importance of precedent in our Constitutional system: “Indeed, the very concept of the rule of law under our own Constitution requires such continuity over time that a respect for precedent is, by definition, indispensable.” And yet we see none of this respect for continuity or the rule of law in the Chief Justice’s decision to override the aggregate limit holding in Buckley.
     
    Instead, the Court notes that Buckley’s holding on the issue was only three sentences long, was not “‘separately addressed at length by the parties,’” and thus “does not control here.” The Chief Justice points to two other cases in which the Court has not felt bound by what the Chief basically characterizes as sloppy decision-making: Toucey v. New York Life Ins. Co and Hohn v. United States. Yet both of those cases dealt with procedural issues that the Court stressed did not alter primary conduct—a situation thought by some to carry less precedential weight. McCutcheon’s invalidation of aggregate political contribution limits will undoubtedly alter primary conduct and thus deserves more precedential respect.