Civil rights

  • December 13, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Eric Lesh, Fair Courts Project Director, Lambda Legal and Ethan Rice, Fair Courts Project Attorney, Lambda Legal

    LGBT people have suffered a long history of discrimination based on animus and invidious stereotypes. As has been the case for other groups targeted for their personal characteristics, LGBT people have seen prejudice against them displayed in our nation’s courtrooms.

    When this type of anti-LGBT bias taints the jury selection and trial processes, it reinforces historical prejudice in the court system, interferes with litigants’ right to a fair trial, and undermines the integrity of the courts.

  • December 8, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Douglas NeJaime, Professor of Law, Yale Law School and Reva Siegel, Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Professor of Law, Yale Law School

    *This piece was originally published on Take Care Blog.

    Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is framed narrowly—as a case about whether making a wedding cake is expressive conduct or whether religious individuals should be exempted from laws protecting same-sex couples. But this narrow view of the case misses its real stakes. The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF, formerly Alliance Defense Fund), which represents Masterpiece Cakeshop, is driving the litigation and many similar cases around the country. ADF is not interested in a narrow resolution to a narrow question; rather, ADF is taking aim at the very legitimacy of LGBT people and legal protections for them.

  • December 4, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Caroline Mala Corbin, Professor of Law, University of Miami School of Law

    On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case centers on a cake, but at stake is the future of LBGTQ civil rights. The main issue is whether Colorado’s public accommodations law violates the Free Speech Clause.

    Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, refused to sell his baking services to Charlie Craig and David Mullins, a Denver couple seeking a wedding cake. He was fined for violating Colorado’s public accommodations law, which bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in places open to the public. Phillips is religiously opposed to same-sex marriage, and believes that to avoid condoning same-sex marriage, Jesus himself would refuse to employ his carpentry skills to make a bed for this couple. Phillips argues that forcing him to make a cake for Craig and Mullins would violate the Free Speech Clause by compelling him to use his creative talents to express approval of same-sex marriage. He is wrong.

  • November 3, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Gregg Ivers is Professor of Government at American University. He is currently working on a book, Swingin’ at Jim Crow: How Jazz Became a Civil Rights Movement.

    In September 1962, Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett was looking for something – anything – that would boost his sagging political fortunes. Just three years before, Barnett had barely prevailed in a four-way contest for the Democratic Party’s nomination, winning just 35 percent of the vote, barely one percent more than his closest rival. While Barnett would win handily in the subsequent run-off and run unopposed in the 1959 general election, by mid-1961 his autocratic and less-than-honest governing style had rubbed many white Mississippians the wrong way. Sure, he was among the founders of the state’s first Citizens’ Council, an organization of suit-and-tie businessmen set up after the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education to maintain Mississippi’s unparalleled commitment to racial apartheid in every aspect of public and private life. And, yes, Barnett had shown the Freedom Riders who was boss the previous spring, when he sent the remainder of those who had survived their harrowing May 1961 ordeal in Birmingham and Montgomery to Parchman Farm, the state’s most notorious prison, after their arrival in Jackson for violating the state’s segregation laws.

  • October 25, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Reuben Guttman, Founding member, Guttman,Buschner & Brooks PLLC

    *This piece was originally posted on Huffington Post.

    There is a scene in the movie Private Parts – the life and career of Howard Stern – where NBC officials, committed to dumping the shock jock, check out the latest ratings and learn, to their dismay, that the DJ’s popularity has rocketed. Pouring through the data, they find that the “number one reason” people tune into Stern is because they are waiting to hear what he will say next.

    For all the time that Donald Trump spent on the Stern show, this may be the one lesson he learned. From North Korea’s “rocket man” to “crooked Hillary,” and a dash of Ryan and McConnell bashing, people tune in to this President to hear what he will say or tweet next. For their part, the members of the news media seem to fixate on Trumpian commotion.