Equality and Liberty

  • November 17, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Chris Edelson, assistant professor of government, American University School of Public Affairs

    For much of American history, legal rules and cultural norms have deemed women unworthy of trust or responsibility.  The law often treated women as children, incapable of carrying out adult duties. Women did not have the right to vote until 1920. It took until 1961 for the Supreme Court to strike down laws automatically excluding women from jury duty.   Until 1979, state laws made it legally impossible for a husband to rape his wife. In the early 19th century, the doctrine of “coverture” provided that a married woman did not have legal status separate from her husband.  In the eyes of the law, married women were not their own person.  Women were barred—by law or by practice—from professions like law, medicine, and politics.

    We like to think those days are long behind us, that women are no longer second-class citizens relegated to a separate, lesser sphere. But it may be difficult, especially for men, to recognize the ways in which significant problems linger.

  • 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 30, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Sheila Bapat, Program Director, California Bar Foundation

    California Bar Foundation has been excited to partner in the Meet Your DA event series here in California. Led by the ACLU of Northern California, this four-part event series is shining a light on the power of District Attorneys (DAs) and how prosecutors can be vehicles for social change. The final event in this series will take place in Los Angeles this week, on November 1. It has been a privilege to partner with the ACLU along with Smart Justice California and the American Constitution Society for Law & Policy to reach law students throughout the state with this message.

    California Bar Foundation’s mission is to build a better justice system -- for all Californians. We believe that every Californian deserves access to justice, and that lawyers working in this system should be representative of the communities they serve. We fund legal aid fellowship opportunities and scholarships for diverse law students throughout California who are devoted to making social change. We also fund pipeline programs throughout California to empower high school, community college and college youth to consider careers in the law.

  • October 26, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Amy Myrick, Staff Attorney for Judicial Strategy, Center for Reproductive Rights 

    It had to happen: an administration seeking to remake the Constitution into a rubber stamp for rights violations found the place where abortion and immigration converge.  In a federally contracted shelter in Texas, an unaccompanied 17-year-old immigrant who did not want to be pregnant waited over a month while federal officials relentlessly blocked her from receiving an abortion.  Jane Doe was forced to endure what ultimately became a grueling spectacle and multiple court hearings before she could access what has long been a protected constitutional right in the United States.

    The government’s argument in this recent case, Garza v. Hargan, is glaringly unconstitutional. Under a line of cases starting with Roe v. Wade (1973), and ending with Whole Woman’s Heath v. Hellerstedt (2016), it’s settled law that the Constitution protects the right to access abortion, and the government cannot place a “substantial obstacle” in the path of a woman - adult or minor - seeking to exercise that right.  Whether claiming to advance the government’s preference for childbirth or its view of what is in a pregnant minor’s “best interests,” or both, the government has no authority to unilaterally block a woman’s access to abortion.  But in the Garza case, the government did just that.

  • 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.