Guest Post

  • April 3, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of National Association, Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund

    While the task of counting our nation’s residents only takes up a few words in Section 2 of Article I and the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, the Census’s impact on the day-to-day lives of Americans is fundamental. Never are the high stakes of a few words in the Constitution and a few minutes spent on a questionnaire once every ten years more apparent than when the Census nears, and debates once again arise over how to count the nation’s population. Last week, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce inserted itself in one of the fiercest such debates in decades by directing the U.S. Census Bureau to add an untested question about U.S. citizenship in the 2020 Census questionnaire.

    The mandate to conduct a Census in the U.S. Constitution is found in one of the most egregious original passages in our founding document:  the statement that enslaved persons were to count as 3/5 of one person for the purposes of reapportionment of Congressional seats. This misguided course was corrected with the adoption of the Reconstruction Amendments, leaving in place the requirement that the nation take an actual enumeration of every member of the population, on an equal basis, every ten years.

  • April 3, 2018
    Guest Post

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

    Linda Brown, who passed away early last week, became the most famous school-age child in American history when, in September 1950, her father, Oliver, attempted to enroll her at the all-white Sumner School in Topeka, Kansas. Although the Browns lived just a few blocks from Sumner, Linda was not permitted to attend school with white children. The Browns lived in an integrated neighborhood and played with white children who attended Sumner. But, like all black children, Linda was required by law to attend the all-black Monroe School, located about a mile and a half further away. Linda literally walked by Sumner to catch a bus, if it showed up, to get to Monroe. If not, Linda would walk to Monroe, whether in the bitter cold of winter or the oppressive heat of late summer. Less than a year later, Oliver Brown would take the witness stand in a federal courtroom after the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which had been carefully recruiting African American plaintiffs around the country to challenge racial segregation in elementary and secondary public education, made him the principal litigant in what would become, less than three years later, the most famous case ever decided by the Supreme Court.

  • April 2, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law

    I have many favorite memories of Stephen Reinhardt. Once I was a speaker at a national conference of federal court of appeals judges and was in the audience when Justice Antonin Scalia spoke. Justice Scalia said that his personal beliefs never influenced his decisions and specifically that his Catholic faith had nothing to do with his views on Roe v. Wade. I was sitting next to Judge Reinhardt, who said, not in a whisper, “That’s such bullshit.”  Those sitting in the that part of the room burst into laughter.

    Reinhardt will be most remembered as a fiercely liberal judge in a time of an increasingly conservative Supreme Court. The majority of the Supreme Court were Republican appointees for the entire 38 years that Reinhardt was on the bench. It meant that he was sometimes reversed by the higher Court. But he always was steadfast that his role was to interpret the Constitution and the law to the best of his ability, not to predict what the Supreme Court might do. I once heard him asked about his reversal rate in the Supreme Court and he was dismissive that should matter. He quipped, “They can’t reverse all of them.”   It certainly was not that he did not care about the ultimate outcome. And it certainly was not that he ever would flout the Court. Rather his view was that his job was to call them the way he saw them until the Court said otherwise.

  • March 29, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Caroline Fredrickson

    This week ACS joined forces with the National Consumers League to mark the 80th anniversary of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

    During an all-day symposium at the Georgetown University Law Center, we celebrated successes – like the recent victory that hourly workers and advocates had last week codifying a 2011 U.S. Department of Labor rule stating that tips are the property of the worker who earns them and not their employers.  Last week’s tip rule amended the FLSA. We discussed other legal frameworks that we need to change and update to meet the needs of our 21st century workforce.

  • March 29, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Sam Fouad, Assistant Director of Network Communications, ACS

    This year’s student convention was held at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law in Chicago, Illinois, gathering nearly 200 students from 34 states plus the District of Columbia. A variety of scholars, judges, and advocates spoke on a range of topics that included #MeToo in the Legal Profession, the First Amendment, access to justice, police reform, and voting rights. Among the varying topics, speakers showed that the law can be a force to improve the lives of all people.

    The most imperative themes of the convention were the urgent needs to: organize for equality, exercise the right to vote, and support others in exercising their rights. The convention began with an emphasis on voter pre-registration, with Meghan Paulas, ACS Director of Student Chapters, stating that we all need to “encourage 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote. Let’s build a volunteer movement around voter pre-registration. Make it a movement by students and for students.”