As controversy continues to surround Oklahoma’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett, a “bipartisan panel of legal experts have urged sweeping changes in what it calls the ‘deeply flawed’ administration of capital punishment.” Erik Eckholm at The New York Times reports on the panel’s proposal for execution by single-dose injections. At The Week, Andrew Cohen explains why either John Paul Stevens or Sandra Day O’Connor should lead Oklahoma’s investigation.
Writing for The New York Times, Justin Gillis reports on a new study which shows “with water growing scarcer in dry regions, torrential rains increasing in wet regions, and heat waves becoming more common and more severe…the effects of human-induced climate change are being felt in every corner of the United States.”
As the Supreme Court nears the end of its term, many will be focusing on the justices’ ruling in high stakes securities class action and software patent cases. Lawrence Hurley at Reuters has the story.
At The Life of the Law, Katherine Thompson writes to President Obama about immigration law and the struggles facing same-sex couples—and he writes back.
In this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama called on Republicans and Democrats alike to “fix our broken immigration system.” Now, ten months since the Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform, it remains unlikely that the House of Representatives will follow suit. Meanwhile, amid Congress’ cantankerous political environment, immigration reformers are urging the president to use his executive authority to reduce deportations. In a memo released Monday, The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization called on the White House to address the “urgent needs of workers and immigrant communities” and to “stop sweeping individuals into the deportation pipeline.” While the AFL-CIO’s recommendations speak to a growing demand for federal involvement, many are looking instead to state governments for meaningful immigration reform.
ACS and the Center for American Progress recently hosted a panel of immigration experts to discuss U.S. immigration policy and how state and local efforts are addressing the needs of undocumented persons. Some panelists suggested that a narrow focus on the federal courts and legislatures ultimately limits the overall effectiveness of immigration reform.
Moderated by CAP’s Vice President of Immigration Policy, Angela Maria Kelley, the discussion focused on key issues facing immigrant communities today, including onerous laws such as the infamous racial profiling law that Arizona enacted in 2010. Karthick Ramakrishnan, an associate professor of political science at UC Riverside who co-wrote an ACS Issue brief with fellow panelist Pratheepan Gulasekaram, refers to the bill’s architect, Kansas’ Secretary of State Kris Kobach, as a restrictionist issue entrepreneur -- someone who “offers restrictive laws as pre-packaged solutions in search of immigration problems.” Kobach’s blueprint for anti-immigration policy inspired similar “copycat” legislation which extended the law’s detrimental effects to Alabama, Indiana, Georgia, Utah and South Carolina. According to Ramakrishnan and Gulasekaram, issue entrepreneurs like Kobach “played a two level game very effectively,” manipulating immigration reform at the national level and then using the diminished federal action to empower support for state-funded anti-immigrant policies.
On Monday, the Supreme Court “declined to review an executive order issued by Florida Governor Rick Scott that had required all state employees take random drug tests,” leaving in place a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit that Gov. Scott’s order was too broad.
Shalini Goel Agarwal of the American Civil Liberties Union, who represents the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in the litigation, stated that “without a threat to public safety or a suspicion of drug use, people can't be required to sacrifice their constitutional rights in order to serve the people of Florida.” Lawrence Hurley at Reuters has the story.
On Tuesday, the high court heard oral argument for a case involving “a request from television broadcasters to shut down Aereo, an Internet start-up they say threatens the economic viability of their businesses.” Adam Liptak at The New York Times breaks down American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc.
Writing for The Daily Beast, Michael Waldman explains why, when it comes to “executive actions to improve our democracy” President Obama “should go further on voting and transparency to make government work better.”
TPM’s Sahil Kapur notes “the Supreme Court's unprecedented public clash over race.”
announced that it would shut down a special unit that spied on Muslim groups. Known as the “Demographics Unit,” the squad allegedly “mapped communities inside and outside the city, logging where customers in traditional Islamic clothes ate meals and documenting their lunch-counter conversations.” Matt Apuzzo and Joseph Goldstein at The New York Times report on the controversy surrounding the NYPD.
India’s Supreme Court recently recognized transgender rights. In National Legal Services v. Union of India, the court recognized the pain and struggle felt by the transgender community while stressing the historical importance of the group within India’s diverse culture. Faculty Advisor for the City University of New York School of Law ACS Student ChapterRuthann Robson writes at Constitutional Law Prof Blog that the court’s decision “not only requires the government to recognize a ‘third gender’… but also directs the government to take positive steps in education, health provisions, and ‘seriously address’ various problems.”
Last week, Utah defended its ban on same-sex marriage before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Kitchen v. Herbert. During the hearings, state officials were “surprisingly straightforward in explaining that its marriage law is based directly upon its citizens’ religious values.” At Hamilton and Griffin on RightsLeslie C. Griffin, Co-Faculty Advisor for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law ACS Student Chapter, argues against religious-based law and why, when it comes to the same-sex marriage debate, “Utah has it backwards.”
Juan Haines at The Life of the Law describes District Attorney of Santa Clara County Jeff Rosen’s visit to a San Quentin jail where he spoke with inmates about “crime, punishment, rehabilitation, and reentry.”
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 Timesgovernment 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.”