• September 18, 2017

    by Christopher Kang, ACS Board member and former Deputy Counsel to President Barack Obama

    *This piece was originally posted on Huffington Post

    It’s not who you think.

    Senator McConnell blocked her nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

    By refusing to return his blue slip.

  • September 14, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Pamela S. Karlan, Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law and Co-Director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford Law School

    *This piece was originally posted on Stanford Law School Blog

    Edie Windsor had a signature set of pearls and a signature set of advice: “Don’t postpone joy” and “Keep it hot.” In the five years I knew her, no one followed that advice more resolutely.

    I began working on Edie’s challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on July 4, 2012, when Robbie Kaplan, who was representing her, sent me an email asking if I was interested in helping out. We often say about the Stanford Supreme Court Litigation Clinic (which I co-direct with Jeff Fisher) that we serve as local counsel, only our locale is the U.S. Supreme Court. Robbie brought me in to help with a petition for cert. before judgment; Edie was 83 years old and there was then no telling how long proceedings in the Second Circuit might take. (As it turned out, the Second Circuit issued a ruling in our favor with unusual dispatch.)

  • September 13, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Matt Lynch, Special Counsel, Foley & Lardner LLP and Steering Committee member, ACS Madison Lawyer Chapter

    Few are willing to defend the practice of partisan gerrymandering on its merits.  Republican lawmakers, Democratic lawmakers, historians, political scientists, law professors, partisan interest groups, and nonpartisan interest groups alike all agree that gerrymandering—drawing legislative districts for the purpose of political advantage—is a pox on representative government. But stopping the practice requires legislators to voluntarily harm their own chances for re-election.  And so gerrymandering continues, now aided by more precise voter data than we have ever had, and the technology to use it on a broad, state-wide scale.

    Gill v. Whitford, a case arising from Wisconsin’s heavily gerrymandered districts, presents the United States Supreme Court with a clean opportunity to rein in that despised practice.  The only question is whether the justices—namely swing Justice Anthony Kennedy—believe it is a problem that warrants a judicial solution.

  • September 13, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Chris Kang, ACS Board member and former Deputy Counsel to President Obama

    *This piece originally ran on Huffington Post

    As President Trump seeks to dramatically pack the judiciary with conservative, ideological judges, attention has turned to blue slips—little blue pieces of paper that home-state Senators have returned for a hundred years and allow judicial nominees to proceed to confirmation. Here is what you need to know about them:

  • September 13, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Bidish Sarma

    *Sarma is an attorney who represents individuals sentenced to death and other harsh punishments including life without parole. He previously worked as a clinical teaching fellow at the Berkeley Law Death Penalty Clinic and staff attorney and Deputy Director of the Capital Appeals Project in New Orleans.

    The panoply of laws that govern the lives of individuals convicted of sex crimes after they have served their sentences is overwhelming. As this web of civil regulation has “grown into a byzantine code governing in minute details” how these people must live day-to-day, questions about these laws’ legitimacy and constitutionality are being litigated around the country. Several courts have struck down onerous and overbroad registration requirements that apply to offenders living in the community. Yet, questions persist, particularly where the government actually deprives individuals of their physical liberty. Civil commitment schemes specifically designed for sex offenders have been in vogue for more than two decades now. The U.S. Supreme Court approved some of these schemes as they took root, but it insisted that courts could bring constitutional scrutiny to bear if it turned out these schemes were punitive. The real test of that promise has now arrived.