ACSBlog

  • April 3, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Christopher Wright Durocher, Senior Director of Policy and Program, ACS

    For decades, both plaintiffs’ and defense attorneys have called for reforms to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to address a “discovery crisis” that they define in diametrically opposing terms. Plaintiffs’ attorneys seek a rule that allows for broader discovery, while defense attorneys argue that discovery is already too broad. In the middle of this argument is the Advisory Committee on Federal Civil Rules, which is tasked with revising these rules and has thus far struggled to find a solution to satisfy all parties. In ACS’s latest Issue Brief, Federal Civil Rulemaking, Discovery Reform, and the Promise of Pilot Projects, Professor Brooke Coleman of the Seattle University School of Law examines the failed history of attempted discovery reform and suggests we may find hope for solutions in two pilot projects.

  • 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 3, 2018

    Taylor de Laveaga, 2L at UCLA School of Law

    One of my new year’s resolutions was to spend more of my time on the rewarding parts of law school—utilizing the privileges accorded by a legal education—and less time on the other parts. (Ahem, studying).

    So when the opportunity to volunteer at the Drug Policy Alliance’s Los Angeles expungement clinic came up, in one of the dozens of emails law students get about events and lunch talks, I jumped on the chance. I spent my 1L summer working in policy, so the extent of my legal clinical experience has been at UCLA’s homelessness prevention clinic, talking with people about what they can do about bench warrants, tickets, family law issues, and a variety of other legal questions.

    I attended a whirlwind training at the Drug Policy Alliance led by two DPA attorneys, and was grateful that they frequently assured us (both the volunteering attorneys and law students) that we didn’t have to memorize anything. We would have all this information at our fingertips, and supervising attorneys no matter what we needed help with.

    I was still nervous on Saturday morning, running through my mental checklist of expungable offenses and questions to ask, when I walked into the clinic: a well-oiled machine of supplies, printouts, workstations in the computer lab, coffee, directions on the whiteboard, and friendly faces.

  • 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.