Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Teaching Assistant

It's time for another edition of the Teaching Assistant. While I generally like to include a mix of stories involving the judiciary, the Congress, and the executive, there have been several equal protection and fundamental rights stories that merit your attention. So, with no further ado, here are this week's stories.

Eugene Volokh - he of the Conspiracy - posts a fascinating story from North Carolina involving the fundamental right to raise one's children as one sees fit. The parents, now divorced, apparently disagreed on whether the children should be home schooled.  The story will provide interesting context for cases such as Newdow in the Structure and Rights courses or any of the fundamental rights cases (Pierce, Meyer, et al.) that concern the fundamental right of child rearing.

The racial inequities in our criminal justice system are well known.  This week, Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) and John Conyers (D-MI) introduced the Justice Integrity Act.  The Act "aims to get to the root of cause for racial disparities in the criminal justice system and will help to create programs and policies that will lessen these impacts."  Rep. Cohen's post regarding the bill on the Hill Blog is here.

Remember the Florida students that were prevented from forming a Gay-Straight Alliance at their schools?  The students filed a lawsuit and have prevailed.  They obtained a preliminary injunction allowing them to proceed with the operation of their club. 

There could be a problem quantifying the number of of LGBT persons in the United States in the next census.  The 2010 Census will not ask about sexual orientation, and will not recognize gay marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships.   This is a story we'll continue to follow.

Are you a woman who does not wish to continue her pregancy?  Of course you have the Constitutional right to end that pregnancy - unless you are imprisoned.  The ACLU has a new report on the difficulties incarcerated women face when they wish to terminate a pregnancy.  The story makes a good addition to your discussion of Roe and Casey.

Last we, there was a story about jurisdictions prohibiting the wearing of headgear in drivers' license photos.  This week, a Maryland woman was forced into the bank room of a bank because she entered the bank wearing a hijab, the traditional headcovering for Muslim women.  This could be an instance of race, gender, nationality, or religious discrimination. 

Finally, to end on an upbeat note, President Obama announced the creation of the White House Council on Women and Girls.  The Council will study, inter alia, ways to improve the economic status of women and ways to prevent violence against women "at home and abroad."  Here's hoping that the Commission will be sucessful in achieving its goals.

That's all for now.  We'll be back next week!

NLS

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