October 24, 2009
More listening and more diversity needed on SCOTUS, says Justice Thomas
Justice Clarence Thomas, in a talk at the University of Alabama School of Law, yesterday
reportedly said that the Justices already know where they stand before oral argument, and asked,
"So why do you beat up on people if you already know? I don't know, because I don't beat up on 'em. I refuse to participate. I don't like it, so I don't do it."
(The recent USA Today article we discussed here described Clarence Thomas' questioning style as "silent in his seat.")
The Tuscaloosa Times reported that Thomas also stated that he "preferred to hire law clerks from modest backgrounds," and was quoted as stating, “There are too many up there who think they should be there because they’re from an elite background.”
And as the Montgomery Advertiser reported, Thomas advocated for more diversity:
A native of Georgia and the only current justice from the South, Thomas said the court is too dominated by Ivy League lawyers and lacks regional diversity. People constantly worry about racial, gender and ethnic diversity, he said, and home states matter, too.
"My goal is to have a court that is fair, and I think it's fair when we are fair in selecting people from all parts of the country, from all walks of life," Thomas said.
The newspaper continued, however, that "Thomas graduated from the Yale University law school," adding that "eight of the nine current justices graduated from Ivy League schools."
Interracial Marriages as Children's Rights: Robson's Saturday Evening Review
There was startling news last week of a Louisiana justice of the peace who said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have. As one of my students phrased it, "Has Loving v. Virginia been overruled?"
The judge's "concern for the children" rationale is one that is often proffered by governments. In Reflections on Loving and Children's Rights, 20 U. Fla. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 11 (2009), scholar Barbara Bennett Woodhouse (pictured right) and co-author Kelly Reese interpret the 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia as a landmark case in the area of children's constitutional rights. They write:
As it touches the lives of younger generations, Loving has played a central role in the development of children's rights to equality, privacy, agency, dignity and protection.
How can a case about marriage have such a broad legacy for children? Children define themselves and are defined by law in relation to those who bring them into the world, who claim them as their own and who guide their upbringing. Because of Loving and the cases that followed from it, the current generation of children, like no other before, enjoys the right to equal protection of the laws, regardless of the race or marital status of their parents. This generation also enjoys, as never before, the liberty to envision building families free from state-sanctioned discrimination. Nevertheless, pockets of discrimination remain, marginalizing many children who are growing up in nontraditional families and preventing many children from equal access to the benefits of a legally recognized family relationship. As long as these forms of discrimination continue, the legacy of Loving will remain unfulfilled.
They argue that marriage operates as a "gatekeeper" to children's rights, even though many of the disabilities of children born "out of wedlock" have been whittled away using constitutional doctrine. They extend their argument to the children of same-sex couples, including the wedge issue of adoption. Most interesting in this short piece are some of the observations by Barbara Bennett Woodhouse regarding advocacy, teaching, and personal experiences.
There have been many calls for
sanctions against the Louisiana Justice of the Peace and the couple has reportedly sued him. Perhaps the judge could be required to read Loving v. Virginia as well as the article by Woodhouse and Reese; perhaps he might be required to a responsive reflection.
Hot Off the Presses
Hello. This installment of Hot off the Presses will consider two articles that explore different facets of the same problem - racial intergration of our public schools.
1. A New Strategy for Pursuing Racial and Ethnic Equality in Public Schools by Kristi L. Bowman, Michigan State University College of Law.
What it's about:
Professor Bowman provides an overview of recent school intergration cases. She argues that school integration has proceeded in four "waves," and further posits that we are in the midst of the fourth wave. The fourth wave focuses primarily on state constitutional and statutory remedies and is explicitly race conscious. The first part of Bowman's paper examines some the benefits and detriments to fourth wave legal strategies. (For instance, while federal law might forcelose a private right of action in certain cases, states can change this by statute.) In the second portion, Bowman considers whether the suggestion of integrating schools on the basis of socio-economic status - rather than race - will produce racial intregration in public schools. Bowen does not says that this is not a viable strategy, but notes that strategies focusing on socio-economic status standing alone are unlikely to be effective, so many other factors should be included as well.
Why you should read it:
I enjoyed this piece on a number of levels, but I thought its most striking feature was the rebuttal of the notion that socio-economic status is a cure-all on this issue. To be certain, as economic status does not trigger strict scrutiny, it is less legally problematic than race-based iniatives. Nevertheless, if socio-economic engineering does not produce the desired - and after Brown, arguably constitutionally required - racial integration of our public schools. If not, the fundamental premises of the idea that programs based on socio-economic status produce racial equality should be revisited.
Where you can find it:
2. The White Interest in School Integration, by Robert A. Garda, Jr., Loyola (New Orleans)
What it's about:
Professor Garda begins his article by revisiting Professor Derrick Bell's "interest convergence" theory. As you will recall, that theory posits that gains for racial minorities rarely occur unless there is some benefit to the majority. Professor Garda - who is white - devotes his article to explaining why other white parents of school-aged children should have a strong interest in racial equality in public schools. He notes that contrary to what one might think, when school environments are integrated, it is white students - rather than students of color - that benefit most. Moreover, building on the rationale from the University of Michigan cases, he notes that society at large has an interest in increasing the cross-cultural competencies of white students, who will eventually have to work in multi-cultural environments. However, Garda goes further by noting that since racial attitudes are learned early in life, more emphasis should be placed on integrating early education. Garda concludes the article with a list of things concerned parents might do to integrate schools.
Why you should read it:
In my opinion, this article is unique. I do not recall seeing other articles on this topic taking this particular narrative approach. I believe the unique approach is effective as it grabs the reader. In addition, the author's list of reasons why integration is good for the majority is helpful, comprehensive, and well-supported. Finally, the author is also - in effect - pursuing a non-legal solution to this problem by encouraging parents to be proactive on this score, rather than waiting for the courts to direct their actions. For instance, if parents seek diverse neighborhoods over racially homogenous ones, the problem of school integration is immediately lessened. This piece is highly recommended.
Where you can find it:
In addition to the reasons listed above, it should be noted that both of these articles are quite timely. In Milliken v. Bradley, the Supreme Court rejected a plan to use the suburban population to integrate inner city public schools. In the past weeks, several outlets have reported that the problem of "white flight" raised by Miliken not only still exists, but is getting progressively worse. America's neighborhoods are becoming more racially and economically homogenous. If this trends continues, discussing school integration may become little more than an academic exercise. For the sake of our children and the health of our democracy, let us hope that we can find a solution that is politically and consitutionally viable.
October 23, 2009
Reproductive Rights Roundup
There are a number of reproductive rights issues in the news this week. Here is a summary of the relevant stories.
The ACLU is once again battling Joe Arpaio, the Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, in court. Previous litigation between the parties resulting in the termination of Arpaio's policy of requiring female inmates to secure a court order before accessing abortion care. However, Arpaio has now begun charging the inmates for transportation to the abortion providers. The ACLU maintains that abortion is the only transportion for which a fee is assessed. Representatives of the Sheriff's Deparment responds that inmates are charged for transportation for all off-site medical services.
As we have previously discussed on the blog, Oklahoma recently passed a law requiring women seeking abortions to disclose information including age, race, and the reason for the abortion. The law was slated to go into effect on November 1. However, litigation has resulted in a TRO which will suspend the law until a hearing can be held. The hearing is currently scheduled for December 4, 2009. Opponents of the law fear that upon meeting this additional hurdle of disclosing private information, women will be reluctant to seek abortion services. More information on the litigation can be found here, here, and here.
A conservative group in Nevada is attempting to add a "personhood" amendment to ballots in that state in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. We have previously written about such amendment here and here. Many of the same arguments apply.
We will be certain to update you on these stories as events develop.
Of Marriage, Monopolies, and Federalism
That's the intriguing question posed by Adam Candeub and Mae Kuykendall, of Michigan State University College of Law, in their new article, E-Marriage: Breaking the Marriage Monopoly.
States inadvertently have created geographic monopolies, requiring each marriage receiving the benefits of their licensing laws to be performed within their borders. This Article's model builds upon established precedents, such as proxy marriage and choice of law for multi-jurisdictional and internet contracts. Using the power of internet communications, our proposal allows states to compete over marriage's procedures and substance. Depending on a couple's preferences for "e-ritual" and a state's desired level of regulatory control, couples could consume the trappings of a traditional ceremony before their friends and family, without travelling to another jurisdiction, perhaps with an officiant presiding on-line from a remote location. More simply, couples could have a complete marriage ceremony in the location of their choice, but would receive a license and file necessary papers with a distant state jurisdiction.
October 22, 2009
Habeas, Indefinite Detention, and the Uighurs Head to the Court
The Supreme Court this week granted cert. in Kiyemba v. Obama, the habeas case of the Uighurs, the Chinese Muslims held now for over eight years at Guantanamo Bay.
Some background: Judge Urbina (D.D.C.) ruled last October on the Uighur's habeas petition that the government must release them into the United States. (The government then no longer considered the Uighurs detainable as terrorists, although it did fear that they might pose a threat in the United States. Why? Because they were sufficiently angry about being wrongly detained for so long (!).)
The government immediately appealed to the D.C. Circuit, arguing that Urbina lacked authority to order the Uighurs' release into the United States. The government argued that the order interfered with the political branches' authority over immigration--a separation-of-powers principle. The D.C. Circuit agreed and reversed Urbina's order, leaving the Uighurs in limbo.
Meanwhile, the Uighurs petitioned the Obama administration for release. The then-new administration rejected the request as it worked out its new detention policies. (The administration subsequently relocatedfour Uighurs to third countries. It apparently couldn't find homes for the others.)
The remaining Uighurs petitioned the Supreme Court for review, and the Court just this week granted cert.
The case now raises critical questions of the executive's authority to indefinitely detain, the courts' authority to order detainees' release on habeas in the wake of Boumediene v. Bush (holding that the privilege of habeas extends to detainees at Guantanamo Bay), and the courts' authority to order release into the United States--substantial issues, and ones that the administration might like to avoid.
The certified question presented opens the door for each of these:
Whether a federal court exercising its habeas jurisdiction, as confirmed by Boumediene v. Bush . . . has no power to order the release of prisoners held by the Executive for seven years, where the Executive detention is indefinite and without authorization in law, and release into the continental United States is the only possible effective remedy.
The government has taken the position on cert. that the Uighurs are free to leave Guantanamo to go anywhere but the United States. (Reading the government's brief opposing cert., you'd be excused for believing that the Uighurs are at Guantanamo on vacation.) The problem: nobody will take them. According to the government, this is a problem for the political branches, not the courts on habeas. But as the Uighurs ask: if the courts can't order release into the United States, of what value is habeas? And more: this amounts to illegal and unconstitutional indefinite detention. (Thanks to SCOTUSwiki for links to the cert. filings.)
The Obama administration could potentially moot the case and avoid a high Court ruling by relocating the Uighurs (within the United States, or elsewhere) and closing Guantanamo--a task apparently much easier said than done.
English Only Consumer Protection Defeated
The proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act of 2009, HR 3126, would establish the Consumer Financial Protection Agency as an independent executive agency to regulate the provision of consumer financial products or services. The bill was approved by the House Financial Services Committee today, but only after a robust markup.
One amendment was offered by Representative Chris Lee, R-NY, seeking to strike a provision regarding consumer protection "language accessible materials for non-English speakers" and to prohibit the Agency from requiring any disclosures in any language other than English. The amendment was defeated 40 - 29 (see item 38, HR 3126 here).
For an excellent discussion of the status and constitutionality of a wide array of English-only laws and policies in the United States, see Watch Your Language! The Kansas Law Review Survey of Official-English and English-Only Laws and Policies, 57 U. Kan. L. Rev. 669 (2009).
October 21, 2009
ABA President Calls for Civil Gideon
ABA President Carolyn Lamm called for a constitutional right to counsel in civil cases involving basic human needs, a "Civil Gideon," in the President's Message in the October 2009 ABA Journal.
Lamm argues that Civil Gideon is a part of a broader strategy, including increased pro bono efforts and increased legal aid funding, in meeting dire legal needs in the current economic crisis:
But we must do much more. Lawyers and advocates nationwide have been working hard, with ABA support, for the right to counsel in civil matters where basic human needs are at stake—a “civil Gideon” policy. They are making progress case by case, state by state, jurisdiction by jurisdiction. Most recently, in the Alaska Supreme Court case of Office of Public Advocacy v. Alaska Court System, the ABA filed an amicus brief supporting civil Gideon. This fundamental right must be recognized by courts and legislatures—and fully funded.
The issue may come to the Supreme Court this term. Earlier this month, in a highly unusual move, the Court asked the Texas Solicitor General for views at the cert. stage on Rhine v. Deaton, a civil right to counsel case involving a Texas mother's private custody dispute with temporary foster parents. See more here and here. The Court has not previously recognized a categorical right to counsel under the federal Constitution; instead, it created a barrier to such a right under Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process in Lassiter v. Department of Social Services.
Lamm's article comes the same month that the state of California enacted legislation to provide for a pilot program providing a civil right to counsel in cases involving basic human needs. In the bill, the California legislature made its own finding that a civil right to counsel in these cases is supported by constitutional demands for equality and equal access to justice.
California now joins several states that, through their judiciaries or state legislatures, have arrived at similar conclusions. Perhaps the time is right for Civil Gideon to bubble up to the Fourteenth Amendment in Rhine.
October 21, 2009 in Due Process (Substantive), Equal Protection, Fourteenth Amendment, Fundamental Rights, News, Procedural Due Process, Recent Cases, Reconstruction Era Amendments | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Torture and Academic Freedom
The controversy over John Yoo's professorship at UC-Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) continues.
The PBS News Hour aired a segment yesterday, available as mp3 audio, streaming video and transcript here.
October 20, 2009
American Constitution Society Symposium on National Security and Human Rights
The American Constitution Society last week hosted an outstanding half-day symposium titled National Security & Human Rights: Progress, Problems and Possibilities. The link contains video and audio of the event. Here's the description:
As the 5th anniversary of the Military Commissions Act approaches, and a few months after the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS) hosted a half-day symposium on national security and human rights issues. The symposium included two panel discussions with a diverse array of experts and a keynote address by Assistant Attorney General David Kris.
The morning panel, "Justice for Detainees: A Work in Progress?" featured Deborah Pearlstein, moderator, Visiting Faculty Fellow, University of Pennsylvania Law School; Jameel Jaffer, Director, ACLU National Security Program; Richard D. Klingler, Partner, Sidley Austin LLP; Joanne Mariner, Director, Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program, Human Rights Watch; and Hope Metcalf, Lecturer and Project Director, National Litigation project of the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, Yale Law School.
The keynote address was given by Assistant Attorney General for National Security David Kris. The afternoon panel, "The State Secrets Privilege: A Case for Reform?" featured David Cole, moderator, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center; Amanda Frost, Associate Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law; David Rivkin, Partner, Baker and Hostetler LLP; Co-Chair, Foundation for Defense of Democracies Center for Law and Counterterrorism; Vincent Warren, Executive Director, Center for Constitutional Rights; and Ben Wizner, Staff Attorney, ACLU National Security Program.
Joan Biskupic on Stevens and Questioning Styles
USA Today's article on Justice Stevens reports he is keeping his retirement cards "close to his robes," although at age 89 it is "no secret" he might leave the Court.
"We're getting to a point that our cases are revisiting issues that I wrote on 10, 20, 30 years ago," he says. "I really have felt pretty good about re-reading the opinions I wrote many years ago. I have to confess that."
There is also an interactive feature by Joan Biskupic on all of the Justice's questioning styles during oral arguments:
This makes a nice link to post on your course website for students to enjoy.
October 19, 2009
The Department of Justice has announced a new policy regarding federal prosecutions of the use of marijuana permitted under state law for medical reasons.
In a memo released today to federal prosecutors, David W. Ogden, Deputy Attorney General, states:
The prosecution of significant traffickers of illegal drugs, including marijuana, and the disruption of illegal drug manufacturing and trafficking networks continues to be a core priority in the Department’s efforts against narcotics and dangerous drugs, and the Department’s investigative and prosecutorial resources should be directed towards these objectives. As a general matter, pursuit of these priorities should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana. For example, prosecution of individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or those caregivers in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law who provide such individuals with marijuana, is unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources.
This memo solidifies Attorney General Holder's statements we discussed last February that prosecutions of the use of medical marijuana would not be a priority in the new Administration.
There is also a continuing discussion - - - although apparently not in the current DOJ - - - regarding the decriminalization of marijuana, including substantive due process arguments.
The Federalist Society Annual Convention
The Federalist Society's National Lawyers Convention is scheduled for Thursday, November 12 through Saturday, November 14, 2009 at the Mayflower Hotel, with its theme of
"The Federal Government's Economic Role in our Constitutional System."
Speakers include Justice Samuel Alito (dinner speaker), Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg of the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit (Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecture), Senator Jeff Sessions (opening remarks), and John Yoo (on a panel entitled "Professional Responsibility: The Role of Government Attorneys and the Global War on Terror").
A full program and registration details are available here.RR
October 18, 2009
U. Akron Law Celebrates Fourteenth Amendment's 140th
The University of Akron and The Akron Law Review put together an impressive and diverse group of scholars last year to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the Fourteenth Amendment. A good number of the papers touch on incorporation and the Privileges or Immunities and the Due Process Clauses--issues before the Court this term in McDonald v. City of Chicago, the Second Amendment case out of the Seventh Circuit. See also here, here, here, here, and here.
The Akron Law Review web-site doesn't yet link to the articles in the volume, so I tracked down those I could on SSRN. All of the authors have written other works on the Fourteenth Amendment--in some cases extensively--so I've linked their SSRN pages (on their names), as well.