July 21, 2010
Arizona Immigration in Federal Court - - - but not on Television (or You Tube)
Arizona District Judge Susan Bolton, in a brief order, has denied the request of the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona to "permit camera coverage and rebroadcast of the preliminary injunction and motion to dismiss hearings" scheduled for tomorrow, July 22.
Judge Bolton notes that while there is a Ninth Circuit pilot project, the District of Arizona has not yet taken part in that "experiment" and that decisions will be made by the Chief Judge of the District in consultation with the Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit.
Recall that the Proposition 8 trial was similarly not allowed to be visually recorded, with the United States Supreme Court staying an order to broadcast the trial by a 5-4 decision. Perhaps the "Arizona Immigration Trial" will also be treated to a re-enactment as was the Proposition 8 trial. And perhaps there will be an opinion in the Arizona Immigration Trial (at least on the preliminary injunction) more speedily than in the Proposition 8 case, in which a decision is still pending.
July 19, 2010
Top Secret America
The Washington Post has launched its feature "Top Secret America." The project consists of three days of investigative reporting articles, the first one today entitled "A hidden world, growing beyond control."
The project also includes a searchable online database detailing private contractors and specific locations. The Editorial explanation is worth reading; here is a bit of it:
The articles in this series and an online database at topsecretamerica.com depict the scope and complexity of the government's national security program through interactive maps and other graphics. Every data point on the Web site is substantiated by at least two public records.
Because of the nature of this project, we allowed government officials to see the Web site several months ago and asked them to tell us of any specific concerns. They offered none at that time. As the project evolved, we shared the Web site's revised capabilities. Again, we asked for specific concerns. One government body objected to certain data points on the site and explained why; we removed those items. Another agency objected that the entire Web site could pose a national security risk but declined to offer specific comments.
We made other public safety judgments about how much information to show on the Web site. For instance, we used the addresses of company headquarters buildings, information which, in most cases, is available on companies' own Web sites, but we limited the degree to which readers can use the zoom function on maps to pinpoint those or other locations.
The feature should be of interest to anyone working on state secrets doctrine and theory. The extent of private involvement also implicates the state action doctrine and the problems with holding actors constitutionally accountable. The Washington Post explanation above also implicates First Amendment concerns.
July 07, 2010
Participatory Democracy Theorists: Panel of Interest
This panel discussion (evening of July 8 in NYC) should be of interest to ConLawProfs whose work includes notions of participatory democracy.
The fantasy of participation is a powerful one, postulating, as it does, the invitation and inclusion of everyone, everywhere. The Internet, we are told, makes this dream a reality, erasing borders and distinctions, smoothing out differences and hierarchies. We are all equal now, because we believe everyone’s voice can be heard. Political theorist Jodi Dean calls this “communicative capitalism,” an ideological formation that fetishizes speech, opinion, and participation.
With participation now a dominant paradigm, structuring social interaction, art, activism, the architecture of the city, and the economy, we are all integrated into participatory structures whether we want to be or not. How are artists and activists navigating the participation paradigm, mapping the limits of collaboration, and modeling participatory forms of critical engagement?
More information here.
If you can't make the presentation, there are a host of other events during the exhibit and you could (should!) add Professor Dean's website and books (especially Democracy and other Neo-Liberal Fantasies) to your summer reading list.
March 19, 2010
SCOTUS Website: New & Improved
Just in time for Spring, the Supreme Court of the United States has a new, improved, better-looking, and more user-friendly website.
February 17, 2010
OSCAR Nominations: ConLaw Perspectives
Have a constitutional law perspective on the best-picture nominee and blockbuster Avatar?
Consider this CFP from The Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture. (H/T Feminist Philosophers).
And among the Academy Award nominees for documentary film is The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, suitable for viewing (or reviewing) while teaching New York Times v. United States. If a class trip to the local cinema is not possible, consider one of the compressed and evocative snippets available:
February 01, 2010
Could this be from one of your students?
A bit of humor, or perhaps not:
January 31, 2010
Perry v. Schwarzenegger, Prop 8 Trial: The Re-enactment
The United States Supreme Court may have blocked the actual broadcast of the Proposition 8 trial, but the enterprising folks behind www.marriagetrial.com are re-enacting the trial, using the transcripts and the reports from bloggers and tweeters.
The "episodes" will be available on YouTube. Here is the trailer:RR
January 31, 2010 in Cases and Case Materials, Current Affairs, Due Process (Substantive), Equal Protection, Family, Gender, Recent Cases, Reconstruction Era Amendments, Sexual Orientation, Sexuality, Teaching Tips, Television, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
January 07, 2010
Supreme Court Database
Lee Epstein's presentation this morning on the panel "American Constitutional Law and the New Supreme Court" at the AALS Annual Meeting in New Orleans highlighted the Supreme Court Database, now available online. The database has an excellent tutorial which enhances the goal of accessibility (especially for those of us who may not have been stellar in that long-ago statistics course).
According to its own description, the database "contains over two hundred pieces of information about each case decided by the Court between the 1953 and 2008 terms. Examples include the identity of the court whose decision the Supreme Court reviewed, the parties to the suit, the legal provisions considered in the case, and the votes of the Justices."
During her presentation, Northwestern University School of Law Professor Lee Epstein used the database to empirically test some oft-voiced propositions, such as Justice Kennedy being a judicial supremacist or Justice Alito's replacement of Justice O'Connor being a negative consequence for criminal defendants. By doing several different types of data analysis, Epstein was able to provide the empirical interpretation of the propositions.
While it certainly does not substitute for a close reading of opinions (and of course, is not intended to do so), the Supreme Court Database is a great addition to scholarship and teaching. And much easier to tailor to one's own interests than the (still essential) Supreme Court Compendium and much easier to use than the previous software.
December 11, 2009
Tweet that Case
And full disclosure: I've been working on a few myself in conjunction with one of my wonderful research assistants, who found it a relaxing project (or at least she said she did). We finalized the 131 character hint with much laughter and fun; our hints tended toward the witty (or at least what we thought was witty).
The instructions, for both those who want to answer and those who want to "question," are here.
And here is one, especially for fans of old English rock bands and even older constitutional law cases.
RR (thanks Kate Watson, CUNY class of 2011).
November 17, 2009
Googling Constitutional Law
Google's newest enhancement has the potential to change the way we research constitutional law.
Here's an announcement from the "Official Google Blog"
Starting today, we're enabling people everywhere to find and read full text legal opinions from U.S. federal and state district, appellate and supreme courts using Google Scholar. You can find these opinions by searching for cases (like Planned Parenthood v. Casey), or by topics (like desegregation) or other queries that you are interested in. For example, go to Google Scholar, click on the "Legal opinions and journals" radio button, and try the query separate but equal. Your search results will include links to cases familiar to many of us in the U.S. such as Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education, which explore the acceptability of "separate but equal" facilities for citizens at two different points in the history of the U.S. But your results will also include opinions from cases that you might be less familiar with, but which have played an important role.
The blog entry also has this populist proclamation:
As we worked to build this feature, we were struck by how readable and accessible these opinions are. Court opinions don't just describe a decision but also present the reasons that support the decision. In doing so, they explain the intricacies of law in the context of real-life situations. And they often do it in language that is surprisingly straightforward, even for those of us outside the legal profession. In many cases, judges have gone quite a bit out of their way to make complex legal issues easy to follow. For example, in Korematsu v. United States, the Supreme Court justices present a fascinating and easy-to-follow debate on the legality of internment of natural born citizens based on their ancestry.
June 16, 2009
Secession of Long Island Redux
Could Long Island actually secede from New York?
Our previous post from May 14 is here. It seems the Daily Show has caught up with us. The segment from last night's show (in that typically offensive style) is here:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Long Island Wants to Secede|
June 06, 2009
Sotomayor Resources through Library of Congress
The Library of Congress has a great resource on Sotomayor with great links here.
RR (with thanks to Bridget Crawford at Feminist Law Professors).
June 05, 2009
Supreme Court Justice Ideological Profiles
Calculating ideologies is an occupation (some might say an occupational hazard) of political scientists. According to well known political scientists Andrew Martin and Kevin Quinn, on their website here,
Their "The Ideological History of the United States Supreme Court, 1937 - 2007," provides a graphic representation (with some interactive features and downloadable) of their analysis of the "liberal" and "conservative" ideologies of United States Supreme Court Justices.
Who is the bluest (most liberal) judge?
Who is the reddest (most conservative) judge?
There is also a link to a video analysis of "Souter's Leftward Drift."
Of course, for some Constitutional Law Professors, the ascription of "liberal" and "conservative" ideologies and outcomes is not easily reducible to numbers. While there may be a more-or-less agreed upon assignment of conservative/liberal ideologies in a case such as Roe v. Wade, other cases on the website's timeline such as Boy Scouts of America v. Dale and Kelo v. City of New London may be subject to more dispute.
May 02, 2009
Executive Policy by Website: Do changes to whitehouse.gov matter? Don't Ask Don't Tell Changes and Changes Again
According to a few progressive websites, whitehouse.gov has been undergoing some changes and these changes are being "tracked."
For example, Pro Publica has introduced Change Tracker, which lists all additions, deletions, and changes to whitehouse.gov, available here. (There are also instructions on how to use Change Tracker for other websites).
On Think Progress and AmericaBlog, reports are that the "civil rights" pages of whitehouse.gov have been rewritten to "walk back" Obama's committment to terminate the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy governing sexual minorities in the military. According to Think Progress:
The website used to emphasize Obama’s firm commitment to repealing the discriminatory policy:
President Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. The President will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.
However, after changes apparently made last night, the previous full, earnest paragraph was slashed to one half of a sentence promoting only “changing” the law “in a sensible way”:
[Obama] supports changing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in a sensible way that strengthens our armed forces and our national security, and also believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation.
However, today Pro Publica (courtesy of the "handy Changetracker tool") noted that
last night the White House reinserted language saying President Obama supports the “repeal” of Don't Ask Don't Tell. The new phrasing: "He supports repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell in a sensible way that strengthens our armed forces and national security."
One senses that there is some meaning in all these changes, but what is it?