Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Countdown Continues: The Top 3 Human Rights Stories of 2015

In the 3rd place spot for Human Rights at Home blogs of 2015 is Risa Kaufman's cogent commentary on the briefing in Fisher v. University of Texas.  Setting out the relevant human rights law, which amicus also presented to the Supreme Court, Kaufman notes that upholding Texas's modest affirmative action in university admissions would be completely consistent with the United States' international human rights commitments. 

Kaufman's piece was posted the day of the oral argument in the case, December 9, 2015.  While international human rights was not explicitly discussed in the argument, Justice Scalia did make international headlines when he suggested that black students might do better at "slower-track schools" than the flagship University of Texas.  Both domestic and international reaction was swift.  AlJazeera America opined that Scalia's comments, in conjunction with remarks from Justice Alito and Chief Justice Roberts, questioned the premise of integration and presaged a restructuring of race-related jurisprudence.   Newspapers around the U.S. ran op-eds and editorials taking issue with Scalia's remarks. 

During the oral argument, the counsel for the University of Texas responded to Justice Scalia by reminding him that the Supreme Court long ago rejected educational racial segregation as a violation of the equal protection clause.  Justice Scalia might also be reminded that racial segregation was a foreign policy problem for the U.S., as the Justices considering Brown v. Board knew well.  Before sanctioning a racially-identified two-track educational system, Justices Scalia and his colleagues would do well to read up on that history.

A new, but related, item for today:  check out this fascinating resource from the Oxford Human Rights Hub comparing the development of US disparate impact law with the comparable British jurisprudence.

Tomorrow, we announce the #2 Human Rights at Home blog entry of the 2015 -- check back!

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