Analysis and Commentary on Civil Rights

The Thin Pink Line: Policing Gender at Every Corner

Hofstra University law professors Joanna L. Grossman and Grant M. Hayden explain how recent controversies over same-sex marriage, transgender use of bathroom, and differentiated high school graduation attire for males and females reflect a collective unwillingness to blur gender lines. Grossman and Hayden further describe how these controversies are really simply part of a larger game of gender oppression.

RFRA, Zubik v. Burwell, and the Do No Harm Act

Cardozo Law professor Marci Hamilton comments on the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Zubik v. Burwell, in which the Court via a per curiam opinion declined to interpret the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) as applied to the Affordable Care Act. Hamilton also describes the Do No Harm Act, which is a bill proposed this week that attempts to carve out of RFRA some of its worst incentives and inclinations. While Hamilton argues that RFRA should be repealed outright, she acknowledges that the Do No Harm Act is absolutely a step in the right direction.

Blue for Boys, White With Flowers for Girls: When Commencement Is an Exercise in Discrimination

Hofstra University law professor Joanna L. Grossman and Duke law professor Katharine T. Bartlett explain why a high school policy prescribing one color of robes for boys and another color for girls violates both the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title IX. Grossman and Bartlett describe how this controversy could be easily resolved, as other schools have resolved other similar controversies.

A Room With a View: Federal Appeals Court Says School District Cannot Bar Transgender Boy from Using the Bathroom Aligned with His Gender Identity

Hofstra University law professor Joanna Grossman comments on a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit holding that a school district cannot bar a transgender boy from using the boys’ restroom. Grossman explains the reasoning behind the appellate court’s decision and calls into question the rhetoric that single-sex bathrooms are somehow “sacred”—in light of the many scandals that take place in these places.

North Carolina’s HB 2: Does Passing an Obviously Unconstitutional Law Make the Law Even More Unconstitutional?

Hofstra University law professor Joanna Grossman discusses North Carolina’s recent passage of House Bill 2 (HB 2), which purports to take away existing anti-discrimination rights from LGBT people. Grossman explains why the law is unconstitutional and considers whether, in light of the law’s patent unconstitutionality, the law reflects even greater animus by those who passed it.

How Should Courts Evaluate a Treatment Decision by a Government Doctor That Takes into Account the Patient’s Race? The Ninth Circuit Doesn’t Quite Get Things Right

Vikram David Amar, law professor and dean at Illinois Law, and Michael Schaps, a California civil litigation attorney, critique a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit considering whether and when a government physician can take into account a patient’s race. Amar and Schaps argue that the court’s analysis is internally consistent and legally flawed, as well.

Protection Against Sexual Harassment Is Alive and Well in the Sixth Circuit

Hofstra University law professor Joanna Grossman comments on a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in which the court affirmed a jury verdict in favor of a sexual harassment plaintiff. Grossman describes the facts leading up to the case and explains why the jury and the appellate court came to the correct conclusion as a matter of fact and law.

Course Correction: Young v. United Parcel Service Makes Courts Focus on Right Issues, but Also Reveals Limits of PDA

Hofstra University law professor Joanna Grossman discusses the effect that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Young v. United Parcel Service has had on cases arising under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), as well as the limitations of that decision. Grossman argues that while the decision helped give effect to the intended purpose of the PDA, it did not and could not expand the scope of the statute, which is what is now needed to adequately protect pregnant workers.

Distinction Without a Difference: Federal Court Says Sexual Orientation Discrimination Is Sex Discrimination

Hofstra University law professor Joanna Grossman discusses a recent decision by a federal district court denouncing the legal distinction between sex discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination. Grossman praises the reasoning behind the decision and expresses hope that other courts will follow suit in recognizing “as illusory and artificial” any distinction between the two brands of discrimination.

Dred Scott After Nearly Two Centuries

Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda the lead-up and history of the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous Dred Scott decision—in which the Court in 1857 held that African Americans could not be American citizens and therefore could not sue in federal court. Rotunda explains how the case progressed through the state and subsequently federal courts, and discusses how the decision affected some of the justices sitting on the Court at the time.

Meet our Columnists

Vikram David Amar
Vikram David Amar

Vikram David Amar is the Dean and Iwan Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Illinois Col... more

Neil H. Buchanan
Neil H. Buchanan

Neil H. Buchanan is an economist and legal scholar, a Professor of Law at The George Washington Univ... more

Sherry F. Colb
Sherry F. Colb

Sherry F. Colb is Professor of Law and Charles Evans Hughes Scholar at Cornell University. Colb teac... more

John Dean
John Dean

John Dean served as Counsel to the President of the United States from July 1970 to April 1973.  Bef... more

Michael C. Dorf
Michael C. Dorf

Michael C. Dorf is the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell University Law School. He has w... more

Joanna L. Grossman
Joanna L. Grossman

She is an expert in an expert in sex discrimination law. Her most recent book, more

Marci A. Hamilton
Marci A. Hamilton

Marci A. Hamilton is one of the leading church/state scholars in the United States and the Paul R. V... more

David S. Kemp
David S. Kemp

David S. Kemp is an attorney, writer, and editor at Justia. He received his B.A. in Psychology from... more

Joseph Margulies
Joseph Margulies

Mr. Margulies is a Professor of Law and Government at Cornell University. He was Counsel of Record i... more

Anita Ramasastry
Anita Ramasastry

Anita Ramasastry is the UW Law Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Washington School of... more

Ronald D. Rotunda
Ronald D. Rotunda

Ronald D. Rotunda is the Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence, at... more