Illinois Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar describes some of the risks Senate Republicans will face if they refuse to process any Supreme Court nominee that President Obama sends them, as they have claimed they would. Among these risks, Amar argues, are the possibility that a President Hillary Clinton might appoint Obama to the Supreme Court, that the Democrats could take over the Senate and approve a nominee that a Republican-controlled Senate would not have approved, or even that Justices Breyer and Ginsburg could retire under a Democrat-controlled Senate, giving President Obama three places on the Court to fill with liberal justices.
Cornell University law professor Michael Dorf explains why Republicans’ claims that President Obama lacks democratic legitimacy in appointing a successor to the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Dorf points out that the reasons offered thus far for refusing to confirm an Obama nominee seem to imply that originalism/formalism can be validated or invalidated by popular approval, even absent a constitutional amendment.
In honor of the recently deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Cardozo Law professor Marci Hamilton discusses the Court’s decision in Employment Div. v. Smith, in which Justice Scalia wrote for the majority holding that a law is constitutional under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment if it is facially neutral and generally applied. Hamilton lauds the decision as striking the right balance between liberty and harm, and between religious diversity and religious tyranny.
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.
Vikram David Amar—dean and law professor at the University of Illinois College of Law—comments on a summary reversal by the U.S. Supreme Court of a decision by the Idaho Supreme Court. While Amar agrees with the Court that the Idaho court erred in reaching its decision, but he argues that the Idaho jurists were not guilty of the particular stupidity or defiance the Supreme Court imputed to them.
Neil H. Buchanan, a law professor and economist at George Washington University, comments on the recent trend of mainstream liberal opinion makers to express public support for labor unions. Buchanan explains the tumultuous history of liberals and labor unions, and he wonders whether this overdue support is too little too late, in light of a case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Cornell University law professor Michael Dorf considers an issue on which the U.S. Supreme Court recently heard oral argument: whether the First Amendment protects a government employee from adverse action based on the government’s mistaken belief that the employee was engaged in speech or association. Dorf highlights the nuances of the case and whether there is a meaningful difference between rule-guided conduct and reason-guided conduct.
Cornell University law professor Joseph Margulies discusses the problem of states executing death row inmates under laws subsequently found to be unconstitutional, as has happened in Texas and in Florida, and likely in many other cases. Margulies laments that the United States continues to experiment with capital punishment when experience demonstrates the procedures for imposing this irreversible sentence are rife with problems.
Cornell University law professor Michael Dorf comments on a case involving free speech on license plates that may reach the U.S. Supreme Court in the near future. As Dorf points out, if the Court agrees to hear the case, it will be the third major license plate case it has decided. Dorf argues that the appeals court in the present case most likely erred in failing to protect the plaintiff’s right against compelled speech, but a broadly written Supreme Court opinion reversing the lower court could potentially undermine anti-discrimination law.
Vikram David Amar, law professor and dean at Illinois Law, and Michael Schaps, a California civil litigation attorney, discuss Justice Scalia’s provocative comments during last week’s oral argument in Fisher v. University of Texas. Amar and Schaps point out that viewed in the most charitable light, Justice Scalia’s comments are actually an attempt to articulate an academic theory—known as mismatch theory—not simply bare racism. Though the authors are not persuaded of mismatch theory, they critique Scalia’s assumption that truth of the theory would compel the abolition of affirmative action altogether.
In light of the oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, Cornell University law professor Michael Dorf considers whether the school’s Ten Percent Plan is “race neutral.” Dorf distinguishes race consciousness from racial classifications, and he points out that Justice Kennedy—the Court’s usual swing vote on such issues—has historically found that distinction to be significant.
Illinois Law professor and dean Vikram David Amar describes five unusual aspects of this week’s oral argument in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, in which the Supreme Case is considering the role of affirmative action in university admissions.
University of Illinois College of Law dean and professor Vikram David Amar discusses a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next week—Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. As Amar points out, that case lies at the intersection of many contentious aspects of 21st century American democracy, including dissatisfaction with elected officials, partisan zeal, racial equality, and federal–state relations.
Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses the claim that IQ scores of minorities should be upwardly adjusted for the purpose of eligibility for the death penalty. Drawing upon an article on the issue by Robert Sanger, Colb argues that even if the practice of adjusting IQ scores were scientifically supported (which it is not), doing so for death penalty purposes constitutes invidious race discrimination in violation of the federal Constitution.
Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda argues for the use of cameras in the U.S. Supreme Court to improve transparency and access for greater numbers people.
Vikram David Amar, law professor and dean at Illinois Law, and Michael Schaps, a California civil litigation attorney, discuss Spokeo v. Robins, in which the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the nature of injury required for a plaintiff to avail herself of the federal court system. Specifically, Amar and Schaps describe the justices’ various perspectives on the issue and the possible origins and significance of these perspectives.
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.
Vikram David Amar, law professor and dean of the University of Illinois College of Law, identifies four key issues to watch in the Supreme Court’s 2015-2015 Term. As Amar discusses here, these issues center around: (1) public labor unions, (2) affirmative action, (3) abortion rights, and (4) the death penalty.
Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda comments on the first of a wave of litigation sparked by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges recognizing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Rotunda points out that in some cases, lower courts handling these cases have not adequately discussed or distinguished the relevant cases.
Hofstra University law professor Joanna Grossman discusses the evolving landscape of parentage law after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. Grossman argues that while Obergefell has opened up some new paths to parentage for same-sex couples, it has also closed off others that had been created as workarounds in a restrictive marriage regime.