Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
Thirty Years after Lifting the Moratorium on Capital Punishment, Changes of Heart in the Legal Institution
The New York Times just ran a piece about Supreme Court Justice Stevens’ reassessment of his stance on the death penalty, more than thirty years after he promoted and helped reintroduce the policy. Stevens writes about his observations and revelations in a review for a new book on capital punishment called Peculiar Institution: America’s Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition. Early in his career as a Supreme Court Justice, Stevens advocated for the death penalty by voting to lift a moratorium on the practice with the expectation that the punishment could be used wisely, and with utmost care in deliberation. More than thirty years later, Stevens explains his major concerns with the death penalty today stem from trigger-happy judges, political alliances on the bench, and the court’s refusal to recognize and rectify race-based sentencing. Death penalty sentencing became not about the accused, nor even the injured, but the judges themselves. All of the concerns that Stevens cited as limitations of his support of the policy became the standard, as rationality gave way to personalities and prejudices.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Richael Faithful, TMA's Editor-In-Chief here. Just before tomorrow's holiday, I wanted to offer two important angles to the recent TSA security inspection controversy.
For transgender or gender non-conforming people, TSA's new inspection procedures may prove especially invasive and troublesome. The National Center for Transgender Equality issued a really helpful resource this week, "Transgender Travelers and New TSA Policies," which tells trans and gender non-conforming people their legal rights against inspection abuse. In my mind, the value of this resource is that it helps people navigate situations in which ignorant or unprofessional officials may subject certain individuals to additional scrutiny (e.g. if one's appearance does not "match" one's ID gender marker) that may led to serious problems.
Another troublesome implication of the new TSA policies is that some politicians are exploiting this opportunity to promote racial profiling. Although most notably, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) wrote to President Obama that he supports behavioral profiling over the new policies, he has commented to the press that he supports "profiling not solely based on race." The latter is racial profiling while the former is an effective law enforcement tool. Anti-racial profiling advocates make this key distinction all of the time--one is illegal and the other is not, for good reason. Check-out the Rights Working Group's new report on racial profiling, "Faces of Racial Profiling: A Report from Communities Across America."
If you are traveling for the holiday, be safe and informed.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
The first blog in the series discusses former U.S. Congressman's Bob Barr's recent call for DOMA's repeal. His new post, coming soon, will offer insight into his panel debate with Maggie Gallagher, of the National Organization for Marriage, which took place this past weekend, and whom Pam describes as "the grande dame of discrimination."
Friday, November 12, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
In October 2010, President Obama signed a piece of critical legislation (Public Law 111-260), the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. The Act passed because of bi-partisan support, including the leadership of Congressman Markey (D-Mass) and Congressman Barton (R-Tex). The dedicated multi-year advocacy campaign of the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology is a key reason for the Act's passage. Title II of the Act provides the requirements for video programming. Section 203 of the Act imposes, among other requirements, a minimum number of hours of audio described shows per week. The Act specifically authorizes the Federal Communications Commission to possess the regulatory authority to impose accessible video programming mandates.
Friday, November 5, 2010
We'll see what comes of it.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
The Jurist reported that last night Oklahoma voters approved a state constitutional amendment, which bans the use of Islamic Law and international law in state court decisions.
A little more detail can be found here. And CNN has extensively covered this story here and views of legal experts can be found here.
The referendum approval is shocking on several levels. On a practical level, as pointed out in the latter link about legal scholars' reactions, is that the ban on the use of international law and the imposition of certain English-only requirements will prove hard for courts, which deal with multi-national and international issues all of the time. Like business law, for example.
I've also taken Islamic Law at American University; although sparingly applied by American courts, Islamic law is sometimes the most sensible law to apply from a choice-of-law perspective. Mainly, Islamic law, for the most part, addresses family law-like issues, and sometimes, litigating parties may prefer its application. Though admittedly sensitive, the application of Islamic law in American courts, is a perfectly sound rational and legal approach.
Of course, on a cultural level, this development is heartbreaking, from the view that Islamphobia has reached such a fervor in "middle America." I don't have much to say other than, "ugh."
If you are interested the intersection of Islamophobia and First Amendment rights, we'll have a special commentary on this subject in our fall issue slated for early December publication.
Thanks for reading.
Update: Nov. 4, Advocacy group files suit against Oklahoma: http://www.theroot.com/buzz/muslim-group-sue-oklahoma-over-sharia-law-amendment