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As of October 1, 2011 the Jennings Project blog has moved and joined forces with Constitution Daily, the Center’s daily digest of smart conversation on the Constitution. All new posts will be published there, so be sure to subscribe and follow Constitution Daily on Twitter. If you are interested in submitting a post to Constitution Daily, please email Stefan Frank at JenningsProject@constitutioncenter.org.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Jennings Fellow and NPR Correspondent Carrie Johnson reported last week on the decision by officials of the Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) to temporarily shut down cell service in some of its stations. The decision was made to frustrate organization of a protest of the shooting death of a BART system rider by BART police. Johnson quotes a BART spokesperson as saying that there is "a constitutional right to safety" and that the protest threatened to put riders at risk of injury. The Supreme Court has determined that subway stations are not a public forum, and therefore not subject to the kind of protection for public expression that might operate in a park or other above-ground venue. But Gene Policinski of the First Amendment Center tells her that BART's action raises questions "about government interfering with the ability of you and I to talk to each other." He describes the cell phone as the modern day equivalent of a bull horn, which was commonly used for organizing protesters in the 1960s.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Monday, August 8, 2011
That provision was dutifully followed with elections in the general sense of that term until the 1970s when, in order to buffer the judiciary from the political process, the state, through a legislative statute, adopted the "Tennessee Plan." Under the plan, trial judges are still subject to popular election, but appellate judges -- and since, 1994, the Supreme Court justices -- are chosen by the governor from a list of acceptable candidates, as determined by a state commission. Those judges and justices are then subject to a "yes/no" retention vote in the next general election. But is this really an "election" in the sense that Tennessee's framers imagined?
Friday, August 5, 2011
Eight years after the Court’s Landmark Rulings in Grutter and Graz, Affirmative Action is on its Way Back to the Docket
It has been fifty years since President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 10925, which included the first reference to the phrase “affirmative action.” The order was in the interest of establishing the Equal Opportunity Committee (later re-named the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), and it read, in part, this way…
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Yesterday, the Mitt Romney campaign released the names of the members of a "Justice Advisory Committee" that will counsel the Republican presidential hopeful "on the Constitution, judicial matters, law enforcement, homeland security, and regulatory issues.” The committee consists of 60 lawyers, most of them Washington insiders, but for those with a knowledge of judicial and, in particular, Supreme Court history, it is the leadership of the committee that will raise some eyebrows. Romney announced three co-chairs: Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon, former head of the Federal Communications Commission Richard Wiley, and -- here is the headliner -- former DC Circuit Court judge Robert Bork.
Glendon, who is a forceful pro-life advocate, shores up Romney's position with social conservatives (he switched from pro-choice to pro-life in 2005) and Wiley is a savvy Washington communications lawyer. But Bork is the most divisive choice, a figure of considerable controversy whose nomination to the Supreme Court went down to defeat in 1987, thanks to a vigorous campaign against him by Democrats, particularly the late Senator Ted Kennedy. That campaign led to an unusual "achievement" for the now 84 year old former judge: his name became a verb. In fact, you can look it up. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "bork" is an American slang term describing efforts "to defame or vilify" someone "with the aim of preventing his or her appointment to public office..."
Monday, August 1, 2011
Breivik is the flip side of Osama bin Laden, who described the same kind of future for Europe approvingly, and indeed, there were equally strong concerns that had bin Laden been captured and not killed he might have used the stage provided by a trial proceeding to spew venom on America and recruit more soldiers for the jihad.
To each of these men, imprisonment and perhaps even death was a small price to pay for promoting their revolutionary ideas, all of which raises an interesting series of questions: how do we protect the need for a public and transparent judicial process without rewarding acts of violence with the very mission of their violence: publicity for a set of radical ideas? Can we? Should we?