The Jennings blog has moved!
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.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
PJP FELLOW JUSTIN MARTIN SAYS: AN ATTEMPT TO STOP "ANTI-ISRAELI" SPEECH ON CAMPUS IS AN AFFRONT TO THE FIRST AMENDMENT
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
The themes raised repeatedly at the Republican debates are easy to summarize: the Constitution is a document prescribing limited government and yet today our government is anything but limited (all). Social security is unconstitutional (Rick Perry) or maybe not (Perry, again), and "Obamacare" is most assuredly unconstitutional (Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and many others). This much should seem familiar to most readers. Yet there are other claims, less familiar: Ron Paul insists that the Federal Reserve Act is facially unconstitutional and would dismantle the central bank. Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Romney and Bachmann all are in favor of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. And at the American Principles Project Debate on September 5, APP Founder and Princeton Professor Robert George asked the candidates if they would endorse legislation aimed at reading the 14th amendment's protection due process and equal protection provisions as protecting the "unborn," effectively ignoring the Court's 1973 decision on Roe v. Wade and challenging the Court's role as the final arbiter on what is constitutional. Three of the candidates present -- Bachmann, Herman Cain and Gingrich -- agreed that they would. Romney and Paul said they would not.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
You can go to an interesting website to get acquainted with the cause. It's called "The Second Vermont Republic" and it says on its home page that it is committed to "(1) the peaceful breakup of meganations such as the United States, Russia, and China; (2) the political independence of breakaway states such as Quebec, Scotland, and Vermont; and (3) a strategic alliance with other small, democratic, nonviolent, affluent, socially responsible, cooperative, egalitarian, sustainable, ecofriendly nations such as Austria, Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland which share a high degree of environmental integrity and a strong sense of community."
Friday, September 16, 2011
“I believe that long after people have left my classes and forgotten what I have tried to teach them I want them to have the 14th Amendment floating around in their heads… when people have protested the denial of civil rights and civil liberties and claimed equal protection under the law, it’s the 14th Amendment that they rely on.” University of Iowa professor Linda Kerber, who has her students memorize the first section of the 14th amendment as a class project each year. She was speaking to The Daily Iowan over her concern that Constitution Day -- September 17 -- isn't being taken as seriously at the university as she thinks it should be. The report referred to a local establishent which is using the occasion to produce baked goods in the shape of the Constitution.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
PJP FELLOW ANNAMARYA SCACCIA EXAMINES NEW HHS HEALTH CARE GUIDELINES AS MANDATED BY OBAMA HEALTH CARE REFORM;
Last month, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued new Affordable Care Act guidelines requiring health insurance carriers to provide free access to birth control and women’s preventive services without cost-sharing beginning August 1, 2012. Adopted from recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine, these regulations mandate that new insurance policies must include annual gynecological and well-woman visits, breast-feeding support and counseling, STI counseling and domestic violence screening free of co-pay, co-insurance or deductible, while covering the costs of contraceptives and contraceptive counseling, HPV, HIV and gestational diabetes screenings, and DNA testing for women age 30 and older.
In addition to the guidelines, HHS also released an interim religious exemption amendment that would give religious employers the choice to not provide contraception services in their group health plans or coverage connected to such plans (the administration is welcoming comment on this rule until Friday, September 30).This First Amendment-friendly clause, based on established “conscience protections” available in most states already requiring contraception coverage, delineates a religious employer as one that:
- has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose;
- primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets;
- primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and
- is a non-profit organization.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
FACE, or the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances act, was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994. It prohibits protesters at abortion clinics from blocking access to clinics or threatening those who work at the clinic or seek to use its services. The law was written in response to a rash of violent incidents at clinics, including the attempted murder of Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller (though he survived the 1993 attack, Tiller was murdered in 2009 by another anti-abortion activist). The Clinton administration justice department enforced the act fairly vigorously, but, claims PJP Fellow Carrie Johnson on NPR, the George W. Bush administration did not. Now, the Obama justice department has reinvigorated prosecution.
Since the act prohibits a form of peaceful protest, there are First Amendment issues to address. But it has been upheld in federal court on a number occasions, most recently in Ashcroft v. Norton, where the court asserted that the act actually limits conduct, not content, an important distinction for First Amendment doctrine. You can read Carrie's piece here and the court's opinion in Ashcroft here.
Monday, September 12, 2011
2) "[We are just trying to ensure]...that taxpayer money isn't subsidizing somebody's drug habit." The words of a spokesman for Florida Governor Rick Scott on a state law requiring drug testing for welfare recipients. The ACLU has challenged the law, arguing it constitutes an unconstitutional use of search and seizure. Courts addressing this issue in the past have agreed with the ACLU's argument. Back in 1999, Michigan had a random drug testing policy for those applying for welfare, but it was ruled unconstitutional in a federal appeals court.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Nineteen years ago, in the fall of 1992, I was nominated by President George H. W. Bush for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. My confirmation hearing lasted one hour. In fact, I had no time to prepare for it. As a federal district judge, I was in the courtroom, charging a jury, when my secretary burst in with the news that my senate hearing was to be the very next day. That is how much notice I had. When the vote was called only a few days later, I was unanimously confirmed.
Don’t get me wrong. This is not to celebrate me. It is to reflect on a better time for our politics and ask how things went so wrong. Among the 192 Article III judges confirmed during the elder Bush’s presidency, only David Souter and Clarence Thomas faced confirmation battles (with Thomas undergoing a very difficult confirmation battle). But, of course, they were under consideration for the Supreme Court.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Friday, September 2, 2011
1) "This is all about safety, not about religion." That is a quote from Peter Tartaglia, deputy commissioner of the Westchester County (New York) Parks Department, reacting to an incident at the Playland amusement park where a group of Muslims objected when told that women would have to remove their hajibs, the traditional Muslim head scarves, or they would not be allowed on certain rides. A brawl broke out leading to the arrest of fifteen people. You can read about this here.
2) “This was a very dark chapter in the history of medical research sponsored by the U.S. government.” So said Amy Guttman, president of the University of Pennsylvania and the chair of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. She was referring to the Commission’s investigation of a 1940s era experiment run by the Public Health Service in which more than 5000 Guatemalan prisoners, soldiers and mental patients were purposely infected with syphilis, gonorrhea, and other venereal diseases in order to explore whether pencillin could be effective after exposure. The study was in response to the high number of American GIs who contracted venereal diseases during World War II. Read about it here.