Guest Post

  • June 18, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Gregg Ivers, Professor of Government, American University*

    Until the early 1960s, American college campuses were among the last places that one could expect to find raging debates over controversial ideas or alleged administrative efforts to limit the “free expression” of students, faculty or invited guests. In fact, quite the opposite was true. Slightly less than ten percent of all Americans completed a bachelor’s degree at a four-year university in 1960. And that even takes into account the enrollment boom after World War II, when returning veterans used the newly enacted G.I. Bill to attend college. By 1947, World War II veterans made up roughly fifty percent of college students in the United States. That trend continued into the 1950s after Congress enacted additional legislation to support Korean War veterans who wanted to earn a college degree. Not surprisingly, men, by 1960, attended and completed college at roughly double the rate of women. Due to restrictive admissions policies and cultural norms, many women attended private women’s colleges rather than elite private universities reserved for men or the flagship public institutions of their state.  The college gender gap did not begin to close in a meaningful way until the early 2000s. By 2013, women attended and completed college at higher rates than men, regardless of race or ethnic origin, a trend that has remained consistent through 2017.

    For African Americans in 1960, entering college and completing a bachelor’s degree were even more elusive goals. Somewhere between two and three percent of African American men and women were enrolled in four-year institutions in 1960, almost all of whom attended black colleges and universities. Although the Supreme Court had ruled well before Brown v. Board of Education (1954) that white public universities could not exclude African American students if “equal opportunities” were not available to them at black institutions within their state, most Jim Crow states of the South were dragged kicking and screaming to desegregate their ever-growing systems of higher education. Governor George Wallace’s petulant “last stand” against a federal court order to admit James Hood and Vivian Malone into the University of Alabama in June 1963 marked the formal end to segregated public higher education in the United States.

  • June 12, 2018
    Guest Post

    Reuben Guttman, Founding member, Guttman, Buschner & Brooks PLLC

    It might very well have been about the time that former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates was speaking at the American Constitution Society's annual convention last Thursday night in Washington, DC that food critic and CNN commentator Anthony Bourdain was ending his life in a hotel room across the Atlantic in France.

    The mind works in strange ways; I have been thinking about Bourdain's untimely passing, and perhaps it is just human nature to recall where you were when an event of some consequence occurs. And just maybe, there is some irony here. 

    Yates stood up against a President, refusing to defend a travel ban that would have restricted - if not downright blocked - the immigration of those who are at the core of what this nation is about: an amalgam of diversity and a blending of culture.

    Of course, since Yates stood up to the President and lost her job for doing so, the rest of us – on almost a daily basis – have witnessed the erosion of the rule of law and grappled with how to make all Americans fully understand the depth of our national crisis. 

  • June 7, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Alan Neff

    *This piece was originally posted on Crooks & Liars.

    Before the end of June, and possibly within the next week, the Supreme Court will announce its decision in the partisan-gerrymandering case of Whitford v. GillWhitford is Wisconsin’s starkly Republican contribution to the ongoing national battle over the principle that, as Justice Ginsburg has said for the Court, “...voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.”

    (Note: All of the papers in Whitford - from the original complaint to the briefs of the parties and all the intervenors - can be found here, at the site of the Campaign Legal Center, which provides members of the plaintiffs’ legal team.)

  • June 5, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Leslie C. Griffin, William S. Boyd Professor of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law 

    Many of us expected the Baker, Jack Phillips, to defeat the Same-Sex Couple, Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins, in the Supreme Court of the United States. The Baker refused to bake a marriage cake for the Couple because of his religious opposition to same-sex marriage. I thought it would be a Kennedy, 5-4 opinion, on free speech grounds. Instead, the Court, in an opinion by Kennedy, unfortunately ruled 7-2 in the Baker’s favor on free exercise of religion grounds.

    The free exercise decision was surprising because the Free Exercise Clause requires everyone to obey neutral laws of general applicability. The sexual orientation anti-discrimination laws are neutral laws of general applicability. Both the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and the Colorado Court of Appeals so ruled. Nonetheless, Justice Kennedy wrote that the Commission had displayed religious hostility in its enforcement of those laws, and that the “neutral and respectful consideration to which Phillips was entitled was compromised.”

  • May 30, 2018
    Guest Post

    by B. Jessie Hill, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Judge Ben C. Green Professor of Law, Case Western Reserve University School of Law

    Ohio has enacted an extraordinary number of new restrictions on reproductive rights since 2010. It is second in the country—behind Texas—in the rate of abortion clinic closings, having gone from sixteen to eight in just seven years. Ohio was the first state to pass restrictions on medication-only abortion back in 2004, and it is one of the first states to have adopted a restriction on abortion following a diagnosis of fetal Down syndrome. (The former law was made irrelevant by a change in federal law, and the latter was recently found unconstitutional by a federal court.) Ohio’s most recently introduced abortion restriction, H.B. 565, would outlaw all abortions without exception and, by making abortion equivalent to murder, it would subject women and doctors who participate in this extremely common, safe, and constitutionally-protected health-care procedure to possible life imprisonment or even the death penalty.