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2012-09

September 28, 2012

Fresh off an undefeated 7-0 Term, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is looking at Kiobel to notch its first win of the new Term.  Beyond Kiobel, the Chamber is involved in a number of cases seeking to limit the ability of plaintiffs to pursue relief through class and collective actions.

September 26, 2012

This coming Term, through a ruling in Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, the Supreme Court could strip individuals of any practical ability to challenge and seek judicial limitation of government surveillance.

September 24, 2012

The next big showdown over the constitutional powers of the federal government is nearly upon us.  When the Supreme Court reconvenes in October, the Court is widely expected to grant review in Shelby County v Holder, a constitutional challenge to Congress’ 2006 renewal of the preclearance requirement of the Voting Rights Act, one of the Act’s most important and successful provisions in preventing and deterring racial discrimination in voting.

September 19, 2012

In their opinions on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court’s conservative justices surprised even seasoned experts, with their break from the long tradition of deference to Congress in constitutional challenges to economic regulatory and safety net statutes.

September 18, 2012

One constitutional argument that’s always confused us around here at Constitutional Accountability Center is the claim that there’s no right to vote in the Constitution – a claim even made by some of our progressive friends.  In a recent piece in the Atlantic, Professor Garrett Epps explains the origins of this claim and offers an extensive (and persuasive) rebuttal.  It’s well worth a read.

September 17, 2012

As we celebrate the 225th birthday of our Constitution, the right to vote is under attack.  The Supreme Court is poised to take up a case that seeks to strike down a crucial part of the Voting Rights Act.  State voter ID laws threaten to disenfranchise nearly 1 million young, minority voters.

September 17, 2012

On Wednesday evening, September 12, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas joined Constitutional Accountability Center board member and Yale law professor Akhil Amar on the stage of the National Archives’ William G. McGowan Theater, and riveted a packed house throughout an animated discussion of the past, present, and future of the Constitution.

September 12, 2012

Perhaps more so than any other constitutional guarantee, the right to vote is deeply embedded in the Constitution’s text and history.  And yet conservatives are trying to change election rules to disenfranchise eligible voters – passing restrictive voter I.D. laws, shortening early voting hours, and making it more difficult to register to vote.  That’s some 225th Anniversary gift for the tea party’s beloved Constitution.  But it does give progressives the opportunity on Constitution Day 2012 to recapture the constitutional high ground and put the tea party and its allies on the defensive. We must begin by embracing our constitutional heritage, rather than effectively ceding it to conservatives.  

September 10, 2012

By David H. Gans, Director of the Human Rights, Civil Rights & Citizenship Program

The Fifteenth Amendment prohibits racial discrimination in voting and expressly empowers Congress to enforce this guarantee, which it has done primarily through the passage and repeated reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act.  Recent events only bolster Congress’ repeated invocation of its express constitutional power to protect the right to vote free from racial discrimination.    

In Shelby County v. Holder, an Alabama county, joined by a host of conservative states, including Alabama, Georgia, Texas and South Carolina, and right-leaning legal groups as amici curiae, are urging the Supreme Court to review the case and strike down a key part of the Voting Rights Act as beyond the scope of Congress’ power to enforce the Fifteenth Amendment’s prohibition on racial discrimination in voting.  The core of the conservative attack on the “preclearance” requirement of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (which requires jurisdictions that have a history of engaging in racial discrimination in voting to obtain federal permission before altering their voting laws and regulations) is that this strong medicine is now outdated and unnecessary.   In reauthorizing the Act in 2006, Congress disagreed, amassing a 15,000-page legislative record demonstrating that racial discrimination in voting continues to exist and remains concentrated in jurisdictions covered by the Voting Rights Act’s preclearance requirement. 

In the last few weeks, in a trio of unanimous rulings by three separate three-judge District Courts in Washington D.C., judges across the ideological spectrum have unanimously applied the Voting Rights Act’s preclearance provision to strike down new voting measures designed to suppress the vote and dilute the voting power of racial minorities, concluding that these voting changes would cut back on minority voting rights.  These rulings provide critical new evidence of precisely why preclearance is still a much needed tool to protect the right to vote free from racial discrimination.   Without the Voting Rights Act in place, African American and Hispanic voters in states such as Texas might be denied their constitutional right to cast a ballot on election day.   

September 5, 2012

In celebration of the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution, Yale Law Professor Akhil Amarmember of CAC's Board of Directors, will join Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on September 12 at the National Archives to discuss the past, present, and future of the nation’s founding document in a program titled, “The Constitution Turns 225.”

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