Separation of Powers: Trump’s Loose Grasp of Basic Civics

Donald Trump and civics - civic ignorance is dangerous

Following a U.S. District judge’s decision to block his controversial sanctuary cities executive order, Donald Trump (and many of his surrogates, supporters and right-wing media mouthpieces) lashed out questioning the very constitutional foundations that keep government power in check. His criticism is the latest in a long line of commentary aimed at delegitimizing the constitutional role of the Judiciary. Trump’s Reaction “First the Ninth Circuit rules […]

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Religious Establishment: He Who Frames the Issue

First Amendment Establishment Clause

As I often tell my students, the most important thing I learned in law school was that “he who frames the issue wins the debate.” In other words, whoever is successful in defining what’s at stake generally prevails. You can see that truism pretty vividly in debates over culture war issues like abortion and LGBTQ rights: if  abortion is the […]

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Roe v Gorsuch: The Worst-Case Scenario

Abortion - Roe v. Wade

Thanks to some despicable behavior by the self-styled “moralists” and millions of Koch brother dollars, Neil Gorsuch is now the newest Supreme Court Justice. Aside from occupying Merrick Garland’s seat and a worrisome tendency to favor the arguments of corporate and “religious” litigants, what is the worst thing that can happen? He manages to get Roe v. Wade overturned. What would […]

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Florida Religion in School Legislation SB 436 Advances

Religion in public schools may become law thanks to Kim Daniels and Dennis Baxley - SB 436

In February, two Florida legislators proposed companion bills in the state House and Senate that would significantly weaken the church and state wall within public schools. House Bill 303 and it’s companion bill Senate Bill 436 – known collectively as the “Florida Student and School Personnel Religious Liberties Act” – would prohibit Florida public school districts “from discriminating against students, parents, & school personnel on basis of religious […]

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7th Circuit Rules LGBTQ Workplace Discrimination Illegal

7th Circuit Rules LGBTQ Workplace Discrimination Illegal in Hively v Ivy Tech

In a historic ruling, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that LGBTQ people are protected from workplace sexual orientation discrimination by the Civil Rights Act of 1965 (CRA). The 7th Circuit is the first federal level court to accept the legal argument that sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination – and discrimination based on sex is prohibited by Title VII. As it’s […]

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The Gorsuch Nomination

Neil Gorsuch

As I have previously written, the most damning argument against Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation has nothing to do with his bona fides, which are impressive. It is the inescapable fact that his elevation to the Supreme Court will be illegitimate–the result of a very dangerous and cynical misuse of political power. The Republicans’ refusal to afford Merrick Garland a hearing has been widely […]

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Dirty Harry, Mitch McConnell and the Rule of Law

Merrick, McConnell and Gorsuch

A former student recently asked for my opinion on Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee for the current Supreme Court vacancy. As I told him, my concerns about Gorsuch pale in comparison to my deep disquiet over the Senate’s refusal to “advise and consent” with respect to President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland. Let me be very clear: Had Mitch McConnell and […]

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SCOTUS Sends Back Virginia Transgender Student Case

Gavin Grimm lawsuit against Gloucester County School Board heading to SCOTUS

The Supreme Court just vacated the ruling in a case involving transgender student rights sending the case back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.  The decision not to hear arguments in the case follows the Trump administration’s move to rescind the Obama administration’s Title IX guidelines outlining protections for trans students. The refusal to hear the case marks one […]

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Oklahoma: SB 450 Would Force Religion on Students

religious proselytizing - prayer in schools & promotion of religion using tax money via school vouchers

Legislation flying unchallenged through the Oklahoma legislature would allow unmitigated proselytization in public schools. SB 450 – also known as the ‘Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act’ for Schools – would protect “voluntary religious expression in the classroom.” While student prayer in public schools is already protected under the First Amendment, SB 450 takes this much, much further to the point of allowing students to […]

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