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Category Archives: Courts

Commentary – The Supreme Court Is Allergic To Math

Oliver Roeder on FiveThirtyEight: “The Supreme Court does not compute. Or at least some of its members would rather not. The justices, the most powerful jurists in the land, seem to have a reluctance — even an allergy — to taking math and statistics seriously. For decades, the court has struggled with quantitative evidence of all kinds in a wide variety of cases. Sometimes justices ignore this evidence. Sometimes they misinterpret it. And sometimes they cast it aside in order to hold on to more traditional legal arguments. (And, yes, sometimes they also listen to the numbers.) Yet the world itself is becoming more computationally driven, and some of those computations will need to be adjudicated before long. Some major artificial intelligence case will likely come across the court’s desk in the next decade, for example. By voicing an unwillingness to engage with data-driven empiricism, justices — and thus the court — are at risk of making decisions without fully grappling with the evidence. This problem was on full display earlier this month, when the Supreme Court heard arguments in Gill v. Whitford, a case that will determine the future of partisan gerrymandering — and the contours of American democracy along with it. As my colleague Galen Druke has reported, the case hinges on math: Is there a way to measure a map’s partisan bias and to create a standard for when a gerrymandered map infringes on voters’ rights?…”

Signing Statements and Presidentializing Legislative History

Signing Statements and Presidentializing Legislative History. John M. de Figueiredo, Edward H. Stiglitz. NBER Working Paper No. 23951. Issued in October 2017. “Presidents often attach statements to the bills they sign into law, purporting to celebrate, construe, or object to provisions in the statute. Though long a feature of U.S. lawmaking, the President has avowedly… Continue Reading

Federal complaint filed against DeVos for removal of campus assault guidelines

Courthouse News – Roll-Back of Campus Assault Rules Spurs Challenge: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was hit with a federal complaint Thursday by three women who say her unraveling of campus-assault guidelines will gut investigations or lawsuits they have pending. Filed by attorney Wendy Murphy with the New England School of Law, the lawsuit in Boston… Continue Reading

Report – Supreme Court Errors Aren’t Hard to Find

A ProPublica review adds fuel to a longstanding worry about the nation’s highest court: The justices can botch the truth, sometimes in cases of great import. by Ryan Gabrielson. Oct. 17, 2017: “The decisions of the Supreme Court are rich with argument, history, some flashes of fine writing, and, of course, legal judgments of great… Continue Reading

What Happens to Your Email After You Die?

NextGov: “Life keeps us so busy writing emails that most of us haven’t considered what happens to our electronic communications when we’re dead. Can they be accessed by your family, or by a representative you designated in life? What if you leave no will and people need to know what you wanted done with your… Continue Reading

Latino and Native Youth Incarceration Disparities Persist

“Two new fact sheets from The Sentencing Project highlight the persistence of incarceration disparities among youth of color. Native youth are 300 percent more likely than white youth to be detained or committed to youth facilities, and Latino youth are 65 percent more likely. For Latino youth, the disparity has declined slightly since 2001. For… Continue Reading

The Blue Slip Process for U.S. Circuit and District Court Nominations

CRS report via FAS – The Blue Slip Process for U.S. Circuit and District Court Nominations: Frequently Asked Questions, Barry J. McMillion, Analyst in American National Government. October 2, 2017. “The blue slip process used by the Senate Judiciary Committee (the committee) for U.S. circuit and district court nominations has received renewed interest from Senators.… Continue Reading

CRS – Abortion: Judicial History and Legislative Response

CRS report via FAS – Abortion: Judicial History and Legislative Response, Jon O. Shimabukuro, Legislative Attorney. September 29, 2017. “In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded in Roe v. Wade that the U.S. Constitution protects a woman’s decision to terminate her pregnancy. In Doe v. Bolton, a companion decision, the Court found that a state… Continue Reading

NYT – How Computers Turned Gerrymandering Into a Science

New York Times Sunday Review – “About as many Democrats live in Wisconsin as Republicans do. But you wouldn’t know it from the Wisconsin State Assembly, where Republicans hold 65 percent of the seats, a bigger majority than Republican legislators enjoy in conservative states like Texas and Kentucky. The United States Supreme Court is trying… Continue Reading

Revised Treatment of Transgender Employment Discrimination Claims Under Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964

October 4, 2017 MEMORANDUM TO: UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS, HEADS OF DEPARTMENT COMPONENTS, FROM: THE ATTORNEY GENERAL [Sessions]: “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate in the employment of an individual “because of such individual’s…sex.” 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2(a) (prohibiting discrimination by private employers and by state and… Continue Reading

Overview of the Federal Government’s Power to Exclude Aliens

CRS report via FAS – Overview of the Federal Government’s Power to Exclude Aliens, Ben Harrington, Legislative Attorney. September 27, 2017. “The Supreme Court has determined that inherent principles of sovereignty give Congress“ plenary power” to regulate immigration. The core of this power—the part that has proven most impervious to judicial review—is the authority to… Continue Reading

Select Demographic and Other Characteristics of Recent U.S. Circuit and District Court Nominees

CRS Insight, August 17, 2017: “This Insight provides information related to select demographic and other characteristics of U.S. circuit and district court nominees whose nominations were submitted to the Senate by President Trump prior to August 1, 2017. President Trump submitted a total of 26 nominations prior to this date. The select demographic and other… Continue Reading