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Daily Archives: March 16, 2023

The Unabridged Fifteenth Amendment

Crum, Travis, The Unabridged Fifteenth Amendment (March 15, 2023). Yale Law Journal, Forthcoming, Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 23-03-03, Available at SSRN:

“In the legal histories of Reconstruction, the Fifteenth Amendment’s drafting and ratification is an afterthought compared to the Fourteenth Amendment. This oversight is perplexing given that the Fifteenth Amendment ushered in a brief period of multi-racial democracy and laid the constitutional foundation for the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This Article helps to complete the historical record and provides a thorough accounting of the Fifteenth Amendment’s text, history, and purpose. This Article situates the Fifteenth Amendment within the broad array of constitutional provisions, federal statutes, fundamental conditions, and state laws that enfranchised—and disenfranchised—Black men during Reconstruction. This Article then performs a deep dive into the congressional debate, cataloguing every version of the Amendment that was voted on. It next turns to the ratification debate, an intense partisan affair that culminated in Congress compelling four Southern States’ ratification as part of their re-admission to the Union. Rather than answer today’s doctrinal questions, this Article’s focus is on the issues debated by the ratifying generation. The Reconstruction Framers were united in their goal of enfranchising Black men nationwide, but they were deeply divided over how best to achieve that goal and whether other disenfranchised groups—such as women, Irish Americans, and Chinese immigrants—should be covered by the Amendment as well. In addition, the Reconstruction Framers debated whether and how the Amendment could be circumvented and whether officeholding should be explicitly protected.  This Article argues that the Fifteenth Amendment’s original understanding went beyond forbidding facially discriminatory voting qualifications; it also prohibited the use of racial proxies and, albeit less clearly, protected the right to hold office. But more fundamentally, the Fifteenth Amendment rejected the original Constitution’s theory of democracy, which delegated to States the authority to decide who deserved the franchise based on whether they had a sufficient stake in the community or their interests were virtually represented. In short, the Fifteenth Amendment is the first constitutional provision that embraced the idea that the right to vote is preservative of all other rights.”

Gen Zers are bookworms but say they’re shunning e-books because of eye strain, digital detoxing, and their love for libraries

Insider: “There’s no doubt that Gen Z loves to read.  This generation, defined as people born between 1997 and 2015, is often considered phone-obsessed and addicted to technology. But when it comes to reading, Gen Zers say they prefer to pick up a printed book over an e-book. Book sales in the US and the… Continue Reading

Amazon sued for not telling New York store customers about facial recognition

CNBC: “Amazon did not alert its New York City customers that they were being monitored by facial recognition technology, a lawsuit filed Thursday alleges. In a class-action suit, lawyers for Alfredo Perez said that the company failed to tell visitors to Amazon Go convenience stores that the technology was in use. Thanks to a 2021 law, New… Continue Reading

Can chatbots remember what you type? NCSC issues warning

TechHQ: “Being careful with whom you share your secrets is always good advice. And that tip applies to advanced chatbots such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT. In fairness, OpenAI does provide user guidelines in its FAQs. “We are not able to delete specific prompts from your history,” writes the developer. “Please don’t share any sensitive information in… Continue Reading

16 Agencies Create One Confidential Data Process to Rule Them All

NextGov: “Through three years, 16 federal agencies, more than 1,300 datasets and a cascade of privacy laws and interagency agreements underpinned by decades-old entrenched processes, a team of federal employees launched the Standard Application Process in December, creating for the first time a single portal for U.S. researchers to request access to the mountains of… Continue Reading

FCC orders phone companies to block scam text messages

Ars Technica: “The Federal Communications Commission today finalized rules requiring mobile carriers to block robotext messages that are likely to be illegal. The FCC described the rules as the agency’s “first regulations specifically targeting the increasing problem of scam text messages sent to consumers.” Carriers will be required to block text messages that come from… Continue Reading

Why Vermont State’s digital library idea is so controversial

Higher Ed Dive: “…Vermont State University — a new institution to be formed from three existing Vermont public colleges — has announced that it will be transforming its libraries to be “all-digital. Alhough the physical spaces will continue to serve students, administrators said print materials will no longer be procured for students who do not… Continue Reading

Authors risk losing copyright if AI content is not disclosed, US guidance says

Ars Technica: “As generative AI technologies like GPT-4 and Midjourney have rapidly gotten more sophisticated and their creative use has exploded in popularity, the US Copyright Office has issued guidance today to clarify when AI-generated material can be copyrighted. Guidance comes after the Copyright Office decided that an author could not copyright individual AI images… Continue Reading

Design notes on the 2023 Wikipedia redesign

“Hey, I’m Alex Hollender. For the past few years I led the redesign of the Wikipedia desktop interface, which launched this past January. Below are some notes on the project and process….Wikipedia — a major, legacy website (top 10 ranked, for 10+ years) — had an interface that hadn’t been changed for 15 years. And… Continue Reading