Tag Archives: Court Cases
Supreme Court

UPDATED: Supreme Court Opinions Raise Important Criminal Justice Questions

The Supreme Court term that just came to an end was extremely significant, and not just because of the historic healthcare and marriage equality rulings. Throughout the term, we saw a number of important criminal justice cases argued and decided, and though some of them did not go the way we would have hoped, important questions were raised about the way that “justice” is carried out in our criminal justice system. Read more…

#LoveWins – Reactions to Obergefell v. Hodges LGBT Marriage Equality

Today, the Supreme Court issued an historic 5-4 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges in favor of marriage equality. Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion strongly advocated for expanding freedom as the need arises.

The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning. When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed.

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A Small, Yet Promising Victory For Campaign Finance Reform

As more and more candidates announce their entrance into the 2016 presidential race, we’ll hear more and more about their platform and vision for the country—and about their donors and fundraisers. 2016 will be the first presidential election since McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, in which the Court struck down a longstanding ban on aggregate limits on donations directly to candidates’ campaigns and political parties. So, it’s possible an even bigger shift in the realm of money and politics is expected in an election six years after Citizens United. Read more…

Rolling Back Progress on Immigration Reform

The 113th Congress started with high hopes of Democrats and Republicans coming together to reform our broken immigration system, with a comprehensive bill that stalled in the House. This new Congress is stuck over reforms that have already been made. This week promises to be pivotal in the fight over President Obama’s executive actions on immigration in Congress and the courts: both the 2012 action that created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the action in November 2014 that created Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA). Read more…

Force Feeding, Guantanamo Hunger Strikes, and What Our Rabbis Teach

Torture, while cruel and inhumane, is not something that we often hear about from mainstream media, nor is it something we have written about very recently at the Religious Action Center. The Reform Jewish position on this issue is clear: in a post-9/11 world we understand the need for enhanced national security, and yet we believe that security must be balanced with the importance of civil liberties and bodily autonomy. Experts agree that torturing prisoners or holding them in extended solitary confinement go beyond the practical needs of national security (since torture is found to be an ineffective way to obtain information) and abandon the constitutional right to due process as well as fundamental Jewish values. Nearly six years after President Obama came into office and promised to close Guantanamo Bay, the detention center stays open and the 149 individuals held there remain.

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Supreme Court

One Year Later: Protecting Voting Rights After Shelby v. Holder

Today is the one-year anniversary of Shelby v. Holder, the Supreme Court’s decision that struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

Renewed by bipartisan majorities on several occasions, most recently in 2006, the Voting Rights Act long protected Americans from discrimination at the ballot box. The Shelby decision struck down Section 4(b), a provision of the bill that required states and jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to pre-clear potentially discriminatory voting changes with the federal Department of Justice. While some parts of the Voting Rights Act do remain in place, in the year since the Court’s decision a number of states and jurisdictions have engaged in discriminatory behaviors. Read more…

2 men married

The State of Marriage Equality

It’s been an exciting few weeks for marriage equality—here’s the latest on where we’ve come from, where we are today and where we’re heading!

While 2013 may have seen more victories for the LGBT community than any previous year, all the accomplishments of the last few weeks makes 2014 already look like a very promising year for gay and lesbian individuals, allies and advocates who work tirelessly for equal rights.

The Past

It’s been a long and uphill battle for gay and lesbian Americans. In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which had two major provisions: the first declared that no state, territory or possession of the United States nor Indian tribe is required to give any sort of recognition to the marriage of a gay and lesbian couple as recognized or performed in any other state. The second defined marriage for federal regulatory purposes as the union between one man and one woman as husband and wife. Yet in the last 18 years, our country has come a long way. Not only was the second provision of DOMA struck down over the summer, but the number of states recognizing same-sex marriages through legislative action and judicial rulings is increasing at such a rapid rate, it’s becoming hard to keep up with blog posts! Read more…

Justice Sonia Sotomayor

The High Court and the Contraception Mandate

In the final hours of 2013, Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued an injunction for Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged and the Christian Brothers Service, deciding that until further notice, these organizations do not have to comply with rules for religiously-affiliated non-profits under the contraception mandate implemented on January 1, 2014.

In her order for the injunction last Tuesday, Justice Sotomayor gave the government until 10 a.m. Friday, January 3rd, to respond. In the memorandum filed on  Friday morning, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli argued that since the insurer, Christian Brothers Employee Benefits Trust, has a “church plan” under ERISA (and is therefore fully exempt), neither the insurer, Christian Brothers, nor the religious non-profit employer, Little Sisters of the Poor, would have to provide contraception care. This is similar to the argument the government used when this case was heard in the 10th Circuit. Little Sisters qualifies as a religious non-profit and therefore would have to self-certify to be accommodated.

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