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  • Legal Memorandum posted June 2, 2014 by Hans A. von Spakovsky, Elizabeth Slattery Amending the First Amendment: How the Campaign Finance Amendment Will Silence Free Speech

    An effort is underway in the Senate to amend the Constitution to restrict free speech by allowing Congress to limit fundraising and spending on political speech. A constitutional amendment proposed by Senator Tom Udall (D–NM) would grant Congress the power to regulate the raising and spending of money in elections. Supporters of this amendment claim that restricting the…

  • Commentary posted June 2, 2014 by Hans A. von Spakovsky, Elizabeth Slattery Senate Democrats again pushing to silence freedom of speech

    Senate Democrats are pushing a constitutional amendment sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N. Mex., that for the first time in history would cut back on an important and fundamental part of the Bill of Rights -- the First Amendment. Senate Joint Resolution 19 would allow Congress to limit fundraising and spending on election campaigns and independent political speech. On…

  • Commentary posted April 29, 2014 by Elizabeth Slattery, Hans A. von Spakovsky Will others follow Michigan in banning race preferences?

    In a victory for equality, on April 22 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a referendum overwhelmingly passed by Michigan voters in 2006 banning discrimination by state and local governments in education, employment and contracting. The Michigan referendum amended the state constitution after Grutter v. Bollinger. In that 2003 decision involving the University of Michigan, the…

  • Commentary posted April 28, 2014 by Elizabeth Slattery You mostly can’t ‘take it all the way to the Supreme Court’

    “I’ll take it all the way to the Supreme Court.” Anyone may say it, but when it comes to getting the Supreme Court to review a case, it’s far easier said than done. The Supreme Court hears only a small number of cases each term, so the odds of getting your case before these nine justices are long, indeed. But there are good reasons why the Court declines to hear most…

  • Issue Brief posted April 25, 2014 by Elizabeth Slattery Supreme Court 101: A Primer for Non-Lawyers

    A common refrain from lawyers is that they will take a case “all the way to the Supreme Court,” but it is easier said than done to get the Supreme Court to review a case. The Supreme Court of the United States agrees to hear only a small number of cases each term, so the odds are stacked against most litigants. The reasons why the Court declines to hear particular cases…

  • Commentary posted April 24, 2014 by Elizabeth Slattery, Hans A. von Spakovsky Schuette and America’s Future

    Our most recent paper suggested that Congress ban racial preferences and rein in the “disparate impact” approach to civil-rights enforcement. This week, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Schuette v. BAMN and gave a green light to the political branches if they decide to prohibit such discrimination. We hope that Congress — as well as state legislatures — will…

  • Commentary posted April 15, 2014 by Elizabeth Slattery, Hans A. von Spakovsky Congress Can Help End Racial Discrimination

    The federal government wittingly and unwittingly endorses a great deal of racial discrimination in America. A 2011 report by the Congressional Research Service catalogued literally hundreds of government-wide and agency-specific set-aside and preference programs and grants throughout the entire executive branch that amount to some form of racial discrimination. If…

  • Legal Memorandum posted April 7, 2014 by Roger Clegg, Hans A. von Spakovsky, Elizabeth Slattery What Congress Can Do to Stop Racial Discrimination

    “In the eyes of the government, we are just one race here. It is American.” —Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia[1] Discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity is unconstitutional, unlawful, and morally repugnant. The government should not be in the business of sorting people by such innate characteristics. Yet race and ethnicity often factor into government…

  • Commentary posted March 21, 2014 by Elizabeth Slattery, Andrew Kloster Obama's Presidency Is Increasingly Lawless

    Stretching executive power beyond the bounds of reasonableness has been a hallmark of President Obama’s administration. When his policies fail to make it through Congress, he imposes “laws” by executive fiat. When he disagrees with the law or finds it politically expedient not to enforce the law, he ignores it, skirts it or makes dubious claims of prosecutorial…

  • Legal Memorandum posted February 13, 2014 by Elizabeth Slattery, Sarah Torre Obamacare Anti-Conscience Mandate at the Supreme Court

    In February 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finalized guidelines requiring employers to pay for coverage of contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs and granted a narrow exemption for certain religious employers. Many employers believe that complying with this mandate would violate the tenets of their faith, but failure to…

  • Legal Memorandum posted February 12, 2014 by Elizabeth Slattery, Andrew Kloster An Executive Unbound: The Obama Administration’s Unilateral Actions

    “We can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won’t act, I will.” —President Barack Obama[1] The rule of law is a bedrock principle of Anglo–American jurisprudence. It stands for the belief that all—including government officials—are subject to the law and not above it. America’s Founding Fathers understood this principle, and the…

  • Commentary posted October 24, 2013 by Hans A. von Spakovsky, Elizabeth Slattery Packing Washington's most crucial court

    The U.S. Senate will soon vote on the nominations of three individuals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. This court is widely regarded as a steppingstone to the Supreme Court. Because of its location in the nation’s capital, a considerable portion of its cases involve federal agencies. This makes the D.C. Circuit a watchdog over the…

  • Legal Memorandum posted September 23, 2013 by Elizabeth Slattery Overview of the Supreme Court’s October 2013 Term

    The Supreme Court of the United States begins its next term on October 7, 2013. The 2012 term was marked by a series of high-profile civil rights cases: a challenge to the Voting Rights Act coverage formula, a case dealing with racial preferences in higher education, Arizona’s proof of citizenship voter registration requirement, and, of course, the long-awaited same-sex…

  • Commentary posted June 26, 2013 by Hans A. von Spakovsky, Elizabeth Slattery A Response to Ramesh — No Deference on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act

    By the end of June, the Supreme Court will hand down decisions in the remaining cases of its October 2012 term, including one of the most anticipated decisions involving the Voting Rights Act, Shelby County v. Holder. In a recent article, Ramesh Ponnuru posited that the Court should defer to Congress and uphold Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. With all respect to…

  • Legal Memorandum posted June 13, 2013 by Elizabeth Slattery How to Spot Judicial Activism: Three Recent Examples

    The role assigned to judges in our system was to interpret the Constitution and lesser laws, not to make them. It was to protect the integrity of the Constitution, not to add to it or subtract from it—certainly not to rewrite it. For as the framers knew, unless judges are bound by the text of the Constitution, we will, in fact, no longer have a government of laws, but of…