Weekly Round-Up #2: “I Want One Day Without a CNN Alert that Scares the Hell Out of Me.”

Wow, it is certainly an interesting time to be alive and studying politics, and in particular civil liberties. Frankly, it is exhausting trying to keep up with everything that is happening and the levels of concern that come from watching the fast-paced erosion of democratic norms and institutions. As the title I chose for this post suggests, as SNL nailed last weekend, we could all use a bit of a break. While I cannot offer a full on escape, I can offer you a variety of great student posts about various civil liberties issues.

There are lots of great posts this week (as always), and so many different ways to group and present them. For the first set of posts I’m presenting the students who have written about recent executive orders. Daniel discusses the 9th Circuit’s ruling upholding the block on Trump’s immigration ban. He looks at what is currently developing with one of Trump’s more controversial executive orders. Kaitlyn also writes about Trump’s immigration ban. Kaitlyn focuses on Trump’s immigration ban in light of our current topic in class (and part of her blog’s central topic), the Establishment Clause. She looks at the language of the order itself and puts this into the context of the First Amendment’s religion clauses.

Rounding out the executive order posts, Erin’s post this week focuses on one of President Trump’s new executive order. No, not the immigration ban, but a different one. Erin talks about a new executive order that, in part, jeopardizes privacy protections for non-US citizens and non-lawful permanent residents. As Erin points out, this goes in direct contradiction to a previously established data transfer framework to allow the EU to share information with the US where the US will protect that data on a level consistent with EU privacy protections. Erin walks through the agreement, the new executive order and what it means for privacy rights for many people. This post is a great read, especially if you are interested (and concerned about) privacy protections.

Hiding in a drawer…Lenin might be on to something here

Sticking with the theme of actions from the new administration, we turn to our attention to posts about various nominees. Elise writes about the new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos (DuVos?), and school choice. She puts the idea of allowing parents to choose private school options into context with the Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Taylor shifts our focus away from the cabinet to the Court. Taylor’s post focuses on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Gorsuch, and his record as a judge on women’s rights issues. Taylor talks about Gorsuch’s various rulings that have negatively affected women’s rights. She talks about what this would mean for the Supreme Court if Gorsuch is confirmed as the next associated justice on the Court.
Both Paul and Efrain focus on recent cases dealing with civil liberties issues, and Laura writes about a series of recent cases regarding the Affordable Care Act. Paul discusses the 2010 Supreme Court case, Christian Legal Society (CLS) v. Martinez. This case involves whether a registered student organization at a law school can require students to sign on to their statement of faith, or whether the school can force the group to abide by the school’s nondiscrimination policy. Paul talks about the development of the case, as well as the Court’s ultimate ruling in the case. Efrain’s post this week is a thorough examination of a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit case, United States v. Whitaker (2016). He provides a detailed account of the case, so I will briefly say here that the case involves a warrantless use of a drug-sniffing dog that eventually lead to an arrest on drug charges. After explaining the case, and the Seventh Circuit’s ruling, he talks about the implications of this case for Fourth Amendment rights. Laura highlights more Supreme Court cases pertaining to the Affordable Care Act in her post. She provides a chronological overview of the Court’s cases regarding the ACA, and what the Court held. She provides this review as a means of leading into current healthcare issues in her next post.

Leave the politics, take the cannoli
Cannoli and coffee…this is exactly the sort of break I need right now

While not about recent cases, Grace also takes us through how the Supreme Court has been involved in issues of civil liberties and civil rights. Grace continues her examination of race, the Court, and the law by looking at questions of school segregation. While she largely talks about Brown v. Board of Education, she also provides a more robust history of cases involving challenges to segregation and how the Court’s early 14th Amendment rulings actually enabled much of the segregation the Court eventually used the 14th Amendment to strike down.

Adrian brings our focus out a bit broader to social connection between civil liberties, local politics, and broader cultural events. Adrian writes about how the Super Bowl connects to his blog’s central theme, LGBTQ+ rights. He discusses how both the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots have taken steps to support LGBTQ+ rights, and to some extent so has the NFL. Adrian puts these actions in the context of the importance of signaling acceptance to fans, but also their importance when the Super Bowl takes place, as it is did this year, in a state that is pursuing aggressively anti-LGBTQ legislation.

Last, but certainly not least, Selma O. addresses whether anarchism is covered under freedom of speech in the U.S. She addresses this topic by looking at the case of Sacco and Vanzetti. She explains some of the details surrounding the case, and relates the nativist sentiments at the time to the ultimate outcome of the case. This is a wonderful piece, and has been featured on The Daily Context, a blog maintained by a group of historians who put current political developments into historical context.

Once again all of these posts are well worth a read, and, if you feel so inclined, leave a comment and engage with these intrepid young scholars.

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