Hello again! Welcome back for another round of thoughtful posts. While the posts are not as easily grouped this week as they sometimes are, they are all united by (A) being fantastic, and (B) largely addressing contemporary issues of civil liberties that have a degree of both backward and forward looking to them. That is, many of the posts talk about something happening now, turning to previous case law, events, and crisis, to then assess where we are now and where we are going as a country with respect to civil liberties.
Let’s start off with Efrain and Erin, both of whom address 4th Amendment concerns arising from recent developments. Efrain writes about a recent 6th Circuit case that raises important 4th Amendment issues. The case is Huff v. Spaw (2015), which Efrain explains in detail. The central question involves whether an accidental pocket dial falls within the 4th Amendment’s “plain view doctrine,” and thus would not be protected communication. Erin’s post is about 4th Amendment rights in the context of Trump’s call for the full restoration of the USA Patriot Act, which was initially passed in the days immediately after the attacks on 9/11. She discusses the act, and some of the many 4th Amendment issues the Patriot Act brought up in its previous incarnation.
Similar to Efrain’s and Erin’s posts, Paul and Kaitlyn both wrote posts that look at contemporary political developments and the legal and social antecedents that lead us to where we are now. However, unlike Efrain’s and Erin’s 4th Amendment posts, Paul and Kaitlyn both look at 1st Amendment issues pertaining to the religion clauses. Paul, in his post, focuses on the 2014 case Town of Greece v. Galloway. The case involved a challenge to a town’s practice of beginning its town board meetings, which are public legislative meetings, with a prayer. Paul walks through the events leading to the challenge, as well as explains the Court’s ruling (and Breyer’s dissent) in the case. Kaitlyn writes about the Johnson amendment in her post this week. She explains the history of the amendment, as well as covers Trump’s repeated statements that he will repeal it. Kaitlyn also explains a bit more about how the Johnson Amendment works, and the arguments surrounding its potential repeal.
While not about religion, Selma O. discusses 1st Amendment protections for freedom of speech. Selma continues her discussion of anarchism from her previous post by looking at questions surrounding free speech, advocacy for anarchism, and the Court’s ruling in Gitlow v. New York (1925). Selma provides thoughtful reflection on whether free speech protections can, or should, extend to anarchism, and what it means for our rights if these protections do or do not apply.
While a bit of a hodgepodge when considered together, Taylor, Adrian, and Grace all address issues that are a bit more local in focus, even as they invoke national concerns. Taylor writes her post this week in response to James Green, a Republican and now-former Republican Party vice chair at the county level in Utah. Green wrote and had published a letter that articulated stereotypical views of family and “men’s” and “women’s” roles in family and society, all while bashing the very notion of equal pay. I could not possibly do justice to Taylor’s response, so you’ll just need to read it for yourself (it’s very much worth you time to do so). Adrian discusses various anti-trans bathroom bills that are being proposed in states, focusing primarily on the new one introduced in Texas. Adrian ties in a theme from his previous post regarding the Super Bowl by looking at how another athletic organization, the NBA, has put pressure on Texas and other states to not pass anti-trans bathroom bills. Adrian’s post is a wonderful mix of analysis and discussion of how political and social pressure can influence laws relating to the rights Americans enjoy. Grace provides a thorough overview on the topic of racial profiling. She explains what it is, when it comes up, and why the 14th Amendment bars the practice. She also talks about the many ways in which it still exists and is used by law enforcement, as well as provides examples.
Rounding out the posts for this week is a pair of posts from Jordyn and Laura relating to two different executive orders President Trump has issued, both of which involve comparisons to President Obama. Jordyn discusses some of the differences between the Obama administration and the Trump administration regarding immigration. She looks at Trump’s recent Muslim ban, and how it compares to actions Obama took regarding visas from Iraq. Unsurprisingly, these presidents have very different approaches to immigration. Laura provides a clear, and incredibly helpful explanation of portions of Trump’s first executive order, which was aimed at limiting the Affordable Care Act in anticipation of its repeal by Republicans in Congress. Laura talks about the executive order, generally, as well as provides detailed readings and explanations of three specific sections from the order.