Tuesday April 30, 2013
New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg has strong words for the New York Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights activists who are concerned about racial profiling by the NYPD. He said in part:
The attacks most often come from people who play no constructive role in keeping our city safe, but rather view their jobs as pointing fingers from the steps of City Hall. Some of them scream that they know better than you how to run the department. Some have even sued the NYPD and demanded a federal monitor over NYPD operations. They've also drafted politically driven legislation that is a reaction to two NYPD practices: Stop, Question and Frisk; and counter-terrorism intelligence gathering.
Criticism of the NYPD has increased in recent weeks following the suspicious NYPD shooting death of 16-year-old Kimani Gray, whose family and supporters are still calling for a full investigation.
Related: A Short History of Racial Profiling in the United States
Sunday March 31, 2013
If we look at relevant precedents and follow them to their logical conclusions, the Supreme Court has already legalized same-sex marriage on a national level. Whether they have the political will to acknowledge this is, of course, another question entirely.
Let's follow this step by step:
- We know that marriage is a civil right because the Supreme Court said so in Loving v. Virginia (1967), the ruling that outlawed bans on interracial marriage.
- We know that lesbians and gay men are protected by the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, because the Supreme Court said so in Lawrence v. Texas (2003).
- We know that the federal government, and states, are prohibited from depriving any identifiable group of their civil rights under the equal protection clause.
Justice Scalia is fond of saying that the equal protection clause deals only with race, but it never even mentions race; justices who weave that limitation into the amendment out of whole cloth are interrupting the amendment, not interpreting it. It applies to racial discrimination, of course--because that is, by definition, a violation of equal protection--but†that's not what the text of the amendment addresses.
So it's simple, really: the Supreme Court has already implicitly said that states may not ban same-sex marriage. What is needed, now, is for five or more justices to stand by what the Court has already said--a considerable test of their political courage, to be sure, but not much of an intellectual challenge. That work has already long since been done.
Related: What is Marriage? | Four Arguments in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage
Thursday February 28, 2013
To hear the U.S. Supreme Court say it, racism is incredibly simple and very easy to address. As conservative justices prepared to kill section 5 of the Voting Rights Act earlier this week, Justice Antonin Scalia made a bold but not particularly uncharacteristic statement--describing the right to vote as a "racial entitlement."
I say not particularly uncharacteristic because he said much the same thing
in his concurring opinion in Crawford v. Marion County
, where he argued that intent--and not effect--should determine the constitutionality of voting laws that have a discriminatory impact.
Although his rhetoric is more divisive than that of most conservative justices, his views on discrimination are not far outside of the Court's mainstream. The Court essentially upheld an intent-based definition of racism in Parents v. Seattle District
), Crawford v. Marion County
), and Ricci v. DeStefano
), thumbing their collective noses at critical race scholars who point to the much greater cultural impact of institutional racism
As the Court continues to address complex racial issues, and to further parse the impact of the Fourteenth Amendment
, it would be encouraging to see some evidence that the justices are willing to acknowledge the fact that institutional racism is a cultural force--that it must be taken very seriously, and confronted without naivet√©.Related: 10 Racist Supreme Court Rulings
| What is Voter Caging?
Tuesday January 15, 2013
I said it
[C]onservative Republicans still control the House - but it is clear that they can't afford to placate or offend their party's nativist base. If they repeat the mistakes they made when they introduced HR 4437, they will severely limit their growth potential not only among Latino voters, but also among other voters of color ... On the other hand, if the Republican Party does concede ground and allow a path to citizenship, the Tea Party will become more aggressive - and, no doubt, field primary challengers who will pick away at more moderate Republican incumbents. This is a no-win situation for Republican policymakers.
But if he plays his cards right, Sen. Marco Rubio
(R-FL) just might make me eat my words. Mother Jones
' Adam Serwer describes a Rubio comprehensive immigration reform proposal
that presents a relatively non-punitive path to citizenship. The broad outline of Rubio's proposal--which hasn't actually turned into a piece of legislation yet--has been endorsed by Paul Ryan
, and subsequently may stand a better-than-50% chance of passing the House, assuming it receives Democratic support (and, unless there are some serious surprises in it, it will).
Serwer wonders if Rubio really means it:
Rubio might merely be providing conservatives cover on immigration reform by sounding like he's open to compromise. He might just be boosting his own profile. Talking about immigration reform without proposing anything concrete wins Rubio plaudits from conservative thought-leaders without fully alienating the hard-line immigration opponents in his party.
I think Rubio very well might, because suggesting a citizenship path for undocumented immigrants may, in fact, have already
alienated right-wing nativists (look at what happened
to John McCain). It's not the sort of thing that a prominent national Republican in a Southern state would casually say, especially if he plans to run for president. We can also safely assume that Paul Ryan considered the political implications of endorsing Rubio's proposal before he did it. Are these two young, conservative Republicans ready to buck their party's nativist history on immigration reform? Maybe. Just maybe. And in this political climate, "maybe" is a pretty big deal.Related: Tea Party Bill Would Repeal Birthright Citizenship
| History of Undocumented ("Illegal") Immigration