Category Archives: Civil Rights

Defying the Federal Courts

“Courts are just people. They’re just men and women dressed in black robes who have no power to re-declare, or declare, the social foundation of this nation as being unconstitutional.” These were the words of Roy S. Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Moore is a man with a proud history of defying … Continue reading Defying the Federal Courts

The Sit-Ins, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution

On Wednesday, a South Carolina court made national news when it vacated the civil rights-era convictions of a group of lunch counter sit-in protesters. The convictions stemmed from a protest in Rock Hill, South Carolina, on January 31, 1961. A group of African American students from Friendship College took seats at a local five-and-dime lunch … Continue reading The Sit-Ins, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution

Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Law

[Reposted from the IIT Chicago-Kent Faculty Blog] Among the most important of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s contributions to American history were his commentaries on the relationship between the law and social justice. King’s views toward the law can be divided into two categories: law as obstacle and law as opportunity. Law as an Obstacle to … Continue reading Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Law

Why Does Everyone Want the Supreme Court to Take a Same-Sex Marriage Case?

Red and blue Americans agree on precious little, but there is one thing that seems to be on every politician’s Christmas list this season: Supreme Court review of a same-sex marriage case. Everyone, it seems, is asking the Court to take on the issue. Proponents of same-sex marriage are confident that they now have the … Continue reading Why Does Everyone Want the Supreme Court to Take a Same-Sex Marriage Case?

Mississippi Burning at the Supreme Court

On Monday, President Obama awarded Medals of Freedom to James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of their deaths. Early in the summer of 1964, the three men were working with the Mississippi voter registration drive known as “Freedom Summer.” Local police arrested them for a supposed traffic violation … Continue reading Mississippi Burning at the Supreme Court

Some Thoughts on a “Silent” Supreme Court

There has been much discussion about the Supreme Court’s recent string of highly consequential actions in which the justices have been conspicuously silent about what they are doing. Because of the great lengths the justices go to lay out the precise reasoning of their decisions, they often proudly proclaim the Court as the most transparent … Continue reading Some Thoughts on a “Silent” Supreme Court

A Look Back—Justice Sotomayor’s First Oral Dissent

The Supreme Court has finally released—and Oyez has made available—audio recordings of last Term’s opinion announcements. Most of these announcements are summaries of majority opinions, but there are also a few oral dissents. Standard practice on the Supreme Court is for only the author of the opinion of the Court to read a summary of … Continue reading A Look Back—Justice Sotomayor’s First Oral Dissent

A Look Back at Loving v. Virginia

Today marks the 47th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court decision striking down bans on interracial marriage in sixteen states. The case was argued on April 10, 1967, and announced just two months later, on June 12. Looking back at the oral arguments in the case, several points stand out. First, the momentum … Continue reading A Look Back at Loving v. Virginia

Why Brown v. Board of Education Disappoints – And Why That’s Not All Bad

Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 school desegregation ruling, turned 60 this past week. This anniversary was much like previous ones, equal parts commemoration and lamentation. If there is a consistent theme to Brown anniversaries over the years, it is this: Brown promised much, but only partially delivered. Brown is a … Continue reading Why Brown v. Board of Education Disappoints – And Why That’s Not All Bad