Think the Voting Rights Act is outdated? Come to South Carolina.
The Supreme Court hears arguments today on a case that may well lead to the dismantling of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires many states, cities, and counties, primarily in the South, to get preclearance from the Department of Justice before changing election laws in ways that could affect minority voting rights. READ MORE >>
Last Monday night, February 4, when talk-show host Stephen Colbert demanded that his guest, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, reveal her "most conservative belief," Justice Sotomayor shot back, "I believe in the Constitution." Colbert parried, "Then I believe you're not a Democrat." READ MORE >>
There has been considerable disagreement about the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s recess appointments, including here at The New Republic: My colleague Jonathan Cohn has defended the appointments, while Timothy Noah grudgingly has not. We’re not alone: Federal courts can’t seem to agree, either. READ MORE >>
On this fortieth anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in the abortion case, Roe v. Wade, a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found 70 percent of U.S. adults support the decision, compared to 58 percent in 1989. That marks an all-time high. 2012 saw a huge number of abortion restrictions passed through state legislatures (though significantly less than 2011). But the feminist movement’s main victories last year came on the national stage: not just the defeats of Senate wannabes Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, but also the election of President Obama himself. Fifty-five percent of women voted for Obama, making him the first president in history unambiguously elected by women when men wanted the other guy. (Bill Clinton won women in 1996, but his loss among men was within the margin of error of exit polls.)The surge of support for Roe in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll reveals that the core groups in the liberal coalition that elected Obama have a surplus to offer others. The pollsters found the new support for abortion rights, long seen as the effete preoccupation of middle class white women, was concentrated among African Americans, Latinos and women without college degrees. These highly religious groups tasted political power as the Obama campaign scrambled for re-election. Now the polls show them supporting a new cause: women’s right to abortion. And so a virtuous cycle begins. READ MORE >>
One of the most remarked-upon aspects of the upcoming Supreme Court challenge to California’s gay-marriage ban is the odd couple leading the charge: Ted Olson and David Boies, the conservative and liberal superlawyers who squared off in 2000 in Bush v. Gore. Much less is known, however, about the old friendship between Olson and their opponent in this case, Charles Cooper, one of the many lawyers who helped Olson on Bush v. Gore. Cooper and Olson are both part of Washington’s tiny tribe of top-flight conservative litigators. Given their similar resumes, it is odd to find them on opposite sides of one of the most politically contentious Supreme Court cases of the 21st century. When Olson and Cooper face off before the court in late March, they’ll not only be debating gay rights, but the nature of conservatism itself.Cooper, known in Washington as “Chuck,” is from Alabama, and he’s best known for his starched French-cuffed shirts and genteel southern formality. His way of speaking, once described by Washington Post columnist Mary McGrory as “Victorian copy book prose,” can come across as impressive or a little unctuous, depending on the listener. If Olson, who also has a flair for oral arguments, is the lawyer who argues before the court this spring, he and Cooper will be evenly matched. READ MORE >>
An Idaho woman could change the course of American abortion law.
Jennie Linn McCormack was 14 when she had her first baby. It was 1993, and she was in junior high in southeast Idaho, where she’s always lived and where she still lives now. Blond, petite, and fine-featured, she did tap, ballet, drill team, and cheerleading. She started spending time with an 18-year-old boy in her group of friends. Because he was older and she was a virgin, she trusted him when he said nothing bad would happen if they had sex. The first time they did, she got pregnant. READ MORE >>