An op-ed by Noah Feldman: Major media outlets in France have recently decided not to publish the names and faces of terrorists so as not to glorify them and encourage copycats. On the surface, this might seem like reasonable self-imposed discretion in the interests of national security. But it’s actually self-censorship — and it’s dangerous. It reflects a subtly mistaken conception of why jihadis are prepared to die for their cause, and it risks dehumanizing an enemy that is dangerous precisely because its adherents are humans with identifiable motives. The French daily Le Monde, the Catholic newspaper La Croix and a French affiliate of CNN called BFM-TV expressly connected their decisions to the recent spate of attacks in France. Le Monde said the goal was to prevent “posthumous glorification” of the terrorists.
An op-ed by Noah Feldman: Religious liberty and transgender rights are two of the signature civil-rights issues of our era. So it was only a matter of time before these competing ideals of freedom and equality came into direct conflict — and now a federal district court has held that religious-liberty laws can trump the laws that prohibit sex-based discrimination. The decision is an indication that the courts need to recognize bias against transgender people as a form of sex discrimination. The case involves an employee of a Michigan funeral home who began transitioning from male to female. The funeral home has a gendered dress code that requires male funeral directors to wear suits with trousers and female directors to wear skirt suits. The employer refused to allow the transitioning employee to wear a skirt suit on the job, firing her when she refused to wear the men’s attire.
An op-ed by Noah Feldman: In a victory for teachers’ unions, the California Supreme Court on Monday refused to strike down the state’s generous tenure laws — which a lower court had said violated students’ rights to an adequate education. Significantly, the court’s 4-3 ruling didn’t break down on purely partisan lines. Two prominent liberals, each of whom could be contenders for the U.S. Supreme Court in a Hillary Clinton administration, dissented. That’s evidence of a growing divide among liberals about whether favoring teachers might actually be a bad thing for students. In 2014, a California lower court judge struck down teacher tenure provisions as violating the state constitution. As I noted the time, California’s laws seem poorly designed, allowing tenure after just two years and even when the teacher may not be fully credentialed. Aside from the badness of the law, I criticized the judicial decision harshly for its lack of well-developed constitutional reasoning. Among other things, the court simply asserted in a single paragraph that poor schools tend to get worse teachers, and that this counts as a violation of the equal protection of the laws.
An op-ed by Noah Feldman: When a state has made it easier to vote, can it reverse course and make it harder? The simplest answer is that it can — provided the effects don’t disproportionately hurt racial minorities. But the devil is in the details, as a divided federal appeals court proved this week when it upheld Ohio’s rollback of its “Golden Week,” in which voters could register and vote at the same time. Two judges thought Ohio’s otherwise expansive voting opportunities made the revocation of Golden Week no problem. A third thought the Ohio legislature’s decision imposed a disparate burden on black voters, and was unlawful. Both positions were right. Behold the difficulty of applying voting rights law fairly and rationally in the age of subtle discrimination.
An op-ed by Noah Feldman: Cockfighting, although practiced around the world, is banned in all 50 states. But is someone who breaks the ban committing a crime of moral turpitude? A federal appeals court has said no, declining to deport an immigrant convicted of facilitating a cockfight. In a line that may outrage animal-rights activists, the court said that a crime of moral turpitude must involve harm to third parties, not just directly to the chickens. The outcome is correct for the immigrant, but not precisely for the reason the court gave. In a society that condones the factory-farm killing of billions of animals, it would be the height of hypocrisy to deport someone for killing just one rooster pursuant to an unfamiliar cultural practice.
Differences aside, Donald Trump and Senate Republicans are strongly united on one issue — ideological balance on the Supreme Court. While Democrats are pushing the GOP-led Senate to confirm Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland by the end of President Barack Obama’s term, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has been resolute in blocking him, saying the next president should fill the high court vacancy.
Taking advantage of almost a decade of political victories in state legislatures across the country, conservative advocacy groups are quietly marshaling support for an event unprecedented in the nation’s history: A convention of the 50 states, summoned to consider amending the Constitution. … So what rules would an amendments convention follow? “The answer to almost every question you could ask is ‘We don’t know,’” said Michael J. Klarman, a constitutional law expert at Harvard whose book on that convention, “The Framers’ Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution,” will be published in October. “I think a convention can do anything they want — re-establish slavery, establish a national church. I just don’t think there’s any limit.”
Conservative groups pushing for a constitutional convention are just six states short of their goal. Thirty-four states are needed to call a constitutional convention under Article 5of the Constitution. So far 28 states have adopted resolutions for a constitutional convention to consider an amendment that requires a balanced federal budget, the New York Times reports. … Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig isn’t worried about a runaway convention. “The very terms of Article 5 state that proposals aren’t valid unless they’re ratified by three-fourths of the states,” he tells the Times. “There’s no controversial idea on the left or the right that won’t have 13 states against it.”
An essay by Jeannie Suk Gersen: Years ago, I briefly considered a job on a different career path. A person whose position made him a gatekeeper for that job had contacted me to ask if I was interested in being considered. He suggested we meet to discuss it, and named a restaurant. When I arrived, we had a respectful conversation about my qualifications.
More than a year after Usaamah Rahim was shot to death by an FBI agent and a Boston police officer in a Roslindale parking lot, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley has announced that his office will not be pursuing criminal charges against the agent and officer who shot him. … Harvard Law Professor Ronald Sullivan, who is representing Rahim’s family, said that while they still have to review the report, which is more than 700 pages, the possibility of pressing civil charges against the FBI and Boston police remains open.