The Constitutionality of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in Light of Shelby County v. Holder
By: Georgina C. Yeomans
On October 28, 2009, President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. The Shepard–Byrd Act received considerable attention because it was the first federal statute to criminalize violence based on “gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability” in 18 U.S.C. § 249(a)(2)(A). But the Act was also revolutionary in the way it treated actual or attempted violence based on “actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any person” in § 249(a)(1). This provision eliminated the nexus to federally protected activities required by previous hate-crimes legislation. Congress premised its authority to drop the federal nexus for race, color, religion, or national origin in § 249(a)(1) on its power to promulgate legislation to eradicate “badges and incidents of slavery” under Section 2 of the Thirteenth Amendment. Importantly, this new legislation gives the federal government authority to prosecute a wider range of racially motivated violence.
By: Ian Farrell & Nancy Leong
Opponents of same-sex marriage have recently adopted a curious new argument. The argument goes something like this. The Supreme Court has held that diversity is a compelling state interest in institutions of higher education. Opposite-sex marriage includes gender diversity, while same-sex marriage does not. Therefore, states may allow opposite-sex marriage while banning same-sex marriage—even if the ban triggers heightened scrutiny under equal protection or due process—because opposite-sex marriage furthers gender diversity, while same-sex marriage does not.
By: Andrew Tutt
In McCutcheon v. FEC, the Supreme Court tightened First Amendment limits on Congress’s authority to regulate campaign financing. McCutcheon ostensibly left in place the old regime that allows campaign-finance regulation so long as it strikes at quid pro quo corruption or its appearance. But two recurring themes in the McCutcheon opinion indicate that this standard will from hereon be more difficult to meet. One is that campaign-finance laws prevent individuals from participating meaningfully in democratic change. The second is that Congress cannot be trusted to pass campaign-finance laws because such laws are tainted by self-interest.
Not Helping: How Congressional Tinkering Harms Victims During the Post-Trial Phase of a Court-Martial
By: Zachary D Spilman
Congress made many changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014. Among these are two changes to Article 60 of the UCMJ that address the participation of victims in the post-trial phase of a court-martial.
By: David L. Schwartz
The debate about patent trolls is everywhere. From the op-ed pages of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times to President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors to Judge Richard Posner, the nearly unanimous view appears to be that patent “trolls” are evil. The argument is that since patent trolls do not manufacture any products, they are merely siphoning money from the “true” innovative firms, the manufacturers.