Supreme Court can strike down DOMA without impacting right to marry, says constitutional law expert

As the U.S. Supreme Court hearings on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) conclude, it looks like the justices are ready to strike down the law, says Gregory P. Magarian, JD, constitutional law expert and professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. “The crucial thing about this case is that the Court can strike down DOMA without impacting the right or lack thereof of someone to marry,” he says.

SCOTUS oral arguments reflect indifference to constitutional grounding of Voting Rights Act

The Supreme Court appears very likely to strike down the most important provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, says Gregory P. Magarian, JD, constitution law expert and professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. “This was an unusually revealing oral argument, because two justices asked questions that reflected both fundamental misunderstanding of the law and disturbing indifference to the constitutional grounding of the Voting Rights Act,” he says.

New opt-out proposal a ‘live and let live solution’ for contraception mandate

The Obama administration has proposed letting religiously affiliated non-profit businesses and institutions opt-out of the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act. “The Obama administration has bent over backward to accommodate the concerns of some religiously affiliated businesses,” says Elizabeth Sepper, JD, health law expert and professor of law at Washington University In St. Louis.

First Amendment weakens gun rights advocates’ insurrection argument

Many gun rights advocates have asserted that the Second Amendment – which protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms – serves a collective interest in deterring and, if necessary, violently deposing a tyrannical federal government. “The strength of this assertion is significantly weakened by the power of the First Amendment,” says Gregory P. Magarian, JD, constitutional law expert and professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. “We have spent almost a century developing the First Amendment as the main vehicle for dynamic political change. Debate and political expression is preferable to insurrection as a means of political change and our legal culture’s attention to the First and Second Amendments reflects a long-settled choice of debate over violent uprising.”

Privacy law expert warns of the perils of social reading

The Internet and social media have opened up new vistas for people to share preferences in films, books and music. Services such as Spotify and the Washington Post Social Reader already integrate reading and listening into social networks, providing what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg calls “frictionless sharing.” “But there’s a problem. A world of automatic, always-on disclosure should give us pause,” says Neil M. Richards, JD, privacy law expert and professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis.

National Day of Prayer takes on added significance in 2012

The National Day of Prayer typically sparks debate about whether the day violates the establishment clause from the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This year’s observance on May 3, however, likely will take on added significance, says John Inazu, JD, first amendment expert and professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. The reason? 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Engel v. Vitale, which invalidated official prayer in public schools.

Reactions to POTUS Supreme Court comments ‘reflect historical ignorance’

The Supreme Court’s upcoming decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care act has prompted some interesting and provocative issues about – and between – the president and the judicial branch, says Gregory P. Magarian, JD, professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis and former clerk for retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. “These alarmed reactions reflect historical ignorance,” he says.

Birth control policy not a constitutional law issue

The current controversy over the Barack Obama administration’s birth control policy is not, contrary to some arguments, a matter of constitutional law, says Gregory P. Magarian, JD, constitutional law expert and professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. It is however, a matter of Constitutional principle, Magarian says.

Global influence of U.S. Constitution on the decline, study reveals

The U.S. Constitution’s global influence is on the decline, finds a new study by David S. Law, JD, PhD, professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. “Other countries are increasingly turning to sources other than the U.S. Constitution for guidance in establishing human rights provisions and for general structural provisions in creating their constitutions,” he says. Law, with co-author Mila Versteeg, DPhil, associate professor of law at the University of Virginia, analyzed 60 years of data on the content of the world’s constitutions. “The data revealed that there is a significant and growing generic component to global constitutionalism, in the form of a set of rights provisions that appear in nearly all formal constitutions,” Law says. “Our analysis also confirms, however, that the U.S. Constitution is becoming increasingly out of sync with these global practices.