SOPA, PROTECT IP will stifle creativity and diminish free speech, say WUSTL experts

Wikipedia and other sites plan to go dark to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act under consideration in Congress. Three law professors from Washington University in St. Louis, Kevin Collins, Gregory Magarian and Neil Richards, signed a letter to Congress in opposition to the PROTECT IP Act. Read Magarian and Richards’ current comments on SOPA and PROTECT IP.

Hosanna-Tabor an important victory for religious liberty

The U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Hosanna-Tabor v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is an important victory for religious liberty says First Amendment expert John Inazu, JD, associate professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. “Hosanna-Tabor is a welcome reminder that the Court has not lost sight of ‘the text of the First Amendment itself, which gives special solicitude to the rights of religious organizations.’”

Supreme Court Texas redistricting case could mark major change in Voting Rights Act

In the case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, Texas is contesting a federal court’s redrawing of the state’s electoral district lines for the upcoming primary election. Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Texas must get preclearance from the U.S. Department of Justice before it can institute any voting changes. “This case gives the Supreme Court an opportunity to weaken or even strike down Section 5,” says Gregory Magarian, JD, election law expert and professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. “If Texas wins, even if the Court stops short of striking down Section 5 altogether, it will mark a major change in the law. The Supreme Court will essentially be saying that racial voting discrimination by state officials is no longer a problem that justifies a federal remedy.”

Snyder v. Phelps: Victory for free speech with a note of concern

The Supreme Court’s decision March 2 that a military funeral protest by Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church is protected by the First Amendment is a free speech victory, but “there is one note of concern for free speech advocates, which is the opinion’s toleration of ‘free speech zone’ theory,” says Neil Richards, JD, constitutional law expert and professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. “The opinion notes with approval that the funeral protest took place from a free speech zone from behind a protective fence, and notes at the end that even though Phelps’ speech was protected, it would certainly be amenable to possibly aggressive time, place, and manner restriction,” says Richards, a former law clerk for former Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. 

Constitution does not forbid health care bill, says legal expert

The Supreme Court should affirm the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, contends Washington University in St. Louis law professor Greg Magarian, JD, because the Act fits comfortably within a proper understanding of the federal-state balance of power. Magarian, a constitutional law expert, says the basic argument against the constitutionality of the health care bill is that some parts of the bill, most notably the requirement that people purchase health insurance, exceeds Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce.

Israeli law scholar Amnon Rubinstein lectures, Oct. 5-6

Amnon Rubinstein, a leading scholar on constitutional lawRubinsteinin Israel, will discuss Western culture and Israeli law in free public lectures Oct. 5 and Oct. 6 at Washington University in St. Louis. Rubinstein, a longtime member of the Israeli parliament and founding dean of the nation’s top-ranked law school, is a recipient of the prestigious “Israel Prize” for his work on constitutional law. 

Elusive civil rights court records now just a click away with new online database

Photo courtesy Library of Congress.Thurgood Marshall (center) with George E.C. Hayes and James Nabri celebrating the historic Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.For the past 50-plus years, civil rights litigation has greatly affected Americans’ lives. It has secured our Constitutional rights, and it has dramatically improved many of our public and private institutions. Information about these cases, however, has been exceedingly difficult to locate. Until now. More…

Supreme Court decisions predicted by online computer program

Supreme Court cases are now predictable, thanks to new computer model.As the U.S. Supreme Court moves into its new term, litigants, attorneys and the public will be closely watching its docket and speculating about its decisions. Now, thanks to the Supreme Court Forecasting Project at Washington University in St. Louis, court watchers everywhere will be able to log on to the Internet and obtain a forecast of how individual cases are likely to be decided. The project accurately predicted decisions in 75 percent of the cases heard by the Court in its last term.

Supreme Court should raise the First Amendment bar in landmark campaign finance regulation case, says legal scholar

The U.S. Supreme Court will hold an unusual four-hour session Sept. 8 to hear constitutional challenges to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002; some suggest the case could determine which political party wins the White House in 2004. D. Bruce La Pierre, a law professor who argued a Missouri campaign finance case before the Court in 2000, suggests the Court should use the BCRA case to rethink two recent decisions that have severely eroded First Amendment protection for political speech. It’s time, he argues, for the Court to send a clear message that campaign contributions are firmly protected by the First Amendment.