Watch This Imposter Syndrome Sucks
This webinar is part of Leaders Forum 2022, a leadership development academy for lawyers +activists.
More of This More Black Women on state supreme courts
Retired Connecticut Superior Court Judge Angela Robinson is counsel with Halloran and Sage and the Waring and Carmen Partridge Faculty Fellow and visiting professor at Quinnipiac University School of Law.
President Biden’s nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson, who stands to become the first Black woman to the United States Supreme Court, is a revelation of the breadth and depth of the talent of Black American women lawyers and jurists. This new focus is most welcome to those of us who have long championed the oversight of Black women judges on the highest courts in all jurisdictions.
While I’m heartened by the high-profile nature of Jackson’s nomination, other blind spots still exist as state supreme courts have skirted the same kind of national scrutiny. Sadly, more than half the states in the United States, including my own home state of Connecticut, have never had a Black woman on their highest court. This, despite the fact that Black women have been members of the bar since Charlotte E. Ray’s admission in 1872 in the District of Columbia. This, despite the fact that the first Black woman judge in the United States was appointed in 1939 in New York. This, despite the fact that Black women have been proving themselves as able appellate court jurists since 1975, when Julia Cooper Mack was appointed to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals by President Gerald Ford, and 1979, when President Jimmy Carter appointed Judge Amalya Kearse to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
Read the story on The Hill
Less of This Supreme Court radicalism is a threat to democracy
Richard L. Hasen is a professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine School of Law.
In the last six years, confidence in our fragile election system in the United States has been battered by a flood of election misinformation and disinformation spread on social media, cable television stations, podcasts, and videos. Headed into the 2022 elections, now is the time for Congress and states to pass meaningful reforms to shore up that confidence and help preserve American democracy. Although partisan gridlock and fights over the fairness of the 2020 election already make new legislation a longshot, the biggest impediment may well be a supermajority of conservative justices on the Supreme Court, whose part-time libertarian views of the First Amendment could doom meaningful reform.
As I argue in my new book, Cheap Speech, false claims about the fairness and integrity of the American election system pose a huge risk for American democracy. As millions of Trump supporters continue to believe the false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, and as false and incendiary election-related speech flows anonymously and virally across portions of social media, public confidence in the fairness of our election system has crumbled among Republicans. With purveyors of the Big Lie poised to take over the running of elections in some places before the 2024 elections, we can expect confidence on the left to take a similar beating. A democracy cannot function without fair elections and when losers do not accept election results as legitimate.
Although law is only part of the answer to how to deal with this crisis in election legitimacy, it is an important piece. Congress or states could do much to assure that voters have good access to fair and truthful information to make decisions about how to vote consistent with their values and interests, and so that they can have confidence that elections are being conducted fairly and results reported accurately. And this can be done while maintaining a strong commitment to robust speech protections during campaigns.
Read the story on Slate
Speaking Of… The rightwing legal strategy that could undo decades of civil rights
The Supreme Court recently agreed to review a case that threatens to undo decades of civil rights protections by allowing business owners to return to a darker time in which they were allowed to fill the marketplace with discriminatory signs. In 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, a web designer named Lorie Smith seeks the court’s permission to publicly announce that due to her religious convictions, her company “will not be able to create websites for same-sex marriages or any other marriage that is not between one man and one woman.”
The request conflicts with the law in most U.S. jurisdictions, including Colorado, where Smith resides. The law in those jurisdictions requires businesses open to the public to serve everyone and avoid discriminating on the basis of sex—and that includes, explicitly or implicitly, discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Unprecedentedly, the court agreed to discuss what it had set aside until now: the argument that some businesses should be free to deny certain clients due to their owners’ freedom of speech that allegedly stretches to their commercial activities.
Alarmingly, the court seems prepared to enable the intentional harm such discriminatory “speech” is designed to cause.
How did we get to this low point? The answer starts with understanding that Smith’s legal battle is highly hypothetical: Her business does not offer wedding-related services to anyone, and thus she was never asked to offer, nor did she refuse to offer, marriage-related services to LGBTQ couples. So why would she relentlessly litigate the matter for years? As others noted, part of the explanation is that her case is a test case, intentionally brought to the court with the active help of a leading conservative advocacy group, the Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF. However, there is much more to the story.
303 Creative is not stand-alone litigation. Rather, it is part of a nationwide experimental legal strategy spearheaded by the ADF to advance a broader anti-LGBTQ project. The strategy is aggressive and preemptive, as I have documented in my research on the group’s methods leading up to Smith’s case. The ADF seeks to secure an advance judicial permission to engage in what is currently forbidden after the fact: refusals to transact with LGBTQ parties. In a wave of preemptive proceedings, the organization represents businesses owned by devout Christians who declare an intention to refuse to deal with LGBTQ couples in the context of marriage. These businesses sue before they deny anyone service and thus, by definition, without being challenged by any legal authority.
Read the story on Slate
ChangeLawyers hiring legal fellow
We seek to hire a full time immigration legal fellow to increase representation of detained immigrants before the Immigration Court, Board of Immigration Appeals, and before federal district courts.
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March 24 at 12 Noon PST
Does asking for a raise give you anxiety?
Virtual event on March 24. Register here >