Judicial Activism and the Interpretation of the Voting Rights Act

free essayAccording to the article by Rosen, Eric Holder claimed that the Justice Department would sue the state of Texas over its new voting identification law. He emphasized that the state will not allow the recent Supreme Court decisions that tamper with Section 4 and Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (Rosen, 2013).

The article explains that the Associate Justice Ruth Bader was correct, when she explained to the New York Times that, if one were to measure the court in relation to its willingness to upturn laws, then it could be among the most prominent activist courts in history. In 1973, the Supreme Court interpreted Section 2 to ban ballot practices that had the consequence of subjugating minorities, which was not the initial purpose of the law. It seems that the court espoused conservatism in 1982 by holding that the only premeditated polling discrimination was unlawful under the said section.

In 1982, the Congress amended Section 2, where it made clear that discriminatory voting practices were illegal even without clear evidence of discriminatory intent. The Supreme Court has come to say that the Congress’ attempt to ban voting practices that had a discriminatory effect was itself unconstitutional. As the Congress and the Justice Department try hard to combat racial discrimination, the Supreme Court has brought them down (Rosen, 2013). Both departments must come together and find a way in which the Voting Rights will not discriminate against anyone depending on race or political party affiliation. There should be reduction of the Supreme Court power regarding matters such as the voting rights of an individual. No one should be forced to collect IDs or any other documents based on individuals’ race or if it is not their wish to provide such information.

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Basic Facts about the Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights refers to the initial ten amendments to the US Constitution, which were ratified in 1971. The changes provide essential rights, such as the right of freedom of speech and the right of privacy as well as rights to the people and the states. The Bill of Rights was not included initially in the Constitution, because the delegates refused Mason proposal to add the Bill of Rights to the constitutional, arguing that it was unnecessary, because most of the states already included some form of guaranteed rights.

After the ratification of the Constitution in 1778, James Madison took up the task of writing the Constitution. He drew much from the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which was initially drafted by George Mason two months before the Declaration of Independence and also from amendments from the state ratifying conventions (NCC Staff, 2015). Madison drafted 19 amendments, which he gave to Congress in June 1789. The house of representatives reduced them to seventeen, where after that the Senate cut them to twelve. Accordingly, they were ratified in 1789 and sent for ratification to all the states comprising the Union then. Ratification of the Bill of Rights took place on 15th December 1791, and since then it became part of the Constitution.

The Congress commissioned fourteen copies of the Bill of Rights: one for the federal government and the other for each original thirteen states. The federal administration’s replica is at the National Archives and Records in Washington DC. Most of the copies are in the files of the respective states. Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland’s replicas are missing (NCC Staff, 2015). Furthermore, there are also two unidentified replicas that have endured at the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library. The North Carolina’s copy was lost for almost a century and a half after a Union soldier stole it during the Civil War. However, it was found in 2003 with the help of the FBI. The rights and freedoms, such as the right of liberty and assembly defined by the documented is taken seriously for the well-being of both the citizens and the nation. Consequences for violating any of the rights are well outlined.

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Constitution Check: Can Constitutional Rights be Suspended For Lack of Funding?

This article demonstrates how the requisition could disturb the ability of the suspect to get justice in court owing to the cut of funds for the support of the institution of public defenders. As quoted in the New York Times, David E. Patton in his efforts to convince the judge to detain the significant terrorism trial of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith explains that the public defense systems are always struggling for funds although one cannot sequester the Sixth Amendment (Denniston, 2013). In the Constitution, nothing explicitly commands the Congress to provide the money, when a federal court has created rights that depend on available funding. Nevertheless, the failure of the Congress to apportion the necessary funds leads to the question whether the Judiciary is in essence independent of the Congress.

The effect of sequester, which came into force as from the 1st of March, is that many federal agencies and offices were shortchanged with less money than they had been authorized to spend. The federal public defender, David Patton took the matter directly to the U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan. The judge explained that it was troubling to have a case brought before him before the judge sequestration as it went to the core of justice.

Because of the way sequester works, the lack of money to finance Abu Ghaith’s defense is not unconstitutional. It might be a bad way to run the government, but it is not unconstitutional either. Federal courts operate under particular accounts; judges do not have optional funds to support unanticipated costs. Cases, where the accused cannot afford a lawyer, end up being postponed, thus delaying the speed of a trial. The effects of the sequester are evident in Sulaiman’s case, where his case is lying in the courts of law 50 years down the line (Denniston, 2013). What is more questionable is the integrity of the criminal justice system, where they go beyond the power given to them by the Constitution in areas regarding speedy trials to people who cannot afford a lawyer.

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Supreme Court: Police Need Warrant to Search Cell Phones

Accordant to this article, the Supreme Court ruled that the police might not search the mobile phones of a criminal suspect upon arrest without a warrant. The Supreme Court has affirmed that smartphones were not in the same category as wallets, briefcases, and vehicles. Such searches are permitted to ensure safety of the officer and avoid the possible destruction of evidence.

In Massachusetts and California, several people accused of crimes got convictions with the assistance of their phone numbers and text messages that the police obtained from their phones. The phone numbers and the texts pointed to them having a link to crime and drug cartels (Mears, 2016). Convinced that they did not get justice, the suspects appealed, where they raised issues of privacy rights in the usage of cell phones (Mears, 2016). Current mass monitoring of handset metadata by the National Security Agency has upraised comparable constitutional anxieties. According to the article, the simple manner in which the handset is held does not negate its privacy implications, and the police must get a warrant before they seize any cell phone.

In 2009, the police stopped an individual and found weapons in his car. After impounding his cell phone, there were images that associated the individual to criminals. A state court found him guilty and sentenced him to 15 years in jail (Mears, 2016). Another case involved an individual, whose evidence found in his cell phone was used by the police to convict him of selling cocaine and carrying ammunition. The court gave him a 22-years’ incarceration. In both cases, the police searched the phone without a warrant. It is not apparent whether the court will dismiss these cases basing on the current high court’s ruling.

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Looking Back at Romer: A Key Supreme Court Decision about Gay Rights

In 1996, the Supreme Court delivered a judgment that affirmed rights of gay people under the American Constitution to be free from discrimination. Anthony Kennedy wrote the decision of the majority in Romer v. Evans, which further played a pivotal role in the subsequent decisions and resolutions that protect the rights of homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgender (NCC Staff, 2016). The concern in Romer v. Evans was Colorado’s second amendment that purported to strip any legal action intended to defend people in Colorado from discriminating them on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

According to the article, a preceding Supreme Court case ruling in Bowers v. Hardwick allowed for unfavorable treatment of homosexuals, since the Constitution did not stipulate anything about the matter. In 2003, the Supreme Court invalidated the Bowers v Hardwick decision in the case of Lawrence v Texas (NCC Staff, 2016). Justice Kennedy explained that the Texas statute, under which the unfair decision had a basis on, did not justify any interference with the private lives of individuals.