Hope you got the classes and clinics you wanted!  In the meantime, several civil rights issues have been hot topics in the news.


Same Sex Marriage and Religious Exemptions – Scotus Blog

Last Monday, the Supreme Court refused to weigh in on the debate on religious exemptions and same sex marriage, denying an appeal of a New Mexico photography studio in a case in which the studio was found to have violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws for refusing to photograph a same-sex marriage.  The case, Elane Photography v. Willock, would have been the first Supreme Court case to address the issue of whether homosexuals can be turned away as customers of ordinary businesses that are open to the public on the basis of a religious objection to same sex marriage.  A number of state legislatures have passed or at least proposed new legislation that would explicitly give businesses the ability to undertake such action.


Two Scholars Debate the Validity of Critiques of African American Culture – The Atlantic

Acclaimed writers and academics Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Atlantic Monthly) and Jonathan Chait (New York Magazine) have engaged in a debate over the past month on the legitimacy of public critiques of African American culture in inner cities.  These critiques have been lobbied by public figures such as President Obama and center on the idea that an African American culture borne of oppression has adversely affected African American life and prospects in inner cities.  Chait has taken the position that these critiques are valid while Coates has argued that these critiques mistake the effects of lingering societal discrimination as byproducts of a defective culture.  The exchange, while collegial, has become more in-depth over the past few weeks and others have taken notice.  Public intellectuals such as Ross Douthat of the New York Times have commented upon the debate.  The link above links to one of the first posts in the exchange by Coates.


University Rescinds Offer of Honorary Degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali – New York Times

Brandeis University, in the face of growing student and faculty resistance, abandoned its plan of giving an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.  Ms. Hirsi Ali, a famed activist for women’s rights, had written and spoken highly critically of Islam in the past, at one point calling the religion a “nihilistic cult of death.”  It was these comments that drew the ire of the student and faculty population at Brandeis.  A petition to prevent Ms. Hirsi Ali from attaining the honorary degree received several thousand signatures.  As an explanation for its decision, Brandeis claimed that it had not been familiar with Ms. Hirsi Ali’s anti-Islamic statements.  Brandeis’s decision has in turn drawn criticism from various academic and free speech groups that argue that the university was punishing Ms. Hirsi Ali for her speech.


The Continuing Scholarly Reaction to McCutcheon – The Atlantic

In the fallout of the Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, many public intellectuals have weighed in on the meaning and extent of the decision, including Harvard’s very own Professor Lawrence Lessig.  In this article, he describes how all is not lost in the fight for campaign finance reform and outlines a plan to take on the issue in the coming years.