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Category Archives: Civil Liberties

Supreme Court Trust, Job Approval at Historical Lows

Gallup: “Forty-seven percent of U.S. adults say they have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in the judicial branch of the federal government that is headed by the Supreme Court. This represents a 20-percentage-point drop from two years ago, including seven points since last year, and is now the lowest in Gallup’s trend by six points. The judicial branch’s current tarnished image contrasts with trust levels exceeding two-thirds in most years in Gallup’s trend that began in 1972. Approval of the Supreme Court fell from 49% in July 2021 to 40% last September, just after the court allowed a restrictive Texas abortion law to go into effect and allowed colleges’ COVID-19 vaccination requirements to stand. In July 2022, 43% approved after the Court’s ruling in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case that struck down the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that had limited states’ abilities to restrict abortion. The Supreme Court has seen its job approval dip into the low 40s before, including 42% ratings in 2005 and 2016 and 43% in 2013.

A third measure of the high court, from Gallup’s June Confidence in Institutions poll, found confidence in the Supreme Court also at a new low. That poll was conducted before the court issued the Dobbs decision but after the leak of a draft opinion in that case signaled that the court was poised to overturn Roe. By all Gallup measures, then, Americans’ opinions of the Supreme Court are the worst they have been in 50 years of polling…”

Lawless Surveillance

Friedman, Barry, Lawless Surveillance (February 1, 2022). 97 N.Y.U. L. Rev. (2022), NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 22-28, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4111547 “Here in the United States, policing agencies are engaging in mass collection of personal data, building a vast architecture of surveillance. License plate readers collect our location information. Mobile… Continue Reading

January 6th on the Record: The Investigation into the Attack on the U.S. Capitol

Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) “is pleased to announce the release of January 6th on the Record: The Investigation into the Attack on the U.S. Capitol, a free ebook compendium of materials related to the attack on the U.S. Capitol and the subsequent hearings held by the House Select Committee investigating the attack. At… Continue Reading

The Supreme Court’s new term could be even more consequential than its last one

Vox – The Republican justices who overruled Roe v. Wade are only getting started. “The headline of this piece is likely to turn a few heads. The Supreme Court’s last term, after all, was an orgy of conservative excess unlike any since the Court’s Great Depression-era attacks on the New Deal. And it culminated in… Continue Reading

You can ban a book, but can you stop teens from finding it online?

Washington Post – Online resources are at the center of the national battle between limiting and expanding book access for teenagers: “Books are being banned in U.S. school libraries in record numbers, led largely by conservative lawmakers and activists. This week, libraries and anti-censorship groups are among those hosting Banned Books Week to call attention… Continue Reading

The Growing Movement to Censor Books in Schools

Pen America – Banned in the USA: “Key Findings: More books banned; More districts; More states; More students losing access to literature. “More” is the operative word for this report on school book bans, which offers the first comprehensive look at bans throughout the 2021–22 school year.  This report offers an update on the count… Continue Reading

U.S. Agencies Are Buying Access to Bulk Internet Records

Gizmodo – “Sen. Ron Wyden urged inspectors general at three departments to investigate the military’s purchases of large swaths of data: “Multiple military intelligence offices have paid a data broker for access to internet traffic logs, which could reveal the online browsing histories of U.S. citizens, Sen. Ron Wyden said in a letter Wednesday, citing… Continue Reading

Tracked: How colleges use AI to monitor student protests

The Dallas Morning News, Arijit (Ari) D. Sen [subscription or online database access. Note – they are also making public nearly 3,000 documents, covering more than 56,000 pages from these schools]: “The pitch was attractive and simple. For a few thousand dollars a year, Social Sentinel offered schools across the country sophisticated technology to scan… Continue Reading

Voter Registration: Recent Developments and Issues for Congress

CRS Report – Voter Registration: Recent Developments and Issues for Congress, September 19, 2022: “Voter registration policies are typically determined by state and local governments, subject to certain federal requirements. Historically, much of thefederalpolicy discussion surrounding voter registration has focused on providing access to registration opportunities. Some federal statutes that primarily address preserving voting access… Continue Reading

The history of book bans—and their changing targets—in the U.S.

National Geographic: “From religious texts and anti-slavery novels to modern works removed from school libraries, here’s how the targets of censorship have changed over the years. Mark Twain. Harriet Beecher Stowe. Judy Blume. William Shakespeare. These names share something more than a legacy of classic literature and a place on school curriculums: They’re just some… Continue Reading

A Legitimacy Crisis of the Supreme Court’s Own Making

Brennan Center for Justice – Last term, the justices showed little concern for the public’s trust in them: “Chief Justice John Roberts said at an event last week that he doesn’t understand current questions about the Supreme Court’s legitimacy. “The [Court’s] decisions have always been publicly criticized,” the chief justice said, but it is a… Continue Reading

How the Dobbs Decision Could Affect U.S. National Security

RAND Corporation, Document Number: PE-A2227-1: How the Dobbs Decision Could Affect U.S. National Security – “Women are an integral part of the military, comprising 17.2 percent of the active-duty force. They are the fastest-growing subpopulation in the military. In recent years, the Department of Defense (DoD) and military services have been deliberately recruiting women because… Continue Reading