Civil Rights Practice Group Podcast Edward Blum August 10, 2017
In July 2017, Students for Fair Admissions, a non-profit membership organization comprised of over 21,000 students, parents, and others, filed a lawsuit in Texas state court against the University of Texas at Austin. The organization alleges that UT’s racial preferences in admissions violate the Texas Constitution and a Texas statute. In particular, the Texas Constitution provides that: “Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed, or national origin.” This Equal Rights Amendment was purportedly enacted by the people of Texas to provide more expansive protection against discrimination than the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Edward Blum, the president of Students for Fair Admissions, joined us to discuss the use of race-based preferences in the admissions process and the organization’s new lawsuit against the University of Texas at Austin.
- Edward Blum, Visiting Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, President, Students for Fair Admissions, President, Project on Fair Representation
Religious Liberties Practice Group Podcast
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) denied a Learning Center run by Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. (Trinity) federal funding to refurbish children’s playgrounds on the grounds of religious affiliation. The DNR offers Playground Scrap Tire Surface Material Grants to organizations that qualify for resurfacing of playgrounds. Though the licensed pre- school Learning Center incorporates religious instruction into is curriculum, the school is open to all children. Trinity’s Learning Center was denied funding based on Article I, Section 7 of the Missouri Constitution; the section reads: “no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, section or denomination of religion.”
Trinity claimed that the DNR infringed upon their rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the First Amendment’s protections of freedom of religion and speech. The district court dismissed Trinity’s allegations, claiming that Trinity failed to file a specific claim. Trinity responded by amending its complaint to an allegation that other religious institutions had previously received the DNR funding; nevertheless, the district court denied the motions. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court decision, agreeing with both the dismissal and denial of motions.
In a 7-2 opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Trinity Lutheran. David Cortman of the Alliance Defending Freedom discussed the decision and its significance.
2017 National Student Symposium
- David A. Cortman, Lead counsel in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Pauley, Senior Counsel and Vice President of U.S. Litigation, Alliance Defending Freedom
Universities have long been thought of, and cherished, as places for the free exchange of ideas. This idea has, however, come under pressure. Student groups have now routinely exercised pressure to keep people who they disagree with off campus. And safe spaces and trigger warnings—which limit speech that some have deemed offensive—have become regular features at universities across the nation.
Many see the climate of shouting-down or protesting the expression of others' viewpoints as the symbolic beginning of an era limiting the freedom of speech on college campuses. While surveys seem to show a majority of students disagree with universities curtailing speech, even when it is offensive, vocal minorities with opposing views have been the ones capturing news headlines and the attention of the public at large.
With the accessibility to speech provided by the internet and viral sharing of information, expression and speech spread with more ease than ever, but this same technology creates opportunities for back-lash on social media and gives a larger stage to those who would threaten the free market of ideas at our nation's universities.
The First Amendment protects principles which have always required vigilance to maintain, and today's world makes no exception. This panel will explore how these developments have affected intellectual discourse on campus and if they are conducive to a meaningful learning experience at our universities.
This panel was presented at the 2017 National Student Symposium on Saturday, March 4, 2017, at Columbia Law School in New York City, New York.
Panel 4: Universities and the First Amendment
4:00 p.m. - 5:45 p.m.
Jerome Greene Hall 104
- Prof. Robert Post, Dean and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law, Yale Law School
- Prof. Phillip Hamburger, Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
- Prof. Suzanne Goldberg, Executive Vice President for University Life, Columbia University; Herbert and Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
- Prof. Michael McConnell, Richard and Frances Mallery Professor of Law; Director, Constitutional Law Center; Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
- Moderator: Hon. Thomas Hardiman, U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
Columbia Law School Administrative Law & Regulation Practice Group Podcast
New York, New York
Kyle Duncan January 10, 2017
In late October the Supreme Court accepted a petition from the School Board of Gloucester County, Virginia seeking to overturn a lower court’s order that a 17-year-old transgender student, born female but identifying as male, be allowed to use the boys’ restroom during senior year of high school. The Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX and 34 C.F.R. § 106.33, reflects that public schools must “generally treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.” The Court will consider this interpretation and hear argument on whether courts should extend deference to unpublished “guidance” letters issued by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education. Kyle Duncan, attorney for the School Board of Gloucester County, recently filed the Board’s Supreme Court brief and joined us to discuss this important case.
- Kyle Duncan, Partner, Schaerr Duncan LLP
Religious Liberties Practice Group Podcast
Mr. Gregory S. Baylor of Alliance Defending Freedom discussed current and future challenges to the religious freedom of faith-based institutions of higher education, with a special focus on the ongoing debate over California Senate Bill 1146. Earlier versions of SB1146 would have significantly curtailed longstanding religious freedom protections in state anti-discrimination law, thereby exposing faith-based schools to liability for discrimination on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity in student and employee relations. The bill's prime sponsor recently removed its most controversial provisions, but he indicated that a similar bill may be proposed in the next legislative session.
- Mr. Gregory S. Baylor, Senior Counsel & Director of the Center for Religious Schools, Alliance Defending Freedom