Constitution Daily

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America’s Town Hall: The National Constitution Center’s Supreme Court Debates

June 27, 2013 by NCC Staff


What a week it was at the Supreme Court in Washington: four landmark decisions in three days. And the experts are still analyzing the fallout from key rulings about same-sex marriage, the Voting Rights Act, and affirmative action.

350px-Supreme_Court_US_2010If you want to do your own analysis, we’ve combined a week of our online Town Hall debate and analysis coverage into one location for you.

Learn what experts like the National Constitution Center’s Jeffrey Rosen; Michael McConnell from Stanford Law School; Erwin Chemerinsky from the University of California, Irvine School of Law; Roger Clegg from the Center for Equal Opportunity; and David H. Gans from  the Constitutional Accountability Center have to say about the big decisions.

Also, get exclusive analysis from Constitution Daily contributor Lyle Denniston, who has covered the Court for 55 years.

And our own coverage of the events, as they happened, spells out the basics about the Court rulings.

Note: the Center thanks our partners in the Town Hall debate series: the Federalist Society, the American Constitution Society, and The New Republic.

Town Hall debate: McConnell and Rosen on the same-sex marriage decisions

Michael McConnell and Jeffrey Rosen took up part three of their online debate about this week’s big Supreme Court decisions. After their debates about the Fisher affirmative action case and the Voting Rights Act, our Town Hall participants broke down the Windsor and Perry decisions.


McConnell: “The combination of decisions this morning leaves the definition of marriage to the states, at least for the time being. That is a good thing. But the DOMA decision is a logical mish-mash, portending more litigation and more instability.”

Rosen: “I’m more of a fan of what you describe as a “logical mish-mash” than you are. In light of the Court’s precedents that laws based on animus can’t survive even the most relaxed judicial scrutiny, there was little question that DOMA had to fall.”

Full debate: /constitution-daily-blog/town-hall-debate-mcconnell-and-rosen-on-the-same-sex-marriage-decisions/

Town Hall debate: McConnell and Rosen on the Voting Rights Act

Michael McConnell and Jeffrey Rosen were back again after their debate about the Fisher affirmative action case–this time, taking on the Supreme Court’s landmark decision about the Voting Rights Act.


McConnell: “I am braced for hysterical and demagogic attacks on the decision, as if Bull Connor still roams the voting registration booths. The Court was right to find Section Four outdated. It is a pity this conclusion was reached in a constitutional decision where it did not belong, instead of by Congress.”

Rosen: “Some defenders of today’s decision who insist that Section 2 is a perfectly adequate protection for voting rights – in other words, that it’s fine to challenge voting discrimination after the fact rather than stopping it from occurring in advance – are not being entirely candid.”

Full Debate: /constitution-daily-blog/town-hall-debate-mcconnell-and-rosen-on-the-voting-rights-act/

Town Hall: McConnell and Rosen debate Affirmative Action

Michael McConnell and Jeffrey Rosen debate the implications of Monday’s Supreme Court decision about the Fisher affirmative action case.


McConnell: “In this broader sense, Fisher is not so much a “punt” as it is an exercise in inertia. With the noble exceptions of Justices Thomas and Ginsburg (almost), and maybe Scalia, the Court is determined to keep to the path laid by Grutter, even if that decision does not make much sense from any principled point of view.”

Rosen: “I agree that Fisher isn’t a punt, but view its significance differently. The decision is a tribute to the moderation of Justice Kennedy and Chief Justice Roberts, who defied expectations and insisted on a narrow rather than a broad opinion.”

Full debate: /constitution-daily-blog/town-hall-mcconnell-and-rosen-on-affirmative-action/

Town Hall: Chemerinsky and Clegg on Affirmative Action

The case of Fisher v. University of Texas was one of the most prominent and controversial issues in front of the Supreme Court this term. Now that the decision is in, you can read a debate about its impact from two leading experts. Erwin Chemerinsky represents the American Constitution Society and Roger Clegg represents the Federalist Society. We are honored that both organizations are co-sponsoring this Town Hall debate with The National Constitution Center.


Chemerinsky: “The bottom line then is that colleges and universities can continue to engage in affirmative action, but they will need to show that such programs are necessary in order to achieve diversity.”

Clegg: “In short, the struggle continues against racial preferences, with another Supreme Court decision that should be helpful.”

Full debate: /constitution-daily-blog/town-hall-chemerinsky-and-clegg-on-affirmative-action/

Related Stories on Constitution Daily

Constitution Check: Where does same-sex marriage go from here?

Lyle Denniston looks at the next steps in the legal campaign to secure the nationwide right for gays and lesbians to get married.



Supreme Court strikes down DOMA, passes on Proposition 8

The NCC explains the nuts-and-bolts of the Perry and Windsor decisions.



Our Supreme Court scorecard

Here is an overview of 10 big Supreme Court decisions announced in June.



Supreme Court strikes down key part of Voting Rights Act

The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down a key part of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965, sending the section that determines which states need extra attention about discrimination back to Congress to be re-written.



Constitution Check: Is “affirmative action” in constitutional trouble?

Lyle Denniston looks at the specific judicial obstacle course that a college’s use of race must now run before gaining constitutional validity.



The long wait is over: The Supreme Court decides Fisher

In this commentary, David H. Gans from the Constitutional Accountability Center. who filed an amicus brief in the Fisher case, believes the Supreme Court’s ruling on affirmative action is a “big deal.”



Supreme Court sends affirmative action case back to lower court

The first of three widely followed Supreme Court cases this week is out, and court ruled in a 7-1 vote against a lower court’s decision about the University of Texas’ affirmative action policy.



Affirmative action: Timeline of 10 major cases and orders

The current affirmative action case in front of the Supreme Court could change how students are chosen to be admitted to public universities across the country. Here’s a brief timeline of major court cases and government actions that may lead to another potential landmark decision.


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