Tuesday, November 19, 2013

19 November '63—Wisdom Beyond Number

A nation conceived in liberty and dedicated
to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Abraham Lincoln
The Gettysburg Address
19 November 1863

Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg
Library of Congress
There is a line of numerical logic that argues there is no necessary value to a 10th or 100th or 150th anniversary. Each year is as good as the next.

But, we do invest numbers with extra-numerical value as we invest other seemingly valueless objects. To an important extent, financial economies rely on precisely this exchange. The absurdity of the proposition is recently visible in stories of Facebook’s desire to acquire Snapchat—for $3 billion. In what some technology types have seen as a response to the abiding need to be relevant, an Internet behemoth, sometimes described as the third (no doubt soon the second) largest country in the world, sought to buy a service whose content disappears by design almost as soon as it is created—for $3 billion, three times what Facebook paid for Instagram, an Internet photography service one might now view as a relative bastion of photographic permanence.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

GWorks Reviews: Adam Liptak’s To Have & Uphold

As Adam Liptak, Supreme Court correspondent for The New York Times since 2008, has done the fine favor of distilling marriage equality into fewer than 50 electronic “pages,” I feel I should reciprocate with a short review.

To Have and Uphold is a clear and engaging—at times even dramatic—recounting of marriage equality’s recent past.

There. Done.

Mr Liptak takes us on a tour. We start in the Supreme Court of the United States. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy delivers his Opinion for a 5-to-4 majority in US v. Windsor, the case striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), defining marriage as between a man and a woman. He endures Justice Antonin Scalia’s acid dissent from the bench.

We get some history, too. We see the early boldness of California’s Supreme Court on race and marriage equality. We cruise through increasing state activity, including both California’s Proposition 8, recognizing marriage as between a man and a woman, and the multiplication of states legalizing same-sex marriage.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

GWorks Interviews: Wade Henderson

“I was always a firm believer in the promise of what America offered its citizens but on the receiving end of policies that segregated and kept out vast numbers of the American people. I felt always that I was in turmoil because it was hard for me to reconcile the promise of America with the reality of America. As a student of history I also was familiar, of course, with the journey from slavery to freedom of African Americans but also of the country of which we are a part.”

Wade Henderson is President & CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund (The Leadership Conference), the nation's premier civil and human rights coalition. Representing a diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations, The Leadership Conference promotes and protects the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. Mr Henderson is also Joseph L. Rauh, Jr., Professor of Public Interest Law at the David A. Clarke School of Law, University of the District of Columbia.

Part One: A Firm Believer The civil & human rights activist discusses his work, the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, & how recent gains by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) Americans fit in to the arc of America's struggle with equality.

Part Two: Never Past Shelby County v. Holder, the 25 June 2013 Supreme Court decision declaring unconstitutional the “coverage formula” of Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965; the roles of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jnr, and Justice Clarence Thomas; and knowing the Civil Rights movement has seen worse.

Part Three: In Context(s) The balance between the progress America has made with racial equality and the challenges we confront—in voting and beyond.

Part Four: Faith & Experience What the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder means for civil rights advocacy and how change will come in a dysfunctional political atmosphere.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

GWorks Interviews: Monica Youn

“I think part of the polarization of our current politics is due to the idea that it is much easier to send money to the fringes than it is to send money to the center.”
In GWorks Interviews: Monica Youn, Ms Youn discusses Citizens United, its effects and building a Constitutional framework for campaign finance reform. 

At the time of this interview, Monica Youn was the inaugural Brennan Center Constitutional Fellow at the New York University School of Law. Before this fellowship, Ms Youn directed the Money in Politics program at the Brennan Center for Justice.

Part One: Vision The Brennan Center, her work and the challenges building a Constitutional framework for campaign finance reform.

Part Two: Monologue v. Dialogue Citizens United, campaign finance reform and the idea of Democracy as a conversation.

Part Three: Practicalities An ‘oligarchy of mega-donors,’ “corruption” as more than vote-buying and dangers of Supreme Court decisions in campaign financing.

Part Four: Spaghetti Dinners Why the Supreme Court should stay out of campaign finance, what campaign finance reform might look like and where it might come from.