Week 3 Discussion 1
“Due Process.” Please respond to the following:
Explain the significance of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses to the public community. Provide an example different from the textbook.
In Mathews v. Eldridge, take a position on whether or not the court was merely pulling back from the hearing requirement it has previously suggested whenever government benefits are at stake. Provide details or evidence to support your position.
Please respond to the following:
• Explain the significance of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses to the public community. Provide an example different from the textbook.
The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is exactly like a similar provision in the Fifth Amendment, which only restricts the federal government. It states that no person shall be “deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” Usually, “due process” refers to fair procedures. However, the Supreme Court has also used this part of the Fourteenth Amendment to prohibit certain practices outright. For instance, the Court has ruled that the Due Process Clause protects rights that are not specifically listed in the Constitution, such as the right to privacy regarding sexual relations. In Roe v. Wade (1973), the Court ruled that this right to privacy included a woman’s decision to have an abortion. In addition, the Court used the Due Process Clause to extend the Bill of Rights to the states over time through a practice known as “incorporation.”
The Equal Protection Clause also applies to illegal immigrants in certain cases. In Plyler v. Doe (1982), the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law that prohibited children who were not legal residents to attend free public schools. The Court held that “the Texas statute imposes a lifetime hardship on a discrete class of children not accountable for their disabling status.”
The Fourteenth Amendment allowed states to disenfranchise those convicted of rebellion or other crimes, a clause that was intended to limit the voting rights of former Confederate soldiers. Now, during the nation’s war on drugs, this same provision has resulted in the vote being denied to thousands of African Americans who, as a group, have been disproportionately convicted of drug offenses. Ironically, the very same amendment that was written to ensure equal rights for African Americans now provides a mechanism to make them second-class citizens. In many states, tens of thousands of minority offenders still cannot vote due to their criminal history. According to Michelle Alexander in her book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, “We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”
Monk, L. R. (2013, March 25). Due Process Clause, Equal Protection Clause, and Disenfranchising Felons. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from http://www.pbs.org/tpt/constitution-usa-peter-sagal/equality/due-process-equal-protection-and-disenfranchisement/
• In Mathews v. Eldridge, take a position on whether or not the court was merely pulling back from the hearing requirement it has previously suggested whenever government benefits are at stake. Provide details or evidence to support your position.
The secretary of health, education, and welfare contended that the district court should not have heard the case because district courts do not have jurisdiction over an action seeking the review of the secretary. District courts can only review a final decision of the secretary. The secretary based his claim on Weinberger v. Salfi (1975). In that case, the Supreme Court decided that judicial review in an action challenging the denial of claimed benefits was possible only after exhausting all of the administrative remedies, including a final decision by the secretary. When Mathews v. Eldridge was brought before the Supreme Court, however, it held that in the instant case, Eldridge satisfied the requirement that a claim must be presented to the secretary by filling out the questionnaire and writing a letter to the state agency. Although Eldridge did not exhaust the secretary’s internal review procedures, the denial of his claim was enough of a “final decision” to satisfy the exhaustion requirement. Thus Eldridge had the right to present the case to the district court.
The Fifth Amendment states that no person shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” The secretary contended that the existing administrative procedures provided all the process that is constitutionally due before someone can be deprived of benefits. Eldridge contended that the existing review procedures would be adequate if the disability benefits were terminated after the evidentiary hearing, not before it. Justice Powell, writing for the majority, quoted Cafeteria Workers v. McElroy (1961)
“Due process, unlike some legal rules, is not a technical conception with a fixed content unrelated to time, place and circumstances.” Powell also quoted Morrissey v. Brewer (1972), “Due process is flexible, and calls for such procedural protections as the particular situation demands.” Powell listed the three factors that must be considered when looking into the specific dictates of due process: 1) the private interest that the official action will affect; 2) the risk of mistakenly depriving someone of benefits, and the probable value of additional procedural safeguards; 3) the Government’s interest, including the financial and administrative costs that additional procedures would bring about.
The Court recognized that the length of time a person is wrongfully deprived of benefits is important in assessing the impact of the government’s action on the person’s interests. The secretary conceded that the delay between the cutoff of benefits and the final decision after a hearing is over one year. Powell noted that “the hardship imposed upon the erroneously terminated disability recipient may be significant. Still the disabled worker’s need is likely to be less than that of a welfare recipient. In addition to the possibility of access to private resources, other forms of government assistance will become available” if the worker falls below the subsistence level. Something less than an evidentiary hearing is sufficient prior to terminating disability benefits.
Mathews v. Eldridge – Due Process Is Flexible. (2016). Retrieved October 17, 2016, from http://law.jrank.org/pages/23685/Mathews-v-Eldridge-Due-Process-Flexible.html
Week 3 Discussion 2
Top of Form
“Protection and Rights.” Please respond to the following:
In Grutter v. Bollinger, considering the 25-year notion, discuss whether equal protection really changes and whether or not the 2008 presidential election expedited this timeline.
Using the Brown v. Board of Education e-Activity, discuss the significance of the case and state whether race can “count” without it being determinative. Support your position with examples or evidence.
Bottom of Form
- “Protection and Rights.” Please respond to the following:
- • In Grutter v. Bollinger, considering the 25-year notion, discuss whether equal protection really changes and whether or not the 2008 presidential election expedited this timeline.
- In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Courtruled in the Gratz v. Bollinger case that the point system used by the University of Michigan for undergraduate admissions was unconstitutional. The admissions policy was based on 150 points, and it awarded points based on items such as race (20 points), athletic ability (20 points), depth of essay (up to 3 points), leadership and service (up to 5 points) and personal achievement (up to 5 points). The point system, therefore, automatically awarded admission points to underrepresented minorities. In the majority decision, Chief Justice Rehnquist stated that the University of Michigan had violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by using an overly mechanized system as a way to include race in admission decisions.
- The Grutter v. Bollinger case of was also decided in 2003. In a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly upheld the decision to allow colleges and universities to use race as a component in their admissions policies by ruling in favor of the University of Michigan’s law school admissions policy. Sandra Day O’Connor stated that the Constitution “does not prohibit the law school’s narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.”
- The Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger rulings are regarded as the most important since the Bakke decision. Most colleges and universities had previously followed the guidelines set forth by Bakke, stating that diversity is an integral component to a successful institution. They treaded lightly, however, unsure of how far race could be used in the admission’s process. The Supreme Court’s decisions in the landmark University of Michigan cases clarified this gray area and provided definitive guidance for affirmative action policies. The 2003 rulings also abrogated theHopwood v. Texas ruling, thus permitting colleges in Texas and other states under the Fifth Circuit jurisdiction to reinstate affirmative action policies.
- Current Case
- Fisher v. Texas In 2008, several high school seniors who had been denied admission at the University of Texas-Austin filed a lawsuit. The students argued that the University of Texas could not use race as a factor in admission processes if there were other race-neutral options that would have the same results on diversity. A federal district judge found in favor of the University of Texas, stating that the University had complied with the admission requirements laid out in Grutter v. Bollinger. Additionally, the court cited a University of Texas study from 2002, which found that that year 79 percent of the university’s individual courses had zero or one African-American students and 30 percent of the courses had zero or one Hispanic students. Thus, the court decided that while race neutral options had been considered, these options were not a viable way for the University of Texas system to maintain and increase diversity. In January 2011, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case and upheld the ruling in favor of the University of Texas. In June 2011, the full court decided not to rehear the lawsuit, letting the decision of the three-member panel stand. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in February 2012.
- In a 7-1 Fischer I ruling released June 2013, the Court did not overturn affirmative action generally, but did emphasize that affirmative action programs need to be more strictly reviewed. The Court explained that the program must pass a test of “strict scrutiny,” proving an absence of alternatives that do not include race as a means to diversify the student body. The case is being sent back to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in order to determine if the University of Texas’ affirmative action program passes this test.
- In June 2016, the Court ruled in Fischer II by a 4-3 vote that the the University of Texas at Austin’s race-conscious admissions program is constitutional.
- Affirmative Action: Court Decisions. (2016, June). Retrieved October 17, 2016, from http://www.ncsl.org/research/education/affirmative-action-court-decisions.aspx
- Using the Brown v. Board of Education e-Activity, discuss the significance of the case and state whether race can “count” without it being determinative. Support your position with examples or evidence.
- Brown v. Board of Education (1954), now acknowledged as one of the greatest Supreme Court decisions of the 20th century, unanimously held that the racial segregation of children in public schools violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Although the decision did not succeed in fully desegregating public education in the United States, it put the Constitution on the side of racial equality and galvanized the nascent civil rights movement into a full revolution.
- Were the black and white schools “substantially” equal to each other, as the lower courts had found? After reviewing psychological studies showing black girls in segregated schools had low racial self-esteem, the Court concluded that separating children on the basis of race creates dangerous inferiority complexes that may adversely affect black children’s ability to learn.
- The Court concluded that, even if the tangible facilities were equal between the black and white schools, racial segregation in schools is “inherently unequal” and is thus always unconstitutional. At least in the context of public schools, Plessy v. Ferguson was overruled. In the Brown II case a decided year later, the Court ordered the states to integrate their schools “with all deliberate speed.” Opposition to Brown I and II reached an apex in Cooper v. Aaron (1958), when the Court ruled that states were constitutionally required to implement the Supreme Court’s integration orders. Widespread racial integration of the South was achieved by the late 1960s and 1970s.
- In the meantime, the equal protection ruling in Brown spilled over into other areas of the law and into the political arena as well. Scholars now point out that Brown v. Board was not the beginning of the modern civil rights movement, but there is no doubt that it constituted a watershed moment in the struggle for racial equality in America.
- McBride, A. (2010.” Reproduction courtesy of Corbis Images Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Retrieved October 17, 2016, from http://www.pbs.org/wnet/supremecourt/rights/landmark_brown.html
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