Senior Poverty

One social justice issue that doesn’t get as much attention as others is senior poverty.  However, statistics show that it is on the rise: “6 percent of people age 75 to 84 fell into poverty for the first time in 2009, compared to 3.3 percent in 2005,” and the proportion of seniors facing the threat of hunger went up to one in seven in 2010 from one in nine in 2005. Reasons cited by the article for this increase are the increase in medical costs, loss of savings because of low-interest rates, and eligible seniors not applying for help.  Demographics are also a factor, with higher rates of senior poverty for Latinos and African-Americans as well as for single women.

Does senior poverty deserve more attention? Will this affect how you vote in the fall? Because the issue involves many other concerns, such as the economy, stigmatization of receiving benefits, and race, how can senior poverty be best addressed?


Justice for Trayvon Martin

Yesterday, special prosecutor Angela Corey announced that George Zimmerman is officially facing a second degree murder charge for the death of Trayvon Martin. If convicted, this charge carries the possibility of life without parole. Many feel these charges should have been brought immediately, and the racial overtones of the case have added to the public outcry. This case will undoubtedly continue to bring attention to Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, which might make a conviction harder to obtain.

What are your thoughts on the Florida law? How do you feel about the delay in bringing charges against Mr. Zimmerman? Leave us a comment and share your thoughts.

Health Care Arguments

Oral arguments on the health care overhaul law begin before the Supreme Court today. In the coming days, lawyers will continue to argue over the constitutionality of the law–but are the justices prevented from making any decision on the law at this point? Some argue the Anti-Injunction Act of 1867 forbids the Court from making a ruling because the law’s penalty portion is not yet in effect. Attorney Robert A. Long was asked by the justices to make this argument, and he will begin the proceedings today.  Read this article for more information, and remember that audio recordings of the arguments will be made available to the public.

Welcome Back

We hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable spring break! You might have missed some of the legal news last week, so here is a recap of several top stories:

  • The Supreme Court announced it will release same-day audio recordings of the arguments over the constitutionality of the health care overhaul law
  • Former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi was convicted of hate crimes, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation, for using a webcam to spy on his roommate
  • The Justice Department civil rights division blocked a Texas law that requires voters to show photo ID at the polls because the law would disproportionately affect Hispanic voters and prevent many of them from voting

Know of any other big stories that we missed? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Law Student Faces Public Attack

Recently, there has been heated debate (to say the least) over the Obama administration’s birth control policy.  As you might have heard, Rush Limbaugh attacked law student Sandra Fluke, who had publicly expressed her views in support of the policy, by calling her a “slut” and a “prostitute.”  President Obama himself reached out to Ms. Fluke, thanking her for her support after Limbaugh’s attack.  Though Limbaugh apologized for his comments, today he reportedly lost another advertiserthe seventh to back out after his remarks.  Some are calling this a “war on women,” but at base level, it was a law student being attacked for expressing her views.  As a law student, what do you think about Limbaugh’s behavior?

Discussion Panel Today: Is Affirmative Action Headed Back to the Supreme Court?

Last week, we told you that the Supreme Court would again take up the issue of considering race in admissions decisions. Today at noon, there will be a discussion panel on this very topic in the Moot Court Room. The announcement is below:

“In celebration of Black History Month, the Black Law Students’ Association and the Latino Law Student Association invite you to attend our discussion panel on the University of Texas at Austin’s use of affirmative action in its admissions policy. UT reintroduced race into its admissions process in 2003, following the Grutter v. Bollinger case. In 2008, a federal district court ruled in favor of the school’s affirmative action policy. The Fifth Circuit unanimously affirmed the decision.

The panel will consist of Prof. Bell, Prof. Conkle, Prof. Fuentes-Rohwer, and Prof. JohnsenProf. Brown will serve as the moderator. Some of the issues that will be discussed are critical mass and under-representation, whether the Supreme Court is likely to grant certiorari, how the case will likely be decided, the effect the case may have on minority groups such as African-Americans and Hispanics, and other important issues. Moot Court Room, noon.”

Admissions Decisions and Race

This week, news broke that the Supreme Court will consider race as a factor in college admissions decisions by hearing Fisher v. University of Texas–a major case involving admissions decisions at the University of Texas in which a white student alleges she was denied admission because of her race.  Several states, including California and Michigan, already do not allow race to be a factor in admissions decisions. Consider this perspective on what it might mean for higher education if race is no longer a consideration, and what a step backward such a decision would be when it comes to diverse student bodies.

Feel free to leave a comment with links to other perspectives, or provide your own.

More News for Legal Services Corp.

An Update: A few weeks ago, we told you about slashes in funds to Legal Services Corp. and the legal services jobs that would be lost as a result.  This week, good news appeared on the horizon.  President Obama has urged Congress to increase funds to LSC for fiscal year 2013.  The proposal would mean a 15.5% increase in the agency’s current budget.  The agency has requested a 35% increase for 2013, however, which means that even if President Obama’s recommendation is heard, Legal Services Corp. will still be in great need.  Still, any increase in funding means more people can receive the legal services they need.