The Great Debate

Why hasn’t this key government post been filled?

By William Yeomans
October 18, 2015
T-shirts with the image of Martin Luther King and with the words "I can't breathe" are pictured for sale during a Martin Luther King day rally in the Harlem section of New York

T-shirts with the image of Martin Luther King Jr. and “I can’t breathe” for sale during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally in Harlem, New York, January 19, 2015.REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Why the selfie is a threat to democracy

By Richard L. Hasen
August 18, 2015
Voters cast their ballots in U.S. midterm elections in Ferguson, Missouri

Voters cast their ballots in U.S. midterm elections in Ferguson, Missouri, November 4, 2014. REUTERS/Whitney Curtis

What we haven’t learned about race relations: From Watts in ’65 to Ferguson

By James Braxton Peterson
August 11, 2015
St Louis County police officers arrest an anti-police demonstrator in Ferguson, Missouri

St Louis County police officers arrest an anti-police demonstrator in Ferguson, Missouri, August 11, 2015.REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Steps Congress must take to ensure true freedom

By Janai S. Nelson
August 5, 2015

Hundreds of thousands of marchers gather around the reflecting pool during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963. Reuters/Rowland Scherman/U.S. National Archives

Think we don’t need to update the Voting Rights Act? Check out Tuesday’s primaries.

By Janai S. Nelson
June 25, 2014

mahurin-for-troutt--- nelson

The door is open for Congress to repair the nation’s most transformative election law, which was neutered by the U.S. Supreme Court a year ago today.

Roberts Court: Easier to donate, harder to vote

By Elizabeth B. Wydra
April 4, 2014

Chief Justice John Roberts’ first sentence of his majority opinion in McCutcheon v. Federal Elections Commission, striking down important limits on campaign contributions, declares “There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.”

Democrats: It’s the states, stupid (Part 2)

By Herman Schwartz
October 29, 2013


Since the government shutdown, public opinion of the Republican Party has hit a new low. Yet the Democrats might not be able to gain from it. Despite the GOP’s fall from grace — and even if they suffer a lower vote count in the 2014 midterm elections — the Republicans might still control the House of Representatives and many state legislatures after the polls close.

King’s deferred ‘Dream’ of democracy

By Janai S. Nelson
August 28, 2013

In the midst of current retrenchments on voting rights, the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech provides an important opportunity to consider whether his “dream” has been realized. Or, is it now, in the words of the famous poet Langston Hughes, a “dream deferred.”

Renewing voting rights — with Roberts in mind

By Ari Melber
July 16, 2013

Should Congress accept Chief Justice John Roberts’ invitation?

Roberts, in his dramatic voting rights ruling last month, said Congress has a duty to update Jim Crow-era civil rights laws for a post-Jim Crow world. In Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court basically found that Congress committed an unforced error by renewing the Voting Rights Act without updating its formula for patrolling discrimination against voters.

Democrats: It’s the states, stupid!

By Herman Schwartz
July 14, 2013


Unless the Democrats wake up to the importance of winning state legislative elections, they are likely to remain a largely impotent minority in the House of Representatives and equally feeble in the state legislatures. The momentous Supreme Court decisions on the Voting Rights Act, same-sex marriage and affirmative action make winning these races all the more vital, for all these rulings deal with state action. The huge Republican victory in the 2010 election could turn out to be a gift that keeps giving.