My last column discussed the roots of United States v. Windsor (2013), which challenged the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on Equal Protection Clause grounds. This column will discuss some of the arguments for upholding or striking down DOMA. I will discuss three arguments presented in favor of DOMA. First, proponents of DOMA believe that marriage is a sacred union between one man and one woman. If the federal government were to...

In United States v. Windsor (2013), the United States Supreme Court will decide by the end of June whether the provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defines marriage as a union between only a man and a woman contravenes the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. This case has sparked a lot of attention from the scholarly community, media, organized interests, my students and the citizenry. The purpose of this column is to...

As an undergraduate student, I was attracted to studying the United States Supreme Court because I incorrectly perceived that our nation’s highest tribunal’s central role is to protect minorities from majority oppression. Under this view, the justices of the Supreme Court are like superheroes. They would fly across the United States, eliminating unjust policies that trample on fundamental liberties. Undoubtedly, the justices would ensure equal opportunity and justice for all. In theory, the superhero view...

My last column focused on how you should ask for a letter of recommendation. This one explains what I want from you when writing that letter. When I sit down to write an argument on your behalf, I need the best possible information to make your case. To achieve that objective, I generally ask for an unofficial transcript, copies of graded work from my classes, resume and intangible qualities that cannot be measured by class...

At some point in virtually every student’s time at Trinity, you will need a letter of recommendation. It may be for study abroad, an internship, fellowship, job, graduate school, or for some other entirely different opportunity. While a strong recommendation on your behalf will probably not be determinative, it will definitely strengthen your case for securing your goals or opportunities. As a professor involved with the pre-law advisory committee for the last seventeen years, I...

Hate crime laws are a divisive issue because they create a direct conflict between civil rights and free speech. On the one hand, hate crime laws are designed to punish behavior that demeans and stigmatizes certain groups, particularly minorities. On the other, the First Amendment free speech clause of the United States Constitution protects unpopular expression, even signs and symbols that may be unpalatable. Associate Justice Harlan muses in Cohen v. California (1971) that “one...

Since the 2012 presidential election is approximately one month away, I thought it might be interesting to explore what political scientists say about how you vote. There are four basic theories to explain how the voter casts his ballot in presidential elections: Consumer Preference, Sociological Modification, Party Identification and Rational Choice. These theories are not always mutually exclusive.  I will discuss the theories in the order that they were conceived. Scholars at Columbia University created...

A spurious notion attributed to the issue of civil rights is that we are all equal. There is hardly a grain of truth to this idea. I, moreover, would prefer that we are all different. A couple of examples will clarify my point. I will use my colleagues in the department of political science to illustrate our unique differences. In comparison to my homely appearance, David Crockett is frequently known on campus as the “hot”...