Experts React to U.S. Supreme Court Decisions on Affirmative Action, Voting Rights, and Same-Sex Marriage

Washington, D.C., June 28, 2013 - American University Washington College of Law's Constitutional law experts were featured in the news this week, reacting to the high-profile decisions on affirmative action, voting rights, and same sex marriage handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court as they ended the term.

In addition, the law school hosted a panel discussion about the Court's DOMA and Proposition 8 decisions. Speakers included Professors Macarena Saez, Daniel Marcus, William Yeomans, Jamin Raskin, Stephen Wermiel, and former Visiting Professor Amy Dillard. The event was attended by students, staff, and faculty, as well as members of the community, and newly-admitted students. View the event webcast.

Read more about our faculty in the news below, as well as on Twitter at @AUWCL and @AUWCL_faculty.


Professor Lia Epperson

“Well, I do agree that by eliminating Section Four this really is striking at a significant part of the voting rights act. But to be clear, while it was passed in 1965, as was discussed earlier, it was reauthorized in 2006 and at that time, there were more than 15,000 pages of evidence that Congress reviewed about continuing intractable, repetitive and adaptive forms of racial discrimination in voting that continued today. So, in other words, what has been examined is not really ancient history. It's about problems that continue to exist and persist. So I think the reality is that at this point it is incumbent upon Congress in a bipartisan fashion as it did overwhelmingly in 2006 to look at the places where this is very much an issue and very necessary.” - Professor Lia Epperson discusses the Voting Rights Act decision, CNN (6/25).

Provided commentary on the Affirmative Action decision, CNN (6/24).


Professor Nancy Polikoff

“The DOMA opinion means married same-sex couples will be treated as married under federal law. But the demographics of who marries now is highly skewed by race and class. There is every reason to assume those demographics will hold for lesbians and gay men as well.  So we will have same-sex couples who don’t marry, just as we have different-sex couples who don’t marry. And we will have lots of legal consequences linked exclusively to marriage that ignore the vast number of family relationships in this country that are not based on marriage.” - Professor Nancy Polikoff quoted in "What's Next for the Gay Rights Movement?" Salon (6/26).

Guest, "The Supreme Court and Same-Sex Marriage," The Kojo Nnamdi Show (6/26).

Quoted, "DOMA Struck Down, But What About Those Who Don't Marry?" Institute for Public Accuracy (6/26).


Professor Jamin Raskin

"The centerpiece of the Voting Rights Act was placing the burden of changes in voting practices on the most troubled jurisdictions, rather than placing the burden on disenfranchisedgroups to go to court," Raskin said. "Now [the high court] has pulled the rug underneath that innovation, and like quick sand many parts of the country will begin to sink back to the old baseline of racially infused elections." - Professor Jamin Raskin quoted in "Voting Rights Rule Heads to Congress," The Washington Examiner (6/28).

Quoted, "DOMA Ruling Doesn't Settle Gay-Marriage Debate," The Washington Examiner (6/26).

Quoted, "Supreme Court Poised to Rule on Gay Marriage, Voting Rights," The Washington Examiner (6/24).



Professor Stephen Vladeck

”If gay marriage bans at the state level are in trouble, as I think they are, that will be as true tomorrow as it was yesterday — not because of Windsor, but because of the rest of the Court’s equal protection jurisprudence.” - Professor Stephen Vladeck in "Will the Doma Decision Kill Gay Marriage Bans," The Washington Post (6/26).





Professor Stephen Wermiel

"I think these opinions are about fairness and equal treatment under the law." The court is not by any means saying that the Constitution has to protect same-sex marriage or that every state has to recognize same-sex marriage, far from it." - Professor Stephen Wermiel quoted in "Justices Weigh Law vs. Love in Gay Marriage Rulings," Chicago Sun-Times (6/26).

Guest, Discussed the pending DOMA and Proposition 8 decisions, MSNBC 's "The Daily Rundown" (6/26).

Guest, "The Supreme Court and Voting Rights," The Kojo Nnamdi Show (6/25).

Quoted, "SCOTUS Q&A," Politico's "Pro Report" (6/24).



Professor William Yeomans

"As we are seeing on immigration in the Senate, bipartisan action is possible when both parties perceive that it is in their interests. Just as Republicans don't want to be seen as the party blocking immigration reform, it may well be in their interests to support legislation ensuring against discrimination in voting." - Professor William Yeomans in "Leahy Pledges 'Immediate Action' on Voting Rights," USA Today (6/25).

Quoted, "DOJ Denounces Voting Rights Act Decision," National Law Journal (7/1).

Guest, "Election Laws Likely to Change Without Voting Rights Act," NPR's "All Things Considered" (6/28).

Blog, "Judicial Hubris," Justice Watch (6/25).

Blog, "Affirmative Action Lives to Fight Another Day," Justice Watch (6/24).