An important part of Creighton's 2040 Initiative is student presence and direction. As part of the 2040 Initiative Seminar, students blog on topics relevant to the changing demographics in the United States. The students select topics that are of interest to them and provide their own insight and commentary on these issues. Students have great latitude to investigate, research and write on a wide variety of current trends and legal concerns, and thereby contribute to a more robust public dialogue.
Taxes and the Aging of the Population
by: Joseph Burgess'14
The aging population is one the biggest demographic changes of the 21st century. Our tax base, workforce, and healthcare needs as a population all change as our population age base changes. The rise of the baby boomer population into seniority will have massive effects on all facets of US domestic police, but especially healthcare spending. This chart shows how our population is projected to change by age through 2040:
Due to both the baby boom and the ongoing extension of life spans, as seen in this chart:
Of course, it's not just that we have a larger elderly population. We also have a decreasing birth rate, down to 63 births per 1000 women in 2012. While this is a much higher birthrate than most European countries, it still puts the US birth rate below replacement level. If this rate continues to drop, the elderly population will grow even faster relative to the US population as whole. In the United States, the percentage of working age people (15-64) will drop almost 5 percentage points, from 66.0 percent of the total population in 2001 to 61.3 percent in 2030. More benefits will be paid out to the elderly at the same time as the workforce and therefore our tax base decreases. With the current deficit, it is extremely likely that we will eventually need to either raise taxes or cut benefits or other spending to continue.
We currently spend 7 times as much per capita on the elderly than we do on children within the federal budget. Medicare, Medicaid, and SS, as well as SNAP benefits that go towards the elderly/other programs work out to 21,144 per person 65 and older in 2004-spending in those programs has only risen since then.
The current situation is unsustainable. We need to ensure the health and safety of our seniors while becoming financially stable as a nation. Tough steps will need to be made to adjust to our demographic changes.
Thoughts on Affirmative Action
by: Augustine C. Osuala, J.D.'15
I thought one of Hannah's concept's regarding affirmative action was interesting. It reminded me of a conversation that I had with a football player at a university we both attended. At that time we were having a conversation regarding his admission into medical school. He applied and was denied admission to medical school on two different accounts, if I remember correctly. However, he was certain that affirmative action was the reason why he was not accepted into the program he applied to. He was a white student, who believed that schools were not admitting him in order to admit minority students. I remained quiet. I didn't really know much about affirmative action then. His portrayal of it was that it was some type of sinister scheme that was out to get him, that maybe an exaggeration but not really. I understand that he thought it was unfair. If I could ask him today, I would ask, "have you thought about all the other practices in the admission process that may seem unfair?"
In one of Hannah's cartoons from her presentation... One of the cartoons depicted a minority college student who was wearing slacks, glasses, a sweater vest and tie, you get the point? So next to the minority student was another student who was an athlete who was depicted as a stereo typical jock, another student who was the daughter of a big time donor who pretty much bought her admission, and along with other students who you can say gained admission into the university system as a result from factors other than their academic record. Essentially that is what the cartoon was conveying. It was raising the question regarding other admission practices that go unchallenged in the court of law and possibly the court of public opinion.
You could possibly say there is no legal basis to challenge these other admission practices. Most affirmative action cases involve equal protection challenges. The challengers who wish to show that affirmative action is unfair are raising an inference that a particular regulation puts them at a disadvantage because of the group they (the challenger) belong to. If I remember correctly that's part of what an equal protection challenge consist of.
All and all, there seems to be many factors that are advantageous to gaining admission to a university. Whether if it is being an athlete, a child of prominent alumni, a kid who benefited from a great grade school, etc.
Suburban Sprawl & Section 8 Housing: A Case Study
by: Martin M. Estrada'14
Omaha seems to be growing and grown, annexing more and more towns. What was once West Omaha is now central Omaha. But is this bad? In an article from Alchemy Development (2011), "The urban dreamers who want sprawl to end really wear me out. You see, sprawl is bad. It costs a lot of money to have a spread out city: all that driving is inefficient, and it costs more to build and maintain spread out infrastructure, let alone service it with police, etc." Besides not being efficient in terms of city economics, I believe suburban sprawl creates increased segregation.
"Urban v. Suburban" In terms of race and ethnicity, these two terms are often associated with different ethnic groups. When one thinks "urban" people often assume minorities living in the inner city. And when one thinks of suburbia, the picture of white middle class is often associated. I have lived and experienced both sides of the spectrum. As much as I would like to make a definitive statement on my opinion of suburban sprawl, it's difficult for me to do so. I was originally born in an urban, predominantly Hispanic neighborhood in Kansas City. Over time, eventually, my family starting moving up North into a better neighborhood. My family lived through the urban decay that took place over 30 years. When we all finally made it up North, my family had negative attitudes (Along with the rest of the neighborhood) to welcome Section 8 housing. When the first section 8 housing developments was built in our neighborhood, people were furious, including my family, despite us previously living in section 8 housing. We were worried that our suburban oasis would soon decay like the Hispanic inner city we once lived in. We joke that we are going to soon have to move even farther north!
When I got to Omaha, as a college student the only places I could afford were North Omaha (where I rented a small house) and South Omaha (where I currently live). I would never live out north. I don't like the cookie cutter houses and I don't like that there is a lack of culture and diversity. But I do believe that Section 8 programs that build developments in affluent neighborhoods are working. It offers low income children better schools and better quality of life. It's hard for me to advocate for section 8 to be built in West Omaha when I do not further section 8 built in North Kansas City. Therefore, I'm stuck at a crossroads. This topic is something that should be studied further. By 2040 I'm sure that both Omaha and Kansas City will see more suburban sprawl and more section 8 housing.
Driver's Licenses for Illegal Immigrants: Step Towards Amnesty or Common Sense?
By: Jonathan Roehlk JD'14
One practical area of concern that's already had a huge impact in the area of illegal immigration is: how are illegal immigrants transported throughout our society? Sure, in some areas of the country an illegal immigrant can hop on a public bus for a buck and get a ride to work pretty easily. But for the rest of the illegal immigrant population, they drive themselves. This is especially true when they work in the more rural parts of the country where public transportation is nearly non-existent. This also happens to be the part of the country where huge populations of illegal immigrants reside, closer to the southern border.
To drive around in the U.S. and the states individually, you need a driver's license. The problem is that, until recently in a lot of states, an illegal immigrant couldn't get a driver's license, and therefore more often than not, they were unable to get auto insurance as well. So, the states who don't allow illegal immigrants to obtain a driver's license or driver's card (the 2nd tier name for illegal immigrant driver's licenses in some states) have a huge portion of the population driving around their states who are unfamiliar with that state's traffic laws and in addition, are uninsured. This surely directly causes insurance costs for the rest of that state's lawful insured motorists to rise, especially the portion of their insurance premiums that go towards uninsured motorists.
So, what's the right thing to do? How do states deal with this? Do they accept the reality that they have a large portion of the population who are in this country illegally and give them access to driver's licenses and hope that they in turn go out and get auto insurance to reduce the amount of auto accidents and uninsured motorist insurance costs? Or do we dig in our heels in as a society on principle and the fact that these individuals are here illegally, and not allow them to obtain driver's licenses because having a driver's license is a privilege of being a U.S. citizen?
States disagree on the answer to this problem and the issue will only get more prevalent as time passes, but the current trend is moving in the direction to allow illegal immigrants to obtain a driver's license, or a "driver's card," even if it is just for purposes of driving legally, and not for purposes of proper identification to vote, etc.
Idealism doesn't always pay off. It's a little idealistic to not give illegal immigrants at least some form of a driver's license, if doing so would dramatically reduce the amount of uninsured motorists on the road, and potentially reduce the number of traffic accidents on the aggregate, as some suggest would indeed happen. But it's also never a good idea to throw a bad idea at another bad idea and give in to an idea, just because it's the easier thing to do. It will be interesting over the next several years to see how this issue evolves and how state legislatures deal with driver's license for illegal immigrants, and what that difference will do to shifting illegal immigrant populations in the states. Will illegal immigrants flock to bordering states if the laws are set up in that state to more easily grant licenses to illegal immigrants? And what will that mean for the workforce in that state? It will also be interesting to see how immigration legislation on the federal level transpires, and how states will react.
Housing and Education
by: Hai Luo, JD'14
For most children or teenagers that live in the U.S., no matter whether they are U.S. citizens or foreigners, where they live basically determines where they go to school. In fact, housing and education are somehow correlated with each other.
Recently, an analysis of national and metropolitan data on public school populations and state standardized test scores for about 84,077 schools in 2010 and 2011 reveals some issues: 1) nationwide, the average low-income student attends a school that scores at the 42nd percentile on state exams, while the average middle/high-income student attends a school that scores at the 61st percentile on state exams; 2) the northeastern metro areas with relatively high levels of economic segregation show the highest school test-score gaps between low-income students and other students; 3) across the 100 largest metropolitan areas, housing costs an average of 2.4 times as much, or nearly $11,000 more per year, near a high-scoring public school than near a low-scoring public school; 4) large metro areas with the least restrictive zoning have housing cost gaps that are 40 to 63 percentage points lower than metro areas with the most exclusionary zoning.
At the same time, there is another survey showing that low-income students perform better when they are switched to a higher-scoring school. Those low-income students perform even better when their non-low-income schoolmates perform better. Therefore, we can draw a conclusion that higher-scoring schools do benefit disadvantaged students, or in other words, going to better schools is more likely to lead to academic success.
However access to high-scoring schools is unequal by income and race or ethnic group because access is constrained by housing availability and cost. The housing-cost gaps between high-scoring school neighborhoods and low-scoring school neighborhoods demonstrate the huge financial difficulty for many low-income families to access those high-scoring schools unless there could be some local efforts to integrate schools and housing programs.
Moreover, when digging more behind the housing-cost gap to figure out why a lot of neighborhoods still remain segregated by race and financial ability, the analysis shows that discriminatory zoning regulations that forbid the construction of inexpensive housing or affordable housing in those affluent neighborhoods are still playing a huge role in impeding a broader access to high?performing schools. In the past some race-based policies like discriminatory covenants kept African-Americans or Latinos out of white neighborhoods, and today some zoning regulations prevent poor people from moving into rich neighborhoods. Thus, today those low-income or minority families, who are still fighting for getting access to better schools for their children, find out that it would be even cheaper and practically easier for them to send their children to some outstanding private schools rather than to move into an attendance zone of a high-scoring school.
In order to improve the housing and education situations and provide more opportunities for low-income students to access high-performing schools, there are several solutions that have been considered or implemented in recent years: 1) expanding school choice for low-income students through charter schools, school vouchers, or some areas come up with an idea of modifying or eliminating some of the attendance boundaries; 2) led by the federal government, school funding could be linked to individual children rather than schools, such that a child could apply to multiple public schools in his or her area; 3) creating more affordable housing or inclusionary zoning area in the affluent districts, thus more qualified low-income families can have a chance to move in these places. As a result, their children can be qualified to access to the high-scoring school in this area; 4) some suggest that we should eliminate exclusionary zoning laws, and then we could produce large educational and economic benefits for those low-income and minority children and families, and maybe the U.S. economy, as a whole. However, since housing and real-estate planning are both market oriented and in some areas to totally abolish the zoning laws will receive a huge public opposition, the likelihood of this approach is relatively low.
The Aging Population
by: Kellye Oishi'14
The United States is an aging society. The predictive statistics are both worrisome and frightening. Between 2000 and 2050, the number of elderly people in the United States is projected to increase by 135 percent.3 Also, the population that is aged 85 and over, which is the segment that is most likely to require long-term care services, is projected to increase by a daunting 350 percent.3 More specifically, between 2000 and 2050, the proportion of the population that is over the age of 65 will increase from 12.7 percent in 2000 to 20.3 percent in 2050, and the proportion of the population that is age 85 and older will increase from 1.6 percent in 2000 to 4.8 percent in 2050.3 The increase in the aging of the population will have a major impact on both the organization and delivery of health care here in the United States.
In addition to many of the other impacts, the aging population will have two particularly pertinent impacts on health care. The first important impact that the aging population will have on health care is the shift from acute to chronic illness. The aging population will require a focus on chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, obesity, and Alzheimer's disease, instead of acute illnesses, such as colds, the flu and bronchitis. This shift will require the implementation of several changes to the health care setting. Firstly, the style of medicine will need to shift from one-time office visits or interventions that correct a single problem to the ongoing management of multiple chronic diseases and disabilities. Doctors and patients will also need to establish and maintain an ongoing relationship designed to help patients cope with illnesses, rather than curing them.2 Secondly, chronic illness often entails disability, which means that long-term care services will be in high demand and become very important sources of care. Long-term care services include nursing home care, hospice care, assisted living, in home support, home health care, personal care, adult day care, and congregate housing. Lastly, new methods will be required to incorporate medical and long-term care services. These new methods are features that will be especially complicated in the United States due to our fragmented financing and delivery systems in health care.3
A noteworthy point regarding the demographic change in aging is that the predicted strains of the population aging in the United States is not entirely due to the growth in the elderly population, but instead due to the dawdling anticipated growth in the non-elderly working age population. Between 2000 and 2050, the portion of the population aged 16 to 64 is projected to grow only a measly 33 percent. The ratio of people ages 16 to 64 compared to those ages 65 and over is projected to decline from 5.1 in 2000 to 2.9 in 2050.3 This is a steep 43 percent decline. The projected lagging growth in the working age population indicates that there will be relatively fewer people to pay the taxes that are necessary to support public programs for the elderly population, as well as fewer people to provide the high demand of services that the elder people will need.3
The second important impact that the aging population will have on health care deals with health and long-term care workforce issues. An increasing concern about the current amount of acute and long-term care workers already exists. The current shortage of health care workers is most likely to perpetuate as time goes by. Positions of particular concern includes the nurses and the paraprofessional staff, a group that contains certified nurse assistants, home health aids, and personal care attendants.2 Paraprofessionals, also know as direct care workers, provide the majority of long-term care services. These workers are usually women who are also disproportionately drawn from racial and ethnic minorities. Low wages and benefits, hard and unfavorable working conditions, heavy workloads, and a job title that has been stigmatized by society make worker recruitment and retention difficult.2 In the future, higher wages and better working conditions will be required to attract the desired amount of workers.3
The problem with paraprofessionals is of particular interest and deserves attention. These paraprofessionals are currently earning wages that are only slightly higher than the average fast food workers.1 Also, the General Accounting Office reported that roughly a third of all direct-care employees have no health coverage.1 Despite these workers' commitment and love that they have for the people they assist, they have no choice but to look for other jobs when they are unable to make livable wages or secure basic health insurance. These workers, who are often women, also endure one of the highest rates of on-the-job injury in the country. Disrespectful treatment is common as well. These paraprofessionals often complain that they are treated as if they were invisible by nurse supervisors and other managers. Foreseeing that eldercare is projected to be the fastest growing employment sector in the health care industry, it is in our nation's best interest to strengthen the care giving occupations. These care giving occupations are vital to our social infrastructure, to improving the quality of care for the elderly patients, and have the potential for long-term economic growth. Therefore, actions that address these already present issues of paraprofessional and other caregiver recruitment, training, retention and improved compensation should be highly mandatory for policymakers.1
It was also found that as the population ages, public expenditures are also projected to grow as a percent of GDP. Medicare, Social Security, and medical funding for long-term care are projected to grow from 6.8 percent of GDP in 2000 to 13.2 percent of GDP in 2050.3 With more long-term care needed and the shortage of paraprofessional workers, this will put a greater burden on the children and other family members to take care of their elderly parents or relatives. However, children of these elders have become more mobile over the years or have gone off to college and settled across the nation from their aging parents. Therefore, when care is needed, it is either up to the children to move back to where their parents are or to relocate their parents to them. This not only puts a lot of pressure on these children, but also brings financial and job related problems. Laws involving providing some sort of paid leave or FMLA validating "in law" care are required in the future to aid and enable these children and/or other relatives to be able to take care of their aging parents or relatives without sacrificing their financial wellbeing or jobs. This issue will be an ongoing issue as the population continues to grow and the shortage of health care workers continues to increase. Therefore, laws must be changed to properly assist or enable those who ought to care for their elders, which is a group that should include their parents, other legal guardians, in-laws and even grandparents (the extended family).
1DeFrancis, Marc. "U.S. Elder Care Is in a Fragile State." U.S. Elder Care Is in a Fragile State. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2013. <http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2002/USElderCareIsinaFragileState.aspx>.
2Knickman, James R., and Emily K. Snell. "The 2030 Problem: Caring for Aging Baby Boomers." NCBI. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2002. Web. 13 Nov. 2013.<http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1464018/>.
3Wiener, Joshua M., and Jane Tilly. "International Journal of Epidemiology." Population Ageing in the United States of America: Implications for Public Programs. International Epidemiological Association 2002, n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2013. <.>http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/31/4/776.full>.
Can Money Predict Success in Education? Utah as a Case Study
by: Wendy M. Brown, J.D.'14
In a recent class discussion, we learned about the importance of early childhood education and the amount of funding governments spend on students. As I participated in the class, I couldn't help but think about my own education experience. I grew up in Utah, where it was always well known that the government spent comparatively little on education. I've always felt I received a good education, despite the fact that I didn't attend preschool and my public education took place in Utah. So I had to wonder: are preschool enrollment and money spent per pupil really indicators of educational success? At least in Utah, I don't believe so.
The United States Supreme Court in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1 (1973), decided that education is not a fundamental right protected by the Constitution. 411 U.S. at 38-39. This assertion continues to govern public education financing challenges as recently as last month. See Petrella v. Brownback, No. 10-2661-JWL, 2013 WL 5819689, at *5 (D. Kan. Oct. 29, 2013). Perhaps as a result of this forty-year-old holding, there is disparate financing of public education throughout the country. The average amount spent per pupil in 2011 was more than $10,500. This average fails to show the real difference in state spending. For instance, the District of Columbia spent $18,475.08 per student in 2011 while Utah spent $6,212.22. This put Utah dead last in student spending. Utah enrolls only six percent of three-year-olds and thirteen percent of four-year-olds in special education preschool and Head Start, landing Utah in the bottom ten of states for preschool enrollment.
What these numbers fail to account for are intangibles such as family involvement and less highlighted statistics, such as the number of children in a state. Using those same two locations as an example, according to the 2000 census, D.C. had an average of 0.78 children under 18 per family. Utah? 1.24.
While literature across the Internet suggests that Utah is failing its students by its lack of public education financing and preschool enrollment, Utah students simply aren't failing. This year, in Utah, more students took and passed AP exams than in the past. Not only did Utah students pass the exams, but they passed at a higher rate than their national counterparts. Utah enjoyed a 67.4% pass rate on 2013 AP tests, while the national pass rate was 56.9%. The success of Utah students isn't confined to AP tests. Utahns score well on other standardized tests, as well. Utah ranks 13th in the country when looking at its students' SAT and ACT scores.
While there is no dispute that Utah is far below average when it comes to student spending, by the time students are leaving high school, their performance seems to match or exceed their counterparts elsewhere in the country. This seems to suggest that there is something impacting educational success other than money.
Paid Maternity Leave: "Here's to Hoping"
by: Hannah O'Keefe '14
Maternity leave definitely falls in the category of "things I don't like to think about." Yes, I am a woman, and yes, I would like to have children someday, but hate the fact that, as a female, I will always have to factor having children into my career choices. Even when I'm not actively thinking about the role that children will have on my career, I'm subconsciously factoring it in. ("Ok, so if I take a year off after college and then begin law school in the fall of 2015, I would graduate in the spring of 2018 and I would be 26 years old. I definitely wouldn't want to have a baby while I'm in still in school-that would just be too hard and I would lose my focus. So then if I get a job right out of law school, I would probably want to really focus on my work for 2 or 3 years to get settled in and establish myself. Ok so at this point, I'll be about 28 years old, which is definitely not young anymore. But then if I had a baby, I would have to take off for maternity leave, and I would probably want more than just 12 weeks...but I doubt my employer would be too thrilled about me missing so much work, and I would have worked so hard in school and my career to reach that point, so maybe I should just wait a few more years to have children.") If I were to ask my female peers, they all probably have or have had similar internal freak-outs about planning children into their future career decisions. However, I bet that many of my male peers simply would not relate. For me, it is all very stressful and very hypothetical, so I generally try to avoid thinking about it. This is not even addressing the fact that usually in life, you don't get to plan everything out; case in point: the "oops" baby.
The 2040 group presentation that addressed gender issues burst my "don't think about it" bubble, and I was forced to really consider maternity leave and the role that it will play in my life. I found out that in the United States today, the law guarantees just 12 weeks of leave for mothers or fathers and pay during this time is not mandated at all. The more I think about this, the more annoyed I get and the more I want to advocate for serious reform. Three months is simply not enough time for a new mother (or father) to raise a baby, but, if a woman takes off longer than that, her position at work could be compromised and all of her hard work put to waste. Additionally, many families simply can't afford for one parent to go long periods of time without pay, and three weeks of unpaid leave is hard enough.
More and more women are going to college and receiving a higher education, and at this point, women are actually earning more bachelor's degrees than men-which is great! However, this means that more and more women are going to have to face these hard issues that deal with the trade off between career, income, and having children. As a nation, we have worked so hard to promote the education of women and getting more women in the work force, but it seems like once they are there, we are abandoning them. If we want our country to exist in 100 years, we are going to need woman to keep having children, but as it is right now, the law does not offer enough support for women to have a career and a family. From a young age, girls are told that they can be whatever they want to be, and that they should go after their dreams of becoming doctors and lawyers and businesswomen; however, they aren't told that, in reality, it will be extremely difficult for this to happen if they want to have kids. Just because biology mandates that women, not men, are the ones who get pregnant does not mean that women are any less intelligent or any less valuable to the work force than men are.
It is also frustrating because it doesn't have to be this way. Other countries, especially in Europe, have laws that are much more parent-friendly. Sweden, for example, gives 16 months paid leave. The UK guarantees 62 weeks of maternity leave, 39 weeks of which is paid. America is supposed to be the land of opportunity. Well, I don't see why that "opportunity" has to include an ultimatum for half the population that forces a choice between having a high-powered career or a baby. I know that it is not always that simple, and that some "women manage to have it all," but having support from your country sure wouldn't hurt. It would be nice if we had a national policy that said, "Hey thanks for keeping the population going! You are great! Take some time, hang out with your new kid, and when you are ready, go use that brain of yours!" Here's to hoping.
"White Infill": The Reverse White Flight
by: Ronald Betita, J.D.'15
As I was perusing one of my social media outlets the other day, I saw a friend post a link to a satirical demographic map of my home city, Vancouver. Having been working with demographic maps this whole semester in the 2040 class, this map saw the city humorously divided into various zones such as "old money and poor students" (the University of British Columbia area), "quirky shops battl[ing] it out with upscale eateries" (Kitsilano/West 4th area, the trendy spot of town), and of course, "hockey and yuppies" (the area where the Canucks play and the renovated Olympic village now being offered as entry-level condos/apartments).
However, the commentary following the map picked up on two common demographic trends: the rising costs of housing in a coastal city and white flight. The commentary also pointed out that the allure of the suburbs has been waning, and urban areas have triggered a "reverse white flight," attracting young professionals with disposable income back into the urban areas of Vancouver. Formerly cultural hubs such as Little Manila, Little Saigon, Chinatown, etc., have now seen an influx of young renters and professionals looking to be close to the urban core without paying astronomical urban condo prices.
This trend of reverse white flight has been nothing new. Brooklyn may be the poster child for the "back to the city" or "reverse white flight." In Brooklyn, 4 zip codes in Brooklyn have had its share of the white population increase over the past ten years. What surprised me the most about Vancouver becoming a new hub for "reverse white flight," is that, because of its billing as a multi-cultural city, I have always viewed the demographic changes and new developments in old neighborhoods as "gentrification."
For many major American cities, the largest group moving back into the inner-city core is Caucasian. Urbanist Kaid Benfield stated that people of means, especially the young, want the urban experience, and that the focus should be on "gentrification... [rather than] coping with massive abandonment and rampant crime." However, the key term here is "people of means." According to a Brandeis University study, the wealth gap between white and black families has nearly tripled over the past few years. The median net worth for whites is at $265,000, while the median net worth for black families is $28,500. Trickle down arguments for these reclaimed urban spaces have been forwarded as one of the factors for the positive notes for this return to the city. Yet evidence suggests that infusive affluence does not move the "poverty needle." For example, in D.C., the 20001 zip code that had been developed "to have an Ann Taylor, Brooks Brothers" did not move the 'poverty needle'.... The [poverty rate] is the same in 1980, 1990, and 2000..." Simply pumping more money into an urban area does not necessarily undo years and years of racial segregation, and perhaps exacerbates the issues even further - the dream of various classes "living right next to each other in gentrified down towns... will probably not [happen]."
On the other hand, the ongoing urban revival movement may not necessarily be limited to just racial lines. Organizations such as the Christian Community Development Association focus on a holistic mission of "[living] amongst America's neediest neighborhoods... [becoming] one with our neighbors until there is no longer an 'us' and 'them.'" However, groups such as the CCDA are still outliers; the major demographic shifts appear to favor the desirability of living in an urban environment. Millenials are flocking to urban environments. Yet, against this backdrop of the narrative of "white infill," areas such as the Rust Belt are experiencing gentrification that is "younger, less white, and more minority." Rather, such shifts to the urban core are classified as a "millennial middle class reinvestment." For example, inner city areas in Cleveland have seen increases in the Hispanic and Asian populations, and yet there still was a decrease in the black population. Thanks to a housing crisis, lower barriers of entry into traditional non-minority neighborhoods have seen increases in the black populations. Thus, while resegregation still presents dire economic implications, the key factor in the reclamation of inner city cores appears to be a combination of lowered barriers to entry for the housing market, increased educational and career opportunities for a city's youth, and a commitment to alleviating the pressures of inner-city poverty.
 See "The Real Map of Vancouver." VanCity Buzz, available at http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2013/11/the-real-map-of-vancouver/
 See "Reverse White Flight: Caucasians Flocking to Brooklyn in Record Numbers." New York Observer, available at http://observer.com/2012/06/white-people-flocking-to-brooklyn/
 See "The Persistence of Failed History: White Infill as the New ?White Flight??? New Geography, available at http://www.newgeography.com/content/003812-the-persistence-failed-history-white-infill-new-white-flight.
 See "Two very different views of the condition of American cities." Switchboard, National Resources Defense Council Staff Blog, available at http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kbenfield/two_very_different_views_of_th.html.
 See "Wealth Inequality between blacks and whites worsen." CNN Money, available at http://money.cnn.com/2013/02/27/news/economy/wealth-whites-blacks/index.html.
 See "Forefront Except: Separate and Unequal in D.C." Next City, available at http://nextcity.org/daily/entry/forefront-excerpt-separate-and-unequal-in-d.c
 See "The Great Inversion: Cities are the new suburbs, suburbs the new cities." Grist, available at http://grist.org/cities/the-great-inversion-cities-are-the-new-suburbs-suburbs-the-new-cities/. This post focuses on author Alan Ehrenhalt?s book ?The Great Inversion and the Future of American City.? Id.
 "Cities Erupt in youthquake: Millenials swell populations." USA Today, available at http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2013/05/23/census-cities-populations-gains-losses/2353215/
 "A Rust Belt Revival is Beyond Black and White." Belt Magazine, available at http://beltmag.com/middle-class-reinvestment-doesnt-fit-the-nations-racial-patterns/
The Nation's Shifting Support of Legal Marijuana
by: Steve A. Selde, J.D.'14
2013 marks the continued growth of marijuana acceptance in many places across the county. Ballot initiatives, either legalizing or taxing marijuana, were passed by a landslide in Colorado, Maine, and Michigan.
On November 5th, Colorado passed Proposition AA. Proposition AA imposes a 15 percent excise tax and an initial 10 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana, and is expected to bring in $67 million a year. Of that, $27.5 million generated by the excise tax would go toward school construction.
Portland, Maine, legalized the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana by adults over 21. Last year, Detroit and Flint legalized the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults on private property. This year, three more Michigan cities approved similar measures.
Counties in Washington are preparing for the implementation of Washington's legalization policies, which were passed last year. State officials estimate total revenue from marijuana sales to be $300 million for fiscal 2014, and nearly $2 billion by the end of fiscal 2017.
In many ways, legalization and taxation may be the answer to States? fiscal woes. The high excise taxes that Colorado has shown are possible, combined with the billions in revenue, would be a sure money-maker. Until now, there hasn't been sufficient public support to get such policies on a ballot.
Surveys conducted in 2013 illustrate the significant change in the public's perception and Marijuana. Both Pew and Gallup have found that, for the first time in history, the majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana. Support is at an all-time high among all age groups and demographics.
One possible cause of the dramatic shift in marijuana's support across all demographics may be because more people than ever have tried marijuana. The Pew Research Center found that, with the exception of those 65 or older, approximately half of those surveyed in each age cohort have tried marijuana. 47% of them said they used it "just for fun," 30% said it was for a medical issue, and 23% said they used it for both reasons.
The public's perception of marijuana as a gateway drug, or a morally wrong, has decreased dramatically. Pew reported that only 38% of those surveyed agree that marijuana use leads to hard drug use, compared with 77% in 1960. 32% of those surveyed believe that marijuana use is morally wrong, down from 50% in 2006.
With historic levels of public support for legalization, and millions of dollars in potential tax revenue, it will be interesting to see how many states will be taxing marijuana sales in 2040. There is the sure possibility that the Federal stance towards marijuana will also change. That will be both a benefit and a hindrance to State legalization schemes, possibly adding a Federal Tax, but allowing for marijuana to be sold across States .
Taxes - Defense of Marriage Act
by: Michael Anderson, J.D.'14
There are definitely some tax implications of the repeal of section three of the Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA). These implications are made apparent by the fact that same-sex couples who previously had to file separate income taxes, now may (or must) file jointly. The results are, of course, different for the states than for the federal government. The decision in Windsor v. United States now allows same-sex couples to file together federally provided the state marriage is valid in the state in which it is preformed, but that Supreme Court decision is not binding on the states. These same-sex couples, who now file jointly for federal purposes, still may not be able to file jointly for state income tax purposes.
On the federal level, this repeal will result in an increase in the overall amount of income taxes paid to the federal government, since roughly half of the same-sex couples would end up with a marriage tax penalty. Even though the amount these new couples would bring in is less than 1%, it may still be interesting to see what comes of this slight increase, which amounts to between $200 billion and $400 billion dollars. The IRS, after the decision in Windsor, released a clarification that the state of celebration would be looked to for the validity of same-sex marriages for income tax purposes instead of the state of residence. This is probably because 56% of same-sex couples reside in states where their marriages are not recognized. This poses an interesting question to the states as to how they are going to handle this new disparity.
Traditionally, the states have looked to the federal government for how to collect income taxes, with most states following the federal model almost exactly. As stated above, most states (34 states still do not recognize same-sex marriage) still do not recognize these new couples filing jointly. This raises several concerns primarily with how the states will now move to handle the disparity. There will have to be some kind of state-level government guidance in order to classify these couples and how they are required to file at the state level. The question as to how to act, though, is not only upon the states. These same-sex couples who are now required to file jointly at the federal level but live in states that do not recognize their marriages for purposes of state taxes must figure out how to file at the state level. For many, this will mean having to consult a tax professional, just to make sure that they comply adequately with both the state and federal governments. This may give rise to more equal protection rights which could potentially spark a movement on the state-level for state equal protection claims, but we will just have to wait and see.
There was also the issue of what to do about tax periods that had already passed before the decision in United States v. Windsor. The solution that has come about was to make amending past returns of the past three (3) tax periods optional. In the future, it would be interesting to see statistics of how many of these amendments were filed, since most of the same-sex couples affected by the decision would have to pay a penalty if they were to amend their income tax filings. Of course, there are other tax implications resulting from this Supreme Court decision, but the income tax implications are the ones that have seen the most attention, and are widely seen as having the most importance. Among the other tax implications are estate taxes, healthcare beneficiaries, income tax credits, and non-taxable employee compensation.
* The Potential Federal Tax Implications of United States v. Windsor (Striking Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA)): Select Issues (This text was used for statistics information and issues throughout this post, and may be looked to for further information)
United States v. Windsor (2013)
by: Martin M. Estrada'14
Gay marriage is a hot topic debate that has made huge grounds in the public sphere. In 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was enacted which defined marriage solely between a man and a woman. This year, the Supreme Court declared section three DOMA unconstitutional under the due process clause and the Fifth Amendment. As a result, committed same-sex couples in the U.S. who are legally married in their own states can now receive federal protections such as Social Security, veterans' benefits, health insurance and retirement savings, immigration protection for bi-national couples, and rights to creative and intellectual property and joint income tax filing and exemption from federal estate taxes
One aspect of this new federal recognition that is often hidden among sea of stipulations is the idea of taxing. Can same-sex couples file taxes jointly at state and federal levels? Or do they have to file their state and/or federal taxes individually? On a tax stand point, would taxing be an incentive for same-sex couples to get married? Some states allow same sex couples to jointly file taxes together at a state and federal level such as Iowa. And other states, such as Nebraska that have a constitutional ban on the recognition of same-sex marriage have ruled the individuals in same-sex marriage must file as single or head of household and not jointly as a couple.
In a recent shocking ruling, last Thursday on November 14th, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said he is directing state tax officials to accept tax returns jointly filed by same-sex couples who are legally married in other states. Missouri is historically a very conservative state, similar to Nebraska. Support from the Governor on joint tax filling is a step in the right direction for Missouri and a model that I hope many other states will follow despite recognition of same-sex marriages or not. I believe that it's demeaning to a marriage that someone who is legally married and recognized at the federal level, would have to file their taxes as "single" in states that have constitutional bans against gay marriage. Although the United States is still working out the kinks from ruling DOMA unconstitutional, I think that great strides will continue to be made in light of LGBT equality.
Why Republicans Should Embrace Liberal Immigration Reform
by: Wendy Brown, JD'14
The Republican Party is in trouble. According to the latest survey by the Pew Research Center, and in the midst of the government shutdown, an overwhelming 72% of Americans said they disapproved of the job Republican leaders in Congress were doing. While the shutdown helped demonstrate the internal struggles of the Republican Party - namely, the divisive effect of Tea Partiers - this struggle to gain approval is not new to Republicans. In January of this year, the Huffington Post published a piece addressing the infighting that plagues Republicans at the highest levels of leadership.
Divisions within party lines aren't the only threats to the Republican Party. At the risk of sounding indelicate, the Republican Party is about to lose its largest generation of supporters. As baby boomers begin to die off, it's essential to look at who is replacing them. Millennials already outnumber baby boomers. (There are approximately 77 million baby boomers and 82 million millenials.) Among millennials, 52% identify with the Democratic Party, while just 39% consider themselves Republicans.
Platform disagreements and an aging group of core voters (with the most progressive generation in American history on its way to replacing them) point to the potential demise of the Republican Party unless something changes. It is against this backdrop that I suggest it's time for Republicans to adopt a liberal and workable immigration policy.
It is well-known that Hispanics are a fast-growing minority group in America. By 2030, the Hispanic electorate is likely to double. Hispanics overwhelmingly align with the Democratic Party. I would suggest this is because of one issue and one issue only: immigration. Take immigration off the table, and you have a group of conservative individuals who value the same core American ideals that Republicans profess to stand for.
If Republicans hope to present successful candidates who campaign on a platform of pro-life, traditional-family, small-government conservatism, that platform cannot also seek to advance xenophobic and restrictive immigration reform. Instead, it's time Republicans cater to the future of their party by stripping Democrats of the power they garner from pledging workable immigration reform. One out of two Hispanics are concerned about immigration laws. It?s my contention that if Republicans were to eliminate this concern by resolving it, Hispanic voters would focus on other polarizing issues in this country. Issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, and the economy. On these issues, Hispanics are likely to align with Republicans, giving growth to a party that might otherwise soon find itself obsolete.
Immigration and Unemployment
by: Adam Lomas'14
With house Democrats beginning to craft an Immigration proposal and with 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States, the topic of immigration, specifically in regards to a valid path to citizenship, is one that is consistently garnering much public attention. Although many of the debates surrounding immigration are fascinating and deserve to be discussed, for the purpose of length management, I will only focus on one issue: immigration and its relationship to unemployment.
One commonly known concern regarding immigration, specifically undocumented immigration, in the United States centers around job availability and the fear that higher immigration numbers will contingently result in a higher rate of unemployment for American citizens. However, considering, as one example among many, the fact that farmers across the nation are watching their fruit rot on tree branches due to lack of labor availability, one must ask the question of whether or not immigration reform will harm or aide the economy. In response to that question, multiple researches have delved into the impacts immigration reform will have on the job market.
One such researcher, Ian Davies, argues against the idea that immigration promulgates unemployment and hampers the usage of public finances. He states that "there is a high degree of complementarity, with immigrants supplementing the needs of labor by fulfilling those jobs natives are more reluctant to do. Similarly, the imagined drain on public finances, both cash programs and other types of benefits, is exaggerated; in actuality, the rate of claims among Latino immigrants is little different from that of the native population." Davies' approach asserts that immigration reform, which offers a realistic path to citizenship, specifically in regards to the large undocumented Latino population in the US, will create not only a more profitable economy, but also a renewed "sense of self" for the country as a whole.
Along the same train of thought, one study, conducted by The Center for American Progress, calculated how the economy would be impacted if all the undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States were granted legal status and citizenship. The results over the course of 10 years showed: "GDP expands by an additional $1.4 trillion, an additional 203,000 jobs are generated on average every year, and tax revenue increased by an additional $184 billion over the course of a decade." The study does however acknowledge that there are a number of difficulties with simply granting citizenship to all undocumented immigrants and, therefore, it conducts two other similar calculations. One grants immediate legal status and a path to citizenship, which would take 5 years, and the other grants immediate legal status, but no path to citizenship; these hypothetical calculations also showed considerable increases in all three fields, although less so than the increases seen in the first calculation.
After considering the points made above, perhaps one reasonable approach to immigration reform, particularly in light of unemployment, is one that offers a viable path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants; a solution that might not only ameliorate the job market, but also stimulate a renewed sense of faith in the American government, which now more than ever appears to be necessary. Overall, I look forward to hearing any news in regards to immigration policy as members of the House move forward in attempting to create a reform proposal.
 Davies, Ian. Latino Immigration and Social Change in the United States: Toward an Ethical Immigration Policy. Journal of Business Ethics, Volume 88. 2009. Pg. 379.
 Davies, Ian. Ibid. Pg. 389.
The Future of the FMLA
by: Brandon Leppke'14
The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 was designed to ensure that employees who took a leave of absence in order to give birth or to provide care for a family member would be able to return to the job they held before taking the leave. The FMLA includes strict stipulations in terms of what employees are eligible for the mandated leave and for whom the employees can provide care. Given that women make up a majority of the employees who take leave under the FMLA[i] and that women account for nearly two-thirds of college graduates[ii], the question of maternity leave and other care-giving issues covered by the FMLA and similar acts is sure to be a pressing need in the coming decades.
Census data shows that as women attain higher levels of education they are more likely to work during their pregnancy and to return to their work sooner after they deliver the baby.[iii] A portion of this could be due to the fact that leave, under the FMLA, is not always paid. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, 4 in 10 households depend upon the primarily, or entirely, upon the financial support of the mother.[iv] Given this dependence, mothers would necessarily be forced back into the workplace after the minimum amount of time possible. Some states and companies provide paid leave, but in a large majority of states, time off work means time without income. As the United States economic success becomes increasingly dependent upon women, changes to medical and maternity leave will become necessary. Potential changes include, shifts in the eligibility of employees to qualify for legislation like the FMLA, changes to who can be cared for by an individual taking leave, and mandatory paid leave.
Today, individuals who work for employers with less than 50 employees are not covered by the FMLA and firms of that size make up 96% of all firms in the United States.[v] As a result, very few employees qualify for the protection provided by the FMLA. In order to provide the protection of the FMLA to a greater percentage of workers in America, the restrictions on employees that qualify will have to be changed. In addition, the FMLA has very strict rules on who can be cared for by an employee taking leave. It currently excludes parents-in-law, and anyone beyond the immediate family. As access to medical care expands with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, more employees will need to be able to take time to care for their dependents or family members without fear of losing their job while doing so. Parental leave for childbirth is the area in which the United States lags the farthest behind the rest of developed nations. Most of Europe and Asia provide at least 26 months of paid leave for mothers, as well as giving fathers a significant amount of paid time off as well.[vi] The lack of paid time off could help to explain why birth rates in the United States are at record lows.[vii] When families are depending upon mothers to provide financially, risking unemployment in order to have another child makes little sense.
The FMLA made significant strides in ensuring that qualifying individuals who took time off for childbirth or medical care would have the same job available to them after the leave of absence. However, as trends continue, it is likely that the FMLA will need to be altered and potentially expanded to cover more of the working population and include care for more family members. Implications of the Affordable Care Act will also pose an interesting question to legislation like the FMLA. Regardless the question of leaves of absence for childbirth and medical care is an issue that is sure to grow in its need national attention for the foreseeable future.
U.S. v. Windsor's impact on immigration law
by: Hai Luo, JD'14
In the recent class we talked about the United States' immigration system and some current immigration policies and its impact. As I concern, one of the biggest impact on future United States? immigration system in 2013 is the United States v. Windsor case ("Windsor").
Ms. Windsor and her spouse were in a relationship for over 40 years and were lawfully married in New York, 2007. Her spouse died two years later. Because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), however, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) did not recognize their marriage and refused to refund the estate tax. Ms. Windsor sued the United States, arguing that DOMA violates the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the laws. On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision, which held that DOMA "is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment." Although this case does not involve immigration law, the Supreme Court's resolution of the case is likely to affect whether a U.S. citizens may sponsor their same sex spouses for immigration benefits in the U.S.
On July 1, 2013 the Secretary of Homeland Security directed the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) "to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse." Further, on July 17, 2013, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) issued a decision stating that DOMA was no longer an impediment to recognition of same-sex marriages; therefore, a same-sex spouse would be recognized as the same position as the opposite-sex spouse under immigration law if the marriage were valid in the state in which it was celebrated, and was bona fide. On August 2, 2013, The Department of State Visa Office notified consulates through a Change Transmittal Letter that reference to the DOMA has been removed from Volume 9 Section 40.1 Note 1.1.
Thus, since the DOMA requirement is removed, in those cases regarding to a U.S. citizen, who has a non-citizen same-sex spouse, has filed a petition for his/her spouse for immigration benefits, the sole remaining issue was whether the marriage was bona fide--i.e., whether the marriage was entered into solely for immigration purposes. Basically, there are three separate categories within the context of immigration will be greatly impacted: (1) in family-based cases for both U.S. citizen and U.S. lawful permanent resident involving marriage adjustment of status or consular processing; (2) in employment-based cases where the principal applicant seeking to bring his/her same-sex spouse as a dependent beneficiary; and (3) in waiver cases and other cases involving relief from deportation, for example cancellation of removal, where there must be an appropriate "qualifying relative" who is a spouse of U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. The immigration courts and the administering agencies now will be obliged to recognize those lawful same-sex marriages. As a result, more people will be potentially eligible to apply for waivers and/or relief from removal."
However, the process of sponsoring a spouse for immigration benefits in the U.S. can be extremely long, expensive and complicated. The process likely will be more so for same sex couples since they may face higher scrutiny on their relationship and may lack the type of evidence of their marriage possessed by more traditional married couples. Moreover, there are some other concerns, for example, removing DOMA as a requirement of the validity of a marriage will attract more and more same-sex spouses come to U.S., especially in those countries where the same-sex marriage has not been legally ratified or will be sanctioned. Thus, there will be more gays or lesbians in U.S. population or in other words U.S. is going to become a "shelter" of those people. As a result, it is likely that these same-sex spouses would have a huge impact on U.S. future population dynamic and even social values. Therefore, there should be some policy or legislation to prevent this happening.
Political Extremism: Is Gerrymandering to Blame for the Government Shutdown?
By: Jonathan Roehlk, JD'14
There is a lot of discussion on the Internet and television recently about the government shutdown, and what role, if any, gerrymandering efforts over the last few decades have played in the shutdown. Like the rest of the country and the current political climate, the argument is divided and extreme in its tone.
Some (mostly Republicans) blame the government shutdown on Democratic President Barack Obama and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"). Others (mostly Democrats) blame the government shutdown on an extremely right swinging republican House of Representatives.
So, what about gerrymandering? What is it and how could it affect the ability of Congress and the President to successfully lead this country and formulate a government spending package that works and that they can agree on? Gerrymandering is the redrawing of district lines to enable one political party to either pack or spread out as many registered voters of a particular party into one district or to many. The objective is to either ensure victory for a party's candidate or spread out the voters of one political party into multiple districts to disadvantage their ability to elect a representative of their party. This would be really hard to do if Americans didn't geographically congregate in their living arrangements around people who vote like they do, but they do.
The reality is that poorer Americans who are more likely to vote for candidates who support stronger social programs and less taxes for the poor are more likely to live around others who vote like they do. More wealthy citizens tend to live near others who make similar amounts of money as they do and vote for less progressive tax systems. Urban citizens tend to vote differently than rural citizens, etc., etc. And because a lot of American register with a certain party, it's not hard to draw favorable lines to influence election outcomes.
The argument by many is that by Republican house members packing their districts and winning districts by wide margins, some by upwards of 20% or more, that their district is so safe from the opposing party, that they have less accountability than the same person running in a swing district where his/her actions could swing the vote to the other party's candidate in the next election. Then that representative is more likely to be free to be as extreme as he/she would like, and more likely to dig his/her heels in on an issue like Obamacare, and not flinch at the threat of a government shutdown.
To be clear, a government shutdown looks bad on every leadership member of the government: the President, Senate and the House. However, the House members are typically and historically the members of the government who have to survive the most brutal political races and are usually the most directly accountable to the American people in their districts since their districts are smaller than the Senate, and they have to run for office every two years. But, is gerrymandering changing that landscape? Some say it is.
One thing is for sure, with more Americans living in urban areas than rural areas for the first time in this country's history, the country's identity is always changing. With issues, people, and political parties being so divided lately, people will have to change and adapt to keep things working efficiently, and the representatives in Congress will have to do the same. This is what a representative form of government should look like, always changing and adapting and picking which battles to fight. This battle was obviously deemed to be worthy of a fight.
Gerrymandering, Voter Self-Selection, and Polarization
by: Joseph Burgess '14, Creighton College of Arts and Sciences
One of the current hot debates in our political media is the extent to which gerrymandering has helped Republicans nationally in defending and expanding House seats across the nation. Republican-drawn maps in Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, among many others, have led to House districts in those states and across the nation that are packed with more Republican voters. These states are partially counterbalanced by other states like Illinois, where state legislative Democrats were in control and similarly drew maps that were more likely to elect more Democrats to the federal House of Representatives. However, it seems clear that overall, Republicans' control over redistricting in many states in 2010 has led to more districts being represented by Republicans, and more polarized, or far left/far right districts.
Gerrymandering is at least partially a cause of more Republican districts. The other two major trends that impact this, and will likely continue to do so through upcoming elections, are the decline of ticket-splitting and the current voter "self-selection" or "self-sorting." The decline of ticket-splitting is important because it means that districts that vote on the presidential line for one party are almost certain to vote for that district's House candidate of the same party. If Democrats and Republicans running for the House were winning the same percentage of districts won by the opposing presidential nominee as in 1992, 2006, or 2008, then Democrats would currently comfortably control the House (Trende).
The other fascinating trend, which more clearly intersects with the ideas we've engaged in in our 2040 class, is the Big Sort hypothesis, which claims that Americans are increasingly living within other communities of like-minded people both culturally and politically. This is especially true for populations that make up the Democratic voter coalition-young voters, the GLBT population, and the non-white are more likely to live within urban areas. Current likely Democratic voters are increasingly self-sorting and concentrated into smaller geographic areas, which makes it more difficult to draw "fair" or "swing districts." While gerrymandering is a problem, it turns out that to some degree, WE are polarizing House districts by choosing to live within areas that reflect our cultural and political values.
The importance of gerrymandering to the current federal political situation cannot be overstated. At the same time, gerrymandering would become much more difficult if it wasn't for the current geographical self-selection of voters into like-minded communities and the decline of ticket splitting.
The Affordable Care Act and Religious Freedom
by: Augustine C. Osuala, JD'15
I am eager to see how the Affordable Care Act unfolds. Particularly with the various legal challenges that may be made in an attempt to dispute that the law is unconstitutional. One of the legal challenges we discussed in class dealt with the government commandeering or coercing the public to abide by a law. Such behavior on the part of the government can raise an inference of unconstitutionality. One of the arguments we did not discuss may be a First Amendment challenge to the law. This challenge can come from any religious organization that may refuse to provide any type of health plan coverage that includes contraception. Such an argument will raise first amendment issues. One of these issues will include the question of whether a law (the Affordable Care Act) requiring employers to provide health coverage for contraception violates a religious organization's right to Free Exercise? In other words, does the Affordable Care Act compel such organizations to act contrary to their religious beliefs?
The Free Exercise Clause forbids the outlawing of any religious belief. More so it is the right to believe that is unconditionally protected. Meaning that "no matter what" the government cannot require anyone to carry a set of required beliefs. However, the history of caselaw dealing with the right to Free Exercise provides that religious practice may be curtailed and regulated provided that the state has an interest in regulating such conduct and the law does not impermissibly target religion.
In the instance of a religious organization raising a claim of the violation of their right to Free Exercise, by being required to provide health plan coverage for contraception, would include a couple of determinations. Two of the main ones being, whether such a requirement was evenly applied to all employers, and what interest is the state trying to achieve by requiring employers to provide coverage for contraception.
It would be safe to assume that the state (government) would say that they have some sort of interest in public health. Caselaw provides that public health is a legitimate state interest. Also the Affordable Care Act appears to be evenly applied to all. However it is still too early to tell how these determinations will be affected because the law is still in its early stages. In looking ahead, this is one area where the law may experience some challenges.
The ICE "Bed Mandate": Effective Deterrent or Overreaching Detention?
by: Ronald Betita, JD'15
The topic of immigration reform continues to be a hot-button issue amongst policy makers and families alike. Congress' recent reforms this past June have highlighted the growing support behind providing "common sense immigration laws" that outline "a clear and attainable path to citizenship" for immigrants.Aside from providing the clear path to citizenship, supporters of the recent bill have also pointed out that the bill helps strengthen certain industries in the United States by providing stability for their work forces.
On the other hand, opponents of the bill have been disappointed over the reforms to the bills border security provisions, arguing that the bill does not go far enough in ensuring that border security will remain as important of a priority.
One aspect of border security that may be affected by this recent legislation has been an congressional directive known as the "bed mandate." An amendment to a Department of Homeland Security bill introduced by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-VA), it required ICE (Immigration Customs and Enforcement), to keep in custody an average 33,400 detainees per day. This was later increased by Congress to 34,000 because some lawmakers did not think that the agency had been doing enough to deport illegal immigrants.
However, illegal crossings from Mexico have fallen to their lowest levels since the early 1970s, the requirement to maintain 34,000 beds has not changed. Instead, ICE has been expanding the scope of their operations to satisfy the quota by taking more undocumented immigrants into custody after traffic stops. ICE has articulated that they are not attempting to expand the scope of their detentions but focusing on their efforts on criminals who are deemed to pose a threat to public safety and border security.
Federal spending on immigration detention and deportation is reaching about $2.8 billion a year even when cheaper alternative such as ankle bracelets and electronic monitoring are far cheaper alternatives. Programs such as the Alternatives to Detention program, useful for legal residents with family and community ties, have had 96% compliance rate in ensuring detainees comply with court-ordered appearances. Immigration reforms would help federal judges have more leeway in assigning alternative programs.
However, ICE officials have limited discretion in assigning alternatives, and point to legislation such as the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 expanded the scope of crimes that trigger deportation. Certain triggers include drug offenses, violent offenders, and prostitution-related crimes. Even with a Risk Assessment Tool to determine whether individuals pose a flight risk, many ICE officials hands are tied since the bed mandate requires them to keep beds full.
If the bed mandate is inefficient, then why has amendments to the mandate been unsuccessful? Part of it lies in the growth of private detention centers for illegal immigrants awaiting hearings. According to an info graphic from Bloomberg.com, detention centers, especially in the South and Southwest, have been a booming business for organizations as Corrections Corp. of America (CCA), GEO Group. Two-thirds of detained immigrants are held in private prisons. For example, CCA spent $13 million in lobbying to affect the amount spent to detain immigrants while collecting over $206 million in revenue as a result of their lobbying efforts. The math is simple: more inmates means more jobs for local prisons, and more vote from constituents during election season.
Proponents of the bed mandate suggest that it is a useful tool to combat illegal immigration. They point to the fact that the reduced are border crossings are due to ICE's increased enforcement, the slow economy, and that the bed mandate deters many of illegals and legal residents who commit violent crimes.
However, the statistics may suggest otherwise. According to ICE half of the 34,000 immigrants in federal custody are convicted criminals. But faced with their bed mandates, that definition may be overly broad: 11 percent of the detainees had committed violent crimes. Rather, most of those who had been convicted have been legal residents charged with minor drug possession or have had no criminal history and were pulled over for minor things such as traffic violations. For many immigrants and legal residents in such situations, alternative release programs would be more cost-effective than keeping them in custody. However, past history has indicated that the bed mandate has been a non-negotiable legislation; when the detainee population fell to 30,000 after 2,200 detainees were released, ICE officials were reprimanded that they were "in clear violation of the statute." Even the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill, while allowing more discretion for who to detain, contains an amendment compelling ICE to increase arrests threefold in the Southwest. This increases the cost of incarcerating inmates over the next 10 years by over $1.5 billion.
Even though immigration reform may pass and provide a clearer path for citizenship for many immigrants, if amendments to government spending such as the bed mandate are allowed to remain attached to these reforms, they may end up undermining the reforms. ICE's increased scope of detention would not only affect illegal immigrants but legal residents and those going through the process themselves. The increased costs to communities and families, not just detention costs, but legal and emotional, may take a toll on a community and its workforce.
 See blog posts: http://neappleseed.com/blog/tag/immigration-reform
 See comments by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack: ??[bill] that is good news for farmers and ranchers, good news for farm workers and good news for rural America. The Senate plan would ensure stable agricultural workforce that U.S. producers need in order to remain competitive with other nations?? (http://journalstar.com/news/state-and-regional/federal-politics/nebraska-appleseed-hails-senate-action-on-immigration/article_edf40aab-61b4-5b17-a6ac-821cc5379fee.html).
 See comments by Nebraska Sen. Fischer (http://journalstar.com/news/state-and-regional/federal-politics/nebraska-appleseed-hails-senate-action-on-immigration/article_edf40aab-61b4-5b17-a6ac-821cc5379fee.html)
 See Sen. Michael McCaul comments to ICE officials: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-24/congress-fuels-private-jails-detaining-34-000-immigrants.html
Prescription Drugs and the Affordable Care Act
by: Michael W. Anderson BSBA'12, JD'14
There are several things about the new healthcare laws that concern me, both as a future legal practitioner and as a citizen of the United States. Chief among them are rising prescription medication abuse and the potential for the plan to result in healthcare staff and other students saddled with having a harder time paying off their student debt. With the new provision requiring pharmaceutical providers to lower their costs of medication in the Medicare D coverage gap and the current trend of prescription abusers moving to street drugs because of the cost of prescription medications, will that trend find itself reversed? Will students be able to afford paying for health insurance or the tax imposed upon them if they don't in addition to their educational loan obligations? There is work that needs done on many fronts to address and correct these concerns.
Recently, people who have been abusing prescription medications have started transferring to street drugs such as marijuana. This is because of the recent rise in the prices of prescription drugs, which serves to be inhibitive. One provision of the new healthcare laws requires drug manufacturers to reduce the cost of their name-brand medications that fall into the Medicare D coverage gap by 25%, and the price of their generics by 75%*. In my opinion, I fear that this price decrease, even in this small niche of medications, could foster the move back to prescription drug abuse which is in some cases more harmful to the users. Other concerns arise from the new healthcare laws concerning prescription medications as well. One could wonder if prescription medications are obtained under these new healthcare laws, then does it logically follow that that misuse is federal crime. People may attempt to take advantage of having healthcare and the lower prices of drugs in the Medicare D coverage gap to obtain/sell/use prescription drugs, illegally as well as legally. Will the federal government be able to handle the potential caseload of federal drug crime, or will the offenses continue to be prosecuted primarily as state and local cases? I hope that this new system does not overwhelm the courts of the lower jurisdictions.
There are other concerns that arise regarding the tracking of the prescription medications. With the advent of internet sales and transactions, including internet pharmacies, it will inevitably be harder for the government (federal or state) to track where these medications go, and where they end up. According to legitscript.com, there are currently 217 online pharmacies operating nationwide in the United States**, many serving patients across one or more state lines. According to a CQ Researcher article entitled Medication Abuse, in 2006, controlled substances accounted for 95% of the business of online pharmacies, compared to only 11% of the business for brick and mortar stores***. There must be some kind of tracking mechanism put in place to monitor the movement of these cheaper medications, or else the abuse of the system will be allowed to run rampant. I cannot begin to offer a solution to this tracking problem, but I would imagine that the system would have to be federal, and extremely expansive. It will be very interesting to see the kind of work and programs that are considered when creating this new tracking program.
With the advent of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act****, everyone in the United States will have to obtain health insurance, or pay a tax. This could potentially create a problem for generations of students who, having attained the age of 26, can no longer be carried under their parents healthcare plans. With this new expense, on top of student loans and other expenses related to entering the job market for the first time, these students could have a harder time paying off their educational loans. The consequences here could be large, or could be minimal, depending on how well the students are able to adjust themselves into being financially independent.
* Patient Protection and Afforable Care Act Summary page 12, under Other Investments, and Medicare
**http://www.legitscript.com/pharmacies; this site lists all of the verified online pharmacies currently operating in the US which cater to US patients
***http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre2009100900&type=hitlist&num=0#.UmGqiBAlOn8; Full report is available by subscription only, cited information comes from pages 851-852 of the report
**** Public Law 111-148
Prescription Drug Abuse
by: Kellye Oishi '14
There is a current prescription drug abuse crisis that is plaguing the nation. According to the American Medical Association, in 2010, there were 38,329 drug overdose deaths in the United States. 57.7% involved pharmaceuticals and 24.6% involved unspecified drugs. 74.3% of the overdose deaths involving pharmaceuticals were unintentional, 17.1% were suicides and 8.4% were undetermined intent.1
Although various different classes of drugs are abused, prescription opiates, CNS depressants, and stimulants are the most abundantly abused. Opiates are some of the most potent medications available to treat pain, CNS depressants are used to treat anxiety and sleep problems, and stimulants are used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010, it was estimated that prescription opiate drugs were connected with 16,650 overdose deaths.2 This was a 313 percent increase from the past decade. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health also reported that roughly one-third of people 12 and older in the United States who used drugs for the first time in 2009, started by using prescription drugs non-medically.2 Prescription drug abuse affects all sectors of our society, strains the economy, involves healthcare and criminal justice systems, and endangers the futures of both the young and older generations. Therefore, the prescription drug abuse issue should be both a federal and state concern. Prescription drugs can be illegally brought into the country and then sold and distributed to abusers here in the US. This is a national security issue that is delegated to the federal government. However, with the lack of universal electronic medical records across states, drugs are also trafficked across state lines, which also make it a regulatory issue for individual states. The epidemic of prescription drug abuse continues to increase throughout our nation and it is a threat to both public health and public safety in the US.
The federal government is looked to for funding and for creating federal policy regarding prescription drug abuse. Since 2009, the federal government has spent more than 31 billion dollars on drug control, which includes 10.7 billion in 2013 for substance abuse prevention and treatment programs. Obama's Administration released The 2013 National Drug Control Strategy in April 24, 2013 that expands on the previous years? strategies and acts as the nation's current plan for reducing prescription drug abuse and its consequences. This new strategy proposes to reform drug policy by preventing drug use before it ever begins. The strategy can be implemented through education, expansion of access to treatment for Americans currently struggling with addiction, reformation of our criminal justice system to break the cycle of drug use, crime, and incarceration while protecting public safety, and supporting Americans in recovery by alleviating the negative stigma associated with those people suffering or in recovery from substance use disorders. Supplemental strategies also exist such as the Northern Border Strategy and the Southwest Border Strategy. The National Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy was created in 2011 and requires the Office of National Drug Control Policy to consult with the National Drug Control Program agencies and their officials of international, state, local and tribal governments. This strategy was created in hopes of securing the Northern border against drug trafficking and other related threats. The 2013 National Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy is a response to the threats along the Southwest border. This strategy was made in hopes of reducing the flow of illicit drugs, cash and weapons across the Southwest border.3
Individual states are also looking to reduce prescription drug abuse and have enacted or enforced different types of laws to prevent doctor shopping, the operation of 'pill mills', and other prescription drug diversion and abuse. Some of the different types of laws that have been adopted or proposed for individual states are 'Doctor Shopping' Laws, Immunity, Interstate Sharing of Information, Pain Management Clinic Oversight, Physical Examination Before Prescribing, Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, Required Identification Before Dispensing, and Tamper-Resistant Forms. All of these laws address the prescription drug abuse issue and offer solutions to help decrease the problem. Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs are state-run electronic databases that are implemented in participating states to track the prescribing and dispensing of controlled prescription drugs to patients. These monitoring programs also allow for data sharing across state lines to be used by healthcare providers. Some states are also increasing the access to substance abuse treatment. Increasing the access to effective substance abuse treatment programs can reduce the amount of addicted and dependent people who overdose. States across our nation as well as the federal government have continuing efforts to address this epidemic.4
With the combined efforts of both the federal and state governments, needed action to address and reduce prescription drug abuse can be both implemented and achieved. Science and medicine have provided us with medications that cure diseases, ease suffering and pain, improve quality of life, and saves lives. However, when these medications are abused or misused, it creates both a public health issue as well as a public safety crisis for our nation. Therefore, our nation must find a solution that ensures that the benefits of these prescription drugs outweigh the potential risks they present. A solution must also decrease prescription drug abuse without affecting or restricting the access for those who legitimately need the prescribed drugs. State and federal governments as well as our nation as a whole must strive and work together to address this issue of public health and public safety.3
1Jones CM, Mack KA, Paulozzi LJ. Pharmaceutical Overdose Deaths, United States, 2010. JAMA. 2013;309(7):657-659. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.272.
2"Prescription Painkiller Overdoses." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 03 July 2013. Web. 9 Oct. 2013. <.>http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/PrescriptionPainkillerOverdoses/
3"Epidemic: Responding To America's Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis." The White House. N.p., 2011. Web. Oct. 2013. <.>http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/ondcp/policy-and-research/rx_abuse_plan.pdf
4"Prevention of Prescription Drug Overdose and Abuse." Prevention of Prescription Drug Overdose and Abuse. National Conference of State Legislatures, 16 July 2013. Web. 9 Oct. 2013. <.>http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/prevention-of-prescription-drug-overdose-and-abuse.aspx
The Role Media Plays in Forming Public Perception of Crime
By: Hannah O'Keefe '13
The topic of our latest class discussion was criminal justice, a topic I knew little about beyond anything I had gleaned from Law and Order: SVU. We approached the issue from various angles, first defining crime and establishing some of the basic facets of the criminal justice system, then moving on to some more controversial issues dealing with opinion and interpretation.
One of the discussion points that really caught my attention was the role that the media plays in forming public perception of crime. This issue is incredibly important to explore and understand because, in many ways, the perception of crime matters more than the reality of crime. Public perception is the basis for the formation of policies and laws. This means that the media has a huge amount of power, as they place an active role in educating the public on issues and forming opinions. While on paper, the criminal justice system strictly follows due process, which is based on the notion of assumed innocence, the media often distorts the facts and jumps to quick conclusions. Instead of prioritizing truth, they value ratings, profits, and scandal. This creates a perfect storm for bigotry and bias to find their way into the minds of the public. If the majority of criminals being portrayed on the news are African American males, it is not surprising that they have become the face of crime in this country.
I think the main issue here is power without accountability. The government of the United States operates under a strict system of checks and balances, but there is no one really checking or balancing the media. They are free to jump to conclusions and point fingers with no real repercussions.
We also discussed certain pieces of legislation that seem to leave room between the lines for discrimination. Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law is a perfect example of this. While the wording of the statute shows no sign of bias, it is written in a way so that discrimination can sneak in when it actually plays out. Ambiguous phrases like "reasonably believe" and wide definitions of terms like "dwelling" or "residence" enable people to use the law to pursue a certain agenda, which can, and arguable does often include racial injustice.
For me, this "between the lines" bigotry is no better than blatant racism. Writing a law that intentionally masks and defends discriminatory behavior is unacceptable. These laws play into people's stereotypes and enable misguided public perceptions to rule. And, in some ways, it is not the public's fault. If the media is constantly bombarding the average citizen with images of minorities as criminals, and the politicians are crafting legislation to defend these beliefs, can we really blame people for forming and internalizing biased opinions?
Hushing up an issue by shoving it under the bed doesn't make it go away; I think we need to have some real discussions about the pervasive role that discrimination still plays in our society. We need to be honest with ourselves and start holding each other accountable for making the criminal justice system more just.
Contemporary Mobility of Individuals Casts Doubt on Supreme Court Commerce Clause Ruling on Affordable Care Act
by: Jennifer Kaminsky-Varon JD'14
The Supreme Court of the United States in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius could have determined that the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act was a valid exercise of the Commerce Clause under current Commerce Clause jurisprudence. In Sebelius, the Court determined that the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act was not a valid exercise of the Commerce Clause. Nat'l Fed'n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius, 132 S. Ct. 2566, 2591 (2012). The seminal Commerce Clause case is US v. Lopez. In Lopez, Chief Justice Rehnquist identified three spheres of interstate commerce which Congress has the power to regulate: channels of commerce, instrumentalities of commerce, and things that are substantially related to interstate commerce. United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549, 558-559 (1995). The individual mandate could have fit into either the second or the third sphere of Lopez.
In Sebelius, the Supreme Court determined that the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act was regulating the conduct of individuals. Nat'l Fed'n of Indep. Bus., 132 S. Ct. at 2587. Regulating individual conduct in this manner falls within the second sphere of Lopez and therefore is a valid exercise of congressional power. Instrumentalities of commerce were defined in Lopez as persons or things that moved in interstate commerce. Lopez, 514 U.S. at 558. In Heart of Atlanta Motel, the Supreme Court held that Congress had the power to regulate interstate travelers under the Commerce Clause and thereby prevent motels from discriminating against minority patrons. Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. U. S., 379 U.S. 241, 256 (1964). Under Heart of Atlanta?s broad reading of the Commerce Clause, the individual mandate provision could survive as an instrumentality of commerce. In our highly mobile society individuals often travel between states. One need look no further than Omaha itself to see how frequently individuals cross state lines. As a result the individual mandate provision could be a valid exercise of congressional power because the individuals are an instrumentality of commerce.
Additionally, the individual mandate provision could be valid because it is substantially related to interstate commerce. To determine whether Congress's act is valid because it is substantially related to interstate commerce, the necessary and proper test must be applied. In McCulloch v. Maryland, the Supreme Court determined that Congress has the power to act if its ends are legitimate and its means are plainly adapted to its ends. M'Culloch v. State, 17 U.S. 316, 421 (1819). For ends to be legitimate they must be enumerated in the Constitution. Id. Congress's end in passing the Affordable Care Act was to regulate interstate commerce. Regulating interstate commerce is an enumerated power of Congress in the Constitution. Congress's chosen means, mandating individuals to purchase health insurance, are plainly adapted to that end. When individuals are healthy they are able to travel and spend money in interstate commerce. Mandating that all individuals receive health insurance provides greater access to medical care and treatment which makes for a healthier population.
Affordable Care Act
by: Brandon Leppke, College of Arts and Sciences
On October 1st the healthcare exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act opened and millions of individuals visited locations throughout the United States to sign up for health insurance. While many people were able to register, others encountered difficulties as a result of technological limitations and the differences in policies between the states. Regardless of the disputes over funding for the Affordable Care Act, the program will need to be altered in order to resolve the problems that arise throughout its implementation. Two potential obstacles to the adaptations that need to be made are the political deadlock in Congress and balance of power between the federal and state governments.
The government shutdown is just one example of how different the two parties are on the Affordable Care Act. The new healthcare act draws heavily on a healthcare reform act passed by Massachusetts in 2006. The Massachusetts state Legislature had to pass three separate corrections before the reform measures reached the 97% effective coverage rate they had prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Given the reluctance of both major political parties to compromise on the act thus far, a quick and painless resolution to any issues that require a statutory change seems unlikely. At the same time, assuming that the Affordable Care Act remains in place for the foreseeable future, any necessary alterations could be made in a political climate far more favorable for compromise and agreement. Another possible solution to the issue lies in the states and their flexibility in implementing the law. If the federal government is unable to make the necessary statutory change, each state could take it upon itself to make a similar change within its scope of influence. However, this option is limited by the reduced role of the state under the Affordable Care Act.
While the states could resolve a problem that the federal government could not, the tension between federal and state involvement in the program is also a factor that could limit the ability of either side to make any necessary changes. Each state was able to choose whether or not to accept federal funding and the expansion of Medicaid that it required. This resulted in some cases where individuals fall between the gaps in coverage, as they are unable to qualify for Medicaid or a subsidy to help them purchase insurance through one of the exchanges. If the program is to accomplish its goal of making healthcare affordable for every person, it will need to find a way to close gaps such as this one. In order to do so, the federal government will have to work with each state government individually as policies and practices will create unique situations. As a result, resolving any issues that occur in multiple states could be a lengthy process, as the solution for each would be different.
Regardless of the position an individual has on the Affordable Care Act, recognizing that there will be a need to adapt the program to fit the realities of situations across the country will be a key to maintaining world a class healthcare system. The current political conflict in Washington D.C. and tension between the federal government and the individual states may hinder the resolution of those issues. There is no way to determine what issues might arise as the Affordable Care Act is implemented, but identifying the obstacles, as well as potential solutions, to making the necessary changes ahead of time can make the healthcare system work more efficiently for everyone who depends upon it.
Demographic Implications of NC Voter Rules
by: Steve Selde JD'14
On September 30th, the Obama administration decided to sue North Carolina (NC) to block their new voting rules from going into effect. The Republican majority NC legislature passed the bill containing the new rules in August, with the stated intention of reducing voter fraud. The contested provisions of the new rules include: Requiring voters to show a valid government-issued ID, eliminating seven days of early voting, eliminating same-day registration during early voting, and prohibiting counting provisional ballots that are cast when a voter shows up at the wrong polling place. Those four provisions have been contested since the bill's consideration, with many voicing their concern that the rules will discourage certain demographics from voting.
In April, Democracy North Carolina issued a report showing how the ID requirement may impact NC voters. Their figures show that about 5% of currently registered North Carolinians do not have a NC photo ID. Of that 5%, 54% are white, 34% are black, 12% are Other, 21% are Republican, 55% are Democrats, and 23% are Unaffiliated. Further, 7% of registered black voters, and 4% of registered white voters, do not have a NC photo ID. From those statistics, the burden of getting a NC photo ID disadvantages Democrats the most, with black voters being slightly more affected than white voters.
Starting January 1, 2014, the NC Division of Motor Vehicles will begin issuing no fee ID Cards to be used for voting. The associated costs of taking time off work and physically going to the DMV to get the ID must still be addressed by would-be voters. Democracy NC?s figures lack socio-economic information necessary to gauge how many voters without IDs are living near or below the poverty line and would possibly have the greatest difficulty in paying those associated costs.
The rules that go beyond the requirement of a photo ID will severely alter the way everyone in North Carolina votes, and may impact black voters more than others. In the 2012 general election, black voters made up 29% of those who voted early, 30% of those who cast out-of-precinct ballots, and 41% of those who used same-day registration. (Charlotte). With the exception of same-day-registration, if the previous statistics are commensurate with Democracy NC's ID figures, the new rules do not seem to specifically, or dramatically, target and affect black voters.
The stated concern of the new rules is the prevention of in-person voter fraud, which the New York Times has declared not to be a significant problem in North Carolina. What will the new rules achieve if they were passed in order to fix a problem that does not exist?
The views and opinions expressed in these blog postings are those of the respective authors only. The postings do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Creighton University, its management or employees.