The Constitution This Week: Voter ID laws, Facebook, and contraception
News headlines, politicians, and hot-button issues come and go, but one 225-year-old document continues to emerge in our conversations about our nation’s most important questions and challenges: the Constitution. The Constitution is a big buzzword for Election 2012, and more than ever, citizens, pundits, and politicians are turning to the Constitution for answers–and sometimes ammunition, as they try to prove the Constitution is on their side.
Here’s a brief look at the top constitutional news stories and commentaries from this week.
1. The Constitution and… voting ID laws
On Thursday Pennsylvania became the 16th state to adopt a law requiring voters to present a photo ID at the polls. Eight other states have passed similar laws in the past year. Lawmakers in Texas and Wisconsin have pushed for voter ID laws as well, but this week their efforts were blocked by the Justice Department and a state court, respectively.
2. The Constitution and… teens’ Facebook privacy
This week a 12-year-old girl filed a lawsuit against her school because school officials forced her to give up her Facebook and email passwords. The school argues that some of the girl’s messages on Facebook, which included comments about hating a school monitor, disrupted the learning environment, but she claims the school’s actions violated her privacy and free speech rights.
3. The Constitution and… Arizona’s contraception law
Apparently, we’re still stuck on contraception. The not-so-long-ago drumbeat of jobs, jobs, jobs faded into oblivion as yet another contraception controversy, this time in Arizona, where state lawmakers are debating a bill that would give all employers–not just religiously affiliated ones–the choice to not cover contraceptives in health insurance coverage, unless a woman can prove she is taking the contraceptives for non-contraceptive medical purposes. So far the chief debate about contraception has been balancing the religious beliefs of employers with women’s health, but this bill goes a step further, with many critics saying it is a violation of the privacy of employees.
“Cry, the beloved Constitution” – J. Harvie Wilkinson III, The New York Times
“Will the Affordable Care Act argument be worth the hype?” – Andrew Cohen, The Atlantic
“Free speech under fire” – Jonathan Turley, Los Angeles Times
Holly Munson is the Programs Coordinator at the National Constitution Center.