Erwin Chemerinsky

Erwin Chemerinsky is Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Recent Articles

Awaiting Trump’s Pick

Two of the three favorites for a Supreme Court appointment are merely very conservative. The third is way very conservative. 

(Photo: AP/Cliff Owen)
(Photo: AP/Cliff Owen) Judge William Pryor of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on November 17, 2016 W ithout a doubt, President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court will be very conservative—and the question is what Senate Democrats will do about it. Trump, of course, does not need to pick a justice from the far right. In light of the anger over the Republicans’ stonewalling of Chief Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination, Trump could pick someone from the middle who would be a consensus candidate. But as in selecting his cabinet and announcing his initial policies, Trump has shown zero interest in healing the partisan divide. The rumored frontrunners for the Supreme Court—Neil Gorsuch, Thomas Hardiman, and William Pryor—are all individuals highly recommended by the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society because each would be a conservative justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia. Neil Gorsuch, 49, is a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in...

What Next for Obama’s Immigration Action?

Even after the Supreme Court failed to overturn an anti-immigrant ruling, the president still has options.

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images Immigration reform supporters rally outside of the Supreme Court as oral arguments are heard on President Obama's executive actions which would help defer deportation for undocumented people, April 18, 2016. P resident Obama suffered a major defeat in the Supreme Court when the justices split 4-4 on the legality of his immigration action, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). The result of this deadlock is that a federal district court’s nationwide preliminary injunction keeping DAPA from going into effect remains in place. What options does President Obama have now? DAPA, which was announced by Obama in November 2014, provides deferred deportation status to undocumented individuals who have been in the country since 2010 if they do not have a criminal record and if they have a child who is a citizen or lawfully present in the United States. This would allow about four million people to live temporarily without constant fear of...

When Fear Threatens Freedom

AP Images
Throughout American history, whenever the United States has felt threatened, our response has been repression. In hindsight we come to realize that the nation was not made any safer from the loss of civil liberties. This is a crucial lesson to be remembered as the country deals with the terrible tragedy of Monday’s bombings in Boston. The impulse to take away constitutional rights to gain security must be resisted because, in reality, complying with the Constitution is not an impediment to safety. If history repeats itself, there are likely to be calls to make it easier for police to search people and their possessions without warrants or probable cause or even reasonable suspicion. Once more, there will be proposals to allow the authorities to detain individuals, even indefinitely, on suspicion of their supporting terrorism. There are sure to be calls to allow law enforcement to more easily intercept electronic communications, even of those conducted entirely within the United States...

Stanching the Cash Flow

A flood of special-interest money has corrupted our courts. How can we fight back?

The influence of special-interest money in the corruption of state courts has been well documented. In 39 states, at least some judges are elected, and the costs of these elections are escalating dramatically. The money for such campaigns comes primarily from lawyers and litigants with matters before the courts. At the very least, this system undermines the public's perception of the integrity of courts and their rulings. More than seven in ten Americans surveyed said they believe campaign cash influences judicial decisions. Nearly half of state-court judges agreed. The pervasive perception and increasing reality of monetary influence in judicial decision-making weakens a cornerstone of American democracy. What can we imagine by way of remedy? There are two distinct paths. In the first approach, states would accept judicial elections but mitigate monetary influence by combining rigorous recusal rules with limits on campaign expenditures. In the second scenario, states would shift from...

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