The Constitution in Your Community
Assume that you are working as a legal assistant in a law firm. Your firm has just been retained by Sheila Smith, a city employee in your local town, who has just been turned down for a promotion by her city supervisor. Ms. Smith strongly believes that she did not receive the promotion because she is an African American female who is a lesbian. Without judging the factual merits of Ms. Smith’s claim, your supervising attorney would like to know the constitutional and legal standards for assessing Ms. Smith’s case. To that end, you are asked to research the relevant legal standards for discrimina-tion that might apply to Ms. Smith’s case. Specifically, you are asked to research the types of federal, state, and local protections that might apply to Ms. Smith’s case and prepare a five- page legal memorandum outlining your findings. Be sure to consider whether your state or local government has any constitutional or charter provisions that afford greater protection against race, sex, or sexual- orientation discrimination. Also check whether your state or local government has enacted civil rights legislation to protect certain groups against discrimination? Also address how these protections compare to those afforded under the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause.
Between 1993 and September 2011, the U. S. military maintained a “ don’t ask, don’t tell” policy with respect to gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members. The policy al-lowed the military to discharge any openly homosexual member of the military. This policy was later repealed by Congress in 2011. Despite the recent political judgment of Congress to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, you are asked to assess the constitutionality of the former law. Accord-ingly, you are asked to review a federal judge’s order in The Log Cabin Republicans v. United States ( found at http:// graphics8. nytimes. com/ packages/ pdf/ http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/ PhillipsDecision. pdf ). Based on this review and using core Equal Protection Clause standards, prepare a five- page written argument, either in favor of or against the judge’s ruling. Assess whether the don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was consistent with the Equal Protection stand-ards of the U. S. Constitution.
Locate and review the appellate briefs filed in Perry v. Schwarzenegger , the same-sex marriage case challenging California’s Proposition 8 before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The briefs can be found at www. ca9. uscourts. gov/ content/ view. www.ca9.uscourts.gov/content/view. php? pk_ id= 0000000472 . Working in teams of two, the first team should prepare a five-minute oral argument wherein members present arguments, based on equal protection standards, challenging the constitutionality of California’s ban on same- sex marriage. Conversely, the second team should prepare a five- minute oral argument asserting why California’s ban on same- sex marriage complies with the requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.