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Erwin Chemerinsky

Biography: 

Sydney M. Irmas Professor of Public Interest Law, Legal Ethics and Political Science, University of Southern California.

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Recent Commentary

DOWN BY LAW: Military Detainees in the War on Terror

with Erwin Chemerinsky, John Yoovia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, February 20, 2004

Do enemy combatants in the war on terror have any legal rights? The United States now holds more than 650 persons captured during the war on terrorism at our naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba. The government is holding them indefinitely, without charging them and without offering them access to American courts or legal counsel. Is this legal? Do federal courts have jurisdiction in this matter, or do these detainees exist completely outside of the American legal system?

HEAVEN CAN WAIT: Is the Pledge of Allegiance Unconstitutional?

with Erwin Chemerinsky, Douglas W. Kmiecvia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, February 20, 2004

Is the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional? The original pledge, written in 1892 by the Christian socialist Francis Bellamy, did not contain the words "under God." Congress added these two words in 1954. And it is these words that caused the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to rule in June 2002 that recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools violated the First Amendment's so-called separation of church and state. Now the case is before the Supreme Court. Will the Court rule that reciting the current pledge in schools is okay, or do the words "under God" have to go?

LAW AND ORDER: Civil Liberties and the War on Terrorism

with Erwin Chemerinsky, Eugene Volokhvia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, September 27, 2002

Does the war on terrorism threaten our civil liberties? Benjamin Franklin famously admonished, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Are we today being asked to give up essential liberties for temporary safety? If so, is it worth it? Or are the fears that the government's war on terrorism will trample our freedoms overblown?

OUT FOR A CONSTITUTIONAL: The Supreme Court and the Constitution

with Erwin Chemerinsky, John Eastmanvia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, September 27, 2002

The Supreme Court has the final authority on all matters of law under the U.S. Constitution. But what legal philosophy should the Supreme Court use to reach its decisions? Should the Court merely hand down rules based on the text of a fixed, or "dead," Constitution? Or should the Court apply standards that are based on interpretations of a "living" Constitution that evolves as our society changes? These fundamentally different approaches to constitutional law have created a rift with the current Supreme Court. How serious is this rift? Who's right? And to what extent are these competing arguments merely covers for ideological positions?

Audio recording of “Out for a Constitutional” (26:48)

TAKING IT TO THE LIMIT: Takings and the Supreme Court

with Erwin Chemerinsky, Douglas W. Kmiec, Joseph Saxvia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, February 22, 2002

Should property owners be compensated for the effects of government regulation? According to the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution "No person shall … be deprived of … property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." But what exactly is a property right and what constitutes a taking? Seizure of land by the government may be a taking, but what about environmental or zoning regulations that place restrictions on land use? With one such taking case already before the Supreme Court, the legal battle over these questions could alter the very nature of the relationship between the rights of the individual property owner and those of society as a whole.

TOUGH CHOICES: Vouchers and the Supreme Court

with Erwin Chemerinsky, Douglas W. Kmiecvia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, February 22, 2002

In the summer of 2002, the Supreme Court will announce its decision on a Cleveland school voucher case that many are calling the most important case on educational opportunities since Brown v. the Board of Education in 1954. In the Cleveland vouchers program, 96 percent of the participating children use government-funded tuition vouchers to attend religious schools. Is such an arrangement constitutional, or does it violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which has served as the constitutional basis for the separation of church and state? Just how should the Supreme Court rule, and what effect will its ruling have on the future of vouchers in the United States?