The Bulletin—March 20, 2013
The Bulletin compiles news from in and around the US South. We hope these posts will provide space for lively discussion and debate regarding issues of importance to those living in and intellectually engaging with the US South.
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation continues to re-open murder cases stemming from the civil rights era that had initially been shelved as "cold cases." A recent New York Times article describes the cold-case initiative, which was launched in 2006, as an effort to provide closure to both victims' families and the general public. The initiative was written into law in 2008 when Congress passed the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act, although the impact of this legislative agenda has been limited due to both budgetary constraints and lack of prosecutorial resources. Today, approximately twenty cold cases remain open and unresolved. While one re-opened case has resulted in a successful prosecution, the remainder of the 112 cases investigated as a part of the initiative have been closed.
- Two teenage defendants in a controversial rape trial held in Steubenville, Ohio, were found guilty on Sunday, March 17, and sentenced to serve time at a juvenile detention facility until their twenty-first birthdays. Located in one of Ohio's thirty-two Appalachian counties, news outlets have described Steubenville as both an impoverished town in the Rust Belt of Ohio and as an industrial Appalachian city, tacitly connecting the crime to longstanding regional stereotypes. The case has garnered national attention due to both the severity of the crime and the defendants' use of social media to record and publicize their actions.
- The Project on Fair Representation, a conservative advocacy group that supports litigation challenging racial and ethnic classifications in state and federal courts, filed the complaint Lepak vs. City of Irving in 2010. Responding to a redistricting plan that numerically impacted the weight of individual votes in one Irving district, the case highlights ambiguity in the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 that outlawed discriminatory voting practices, but which did not clarify whether "one person one vote" requires districts to be measured by number of people or by number of eligible voters. A recent New York Times article describes the potential implications of a Supreme Court decision to define districts by voting eligibility, especially in communities with high numbers of ineligible voters. The Supreme Court is scheduled to decide whether to hear this case in the coming weeks.