Law & Power
How laws are made, justice weighed and elections played in the Golden State
Even if dorking out on maps isn’t your idea of a good time, this one’s definitely worth a look.
It’s a dot map of every person counted by the 2010 US and 2011 Canadian censuses. 341,817,095 unique individuals, to be exact. And each person – every last man, woman, and child – is represented by a single point (click “show labels” at right to see location names as well).
It’s like pointillism on steroids (take that, Georges Seurat!).
The map is the handiwork of software engineer Brandon Martin-Anderson, who says he sought to produce “an image of human settlement patterns unmediated by proxies like city boundaries, arterial roads and state lines.”
Zoom into the areas that look like big smudges and you’ll see that they’re actually heavily concentrated dots denoting large population centers.
So what does this map tell us? Continue reading
Disclaimer: This is a video produced by the White House, not an independent source.
Change is a–coming to the president’s Cabinet.
As President Barack Obama prepares for his second term in the White House, he’ll be joined by a handful of new faces to help guide him through the sausage factory we call government. The Cabinet includes the vice president and the heads (or “secretaries”) of 15 executive agencies, each of whom helps advise the president. PBS NewsHour Extra lists a good description of each position (you know, in case you’re looking for a new job).
It’s pretty common for a president entering a second term to switch up his Cabinet a bit. Of course, whether the departing Cabinet member has chosen to leave or was told to get packing is not always clear.
Each new Cabinet member is nominated by the president, but most need to be confirmed by a majority vote of the U.S. Senate. The practice of picking Cabinet members dates back to America’s first president, George Washington, who had a four member Cabinet that included Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of War and Attorney General. Continue reading
By Donelle Blubaugh
For the better part of the past decade, California has been engaged in an epic battle over, well, getting engaged. The multiple court cases, votes, legal victories, reversals, protests, celebration and more protests have kept same-sex couples in an ongoing state of marital limbo and made it downright confusing to keep track of where things stand. Continue reading
The data visualization wizards at the Los Angeles Times put together a great chronological map that illustrates the change in same-sex marriage rights by state since 2000. Click the image below to see the interactive version.
In 1996 the U.S. Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), stating that “the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.’’.
Under the federal law, states do not have any obligation to recognize same-sex marriages and the legal/financial rights that go along with it. However, individual states have the power to decide – either through legislation or voter initiative – to legalize same-sex marriages. And in recent years, a growing number of states have done just that. They include Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire, as well as Washington D.C. In the 2012 election, voters in the state of Washington, Maryland and Maine also legalized marriage for same-sex couples, raising the total number of states to nine.
In California, same-sex marriage was briefly allowed until voters in 2008 passed Proposition 8, which struck down the law. A federal court has since ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional. Same-sex marriages, however, have yet to resume here, and the U.S. Supreme Court is now considering whether to hear the case.
A neatly presented recap of a messy, exhausting and seemingly endless presidential race. Produced by K.D. Delany on Prezi.
On November 6, California voters will decide whether the state should revise it’s tough-on-crime three strikes law. If passed, Proposition 36 would reduce sentences for second and third strike offenders. Opponents of the measure warn that doing so will lead to an increase in violent crime. San Francisco State University film students Owen Wesson, Aaron Firestone, Marine Gautier, and Daniel Casillas took to the road this fall to collect a range of perspectives on a thorny, emotionally-charged issue that questions how best to handle crime prevention and fairly administer justice in California.
In California, felons serving time in prison or county jail are denied their right to vote. So too are ex-felons who have served their prison terms but are still on parole.That amounts to a fairly significant population – many thousands of California residents – who have temporarily lost their right to vote as a result of criminal convictions.
(Most inmates in county jail awaiting trial or serving time for a misdemeanor, or who are on probation, can still vote, according to the California Secretary of State’s voting guide for current and former inmates).
And this raises an important question: is voting a privilege that should be denied to people who commit crimes, or is it an inalienable right? Continue reading