Civil and Human Rights

5-4 Vote In Coleman Case Illustrates Court at a Crossroads Over Congress’s Power to Enforce Civil Rights

Washington, DC –  Today, in Coleman v. Maryland Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court issued a deeply splintered ruling striking down an important part of the Family and Medical Leave Act as beyond the powers of Congress under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment.  

Constitutional Accountability Center’s Civil Rights Director, David Gans said, “While today’s opinion does not purport to change the law in any significant way, the Coleman opinion illustrates that the Court’s conservative majority will look to second-guess any effort by Congress to enforce the Fourteenth  Amendment’s guarantees of liberty and equality.”

CAC President Doug Kendall said, “On the cusp of the historic argument on the powers of the federal government in health care, and with challenges to the Voting Rights Act hurtling towards the Court, the Coleman majority’s failure to give due deference to Congress’ express constitutional powers is troubling.”



JUST RELEASED: The Constitution at a Crossroads (Chapter 3): Enforcing Civil Rights: Will the Supreme Court Strike Down the Voting Rights Act and Other Landmark Civil Rights Legislation? (Explaining the Court’s ideological divide in cases like Coleman):

CAC’s “friend of the court” brief in Coleman v. Maryland Court of Appeals:

CAC Coleman Argument Preview: “Originalist Sins Squared: CAC Files Brief in Coleman v. Maryland Court of Appeals, Urges Supreme Court to Uphold Family and Medical Leave Act”:

CAC Narrative: The Shield of National Protection: The Text and History of Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment


Constitutional Accountability Center ( is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history.