William H. Freivogel

William H. Freivogel is director of the School of Journalism at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. Previously, he worked for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for 34 years, serving as assistant Washington Bureau Chief and deputy editorial editor. He covered the U.S. Supreme Court while in Washington. He is a graduate of Kirkwood High School, Stanford University and Washington University Law School. He is a member of the Missouri Bar.

U.S. Supreme Court
supremecourt.gov

The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision recognizing a constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry traversed centuries of arguments about how the court should find new rights that are fundamental to individual liberty.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for a five-justice majority, came down firmly on the side of a Constitution that grows with time and that recognizes the “dignity” and “autonomy” of the individual. He said it is the job of judges to identify and protect newly recognized fundamental rights that haven’t been enumerated in the Constitution.

Dan Moyle | Flickr

The roots of the important housing discrimination victory won by civil rights groups in the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday reach back 45 years to the creation of the little town of Black Jack, Mo.

On Thursday, the court ruled 5-4 that housing discrimination can be proven by “disparate impact.” That means that if government policies have a disparate effect on minorities they may violate federal law even if there is no proof of overt discriminatory intent.

Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby of Baltimore, left, and Robert MCCulloch of St. Louis County
Official Photo and Bill Greenblatt | UPI

First of two reports — A change may be underway in the prosecution of police brutality cases, with prosecutors moving more quickly to charge officers when they have strong evidence, experts say.

After two long-running grand juries in Ferguson and Staten Island, N.Y., decided not to indict officers in high-visibility cases, authorities in North Charleston, S.C.; Tulsa, Okla., and Baltimore moved rapidly to charge officers in the deaths of Walter Scott, Eric Harris and Freddie Gray, respectively.

The shooting of Walter Scott
Wikipedia

The police killing of Walter Scott in South Carolina looks like an open and shut case of murder. But South Carolina, like Missouri and many other states, has confusing laws on police use of deadly force — laws that could provide Officer Michael Slager with a defense, experts say.

falkow | Flickr

The Missouri Supreme Court’s decisive and unexpected Ferguson reforms Monday - on top of the Justice Department’s devastating critique of the town’s municipal courts last week - have created momentum toward major reform of the St. Louis County municipal courts, experts say.

Jeff Roberson | Associated Press

The Justice Department has neither the authority nor the staffing to expand its investigation of unconstitutional police and court practices from Ferguson to surrounding municipalities, legal experts say.

Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson Aug. 20.
Office of U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay

The Ferguson police department and municipal court engaged in such a widespread pattern of unconstitutional conduct that it lost the trust of the people, the Justice Department concluded after a seven-month investigation.

The federal civil rights case that the Justice Department is unveiling against the Ferguson Police Department offers the town great opportunities but also poses substantial costs and risks, experts say.

gavel court justice
sxc.hu

The grand juror who wants to challenge publicly St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch’s portrayal of the Ferguson grand jury has a relatively strong First Amendment case -- if the juror can get the argument before a judge, legal experts say.

The U.S. Supreme Court threw out a Florida law that permanently barred a grand jury witness from disclosing his grand jury testimony. That same rationale may apply to grand jurors themselves, legal experts say.

Arch City Defenders executive director Thomas Harvey spoke during the last meeting of the Ferguson Commission.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Supreme Court issued a new rule two weeks ago that eases the financial burden on poor people facing big fines in municipal courts. The new rule should reduce the number of people who spend time in jail for failing to pay fines. 

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