Over the past few weeks, courts across the nation have rejected a number of state laws that were recently passed with the intent to restrict access to vote. Although the sponsors of the various state laws claim that the laws are intended to “prevent voter fraud,” in truth they are aimed at preventing poor and minority voters from voting by requiring specific types of ID to vote, eliminating early voting, and implementing a number of other measures that make it harder to vote. As the presidential election nears, the courts are seeing through the “voter fraud” ruse, and repeatedly rejecting these laws.
Two especially disturbing trends emerge from The Post’s data — (1) many of the victims who were killed by police were military veterans killed during PTSD episodes, and (2) in many cases, witnesses or victims call 911 seeking medical assistance from the police but, instead of providing aid ,the police end up killing the mentally ill individual.
Last month, in G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a landmark ruling holding that the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination prohibits discrimination against transgender students. The U.S. Department of Education had issued its formal interpretation of Title IX and its regulations and held that “when a school elects to separate or treat students differently on the basis of sex ... a school generally must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.” The appeals court held that it must defer to the agency’s interpretation of the law because the interpretation is reasonable and the law itself is ambiguous on the issue of transgender students. The decision sets federal legal precedent for Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
The Civil Liberties Defense Center represented four ShellNo protesters who were charged with civil penalty violations before U.S. Coast Guard Hearing Officers in military tribunals instead of civilian courts. We are happy to report good news about two of those cases so far.
This Friday, April 22nd, is the 46th year that Earth Day has been celebrated in the U.S. Although Earth Day has its roots in government policy, we should take it as a reminder of the importance of protecting the earth from the actions of the government and corporations. In the decades since the naming of Earth Day, we’ve seen how the corporate State will bulldoze forests, pollute the air and water, exploit billions of animals, tear apart the land, poison and kill people, and effectively rush us all towards the devastating global impacts of climate change—all in the name of power and profit.
US Supreme Court rejects attempt to marginalize Latino communities in Texas under the guise of “voter equality”
Last week, in Evenwel v. Abbott, the US Supreme Court rejected the latest attempt at political gerrymandering aimed at disenfranchising Latino communities in Texas. This attempt has been attributed as the brainchild of the “Project on Fair Representation,” a right-wing group that succeeded in dismantling a key protection against racial discrimination in the Voting Rights Act in the 2013 case Shelby County v. Holder.
Consistently, media covering President Obama’s historic 2-day visit to Cuba has focused on the need for Cuba to clean up its human rights record if it truly wants to normalize relations with the U.S. While Cuba may have some shortcomings when it comes to its human rights record, the U.S. should be hesitant in its condemnation of others for abuses when the U.S. commits and perpetuates serious abuses at home (and abroad).
Last May, I watched the news reports about the girl who attached herself to the anchor chain of Shell’s Arctic Challenger as it sat in the Bellingham Bay—preparing to head to the Arctic to be part of Shell’s plan to drill for oil there, and to surely cause horrific destruction to the fragile ecosystem of the Arctic and magnify the impacts of climate change, including endangering indigenous people in the area.
On February 16, federal magistrate Sheri Pym ordered Apple to assist the FBI in gaining access to information on an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters. Apple, however, is opposing the order. The company claims that the actions the order would require threaten the security of its customers. In an open letter authored by Apple CEO Tim Cook, the order is described as “dangerous,” “unprecedented,” and “chilling.”
Last week, victims of civil rights abuses by police scored two victories in Massachusetts and New York. In Massachusetts, in Stamps v. Framingham, the federal First Circuit Court of Appeals held that a police officer who holds a loaded gun at the head of a non-threatening, compliant individual, with the gun’s safety off, cannot avoid civil liability for accidentally shooting and killing the individual. In New York, in Held v. Christian, a police officer agreed in a court settlement to pay $45,000 to an individual whose nude photos he stole after taking possession of her cell phone during a routine traffic stop.