Let me start this week’s list of what went right (6/24/17) by saying that there is a groundswell of change happening at the local level and a new wave of thousands of progressive leaders are running for school boards, city councils and other positions in their communities. In time they will rise to the top to be our Mayors, Members of Congress, and Governors. I will continue to have hope for the future. There is much to be grateful for and proud of this week.
DEFENDING IMMIGRANTS – Houston lawmakers voted to join the other cities challenging the states ‘anti-sanctuary cities’ bill. The Supreme Court ruled that a naturalized immigrant can’t be stripped of their citizenship for making false statements during the naturalization process that are irrelevant to an immigration official’s decision to grant or deny citizenship. Minneapolis dropped all the criminal charges against Ariel Vences Lopez , the immigrant wrongly asked about his immigration status in violation of city policy. Both Nashville TN and Salinas CA voted to restrict local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal immigration officials. The ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit to halt the deportation of more than 100 Iraqi nationals recently rounded up in raids arguing that ICE must give them an opportunity to prove they could face torture or death if returned to Iraq. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of an immigrant whose lawyer was incompetent and falsely told him that pleading guilty to a drug charge would not lead to his deportation and held that he should be able to reopen the proceedings against him and take his chances at trial.
SAVING THE PLANET – A group of Conservation groups filed notice of intent to sue the EPA for failing to ensure that Mississippi and Alabama have measures to prohibit conflicts of interest on state boards that approve and enforce Clean Air Act pollution permits. Many residents of Ottawa County Oklahoma are suing Michelin and B.F. Goodrich to hold them responsible for their alleged negligence in discharging dangerous chemicals at their local facility. Earthjustice and Farmworker Justice filed suit against the EPA for delaying implementation of the revised rules related to pesticides such as mandatory age minimums and better training for pesticide applicators to protect workers and the public from poisoning (belated report).
PRIDE MONTH PROGRESS – The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Quality of Life Advisory Commission held its first meeting after years of work by city staffers, activists and elected officials to establish it. California’s Attorney General has restricted state-funded or state-sponsored travel for state employees from business trips to Texas, Alabama, Kentucky and South Dakota since those states passed measures limiting the rights of LGBT people.
WINNING FOR CIVIL RIGHTS – The U.S. Supreme Court held that a defendant is entitled to an expert who is independent from the prosecutor to gauge their health when they face the death penalty. The 11th Circuit Ct of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling that prevented the ACLU from obtaining records regarding the use of cell phone tracker technology by the Sarasota Police Department. The ACLU sued the DC police for improperly using pepper spray and flash-bang grenades without warning or justification, and holding demonstrators (including a photojournalist and legal observer) without food, water or access to toilets, among other actions on Inauguration Day. A federal judge ruled that a cross located in a public Florida park must be removed after the American Humanist Association sued stating it made them feel unwelcome – that pesky constitutional separation of church and state.
PROTECTING A WOMAN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE – NY Attorney General filed a lawsuit against a coalition of anti-choice protesters who harass and threaten patients, escorts, and staff at a women’s medical center that provides abortion services. Delaware Governor signed legislation removing restrictions on abortions from state law and guaranteeing women the right to seek the procedure even if federal law changes.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM – Louisiana became the first state to prohibit all public universities from asking applicants about their criminal history. A federal judge branded Wisconsin’s juvenile prison for boys as a “troubled institution” for placing too many inmates in isolation and over-reliance on pepper spray and shackles in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU. Continue reading
While we wait for April the Giraffe to give birth, let me tell you again about a lot of the good that happened this week (4/1/17).
- The Judge in Hawaii extended the order to stop the travel ban, and issued a preliminary injunction against the implementation.
- Protests against fascism and dictators spread to Russia. In a rare show of force, thousands of Russians took to the streets of Moscow and other cities in the biggest anti-government protests in years risking arrest and imprisonment.
- Daniel Ramirez Medina, who spent more than six weeks in immigration detention despite his DACA status was released from custody pending deportation proceedings.
- The Maryland legislature voted to ban fracking and sent it to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who publicly supports the ban. A number of horrible bills in Tennessee failed to pass at the end of this legislative session. This included a measure that would have dramatically relaxed Tennessee’s gun laws, a bill legally recognizing only marriages between one man and one woman, and this year’s version of the bathroom bill.
- The Spokane Valley and Spokane City Councils in Washington state approved anti-discrimination resolutions. Columbus City Council in Ohio voted to ban conversion therapy for minors. Columbus follows other cities like Cincinnati and Toledo that have passed similar ordinances. A reminder that a lot of good can be accomplished at your local level.
- The Supreme Court continued a trend toward limiting capital punishment, rejecting Texas’ approach to deciding which intellectually disabled people must be spared the death penalty. Justice RBG said Texas had failed to keep up with current medical consensus, relied too heavily on I.Q. scores and took account of factors rooted in stereotypes.
- Prairie dogs won bigly this week (along with other endangered animals). The 10th Circuit held that the ban on the unauthorized destruction endangered wildlife is a “cornerstone” of the Endangered Species Act and that “Congress had a rational basis to believe that regulation of the killing of the Utah prairie dog on non federal land is an essential part of the ESA’s broader regulatory scheme, which, in the aggregate, substantially affects interstate commerce.” A coalition of environmental groups, including the NRDC and the Sierra Club challenged the federal permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, arguing that additional environmental scrutiny is needed because the initial environmental review is inadequate and outdated. Your donations hard at work.
- A federal judge in Kentucky ruled that a suit against the creepy tweeter for inciting the use of violence against protesters when he told supporters at a campaign rally a year ago to “get ’em out of here” can proceed. The Judge wrote that because violence had broken out at a prior Trump rally and that known hate group members were in the Louisville crowd, Trump’s ordering the removal of an African-American woman was “particularly reckless.” Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute sued the Dept. of Homeland Security over their delay in responding to their Freedom of Information request regarding data on how often electronic devices were searched at border crossings, complaints about the practice, and government training materials.
- Jan Rader was appointed the Chief of the Huntington Fire Department becoming the first female fire chief in the state of West Virginia. Meanwhile, a Michigan lawyer, Andrew Shirvell was disbarred in a misconduct case related to his public hostility for a gay student leader at the University of Michigan.
- The PAC “Run For Something” founded by former Clinton Campaign staffers post-election announced that 8,000 people have contacted them since they formed expressing an interest in running for office and Emily’s List announced that 10,000 women have reached out to them for information on seeking office. Now that is something that gives me great hope for our future. Check out Sister District which can help you connect to those in nearby red districts that need help.
My one and only plea for this week, work hard and email, call, fax, and protest to stop the upcoming appointment of Gorsuch. We stopped Trumpcare, we can stop this too. Resistbot is a great FREE and easy to use fax tool. Just Text “Resist” to 50409 and see how effective it is. Brought to you by Jodi Harawitz. Feel free to share.