This Week in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties: March 12

Welcome to This Week in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

This week, the Sixth Circuit ruled that Title VII sex discrimination protections extend to transgender individuals, the Justice Department initiated a lawsuit against California’s sanctuary policies, and Rhode Island is trying to cut off access to free porn.

 

Criminal Legal System

Convicted of a Drug Crime, Registered with Sex Offenders: In Kansas, minor drug offenders must appear in the same registry as sex offenders. A new bill in the state legislature would change that. (The Marshall Project)

Trial begins in SPLC lawsuit over horrific conditions at private Mississippi prison for mentally ill people: The Southern Poverty Law Center began a lawsuit last week against a for-profit prison in Mississippi where mentally ill inmates have resorted to setting their cells on fire to receive medical attention. (Southern Poverty Law Center)

Old, Sick and Dying in Shackles: Despite bi-partisan support for compassionate release, the vast majority of requests are denied or delayed. (The Marshall Project)

Trump administration studies seeking the death penalty for drug dealers: The Trump administration is looking into a policy that would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty for drug dealers, apparently as a response to the opioid crisis. (Washington Post)

 

Fair Housing

The Race-Based Mortgage Penalty: A new study from the Center for Investigative Reporting has found that African-Americans and Latinx people are far more likely to be denied conventional loans than whites, even after adjusting for factors such as income and loan size. (New York Times)

Ben Carson is pulling HUD away from its key mission: Under Secretary Ben Carson, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is considering dropping anti-discrimination language from its mission statement, as its policies veer away from helping marginalized groups. (Vox)

Civil rights agencies: Missouri law jeopardizes housing discrimination investigations: A proposed amendment to the Missouri Human Rights Act may make the state unable to enforce federal housing law and ineligible for funding under the Fair Housing Assistance Program. (St. Louis Public Radio)

 

Immigration

How the Supreme Court is Expanding the Immigrant Detention System: The Supreme Court’s decision in Jennings v. Rodriguez sets a grim precedent for the civil rights of people wallowing in the over-populated immigration detention system. (The Atlantic)

Sessions Targets California Immigrants Using a Ruling That Protected Them: Attorney General Jeff Sessions is suing California over its sanctuary policies, using a 2012 Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Obama administration. (New York Times)

Civil Rights Groups: Immigrants in Alabama Detention Facility Need Access to Outdoor Recreation: The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center are urging an Alabama county to provide outdoor recreation access at a detention center where some immigrants spend months, or even years, without going outside. (Southern Poverty Law Center)

ACLU Sues ICE For Allegedly Separating ‘Hundreds’ Of Migrant Families: The ACLU is challenging the practice of separating parents, most of whom are asylum seekers, from their children for no legitimate reason. The requested class action status would expand a pre-existing lawsuit filed on behalf of a Congolese asylum seeker who was detained 2000 miles away from her daughter. (NPR)

 

Labor

Right-to-Work Laws Have Devastated Unions — and Democrats: A new study has quantified the destructive impact of right-to-work laws on working-class political representation. (New York Times)

Labor Department to Test Voluntary Reporting for Wage Violators: The Labor Department is rolling out a pilot program that will allow employers who have violated minimum-wage and overtime laws to avoid civil penalties. (Wall Street Journal)

 

LGBTQ Rights

Court Rules in Favor of Fired Transgender Funeral Director: The Sixth Circuit held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act’s ban on sex-based discrimination extends to discrimination against transgender individuals. (New York Times)

 

Native American Rights

The Next Standing Rock? A Pipeline Battle Looms in Oregon: A new pipeline proposal in Oregon threatens to devastate the Klamath people’s spiritual sites, culture, and environmental resources. (New York Times)

 

Policing

Maryland’s highest court votes to restore names of police to online database: The decision reversed a prior ruling blocking public access to online information about arresting officers, which civil rights activists criticized as hampering efforts to hold law enforcement officials accountable. (Washington Post)

 

State Legislation

Proposed Law Could Mean No More Free Porn In Rhode Island: A bill introduced in the state general assembly would require residents to pay a fee to access pornography or other “offensive material.” (NPR)

 

Voting Rights

Millions of Americans’ Right to Vote Is at Stake in This Case: Tuesday marked the start of the ACLU’s lawsuit against Chris Kobach over Kansas’s proof of citizenship voter registration law, which prevented 1 in 7 new voters from registering between 2013 and 2016. (Mother Jones)

 

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Written by

Jeremy is a first year student at Harvard Law School. He grew up in Montreal, Canada and graduated from Tufts University in 2014. At Harvard, Jeremy is involved with the Tenant Advocacy Project, Child and Youth Advocates, and Y2Y Harvard Square. This summer, he will be working at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia's Family Advocacy Unit. Follow him on Twitter @jravinsky

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