This Week in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties: November 19, 2018

Welcome to This Week in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

The midterm elections were held almost two weeks ago, but questions about voting integrity remain. In Florida, nearly 3,000 votes have disappeared, with voting machine malfunctions and power outages blamed for the losses. While short-term steps are being taken to mitigate the harm, the question of how to better ensure that the vote is counted in future elections remains. (New York Times)

And in Georgia, Stacey Abrams is gearing up for a federal lawsuit intended to protect free and fair elections. After ending her run for governor, Abrams is preparing to go to court to prove that both the midterm election and the state’s voting systems as a whole were improperly handled. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Betsy DeVos released new guidance for colleges confronted with allegations of sexual misconduct on campus. Among many proposed changes, the document would allow the accused, or a third-party representative, to cross-examine the student bringing the complaint. Experts warn that one of the many consequences of this policy would be to give wealthier students (who can access good attorneys) a significant advantage in these on-campus, non-criminal hearings. (Atlantic)

Simultaneously, the Trump administration is making it easier for employers to stop female employees from accessing birth control. A final rule published this week exempts employers with religious or moral objections to birth control from having to comply with laws that require employers to “cover preventive health services.” (New York Times)

A district court in Montana has ruled that anti-Semitic harassment is not protected speech under the First Amendment. A lawsuit stemming from an ongoing terror campaign waged against a Whitefish, Montana woman has survived a motion to dismiss; the cases will proceed to discovery and likely to trial. (Washington Post)

A day later, a district court in D.C. ruled that the White House was obligated to return CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass. While the judge did not decide the First Amendment claims raised in CNN v. Trump, he held that the White House failed to comply with the Fifth Amendment due process requirements when they took Acosta’s pass.  (CNN)

Amazon’s HQ2 announcement has added urgency to the conversation around what workers and the economy need. Taxpayers in New York and Virginia will be left with $2 billion in subsidies to cover in exchange for an estimated 25,000 jobs in each region (although who will actually benefit from those job openings is hotly contested). For many, Amazon’s announcement highlights the real problems with the economy, including significant wage stagnation. (Vox)

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights calls for a return to DOJ oversight of local policing. In a report entitled “Police Use of Force: An Examination of Modern Policing Practices,” the Commission asks that the Justice Department “return to vigorous enforcement of constitutional policing,” just days after Jeff Sessions dramatically scaled back the federal government’s role. (Baltimore Sun)

On November 19th, a U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services guideline will go into effect and expand the government’s ability to begin deportation hearings. Immigrants who have been denied an immigration benefit (e.g., a visa) will now be immediately considered unlawfully present in the country, preventing them from reapplying or finding alternative means of maintaining legal status. (Miami Herald)

Ohio’s House of Representatives has passed a bill that would outlaw abortion beyond the sixth week of a pregnancy. The bill is similar to one that Governor John Kasich vetoed in 2016, but is just one in a number of efforts across states to limit abortion access should Roe v. Wade be overturned. (ABC)

Sacramento police have implemented changes to body camera policies following the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old. The new requirements are meant to ensure that cameras aren’t accidentally turned off, after the victim was shot while cameras were off. (Sacramento Bee)

Written by

Molly is a second year student at Harvard Law School. She is originally from Saint Paul, Minnesota, and is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin. Her focus is on the intersection of racial justice, education, and the law. Find her on Twitter @molly_coleman.

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