After an eventful midterm election, there are numerous new developments related to civil rights. Here is a selection of the most significant:
Ferguson Authorities Enact No-Fly Zone to Keep Out Media – New York Times
We begin with a development that occurred before yesterday’s election. According to a series of recorded conversations obtained via by the Associated Press, a no-fly zone instituted in Ferguson, Missouri, shortly after the shooting death of 18 year old Michael Brown, was put in place to keep out media helicopters. The no-fly zone had purportedly been instituted for safety concerns. The conversations, which were between Federal Aviation Administration officials, were obtained via a freedom of information request. In the recordings, officials openly discuss how the no-fly zone was requested in order to “keep the media out.”
California Passes Proposition Reducing Sentences – LA Times
California voters passed Proposition 47 in yesterday’s election. The measure reduces sentences for common drug and theft crimes in the state from potential felonies to misdemeanors and reduces prison time for some offenders. Some of the crimes that the measure addresses include drug possession and petty theft. California is currently under a court ordered mandate, affirmed by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Plata, 131 S.Ct. 1910 (2011), to reduce crowding in its prison system, .
Voters in Arkansas, Alaska, Nebraska and South Dakota passed minimum wage increases. Voters in Illinois and Wisconsin also voted in favor of passing minimum wage increases although the measures in those states were non-binding referendums intended to signal to legislatures that voters favored such increases. Additionally, Oakland and San Francisco also passed minimum wage increases. Meanwhile, Massachusetts, Oakland, and two New Jersey cities increased the amount of paid sick leave to which employees are entitled.
States Mixed on Abortion – USA Today
Voters in Colorado and North Dakota rejected measures that would potentially have restricted abortion while voters in Tennessee approved an amendment granting lawmakers the power to regulate and restrict abortion. Colorado voted down a proposal to add unborn human beings to the state’s criminal code, a measure that some thought could lead to a future ban on abortion. North Dakota rejected a right-to-life state constitutional amendment that abortion rights advocates feared would end legal abortions. Tennessee, however, approved a state constitutional amendment stating that the state constitution did not in any way recognize a right to abortion or to funding for an abortion.