Welcome to This Week in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. This week, activists support Ahmaud Arbery’s family as the jury selection continues in the trial of his alleged killers, the Supreme Court fast tracks a hearing on Texas’s abortion law, Howard University students protest housing conditions, and more.
Dr. Rachel Levine makes history as the first openly transgender four-star admiral in America’s history. Assistant Secretary of Health Levine was sworn in as the highest ranking official in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps on October 19th. She will lead the Corps’ 6,000 officers both in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the future of U.S. healthcare.
Jury selection began last week in the trial over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. Lawyers working on the case have noted that the ideal juror will be difficult to find due to the overwhelming media coverage of the case, resulting in multiple jurors placed in the pool with at least some knowledge of the case and those involved. Activists from across the country have arrived in Brunswick, Georgia to support Arbery’s family throughout the trial.
Howard University students are protesting campus housing conditions by living in an on-campus tent city. Protesters say that they would rather sleep outside than subject themselves to the “unlivable” conditions in their dorms, which include mold and insect and rodent infestations, as well as leaky ceilings and flooding. Since October 12th, students have taken over a campus center where a large sit-in actively continues, and students have received emails from the administration threatening consequences “up to and including expulsion.”
Former President Trump has announced his own social media website, “Truth Social,” which he plans to launch as an alternative to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media websites. Announced on Wednesday, Truth Social will be the first social media application of Trump’s new company, Trump Media and Technology Group. Experts anticipate that the app will only be popular with Trump supporters, and that they could quickly become bored with the product when they find they have “no one to spar with.”
The Supreme Court declines to block SB8, the Texas abortion law, but expedites its timeline. The Court set oral arguments for November 1st. In choosing to take the case before lower courts make their rulings, the Court guarantees that the law will stay in effect at least until it announces its decision on the merits.