Welcome to This Week in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
This week, the Redacted Mueller report was released, Supreme Court experts warned of a potentially devastating decision on the citizenship question for the 2020 Census, multiple states imposed new aggressive regulations on voter registration efforts, and a US Attorney indicted two Massachusetts state court officials for allegedly allowing an undocumented person to avoid ICE enforcers at a state courthouse.
On Monday, the US Supreme Court granted cert on two cases about the rights of LGBTQ individuals to be protected from discrimination. The first is Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia (Consolidated with Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda), which will consider whether discrimination based on sexual orientation constitutes employment discrimination that is banned “because of . . . sex” by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The other is R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in which an employee at a funeral home brought a claim for being fired after coming out as transgender. (Via Vox).
Legal experts identified that, in oral arguments, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority appeared willing to allow the Trump administration to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, which could have a dramatic effect on the Census’ ability to accurately measure the population and may undercount 6.5 million people in communities with significant immigrant populations. This despite the fact that there was record evidence suggesting that the question was “an answer in search of a problem.” (Via NY Times).
The lawyer for the DOJ Civil Rights Division’s head, John Gore, sent a letter announcing that Gore will not appear before a House Oversight committee, defying a subpoena, on oversight related to the citizenship question. (Via CBS News).
The Federal US Attorney in Boston, United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling, indicted Massachusetts Judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph, and a court officer, Wesley MacGregor, for allegedly allowing an undocumented person to avoid ICE enforcers at a state courthouse last year. The judge had ordered the person to leave via a basement door rather than the lobby, as the judge allegedly was aware an ICE officer was in the lobby and waiting for the man. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey called it a “politically motivated attack on our state and the independence of our courts.” (Via NY Times).
Multiple states continue to impose aggressive regulations on voter-registration efforts, including Tennessee and New Hampshire. In response, NH Senator Jeanne Shaheen called for every presidential candidate to “stand up for thousands of young Granite Staters who could lose the right to vote because of a new voter suppression law.” (Via Twitter).
In a voting rights win, a federal court ruled that Michigan must redraw some congressional and legislative districts that were unconstitutionally gerrymandered in favor of Republicans. The case will likely be appealed, and two pending Supreme Court cases on the subject will almost certainly pre-empt any ruling. (Via CNN).
ProPublica found that TurboTax has been deliberately hiding its free features, forcing low-income Americans to pay for filing taxes even when entitled to do so for free. (Via ProPublica.)
A new Vera Institute of Justice Report on prison populations found that while the incarceration rate declined nationally, nearly 1.5 million people remain incarcerated, and mass incarceration continues to rise in some states, including Indiana and Texas. (Via Vera Institute of Justice).
In an apparent attempt to undermine Amendment 4, passed last November, the Florida House has filed a bill that would require ex-felons to pay all court fees before regaining their right to vote. Amendment 4 amended the state’s constitution to enfranchise ex-felons but included no provision requiring the payment of court fees. Critics have expressed concerns about the bill’s restrictive “overreach” and have advocated for the passage of the Senate’s version of the bill. (Via CNN).
Both Kensington, MD, and the Los Angeles Unified School District are considering lowering the voting age for some municipal elections to 16, expanding the franchise to thousands of students. New reports found that voter turnout increased significantly for young people in 2018 over 2014, raising questions about the ability of young people to have increased voices in political processes. (Via LA Times and Bethesda Magazine).