Welcome to This Week in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
This week, the Trump administration is facing massive pushback over its newest gag rule affecting women’s health clinics who provide information about abortion to their patients. Meanwhile, a House Committee is investigating Georgia Governor Brian Kemp over allegations of voter suppression, a group of artists are asking the Supreme Court to review rapper “Mayhem Mal’s” appeal, and leaked documents reveal that the US Government has been secretly tracking activists and journalists at the US-Mexico border.
State attorney generals, reproductive rights group file suit to block new Title X gag rule. The Trump Administration has recently proposed changes to the Title X family planning program. Under this new “gag” rule, any organization that provides information about abortion or refers patients to abortion care would be ineligible to receive Title X funding for contraception, STD, and cancer screenings. (NPR)
House Committee to investigate allegations of voter suppression against Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. In his role as Secretary of State, Kemp was responsible for overseeing the 2018 Governor’s election, in which he was a candidate. Now, the House Oversight and Reform Committee is investigating allegations that Kemp suppressed votes during the election through voter roll purging, voter registration holds, and polling site changes and shutdowns. (New York Times)
Killer Mike, Chance the Rapper, and Meek Mill encourage Supreme Court to take up Pittsburgh rapper’s case. Pittsburgh rapper “Mayhem Mal” was sentenced to prison for two years on charges of terroristic threats and witness intimidation because of a song called “F*** tha police.” A group of artists and scholars filed a brief to the Supreme Court last Wednesday, arguing that his song was a political statement and encouraging the Court to review his sentence. (CNN)
US Government has secretly been tracking activists and journalists covering the migrant caravan. A series of leaked documents reveal the government’s secret database of journalists and immigration advocates tied to coverage of the migrant caravan. Some journalists were detained by Mexican authorities, while others had alerts placed on their passports that prevented them from traveling across the border for work. (NBC 7 San Diego)
All migrant families separated at the border approved to join one class action lawsuit. U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw expanded the scope of the class-action lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Friday. The suit will now include the thousands of children separated from their parents before the official implementation of the family separation policy in May 2018. (Washington Post)
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos illegally delayed a rule requiring states to address racial inequities in special education programs. The rule, which was passed in the final weeks of the Obama presidency, would require that states report which of its districts were channeling a disproportionate number of students of color into special education services. A federal judge ruled last week that Betsy DeVos’ decision to delay the regulation by two years was arbitrary and capricious. (New York Times)
Schumer unveils list of voting-rights priorities for House and Senate Democrats. On Thursday, Chuck Schumer and other Senate Democrats revealed a number of proposals to restore voting rights after Shelby County v. Holder, including strengthening the Voting Rights Act’s preclearance mechanism, automatic voter-registration, and a move to give Washington, D.C. statehood. (Atlantic)
DA’s refusal to charge police officers in Stephon Clark’s death sparks protest. Last Saturday, the Sacramento DA announced she would not prosecute the two police officers who killed Stephon Clark, a 22-year old unarmed black man. On Monday, the Sacramento police arrested 84 protestors, including two journalists and multiple clergy members, who were calling for police accountability. (The Sacramento Bee)
Senator Martha McSally reveals she was sexually assaulted while in the Air Force, shining light on sexual abuse in the military. During a Senate Armed Services Subcommittee hearing about the pervasiveness of sexual assault in the military, Senator McSally shared her experience of being “preyed upon” by a superior officer while serving in the Air Force. In so doing, McSally joins a small group of women in Congress who have publicly shared their stories of sexual assault. (CNN)
A group of prosecutors from around the country petition to end cash bail. Fifteen of the most progressive prosecutors in the country sent a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo last week, asking that he abolish pretrial cash bail. The letter emphasized the pitfalls of cash bail, including its economic effects and the increased the likelihood of recidivism for those who spend time in jail awaiting trial. The New York State legislature is currently considering a broad criminal justice reform package, which may include bail reform. (The Root)