Welcome to this week in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
This week, the Supreme Court will hear a case that could effectively limit abortion access across the country, and Harris County will begin to use pro bono law firm attorneys to prosecute misdemeanors. Meanwhile, individuals are starting to rack up thousands in medical bills due to mandatory isolation policies to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus.
The Supreme Court will hear June Medical Services v. Russo this week. The suit challenges a 2014 Louisiana law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges with a hospital nearby. According to the plaintiff, enforcing the law would in effect eliminate what is already sparse access to abortion services across the state. More than that, based on the state’s position that abortion providers do not have standing to bring suit, the decision could also affect how abortion access cases are brought (or not) before the courts. ABC News
The U.S.’s mandatory isolation policy to prevent the spread of Coronavirus is raising questions about who should have to bear the medical costs. Though the federal government does have the authority to quarantine individuals based on assessed public health threats, the power has been rarely used since the late 19th century. Advocates suggest that high hospital bills could prevent some individuals from seeking proper treatment. New York Times
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that a U.S. Border Patrol agent cannot be sued for killing a 15-year-old Mexican teenager, shot across the border. This decision falls in line with a lengthy history of abuse at the border. In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested that relieving this officer of liability will not provide any kind of meaningful deterrent to change this. The Washington Post
Texas will begin to use pro bono law firm attorneys to help prosecute misdemeanors in Harris County. District Attorney Kim Ogg, a self-proclaimed “progressive” prosecutor, has come under fire for this decision to essentially privatize state prosecutions. The announcement came after her office was denied an extra $12.5 million for new prosecutors. Activists are pushing for these crimes to not be prosecuted instead. The Appeal
The University of California, Santa Cruz fired fifty-four teaching assistants for failing to turn in final fall grades as part of a strike for better wages. Approximately 200 graduate students have been striking since December, demanding an increase in wages of around $1,500. CNN
The U.S. Department of Education announced a new Title IX enforcement initiative to combat “the tragic rise of sexual misconduct complaints in our nation’s K-12 campuses.” The initiative includes compliance reviews in schools and districts across the country, as well as data quality reviews, and a public awareness campaign geared towards educators, school leaders, and families. There will be a special focus on enforcing the “Pass the Trash” provisions of the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” which prevents schools from moving employees around after they’ve been accused of sexual misconduct. U.S. News & World Report
Democratic presidential candidates and civil rights leaders gathered in Selma, Alabama to commemorate the 55th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” yesterday. Bloody Sunday occurred during one of the 1965 civil rights marches led by John Lewis from Selma to Montgomery, when state troopers attacked unarmed marchers as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Alabama is one of several states holding their democratic primary election on Super Tuesday. Reuters
The Greyhound bus company will no longer allow Custom and Border Patrol (CBP) to conduct immigration searches on its buses without warrants. The decision came after many years of advocacy by civil rights and immigrant rights groups, as well as a memo written by a retired CBP chief stating that companies are not required to consent to this practice. The San Diego Union-Tribune
Two white women have been charged with committing a series of hate crimes after assaulting two women for speaking Spanish in East Boston. The victims — a mother and daughter — were not seriously injured. More than half the residents in East Boston are Latinx. CNN
For the first time since the 1940s, Charlottesville will not honor Thomas Jefferson on his birthday. Instead, the birthplace of this infamous Founding Father will be celebrating the end of slavery, an institution with which he is increasingly associated. Liberation and Freedom Day will commemorate the arrival of the Union troops, who freed enslaved people, “a majority of Charlottesville’s residents” at that time. The Washington Post