Welcome to This Week in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
SCOTUS will consider access to medical abortions, while the 11th Circuit ok’d Florida’s pay-to-vote system for people convicted of felonies. Three studies shed light on a host of inequities facing Illinois minors, Black college athletes, and Black people in Massachusetts’s criminal legal system. And more, this week, in civil rights and civil liberties.
Unprecedented fires highlight exploitation of incarcerated people and the job discrimination they face outside of prison. The Marshall Project explores these issues with a series of interviews with formerly incarcerated Californians, who spoke about fighting fires for $1/hour while incarcerated and the difficulties they faced in finding jobs outside of prison. (The Marshall Project).
COVID relief measures exclude mixed-status families. As congressional negotiations for a second round of COVID relief continue, advocates are concerned that families with “mixed-status”––that is, families that have undocumented and documented members—will once again be left out. Under the CARES Act, American-citizen-spouses and -children of undocumented family members were excluded from receiving $1,200 for qualified adults and $500 for children. (Latino Rebels/Texas Tribune).
Voting rights are gutted, again. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an equal protection challenge to a Florida requirement that people who served sentences for felonies pay court fines and fees before having their voting rights restored. This decision reversed the district court’s May ruling, which found the Florida law requiring payment of fines and fees before registration—passed in 2019 after a successful ballot measure to end disenfranchisement of people who were convicted of felonies other than murder and sexual offenses—imposed an unconstitutional “pay-to-vote system.” (New York Times).
LGBTQ+ feminist site explains why labor & LGBTQ+ history are inextricably intertwined. Autostraddle has put together a great primer on the invaluable contributions of LGBTQ+ people to the labor movement, as well as organizations continuing this work. (Autostraddle).
SCOTUS considers FDA medicated abortion restrictions. In Food and Drug Administration v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Court will rule on a challenge to an FDA requirement that mifepristone be distributed to patients in person. Difficulty in seeking medical care in person during a pandemic, combined with the ten-week limit to medical abortions, have made the requirement a bigger barrier to abortion care. A federal district court ruled that the in-person requirement should be suspended for the remainder of the COVID-19 public health emergency and the appeals court affirmed; the Trump administration appealed. (Vox).
Illinois Department of Children & Families confines hundreds of children to unnecessary psychiatric hospitalization. ProPublica found that the state failed to follow through on a promise it made two years ago to find homes for children who were confined to psychiatric hospitals months after they were cleared for release, leading to abuse and isolation. The Cook County Public Guardian has challenged the agency in court. (ProPublica).
With NCAA rules, colleges exploit Black athletes—and white athletes see a windfall. A new study out from the National Bureau of Economic Research adds to the growing discussion of how the “student-athlete” designation allows colleges to rake in massive profits without offering the compensation or protections that “employees” would otherwise receive. The study found that Black students constitute 60% of the rosters of the highest revenue generating teams – football and basketball—but just 11% of other sports, which rely on revenue generated from football and basketball programs. (NBER, Washington Post).
Heading into the election’s final stretch, Trump adds 20 conservative names to his Supreme Court shortlist. In a move likely designed to remind socially conservative voters of the stakes of the presidential election, President Trump has added to his ever-growing list of potential SCOTUS nominees. The new additions are even more blatantly political and include Senators Cruz, Hawley, and Cotton. (NPR).
New Harvard study shows the impact of systemic racism in Massachusetts’s criminal legal system. The far-reaching study, which examined over a million cases, examined nearly every aspect of the system and found systemic racism led to more severe charges and sentencing. (The Root, Harvard Law School Criminal Justice Policy Program).