Tracking the latest developments in the fight for a fair America
By Sasha Buchert – Senior Attorney, Lambda Legal
May 1, 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court landmark decision Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins. The case involved a plaintiff named Ann Hopkins who was denied a partnership at her firm because her employer believed she was insufficiently stereotypically feminine. To improve her chances of making partner, Ms. Hopkins was told to “walk more femininely, talk more femininely, dress more femininely, wear make-up, have her hair styled, and wear jewelry.” She sued the firm and won a favorable decision holding the firm liable for discriminating against her on the basis of sex under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Six trials, one alleged crime, one defendant. Each of the trials was either successfully challenged for prosecutorial misconduct or resulted in a hung jury. Meanwhile the defendant, an African-American man named Curtis Flowers, has been on and off death row since 1997—and none of the four juries that have convicted him had more than one black juror.
Thirty-three years ago today, the Supreme Court ruled that intentionally striking people from a jury because of their race violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The decision, Batson v. Kentucky, purported to counter decades of Jim Crow-era systematized racism in the criminal justice system and has been interpreted to lay the foundation that a single peremptory strike (the striking of a juror for an unenumerated reason) could be challenged as discriminatory.
By Nan Aron and Jess Davidson
Nan Aron is President of AFJ and Jess Davidson is Executive Director of End Rape on Campus
The statistics are shocking: Every 92 seconds an American is sexually assaulted and One in five women will be sexually assaulted in college. This harsh reality has helped give rise to the #MeToo movement, founded by Tarana Burke more than a decade ago, and a long-overdue focus on the experiences of sexual assault survivors. As much of the nation has galvanized to support survivors and commit to eradicating sexual violence, the Trump administration has had an appalling response: rolling back survivors’ rights, including those of young survivors in schools under Title IX.
And that’s not all: The administration has sought to lock in decades of anti-survivor policy with its inexplicable insistence on nominating for lifetime federal judgeships individuals with terrible records on sexual assault and harassment, ranging from victim-blaming, to outright hostility to survivors’ claims, to being alleged perpetrators themselves.
We are currently witnessing an unprecedented attack on women’s reproductive rights in the United States, one that has materialized on two fronts: the proliferation of more aggressive attempts to ban abortion procedures at the state level, and the nomination and confirmation of growing numbers of anti-choice federal judges. Clearly, the two are related, and they pose an existential threat to reproductive rights as we know them.
Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a census to count the number of people in the United States. The decennial census is conducted on Census Day, and the next one is exactly one year from today – April 1, 2020. But while civil rights groups are fighting to ensure every person is counted, Michael Park, a partner at Consovoy McCarthy (which one commentator described as “the go-to legal shop for conservative ideologues looking to fight everything from voting rights to affirmative action to abortion”) has been fighting to ensure 6.5 million people are not counted. And this effort appears to have helped earn him a prestigious nomination to a powerful federal court, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
The data the census collects is critical. The information determines representation in the House, and it is used to allocate billions of dollars in federal funds, including critical money for education, health care, economic development, and transportation.
Unfortunately, the Republican Party (which has repeatedly engaged in racial gerrymandering and partisan redistricting to make it harder for people of color, Latinos, Native Americans, young people, and the economically disadvantaged to have their vote count) is now also trying to rig the census: The Trump Administration is trying to add a question to the 2020 census asking U.S. residents to disclose if they are citizens.