July 2018 Newsletter

unnamed.jpg

Welcome to the Public Rights Project Newsletter!  Each month, we’ll keep you up to date with our efforts to empower states and cities to protect the rights and freedoms that define us as Americans.  We’ll also share a few articles you may have missed that highlight the importance of state and local government, and how states and cities are picking up the torch to protect our rights.


UPDATES FROM PUBLIC RIGHTS PROJECT


WRAPPING UP OUR FIRST FELLOWSHIP SELECTION PROCESS

We have officially completed our first fellowship application process for our inaugural placements with the Oakland City Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General. We are so impressed and inspired by the level of talent and passion that we saw in our applicants. While we cannot wait to share with you the fellows that we will be working with over the next two years, you will have to wait just a little bit longer. Stay tuned for the official announcement, coming in August! For now, here’s some more background on our incredible applicant pool.

  • We received 65 applications for our 2 fellowship positions!

  • A major focus of our recruitment and outreach strategy was to seek applicants with a diversity of backgrounds and experiences. Our efforts yielded an inaugural applicant pool that was both talented and diverse. We did not receive more than five applications from any one law school. Our applicants came from a range of employment sectors, split between non-profit, government and corporate. Two-thirds of our applicants were women, and half were people of color:

PRP SUMMER PARTY

July was a month of bonding for the PRP staff. Founder Jill Habig hosted a summer party in her backyard for staff, summer interns, and supporters.

INTERN SEND OFF

Sadly, at the end of July it was time to say goodbye to some of our summer interns. We celebrated our last day together with an afternoon on the banks of Oakland’s Lake Merritt at Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill. We are so grateful for the hard work and great attitude that our interns put into PRP this summer. They will be missed!

DjKFM2EX4AEFjH-.jpg

ASHLEY’S NEXT MOVE

July was also the month that we said goodbye to our Founding Director of Special Projects, Ashley Nakai, who will launch her legal career at Stanford Law School this fall. Ashley has been with PRP since its inception and so many of our accomplishments from the past year would not have existed without her tireless work and heart. We wish her luck and cannot wait to see the exciting things she does next. 

PRP+Pic.jpg

Thank you, Ashley!

BROWN BAG LUNCHES

Our summer programming includes weekly brown bag lunches with guest speakers so that our undergraduate and legal interns can hear varied perspectives on possible public interest career paths. In July, we hosted Adelina Acuña, Deputy Attorney General at the CA Department of Justice (CADOJ); Ben Chida, PPR co-founder and associate at Boies Schiller Flexner; Addisu Demissie, Gavin Newsom’s Campaign Manager and David Pearl, voter protection attorney and Obama Treasury Department alum; and Cecilia Chen, former Deputy AG at CADOJ and current Director of Public Policy at Northern California Grantmakers. Thank you for being outstanding PRP partners and volunteering to share your wisdom and experience with our team!


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT


STATES AND CITIES SUE OIL AND GAS COMPANIES FOR CLIMATE REPARATIONS

The City of Baltimore announced lawsuits against 26 oil and gas companies for damages that fossil fuels have inflicted on the city. Baltimore joins, among others, New York, San Francisco, and Oakland in climate suits of this nature. An advocate sums up this new litigation, saying “The impacts of climate change and the need to protect their citizens is something that small cities and big cities alike can take part in.”

Read more via City Lab.

 

ATTORNEYS GENERAL LEAD THE FIGHT AGAINST 3D PRINTED GUNS

Eight Attorneys General have filed a suit against the Trump Administration to stop a Texas based-company from publishing instructions to 3D print guns online. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is leading the charge, stating his steadfast objections to downloadable weapons, declaring: "I have a question for the Trump Administration: Why are you allowing dangerous criminals easy access to weapons?"

Read more via NPR.

 

BETSY DEVOS STRIPS DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION’S ABILITY TO ENFORCE CIVIL RIGHTS

Under Betsy DeVos, the Department of Education’s capacity to investigate discrimination through the Office of Civil Rights has been massively reduced. Catherine Lhamon, leader of the Office of Civil Rights for the Obama administration describes this rollback, saying: “If you don’t look [for discrimination], you won’t find it … Their goal is to have fewer people do less work, be less involved — which will mean, as a practical matter, less justice.” This means that state and local actors are needed more than ever to fight for the civil rights of students.  

Read more via The Washington Post.

 

MASSACHUSETTS ATTORNEY GENERAL MAURA HEALEY TAKES AIM AT THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION

Read a round up of action that AG Healey has taken to fight the Trump administration over the past six months. From battling EPA rollbacks to denouncing the travel ban to advocating for high-quality and affordable health care, Healey is heading some of the most important suits of the year.

Read more via Boston Globe.

 

June 2018 Newsletter

unnamed.jpg

Welcome to the Public Rights Project Newsletter!  Each month, we’ll keep you up to date with our efforts to empower states and cities to protect the rights and freedoms that define us as Americans.  We’ll also share a few articles you may have missed that highlight the importance of state and local government, and how states and cities are picking up the torch to protect our rights.


UPDATES FROM PUBLIC RIGHTS PROJECT


BAY AREA COLLABORATIVE 

Earlier this month, Public Rights Project hosted a collaborative meeting with representatives from city attorney and county counsel offices in Berkeley, Oakland, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and San Francisco. The group discussed affirmative litigation in the Bay Area, opportunities to build high-impact cases, and how progressive governments can work together. This was the first of several planned meetings and we are looking forward to our next one in July!

20180615_115417 (1) (1).jpg

FELLOWSHIP INTERVIEWS

In June, we interviewed a stellar group of finalists for our inaugural fellowships in the Oakland City Attorney’s Office and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. Thank you again to everybody who shared the opportunity with their networks, nominated candidates, and applied for our first placements. We had an absolutely fantastic pool of applicants!

Thank you to our volunteer interviewers and advisory board members Adelina Acuna, Teslim Ikharo, Daniel Osborn, David Pearl, Ben Chida, and Brian Nelson for dedicating your time and energy to meeting and interviewing our inaugural fellow candidates. We are so grateful for your commitment and support. Additional thanks to volunteers that helped with reference checking and behind the scenes work.

Stay tuned next month for our next MAJOR fellowship announcement!

SUMMER INTERNS

In June, we welcomed our final summer intern, Erin! Get to know the newest addition to the PRP team.

IMG_2501.jpg

Erin Morris
Summer Intern
Pomona College


Erin Morris is a recent graduate from Pomona College with a B.A. in Politics. At Pomona, Erin co-created the first Women in Politics group on campus to increase female representation in and out of the classroom. Erin was also active leading outdoor trips and loves to hike and backpack. However, after witnessing the exclusionary nature of outdoor recreation for many women and people of color, she chose to write her senior thesis examining the idea of wilderness in American history and literature and exploring how to make outdoor recreation radically more accessible moving forward. Erin is considering applying to law school next year. 

BROWN BAG EVENTS

Our summer programming includes weekly brown bag lunches with guest speakers so that our undergraduate and legal interns can hear varied perspectives on possible public interest career paths.  In June, we hosted Jenny Montoya Tansey, former Director of Safety & Justice at Code for America, Lindsey Hogg and Keara O’Doherty, two newly graduated CORO Fellows, and LT Hilton, Founding Ambassador of The Ambassadors Circle. Thank you for being outstanding PRP partners and sharing your wisdom with our team!

IMG-0056.JPG
20180614_125911.jpg

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...


18 DEMOCRATIC ATTORNEYS GENERAL SUE TRUMP OVER FAMILY SEPARATIONS

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey are leading a coalition of seventeen states and Washington D.C. in filing a lawsuit seeking to force the Trump administration to reunite more than 2,000 children with their parents. The lawsuit is the first legal challenge by states over the policy, alleging that it is in violation of immigrants’ constitutional rights, and is illegally inflicting trauma on children.
Read more via The Hill

CALIFORNIA SUES NATION’S LARGEST STUDENT LOAN SERVICER

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has announced that his office is suing the nation’s largest student loan servicer. The lawsuit alleges that Navient Corp. has financially harmed thousands of Californians and consumers by failing to properly service their debts.
Read more via NY Times

TEXAS ACTIVISTS FIGHT BACK AGAINST GOP’S WAR ON LOCAL DEMOCRACY

Texas progressives are poised to get measures requiring businesses to provide paid sick leave on November ballots, a policy victory that would benefit hundreds of thousands of workers. However, they are preparing for opposition from the GOP-led state legislature, which is increasingly at odds with Texas’ progressive big cities. For instance, the state has used preemption laws to forbid cities and counties from creating sanctuary city protections and regulating oil and gas drilling.
Read more via TPM

May 2018 Newsletter

unnamed.jpg

Welcome to the Public Rights Project Newsletter!  Each month, we’ll keep you up to date with our efforts to empower states and cities to protect the rights and freedoms that define us as Americans.  We’ll also share a few articles you may have missed that highlight the importance of state and local government, and how states and cities are picking up the torch to protect our rights.


PUBLIC RIGHTS PROJECT NEWS


WE'RE HIRING!

We are hiring our second Director of Special Projects! Our current DSP, Ashley Nakai, will be leaving in the Fall to begin law school, so we’re looking for new talent to fill this role!

This is a great job for someone who might be interested in going to law school or other grad school in the future and who wants to be part of every aspect of building a new nonprofit. This includes a little bit of everything, from development assistance, to administrative and budget assistance, to event planning, and more! Most importantly, the role includes a lot of fun with our small but mighty team. If you’ve interned or worked for a campaign (especially in finance or field) this could be a great fit for you.

Please share widely! If you’re interested, get in touch right away. The full job posting can be viewed here.

6e9876d9-821c-4d48-bae0-e6a34225f127.png

INAUGURAL FELLOWSHIP CLOSES!

On May 15, 2018, our inaugural fellowship application officially closed! We are overwhelmed by the incredible response we’ve received.

Thank you to everybody who shared the opportunity with their networks, nominated candidates, and applied for our Massachusetts and Oakland placements.

Additional thank you to the fantastic volunteers who visited our office to help us sift through applications, and to the lawyer volunteers who are continuing to participate in the review process.

None of this would be possible without you! Thank you for being part of our PRP family and for your continued support!

d34be8db-091d-4d3c-add3-d16cce698799.png

2018 CLASS OF SUMMER INTERNS!

This May, we welcomed our first cohort of Summer Interns! Less than a month into their placements, they’re already off to a fantastic start. Get to know the newest members of the PRP team!

2a665993-8cf1-4047-a441-88576ea89e43.jpg
802ef628-f75f-447b-b9dd-f94c127d7e1d.jpg

Nicole Billington /Legal Intern
Yale Law School

icole Billington is a second-year student at the Yale Law School where she is involved with the Yale Law and Policy Review, American Constitution Society, and Yale Law Students for Reproductive Justice. Prior to law school, Nicole served as a California Senate Fellow with the Senate Committee on Business, Professions, and Economic Development focusing on economic development policy. Nicole then spent a year in Washington, D.C. as the Legislative Director for the California Institute for Federal Policy Research. In that role, she analyzed federal policy for the California Congressional Delegation. Nicole is thrilled to work with the Public Rights Project to assist localities in public rights enforcement.

077ec030-1b54-4ff3-bb2e-d990444549f2.jpg

Sung Choi / Legal Intern
Berkeley Law School

Sung Choi is a second-year student at Berkeley Law School. Previously, Sung was a software engineer on the Hillary for America Tech Team. There, he focused on online voter registration and education. While at Nava Public Benefit Corporation, he contributed to a Medicare technology infrastructure project. Sung graduated from Swarthmore College with a B.A. in Sociology & Anthropology. He subsequently conducted additional research on gender and sexuality as a Fulbright Scholar in Korea.

03a89cb2-d83d-4c94-9bbb-60bdcb951e73.jpg

John Gonzalez / Legal Intern
Yale Law School

John Gonzalez is a second-year student at Yale Law School and a legal intern. At law school, John has been part of the Education Adequacy Project Clinic and a teaching fellow. Before coming to law school, he taught 8th-grade math in New Orleans, where he was awarded the 2016 Achievement Network’s Teacher of the Year award. After teaching, he worked as a hearing representative at a workers’ compensation plaintiff’s firm. In college, John served as the student body president and gave a TEDxYale talk on music education. John earned his B.A. from Yale College and served as a Teach for America corps member in New Orleans.

5b756f4e-e7d0-447f-b3dd-72bf55ccad36.jpg

Nicole Miura / Intern
UC Berkeley

Nicole is a fourth year at the University of California at Berkeley majoring in both Media Studies and Peace & Conflict Studies. Nicole is passionate about social justice issues as reflected in her experience working at the International Rescue Committee in Oakland and the School of Social Welfare at Berkeley, as well as reflected in her studies. She hopes to continue her education and pursue her professional goals at law school.

49ca0dd4-6772-4cd9-818f-d8d3c4156392.jpg

Abigail Zhong / Intern
UC Berkeley

Abigail Zhong is a Junior at UC Berkeley majoring in Economics and minoring in Public Policy. At Berkeley, Abigail works as a Student Coordinator for the Student Learning Center's Economics Program. She also interns at the Asian Pacific American Student Development Center, working to raise civic engagement in API communities and promote API mental health on campus.  In her free time, Abigail volunteers with Friends of Orange County Detainees and Prison Literacy Project.


JILL HABIG SPEAKS TO ICM GUESTS AT THE 2018 UNITED STATES OF WOMEN SUMMIT

Find out more about the work ICM is doing to promote gender equality here!

252bcdec-5bb6-4a53-bf92-4bb477aee494.jpg

ICM Partners’ Hannah Linkenhoker joins speakers Sally Smith (Nexus Fund), April Grayson (ARC), Jill Habig (Public Rights Project), Caroline Edwards (ICM Partners), and political commentator Carri Twigg on the carpet at the official after party of the United State of Women Summit, presented by ICM Partners. Jill spoke about Public Rights Project’s work to empower state and local government to a room full of women leaders, activists, lawyers, and entrepreneurs.

PRP JOINS ACS PANEL ON THE REFORM PROSECUTOR MOVEMENT

Earlier this month, PRP Founder and President Jill Habig joined the ACS Bay Area: The Reform Prosecutor Movement panel to discuss the possibilities and challenges faced by progressive prosecutors fighting to use a proactive, rational and equity-promoting approach to criminal justice. Jill was joined by Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Justice Director Michael Troncoso, SF Sheriff Department Asst. Chief Legal Counsel Suzy Loftus, and Criminal Justice Reform Consultant Hillary Blout.

bd8f645d-34ac-4fc4-9a8f-35507547c268 (1).jpg

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...


TIP FOR MORTGAGE LENDERS AND COMPLIANCE OFFICERS: A WEAKER CFPB MEANS STRONGER STATE REGS

Recently, 17 state attorneys general sent a letter to CFPB Acting Director Mick Mulvaney expressing their desire to see a more aggressive attitude from the agency. States like California, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania now see a need to ramp up efforts to fill the gap left by the federal agency. They are signaling their intent to fill regulatory "voids" left by the CFPB. Read on for more analysis (and see why PRP is so excited to partner with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and the Oakland City Attorney’s Office for our inaugural fellowship placements)!

Read more via HousingWire

SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS WORKPLACE ARBITRATION CONTRACTS BARRING CLASS ACTIONS

A recent Supreme Court case offers a stark example of why our work to help state and local prosecutors enforce our rights is so urgent. In a 5-4 opinion, the Supreme Court  ruled that companies can use arbitration clauses in employment contracts to prohibit workers from banding together to take legal action over workplace issues. This decision could affect 25 million employment contracts. It means that millions of workers will be limited in protecting their rights from violations by their employers. Fortunately, state and local prosecutors can still protect your rights in court, but they need resources to do it.

Read more via NY Times

April 2018 Newsletter

unnamed.jpg

Welcome to the Public Rights Project Newsletter!  Each month, we’ll keep you up to date with our efforts to empower states and cities to protect the rights and freedoms that define us as Americans.  We’ll also share a few articles you may have missed that highlight the importance of state and local government, and how states and cities are picking up the torch to protect our rights.


UPDATES FROM PUBLIC RIGHTS PROJECT


PRP-+March+Newsletter+2.png

FELLOWSHIP DEADLINE IN 2 WEEKS
The application for our inaugural Fellowship is closing on May 15, 2018! If you haven’t yet submitted (or if you haven’t begun) there’s still time! Please continue to applynominate and share this unique opportunity with your networks.

STILL ON THE FENCE? WATCH SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN
In a brand new video from Public Rights Project, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren talks about why she believes you (and your lawyer friends!) should join the fight and apply to be a Public Rights Project Fellow! Watch what she has to say here.

LAST CHANCE FELLOWSHIP WEBINAR
If you were unable to attend our last two webinars and still have questions about the Public Rights Project Fellowship, join us on May 9, 2018, 12:00 (PT) for our FINAL informational webinar! We will be covering the same information included during the previous webinars, so there is no need to attend if you have already done so. Register here.

 

VOLUNTEER WITH PUBLIC RIGHTS PROJECT - HELP US FIND OUR FELLOWS
We’re so excited to begin reviewing Fellowship applications and meet our potential Fellows! Shortly before and after the application deadline, we'll be 'all hands on deck' to conduct an initial evaluation of the applications. We'd love your help! Can you sign up to pitch in? If you’re interested in lending a hand, please complete this form no later than May 4th.

We’ll be hosting a thank-you party in Oakland, CA for all volunteers. Can’t wait to see you there!


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT... 


MICK MULVANEY ISN’T BLOWING UP THE CFPB
It’s more like death by a thousand cuts, critics say. “Some enforcement cases take months or years to put together. Worrying your new boss will shut down your case is bad for morale,” said Joanna Pearl, a former CFPB enforcement attorney who left in January. “Mulvaney's statements and actions make people justifiably worried he won't continue with matters that are in the interest of consumers." 

States still have operating agreements with the CFPB to share data, though — and to the extent that the CFPB is retrenching, consumer advocates take heart that state attorneys general are stepping into the breach.

“States and cities have long been at the front lines of protecting their communities from predatory practices and financial fraud,” Pearl said. “With the CFPB withdrawing from this space, the role of state and local governments is more important than ever."
Read more via Politico

 

STATE AND CITY ACTION IS NECESSARY TO CARRY OUT CIVIL RIGHTS FIGHT
In a new op-ed, Public Rights Project President and Founder Jill Habig writes about how the Trump administration has upended federal civil rights protections from housing and policing, to education and the workplace. Find out why she believes that in the end, it’s cities and states that will pick (and win) the important fights against the exclusionary policies represented by this administration.

Check out the op-ed here

March 2018 Newsletter

  Welcome to the Public Rights Project Newsletter!  Each month, we’ll keep you up to date with our efforts to empower states and cities to protect the rights and freedoms that define us as Americans.  We’ll also share a few articles you may have missed that highlight the importance of state and local government, and how states and cities are picking up the torch to protect our rights.

Welcome to the Public Rights Project Newsletter!  Each month, we’ll keep you up to date with our efforts to empower states and cities to protect the rights and freedoms that define us as Americans.  We’ll also share a few articles you may have missed that highlight the importance of state and local government, and how states and cities are picking up the torch to protect our rights.


UPDATES FROM PUBLIC RIGHTS PROJECT


INAUGURAL PUBLIC RIGHTS PROJECT FELLOWSHIP LAUNCH

On March 15, the application for the inaugural class of Public Rights Project Fellows officially went live! Thank you to all of the supporters who liked and shared news of the launch with friends, family, colleagues, and on social media.

We have until May 15 to recruit phenomenal attorneys 3-5 years out of law school to apply for the fellowship. Please continue to spread the word to your personal and professional networks! For more information on the Fellowship, visit our site here, and check out our launch video with Senators Harris, Warren, and Booker, Yale Law Dean Gerken, and former NJ Attorney General Harvey, here

If you know an attorney who is passionate about public service and would make a great Fellow, you can nominate them here

PRP- March Newsletter 2.png

ANNOUNCING 2 UPCOMING FELLOWSHIP WEBINARS

Do you (or someone you know) have questions about the Public Rights Project Fellowship? We will be hosting two informational webinars on April 10, 2018 at 12:00pm (PT) and April 11, 2018 at 9:00am (PT)!

The webinar will include a short presentation covering basic information about the Fellowship design, the application process, and more. This is a fantastic opportunity to interact with the entire Public Rights Project staff and get answers to your Fellowship questions.

We hope you’ll join us! Please sign up here.

OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES PUBLIC RIGHTS PROJECT FOUNDER & PRESIDENT AS A 2018 LEADERSHIP IN GOVERNMENT FELLOW

In early March, Open Society Foundation unveiled its 2018 class of Leadership in Government Fellows, announcing Public Rights Project Founder Jill Habig as one of four recipients of the prestigious Fellowship.

The program is intended to help Fellows build on their time in the public sector to develop ideas and strategies that advance the values of an open society.

You can find out more about this year’s class of OSF Leadership in Government Fellows here.

OSF - VOICES - HOW U.S. STATES & CITIES CAN SHORE UP CIVIL RIGHTS

Open Society Foundations published a blog post by Founder Jill Habig about why we need to equip states and cities to bridge gaps in federal civil rights enforcement — regardless of who is in the White House. Check it out here

CIVIL RIGHTS IN SCHOOLS

From civil rights in schools, to the hidden dangers of chronic absence, to the school-to-prison pipeline, education is at the core of social justice issues facing the nation today. That’s why Jill stopped by the “We Love Schools” podcast to chat with host Joel Gagne about how inequity and disadvantages can be disrupted or exacerbated in the classroom. Listen to their conversation here.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT... 
 


MARYLAND ATTORNEY GENERAL BRIAN FROSH DISCUSSES STATES & CITIES STEPPING UP

In the latest issue of the Harvard Law & Policy Review, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh sums up states’ role in the current political climate: “Many states and localities, in order to protect their residents and vindicate their interests as sovereign powers, are acting to thwart the Trump administration’s attempts to undermine civil rights and liberties, chip away at fundamental environmental and consumer protections, deny people health care, and commit myriad other abuses. For example, my office, working in collaboration with numerous other state attorneys general, has filed suits, intervened in existing litigation, and urged Congress to act to prevent President Trump’s unrelenting attempts to unwind critical environmental, consumer protection, and civil rights policies.”
Read more via Harvard Law & Policy Review
 

HOW A NEW GENERATION OF PROSECUTORS IS DRIVING CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM OUTSIDE OF CONGRESS

Newly-elected Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and former federal prosecutor and Executive Director of Fair and Just Prosecution Miriam Krinsky write about the new wave of reform minded prosecutors leading the fight to change the criminal justice system at the local level. “What’s happening in Brooklyn and a handful of other cities reflects a movement that rejects the regressive policies of years past that have sadly taken hold anew in Washington, D.C. This movement is centered around data-driven policies that have proven effective in state after state – regardless of which political party is in power. It is about strategies that divert those who needn’t be in our justice system, decrease prison populations and reduce recidivism rates.  And, it is being led by new thinkers in the most unlikely, and also the most powerful, of roles – prosecutors.”
Read more via The Hill
 

NEW INITIATIVE LOOKS TO HAVE NYC BRING MORE IMPACT LITIGATION

New York City’s law department plans to look for ways to bring more social justice and impact litigation going forward with a new strategic advocacy initiative announced in early March.  This new effort will be proactive, seeking to find new areas of litigation, with two designated staff members actively pursuing new opportunities.
Read more via NYC Law Department
 

SESSIONS SCOLDS CALIFORNIA IN IMMIGRATION SPEECH

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced earlier this month that the Trump administration was suing California over laws limiting state assistance with federal immigration enforcement. Mr. Sessions described the state’s so-called sanctuary laws as a radical maneuver that would threaten public safety and throw open the nation’s borders to even more illegal immigration. Governor Jerry Brown and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra defended the legislation as constitutional, saying that the laws prevented neither ICE agents from working in local jails and prisons nor employers from cooperating with ICE.  “California is in the business of publicsafety,” Becerra said. “We are not in the business of deportation.”
Read more via The New York Times

February 2018 Newsletter

iStock-603185448.jpg

Welcome to the Public Rights Project Newsletter!  Each month, we’ll keep you up to date with our efforts to empower states and cities to protect the rights and freedoms that define us as Americans.  We’ll also share a few articles you may have missed that highlight the importance of state and local government, and how states and cities are picking up the torch to protect our rights.


UPDATES FROM PUBLIC RIGHTS PROJECT


ANNOUNCING JOANNA PEARL AS PUBLIC RIGHTS PROJECT'S LEGAL DIRECTOR

unnamed.jpg

We are thrilled to welcome Joanna Pearl to our team as Legal Director! Joanna was a founding member of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office of Enforcement after serving on the team tasked with creating the agency in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. She served as Chief of Staff for the Enforcement Office at the CFPB for six years and later became Acting Principal Deputy Enforcement Director in 2016.

As our new Legal Director, Joanna is currently working on legal research and strategic engagement for Public Rights Project and our legal partners. Between developing an affirmative litigation toolkit to creating a data analysis prototype and resource guides, it’s been a busy (and productive) first month on the job!


FIRST PUBLIC RIGHTS PROJECT BOARD MEETING
At the beginning of February, Public Rights Project convened its first board meeting in New Haven, Connecticut. With the help of our esteemed Board Members - Yale Law School Dean Heather Gerken, Former New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey, and LA2028 General Counsel Brian Nelson - we ironed out details for our much-anticipated inaugural Spring Fellowship launch, discussed ongoing and future strategic partnerships, and brainstormed ideas for new groundbreaking legal projects. Special thanks to the Board and to Open Society Foundations for joining us in New Haven!

unnamed-1.jpg
unnamed-2.jpg

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT... 


CALIFORNIA OFFICIALS VOW TO BLOCK TRUMP PLAN FOR MORE COASTAL DRILLING
California officials said they will block the federal government from transporting oil using existing or new pipelines, a move that would disrupt President Trump’s plan to expand drilling off the state’s coast. Trump’s calls for more domestic drilling have received bipartisan pushback from governors of coastal states, including Gov. Jerry Brown.
Read more via SF Chronicle

STATES OPPOSE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION EFFORT TO ADD CITIZENSHIP QUESTION TO US CENSUS
The Department of Justice has proposed adding a citizenship question to the census in order to protect against racial discrimination in voting. However, opponents of adding a question say it will discourage participation in the census by immigrants, those who entered legally and illegally. The census is required by law to count every person living in each state, regardless of legal status. A total of 19  attorneys general and the Colorado governor co-authored a letter urging Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross not to include a question about citizenship on the U.S. 2020 census.
Read more here

MONEYLION SETTLES VIRGINIA PROBE INTO OVERCHARGES, LICENSING
An affiliate of MoneyLion Inc, a New York-based online lending platform and savings app, will pay more than $2.7 million to settle charges by Virginia’s attorney general that it offered improperly costly loans to that state’s residents, while falsely claiming it was licensed to do so.
The settlement announced on Wednesday calls for MoneyLion of Virginia LLC to give up $2.35 million of interest charged to 2,639 consumers, refund $359,812 to 1,161 consumers whose payments bore interest rates topping 12 percent, and pay a $10,000 civil fine plus $20,000 to cover costs.
Read more via Reuters

CALIFORNIA STEPS IN TO OVERSEE POLICE REFORM AFTER TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PULLS OUT
California’s top lawyer announced Monday he will monitor reforms at the San Francisco Police Department, replacing recently ended federal oversight and crafting a new path for state officials to become law enforcement watchdogs after the Trump administration last year drastically cut federal investigations of troubled agencies. The move comes after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions last spring changed Department of Justice policy to largely end the kind of civil rights investigations of law enforcement that have been a driving force behind police reforms across the country, whether through consent decrees or voluntary action. California is one of only two states that has intervened in police cases since 2016.
Read more via SacBee

January 2018 Newsletter

iStock-603185448.jpg

Welcome to the Public Rights Project Newsletter!  Each month, we’ll keep you up to date with our efforts to empower states and cities to protect the rights and freedoms that define us as Americans.  We’ll also share a few articles you may have missed that highlight the importance of state and local government, and how states and cities are picking up the torch to protect our rights.


UPDATES FROM PUBLIC RIGHTS PROJECT


PUBLIC RIGHTS PROJECT’S 1ST FELLOWSHIP APPLICATION LAUNCHING

We are excited to announce that the Public Rights Fellowship application will be launching Spring 2018!

We will conduct a nationwide search for talented attorneys seeking a pathway into public service. Successful applicants will be placed in a City Attorney, District Attorney, or Attorney General’s office. The program is ideally suited for attorneys 3-5 years out of law school.

If you or someone you know might be interested, please be on the lookout for our application launch and announcement about our first partner agencies in the coming weeks!  

CORO FELLOWS JOIN PUBLIC RIGHTS PROJECT!

In early January we welcomed our first cohort of CORO Fellows! CORO trains future leaders to develop skills and master tools needed to engage and empower communities. CORO Fellows gain experience in government, business, labor and not-for-profit community organizations, and participate in special community and political problem solving processes. You can learn more about our four new team members here!

 Tim Ryan  Fresno State, 2017

Tim Ryan
Fresno State, 2017

 Keara O'Doherty  UC Berkeley, 2015

Keara O'Doherty
UC Berkeley, 2015

 Oriya Cohen  UC Berkeley, 2017

Oriya Cohen
UC Berkeley, 2017

 Lindsey Hogg  Yale, 2017

Lindsey Hogg
Yale, 2017


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT 


THE AGENCY THE WHITE HOUSE JUST TOOK OVER IS ABOUT TO FEED US TO LOAN SHARKS
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is expected to re-write a regulation that made it harder for payday lenders — lenders who charge high interest fees on short term loans — to keep mostly poor Americans in cycles of debt. The CFPB, created by Dodd-Frank legislation during the financial crisis, is tasked with keeping Americans safe from predatory behavior in the financial services industry. It's supposed to keep Wall Street from eating our lunch — as it has since, and will likely do again. However, at the end of last year it was taken over by the Trump administration in something of a bloodless coup.
Read more via Business Insider

TRUMP'S ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIONS SPARK RESISTANCE IN MANY STATES
Democratic governors, attorneys general and state legislators spent 2017 fighting President Donald Trump’s environmental agenda, and the conflict shows no sign of letting up this year. While the president has pushed to reduce regulations on businesses and open up new areas to oil, gas and coal extraction, others want to crack down on polluters and reduce fossil fuel emissions that contribute to climate change.
Read more via Pew

HOW PROSECUTORS ARE FIGHTING TRUMP'S DEPORTATION PLANS
Since 2016, prosecutors across the country have been looking for ways to shield some low-level offenders from deportation. “As the current administration in Washington continues to increase its efforts to enforce immigration laws, we as prosecutors are the torch-bearers of justice in this city,” the Baltimore city  prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, said in a news release. “We must utilize our prosecutorial discretion as we do in every case by considering the unintended collateral consequences that our decisions have on our immigrant population.”
Read more via The Marshall Project

December 2017 Newsletter

iStock-603185448.jpg

Welcome to the Public Rights Project Newsletter!  Each month, we’ll keep you up to date with our efforts to empower states and cities to protect the rights and freedoms that define us as Americans.  We’ll also share a few articles you may have missed that highlight the importance of state and local government, and how states and cities are picking up the torch to protect our rights.


UPDATES FROM PUBLIC RIGHTS PROJECT


ACS PRESENTATION AT BERKELEY LAW

IMG_3855.JPG

Founder & President Jill Habig tells Berkeley Law Students how Public Rights Project is responding to the need for state and local governments to defend their residents’ rights, and why they should consider careers in state in local government regardless of who’s in the White House. Nearly 50 students showed up during finals study week!

END OF YEAR FUNDRAISER AT KEKER VAN NEST & PETERS

2017-12-5-PublicRightsProject-078.jpg

We were thrilled to celebrate 2017 with an End of Year Reception and fundraiser at the spectacular law office of Keker Van Nest & Peters. Our deepest gratitude to everyone who attended and donated! We are $15,000 closer to our goal thanks to your generosity!

2017-12-5-PublicRightsProject-003.jpg
2017-12-5-PublicRightsProject-070-2.jpg

WE'RE HIRING!

Public Rights Project is looking for our first Legal Director AND our first undergraduate interns.  Please share both job descriptions widely and get in touch ASAP if you or someone you know is interested. Thank you!


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...


WEAKENING ENFORCEMENT: TRUMP JOB CUTS AT EDUCATION DEPARTMENT WORRY CIVIL- RIGHTS ADVOCATES
Critics say the move to cut staff at the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights will blunt its response to issues like sexual assault on college campuses and racial discrimination in public schools. Department officials say the offers of voluntary buyouts as part of a broad staff reduction are aimed at employees reaching retirement age. Some civil rights advocates are skeptical of this explanation, noting that the civil rights office is being targeted. Earlier this year, Public Rights Project joined the Education Civil Rights Alliance to help protect students’ rights across the country.
Read more via The Wall Street Journal

SELLING OFF OUR FREEDOM: HOW INSURANCE CORPORATIONS HAVE TAKEN OVER OUR BAIL SYSTEM
Color of Change and the ACLU's Campaign for Smart Justice have published a joint report that documents how the for-profit bail industry fuels mass incarceration and perpetuates racial inequalities. The report finds that people who cannot afford bail must pay a non-refundable fee that harms individuals, harms families, and disproportionately affects Black and low-income communities. 
Read the report via ACLU


STATES & CITIES STEPPING UP


CHICAGO SAYS IT’S FORMING A LEGAL UNIT TO SUE MISBEHAVING CORPORATIONS IF TRUMP WON’T
Chicago will assemble a legal team dedicated to suing corporations and other organizations that it believes violate the law, a move that officials say will protect residents and fill the breach created by a Trump administration that does not share the city’s priorities. Chicago’s “affirmative litigation” strategy is the kind of model Public Rights Project seeks to seed across the country to empower cities and states to be more proactive in protecting their residents’ rights.
Read more via Chicago Tribune

AFTER FCC ABANDONS NET NEUTRALITY, STATES TAKE UP THE FIGHT
Minutes after the FCC voted to jettison its Obama-era rules that prohibit internet providers from blocking or discriminating against lawful content, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he would lead a multistate lawsuit against the agency to preserve regulations. So far attorneys general in Illinois, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Washington have also announced suits. Others are likely to join as well.
Read more via Wired

KEEPING RESIDENTS SAFE: CALIFORNIA JUDGE SAYS COMPANIES MUST REMOVE PRE-1951 LEAD PAINT IN HOMES
The Sixth District Court of Appeal in San Jose has upheld a judge's ruling that three paint companies — Conagra, NL Industries and Sherwin-Williams — had marketed lead paint for decades while knowing of its health dangers to children.  According to Joseph Cotchett, an attorney for the cities and counties, most of the affected children are from poor and minority families. The suit was filed by Santa Clara county and joined by six other counties and the cities of Oakland, San Diego and San Francisco. San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has called the ruling a major victory.
Read more via SF Gate

PROTECTING CLEAN WATER: 11 ATTORNEYS GENERAL CHALLENGE THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ON ROLLBACK          A coalition of 11 Attorneys General including New York, California, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia have challenged the legality of a Trump Administration proposal to suspend the "Clean Water Rule" for 2 years. The Rule is designed to ensure the nation's lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands receive proper protection under the federal Clean Water Act. 
Read more via Office of Attorney General of New York


November 2017 Newsletter

iStock-603185448.jpg

Welcome to the Public Rights Project Newsletter!  Each month, we’ll keep you up to date with our efforts to empower states and cities to protect the rights and freedoms that define us as Americans.  We’ll also share a few articles you may have missed that highlight the importance of state and local government, and how states and cities are picking up the torch to protect our rights.


UPDATES FROM PUBLIC RIGHTS PROJECT

1.png

Thanks for Supporting our CrowdJustice Campaign!

Thanks to generous contributions from 165 donors, we met our $30,000 target in just 30 days during our CrowdJustice fundraiser! Our deepest thanks to everybody who donated and shared our campaign via Twitter, Facebook and email. Your support brings us one step closer to launching our first fellowship!


HELP WANTED: PROSECUTORS TO CHANGE THE WORLD

IMG-0008.JPG

Founder & President Jill Habig moderated a panel on how progressive prosecutors can advance criminal justice reform at UC Hastings Law School in San Francisco. The panel featured Lenore Anderson, Founder of the Alliance for Safety & Justice, David Sklansky, Stanford Law School Professor, and George Gascón, San Francisco District Attorney.

PRP2.jpg

"Right now, if you're in a City Attorney's office, Attorney General's office, or if you represent them, you all have a GREAT opportunity to make sure you become a partner with the Public Rights Project so that when we do have fellows, you'll be able to house them in your offices and train them. If you're in a private law firm right now, you have a GREAT opportunity to give money to this amazing project. I want to challenge all of you to go back to your firms and talk about what you can do to partner and provide funding so this project can get off the ground."

-Ann O'Leary, Boies Schiller & Flexner Reception


WE'RE HIRING!

Public Rights Project is looking for our first Legal Director.  Please share the job description widely and get in touch ASAP if you or someone you know is interested. Thank you!


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

FINANCIAL SETBACKS: SENATE KILLS RULE THAT MADE IT EASIER TO SUE BANKS

On October 24, 2017, Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to repeal a rule that made it easier for Americans to sue their banks and credit card companies. This decision handed Wall Street a major win against American consumers, and continues a trend of restricting access to justice through forced arbitration. The vote highlights the importance of Public Right’s Project’s work with state and local government; these offices can hold banks and credit card companies accountable in court when arbitration clauses shut individual consumers and nonprofits out of court. Read more via CNN

EDUCATION RIGHTS: GROUPS BAND TOGETHER TO COUNTER TRUMP ADMINISTRATION

Public Rights Project joined more than two dozen major education organizations and civil rights groups to punch back at the Trump administration’s threats to the civil rights of students. The coalition includes two national teachers unions, the ACLU, the Children’s Defense Fund, GLSEN, and others. Collectively called the Education Civil Rights Alliance, the group plans to focus on safeguarding the rights of students with disabilities, immigrant students and countering bullying, anti-Muslim rhetoric, and white nationalist sentiment.  Read more via US News & World Report  

VOTING RIGHTS: SENATE PANEL ADVANCES TRUMP COURT PICK OPPOSED BY CIVIL RIGHTS GROUPS

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance the nomination of Thomas Farr to a seat on the federal District Court. In a report, the Alliance for Justice noted Farr recently defended North Carolina against cases challenging the state's voter ID law. The law was ultimately struck down by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals which said Republican legislators enacted the law with the intent to discriminate against black voters. Read more via The Hill.


STATES & CITIES STEPPING UP
 

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION: SAN FRANCISCO, OAKLAND SUE OIL COMPANIES OVER CLIMATE CHANGE

San Francisco and Oakland filed suit against Chevron Corp.ConocoPhillips Co., ExxonMobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell and BP. The lawsuits by two of California’s largest cities add to an emerging legal strategy to try to hold individual fossil fuel companies responsible for rising sea levels, extreme weather and other effects of human-induced climate change. Read more via The Hill

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL SUE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TO PROTECT ACCESS TO CONTRACEPTION

In an effort to protect the rights of millions of women, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has sued the Trump administration for rolling back a requirement under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that employers include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. California, Pennsylvania, and Washington have also filed separate lawsuits. Read more via The Office of Attorney General of Massachusetts.