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
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
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.
"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
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.