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
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
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!
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