October 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.



Public Rights Project is looking to hire a Community Organizer, who will help us educate and engage communities in the equitable enforcement work of our partner offices, helping to develop and test new approaches for community engagement. This role will implement regional campaigns, engage in public education, outreach and partner-building activities, coordinate events, and iterate to develop more effective models. (For full job description, click here.)

To apply, send resume and cover letter to jenny@publicrightsproject.org with “Community Organizer” in the subject line. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the position is filled.


The American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice magazine has published an article by PRP Founder & President, Jill Habig, and Policy Director, Jenny Montoya Tansey for its Fall 2018 issue, emphasizing the need for a broader conversation on reforming our broken criminal justice system and taking proactive steps to bridge the gap between the promise of our laws and the rights of our nation’s most vulnerable.

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Jill and Jenny wrote: “As a wave of reform-minded prosecutors take office, there is a critical opportunity to leverage this national moment and move beyond simply reducing aggressive criminal prosecution within vulnerable communities to articulate a bold, proactive vision for prosecutors as protectors of the communities they represent .... Prosecutors also have taken on landlords and others who seek to take advantage of low-income residents with few housing options...which can send a strong message to landlords and building owners that the city will not hesitate to enforce the law on behalf of low-income residents who are struggling to stay in the city or establish themselves there.”

(Read more via Criminal Justice)


Oakland Magazine featured Public Rights Project in its October 2018 issue. We are honored to ground our work in the heart of Oakland. As we seek to expand our work across the nation, we are honored to be working the Office of Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker to protect and defend the rights of Oaklanders.

“Jill Habig hopes Public Rights Project will grow & create a model that will help bolster local civil rights litigation across the country. ‘We see these sites as being our pilot sites for building a model that will be replicated across the country,’ she said.”

(Read morevia Oakland Magazine.)


We are thrilled to announce that Jenny Montoya Tansey is joining our team as our Policy Director and Ken Zimmerman as the newest member of our Board.


Jenny Montoya Tansey, Stanford Law ‘07, is a civil rights attorney, policy advocate, and civic technologist who has dedicated her career to empowering communities and fixing our broken criminal justice system.

Prior to joining PRP, Jenny served in the Obama administration as a senior advisor at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Most recently, she was the Director for Safety and Justice at Code for America, where she led the organization’s criminal justice work, working to help people stay out of jail and get a second chance after completing their sentence.

(Click hereto learn more about Jenny)

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Ken Zimmerman, Harvard Law ‘88, is a Distinguished Fellow at NYU Furman Center. Ken, a noted policy maker, fair housing expert, and civil rights attorney, has devoted his career to justice and equality issues.

“Prior to joining the NYU Furman Center, Kenn served as the Director of U.S. Programs for the Open Society Foundations, where he oversaw the annual dissemination of over $100 million in grants to organizations focused on equality, fairness, and justice. Before joining Open Society Foundations, he served as part of the Obama Administration’s presidential transition team for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and served as senior advisor to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan.”

(Click hereto learn more about Ken)


How The Gutting Of The Voting Rights Act Led To Hundreds Of Polls Closed
In the years following the Shelby decision, jurisdictions once subject to federal supervision shut down, on average, almost 20 percent more polling stations per capita than jurisdictions in the rest of the country. There are now 10 percent more people per polling place in the formerly-supervised areas than in the rest of the country. (Read morevia Vice News)

Herrera Wins Ruling That San Francisco's "Sanctuary" Policies Comply With Federal Law
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California declared San Francisco’s sanctuary ordinances are lawful, and invalidated grant conditions that the Trump administration tried to use to deny law enforcement funding to sanctuary jurisdictions like San Francisco. (Read morevia Office of San Francisco City Attorney)

Judge Unblocks Obama Rule on Student Debt Relief After Delay By DeVos
An Obama-era rule designed to help students cheated by for-profit colleges get relief on their education debt finally took effect Tuesday after efforts by the Trump administration to block it. A federal judge ordered immediate implementation of the rule, delayed last year by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, while a challenge from the for-profit college industry proceeds. (Read morevia CNN.)