January 2019 Newsletter

““Many of us because of our race, our gender, our sexual orientation are not able to seek the basic things that enable a [comfortable and normal life].” --Callie Wilson, Justice Catalyst Fellow


Today, we launched the application for our new Affirmative Leaders Fellowship! Are you (or anyone you know) a state or local government lawyer? Are you passionate about the power of government to improve people’s lives? Are you interested in developing new skills for protecting the rights of your community? The Affirmative Leaders Fellowship may be for you! Learn more and apply here! 

Over the past year, we’ve heard from state & local law offices across the country looking to bring more plaintiff-side cases to enforce civil rights, economic justice, & environmental justice laws, but their attorneys need training & mentoring do that work. Sometimes their attorneys are experienced criminal prosecutors and they’re looking to transition them to civil enforcement, or civil defense lawyers needing to hone their plaintiff-side skills to build a case from scratch. We created this program to help our state and local government partners cultivate their existing talent and build capacity for the long term.

Help us spread the word and build our inaugural cohort of Affirmative Leaders! Follow us on social media and retweet/share our posts about the program by clicking on any of links below:

If you know anyone who could be a good fit for this program, nominate them here and we’ll reach out!


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Along with our launch of the Affirmative Leaders Fellowship, soon we will also begin the process to recruit for and select our second class of Public Rights Project Fellows! You can read more about both fellowship programs here.

As you can see, we’re looking ahead to a busy year, and we’d love your support. We’ll be looking for lawyer and non-lawyer volunteers to help us review resumes, interview candidates by video and in person, check references, and more! Please look out for invitations from us in February for ways to help.

By Jill Habig & Joanna Pearl

ICYMI: “When our laws go unenforced, our democracy cannot function properly.” The federal government has stopped protecting our most vulnerable communities and it’s harder and harder for private citizens to protect themselves. Jill Habig, our Founder & President, and Joanna Pearl, our Legal Director explain on the how cities and counties can fill this gap. (Read more via Fordham Urban Law Journal.)


EXCITING NEWS: We are thrilled to announce that the PRP family is growing! Kennedy Reese recently joined as our inaugural Fellowship Coordinator.


Kennedy is a 2019 M.P.P and Policy, Planning and Development B.S. candidate from the University of Southern California with experience in program administration, community organizing and government service.

A passionate political and community organizer, Kennedy worked on various campaigns, most recently, the 2018 gubernatorial campaign of Gavin Newsom and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of LA County PAC to elect progressive candidates. Kennedy will be instrumental in supporting our team for the rollout of our Affirmative Leaders Fellowship. To learn more about Kennedy, click here.


At Public Rights Project, we are deeply committed to creating a pipeline of young and talented attorneys into public service. We are excited to host Connie Cho, Harvard Law ‘20, and Caroline Soussloff, Berkeley Law ‘20 as our Legal Interns for the Winter and Spring 2019 term.

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Connie Cho is a second-year student at Harvard Law School. A student advocate with the Harvard Defenders, she represents low-income individuals in criminal show-cause hearings.

At the Harvard Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, she works on Medicaid impact litigation to secure treatment for patients with Hepatitis C. To learn more about Connie, click here.


Caroline Soussloff is a second-year student at Berkeley Law School, where she co-founded and leads the Food Justice Project, a student-led legal services project that assists UC Berkeley undergraduate students in filing appeals in order to receive CalFresh and SNAP benefits, and serves on the editorial board of the Berkeley Journal of International Law.

To learn more about Caroline, click here.


Judge Bars Citizenship Question From 2020 Census.
A federal judge blocked the Trump administration from asking about citizenship status on the 2020 census, the first major ruling in cases contending officials added the question for Republican political purposes to intentionally undercount immigrants. (Read more via Associated Press)

Judge Blocks Trump Effort To Roll Back Birth Control Mandate.
A pair of federal judges stepped in at the last moment to pause Trump administration rules that would restrict the ability of some women to get birth control at no charge because their employers object on religious or moral grounds. (Read more The Boston Globe)