A Little Inspiration Undocumented lawyers to the front ??
Say It Louder Public spaces are supposed to be an escape. Unless you’re a Black man.
That Christian Cooper is still alive should not be taken for granted. His encounter with Amy Cooper in Central Park could have ended in any number of ways. Arrest. Injury. Gunfire. We don’t know whether Amy Cooper, a white woman, considered any of those outcomes when she called the police on Christian after he admonished her for refusing to leash her dog in a bird garden, per park rules. But in the viral video of the encounter, we can hear malice in her voice.
The way she says, “I’m going to tell them an African American man is threatening my life,” — when Christian was armed with nothing but dog treats — gives a clear indication that at the very least, she believed referencing his race would matter in the police response. By identifying Christian as an African American man when calling 911, she was dialing it up to mark her call urgent.
Fortunately, neither of the Coopers were still in the park when police arrived on the scene. Had they remained, the situation had high potential for escalation, especially given that Christian Cooper visits the Ramble bird garden frequently. He is a birdwatcher and invested in protecting the Ramble bird habitat from an influx of dog-walkers spurred by Covid-19 social distancing guidelines, even though the habitat is clearly marked as prohibiting unleashed dogs.
After a heavy dose of Twitter-shaming, Amy Cooper apologized for her actions. (She also gave up her dog and was fired from her finance job amid the backlash.) But the casual encounter between the white and black Coopers raises questions about who and what are considered to be deserving of protection when it comes to public spaces. Urbanists have been calling for more green spaces and open streets where cars are limited or prohibited, to encourage walking and biking. Many cities have answered this call at least temporarily during coronavirus lockdowns. Study after study shows that more parks and green spaces in cities can yield positive mental health benefits — something especially useful in the current pandemic.
But policies intended to foster feelings of safety and liberation can also invite more anxiety for black people so long as they are viewed as threatening, or, at best, with suspicion in public spaces. This becomes more magnified under the mandate of wearing masks, which under any other circumstance would invite an even more prejudiced view of black people.
Read the story on CityLab
Speaking Of… How people of color can redefine safety in the age of mass incarceration
After decades of repressive and racist systems that keep our communities struggling, it’s time we shift away from fear and punishment and towards growth and support systems from our families and communities. That’s the argument that activist and lawyer Zach Norris lays out in his new book We Keep Us Safe.
This will be a virtual fireside chat between Zach and Keith Wattley, founder of UnCommon Law.
More of This Judges come out of retirement to protest ICE courthouse arrests
As courts across the country gradually reopen to the public, it is as crucial as ever to ensure that they can safely serve everyone, regardless of immigration status. Yet federal officials continue to insist they have the authority to show up at state and local courts to make immigration arrests, creating an atmosphere of fear around courts and leaving members of some communities reluctant to come to court to protect themselves or vindicate their rights. On Thursday in federal appeals court, 19 retired Massachusetts judges, represented by the Brennan Center, filed a friend-of-the-court brief explaining that a fair and equitable justice system does not tolerate immigration officials deterring access to the courts.
The judges filed this brief in a lawsuit brought by Boston-area prosecutors, defense attorneys, and a community organization challenging U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s increased practice of detaining people who are appearing in courts for reasons unrelated to immigration. Under the Trump administration, these arrests have increased dramatically — by as much as 17 times in New York — and have been seen in more than 20 states.
ICE has arrested victims, witnesses, and defendants in civil and criminal cases. Even after a January 2018 agency directive stating that ICE officers would limit courthouse arrests, they have continued arresting people appearing in court for matters as common as traffic violations and as sensitive as child custody matters.
As the judges make clear in their brief, these arrests do real harm to the justice system. Based on their more than 300 combined years on the bench, serving in leadership positions on Massachusetts’ trial and appellate courts, the judges argue that “courthouse arrests by ICE are incompatible with the judiciary’s responsibility to ensure courthouse access, maintain orderly and efficient dockets and courthouses, and safeguard the public’s trust in its courts.”
Read the story on Brennan Center
Less of This How conservative judges are undermining our democracy
JULIAN DAVIS MORTENSON is a law professor at the University of Michigan. NICHOLAS BAGLEY is a law professor at the University of Michigan.
Most government activity in the United States rests on a simple idea: that it’s okay for the legislature to authorize the executive branch to regulate basically anything the legislature itself could reach—working conditions, pollution, elections, financial products, mask wearing, you name it. That idea is now under attack. Relying on a so-called nondelegation doctrine, conservative originalists insist that the Founders never intended for government to work this way. They call for courts to strike down any laws that delegate too much power—and much of the federal bureaucracy along with them.
Their argument is grounded in a cursory, selective review of the historical record; it simply falls apart under any kind of serious scrutiny. Americans in 1789 didn’t share the view that broad delegations of legislative power violated the Constitution. Indeed, they would have been baffled by the claim, because governments throughout the Anglo-American world had long relied on this very technique without controversy. There wasn’t any nondelegation doctrine at the founding, and the question isn’t close.
To understand why this matters, and just how wrong these critics are, start with the practicalities. Legislative delegations pervade just about every area of policy: air quality, drug testing, business regulation, health care, education, and so on. Legislatures have neither the bandwidth nor the expertise to write every detail of complex government programs, least of all when those programs need to adapt nimbly to technological changes, economic disruptions, and new information about the world.
Read the story on the Atlantic
Podcast of the Week What does it mean to be a feminist prosecutor?
Prosecutors have discretion in determining whom to charge, and through the power of plea bargaining, they control how much prison time most people who are convicted will serve. Today, a new generation of progressive prosecutors is trying to use that discretion to help right historical wrongs. That can mean being less punitive to rein in mass incarceration—but it can also mean aggressively prosecuting gender-based crimes to combat patriarchal bias. Are these two goals in conflict?
Listen to the story on Slate
Perspective The Federal Bureau of Prisons must be held accountable for the death of my granddaughter
Clara LeBeau is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and lives in South Dakota.
My granddaughter died in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. She was eight months pregnant, and bureau officials thought it was a good idea to put her on a plane from South Dakota to the Federal Medical Center, Carswell, in Fort Worth. She got very sick, went on a ventilator, had the baby prematurely and died of covid-19. And the BOP thinks it did nothing wrong.
Her name was Andrea High Bear, but the news stories used her married name, Andrea Circle Bear. The last time we spoke, she asked me to tell her children she loved them and told me she was afraid. The prison was putting her in quarantine. The last time I saw her, it was on a video call from the local hospital where she’d been moved, and she was unconscious. I asked the nurses to hold the phone to her ear and told her to wake up.
The baby was born April 1. Her name is Elyciah Elizabeth Ann High Bear. Andrea never held or even knew she’d had the baby. When Elyciah was discharged on April 19, we drove from South Dakota to pick her up and bring her home. Because of covid-19, we couldn’t see Andrea. She died April 28.
Read the story on Washington Post