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Say It Louder I support women of color. I support Prop 16
Christopher Punongbayan is the Executive Director of California ChangeLawyers, a public foundation building a better justice system for all Californians.
The killing of Breonna Taylor has been a wake-up call to many Americans. Her life was cut short by local law enforcement, and two of three officers involved in her death went uncharged.
These events must be viewed in view of the larger system of “have” and “have nots” in America. Who gets to have justice, and who does not? Who gets to live, and who does not? Who gets to have opportunity, and who does not?
Black, indigenous, and other women of color know this story all too well. They are on the receiving end of racial discrimination. They are on the receiving end of gender discrimination. What’s more, they experience other unique disparities because of the ways in which their race and gender intersect together.
Look at the loss of employment during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Data from the Economic Policy Institute show that the unemployment of black workers is greater than that of white workers. Digging even deeper, the data show that the unemployment rates of black women is greater than that of black men.
In the legal industry where I come from, women of color are disproportionately underrepresented in leadership roles in every single legal setting, according to data from the State Bar of California. Women of color compose 15% of attorneys in law firms, but only 8% of law firm partners. Women of color are 20% of in-house corporate attorneys, but only 14% of executives. Women of color are 23% of government attorneys, but only 17% of executives. Women of color are 32% of non-profit lawyers, but only 22% of executives.
The examples go on and on, and cross into other areas from education to health.
In California, we have a chance to do something about this. The fight for racial and gender equality is up for a vote this November. Proposition 16 is a ballot measure that would level the playing field and create more opportunity for women of color.
Proposition 16 would end the ban on affirmative action. It is a concrete step to combating the discrimination women of color continue to face in hiring, contracting, employment, and education. Despite being a leader on so many issues facing the country, California is 1 of only 9 states to ban affirmative action. In the other 41, women of color earn greater wages and earn more public contracting opportunities.
That’s why Prop 16 is supported by leaders like U.S. Senator, Kamala Harris, the founders of Black Lives Matter, and organizations like the ACLU.
Breonna Taylor is no longer with us, but her name will always be a reminder for us to fight for what’s right. Vote yes on Proposition 16 to be on the right side of history and to be part of the movement for racial and gender justice.
Read the story on Medium
Speaking Of… The progressive lawyer of color trying to change Twitter from the inside
On a late fall day last year, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sat down on a couch on the company’s San Francisco roof deck and dug into a problem.
Next to him was the company’s top lawyer, Vijaya Gadde. The 2020 U.S. election was barely a year out and Twitter executives were worried the company was steering into the exact mess it had helped fuel in 2016, when political campaigns and Russian disinformation artists had pumped so much chaos into the system through precision-targeted social-media ads that the world’s democratic institutions could barely keep up.
Twitter had added new transparency rules, making ad buyers disclose who they were. It wasn’t enough. What more could it do?
Gadde pitched Dorsey on a radical idea for a fix: Maybe Twitter should just, well, stop selling political ads.
It was a bold idea—no other major American platform had simply banned political ads—and Dorsey wasn’t immediately sold. For one thing, the company had built itself around a commitment to hosting a free-flowing public conversation. Gadde—officially Twitter’s head of legal, policy and trust—pressed her case, and she had allies on the idea inside the building, including the head of Twitter’s trust and safety team. Within days Dorsey signed off on the idea, announcing a global ban on political ads on October 30, 2019, in an 11-tweet thread detailing the company’s reasoning.
For those who know the inner workings of Twitter, it was another sign of the rising influence of Gadde, the connected, liberal-leaning lawyer who has helped drive the company to more heavily regulate what users can say and post. Twitter’s new rules, from the ad ban to its deletion of controversial Covid-19 tweets, have rippled through Silicon Valley and caused huge blowback in American politics, where many—especially conservatives—now see Twitter as unfriendly territory.
She has also helped put Twitter’s policy squarely at odds with Facebook, whose CEO Mark Zuckerberg had declared it wrong for private companies to “censor” politicians.
Read the story on Politico
More of This What 2392 incarcerated people think about the election
How do we fix policing in America? Can it be fixed? Donald Trump has made “law and order” a central message of his campaign, portraying anti–police brutality protesters as dangerous. Joe Biden has emphatically rejected protesters’ calls to defund the police and insists that less drastic reform can make a difference.
Whoever wins the election will help shape the future of criminal justice. But while the effects of the pandemic and police violence are magnified for people behind bars, the vast majority of them will not be able to press for solutions by voting. So The Marshall Project and Slate asked them directly what they thought.
In March, we launched a first-of-its-kind political survey of people behind bars, reasoning that while they are constantly talked about on the campaign trail, their own views are rarely sought. The survey showed that despite being temporarily barred from the political process, many people in prison remain politically engaged--and had some surprising political preferences.
In this second survey, incarcerated people showed they have passionate and nuanced opinions about what interventions might have kept them out of prison and what policies the next president could pursue. They’d like to see money shifted from policing and spent instead on mental health care, affordable housing, drug addiction, health care, livable wages, and preventing domestic violence. As in the first survey, views of people behind bars—both Black and White respondents—diverge from those outside, particularly in their support for defunding the police and Black Lives Matter.
Read the story on Marshall Project
Less Of This To be a Native American teen stuck in the criminal justice system
On a morning he should have been in middle school, 12-year-old Isaac Durham collapsed on the sidewalk after drinking a fifth of vodka stolen from a Circle K in Flagstaff, Arizona. After the paramedics pumped his stomach, he was charged with underaged consumption of alcohol and became a juvenile offender for the first time.
In the seven years that followed, Durham, a member of the Hopi Tribe, spent five years, on and off, in juvenile detention. Before he was locked up, he strategically bounced between the reservation and non-Indian land to avoid punishment—exploiting the divide between tribal and county jurisdictions.
“By the age of 19, I was a full-blown meth and heroin addict, injecting meth and heroin and homeless on the streets,” Durham said. “That’s when I was at my rock bottom.”
Generations of historical trauma and increased exposure to violence make young Native Americans more vulnerable to the complicated, often contradictory clutches of the juvenile justice system, legal experts say. Once in the justice system, Native children become lost in a jurisdictional web, a dysfunctional state system and a federal system that has no proper place for them.
Isaac Palone, a member of the Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe, whose desert reservation straddles the Colorado River in southern Arizona and California, shares a similar story.
Palone was born on his grandmother’s living room floor to an alcoholic mother who had taken laxatives to conceal her pregnancy. After years of abuse in both his family home and in state care, he turned to drugs and alcohol.
“By 12, I was already involved with the cops,” Palone said.
Read the story on Slate
Less of This Too Why Amy Coney Barrett is so dangerous
Erwin Chemerinsky is dean of the law school at the University of California, Berkeley.
In 1987, Robert Bork was denied confirmation to the Supreme Court because his originalist beliefs were deemed a serious threat to constitutional rights. Originalism is no less dangerous for those rights today, yet Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s repeated statements professing her belief in originalism have been met with little objection.
Originalists believe that the meaning of a constitutional provision is fixed when it was adopted and that it can change only by constitutional amendment. Under this view, the First Amendment means the same thing as when it was adopted in 1791 and the 14th Amendment means the same thing as when it was ratified in 1868.
But rights in the 21st century should not be determined by the understandings and views of centuries ago. This would lead to terrible results. The same Congress that voted to ratify the 14th Amendment, which assures equal protection of the laws, also voted to segregate the District of Columbia public schools. Following originalism would mean that Brown v. Board of Education was wrongly decided in declaring laws requiring segregation of schools unconstitutional.
In fact, under the original public meaning of the Constitution, it would be unconstitutional to elect a woman as president or vice president until the Constitution is amended. Article II refers to them with the pronoun “he,” and there is no doubt that original understanding was that only men could hold these offices.
Throughout American history, the Supreme Court has rejected originalism and protected countless rights that cannot possibly be justified under that theory. For example, the court has interpreted the word “liberty” in the Constitution to protect the right to marry, to procreate, to custody of one’s children, to keep the family together, to control the upbringing of one’s children, to purchase and use contraceptives, to obtain an abortion, to engage in private adult consensual same-sex sexual activity, and to refuse medical treatment.
Judge Barrett doesn’t need to explicitly say that she would vote to overrule Roe v. Wade because she has left no doubt by saying that she is an originalist in the mold of Justice Antonin Scalia, for whom she clerked. “His judicial philosophy is mine too,” she told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Read to the Story on NY Times
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