Say It Louder The Supreme Court ended Roe v. Wade without saying a word
Perhaps it was inevitable that this Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade, not with a momentous majority opinion, but by doing nothing. That’s all it took for the Supreme Court to let Texas’ six-week abortion ban take effect on Sept. 1: silence. As the clock ticked toward midnight, and anti-abortion protesters gathered outside Texas clinics to harass patients and staff, the justices kept mum. A few hours later, the country woke up to its post-Roe future.
At this moment, any person can sue anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion that takes place in Texas after six weeks of pregnancy—when more than 85 percent of abortions are performed—for a minimum of $10,000, plus attorneys’ fees. Any person can sue a clinic that performs these abortions and obtain a court order shutting it down. There is now a $10,000 bounty on the heads of every individual who facilitates abortion, including friends, family members, counselors, even clergy who support a patient’s decision to terminate. Anyone who forms the mere intent to “abet” an abortion may be sued, even if they do not follow through. Texas devised a devious workaround to Roe by threatening abortion patients’ entire support network with bankruptcy. And the Supreme Court let it happen.
How did we get here? The answer can be boiled down to two names: Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Both justices are significantly more conservative than their predecessors—in Barrett’s case, the polar opposite—and both are comfortable manipulating the court’s procedures to reach radical results. At the same time, both justices excel in overruling precedent without acknowledging it. SCOTUS has already taken a case that will probably gut abortion rights by June 2022. But with its new law, Texas handed Kavanaugh and Barrett a gift: They could eviscerate Roe months earlier without writing a single word. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did the dirty work for SCOTUS by preventing a federal judge from blocking the ban or even holding a hearing on its constitutionality. All the justices had to do was nothing.
Read the story on Above the Law
Say Her Name The legacy of Pauli Murray—a Black, non binary, queer, feminist civil rights lawyer
Pauli Murray is perhaps the most consequential queer, nonbinary, POC pioneer you’ve never heard of. The new Amazon Original Documentary My Name Is Pauli Murray — which tells the story of their extraordinary journey from Black kid growing up in the segregated South to a trailblazing advocate who helped shape legislation around race and gender equality — aims to correct that.
Without question, Murray lived an exceptional life. They were a nonbinary Black activist, lawyer, priest, and poet whose work impacted everyone from Eleanor Roosevelt to Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. They were the first Black person to receive a doctorate from Yale Law School, and their book States’ Laws on Race and Color, written in 1950, was cited by Marshall as the key document in the fight against racial segregation. Murray was a pioneer in women’s rights too, as a coauthor in Ginsburg’s brief for her landmark Reed v. Reed victory at the Supreme Court, which gave women more control over estates.
Murray was also queer and someone who wrestled with their gender identity throughout their life. In other words, theirs is a story of personal discovery and tireless advocacy is just as relevant and compelling today as it ever was. My Name Is Pauli Murray, which is told largely in their own words, is a candid, fascinating, and inspiring retelling of their journey.
Amazon Studios is releasing My Name Is Pauli Murray in theaters on September 17 followed by a premiere on Prime Video on October 1.
Read the story on The Advocate
More of This Sometimes lawyers can improve a patient’s health when doctors can’t
In her 19 years of living with cerebral palsy, scoliosis and other ailments, Cynthia Enriquez De Santiago has endured about 60 surgeries and her heart has flatlined at least four times.
But the most unusual doctor's referral of her life came last year: Go see an attorney.
Enriquez De Santiago sought help at a Commerce City, Colo., health clinic that takes a novel approach to improving the health of its patients: It incorporates legal assistance into its medical practice for patients facing eviction or deportation proceedings, among other legal woes. And the state's Medicaid program helps fund the initiative.
Although Medicaid traditionally doesn't fund clinics to supply legal assistance, Colorado is one of several states that have been given permission to use some of their Medicaid money to help pay for such programs. Every day in Commerce City, four lawyers join the physicians, psychiatrists and social workers at Salud Family Health Centers' clinic in this suburb north of Denver, as part of Salud's philosophy that mending legal ills is as important for health as diet and exercise.
The goal: Reduce dangerous levels of stress and keep families intact, on the premise that it will serve their health for years to come, says Marc Scanlon, the attorney who directs the program.
Read the story on NPR
Less of This The legal activist who was arrested in retaliation for her work
“Anna slowed down the machine,” says attorney Charlie Gerstein. “And this is what happens to you when you slow down the machine.”
Gerstein is speaking about his client Anna Harris, the founder of JUST-US, a group that works with indigent defendants in Texas. Harris and another organization called the Texas Jail Project aim to provide a more robust and complete public defense — assistance not just with the charges themselves but also with the cascading consequences of an arrest and prosecution. What Harris didn’t anticipate is that her work would lead to her own arrest.
She was apprehended in Victoria, a town of about 67,000 in southeastern Texas. “Part of what I do is court watching,” Harris says. “I sit in a courtroom and take notes on what happens.” Most of the time courtrooms are open to the public. But some judges “in more rural areas … aren’t used to seeing unfamiliar faces.”
Harris says when she starts working in a new county, she typically introduces herself to the chief public defender (where there is one). She’ll then reach out to indigent defendants, informing them of diversion programs for drug addiction or mental health, and the availability of expert witnesses, and offering to write letters on their behalf. She’ll sometimes serve as a conduit between a defendant and his or her family.
While this “holistic” model of public defense has become popular in some larger cities (and early studies suggest it reduces incarceration without any accompanying harm), in many parts of the country judges still refer indigent cases to attorneys in private practice. Critics say this system can create a sort of assembly-line justice, because attorneys who get clients to accept plea bargains tend to get more referrals. Attorneys who slow down the courts with a vigorous defense risk future referrals.
Harris’s group tries to provide services referral attorneys can’t — or won’t. Sometimes her help is welcomed. But often it isn’t.
Read the story on Washington Post
Job Opportunity: Community & Housing Lawyers wanted
CLSEPA seeks a full-time community lawyer to work with its housing team and a a full-time attorney to conduct litigation with its housing team.
CLSEPA is a legal services non-profit that combines policy advocacy and impact litigation with direct legal services. We specialize in housing, immigration, and economic advancement.
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Constitution Day with Cal LAW
Featuring our guest speakers, UC Davis School of Law Dean, Kevin Johnson and UC Legal Associate Campus Counsel, Maleah N. Vidal.
September 17. Register >
Grants to address the pending eviction tsunami
To address this housing crisis, the California Access to Justice Commission is excited to announce that The California Endowment has provided funding to strengthen the legal aid community’s capacity to represent and assist low-income BIPOC families and individuals in jeopardy of losing their housing because of back-rent due to COVID-19.
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