With Justice For All (Unless You’re Not Covered)



Think your civil rights are safe? A new Web site from our friends at the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is telling you to think again. ReclaimCivilRights.org aims to educate Americans about denials, loopholes and rollbacks in current federal civil rights legislation.

Think your civil rights are safe? A new Web site from our friends at the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is telling you to think again.

ReclaimCivilRights.org aims to educate Americans about denials, loopholes and rollbacks in current federal civil rights legislation. The site’s homepage declares:

In recent years, there has been a retreat from rigorous enforcement of civil rights laws and a narrowing of the ability of ordinary Americans to vindicate their rights in court. The American ideal of equality of opportunity cannot be achieved with a system of rights without remedies.

And it’s true. Consider these examples:

  • Despite protection ensured by the Americans with Disabilities Act, courts often rule that a variety of circumstances don’t count as disabilities. Courts upheld Wal-Mart’s decision to fire a diabetic pharmacist because he asked to leave the pharmacy on his lunch break to give himself insulin shots.

  • In July, the House of Representatives passed the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to ensure women the right to go to court if they discover their wages are unfairly lower than male coworkers’. The bill passed, but a surprising 199 Representatives voted against protecting women’s rights in the workplace, and President Bush has threatened to veto the bill.

  • The Prison Litigation Reform Act’s Physical Injury Requirement requires abused prisoners to prove bodily injury in order to file lawsuits. Some courts have ruled that rape, mental abuse and other gross civil rights violations do not inflict physical injury, deeming victims ineligible to take their cases to court.

The list goes on. Maybe you’re saying, “I’m not a diabetic or a woman or a prisoner: This doesn’t affect me.” Yet the Talmud teaches us, "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor” (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a); if our neighbors are denied their civil rights, we are commanded to treat these injustices as though they were done to us. As Jews and compassionate human beings, it is our duty to care about and work toward legislative equality for everyone – not just to better our own lives, but to better the world.

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Kate Bigam

About Kate Bigam

Kate Bigam is the URJ's Social Media and Community Manager. Prior to this, she served as a Congregational Representative for the URJ's East District and at the Religious Action Center as Press Secretary and as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. Kate resides in Northeast Ohio.

One Response to “With Justice For All (Unless You’re Not Covered)”

  1. The Prison Litigation Reform Act has created awful situations for victims of religous discrimination, torture, rape, and other abuses in our courts. The Act, nominally passed to curtail frivolous suits, effectively shields abusers working in our nations prisons. SAVE Coalition, a group of relgious, activist, and legal groups, is working to fix this flawed law. Any group, no matter how small, can consider lending their support to the Coalition today.

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