Last week, the Obama Administration announced a significant initiative to expand eligibility for clemency for some offenders. The move was hailed by civil rights groups and faith organizations, who have long been concerned about the President’s record on clemency and have pushed for smart, fair criminal justice reform. Read more…
In this week’s parsha we read, “Thou shalt not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself” (Leviticus 19:19). It is reasonable and necessary to punish crime, in the interest of public safety. But for some offenders—especially drug offenders—our current laws disproportionately punish low-level offenders without improving public safety.
In light of recent Supreme Court decisions, and more opinions expected to come down this morning, it feels like an appropriate time to recap what the nine justices have been working and opining on.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, upholding a constitutional ban on affirmative action in public university admissions in Michigan 6-2 (Justice Kagan recused herself). Interestingly, Justice Stephen Breyer concurred with the conservative wing of the Court. The New York Times notes that “justices in the majority, with varying degrees of vehemence, said that policies affecting minorities that do not involve intentional discrimination should ordinarily be decided at the ballot box rather than in the courtroom.”
Just weeks after Attorney General Holder highlighted the issue of felon disenfranchisement, members of Congress have introduced the Democracy Restoration Act, which would restore voting rights in federal elections to 4.4 million Americans who are out of prison and living in the community. Read more…
Today marks the 19th annual Day of Silence. All across of the nation, students will be taking some form of a vow of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of harassment and discrimination felt by LGBT students and allies in school.
Bullying and harassment has been proven to create significant adverse consequences for students, which often severely effect LGBT students. Middle and high schools students are in an extremely vulnerable time in their lives and with the social and academic pressures students already face, no student show have to deal with the added stresses that come with fear of expressing oneself. Read more…
Last Friday, as the URJ’s representative in the DC Voting Rights Coalition, I participated in the DC Vote Annual Lobby Day. Joining with other organizations in the coalition, we took the Hill by storm—in total, representatives from the coalition conducted dozens of meetings with House and Senate staffers on this issue.
As two communities that have historically struggled for freedom side by side and share a common history of slavery and oppression, it is appropriate that we reflect upon the relationship between American Jews and African Americans during this Passover season.
During a week of important election reform developments coming from the Supreme Court, it is worth highlighting the work of civil rights advocates responding to a similar Court decision, Shelby v. Holder, which struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Since that decision was handed down last June, members of the civil rights community have been hard at work developing a bill that would ensure access to the ballot box for all Americans.