Monday, January 23, 2017

It Is Going To Be A Tough Four Years

And that was reinforced by who President Trump is rumored to be about to pick for the head of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.
Donald Trump’s Pick to Enforce Civil Rights Is a Civil Rights Disaster
By Jeremy Stahl
January 20, 2017

Just before he became president, a report came out indicating how Donald Trump’s Justice Department would be treating Civil Rights. The Hill on Thursday offered a sneak peek of the blueprint for Trump’s DOJ, one major upshot being a reduction in funding for its civil rights division.

If it was already clear before the inauguration that Trump and Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions are likely to short shrift the issue, on Friday it became more so.

It was reported on Friday that John M. Gore, an attorney at the Jones Day firm, would be leading the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division as the deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights.

This is indicative for a number of reasons of the disregard with which Trump’s administration will treat civil rights enforcement.

First and foremost, as Deputy Director for the Center for American Progress Action Fund Igor Volsky noted, Gore was one of the defense attorneys who argued in court on behalf of North Carolina's discriminatory and economically disastrous anti-transgender bill HB2. The bill blocks transgender people from using public bathrooms that align with their gender identity. (Gore pulled out of the case last week and this appears to explain why.) As Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern has written, the bill has received mixed reviews in federal court. Gore was helping the state defend it against allegations that it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and federal law. Basically, he was on the side of discrimination in the country’s most high-profile LGBTQ rights case of the past year.
And we are not the only ones under the gun…
Secondly, as Richard Hasen notes over at the Election Law Blog, one of Gore’s main areas of expertise appears to be defending redistricting plans against claims of civil rights violations, with his online bio boasting of a number of successful such defenses.
If the Republicans are allowed to germander voting districts to entrench the Republican Party, it will a lot harder to vote them out of office. Take a look at North Carolina’s or Texas’s voting districts and compare them to Connecticut. Texas and North Carolina’s districts, some of them right through one town to another and only one street connects the town towns! 

Why? It is because the Republicans wanted to connect two Republican strongholds and to minimize the minority vote. Here in Connecticut the districts are pretty uniform in shape with no long narrow sections connecting the suburbs and dividing up big cities so that the districts have a Republican majority.

And the New Yorker says that,
But the outlook has grown even more dire in the weeks since. First, and most critically, Trump named Jeff Sessions — a longtime critic of federal civil-rights enforcement, who once prosecuted three African-American get-out-the-vote activists on dubious charges of voter fraud — as his pick to lead the Justice Department.

Then, moments after Trump was sworn in, a “Standing Up for Our Law Enforcement Community” page was added to the White House’s official website. The page decries the “dangerous anti-police atmosphere” in the United States, and declares, “Our job is not to make life more comfortable for the rioter, the looter, or the violent disrupter.”

Of course, steadfast enforcement of civil rights law does not require the federal government to supply looters with free pillow-top mattresses, wooly slippers, or ergonomic chairs. But since no one thinks the government’s job is literally to make rioters more comfortable, it seems likely that what the Trump administration really means is, “Our job is not to investigate local police departments that have been accused of systemic civil-rights violations.”
What other cases has Gore defended?
Gore does boast some expertise in civil-rights litigation — specifically, he has considerable experience defending the Republican Party against allegations that its voting laws violate civil rights.

As BuzzFeed notes, Gore defended controversial redistricting plans pushed by Republicans in Florida, New York, and South Carolina in 2012.

He also defended Florida governor Rick Scott’s attempt to purge his state’s voting rolls of non-citizens, shortly before the 2012 election. A federal court later ruled that Scott’s measure had violated the National Voter Registration Act, as it purged many legal voters from the rolls, most of whom happened to belong to left-leaning constituencies.
In two years there are elections in 2018, 435 seats of the United States House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate will be up for a vote. My concerns are that by that time to Republicans will have entrenched themselves into power but gerrymandering voting districts, passing voter ID laws that create hardships for minorities, and packed the courts with conservative judges. 

Right now I am sitting in on a meeting for ctEQUALITY for this year’s legislative agenda. The last meeting was very informative about the new legislative session; one of the bills that I hear the Republicans are planning on introducing is a requirement for women who want to have an abortion to have a vaginal ultrasound first. I only thought that bill like this were introduced in states like Texas, not in Connecticut. This is the new reality that we are now facing.

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