Joint Center Updates
President Biden announces a new slate of appointments to the Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities: The White House announced newly-appointed members of the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). This diverse list of advocates includes HBCU presidents, private sector executives, and non-profit executives, among others. The board will support the White House HBCU Initiative, whose goal is to “increase the capacity of HBCUs to provide the highest-quality education to its students and continue serving as engines of opportunity.”
A Joint Center analysis found that 70 percent of African Americans said providing financial support for HBCUs should be a priority for President Biden.
Former President Barack Obama joins President Biden to celebrate the Affordable Care Act Coverage: President Obama returned to the White House for the first time in five years to join President Biden in celebrating the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) 12th anniversary. At the event, President Biden also announced new healthcare expansions. The Affordable Care Act was hallmark legislation during the Obama administration and signed into law in March 2010.
Biden administration to re-authorize student loan moratorium: The Biden administration announced plans to extend federal student loan repayment freezes until Aug. 31. The moratorium was introduced at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and after multiple extensions, was most recently intended to expire May 1.
A Joint Center poll found that 76 percent of African Americans said that forgiving all student loan debt should be a priority for President Biden.
Bipartisan support for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in the Senate: Three Republicans publicly voiced their support for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in the upcoming Senate vote. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) intend to vote to confirm Judge Jackson to the High Court. Their stance is particularly of note, given that the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote to advance Judge Jackson’s nomination was initially deadlocked 11-11 along partisan lines. However, the three Republicans’ support for Judge Jackson solidifies her majority support in the Senate, all but guaranteeing her position on the Supreme Court bench.
NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) issued a statement calling for the Senate to confirm Judge Jackson to the Supreme Court. This statement, co-authored by current and former LDF President and Directors-Counsel, Janai S. Nelson, Elaine Jones, Ted Shaw, and Sherrilyn Ifill, states “as evidenced by extensive reviews of her record and her responses during her four-day confirmation hearing, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is exceptionally qualified and has the temperament needed to serve as the next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.”
The Joint Center has proudly supported Judge Jackson throughout the nomination and confirmation process. We urge the Senate to confirm Judge Jackson.
House Democrats call for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from Jan. 6 case: Many Democrats are voicing concerns about Justice Thomas’s ties to anti-democratic organizing. Two dozen Democrats in the House and Senate sent a letter to Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas urging Justice Thomas to recuse himself due to conflicts of interest and in support of an updated judicial ethics code. Recent intelligence reports suggest that Justice Thomas’ wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, was heavily involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, culminating in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.
The House passes legislation to federally decriminalize cannabis: The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act passed in the House 220-204, touting bipartisan support. The bill will de-classify cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance, implement an eight percent tariff on cannabis products, expunge criminal convictions on marijuana charges, and review sentences of individuals impacted by its criminalization. According to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), “those criminal records can haunt people of color and impact the trajectory of their lives indefinitely,” highlighting that this measure is a racial justice issue. This sentiment is shared by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) who stated, “make no mistake, yes, it is a racial justice bill.”
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights issued a statement commending the House for passing this bill.
Submit comments for United States Representative Racial Equity Engagement: The United States International Trade Commission is seeking testimonies on trade policy from American workers. Comments will contribute to a research project highlighting diverse perspectives on trade policy and outcomes.
Upcoming congressional hearings include: “A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: International Trade and Food Assistance Programs” (House Agriculture Committee, House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, April 6); Overcoming Racism to Advance Economic Opportunity (House Ways and Means Committee, April 6); (Im)Balance of Power: How Market Concentration Affects Worker Compensation and Consumer Prices (House Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, April 6)
LDF, in conjunction with other organizations, issued a statement praising a federal judge’s ruling to strike down a suppressive voting law. The judge ruled that S.B. 90 violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. “This decision recognized that S.B. 90 is the latest stain in a long history of voting laws which restrict Black political participation,” said LDF Senior Counsel Amia Trigg.
The Leadership Conference, NAACP, and others will launch a new campaign entitled “Black History Is American History,” in direct opposition to Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) and his administration’s efforts to whitewash history taught in schools. This campaign intends to elevate the central role of Black history in America and will invite Virginia families to support diverse historical perspectives in the schools.
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law testified before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties in support of abolishing qualified immunity because it erodes civil rights protections for people of color.
The National Organization of Black County Officials 36th Annual Economic Development Conference will be in (Shelby County) Memphis, TN, April 20.
The African American Mayors Association 2022 Annual Conference, “The Time for Transformation In Our Cities,” will be in Washington, DC, April 27-29.
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation will host the 2022 Health Equity Summit, part of its Policy for the People Virtual Summit Series, May 12.
The National Urban League Annual Conference 2022 will be in Washington, D.C., July 20-23.