Joint Center Updates
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announces retirement: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is retiring, NPR reports. Federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, two Black women, are reportedly the “two leading contenders” to fill Justice Breyer’s seat. During his presidential campaign, President Biden pledged to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court. Last year, the Joint Center urged President Biden to prioritize Black appointments to the U.S. Court of Appeals — especially in the DC Appeals court, which is often a stepping stone to the U.S. Supreme Court. A statement on Justice Breyer’s retirement can be found in Demand Justice.
Vice President’s Wisconsin visit underscores importance of winning Black votes in 2024: Vice President Harris’s visit to Milwaukee Monday, to bring attention to the need to replace lead pipes to provide clean drinking water, is a sign that the Biden Administration recognizes Wisconsin as a key battleground state for the 2024 presidential race, The New York Times reports. Winning over Black voters will be key to expanding support for Democrats in a state where President Biden defeated Donald Trump by just over 20,000 votes.
President’s pledge to fight for voting rights viewed as belated by frustrated African Americans: President Biden’s commitment to fight harder for voting rights is being met with widespread sentiments among African Americans that the promise to do more comes too late, The Washington Post reports. White House officials continue to point to executive actions made by the president as evidence of commitment to advancing equity, also noting that protecting voting rights is a part of Vice President Harris’s policy portfolio.
U.S. District Court rules that Alabama redistricting violates rights of Black voters: Alabama’s redrawn congressional district map for elections in November were rejected by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Reuters reports. The court ruled that the map drawn by the Republican-dominated state legislature “likely violated the Voting Rights Act and stood to deny Black voters an additional representative.”
Fight for voting rights package deemed necessary by Dems despite certain defeat: Democrats, led by U.S. Sen. and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), say fighting for voting rights was necessary despite their party’s all but certain inability to break a Republican filibuster against new legislation, The New York Times reports. The failure to pass a voting rights package was compounded by falling short on a subsequent effort to overhaul filibuster rules, due to the resistance of two Democratic colleagues, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).
Progressive Democrats target colleagues viewed as obstacles: In the wake of the Democrats’ failure to gain approval for new voting rights legislation, progressives in the party are preparing to target colleagues who they view as blocking the liberal agenda, The Hill reports. Included among the five Democrats being targeted are Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
The NAACP, National Urban League, Color of Change, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the African American Mayors Association (AAMA) were among the civil and voting rights groups that condemned the U.S. Senate for blocking the Freedom to Vote: John Lewis Act. Houston Mayor and AAMA President Sylvester Turner described the Senate’s action as “a major blow to our democracy,” while Color of Change Director of Criminal Justice and Democracy Campaigns Scott Roberts called it “an assault on civil rights.”
The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF) President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill testified before a subcommittee of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on the current voting rights crisis, urging the full restoration of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and advocating policies against voter suppression.
The LDF also condemned a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to grant writs of certiorari in the Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard and SFFA v. UNC. In the face of SFFA’s efforts to eliminate even limited consideration of race in a college admissions process, LDF President Ifill says the decision “threatens the nation’s ideals of equality.” Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law President and Executive Director Damon Hewitt also defended race-conscious admissions policies as “a critical tool that ensures students of color are not overlooked in a process that does not typically value their determination, accomplishments, and immense talents.”
The LDF praised a U.S. District Court decision to block Alabama’s newly drawn congressional map, ordering the state legislature to draw a map which complies with the Voting Rights Act by including two districts where Black voters have the opportunity for representation.
The AAMA announced that 143 mayors, including Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, have signed the Mayor’s Compact on Racial Equity, pledging to pursue policies and initiatives, such as making local government more inclusive, aimed at advancing racial equity in their cities.
The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law lauded the U.S. Senate confirmation of Judge Holly A. Thomas to serve as United States Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
The Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights joined with 90 civil rights and education organizations urging Congress to advance legislation aimed at providing “safe, healthy, and inclusive school climates.” The groups are calling on legislators to support the Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act, Keeping All Students Safe Act, Protecting our Students in Schools Act, Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2021, and Ending PUSHOUT Act of 2021.
Joint Center Workforce Policy Director Dr. Alex Camardelle will participate in Groundwork Collaborative’s Jobs Day Tweetchat on Feb. 4. Follow Alex and Groundwork Collaborative to find the conversation.
The 25th Annual Rainbow PUSH Wall Street Project Economic Summit will be March 21-23, 2022.
The National Organization of Black County Officials’ 36th Annual Economic Development Conference will be in (Shelby County) Memphis, TN, April 20, 2022.