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CIVIL RIGHTS POLICIES, ANALYSIS, AND RESOURCES

The Civil Rights Domain tracks and reports on policies that deal with voter rights, police brutality, free speech, the right to privacy, and other human rights enshrined in our constitution. This domain tracks policies emanating from the White House, the Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and state legislatures. Our Principal Analyst is Rod Maggay who can be reached at rod@usresistnews.org.

Latest Civil Rights Posts

 

Attorney General Merrick Garland Brings Back DOJ Consent Decrees As A Tool For Police Reform

Brief #160—Civil Rights
By Rod Maggay
On April 16, 2021 new U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memorandum titled “Civil Settlement Agreements and Consent Decrees With State and Local Governmental Entities.”

The memo was comprised of four points. First, the new memo rescinded a November 2018 memo that imposed restrictions on the traditional use of consent decrees against state and local law enforcement entities. That November 2018 memo was issued by then Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Second, the new memo instructs that settlement agreements and consent decrees would return to the traditional process of approval that had been in place prior to Attorney General Sessions November 2018 memo. Third, the use of consent decrees again must lay out specifically what the violations are, what remedies are being proposed and how the remedies will address the violations. And lastly, the memo instructs that if monitors are brought in to help oversee the proposed consent decree that the monitors are independent, highly qualified and free of conflicts of interest. LEARN MORE

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A New Wave of “Anti – Protest” and “Anti – Riot” Bills Threaten First Amendment Rights In The United States

Brief #159—Civil Rights
By Rod Maggay
During the 2021 legislative session “anti – protest” and “anti – riot” bills have been introduced in a number of states across the United States. The bills vary in a number of key features but it is clear that these bills are being put forward in response to the protests last year against police misconduct and institutional racism. There have been more than 80 anti – protest bills introduced this year alone. Here is a list of the most noteworthy of those state bills.

On April 19, 2021 in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed the Combatting Public Disorder Act. That act creates a new charge of “aggravated rioting” which is focused on acts committed during a declared riot such as blocking a highway or the threat of force against a bystander. The bill also enhances the penalties for battery and burglary charges during a riot. Additionally, a mandatory sentence can be imposed on a person convicted of battery against a police officer during a riot.

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The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act Can Help Fight Restrictive Voter Suppression Bills

Brief #158—Civil Right
By Rod Maggay
In 2013 the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in the Shelby County v. Holder case. The case was brought seeking to have Sections 4(b) and 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 declared unconstitutional. The Voting Rights Act had been enacted to address racial discrimination in voting that had been a longstanding feature in a number of states, particularly in the Deep South.

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Georgia’s New Voter Law Does More Harm Than Good; March 2021

Brief #157—Civil Rights
By Rod Maggay
On March 25, 2021 Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia signed Georgia SB 202, which is known as the “The Election Integrity Act of 2021.” The sweeping 98-page bill purports to make changes to voting and elections in order to make them more secure. The bill was passed by the Georgia Legislature in the aftermath of an election where claims of election fraud and irregularities were made when in fact there has been no evidence of election fraud in Georgia or around the country.

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Automatic Voter Registration Systems (AVR) Is The Latest Approach To Fight State Voter Suppression Bills

Brief #155—Civil Rights
By Rod Maggay
In 2015 Oregon became the first state in the country to implement an automatic voter registration (AVR) system for its residents. California became the second U.S. state to implement an AVR system when it approved a law in October 2015. Over the next few years an additional seventeen states and the District of Columbia have passed laws that enacted AVR systems for their states. An automatic voter registration system is one where an eligible voter must opt – out of voting. Under the old traditional system in place across the U.S., voters filled out paper voter registration forms and returned them to their local voting authority body. Under an AVR system, any eligible voter who interacts with a state or federal government agency for a non – voting purpose, such as applying for a driver’s license or identification card, will automatically be registered to vote in that state. There are differences across the states that have an AVR system but the person will be registered unless they affirmatively decline. In sixteen states, the person conducting a transaction with a state or federal agency can decline during their visit with the agency they are conducting business with while two other states give the person the option to decline a registration to vote via a paper mailer sent to the person who declines by mailing the paper back.

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Democrats Pass Massive Voting Rights Bill While President Biden Signs Voting Rights Executive Order

Brief #154—Civil Rights
By Rod Maggay
“The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Representatives and Senators, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations[.]”On January 4, 2021, Rep. John P. Sarbanes (D-MD) introduced H.R.1, better known as the “For The People Act of 2021.” The bill is a massive comprehensive bill that seeks to address a number of issues associated with voting and elections. The bill is divided into three sections – Voting, Campaign Finance and Ethics.The Voting component of the bill addresses Election Access by promoting the availability of online voter registration, automatic voter registration (AVR), standards for provisional voting and standards for voting by mail. The bill also promotes Voter Access by promoting voter friendly policies such as Election Day as a holiday and minimum notification requirements for polling place changes.

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Restrictive State Voting Bills Have Multiplied In Aftermath of 2020 Election

Brief #153-Civil Rights
By Rod Maggay
In the aftermath of the 2020 election state legislatures from around the country have responded with a number of bills that relate to the ability to cast a ballot and other activities associated with voting, such as how ballots are returned and how voter rolls are updated. A significant number of these state bills raise red flags because they appear to be in response to former President Donald Trump’s assertion that the 2020 election was rife with fraud and were not as secure as they could have been. Despite statements from election officials, law enforcement and intelligence agencies that the 2020 elections were in fact secure and that no evidence of fraud was uncovered, state officials have still followed Trump’s lead and introduced a number of bills that purport to bring stability and security to future elections in their state.

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The Equality Act Seeks To Expand LGBQT Discrimination Protections

Brief #152—Civil Rights
By Rod Maggay
On February 18, 2021 Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) introduced H.R. 5 in the House of Representatives. The bill is popularly known as the Equality Act and had been introduced in various forms in previous sessions of Congress. The bill seeks to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity and sexual orientation, and other purposes.” The text of the bill uniquely specifies and amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to state that discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation are protected categories under that law. In addition to adding these new protected categories to that landmark law the bill also expands coverage for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Jury Selection and Services Act housing and education laws and a number of other federally funded programs. And finally, the bill states specifically that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993 cannot be used to challenge a provision in the Act and cannot be used as a defense to a claim of unlawful discrimination under the Act. On February 25, 2021, the House of Representatives voted to pass the bill by a 224 – 206 vote. The bill was then sent to the Senate for a vote in the coming weeks. LEARN MORE

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California Introduces Bill Banning Non – Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s) In Workplace Discrimination Cases

Brief #151—Civil Rights
By Rod Maggay
On February 8, 2021 California State Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino) introduced Senate Bill (SB) 331, popularly known as the Silenced No More Act. The bill is intended to supplement the Stand Together Against Non – Disclosures (STAND) Act which was also introduced by State Senator Leyva and which was signed into law in California in 2018.

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