The American Civil Rights Project

The American Civil Rights Project The American Civil Rights Project knows that Americans' civil rights are individual rights (whether understood as a positive enactment of centuries of ratifiers or as the common endowment of all children from nature and nature's God).

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The American Civil Rights Project has been named a nominee for the 2021 Gregor G. Peterson Prize in Venture Philanthopy....
09/20/2021
Peterson Prize Nomination | American Civil Rights Project

The American Civil Rights Project has been named a nominee for the 2021 Gregor G. Peterson Prize in Venture Philanthopy. The Peterson is “[a]n annual prize for a trailblazing early stage non-profit[,]” whose “mission is to identify founders with bold ideas; to help bring these ideas to fruition, and to partner in building sustainable, life-changing organizations.”

We are honored that our work drew their attention as fitting that description.

The American Civil Rights Project has been named a nominee […]

08/20/2021
Mistaken Heritage: How a Statutory Misreading Has Denied Congress’ Intended Beneficiaries Protection for Half a Century | The Federalist Society

In 1975, Congress amended the voting rights act to add a new protected class. Language minorities. Specifically, “persons who are … of Spanish heritage.” As our Executive Director Dan Morenoff explains in this article, that meant something specific and it isn’t what courts usually assume.

You can tell the answer from the historical context, the text itself (supported by contemporaneous usage), Congress’s enacted legislative findings, and the relevant legislative history. But the courts have never applied this clear answer. The statute has never been applied to protect these core, targeted beneficiaries. Instead, a misreading of the language of the amendments has yielded irrelevant relief to other groups for generations.

When the Voting Rights Act (VRA) came up for renewal of its pre-clearance mechanism for the second time in 1975, Congress didn’t just update its coverage formula and leave the statute in place. It amended the core provisions of the VRA. Previously, the VRA had established that

Lowe's recognizes that "entrepreneurs continue to face extraordinary challenges as they work to stabilize their business...
08/12/2021
Open Letter to Lowe's Concerning Illegal Provisions of Making It ... with Lowe's Promotion | American Civil Rights Project

Lowe's recognizes that "entrepreneurs continue to face extraordinary challenges as they work to stabilize their businesses" so launched a program to "help[ ] lift your product -- your business -- to the next level[.]" Just one problem: it only made "diverse" businesses eligible.

Today, we wrote the company, warning that refusing to contract with businesses based on race violates Federal law (and that refusing to contract based on s*x, gender, and disability status violates the law of a number of states).

Hopefully, they'll do what's right and fix this by opening the doors to all American small businesses. No one's business should fail because a duopolist judges whom it will work with based on their race or s*x.

In its current form, the "Making It ... with Lowe's" promotion discriminates based on race, ethnicity, s*x, and gender, in violation of both state and Federal law. This threatens the company with potentially serious liability to America's small businesses and the company's officers and directors wit...

The ACR Project submitted a comment on the Department of Ed's proposed new priorities for federal funding.The TL/DR? Whe...
05/20/2021
Comment on Department of Education's Proposed New Priorities for Federal Funding | American Civil Rights Project

The ACR Project submitted a comment on the Department of Ed's proposed new priorities for federal funding.

The TL/DR? Where the DOEd emphasizes the need to apply consistent standards to vet out unreliable sources: good; where it relies on unreliable sources, to which it applied no consistent standards: bad.

Yesterday, the American Civil Rights Project submitted a comment on the Department of Education's proposal of new priorities for federal education funding. We applauded the Department, where it would prioritize teaching students to analyze information dispassionately and apply objective, consistent....

The ACR Project is investigating whether Coca-Cola's officers and directors violate(d) their fiduciary duties by adoptin...
05/03/2021
SHAREHOLDER ALERT: The ACR Project Investigating Coca-Cola Company Policies as Fiduciary Breach | American Civil Rights Project

The ACR Project is investigating whether Coca-Cola's officers and directors violate(d) their fiduciary duties by adopting and retaining the company's current outside-counsel policy.

The American Civil Rights Project, a national civil rights organization, is investigating on behalf of shareholders the officers and directors of Coca Cola Company (NYSE: KO) for breaches of fiduciary duties.

The Equal Voting Rights Institute is now the American Civil Rights Project.  We've got a new name, a new website, and a ...
03/30/2021
American Civil Rights Project | Protect & Restore Our Rights

The Equal Voting Rights Institute is now the American Civil Rights Project. We've got a new name, a new website, and a broadened set of issues to focus on. But we hope you'll stay with us as we address more stuff.

The ACR Project exists to protect and, where necessary, restore the primacy of all Americans’ shared civil rights.

Ward Connerly explains his general optimism in America’s continuing development into a more perfect Union, while highlig...
07/25/2020
Opinion | America Isn’t a Racist Country

Ward Connerly explains his general optimism in America’s continuing development into a more perfect Union, while highlighting that whether our largest state tries to re-authorize governmental discrimination on the basis of race is far more important to our future than the placement or removal of any statue.

If we’re going to have a national conversation, we need a bold, spirited defense of our progress.

Congressman John Lewis is no longer with us. He was a brave man and his example is an inspiration. This quote isn’t from...
07/18/2020
Rep. John Lewis, A Force In The Civil Rights Movement, Dead At 80

Congressman John Lewis is no longer with us. He was a brave man and his example is an inspiration.

This quote isn’t from the article below, but it’s one we hold dear:

“It is an affront to all of what the civil rights movement stood for, what people died for, what people bled for…. [T]hose of us who marched across that bridge [55] years ago, we didn’t march for some racial entitlement…. [W]e wanted to open up the political process, and let all of the people come in, and it didn’t matter whether they were black or white, Latino, Asian-American or Native American.” — John Lewis

Rest In Peace, Sir.

Lewis began his nearly 60-year career in public service leading sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in the Jim Crow-era South. He went on to serve in Congress for more than three decades.

Happy Juneteenth!Much of America lacks a holiday commemorating the end of slavery. But Texas has one, Juneteenth, markin...
06/19/2020

Happy Juneteenth!

Much of America lacks a holiday commemorating the end of slavery. But Texas has one, Juneteenth, marking the day in 1865 that Union General Gordon Granger, having arrived in Galveston the day before, informed the locals that in 1862, President Lincoln had declared all slaves held in Texas (or in any other territories then in rebellion) free effective as of January 1, 1863.

Conveniently, that event coincides with the same day in 1862 that President Lincoln signed legislation banning slavery in all territories of the United States.

So whether you’re a Texan (in actuality or at heart), an American from any territories not yet incorporated into states in 1862, or just an American that wants to celebrate the end of legal enslavement, this is the holiday for you!

Enjoy it with those you love. And have a great weekend!

We can’t remember ever before seeing a discussion of the Reduction Clause in the popular press (Jonathan Mitchell publis...
02/23/2020
The Lost 110 Words of Our Constitution

We can’t remember ever before seeing a discussion of the Reduction Clause in the popular press (Jonathan Mitchell published a great law review article on it and other elements of the 14th Amendment’s text in the Stanford Law Review in 2017 (69 Stan.L.Rev 1237 (2017)), but it did not make it into the popular press).

It is worth considering the Clause, how it can be utilized, and what it says about the legitimacy of the alternate, non-text-based remedies courts have applied to limitations of the franchise on bases unaddressed by the 15th and 19th Amendments.

The 14th Amendment says states that infringe the vote must lose representation in Congress. It’s time to make this happen.

In 2018, Florida voters passed a ballot initiative to amend their state constitution.  The text of the initiative provid...
02/19/2020
Court: Florida can't bar felons from vote over fines, fees

In 2018, Florida voters passed a ballot initiative to amend their state constitution. The text of the initiative provided that it: "restores the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation."

The state legislature then effected the amendment through an act clarifying that "completing all terms of [a felon's] sentence" included paying any fees, fines, and restitution orders included in the felon's convicting judgment. Florida's Governor has asked the Florida Supreme Court to rule on whether those financial obligations are, indeed, terms of the convicted Floridians sentences.

That is not where new action has occurred. Instead, the new action comes from the Federal courts. There, 17 plaintiff-groups challenged the enacting law as Unconstitutional -- they argued that it denied equal protection to the indigent (violating the 14th Amendment) and constituted a poll-tax (forbidden by the 24th Amendment). A district court earlier granted a preliminary injunction, barring the application of parts of the enacting legislation (on two bases: (i) that the legislature did not provide for a determination, through the same procedures that otherwise apply to former-felon voter registrations, of whether former-inmates had failed to pay their sentence-financial-obligations due to an inability to pay; and (ii) that fees, unlike fines and restitution orders, are essentially taxes forbidden as a condition to voting by the 24th Amendment).

What's now happened is that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld that injunction. Presumably, that's as far as things will go before either the new legislative session amends the law or the district court holds a trial in April.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida cannot, for now, bar felons who served their time from registering to vote simply because they have failed to pay all fines and fees stemming

As this article highlights, a more diverse America is getting “‘[m]ore and more Section 2 cases ... straying from the ra...
02/19/2020
East Ramapo trial offers fraught question: Should Hasidic Jews be considered ‘white’?

As this article highlights, a more diverse America is getting “‘[m]ore and more Section 2 cases ... straying from the racial dynamics the law was designed to address: whites vs. blacks, or whites vs. Latinos. Now there are cases where black minorities challenge Latino majorities, or where Asians challenge majority-white districts, according to Michael Li, senior council at the Brennan Center for Justice.” Li could have added cases, like our last litigation, where Anglos were the minority challenging districts drawn by a government elected by an opposed majority coalition. As our population keeps changing, these fact patterns will continue to multiply, requiring clear rules of general applicability, which will apply even-handedly regardless of what group is in the minority or who is goring the oxen.

The District Court in the East Ramapo litigation seems to be honing in on “what is driving voting patterns in the district,” rather than on the existence or absence of ethnically based voting blocs or on the opportunities of those blocs to elect their preferred candidates. It’s unclear if this is a question relevant to the Voting Roghts Act and equally unclear that it is a question discernible by the judiciary.

With so many proverbial balls in the air, this will be a case to watch going forward.

“The last thing anyone at the NAACP wants is to have the perception that this is about anti-Jewish animus of any kind.”

Proposed reforms that reduce transparency and accountability should always be subject to heavy scrutiny. And we should n...
09/20/2019
Independent Commissions Gerrymander Just as Much as State Legislators

Proposed reforms that reduce transparency and accountability should always be subject to heavy scrutiny. And we should not be surprised if the scrutiny shows that the reform deserved the skepticism.

Independent redistricting commissions may not be as politically-neutral as theorized, says new study

The Fifth Circuit will hear oral argument in our case _Harding v. County of Dallas_ on October 10th, in lovely New Orlea...
08/30/2019

The Fifth Circuit will hear oral argument in our case _Harding v. County of Dallas_ on October 10th, in lovely New Orleans. No, that's not the Courthouse; Jackson Square just makes for a better visual.

06/27/2019

SCOTUS rediscovered the political question doctrine today, finally answering decades of questions about the judicial role in fights over partisan redistricting.

We’ll have more to say about this after reading the opinion(s).

On the anniversary of the day SCOTUS handed down Brown v. BOE, let’s remember what Justice Marshall told Dennis Hutchiso...
05/17/2019

On the anniversary of the day SCOTUS handed down Brown v. BOE, let’s remember what Justice Marshall told Dennis Hutchison about it in 1979:

“the biggest mistake [I] made was assuming that once Jim Crow was deconstitutionalized, the whole structure would collapse--‘like pounding a stake in Dracula’s heart,’ ...[i]n the twelve months between Brown I and Brown II, [I] realized that [I] had yet to win anything.... ‘In 1954, I was delirious. What a victory! I thought I was the smartest lawyer in the entire world. In 1955, I was shattered. They gave us nothing and then told us to work for it. I thought I was the dumbest Negro in the United States.’”

Landmarks aren’t self-effectuating. It took years more work to realize the promise of the Constitution and kill Jim Crow. So celebrate the step, but remember that what made the difference was the long work that came both before and after, and take it as an inspiration for your own.

We do.

In Houston this weekend, Eric Holder, the former AG whose Voting Rights Section made it express policy to ignore the imp...
03/25/2019
Former AG Eric Holder meets with Houston activists as campaign against gerrymandering begins

In Houston this weekend, Eric Holder, the former AG whose Voting Rights Section made it express policy to ignore the impact of redistrictings on voters of one and only one race, held a "kickoff meeting" with "leaders of organizations that helped to turn out voters in the midterm elections last year." "Holder, the chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, said [that former President] Obama ... 'has said that this is the chief political involvement of his post-presidency, this whole effort of the NDRC[.]'" He describes "Texas" as "a critical state…. To be successful in the efforts we are going to be doing nationwide, we have to be successful here in Texas[.]”

Communications theorists have pointed out that when people restate the negative to deny it, they're actually confirming the truth of an allegation. So notice that the former AG specifically emphasizes that his purpose is 'not gerrymandering for Democrats, I want to make that very clear[.]'” Yet he and the former President are not lobbing amicus briefs before the Supreme Court concerning the live appeal of Maryland's unfair, partisan map. They are not making California, an aggressively gerrymandered, larger state, with more Congressional seats "critical" to "what [they] are doing nationwide." No, they're making Texas that special focus.

Why?

Because the denial is specious. This is a campaign for gerrymandering they prefer. That's why the former AG is doing this IN HIS ROLE AS THE CHAIRMAN OF THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC REDISTRICTING COMMITTEE and why the former President openly describes the effort as "political involvement." They are using American's voting rights as a partisan weapon. Mr. Holder just lacks the stomach to be honest about it with the press.

Former Attorney General had a round table with organizations in Houston in preparation for a countrywide effort to boost the Census count towards a battle against gerrymandering in 2021, an initiative that represents the chief political interest of Barack Obama in his post-presidency, Holder said...

Tomorrow, North Carolina and its partisan redistricting litigation go before the Supreme Court.  The case parallels the ...
03/25/2019
Supreme Court to Deliberate Fate of Partisan Gerrymandering—Again

Tomorrow, North Carolina and its partisan redistricting litigation go before the Supreme Court. The case parallels the Maryland litigation in presenting First Amendment claims, while also including a schmorgasbord of alternative invalidation theories.

Very likely, the Supreme Court will use the pair of cases to establish what broad rules (if any) the judiciary will use going forward to decide whether partisan mapdrawings are constitutional.

A case of North Carolina’s district lines drawn by Republicans, along with a case from Maryland where Democratic map makers have been under fire, finally could prompt the justices either to impose nationwide limits on partisan redistricting—or remove the federal courts entirely as a referee.

A comprehensive, decade long study by the National Bureau of Economic Research concludes from 1.3 billion observations t...
02/12/2019
Strict ID Laws Don't Stop Voters: Evidence from a U.S. Nationwide Panel, 2008-2016

A comprehensive, decade long study by the National Bureau of Economic Research concludes from 1.3 billion observations that voter ID laws have had no material impact on the registration or turnout of voters “overall or for any group defined by race, gender, age, or party affiliation.” And that they’ve had no material impact on either voter fraud or perceptions of voter fraud.

We’ve spent a decade fighting over what’s basically an impactless irrelevancy.

U.S. states increasingly require identification to vote – an ostensive attempt to deter fraud that prompts complaints of selective disenfranchisement. Using a difference-in-differences design on a 1.3-billion-observations panel, we find the laws have no negative effect on registration or turnout, ...

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