Register now for the 8th Annual Global Washington conference

Dec. 8: Global Washington conference

global-waTime: 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Date: Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016
Place: Bell Harbor International Conference Center, Seattle, WA

Featured speakers include Shelmina Abji, Advisory Board, United Nations Foundation Girl Up and Former Vice President, IBM; Michael Bowers, Vice President of Humanitarian Leadership and Response, Mercy Corps; Sheri Flies, Assistant General Merchandise Manager, Global Sourcing
Costco Wholesale Corporation; Mary Snapp, Corporate Vice President and President
Microsoft Philanthropies; Simon Winter, Senior Vice President of Development, TechnoServe.

Click here to view the program for the 8th Annual Global Washington conference. Click here to register.

Dec. 14: Supreme Court Recap: Federal Court Access Decisions from an Eight-Member SCOTUS webinar

Shriver CenterTime: 10:00 to 10:30 a.m.
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016
Place: Online, register here.

The 2015 Supreme Court Term was unusual because of Justice Scalia’s unexpected death and his still-vacant seat on the Court. How did this eight-member Court rule on issues affecting access to the federal courts?

Join the Shriver Center‘s next Advocacy Exchange, our live monthly video broadcast with advocates advancing change. We’ll talk with Gill Deford of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Jane Perkins of the National Health Law Program, Gary Smith of Legal Services of Northern California, and Mona Tawatao of the Western Center on Law and Poverty to get their annual recap of the previous Supreme Court Term and its implications for access to the federal courts.

Dec. 14: ABA Webinar on Establishing and Enhancing Legal Clinics to Serve Veterans

abasTime: 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016
Place: Online. Register here.

This webinar is designed to inspire and assist civil legal aid organizations, law schools and bar associations in creating legal clinics to serve veterans in their communities.  Speakers will provide instruction on how to establish legal clinics in or near VA Medical Centers, how to establish a legal clinic as a Medical Legal Partnership, and how to create law school clinics that serve veterans.  Discussion will include identification of VA Medical Centers in need of legal clinics and examples of successful urban and rural models around the country.  The panel will also discuss the need to engage in culturally competent practices when representing veterans including referrals to wraparound services to address the needs of veterans and their families holistically.  Speakers will include representatives from the US Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for Medical Legal Partnerships, civil legal aid organizations, and law school clinic Professors.

Advances in Transgender Rights in Vietnam! Parliament Adopts New Legislation

Vietnam: Positive Step for Trangsender Rights – Vietnamese Parliament Adopts New Transgender Legislation

HRW

By: Human Rights Watch

On November 24, 2015, the Vietnamese National Assembly approved a bill to legalize sex reassignment surgery and to introduce the right to legal gender recognition for transgender people who have undergone such surgery.

The law allows people who wish to undergo gender affirming surgeries to do so in Vietnamrather than abroad, and to subsequently change the gender marker on their official documents. This constitutes a small, but significant step toward recognition of transgender people’s rights, Human Rights Watch said today.

Continue reading here.

Thousands Mourn Kurdish Human Rights Lawyer Killed in Turkey

Photo of Thousands Mourning at Tahir Elci Funeral

By: Ayla Albayarak | Wall Street Journal | Photo credit: Reuters

Tens of thousands of mourners gathered on Sunday to bid farewell to a prominent human rights lawyer whose shooting death delivered a setback to hopes of bringing an end to months of political violence that has swept through Turkey’s Kurdish region.

Tahir Elci, one of Turkey’s leading advocates for Kurdish rights, was killed Saturday after making an appeal for an end to clashes between Kurdish militants and state security forces.

Mr. Elci was shot during a clash on a narrow street in Diyarbakir, the Kurdish majority city in southeastern Turkey that has been one of the central battlegrounds for renewed clashes since a two-year-old cease-fire collapsed in July.

Continue reading here.

Employers and Workers Grapple with Laws Allowing Marijuana Use

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By: G.M. Filisko | ABA Journal

On June 15, 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court was the ultimate buzzkill.

When the state’s residents passed a referendum in 2012 legalizing recreational marijuana use—long after the state sanctioned medical use in 2000—few had any idea that Coloradans who partook in the bud would end up jeopardizing their livelihood.

That’s exactly what the court permitted inCoats v. Dish Network. The case pitted a quadriplegic licensed to use medical marijuana against his employer. The court held the state’s “lawful activities statute,” which generally prohibits employers from firing employees for engaging in lawful activities off the job, applied only to activities lawful under Colorado and federal law. Because marijuana is illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act, its use isn’t lawful—and can remain a valid basis for termination in the state.

Continue reading here.

Supreme Court Ruling Could Spark More Unintentional-Discrimination Cases

Eva Paterson

By: Stephanie Francis Ward | ABA Journal | Photo of Eva Paterson; Photo credit: Eva Paterson

A recent U.S. Supreme Court opinion that addressed unconscious discrimination in a low-income housing case could have far-reaching effects on future civil rights and criminal cases involving implicit bias.

The June 2015 opinion (PDF) dealt with a claim against the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. It alleged that the department disproportionately gave tax credits to developers of low-income housing in minority inner-city Dallas neighborhoods, while denying the credits in suburbs with large white populations. The Inclusive Communities Project brought the case, alleging that the state agency’s actions led to segregated housing, in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

Continue reading here.

 

The Average Number of Legal Problems Per Low-Income Household Has Tripled Over the Last Decade

New Report: 2015 Washington State Civil Legal Needs Study Update Reveals Troubling Justice Gap

Equal Justice Coalition Logo

By: Equal Justice Coalition 

SEATTLE — Oct. 29, 2015 — A Washington Supreme Court commissioned statewide survey of more than 1,600 low-income Washingtonians discovered that seven of ten low-income individuals and families in Washington State face at least one significant civil legal problem each year, and the average number of problems per low-income household has tripled over the last decade.

Despite the growing number of civil legal problems that often implicate their most basic needs, the vast majority of low-income Washingtonians do not receive the legal help they need to solve these problems. More than three-quarters of those with civil legal problems struggle without a lawyer or any type of legal help.

Continue reading here.

Free CLE for ABA Members: From Montgomery to Ferguson and Baltimore, Lawyers as Agents of Change: The Role of the Law in the Long Arc of Justice

ABA Logo

Monday, November 16, 2015
1:00 PM – 2:35 PM ET

1.5 General CLE Credits

Webinar
List price $195
ABA Member Price FREE

In this month’s ABA Free CLE Series, join us as we:

  • Commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott
  • Explore the role of lawyers and the judiciary as a participant in resolving social conflicts

Speakers
Nicole Austin-Hillery | Director and Counsel | The Brennan Center For Justice | Washington, DC
Sheila Y. Thomas | Attorney at Law | Law Offices of Sheila Thomas | Oakland, CA
Stephen F. Hanlon | Adjunct Professor | Saint Louis University School of Law | St. Louis, MO

Moderator
Paulette Brown
President | American Bar Association

Register online here.

Seminar Promotes Access to Justice for the Deaf

Deaf Seminar - Photo credit David Keane

By: Sean O’Riodan | Irish Examiner | Photo credit David Keane

“We can learn a lot from the experiences shared by the members of the Irish deaf community who participated in this research,” said Ms Harold.

“One of the most significant findings is the need to improve communication awareness amongst those who assist and support Deaf victims of crime, in order to make their services more accessible.”

Ms Harold, who has been funded by Irish Research Council to explore deaf people’s experiences as victims of crime and their interaction with the criminal justice process, said the event was very worthwhile.

Continue reading here.

For Non-U.S. Citizens, Early Release from Prison Means Swift Deportation

By: Pamela Constable | Washington Post | Photo credit: Washington Post

prisoner family photo

Nearly one in three of the inmates being released from U.S. prisons this month as part of an effort to roll back harsh drug sentences will not be returning to the states and cities where they were arrested.

Instead, they are being deported.

They are non-U.S. citizens, who in many cases were in this country legally when they were caught selling drugs and given long sentences under the “mandatory minimum” laws that grew out of the 1980s crack cocaine epidemic.

Like the rest of the 6,000 prisoners selected for the U.S. Prison Bureau’s largest-ever mass release, each has been found by a judge not to be a threat to society. But every one of the non-citizens in the group had either received final deportation orders from immigration judges or was being reviewed for deportation before the mass release was planned, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said.

Continue reading here.

Mexico’s Supreme Court Rules that Smoking Pot is a Fundamental Human Right

Demonstraters Protest

By: Christopher Ingraham | Washington Post | Photo Credit: Alex Cruz/European Press Photo Agency

Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled 4-to-1 Wednesday that outlawing the possession and use of the marijuana plant represents a violation of fundamental human rights. While the ruling does not mean that marijuana is now legal in the country — it only applies to the four plaintiffs in this specific case — it gives a tremendous amount of political space for lawmakers to introduce marijuana reform bills at the state and federal level in Mexico.

“It’s really a monumental case,” said Hannah Hetzer of the Drug Policy Alliance, a drug reform advocacy group, in an interview. “It was argued on human rights grounds, which is unusual, and it’s taking place in Mexico, the epicenter of some of the worst effects of the war on drugs.”

Continue reading here.

Attention Recent Grads! Staff Attorney Positions Available in DC and Nebraska

NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund Seeking 2015 Law Student Intern, Position Open Until Filled 

NAACP LDF Logo

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is currently accepting law student internship applications for Fall 2015. Fall interns will be responsible for legal and policy research, legal writing, policy analysis, monitoring federal legislation and administrative activity, factual investigation, development of educational and outreach material, discovery review, and/or other needs that may arise during the fall. Intern assignments depend on the needs of LDF’s legal and policy staff during the fall semester.

The internship positions are unpaid and limited in number. Students are advised to seek credit from their law schools. Fall Interns are expected to work 15 hours per week, but other arrangements may be accommodated on a case-by-case basis.

For more information, click here.

D.C. Tenants’ Rights Center Seeking Staff Attorney, Position Open Until Filled

DC Tenants Rights Center Logo

The D.C. Tenants’ Rights Center seeks an attorney to join its growing “low bono” law practice. We are a small, private, public-interest law firm. Our goal is to find ways to provide high-quality legal help that is affordable to any tenant in the District of Columbia. We charge low fees, accept cases on contingency, and offer unbundled services.

We assist with repair issues, evictions, withheld security deposits, illegal rent increases, personal injuries, and other disputes with landlords. We also help persons with disabilities facing housing discrimination; and we represent tenants asserting rights under the D.C. Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act. The staff attorney will advise tenants, negotiate with landlords, and provide representation in all phases of litigation. The attorney will also be involved in developing the firm’s strategies for expanding access to legal services.

For more information, click here.

Legal Aid of Nebraska Seeking Domestic Violence Attorney, Position Open Until Filled

Legal Aid of Nebraska Logo

Legal Aid of Nebraska, a law firm providing free civil legal services to low-income persons, seeks an attorney to serve Native American victims of domestic violence in Western Nebraska.  Must be admitted to practice in Nebraska or have a Nebraska license pending, and be licensed or willing to become licensed in the Ponca, Winnebago, Omaha and Santee Tribal Courts. This position entails extensive travel throughout panhandle and Cherry counties.

For more information, click here.

National Labor Relations Board Seeking General Attorney (Labor), Position Open Until Filled

NLRB Seal

Become a part of a prestigious and elite Agency created by Congress in 1935, to administer the National Labor Relations Act, the primary law for relations between unions and employers in the private sector. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is an independent Federal agency that has daily impact on the way America’s companies, industries and unions conduct business.

The incumbent serves as General Attorney (Labor), responsible for the preparation and litigation of assigned enforcement and review cases.  These cases are nationwide in scope and affect all segments of industry, both employers and employees. Assignments also include cases which are extremely difficult because of legal and factual issues.

For more information, click here.

New York City Commission on Human Rights Seeking Policy Counsel, Position Open Until Filled

NYC Commission on Human Rights Logo

The Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) is the agency charged with enforcing the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) – one of the most expansive civil rights laws in the nation which prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodations, and housing for a variety of protected categories, and prohibits bias-related harassment and bias-based profiling.

The Policy Counsel will work within the Office of the Chair of the Commission to develop and draft legal guidance, proposed rules and regulations, research proposed legislation, and collaborate with community stakeholders, other government agencies, and elected officials on proposed legislation amending the NYCHRL and policies relating to the NYCHRL.

For more information, click here.

Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Seeking 2016-2017 International Affairs Fellow, Due 10/31

CFR Logo

The IAF Program is only open to mid-career professionals who have a demonstrated commitment to a career in foreign policy. The program welcomes applicants from a broad range of professional, academic, and personal backgrounds. While a PhD is not a requirement, selected fellows generally hold an advanced degree and possess a strong record of work experience as well as a firm grounding in the field of foreign policy. The program does not fund pre- or postdoctoral research, work toward a degree, or the completion of projects for which substantial progress has been made prior to the fellowship period. Qualified candidates must be U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are eligible to work in the United States. CFR does not sponsor for visas.

For more information, click here.

Attention 3Ls! Public Citizen’s Alan Morrison Supreme Court Assistance Project Fellowship Now Accepting Applications, Due 11/30

Public Citizen Logo

The Litigation Group is looking for a bright, energetic lawyer to coordinate the Project and work on Supreme Court cases for one year, beginning late-August 2016. Most of the cases on which we work are civil rather than criminal. Most of our work at the petition stage involves assisting the party who won below in preparing an opposition to the petition for certiorari, to keep the case out of the Court and thereby preserve a victory.

The fellow reviews all paid cert. petitions. Working under the direct supervision of the Litigation Group director, the fellow makes an initial judgment about whether the case is of interest to the Project and prepares a memo and recommendation about whether to offer assistance. Considerable legal research and analysis are often required to determine whether assertions in the petition, such as a conflict among the courts of appeals, are supportable. The fellow then makes an initial contact with the attorney to whom help is being offered to explain the Project and the assistance that we can provide. In addition, all cases accepted by the Court for full review are considered for possible assistance by the Project. When an offer of help is accepted, a Litigation Group attorney assumes principal responsibility for the case within the office.

For more information, click here.

Attentions 1Ls & 2Ls! Planned Parenthood of America Seeking Summer 2016 Legal Intern in DC, Due 2/29/2016

Planned Parenthood

The Public Policy Litigation and Law Department of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) seeks 1L and 2L law student interns for its New York and Washington, D.C. offices for the summer of 2016. Our litigation docket includes federal and state court challenges to laws and policies that restrict access to abortion and other reproductive health services. We also initiate litigation designed to expand access to reproductive health services and to protect providers of those services. Interns can expect to work closely with PPFA attorneys on a wide variety of litigation responsibilities, including legal research and analysis; drafting memoranda, pleadings, affidavits, and briefs; factual development for ongoing or developing litigation; and communicating with clients.

The internship is open to first and second year law students. Successful applicants will have enthusiasm, excellent research and writing skills, and a demonstrated interest in reproductive rights, related issues, or public interest law.

For more information, click here.

Preliminary Results for the Civil Legal Needs Study Now Available

Mayor Introduces New Legislation Requiring Places of Public Accommodation to Designate All-Gender Restrooms

City of Seattle Logo

By Kathryn Robertson | Seattle.gov

Today Mayor Ed Murray introduced legislation that would require all City-controlled and privately operated places of public accommodation to designate existing or future single-occupant restrooms as all-gender facilities. All existing City-controlled single-occupant restrooms (across all City departments, from City Hall to Parks) will be re-signed to conform to this new standard. The proposal was one that was introduced to the City by the Seattle LGBT Commission as part of its ongoing work, and is one of the early recommendations from the Mayor’s LGBT Task Force.

“The transgender community deserves the dignity and respect that most people take for granted,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “That’s why Seattle is building upon our history of being one of the most welcoming cities in the world by ensuring restrooms are available and safe for all.”

Continue reading here.

Volunteer Opportunity with the Washington Court Reports Commission, Application Deadline 7/9

WSBA Logo

The WSBA Board of Governors is accepting letters of interest and résumés from members interested serving a four-year term on the Washington Court Reports Commission. The term begins Aug. 2, 2015, and expires Aug. 1, 2019.

The Washington Court Reports Commission is as an advisory body for the Washington Supreme Court, regarding publication of official opinions from the state’s appellate courts. See RCW 2.32.160. The commission is chaired by Chief Justice Barbara A. Madsen. Additional members include a Supreme Court justice, a Court of Appeals judge, the state reporter of decisions, the state law librarian, the state code reviser, and two representatives from the WSBA. Members are appointed by the chief justice to serve four-year terms.

The commission is involved in issues, such as the periodic awarding of publishing contracts, publication of official opinions in the Washington Reporter series of books, and electronic publication of opinions. The commission usually meets once annually in the summer in Olympia or SeaTac.

The commission would find it particularly helpful for the Bar’s nominee to have an interest and knowledge in technology issues related to electronic publications of official documents.

For more information about the Washington Court Reports Commission contact Rick Neidhardt, Washington State Reporter of Decisions, at 360-357-2090 or Rick.Neidhardt@courts.wa.gov.

Fair Housing Victory 

Supreme Court Courthouse (c) Stockvault

On Thursday, June 25, the Supreme Court ruled that disparate impact can continue to be used as evidence in illegal discrimination cases. Under disparate impact, actions that create discrimination can be found to violate fair housing and fair employment laws, even if those actions do not intend to discriminate. U.S. courts have used disparate impact for decades to assess discrimination charges; the Supreme Court’s ruling means we can continue to take disparate impact into consideration.

Read the full opinion here.

WSBA Board of Governors Accepting Letters of Interest for Judicial Information Systems Committee, Due Tomorrow

WSBA Logo

The WSBA Board of Governors is accepting letters of interest and résumés from members interested serving a three-year term on the Judicial Information System Committee (JISC). The term begins Aug. 1, 2015 and expires July 31, 2018.

The JISC is the policy-level steering committee for the court’s automation system. The committee is composed of 12 Bar members, including four members representing each of three areas of the judicial system — appellate court, superior court, and courts of limited jurisdiction. Three at-large committee members from outside the judiciary include a Bar member, a member of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, and a member of the Washington State Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

Learn more about the JISC or contact Pam Payne, senior administrative assistant, at 360-705-5277 or pamela.payne@courts.wa.gov.

Please submit letters of interest and résumés to: WSBA Communications Department, 1325 Fourth Ave., Suite 600, Seattle, WA 98101-2539, or via email to barleaders@wsba.org.

The Washington Office of Civil Legal Aid Releases Preliminary Results on the 2015 Civil Legal Needs Study

OCLA Logo

The Washington State Supreme Court’s Civil Legal Needs Study Update Committee commissioned the Social and Economic Sciences Research Center (SESRC) at Washington State University to conduct a comprehensive update of the 2003 Civil Legal Needs Study.  The survey research was conducted in late 2014.  Publications documenting the research findings are found below.

Continue reading here.

Western States Center Extends Registration for Activists Mobilizing for Power Training 2015

Western States Center Logo

Western States Center offers training and strategy event at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.  Workshops run from 10 am to 5 pm with a 2-hour lunch break.  Long lunch breaks are designed to give you a chance to network with other attendees and participate in lunch-time meetings. Space is limited.

To register online, click here.

Is your calendar looking empty? Add these informative events to your schedule!

2/20: City Council Hearing on Tenant Relocation

Want to learn more about rising rents? Want to learn more about city government? Attend a Seattle City Council Meeting on Tenant Relocation.

Many of you have been hearing about the epidemic of displacement in Seattle through our emails, the news, or your friends. Or perhaps you have experienced displacement yourself. From the Lockhaven to the Theodora to buildings in Columbia City, the Tenants Union has been supporting tenants who resist development and displacement. We will continue to support tenants in their building fights, but we also need to organize for legislative change to slow the system down.

Please join us at our first mobilization and teach-in for the campaign. The event will take place on Friday, February 20th  at 2:00 PM at the City Hall Council Chambers 600 4th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104.

2/22: Urban Poverty Forum (The New Debt)

This annual event sustains a local dialogue among diverse community voices around the systemic issues of urban poverty. This year’s program addresses debt–in particular, how debt impacts poor people (particularly people of color) in the Pacific Northwest. Speakers include Eddie Rye, host of the Urban Forum Northwest on 1150 AM Radio; Pamela Banks, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Urban League; Jonathan Grant, Executive Director of the Tenants Union; and tenants themselves, telling their own stories. The program also features a dramatic performance by The Mahogany Project. Learn from faith-based organizations, local nonprofits, and other concerned citizens about their efforts to help local citizens survive what’s been characterized as a “national epidemic” of consumer debt.

2/24: Social Justice Tuesday – “How to write a successful public interest grant application”

SJTPlease join us in Room 127 at 12:30 PM to learn more about the grant application process. Topics of discussion and questions answered: What to expect on a grant application? Where to find grant applications? Working with your organization/internship to prepare a grant application? Tips for writing applications?

 Please join:

  • Aline Carton-Listfjeld (Director Center for Public Service Law)
  • Tamara Gaffney-Curtin Fellowship  (PILA Grantee)
  • Anna Rae Goethe (Joan Fitzpatrick Fellowship)
  • Chris Pierce-Wright (PILA Grantee)
  • Emily Elijah (CHRJ/PILA Grantee)

2/26 & 3/31: Equal Justice Work Live Loan Repayment Webinars

Understanding loan repayment and public service loan forgiveness are key to a public service legal career. Equal Justice Works is offering free, live webinars on 2/26 and 3/31 to help. Sign up for a live webinar that works for your schedule – (2/26 3pm ET) http://ow.ly/JhPjo or (3/31 6pm ET) http://ow.ly/JhPug. Register even if you cannot attend. You will be sent a link to the recording of the webinar.

2/26: Diversity & Justice Fair (3:00 PM – 5:00 PM)

Featured Speaker: BERNARD KLEINA, Photographer & Civil Rights Activist

Join us for an open discussion on Diversity and Justice issues in our community! Celebrate the unveiling of the MLK Jr. photographs in­stalled at the UW School of Law & hear from the photographer, Ber­nard Kleina. Mr. Kleina is a founding member of the National Fair Housing Alliance and past President of the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance. Join us in welcoming Mr. Kleina and hear about his experi­ence documenting the historic civil rights movement through his photography.

First floor Galleria, UW School of Law, William H. Gates Hall, 4293 Memorial Way

2/27: 2015 Supreme Court Forum and Networking Reception

The Washington State Access to Justice Board will host a Supreme Court Forum and Networking Reception immediately following the Annual Goldmark Award Luncheon, a statewide convening of attorneys, judges, and students. During the Forum, Justices will participate in interactive discussions on topics pertinent to civil legal aid and access to justice, including leadership, race equity and the role of the justice system, and alternative structures for providing access to justice. The forum will conclude with a reception where individuals can continue the conversation and learn more about the exciting work of the Access to Justice Board.

 Forum & reception: To register for the forum and the reception, please email Ann Spangler, [spangler@uw.edu]spangler@uw.edu, by February 24, and indicate which programs (Forum from 2:00pm – 3:30pm and/or Reception from 3:30pm – 5:00pm) you plan on attending.

 3/4: What is social justice philanthropy?

Why does it mattter? How can YOU get involved? Join us on March 4 from 12:30 PM -2:00 PM at the Ethnic Cultural Center, Chicano Room to hear from our panelists about their experiences with social justice philanthropy. Panelists will include: Tammy Nguyen (Got Green), Christine Angtuaco (Evans School MPA Candidate), and Professor David Suarez (Evans School of Public Affairs). the vent will be moderated by our own Laurie Carlsson.

3/5-3/6: 8th Annual Feminist Legal Theory Conference

Hosted by the Center for Applied Feminism at the University of Baltimore School of Law, this two-day conference will highlight important issues in women’s rights and analyze how the Feminist Legal Theory lens can be applied in legal analysis. The event will take place at University of Baltimore School of Law (John and Frances Angelos Law Center) and will feature keynote speaker Chai Feldbaum (EEOC Commissioner).

LGBT Month, Minimum Wage, Chemical Warfare, Joy Rides, and Tiananmen – Get the Scoop!

President Barack Obama Releases Proclamation Declaring June LGBT Pride Month

Pres. Obama

By James Nichols, Huffington Post

President Barack Obama has released a proclamation declaring June as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. Check out the excerpt below.

As progress spreads from State to State, as justice is delivered in the courtroom, and as more of our fellow Americans are treated with dignity and respect — our Nation becomes not only more accepting, but more equal as well. During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, we celebrate victories that have affirmed freedom and fairness, and we recommit ourselves to completing the work that remains.

Last year, supporters of equality celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, a ruling which, at long last, gave loving, committed families the respect and legal protections they deserve. In keeping with this decision, my Administration is extending family and spousal benefits — from immigration benefits to military family benefits — to legally married same-sex couples.

Continue reading here.  Photo credit courtesy of the Associated Press and Susan Walsh.

Seattle raises minimum wage to $15 an hour

By John Bacon, USA Today

AP_Waiter (minimum wage)

Martina Phelps says the Seattle City Council’s historic vote Monday to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour could change her life.

Phelps, 22, earns $9.47 per hour working for a McDonald’s restaurant near downtown. She wants to move out of her mother’s South Seattle home, and she wants to go back to school. She says those things could happen now that the city will have the nation’s highest minimum wage.

“It’s hard right now,” she told USA TODAY hours before the midafternoon vote. “I have been trying to save up for school, but I just can’t do it. This would mean a lot.”

The council unanimously approved the measure before a packed house.

Continue reading here.  Photo of waiter Spencer Meline at Ivar’s courtesy of the Associated Press.

Woman Not Guilty of Chemical Warfare; Constitution Saved

mailbox

By Garrett Epps, The Atlantic

The Supreme Court Monday stepped back from the abyss.

By a vote of 6-3, it refused to invent limits on the federal government’s power to make and enforce treaties.

The case was Bond v. United StatesThis is the second installment of the soap opera of Carol Anne Bond. Bond’s husband and her best friend conceived a child. When she found out, Bond, a trained laboratory technician, turned to the hostile use of 10-chloro-10H-phenoxarsine and potassium dichromate, both deadly poisons. She smeared them on various doorknobs and car doors at Hayes’s house, on one occasion giving Hayes’s thumb a nasty burn. She also unwisely smeared them on Hayes’s mailbox, which is by law part of the U.S. Postal System. Postal inspectors posted security cameras and caught her on video.

Federal prosecutors proclaimed this “a very serious, scary case,” because Bond had stolen four pounds of potassium dichromate from her workplace. They charged her with theft of the mail—and violation of 18 U.S.C. § 229, the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act of 1998.

On Monday a six-justice majority, in an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, told the government it had misread the statute to “sweep in everything from the detergent under the kitchen sink to the stain remover in the laundry room,” and “make[] it a federal offense to poison goldfish.” Roberts was joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. All nine justices agreed that the government had gone too far in prosecuting Bond. The majority said the indictment violated the statute; Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito would have held the prosecution unconstitutional.

Continue reading here.  Photo credit courtesy of Eric Thayer & Reuters.

Locked Up and Locked Out: How a three-minute joy ride cost one foster youth his AB 12 benefits

Bakkhit brothers

By Brian Rinker, The Chronicle of Social Change

When Terrick Bakhit turned 18 while incarcerated in a juvenile correction facility, the foster care system that had watched over him for the previous five years abruptly cut him off.

On June 13, 2012, Bakhit emerged from San Diego County’s Camp Barrett homeless and broke.

“After being locked up for 11 months I felt free, but in the wrong way,” said Bakhit, who was left to fend for himself on the streets of downtown San Diego. “I slept in the rain. I slept on the street. No roof. No house. No nothing. I was stealing food.”

California state law ensures that youths who turn 18 in foster care are eligible for support up to the age of 21 if they choose, to help the transition into adulthood and self-sufficiency. But a small percentage of foster youth can become ineligible for extended benefits if they happen to turn 18 inside a correctional facility without a foster care placement order waiting for them on release.

“If you are incarcerated and don’t have a placement still intact on your 18th birthday, you can’t get benefits,” said Amy Lemley, policy director at the John Burton Foundation, referring to to the benefit foster youth can get after extended foster care benefits.

The problem seems to be rooted in the varying interpretations of state law among counties and the lack of inter-agency communication. Because of the confusion, kids like Bakhit struggle to make ends meet while eligible foster youth continue to receive benefits.

Continue reading here.  Photo of Terrick brothers, Terrick, left, Matthew, middle, Joseph, right; Photo credit courtesy of Terrick Bakhit.

Voices from Tiananmen

soldiers from Tiananmen

By South China Morning Post

[Today] marks the 25th anniversary of a brutal military crackdown on pro-democracy protests led by students and residents in Beijing. Hundreds of people were killed and many more were wounded when People’s Liberation Army units rolled into Tiananmen Square, ending more than a month of peaceful protests seeking political reforms.

In the following pages, former government officials, student leaders and other eyewitnesses revisit the momentous events of spring, 1989. These personal accounts, gathered from recent video interviews, as well as memoirs, shed new light on the hope and despair left by those days, which continue to haunt China a quarter century later.

Click here to continue reading.  Photo credit courtesy of South China Morning Post.