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OP-ED: Overturning Roe v. Wade Weakens Our Union

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Those seeking to deny basic rights rarely stop halfway. States are already proposing to legally sanction trips to other states for abortions. The enactment of these laws—which I believe to be blatantly unconstitutional, but do not trust the current Supreme Court to agree—would force women to choose between living in certain states and access to legal abortion anywhere. Given that nearly one in four American women have an abortion in their lifetimes, I fear deaths and horrific outcomes to many pregnancies and maybe another Great Migration.
The post OP-ED: Overturning Roe v. Wade Weakens Our Union appeared first on BlackPressUSA.

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By The Honorable James E. Clyburn (D-SC), House Majority Whip

The statement of purpose in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution says, “in order to create a more perfect Union.” While I often focus on the words “more perfect,” equally important is the word “Union.” I fear that the Supreme Court’s recent opinion overturning Roe v. Wade is a step back from that pursuit and significantly weakens our Union.

Ill-advised Supreme Court decisions have torn our Union asunder in the past. And anything that has happened before can happen again. The Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United and Shelby County started the most recent erosion of our constitutional rights and democratic values, and its decision in the Dobbs case strips away another long-held right. The Court is reverting to a dark chapter in its history and risks thrusting our Union down another dark path.

During the Reconstruction era immediately after the Civil War, our Union made significant progress toward greater perfection through the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, and congressional action to enforce their protections. These efforts granted more Americans a greater ability, as the Supreme Court observed with respect to abortion rights more than a century later in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, “to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation.”

Yet the Supreme Court of that time issued decisions that contributed to halting this progress in its tracks, and which aided and abetted the return to power of Confederates and their white supremacist governing ideology—and the ultimate rise of the Jim Crow era. In the Slaughterhouse Cases and Bradwell v. Illinois in 1873, the Court severely limited the privileges and immunities clause of the 14th Amendment, stripping this constitutional source of rights from those Americans whose privileges and immunities were under threat. In United States v. Cruikshank in 1876, the Court exonerated members of a white supremacist mob that had perpetrated a local insurrection, holding that Congress could not protect Americans against violations of their constitutional rights by non-government actors, no matter how organized or how violent.

The Court’s endorsement of white supremacy was sealed with Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, upholding the establishment of second-class citizenship with its “separate but equal” holding. The Court followed with Giles v. Harris in 1903, upholding Jim Crow voter suppression schemes that were disenfranchising African American voters throughout the South, rendering the 15th Amendment a dead letter for more than 60 years.

The effects of these decisions were that the rights of African Americans—the right to vote, the right to equal education, the right to be protected by law from deadly violence, the rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”—were dependent upon the states in which they lived. This states’ rights approach was highly detrimental to our Union and lethal to thousands of Blacks and other minorities.

Under this oppressive reality, the Great Migration ensued, where millions of African Americans moved north searching for dignity and greater opportunity. For them, a country in which they had to migrate from one part to another for basic rights—though circumstances at their destinations were far from perfect—was no union at all.

This type of disunion is beginning to repeat itself. Already, the Supreme Court’s decisions over the past decade in Shelby County (which resulted in states and localities no longer needing to have voting law changes “precleared” by the Justice Department), Rucho (which gave a green light to partisan gerrymandering), and Brnovich (which increased the difficulty of protecting the right to vote under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act) are enabling stark divergences in democratic procedures from state to state, with some states enacting significant barriers to electoral participation and accountability.

This creeping disunion is being exacerbated with the overturing of abortion rights in many states. As a result of the Supreme Court’s green lighting of voter suppression and partisan gerrymandering, this backsliding may not be limited to states where a majority of voters support candidates who favor abortion bans. When this happens, women in many states—disproportionately Southern states—will be forced to travel elsewhere for abortion care. That will be a grave imperfection in our Union. And this option may not even be feasible for many low-income women, and they will find themselves in wrenching situations with no good options.

Those seeking to deny basic rights rarely stop halfway. States are already proposing to legally sanction trips to other states for abortions. The enactment of these laws—which I believe to be blatantly unconstitutional, but do not trust the current Supreme Court to agree—would force women to choose between living in certain states and access to legal abortion anywhere. Given that nearly one in four American women have an abortion in their lifetimes, I fear deaths and horrific outcomes to many pregnancies and maybe another Great Migration.

There is no reason to believe the anti-choice zealots would stop there. Members of Congress are already discussing a national ban on abortion. The most extreme seek a constitutional ban. Some may say they don’t foresee these bans happening, and they may be right. But I don’t trust the right-wing, anti-abortion extremists to stop until the right to legal abortion has been eliminated.

And as Justice Thomas’s concurring opinion warned, those seeking to outlaw abortion won’t stop there. The Republican platform calls for overturning Obergefell, which guarantees the right of same-sex couples to marry. Other rights like contraception, intimate activity between consenting adults, and even interracial marriage could also be at risk. If this Republican Party is given the power to pass laws and appoint judges, rights that many thought were safe will be in jeopardy.

Forming a more perfect Union in a diverse society like ours cannot be achieved through mandated conformity—that is a recipe for rupture, not cohesion. I have often observed that none of us is any more or any less than our experiences allow us to be. Some Americans’ experiences have led them to the conclusion that abortion is morally acceptable, while the experiences of others have led them to the opposite conclusion.

The best way to form a more perfect Union is to leave decisions regarding abortions to those who are by far the best suited to make them: pregnant women. The Court’s decision in Dobbs will go down in history with the Slaughterhouse Cases, Bradwell, Cruikshank, Plessy, and Giles as grave errors that took us further away from a more perfect Union. I urge my congressional colleagues and state legislators to learn from our history and change course before our nation is torn apart once again.

The post OP-ED: Overturning Roe v. Wade Weakens Our Union appeared first on BlackPressUSA.

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Fighting an Unjust System, The Bail Project Helps People Get Out of Jail and Reunites Families

In addition to posting bail at no cost to the person or their family, The Bail Project works to connect its clients to social services and community resources based on an individual’s identified needs, including substance use treatment, mental health support, stable housing and employment.

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Adrienne Johnson, the regional director for The Bail Project, told NNPA’s Let It Be Known that the organization seeks to accomplish its mission one person at a time.
Adrienne Johnson, the regional director for The Bail Project, told NNPA’s Let It Be Known that the organization seeks to accomplish its mission one person at a time.

Hundreds of thousands of individuals locked up in jails almost daily — many find it challenging to pay bail

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

As public support for criminal justice reform continues to build — and as the pandemic raises the stakes higher — advocates remain adamant that it’s more important than ever that the facts are straight, and everyone understands the bigger picture.

“The U.S. doesn’t have one ‘criminal justice system;’ instead, we have thousands of federal, state, local, and tribal systems,” Wendy Sawyer and Peter Wagner found in a study released by the nonprofit Prison Policy Initiative.

Together, these systems hold almost 2 million people in 1,566 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 2,850 local jails, 1,510 juvenile correctional facilities, 186 immigration detention facilities, and 82 Indian country jails, as well as in military prisons, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories,” the study authors said in a press release.

With hundreds of thousands of individuals locked up in jails almost daily, many find it challenging to pay bail.

Recognizing America’s ongoing mass incarceration problem and the difficulties families have in bailing out their loved ones, a new organization began in 2018 to offer some relief.

The Bail Project, a nationwide charitable fund for pretrial defendants, started with a vision of combating mass incarceration by disrupting the money bail system.

Adrienne Johnson, the regional director for The Bail Project, told NNPA’s Let It Be Known that the organization seeks to accomplish its mission one person at a time.

“We have a mission of doing exactly what we hope our criminal system would do: protect the presumption of innocence, reunite families, and challenge a system that we know can criminalize poverty,” Johnson stated.

“Our mission is to end cash bail and create a more just, equitable, and humane pretrial system,” she insisted.

Johnson said The Bronx Freedom Fund, at the time a new revolving bail fund that launched in New York, planted the seed for The Bail Project more than a decade ago.

“Because bail is returned at the end of a case, we can build a sustainable revolving fund where philanthropic dollars can be used several times per year, maximizing the impact of every contribution,” Johnson stated.

In addition to posting bail at no cost to the person or their family, The Bail Project works to connect its clients to social services and community resources based on an individual’s identified needs, including substance use treatment, mental health support, stable housing and employment.

Johnson noted that officials created cash bail to incentivize people to return to court.

Instead, she said, judges routinely set cash bail well beyond most people’s ability to afford it, resulting in thousands of legally innocent people incarcerated while they await court dates.

According to The Bail Project, Black Americans are disproportionately impacted by cash bail, and of all Black Americans in jail in the U.S., nearly half are from southern prisons.

“There is no way to do the work of advancing pretrial reform without addressing the harmful effects of cash bail in the South,” said Robin Steinberg, Founder, and CEO of The Bail Project.

“Cash bail fuels racial and economic disparities in our legal system, and we look forward to supporting the community in Greenville as we work to eliminate cash bail and put ourselves out of business.”

Since its launch, The Bail Project has stationed teams in more than 25 cities, posting bail for more than 18,000 people nationwide.

Johnson said the organization uses its national revolving bail fund, powered by individual donations, to pay bail.

The Bail Project has spent over $47 million on bail.

“When we post bail for a person, we post the full cash amount at court,” Johnson stated.

“Upon resolution of the case, the money returns to whoever posted. So, if I posted $5,000 to bail someone out, we then help the person get back to court and resolve the case,” she continued.

“The money then comes back to us, and we can use that money to help someone else. So, we recycle that.”

Johnson said eliminating cash bail and the need for bail funds remains the goal.

“It’s the just thing to do. It restores the presumption of innocence, and it restores families,” Johnson asserted.

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PRESS ROOM: EPA Administrator Regan to Join Leaders of Civil Rights, Environmental Justice Movement for Significant Announcement in Warren County, North Carolina

NNPA NEWSWIRE — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan will be joined by significant figures from the civil rights and environmental justice movements, including Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and other participants from the original Warren County protests for the event.
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Administrator to honor legacy of environmental justice and civil rights at event in Warren County, site of protests that launched the movement 40 years ago

WASHINGTON (September 22, 2022) – On Saturday, September 24, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan will travel to Warren County, North Carolina to deliver remarks on EPA’s environmental justice and civil rights priorities and the progress we’ve achieved since the first protest and march that launched the movement 40 years ago this week. Administrator Regan will make a significant announcement on President Biden’s commitment to elevate environmental justice and civil rights enforcement at EPA and across the federal government and ensure the work to support our most vulnerable communities continues for years to come.

Administrator Regan will be joined by significant figures from the civil rights and environmental justice movements, including participants from the original Warren County protests for the event.

Who:
EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan
Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01)
Environmental Justice and Civil Rights Leaders
Warren County residents and community leaders
Additional stakeholders

What: Remarks on EPA environmental justice and civil rights priorities and honoring the legacy of the environmental justice and civil rights movement
When: Saturday, September 24, 2022,
Doors Open: 11:30 AM ET
Program: 12:45 PM ET
;
Where: Warren County Courthouse
109 S Main Street
Warrenton, NC 27589
Livestream: A livestream of this event will be available at epa.gov/live.

The post PRESS ROOM: EPA Administrator Regan to Join Leaders of Civil Rights, Environmental Justice Movement for Significant Announcement in Warren County, North Carolina first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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September 26 | Governance at the Local Level | The Conversation with Al McFarlane

Join Al McFarlane (Host), Brenda Lyle-Gray (Co-Host) and Special Guest Co-Host Diana Hawkins, Executive Director for …
The post September 26 | Governance at the Local Level | The Conversation with Al McFarlane first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Join Al McFarlane (Host), Brenda Lyle-Gray (Co-Host) and Special Guest Co-Host Diana Hawkins, Executive Director for …

The post September 26 | Governance at the Local Level | The Conversation with Al McFarlane first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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