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    U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Reaffirms the Importance of Diversity in College Admissions

    Statement of Sherrilyn Ifill, President & Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. on the Court’s Decision in Fisher v. University of Texas


    (Washington, D.C.) Today’s decision by the Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas is a huge victory for civil rights and equality in our nation. The Court’s ruling upholds longstanding precedent and will allow continued progress in the effort to bring equal opportunity to college campuses. This is a victory for all Americans.

    The Justices preserved the Court’s well-established precedent affirming the right of colleges and universities to pursue racial diversity as part of their educational mission. The Supreme Court has now ruled several times that universities have the right to strive for diversity on their campuses. Today’s decision sends a strong message to those who continuously seek to undermine racial diversity that the Court will not waver and take our country backwards.

    This is a hard-fought and deserved win. We hope that this decision will end the thirty-year campaign by anti-affirmative activists to dismantle efforts by colleges and universities to provide access and opportunity to students of all backgrounds.

    Diversity and equal opportunity have become bedrock American values. At a time when our country is increasingly divided, university campuses provide critical opportunities for students of diverse backgrounds to interact, learn about one another and become informed citizens and leaders. This decision affirms this principle.

    Studies have demonstrated that the quality of education improves when people of diverse backgrounds learn from one another. Briefs filed by military leaders and leaders of Fortune 500 companies emphasized the importance of diversity at colleges and universities to building leaders who are prepared to lead diverse work teams. Racial disparities in education continue to limit opportunity for children across America.

    Today’s decision leaves in place the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which upheld the admissions policy at the University of Texas at Austin. The federal appeals court ruling, which remains in effect, found that the University of Texas’s efforts to increase diversity were constitutional and in keeping with court precedent.

    Justice Kagan was recused.

    Today’s decision sends a strong signal that colleges and universities can continue to rely on the Court’s prior cases, including its landmark 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger. Grutter recognized the educational benefits of diversity and affirmed the constitutionality of a modest consideration of race as one of many factors in the admission process. Today, the Court found that University of Texas clearly and precisely articulated its compelling interests in diversity, and that its particular plan and consideration of race was necessary to achieve its goals.

    As the U.S. Court of Appeals noted, the University of Texas admissions policy involves an even more modest consideration of race than the University of Michigan Law School policy that the Court previously upheld in Grutter. Most students at the University of Texas are admitted under the Top Ten Percent Plan, a program created by a state law which requires the University to automatically accept all Texas residents who rank in the top ten percent of their high school class. For the remainder of its applicants, UT undertakes an individualized “whole-file” review to assemble a class that is both exceptionally academically qualified and broadly diverse. This process allows the school to consider a student’s race along with multiple other criteria, such as essays, leadership qualities, extracurricular activities, awards, work experience, community service, family responsibilities, socio-economic status, and languages spoken in the home. The holistic review process does not award any fixed points to racial minorities; nor does it involve set aside admissions slots for minority students. Quotas have been banned for many years. Instead, the policy is sufficiently flexible to take into consideration the racial background of any applicant, including white students, based on their unique backgrounds and experiences. It is this carefully thought out program that the Court upheld today. As Justice Kennedy stated, “[T]here is no dispute that race is but a ‘factor of a factor of a factor’ in the holistic-review calculus,” Justice Kennedy said.

    It is worth noting that the case was brought by Abigail Fisher, an applicant who would not have been admitted to University of Texas based on her academic record. It was Ms. Fisher’s second time having her case against the University heard by the United States Supreme Court, despite the view of many court-watchers that Ms. Fisher lacked standing to bring her claim.

    Ensuring diversity is particularly important at flagship state universities like UT, which have a special responsibility to ensure that “the path to leadership” is “visibly open to talented and qualified individuals of every race and ethnicity,” as the Court stated in Grutter.

    Prior experiments have demonstrated that race-neutral admissions alone are insufficient to achieve meaningful diversity and opportunity on college campuses. After California banned the consideration of race in college admissions, the percentage of African-American admitted freshmen dropped by about half at California’s flagship schools, UCLA and UC Berkeley. After Michigan’s ban, the University of Michigan saw the percentage of enrolled African-American undergraduate students decline by about a third from 2006 with the number hovering around 4.5% for the past five years.

    While some opponents of race-conscious admissions offer socio-economic class as a race-neutral alternative, it is important for colleges ensure their doors are open to both low-income students and people of color. Our country benefits when every individual has a fair shot to climb up the ladder to opportunity. Today, the Court has made clear that universities are not limited to such restrictive and ineffective measures.

    A broad coalition asked the Supreme Court to support the critical importance of diversity in higher education, including: scores of Fortune 100 companies and leading American businesses; a group of retired military leaders; the U.S. Solicitor General; 19 states; dozens of Texas legislators; numerous universities, colleges, and educational associations; and more than 800 social scientists. This broad-based coalition also includes dozens of national civil rights organizations, including Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF), Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which filed a brief on behalf of the UT Black Student Alliance and African-American alumni of UT.

    In the wake of this important victory, we urge supporters of equal opportunity to continue to stand together and keep the ball moving forward. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, we must ensure that colleges and universities go beyond simply recognizing the value of diversity and implement policies that will further diversity on campuses.

    The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund is the leading legal organization fighting for racial justice in America. LDF has been a separate entity from the NAACP since 1957. LDF was founded in 1940 by Thurgood Marshall who led the legal team that won Brown v. Board of Education. LDF has been involved in Fisher v. University of Texas from the outset. On behalf of the UT Black Student Alliance and UT African-American alumni, LDF presented oral argument in Fisher before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in support of the University’s admissions policy and filed amicus briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court. For seven decades, LDF has worked to dismantle racial segregation and ensure equal educational opportunities at our nation’s colleges. LDF’s efforts in Fisher carry forward the legacy of our past leaders—beginning with Thurgood Marshall, LDF’s first Director-Counsel, whose advocacy in Sweatt v. Painter led to the desegregation of UT Austin Law School in 1950. John Payton, LDF’s former Director-Counsel, was the University of Michigan’s lead counsel in Grutter v. Bollinger. Payton worked alongside LDF in Grutter and its companion, Gratz v. Bollinger, where LDF was lead counsel for the African-American and Latino students who intervened to defend the constitutionality of Michigan’s undergraduate admissions program.

    Additional information on Fisher, including answers to frequently asked questions, a case overview, photos, and video are available at www.naacpldf.org/case/fisher-v-texas

    Editor’s note: If the organization’s name must be shortened please refer to us as “Legal Defense Fund” or “NAACP Legal Defense Fund” rather than simply “NAACP” as that is a separate organization.

    Yerim Choi, a Korean UT Austin student from the Class of 2017 said, “I am really pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision because I believe colleges should consider race in admissions. Colleges need more diversity, not less. Now we can keep moving forward.”

    Christle Nwora, member of the Black Student Alliance at the University of Texas at Austin and African-American member of the Class of 2016: “This is great news. Students deserve to learn in a diverse college environment. I’ve been in classes where I’m the only black student and I’m happily looking forward to a day when that changes. The Supreme Court’s decision will enable colleges to bring together the best and the brightest students of all races.”

    David McDonald Jr., former Black Student Alliance President at the University of Texas in Austin and African-American member of the class of 2016 said, "I have white, Asian, black and Latino friends who believe that colleges should be allowed to consider race on college admissions. I’ve seen white and black friends make their first good friends of different races here. That’s what college is all about – expanding your horizons and learning about people. I want to thank the University of Texas for defending its admissions policy that promotes diversity.”

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    NAACP LDF: Supreme Court Ruling on Voting Case

    NAACP Legal Defense Fund Statement in Response to Supreme Court’s Decision in Evenwel v. Abbot


    New York, NY — Today’s Supreme Court decision in Evenwel v. Abbott secures a major victory for voting rights and preserves a fair, stable rule for state and local governments, which may continue to rely on an inclusive “one person, one vote” standard that has long governed redistricting efforts. The decision also affirms one of the key principles—representational equality—which the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) has long supported before the Supreme Court and in jurisdictions throughout the country.

    Evenwel involved a sweeping attempt to redefine how redistricting is conducted and to undermine a bedrock constitutional principle that every citizen counts. Specifically, the appellants, two white voters from rural counties in Texas, asked the Court to force states to apply a new, nebulous “eligible voter” standard, as opposed to a total population count, in drawing state and local electoral districts. The use of an ill-defined “eligible voter” standard had the potential to confer second-class status on millions of people, particularly those living in urban areas in the United States, including children, people on the path to citizenship, those not registered to vote, and individuals unable to vote due to racially discriminatory felon disfranchisement laws.

    Upwards of 75 million children, 13 million of whom are Black and, thus, not yet eligible to vote, would be have been counted out of the redistricting process had appellants prevailed. Indeed, appellants’ case threatened to take America’s redistricting process back to nefarious periods in our democracy similar to when Black people were counted as 3/5ths of a person for redistricting purposes and expressly excluded from the body politic.

    The Court’s decision today vindicates the “one person, one vote” standard, which rightly takes into account Census-derived total population counts when apportioning voting districts. This standard has been applied universally for over 50 years by all 50 states and the thousands of localities within them. Moreover, this clear understanding of “one person, one vote” is already regarded as America’s “de facto national policy” in legislative redistricting, enjoying overwhelming, bipartisan support among state and local governments. Today’s decision reaffirms the guiding logic of this inclusive standard, which fosters access to electoral representation and constituent services for all people, regardless of race, sex, citizenship, economic status, or other characteristics, or whether a person chooses to or is able to vote.

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the Court, made clear that “[a]s history, precedent, and practice demonstrate, it is plainly permissible for jurisdictions to measure equalization by the total population of state and local legislative districts.” Justice Ginsburg further stressed, as LDF had urged in its amicus brief supporting Texas and the Court has repeatedly held, that “districting based on total population serves both the State’s interest in preventing vote dilution and its interest in ensuring equality of representation.” As the decision explained, “[n]onvoters have an important stake in many policy debates—children, their parents, even their grandparents, for example, have a stake in a strong public-education system—and in receiving constituent services, such as help navigating public-benefits bureaucracies. By ensuring that each representative is subject to requests and suggestions from the same number of constituents, total population apportionment promotes equitable and effective representation.”

    In rejecting a contrary argument, Justice Ginsburg pointed out that “[a]dopting voter-eligible apportionment as constitutional command would upset a well-functioning approach to districting that all 50 States and countless local jurisdictions have followed for decades, even centuries,” and there is “no reason for the Court to disturb this longstanding use of total population.” Importantly, the Court strongly signaled that it would be difficult to demonstrate another constitutionally permissible method of counting population for redistricting purposes that would not violate the “one person, one vote” standard and other traditional redistricting principles.

    Janai Nelson, LDF’s Associate Director-Counsel, hailed the decision: “More than 50 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court, beginning with Gomillion v. Lightfoot, followed by Reynolds v. Sims, and through today, held that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires that legislative districts be substantially equal in population.” Ms. Nelson added, “Today, the Court has wisely -- and unanimously -- upheld this longstanding, unbroken line of cases, and recognized that the ‘one person, one vote’ standard has helped realize the constitutional promise of inclusion and equal access to America’s representative bodies.”

    “Prior to Gomillion, Reynolds, and the Voting Rights Act, states used racially discriminatory tactics, such as electoral apportionment schemes, literacy tests, poll taxes, and outright prohibitions on suffrage, to exclude Black people from the political process,” said Leah Aden, LDF Assistant Counsel and its lead attorney on Evenwel. “As a result, elected officials often ignored racial minorities in the making of important policy decisions that impacted their daily lives. It is only through the Civil War, key constitutional amendments, years of litigation, and other advocacy that America has begun to overcome these obstacles to equal access to representation and to count every individual when electoral districts are drawn. Today’s decision is affirmation of that history.”

    To read more about the case and the amicus brief that LDF and O’Melveny & Myers, LLP, filed, click here.

    About the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF)
    Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

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    The articles on this site are provided as a public service and to be used for information purposes only. BlackRefer.com does not accept any responsibility or liability for the use or misuse of the article content. Use at your own risk.

    No Endorsement:
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    LDF Statement on the Liang Trial Verdict and the Need to Change the Culture of Policing

    February 12, 2016


    New York, NY – The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) believes that justice was served in the trial of former New York City Police Officer (NYPD) Peter Liang, who was convicted of one count of manslaughter and one count of official misconduct for the killing of Mr. Akai Gurley, an unarmed African American. Liang’s conviction is a reminder of the urgent need for systemic police reform—in New York City and across the nation. Indeed, trial testimony exposed critical gaps in the training, supervision, and accountability of NYPD officers and the need for fundamental reforms in how officers are prepared to interact with the communities they serve. This tragedy reinforces the need for training that focuses on how officers—especially those patrolling public housing—can create positive and collaborative relationships with the community, confront and overcome implicit (and sometimes explicit) racial bias, de-escalate potentially confrontational situations, and administer basic urgent care, including CPR, to victims of lethal force.

    “The verdict in this case is just; however, the Liang trial has revealed more than it has resolved,” said LDF’s President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill. “There is a deep-seated problem in this country with the culture of policing, especially in communities of color. It’s not just about individual officers. We have a national crisis in policing that has not yet been solved, though effective solutions are, hopefully, near at hand.”

    Like everyone else, police officers must be held accountable for their actions. However, individual indictments alone will not solve the crisis in policing. Police violence against communities of color occurs because the culture of policing permits it, and not only because of isolated factors such as the race of the officers involved. Unfortunately, many officers in New York City—and in jurisdictions across the country—who were involved in unjustified acts of lethal force have not even been indicted, let alone convicted.

    Despite the strong passions surrounding this case, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson and his team appropriately sought justice in this matter. Their objectivity and prosecutorial acumen should serve as a model for district attorneys in other cities confronting similar police misconduct. We are hopeful that the Liang trial will encourage other prosecutors and juries to treat these cases with similar diligence and care.

    “We hope the Gurley family can begin to heal after the trauma of Akai Gurley’s killing and the painful re-living of those details at trial,” said Lumumba Akinwole-Bandele, LDF Senior Community Organizer. "After having achieved justice in Mr. Gurley’s case, we must now work to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.”

    Mr. Gurley, a 28-year-old unarmed African-American, was shot and killed by then-Officer Peter Liang on November 21, 2014, in the stairwell of the Louis H. Pink Houses public housing complex in Brooklyn. As the trial made clear, Liang and his partner—both inexperienced, rookie officers—were unfamiliar with local residents and entered Mr. Gurley’s public housing building on a “vertical patrol” with their guns drawn, despite the absence of any danger or justifiably perceived threat. These circumstances directly contributed to Mr. Gurley’s tragic death.

    “As this case revealed, without sufficient cause, police officers should not have their guns drawn while patrolling the homes of families living in public housing,” said Angel Harris, LDF Assistant Counsel. “The assumption that officers will be ambushed in public housing dwellings stems from unjustified stereotypes about public housing residents, over ninety percent of whom are Black and Latino. In reality, the vast majority of public housing residents are hard-working, law-abiding families.”

    For the past six years, LDF has been litigating a federal class action lawsuit, Davis v. City of New York, to reform certain police practices in New York City’s public housing. Last year, LDF, along with its co-counsel The Legal Aid Society, reached a settlement agreement in the Davis case, which revised the NYPD Patrol Guide and related training materials on “vertical patrols,” imposed new documentation requirements for all trespass arrests in public housing, and modified certain public housing rules concerning residents’ cooperation with police and the prohibited activity of “lingering.” In addition, the Davis case is now part of the court monitoring of the NYPD to achieve further reforms in training, supervision, disciplining, and monitoring.

    The trial also revealed Officer Liang’s gross abdication of duty to provide CPR to Gurley after recklessly injuring him, which was another important reason for his conviction. We applaud the efforts of Gurley’s companion and neighbor who stood in to protect and serve Gurley when NYPD officers would not. We are also grateful for the leadership of Asian-American organizations, such as CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, which held fast to the ideals of police reform and accountability, despite the challenging facts of this case.

    About the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF)
    Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

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    Disclaimer
    The articles on this site are provided as a public service and to be used for information purposes only. BlackRefer.com does not accept any responsibility or liability for the use or misuse of the article content. Use at your own risk.

    No Endorsement:
    BlackRefer.com does not endorse or recommend any article on this site or any product, service or information found within said articles. Resources and links included in said articles are only suggested as sources for further exploration, but we cannot vouch for or take responsibility for information contained in these resources. The opinions and views of the authors who have submitted articles to BlackRefer.com belong to them alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of BlackRefer.com.





    LDF Urges Systemic Reforms to Eliminate Police Sexual Misconduct Following the Sentencing of Daniel Holtzclaw, Former Oklahoma Police Officer


    New York, New York. Today, former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw received a sentence of 263 years for raping and sexually assaulting eight Black women while on duty. “In this case, justice, although late, was served,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF). “We thank the survivors of this officer’s heinous acts for courageously sharing their stories and enduring his trial, conviction, and sentencing. We hope they receive the support they need to begin to heal.”

    Police sexual misconduct, particularly in communities of color, is long-standing and widespread. Indeed, Rosa Parks, who is best known for sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott during the civil rights movement, also spearheaded efforts in Alabama to investigate and eliminate sexual assaults against Black women by white men, including law enforcement officers. More recently, an investigation in 2015 by Associated Press found that hundreds of police officers nationwide have lost their licenses for sexual misconduct. The U.S. Department of Justice also released a report last year detailing sexual assaults committed by officers of the San Diego Police Department.

    The Holtzclaw case is replete with disturbing examples of the current obstacles that prevent police officers who engage in sexual misconduct from being held accountable. For instance, Holtzclaw’s last victim filed a civil lawsuit against the Oklahoma City Police Department claiming that the police were aware of his misconduct over a month before he sexually assaulted her. Indeed, some reports indicate that Holtzclaw may have assaulted half of his victims while under investigation. The police began investigating Holtzclaw on May 8, 2014, but he was still allowed to stay on regular duty unmonitored. At his trial, an Oklahoma City detective testified that one of Holtzclaw’s victims reported her assault on May 24, 2014, weeks before Holtzclaw attacked his last victim.

    “We hope that the Holtzclaw case sends a message to police departments across the country that sexual misconduct will not, and should not, be tolerated,” said Monique Dixon, LDF’s Deputy Director of Policy and Senior Counsel. “We call for immediate national and local reforms to end the code of silence and lack of police accountability so that we can better protect women across the country.”

    These reforms include, but are not limited to:

  • data collection and public reporting of use-of-force incidents, including sexual assaults, by law enforcement agencies, disaggregated by race, ethnicity, national origin, and sex and age of the victim to better understand and address disturbing trends;

  • development and public disclosure of police department policies indicating that the organization will not tolerate sexual misconduct, that officers who are aware of such misconduct have a duty to report it, and that supervisors must monitor, retrain, and discipline officers who violate these policies;

  • timely investigations of civilian complaints of police misconduct that result in close monitoring of police conduct and the imposition of disciplinary actions when appropriate;

  • and implementation of early intervention systems that allow police supervisors to address officers with multiple complaints of misconduct before their misconduct escalates.


  • Additional Resources

  • Associated Press (AP): “Hundreds of officers lose licenses over sex misconduct” http://bigstory.ap.org/article/fd1d4d05e561462a85abe50e7eaed4ec/ap-hundreds-officers-lose-licenses-over-sex-misconduct (Nov. 1, 2015)


  • U.S. Department of Justice Report: “Police Accountability: Findings and National Implications of an Assessment of the San Diego Police Department” http://ric-zai-inc.com/Publications/cops-w0756-pub.pdf (2015)


  • International Association of Police Chiefs: “Addressing Sexual Offenses and Misconduct by Police Officers: Executive Guide” http://www.nccpsafety.org/assets/files/library/Addressing_Sexual_Offenses_and_Misconduct_by_LE.pdf (June 2011)



  • Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

    ooOoo


    Disclaimer
    The articles on this site are provided as a public service and to be used for information purposes only. BlackRefer.com does not accept any responsibility or liability for the use or misuse of the article content. Use at your own risk.

    No Endorsement:
    BlackRefer.com does not endorse or recommend any article on this site or any product, service or information found within said articles. Resources and links included in said articles are only suggested as sources for further exploration, but we cannot vouch for or take responsibility for information contained in these resources. The opinions and views of the authors who have submitted articles to BlackRefer.com belong to them alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of BlackRefer.com.





    U.S. Supreme Court Hears Strong Argument Today that Race Should Continue to Be Considered in College Admissions

    ivil Rights Organizations, Students, Former Military Leaders, LGBT Groups, Corporations Support Continuing Efforts to Achieve Diversity on Campuses


    The U.S. Supreme Court today heard compelling arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin that universities should retain the ability to build diverse student bodies made up of applicants from different backgrounds who meet their high standards. The University considers race as a modest factor, among many aspects of a student’s background.

    Seated in the Court was Cissy Marshall, the widow of Thurgood Marshall, the founder of NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund who argued Brown vs. Board of Education before the Supreme Court and later became the first Black Supreme Court justice. Also in attendance were members of the U.S. Congress, including Bobby Scott and high-ranking members of the Obama administration including Valerie Jarrett.

    LDF hopes that the justices will once again recognize the importance of universities securing a critical mass of minority students to combat racial stereotypes and the very real isolation of African-American students on campuses. African-American students have recounted numerous unsettling experiences at the University of Texas at Austin, and, by the University's own admission, Black students numbered between zero and one in most commonly-sized classes during the most recent period that the University did not consider race. LDF was pleased that at today’s oral argument the University of Texas expressly referenced the “glaring racial isolation” of our clients, the Black Student Alliance, as conveyed in our amicus brief.

    “We are making progress, but we have a long way to go. The Top Ten Percent Plan is not enough. I have white, Asian, Latino and Black friends at school who understand that it’s important to have diversity on campus,” said UT senior David McDonald from outside the Supreme Court. McDonald grew up in a single-parent household and is a first-generation college student. He’s the past president and current advisor to UT Austin’s Black Student Alliance, for whom NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund submitted an amicus brief.

    Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the nation’s leading civil rights legal organization and a separate entity from the NAACP stated, “Conservative activist Ed Blum, who is behind this suit and similar ones, never questions the right of colleges to consider anything other than race – like hobbies, gender, age or hometown. To say to a student that everything about you is relevant except for your race, strips away a part of that student’s identity. It is racial closeting. We need to embrace what makes us different and work to understand each other better. Bringing people together with different backgrounds helps break down racial stereotypes and benefits all people.”

    Mary Bonauto from GLAD, who argued the 2015 marriage equality case before the Supreme Court and also submitted an amicus brief in Fisher remarked, “It would be very, very odd and indeed wrong if a student can write an application talking about all of his or her life experiences and attributes and culture including their gender, including their sexual orientation, including their gender identity and not their race. Must a black gay person have to be in the closet about their race? That would be a harshly regressive step for people of all races.”

    Justice Breyer powerfully pointed out that just three years ago seven justices of the Court upheld long-standing constitutional precedents about the value and parameters of the use of the permissible use of race as a limited factor in admissions.

    Justice Ginsburg specifically questioned the petitioner’s standing based on Fisher’s limited demand for refund of her original application fee as damages in the case. In addition, Fisher was disqualified from admission due to her academic credentials (based on SAT and class ranking) and would not have been admitted to the University of Texas even in the absence of its affirmative action plan. Nothing in the several areas of her personal background and essays would have changed the outcome, according to the University.

    Rachel Kleinman, a senior attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund added, “The University of Texas at Austin convincingly explained to the justices today how it carefully followed the Court’s guidelines when developing an admissions approach that considered race as a limited factor. Diverse learning environments enrich the college experience and better prepare students for success in the workplace and in the military. College opens doors to a lifetime of opportunity that should be in the reach of all children.”

    Andy Escobar is a Latino UT student in Washington, D.C. today for the Supreme Court hearing. Because he believes in UT’s race-conscious holistic admissions policy, he co-founded a student campaign at the University called “We Support UT.” He biked from Texas to Alaska to raise funds for cancer research. He interned at the U.S. House of Representatives and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. Andy has lived in poverty, is a first-generation college student and was admitted under the school’s holistic admissions process. His high school rank was very good, but just shy of being admitted automatically to UT under the plan that admits the top ranking students from Texas high schools. Andy stated, “I hope the Court realizes how important getting into a good college is for a person’s ability to succeed in life. I have worked really hard and am thankful I got a fair chance to get into the University of Texas.”

    The Supreme Court received an avalanche of briefs supporting the University’s efforts to create a diverse student body from 45 leading corporations, 36 high-ranking retired military and defense officials (including three former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—General Colin L. Powell, Admiral Michael G. Mullen and General Henry H. Shelton), over 160 Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations, social scientists, major religious denominations, 19 states, student organizations, over 100 institutions of higher education, among others.

    The 36 retired military leaders and defense officials wrote in their brief, “ROTC cannot recruit minority candidates who are not first admitted as students…Invalidating individualized admissions at ROTC-participating colleges and universities such as UT and reducing the critical mass of highly qualified minority candidates they seek to assemble would capsize an effort by the Armed Forces that has been ongoing since the Truman Administration. As explained above, the post-September 11, 2001 world has reinforced our military’s recognition that the ability to lead diverse groups of people and to collaborate well with people of different cultures constitute invaluable military leader attributes.”

    Forty-five leading American businesses -- such as American Express, Microsoft, Sprint, Starbucks and Xerox -- wrote to the Court that “American corporations must address the needs of an increasingly diverse U.S. population and a growing global market, and they need a workforce trained in a diverse environment in order to succeed in these arenas... When amici make decisions about hiring and promotion, it is critical that they be able to draw from a superior pool of candidates — both minority and non-minority — who have realized the many benefits of diversity in higher education.”

    A Brief from Asian Americans Advancing Justice and 140 other Asian American or Pacific Islander organizations explained, “AAPIs [Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders] historically benefited from inclusion in race-conscious admission programs, that certain AAPI [Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders] subgroups continue to need and benefit from such programs today, and that all AAPI [Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders] students benefit from more racially diverse (and less racially hostile) college campuses.”

    About NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

    Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s leading legal organization fighting for racial justice in America. LDF has been a separate entity from the NAACP since 1957. For seven decades, LDF has worked to dismantle racial segregation and ensure educational opportunities at every level of education. In its first two decades, LDF undertook a coordinated legal assault against officially enforced public school segregation. This campaign culminated in Brown v. Board of Education. LDF has been involved in Fisher v. University of Texas from the outset. On behalf of the UT Black Student Alliance and UT African-American alumni, LDF presented oral argument in Fisher v. UT before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in support of the University’s admissions policy and filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court. LDF’s efforts in Fisher carry forward the legacy of our past leaders, beginning with Thurgood Marshall, LDF’s first Director-Counsel and the first black Supreme Court Justice, whose advocacy in Sweatt v. Painter led to the desegregation of UT Austin Law School in 1950.

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    NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund Statement on the Video of Police Officer Assaulting Student in South Carolina Classroom

    (Washington, DC) - The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund (LDF) deplores today's shocking video showing a police officer violently assaulting and removing a student from a public school classroom in Columbia, South Carolina. While more details emerge about this troubling video, what is clear is that it shows a disturbing and violent interaction between a white male school police officer and a young African-American female. We urge a full and thorough investigation into not only this incident, but also into the history of use of force by school police in the district.

    Furthermore, we are concerned that we learned of this incident from what appears to be a student video. Teachers must be properly trained to promptly report incidents of police abuse of students.

    LDF has long advocated for eliminating police presence in K-12 grades because police dramatically increase the criminalization of students of color. Janel George, LDF's Senior Education Counsel, stated, “This horrific video represents the problem with police in schools in its starkest terms. Police should simply not have a regular presence in an educational environment." LDF calls for a full investigation of the incident and policing practices in this school district.

    About The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF)

    The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is not a part of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) although LDF was founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. Since 1957, LDF has been a completely separate organization. Please refer to us in media attributions as the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund or LDF.

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    NAACP Legal Defense Fund and South Carolina Leaders Ask U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to Open Federal Investigations in the Aftermath of the Police Killing of Walter Scott and the Emanuel Nine Massacre

    Today, on the heels of the South Carolina State Legislature’s vote to remove the Confederate flag from the state capitol, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), in partnership with the North Charleston Branch of the NAACP and over two dozen South Carolina leaders, submitted a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking the Department of Justice to open an investigation of the North Charleston Police Department to uncover any pattern or practice of racially discriminatory policing. It also asked the Justice Department to open a criminal civil rights investigation into former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager for the April 4, 2015 shooting death of Walter Scott, an unarmed African-American man.

    “While we are pleased that the Confederate flag has come down, we feel now, more than ever, that we must push for real structural change,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of LDF, the nation’s leading civil rights and racial justice law firm. “The flag was a symbol of insensitivity to the concerns of African-American residents in South Carolina. But, no real reconciliation can happen without systemic, institutional changes that will result in the fair treatment of all residents. The killing of Walter Scott must be understood in the context of police problems and brutality in North Charleston.”

    The letter to Attorney General Lynch comes in the wake of a tide of violence against African-American residents, including the June 17, 2015 massacre of nine members of Charleston’s historic Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church by a self-proclaimed white supremacist. These murders serve as a stark reminder that the struggle to eliminate racial violence and intimidation nationwide, particularly by police, continues.

    The letter details numerous examples of alleged use of excessive or lethal force by North Charleston police officers over the past 15 years, including: a 2011 incident involving officers who allegedly handcuffed Sheldon Williams, an African-American man, and stomped on his face multiple times causing facial fractures; and, a 2000 incident during which officers shot and killed Edward Snowden, an African-American man, who was attacked by four white men.

    “These acts of police violence against African-American residents of North Charleston are not isolated incidents,” said Monique Dixon, Senior Policy Counsel at LDF. “The recent videotaped police killing of Walter Scott, while shocking, occurred within a seemingly normalized culture of racially-biased policing and excessive use of force that has long plagued North Charleston.”

    The letter also offers evidence of racial discrimination in traffic stops conducted by officers of the North Charleston Police Department. According to data collected by the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, since January 2011, 65% of all drivers stopped, but not ticketed or arrested by police were African-American persons, while 33% of were white individuals. African-American residents make up 47% of the population of North Charleston, and white residents make up 42% of the population.

    “North Charleston police officers pull over African-American drivers all of the time for the slightest infractions, such as failing to use a turn signal or having a busted taillight,” said Edward Bryant, President of the North Charleston, South Carolina Branch of the NAACP. “These discriminatory stops must end.”

    “It’s past time to take a deeper look at how racial bias has permeated our institutions in South Carolina,” said Victoria Middleton, Executive Director of the ACLU of South Carolina. “Longstanding complaints from the community, capped by Walter Scott’s tragic death, raise questions that can’t be brushed aside.”

    Finally, the letter asked Attorney General Lynch to use her authority to open a criminal civil rights investigation of former police officer Michael Slager, who shot Walter Scott five times in the back as he ran away, and later provided an account of the shooting that contradicted videotaped footage of the incident.

    “Walter Scott’s family is pleased that local authorities have charged former officer Michael Slager with murder, and has faith in the Solicitor's office to prosecute him fully,” said L. Chris Stewart and Justin Bamberg, attorneys for the Scott family. “But the brazen shooting of Walter Scott and the North Charleston Police Department's long history of potential racial profiling, and inadequate supervision of officers, are deserving of federal investigations. Such investigations would send a clear message to the North Charleston Police Department, and any other responsible City officials, that the federal government will not tolerate ongoing racially-motivated policing, even when excused as attempting to decrease crime, and will prosecute acts of lethal force by officers against civilians and protect the rights of all citizens.”

    The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund has long worked to build a more equitable South Carolina. It represented students from Clarendon County, South Carolina, who fought for desegregated schools in Briggs v. Elliot, which was among the cases that led to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in 1954. Most recently, in 2012, LDF opposed South Carolina’s discriminatory voter identification law in the case of South Carolina v. United States. Although LDF was founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to racial justice, LDF has been a completely separate organization since 1957. Please refer to it in media attributions as the “NAACP Legal Defense Fund” or “LDF”.

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    NAACP Legal Defense Fund Statement on SCOTUS Marriage Equality Ruling

    Today, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the Constitution's promise of equal protection requires states to recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry. In Obergefell v. Hodges, Justice Kennedy announced that “the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. The Court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry."

    “The court’s decision to recognize the rights of same-sex couples to marry is in alignment with the principles of equality and freedom that are fundamental in this country,” said LDF President & Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill. "Every consenting adult deserves the opportunity to create a marital union with the person of their choosing, without having that right restricted because of their gender or sexual orientation."

    For decades, LDF has contended that the freedom to marry is a basic civil right that should be available to all consenting adults. In 1967, LDF filed a historic brief in Loving v. Virginia, the case in which the Supreme Court unanimously declared that state laws banning interracial marriage were unconstitutional, arguing that “state legislative power over marriages is not omnipotent,” since the “right to marry is a protected liberty under the Fourteenth Amendment and is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man.’” The principles set forth by Loving also dictate consenting gay and lesbian Americans have the right to marry the person of their choice, regardless of gender.

    LDF filed a friend-of-the-court brief in today’s case, explaining that the arguments advanced against marriage equality were the same as those that were raised – and rejected – by the Supreme Court in Loving. LDF’s brief also noted that because there is a long history of discrimination and exclusion against the LGBTQ community – similar to the history of discrimination against the African-American community – state bans on same-sex marriage relegate gays and lesbians to an unequal and inferior status as a group. LDF’s argument was central to the Court's decision, which noted, that a “first premise of the Court’s relevant precedents is that the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy. This abiding connection between marriage and liberty is why Loving invalidated interracial marriage bans. . . .”

    The Supreme Court’s decision affirming marriage equality, along with its decisions recognizing the availability and importance of the disparate impact standard in the Fair Housing Act and the legality of subsidies in Affordable Care Act, significantly advance the effort to end discrimination and ensure equal rights for all Americans.

    The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is not a part of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) although LDF was founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. Since 1957, LDF has been a completely separate organization. Please refer to us in all media attributions as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

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    NAACP Legal Defense Fund Statement on Charleston Shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. Church

    The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) vehemently condemns the actions of the gunman who killed nine people and injured three others at the Emanuel A.M.E Church in Charleston, South Carolina yesterday evening. Emanuel A.M.E., which was founded nearly two centuries ago in 1816, is one of the oldest and most prominent African-American churches in the country. Denmark Vessey, who led a slave uprising in 1822 was a founding member of Emanuel A.M.E. church which has come to symbolize freedom and progress in South Carolina.

    “Last night’s terrible events in Charleston demonstrate how imperative it is that we confront the issue of racial discrimination and violence in our country,” said LDF President & Director Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill.

    Among those killed was Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney, the Pastor of Emmanuel A.M.E. and a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives and the State Senate. Reverend Pinckney recently played a key role in supporting legislation providing body-worn cameras for all South Carolina police officers--a reform that the Legal Defense Fund has actively supported.

    Last night’s shooting, which the Department of Justice has characterized as a hate crime, stands as a harsh reminder of the racial bias and prejudice that continues to exist in this country and that can and does result in the death of innocent and unarmed African-Americans. The City of Charleston, which remains largely segregated along racial lines, continues to grapple with racial tensions. This is yet another blow to the Charleston community that is still reeling from the killing just two months ago of Walter L. Scott by now-former police officer Michael T. Slager.

    “I want to extend my deepest condolences to the families of the victims of this senseless tragedy. The fact that this shooting occurred in a place of worship compounds the gravity and devastation of this crime,” said LDF President & Director Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill. “We are relieved that the alleged shooter has been arrested and it is my sincerest hope that an indictment and prosecution will soon follow to send a message that violence perpetrated through hate and racism will be met with justice.”

    LDF also applauds the Department of Justice’s decision to initiate a hate crime investigation into this matter.

    The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is not a part of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) although LDF was founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. Since 1957, LDF has been a completely separate organization. Please refer to us in all media attributions as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

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    NAACP Legal Defense Fund Statement on the 61st Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education

    This Sunday, May 17, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education turns 61. Brown invalidated racial segregation in public schools throughout the United States and paved the way for integration in nearly every aspect of American life. The case was litigated by some of the nation’s best attorneys, including Thurgood Marshall, Robert Carter, Jack Greenberg, Constance Baker Motley, Spottswood Robinson, Oliver Hill, Louis Redding and James Nabrit, among others.

    Brown was the culmination of years of legal challenges mounted across the country by LDF attorneys. These cases– argued that segregation in K-12 education violated the right of every citizen to equal protection under the law under the 14th amendment. The strategy leading to Brown was conceived in the 1930s by legal genius Charles Hamilton Houston, then-Dean of Howard Law School, and brilliantly orchestrated in a series of cases over the next two decades by his star pupil, Thurgood Marshall, LDF’s first Director-Counsel.

    In its unanimous ruling on May 17, 1954, the Warren Court overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 and invalidated Plessy’s doctrine of “separate but equal.” Brown was the catalyst for the eventual integration of almost all avenues of American public life, including public schools, public transportation, housing, swimming pools, golf courses and other venues. However, the ruling met with massive opposition. A year later, LDF litigated Brown II, in which the Court ordered desegregation “with all deliberate speed.” However, it was not until LDF’s subsequent victories in Green v. County School Board (1968) and Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg (1971) that the Supreme Court mandated that segregation be dismantled “root and branch.”

    Brown v. Board was the consolidation offive separate cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue of segregation in public schools, all of them sponsored by the legal arm of the NAACP. Part of the strategy introduced by Houston and Marshall involved using social science research and expert witness testimony to prove that state-enforced racial desegregation in education negatively impacted Black children. The social science research included psychologists Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark’s now famous “Doll Test,” which demonstrated the negative impact of racial segregation on the self-esteem black children. The Court referenced the Clarks' research in its opinion, noting that for African American children, racial segregation: “generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community and may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone . . . A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn.”

    In issuing the Supreme Court’s decision, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote, “Today education is the most important function of state and local governments . . . . It is the very foundation of good citizenship . . . Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.”

    However, more than six decades after Brown opened the door to increased educational opportunities, significant challenges remain. All over the country, LDF continues to fight to secure access to quality educational opportunities for all children and is currently litigating over 100 ongoing school desegregation cases to ensure that states fulfill the promise of Brown. This is part of LDF’s ongoing work to challenge racial discrimination at all levels of education, including K-12 and higher education, and to advocate for policies and legislation that ensure inclusive and quality educational opportunities. LDF works to eliminate obstacles and barriers to academic achievement [c1] for African-American students and to dismantle practices and policies that fuel the School-to-Prison Pipeline[c2] .

    “Education is the civil rights issue of our time and a great equalizer in uplifting children, communities, and future generations to realize their full potential as citizens,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s President and Director-Counsel. “We celebrate Brown for its historical significance, but more importantly, because it shows what our country can become when we promote inclusivity and equality for all Americans.”

    Today, LDF continues its decades-long commitment to equal educational opportunities for all children. This includes promoting practices that ensure racial equity in education for African-American students and access to secure, safe, inclusive, and high quality education for all students.

    Learn more about LDF’s work to continue the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education by visiting www.naacpldf.org.

    The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is not a part of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) although LDF was founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. Since 1957, LDF has been a completely separate organization. Please refer to us in all media attributions as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

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    NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund Celebrates Historic Confirmation of Loretta Lynch as 83rd Attorney General of the United States

    Today’s Senate confirmation of Loretta Lynch as the 83rd Attorney General of the United States is truly historic and long overdue. Ms. Lynch will be the first African-American woman ever to lead the Department of Justice. LDF, which strongly supported the nomination, is relieved that the unprecedented delay in her confirmation vote—lasting more than 5 months—is finally over and that Department of Justice may continue its important work under Attorney General Lynch’s leadership.

    The Department of Justice has long stood as a beacon for equality and justice. It represents our nation's collective commitment to fair enforcement of the rule of law, and to ensuring equal opportunity in every facet of society. For nearly six decades, LDF has worked alongside the Department and its "crown jewel," the Civil Rights Division, to ensure that our nation lives up to its promise of equality for all. LDF looks forward to working with Attorney General Lynch to preserve and protect democracy, equality and opportunity—ideals at the core of LDF’s work.

    Ms. Lynch, who has impeccable credentials and has amassed an extraordinarily impressive record in two turns of service as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, takes office at a moment of incredible importance for the future of racial justice. As our nation confronts a crisis in policing fueled by unabated incidents of violence and bias by police officers against African Americans, it is critical that someone with Loretta Lynch’s combination of law enforcement experience and commitment to racial justice now lead the Department. LDF stands ready to assist the new Attorney General in reducing racial bias in policing, implementing fair sentencing reform, and protecting the right to vote for every American.

    “Loretta Lynch is the right person at the right time for the job, with the stakes elevated as they are with the rash of police-involved shootings of unarmed African-American civilians and the dramatic uptick in restrictions on the right to vote since the Supreme Court’s Shelby County decision,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund. “She will put her two most valuable assets to work – leadership and judgment – to ensure that our nation more fully realizes its promise of equality and opportunity for all.

    “The historic significance of Ms. Lynch’s confirmation cannot be overstated” said Leslie Proll, Director of the Washington, DC office at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund. “Her confirmation should not have been this difficult; Congress should now extend considerable good will to the Attorney General as she faces the immense challenges at the helm of the Department.”

    The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is not a part of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) although LDF was founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. Since 1957, LDF has been a completely separate organization. Please refer to us in media attributions as the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund or LDF.


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    50 Years Later LDF Returns to Selma for “Bloody Sunday” Anniversary Weekend

    March 3, 2015

    Each year, lawyers from the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) attend the commemoration of the “Bloody Sunday” March across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to honor the activism that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. LDF attorneys represented those original Selma marchers, teaming up with local cooperating counsel in the trial that resulted in a court order that led to the successful and peaceful historic march from Selma to Montgomery. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday March.

    LDF attorneys in attendance this year will include the organization’s President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill, as well as staff attorneys currently litigating an array of contemporary voting rights cases including the challenge to Texas’ restrictive voter I.D. law. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the March, current LDF lawyers will be joined in Selma by lawyers of the original legal team that represented the 1965 marchers including former LDF counsel Charles Steve Ralston and former LDF cooperating attorney Fred Gray and attorney Solomon Seay of Alabama. The three-day event beginning on March 6th will feature civil rights attorneys who will share first-hand accounts of the struggle to eventually grant African Americans equal access to voter registration and the ballot box, culminating with a symbolic march on the final day across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

    Key Chronological Events

    LDF attorneys arrived in Montgomery to meet with Alabama civil rights attorney and frequent LDF cooperating counsel Fred D. Gray. On March 8, 1965, the motion was filed in federal court. Judge Frank Johnson, Jr. denied the motion. He held that the plaintiffs—march leaders Hosea Williams, John Lewis, and Amelia Boynton—would suffer no irreparable injury or harm “if they are ordered to refrain from attempting to exercise what they claim to be a constitutional right to march, until the matter can be judicially determined at an early hearing.” The hearing was scheduled to begin several days later.

    In the very early hours of March 9, LDF’s then Director-Counsel Jack Greenberg participated in a conference call with Reverend King to discuss the implications of the injunction. Greenberg and other attorneys on the call, including King’s personal lawyers Clarence Jones and Harry Wachtel, advised King that crossing the bridge would certainly be in violation of the order, but also believed that the order was also certainly invalid. After that call, it was clear to everyone that a march would happen later that day. What remained unclear was how the march would end.

    On Tuesday March 9th, King and 1500 protesters walked to the Edmund Pettis Bridge. They heard a federal marshal read out Judge Johnson’s order. They walked on. And then they stopped. King led the group in prayer, and they turned around and walked back. They did not violate the order, but their actions swelled national attention on Selma. The stage was set for the third Selma march.

    On March 11, the court hearing for the larger march began. The trial opened when Jack Greenberg called Dr. King to the stand. LDF attorneys, along with Fred Gray and other members of the team challenged insinuations that Dr. King had violated the court order. LDF lawyers objected when opposing counsel treated witnesses including King with blatant disrespect. Testimony was given about the police violence the marchers experienced. On March 15, Judge Johnson requested a detailed logistical plan for the march. It was a positive sign.

    The LDF attorneys retreated to their hotel to devise a plan. Former LDF Director-Counsel Jack Greenberg described what transpired in his 1994 book Crusaders in the Courts: “Jim [Nabrit – another LDF counsel] and I holed up in my motel room, sat on the floor with a yellow pad and began writing the plan. Regularly, we had to chase down Andy Young, John Lewis, Hosea Williams or some other deputy to fill in the details…We finished in the early hours of the morning and took our draft over to [attorney] Fred Gray’s office. On Tuesday March 16, we submitted the plan to [Judge] Johnson.”

    As a result of LDF’s action, Judge Johnson struck down the temporary restraining order, thereby allowing the march to go forward. He also issued an injunction prohibiting Governor Wallace, the Alabama Director of Public Safety, and the Sheriff of Dallas County from “intimidating, threatening, coercing or interfering with the proposed march by these plaintiffs” and requiring Wallace to provide “adequate police protection” for the march. It was a monumental legal victory. The Selma March remains the most important mass march of the Civil Rights Movement, and led directly to passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

    The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is not a part of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) although LDF was founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. Since 1957, LDF has been a completely separate organization. Please refer to us in media attributions as the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund or LDF.


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    BlackRefer.com does not endorse or recommend any article on this site or any product, service or information found within said articles. Resources and links included in said articles are only suggested as sources for further exploration, but we cannot vouch for or take responsibility for information contained in these resources. The opinions and views of the authors who have submitted articles to BlackRefer.com belong to them alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of BlackRefer.com.





    NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund Laments Justice Department Decision Not to Bring Federal Charges Against George Zimmerman in Trayvon Martin Death

    February 24, 2015

    The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund (LDF) is deeply disappointed by the Department of Justice’s decision not to bring federal hate-crime charges against George Zimmerman for the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African-American youth. Mr. Martin was one of several unarmed African-American men whose deaths at the hands of law enforcement and quasi-law enforcement officials has drawn national attention to the false presumption of criminality faced by African Americans, and its often lethal result.

    Despite the fact that evidence indicates that race played a pivotal role in both Mr. Zimmerman’s perception of Mr. Martin as a potential threat and the eventual pursuit that culminated in Mr. Martin’s death, the Justice Department concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the federal criminal statutes prohibiting the use of force by an assailant because of a victim’s race were violated.

    “Justice demands accountability,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s President and Director-Counsel. “In order for any American to have faith in the criminal justice system, we must have laws that both prevent these kinds of tragedies and ensure that those responsible for senseless deaths, like those of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and countless others, are held accountable for their actions. We must address and eliminate the biases and stereotypes that led to these killings.”

    The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is not a part of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) although LDF was founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. Since 1957, LDF has been a completely separate organization. Please refer to us in media attributions as the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund or LDF.


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    The articles on this site are provided as a public service and to be used for information purposes only. BlackRefer.com does not accept any responsibility or liability for the use or misuse of the article content. Use at your own risk.

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    BlackRefer.com does not endorse or recommend any article on this site or any product, service or information found within said articles. Resources and links included in said articles are only suggested as sources for further exploration, but we cannot vouch for or take responsibility for information contained in these resources. The opinions and views of the authors who have submitted articles to BlackRefer.com belong to them alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of BlackRefer.com.





    NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund Supports Grand Jury Decision to Indict Brooklyn Police Officer Peter Liang in the Shooting Death of Akai Gurley

    The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund supports the decision of the Brooklyn grand jury to indict NYPD Officer Peter Liang for the crime of manslaughter in the killing of Akai Gurley in November of 2014. Mr. Gurley was, in the words of New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, a “total innocent,” who was shot and killed while walking in the stairwell of the Pink Houses, a public housing development in Brooklyn.

    While today’s indictment for manslaughter is the minimum criminal homicide charge that Officer Laing should have faced, it marks a significant departure from the decisions of the Staten Island, NY and Ferguson, MO grand juries not to indict police officers in the high profile killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. Those decisions sparked peaceful national protests and inspired LDF’s call for such federal reforms as stricter accountability measures and training for police, as well as a national database documenting the cases of unarmed African-American men killed by police officers. LDF believes that today’s indictment in the Gurley case, and the subsequent public proceedings, are important first steps toward achieving the transparency and accountability necessary to prevent other such tragedies from occurring again.

    Statement From Sherrilyn Ifill: “We are gratified that D.A. Ken Thompson moved this process along quickly. This is a positive step in the right direction and at this moment we can say that our justice system is working the way it is intended to work. Police officers, who set the highest standard for conduct and behavior should be held accountable just as any ordinary citizen would if they fired a weapon without cause. We hope that the facts of the case unfold in an impartial manor and that there is a full accounting of why Mr. Gurley was shot for no other reason of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

    NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is a leading voice in the struggle to ensure equal opportunity for all Americans. Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, LDF has been recognized as the nation’s finest civil rights law firm. Although initially affiliated with the NAACP, LDF has been an entirely separate organization since 1957. Please refer to us as “LDF” or “The Legal Defense Fund” in all media.


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    The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund Denounces New York Grand Jury Decision

    The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund roundly condemns the non-indictment of Staten Island police officer Joseph Pantaleo. In a horrifying display of police brutality, captured on video, Officer Pantaleo choked Eric Garner to death while trying to arrest him for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. The vicious act was captured on videotape as onlookers, including other civil servants, watched the unresisting Garner repeatedly gasp for air and clearly state that he could not breathe. The decision not to indict is yet another miscarriage of justice following the recent decision of a grand jury in Ferguson, MO not to indict the officer responsible for the shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown.

    The Staten Island grand jury today concluded that there was not probable cause to send Officer Pantaleo's to trial for killing Eric Garner, despite the fact that the New York City Police Department's patrol guide has clearly and unequivocally prohibited the use of 'any pressure to the throat or windpipe which may prevent or hinder breathing to reduce intakes of air' for over two decades. This decision, combined with the rash of police killings of unarmed African-Americans nationwide, powerfully underscores the national urgency of Mr. Garner's statement to Pantaleo before Garner died: "This stops today."

    Statement of President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill

    “America can no longer hide from the reality that we have a true crisis on our hands. The failure to address these fatal incidents and racial bias in policing threatens to erode the remaining trust that African Americans have in our justice system. This is a very serious moment. Young people and grassroots organizers are already showing leadership. We now need a stronger display of leadership at the national, state, and local levels, and across all races, to engage this issue forcefully and without equivocation.”

    Statement of Director of Litigation Christina Swarns

    “This decision is extremely disappointing and personal to me because I grew up in Staten Island and am very familiar with the location where this incident occurred. The grand jury’s decision calls into question whether justice is a reality or just an ideal in America, especially for African-American men who continue to be targeted by law enforcement. It also calls into question the use of “broken windows” policing in New York City and painfully showcases the consequences that ensue when officers engage in confrontational police tactics. We are calling for both local, state, city and federal action to investigate how such a heinous attack on a civilian using a practice barred by the city could occur. It also raises the threshold for proving murder to an unprecedented level where a victim who is not resisting arrest can literally be choked to death with no consequences."

    Eric Garner now joins Akai Gurley, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Ramarley Graham, Anthony Baez, Mohamed Beh, and countless others on the painfully long list of Black men who have been senselessly killed by law enforcement officers in New York and throughout the country. Unless and until comprehensive corrective action is taken, the pervasive perception that African-American lives are not worthy of law enforcement protection will destroy the integrity of law enforcement and hinder its ability to effectively ensure public safety.

    LDF therefore urges the following steps toward reform:

    New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, and New York City Police Commissioner, Bill Bratton must immediately scrutinize and correct the training, policies and practices of the New York City Police Department and end the so-called "broken windows" policing policy -- which prioritizes the enforcement of minor, quality-of-life crimes, like the sale of untaxed cigarettes -- that led to Mr. Garner's death;

    The United States Department of Justice should open an investigation into the use of force policies and practices of the NYPD and, specifically, the killing of Eric Garner; and

    Communities of color must organize to counter police brutality, to positively transform the culture and character of the New York City Police Department, and to end discriminatory police practices across the country.

    Every person and every community is entitled to fair and appropriate police protection. And no one --including a police officer -- is above the law. The blatant disregard for the fact that Black lives matter must "stop today."


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    NAACP Legal Defense Fund Attends White House Meeting on Reforms in the Wake of Ferguson Tragedy

    December 2, 2014

    Yesterday, NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill participated in a White House meeting with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, representatives from law enforcement organizations, youth leaders, local elected officials and members of the faith community.

    The meeting comes on the heels of protests around the nation and a renewed commitment by civil rights leaders to reduce racial bias in policing following last week’s announcement by St. Louis County District Attorney Bob McCulloch that Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted for killing Michael Brown. The meeting focused on how law enforcement agencies can work with civil rights and community organizations in promoting practices to eliminate bias in policing. President Obama described his support for law enforcement and the hard work they do.

    President Obama announced the adoption of initiatives intended to build trust between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. These include a task force on 21st century policing, an executive order to promote accountability and transparency in the use of military-style equipment by local law enforcement, and a community policing initiative which would expand funding and training for local law enforcement, including up to 50,000 body-worn cameras.

    Sherrilyn Ifill commented: "Yesterday’s meeting was a significant first step in acknowledging the problem of racial bias in policing and searching for real, concrete measures for change. We think the President was exactly right when he said we begin the work today rather than end it. I am hopeful that this Task Force, led by two able and respected law enforcement officers, will fulfill the President’s call for workable recommendations and an implementation plan in the next three months. As a nation, we cannot afford to wait for the assault or killing of unarmed African Americans. Racial profiling by law enforcement should have no place in our democracy. Our nation’s law enforcement officers should receive the best and highest level of training to ensure that bias is eliminated from police encounters with members of the community they serve."

    Since the tragic shooting of Michael Brown, LDF has advocated for accountability and transparency of local police practices. LDF has urged the Department of Justice to take four specific actions to reduce the incidence of officer-related shootings against African-Americans, including: 1) undertaking a comprehensive review of police-involved assaults and killings of unarmed individuals, with a focus on killings of unarmed African Americans; 2) providing strong incentives for racial bias training and avoiding the use of force in federal grant process; 3) holding police officers accountable to the full extent of the law; and 4) encouraging the use of police officer body-worn cameras.

    LDF has also worked to identify the structural issues in Ferguson which predate the Michael Brown shooting and contributed to the political, social and economic dynamic existing in that community today.

    In commenting on the initiatives announced by the President, Ifill stated:

    “These are concrete plans designed to engage stakeholders in examining deeply rooted structural problems in policing. We will continue to work with the Obama Administration to promote accountability of police actions, to provide appropriate training to officers, and to ensure the recording and transparency of their practices. Finally, we hope the executive order will eliminate the possibility that military weapons are used in our nation’s schools.”

    LDF spokespersons have recently highlighted steps going forward after the Ferguson verdict, most recently in a Meet the Press appearance by President Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill and Associate Director-Counsel Janai Nelson on the Diane Rehm Show.

    http://www.naacpldf.org/news/ifill-discusses-ferguson-race-relations-meet-press


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    NAACP Legal Defense Fund Condemns Failure to Indict Darren Wilson for Killing of Michael Brown

    Statement of Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., the nation’s first civil rights law organization:

    "We are deeply disappointed by the grand jury’s failure to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. The tragedy of Mr. Brown’s death at the hands of Officer Wilson, as well as the overwrought, often unconstitutional, and overly-militarized response to protests in Ferguson are harsh and painful reminders of the work that we all must undertake to fulfill America’s promises of racial equality and justice.

    We urge the United States Department of Justice to move forward expeditiously with its investigation of Michael Brown’s death and of the Ferguson police department and to leverage its considerable authority to help put an end to police violence nationwide.

    The failure to indict Darren Wilson reflects structural, systemic problems that cannot be fixed without empowered communities of color that have the ability to hold institutions accountable. We call for sustained community-based organizing around the nation to counter police brutality against communities of color.

    Police violence against African Americans not only undermines the integrity of law enforcement, but also lends credence to the pervasive perception that African-American lives are not worthy of protection. We will continue to support efforts that seek justice for Mr. Brown; positively transform the culture and character of the Ferguson Police Department; and end discriminatory police practices across the country."


    Statement of Vincent Southerland, Senior Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., the nation’s first civil rights law organization:

    "African Americans continue to be killed and brutalized by law enforcement at alarming rates. This summer, Eric Garner was choked to death by New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo while pleading for his life. Jonathan Crawford was shot dead in an Ohio Wal-Mart for holding a toy gun that was for sale. Marlene Pinnock was brutally beaten by a California Highway Patrol officer during a stop on the side of a California freeway. Countless others have been unjustifiably beaten, tasered, shot, verbally abused, and traumatized by the police in their communities.

    It is time to bring the cycle of police violence against African Americans to an end. LDF has asked the United States Department of Justice to deploy its full authority to stop this tragic cycle by reviewing police-involved killings and beatings of African Americans nationwide, incentivizing training on racial bias and the police use of force, prosecuting police officers and departments that violate civil rights laws, and encouraging greater oversight of police officers.

    These national efforts, however, can only be successful when the voices of those in communities suffering under the yoke of police violence are translated into substantive changes that reaffirm the value of African American lives. Through sustained community organizing, public education, and continued advocacy, we must all work together to ensure that Michael Brown’s death was not in vain."


    A letter from the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund to the Department of Justice can be read here.

    The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the country’s first and foremost civil rights legal advocacy organization. Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, LDF’s mission has always been transformative: to achieve racial justice, equality, and an inclusive society.

    LDF has been a separate organization from the NAACP since 1957. If our name needs to be shortened, please refer to us as NAACP Legal Defense Fund” or “Legal Defense Fund,” not “NAACP.”


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    LDF Applauds President Obama’s Announcement to Take Executive Action to Improve Our Nation’s Immigration System

    November 20, 2014

    (Washington, D.C.)--The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. supports President Obama’s decision to use executive authority to begin building a framework for comprehensive immigration reform. The President’s action is a positive first step to address the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants who currently reside in the United States, many of whom are children who are forced to live in the shadows through no fault of their own. The President’s action is an opportunity to give current meaning to the hallmark of our country, a place where, no matter where you come from, the American dream is expected to be within reach.

    Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s President Director-Counsel, stated: “In taking these steps today, President Obama lifts up our nation’s core values of inclusiveness and opportunity and refocuses the lens on the importance of keeping families together. It is part of the American tradition to bring immigrants into the fold. We will look back favorably on this historic moment of progress.”

    Janai Nelson, LDF’s Associate Director-Counsel, stated: “Fixing immigration is not an option—it is a necessity. The United States has richly benefited from the influence and industry of immigrants across the globe who dared to dream of a better life within its borders. Now, President Obama has shown the courage to address the throbbing issue of immigration reform responsibly and surgically. By doing so, he will preserve the sanctity of family and invest in our economy. President Obama’s courageous step forward on immigration reform paves the way for a more just economic system that will assist various marginalized communities, including African Americans, find their footing in the American economy and in American society.

    Comprehensive legislation on immigration reform has been bogged down in the Congress for too long. LDF supports the president’s lawful action to move the nation forward on immigration reform by suspending deportations in specific instances to preserve the sanctity of the family. Extending protections to parents and spouses of U.S. citizens and permanent residents will create increased family stability. We are also encouraged by the President’s anticipated expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to curb deportations of immigrants who came to this country as children and consider the United States of America the one place that they can truly call home.

    This is not only a positive development for Latino and other immigrant populations but also for non-immigrant communities, including African-Americans, who were hit especially hard by the most recent economic downturn. By fixing the immigration system, it will be harder for employers to ignore some of the most vulnerable citizens in the economy, especially African-American workers, by avoiding payment of fair and livable wages.

    President Obama’s actions are entirely consistent with unilateral steps taken by previous presidents, both Republican and Democratic, to protect persons from deportation. In those cases, Congress later ratified those decisions. We call upon Congress to do the same now.

    The President’s unilateral action is in the same vein as actions taken by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, who also extended amnesty to family members of undocumented immigrants who were not included in the overhaul of the immigration system passed by Congress and signed into law by President Reagan in 1986. That legislation provided legal status to three million immigrants. President Reagan also authorized protection against the deportation of minor children of parents who were granted amnesty under that law. President Bush subsequently authorized a “family fairness” program under which family members who were living with a legalized immigrant and in the United States prior to 1986 were granted protection against deportation. Obama’s actions today, not only have ample precedent, but are absolutely fitting for these times.

    The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the country’s first and foremost civil and human rights law organization. Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, LDF’s mission has always been transformative: to achieve racial justice, equality, and an inclusive society. LDF’s victories established the foundations for the civil rights that all Americans enjoy today. In its first two decades, LDF undertook a coordinated legal assault against officially enforced public school segregation. This campaign culminated in Brown v. Board of Education, the a unanimous landmark Supreme Court decision in 1954 that overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine of legally sanctioned discrimination, widely known as Jim Crow.

    We have been a separate organization from the NAACP since 1957. Please refer to us as “LDF.”


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    SCOTUS Fails to Stop Discriminatory TX Photo ID Law Before Upcoming Elections Litigation on the Law’s Fate in Future Elections will Continue

    (Washington, D.C.) The U.S. Supreme Court today affirmed the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision to stay a District Court ruling that found Texas’ photo ID law unconstitutional and intentionally discriminatory. The law will disfranchise more than 600,000 voters, a disproportionate number of whom are Black and Latino, who do not have any of the limited forms of photo ID required by the most restrictive photo ID law in the nation.

    "Today's decision means hundreds of thousands of eligible voters in Texas will be unable to participate in November's election because Texas has erected an obstacle course designed to discourage voting. A federal court has found that the obstacles erected by Texas were designed to discriminate against Black and Hispanic voters. This is an affront to our democracy," said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of NAACP LDF, the nation’s leading civil rights legal organization and a separate organization from the NAACP.

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a six-page dissent. “The prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters,” she wrote, undermines “public confidence in elections.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan joined the dissent.

    “The district court found the Texas ID law was intentionally discriminatory. In the September trial, the court heard from a number of Texas citizens who are unable to secure any of the limited forms of photo ID to satisfy this law. It is both remarkable and troubling that none of those citizens will be able to vote at the polls this November,” said Ryan Haygood, who made closing arguments at the consolidated trial in United States v. Texas and Veasey v. Perry and directs the Political Participation Group at NAACP LDF.

    Today’s decision did not reach the merits of the case and the litigation regarding the law’s application in future elections will continue.

    “This battle isn’t yet over. Today’s limited decision keeps Texas’s discriminatory ID law in place for this November, but does not change the ultimate ruling that this law is an unconstitutional and racially discriminatory poll tax. The final fate of the Texas ID law beyond this November is yet to be decided. We are committed to ensuring that the upcoming November 2014 elections be the last ones tainted by this discriminatory measure,” said Natasha Korgaonkar, Assistant Counsel in LDF’s Political Participation Group who argued during the trial.

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a six-page dissent. “The prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters,” she wrote, undermines “public confidence in elections.”

    “During the trial we heard from Texas voters who could not satisfy this strict law’s requirements. One voter testified that she would need to choose between paying for a birth certificate so she could vote, or buying groceries for her family. This is not a choice that anyone should ever have to make,” continued Korgaonkar.

    The NAACP Legal Defense Fund calls on Congress to pass the Voting Rights Amendment Act to block discriminatory election laws like this before they can take effect.

    In United States v. Texas, consolidated with Veasey v. Perry, the NAACP LDF and its co-counsel Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr LLP (WilmerHale) represent the Texas League of Young Voters Education Fund and Imani Clark. Ms. Clark, an undergraduate student at Prairie View A & M University, a historically Black Texas university, previously voted in Texas using her student ID before Texas implemented SB 14. Ms. Clark does not have any of the limited forms of photo ID that Texas required under SB 14, including a concealed handgun license.

    On October 9, 2014, after weighing the evidence from a two week trial with nearly 40 witnesses, federal District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos issued a meticulously-written 147-page opinion in which the court found that the Texas legislature enacted the photo ID law with the intent to discriminate against Black and Latino voters, and deemed the law an unconstitutional poll tax.

    At trial, the District Court heard that hundreds of thousands of registered voters in Texas do not have the required photo ID. Citizen after citizen testified about the challenges of getting the accepted forms of identification. Texas did not present evidence of a single instance of in-person voter fraud, sparking observers to call the restrictive photo ID law a solution for a problem that does not exist.

    About NAACP LDF
    The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the country’s first and foremost civil and human rights law firm. Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, LDF’s mission has always been transformative: to achieve racial justice, equality, and an inclusive society. LDF has been a separate organization from the NAACP since 1957. If our name needs to be shortened, please refer to us as NAACP Legal Defense Fund” or “Legal Defense Fund,” not “NAACP.”


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    BlackRefer.com does not endorse or recommend any article on this site or any product, service or information found within said articles. Resources and links included in said articles are only suggested as sources for further exploration, but we cannot vouch for or take responsibility for information contained in these resources. The opinions and views of the authors who have submitted articles to BlackRefer.com belong to them alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of BlackRefer.com.





    NAACP Legal Defense Fund Applauds Appointment of Vanita Gupta to Civil Rights Division Post

    The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund (LDF) strongly praised U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement today that Vanita Gupta has been appointed Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Justice Department.

    Vanita began her legal career at LDF, after graduating from New York University Law School and Yale University. Her first case at LDF was to challenge the wrongful convictions of 40 African Americans in Tulia, Texas who were convicted of selling drugs solely on the testimony of one white undercover officer with a history of racial hostility and misconduct. Her clients were eventually pardoned by Texas Governor Rick Perry and received six million dollars in a monetary settlement for their civil rights violations. Gupta has received numerous awards and honors for her outstanding work, including the Reebok Human Rights Award. See summary of the Tulia case and CBS "60 Minutes" segment.

    Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of LDF, the leading civil rights law firm and separate entity from NAACP stated: “Even among the incredibly talented lawyers who have worked for LDF over the years, Vanita stands out. Fresh out of law school, she shined a national light on the miscarriage of justice in Tulia and single-handedly amassed and led the legal team which won freedom and restitution for those convicted. The Tulia case, and Vanita’s leadership of it, will be known to history as a turning point for racial fairness in the criminal justice system.”

    Ifill also noted that Gupta’s appointment was incredibly fitting for the times: “The events in Ferguson provide a stark example of the challenges facing our nation when it comes to ensuring racial equality in the criminal justice system. Vanita's expertise in bringing law enforcement and communities of color to the same table, in pursuit of common goals of fairness and accountability, is precisely the type of leadership needed in the Civil Rights Division at this critical time.”

    Leslie Proll, Director of LDF’s Washington Office, stated: “I have known Vanita since she first began practicing law. She is a remarkably talented and committed lawyer who has made it her life’s work to pursue justice under the law. She is a rock star in the civil rights bar. We are all extraordinarily lucky that Vanita has chosen to serve her country in this role.”

    About NAACP LDF
    The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the country’s first and foremost civil and human rights law firm. Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, LDF’s mission has always been transformative: to achieve racial justice, equality, and an inclusive society. LDF has been a separate organization from the NAACP since 1957. If our name needs to be shortened, please refer to us as NAACP Legal Defense Fund” or “Legal Defense Fund,” not “NAACP.”


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    U.S. Supreme Court Asked to Stop Discriminatory TX ID Law from Going Into Effect for Upcoming Elections

    This afternoon the plaintiffs have filed a brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to stop Texas’ discriminatory photo ID law from being used in the upcoming elections. Plaintiffs asked the Supreme Court to vacate the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision to stay a federal judge’s decision last week to bar the law from being implemented in the upcoming elections.

    “Texas’s photo ID law, enacted with a discriminatory purpose, is, as intended, the most restrictive, racially discriminatory photo ID law in the country. More than 600,000 registered voters, a disproportionate number of whom are voters of color, will be unable to exercise their fundamental right to vote in the upcoming election unless the Supreme Court steps in. This law, as the district court found, has no place in Texas's democracy, except to exclude voters on the basis of their race, and that is unlawful and intolerable," said Ryan Haygood who made closing arguments at the trial and directs the Political Participation Group at NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the nation’s leading civil rights legal organization and a separate organization from the NAACP.

    See the brief at
    http://www.naacpldf.org/document/united-states-v-texas-et-al-veasey-v-perry-emergency-application-vacate-stay

    The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the country’s first and foremost civil rights legal organization. Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, LDF’s mission has always been transformative: to achieve racial justice, equality, and an inclusive society.

    In United States v. Texas, consolidated with Veasey v. Perry, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and its co-counsel Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr LLP (WilmerHale) represent the Texas League of Young Voters Education Fund and Imani Clark. Ms. Clark, an undergraduate student at Prairie View A & M University, a historically Black Texas university, previously voted in Texas using her student ID before Texas implemented SB 14. Ms. Clark does not have any of the limited forms of photo ID that Texas required under SB 14, including a concealed handgun license. LDF, the DOJ, and other organizations previously had blocked the implementation of the same discriminatory photo ID law in Texas. However, that decision was vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights, which LDF defended before the Supreme Court.

    LDF has been a separate organization from the NAACP since 1957. If our name needs to be shortened, please refer to us as NAACP Legal Defense Fund” or “Legal Defense Fund,” not “NAACP.”

    ###


    NAACP LDF is the country’s first and foremost civil and human rights law firm. Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, NAACP LDF’s mission has always been transformative: to achieve racial justice, equality, and an inclusive society. NAACP LDF’s victories established the foundations for the civil rights that all Americans enjoy today. In its first two decades, NAACP LDF undertook a coordinated legal assault against officially enforced public school segregation. This campaign culminated in Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court decision in 1954, a unanimous decision overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine of legally sanctioned discrimination, widely known as Jim Crow.

    LDF has been a separate organization from the NAACP since 1957. If our name needs to be shortened, please refer to us as NAACP Legal Defense Fund” or “Legal Defense Fund,” not “NAACP.”


    ooOoo


    Disclaimer
    The articles on this site are provided as a public service and to be used for information purposes only. BlackRefer.com does not accept any responsibility or liability for the use or misuse of the article content. Use at your own risk.

    No Endorsement:
    BlackRefer.com does not endorse or recommend any article on this site or any product, service or information found within said articles. Resources and links included in said articles are only suggested as sources for further exploration, but we cannot vouch for or take responsibility for information contained in these resources. The opinions and views of the authors who have submitted articles to BlackRefer.com belong to them alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of BlackRefer.com.





    Federal Judge Strikes Texas’s Racially Discriminatory Photo ID Law

    NAACP Legal Defense Fund applauds the Court’s decision

    In a significant ruling today, federal district court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos struck down as racially discriminatory Texas’s photo ID law, Senate Bill 14 (SB 14), finding that it violates the federal Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution.

    In United States v. Texas, consolidated with Veasey v. Perry, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and its co-counsel Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr LLP (WilmerHale) represent the Texas League of Young Voters Education Fund and Imani Clark. Ms. Clark, an undergraduate student at Prairie View A & M University, a historically Black Texas university, previously voted in Texas using her student ID before Texas implemented SB 14. Ms. Clark does not have any of the limited forms of photo ID that Texas required under SB 14, including a concealed handgun license. The Texas League of Young Voters works with young people of color throughout Texas to engage them in the political process.

    “We are extremely pleased with today’s ruling--a ruling that was compelled by the facts of this case. Following a two week trial that included testimony from nearly 40 witnesses, Texas failed to identify a single instance of in-person voter fraud – the purported justification for Texas’s photo ID law,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the nation’s leading civil rights law firm and a separate entity from the NAACP. “The Court today effectively ruled that racial discrimination simply cannot spread to the ballot box.”

    “The Court recognized today that Texas’s photo ID law is a problem in search of a solution. The problem is that it violates the Voting Rights Act. The solution, as the Court ruled, is that the SB 14 be struck,” said attorney Ryan P. Haygood who made closing arguments at the trial and is Director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s Political Participation Group. “The evidence in this case demonstrated that the law, like its poll tax ancestor, imposes real costs, and unjustified, disparate burdens on the voting rights of more than 600,000 registered Texas voters, a substantial percentage of whom are voters of color. That result is precisely what the Voting Rights Act was enacted to outlaw.”

    “Texas adopted its racially discriminatory photo ID law in response to the substantial and ongoing growth of Black and Latino communities in Texas,” said Natasha M. Korgaonkar, who argued at the trial and is Assistant Counsel in the Political Participation Group of NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF). “This growth presented Texas with an important opportunity to welcome its rich diversity by expanding its electorate; Texas instead chose to intentionally erect one of the nation’s strictest photo ID laws to minimize the growing political power of voters of color in Texas. Fortunately, the Court’s ruling today prevented that result.”

    This case has national implications as federal courts across this country, such as in North Carolina and Wisconsin, consider the potentially discriminatory impact of other photo ID laws on voters of color.

    Today’s decision marks the second time that LDF has successfully prevented SB 14 from being enforced. In 2012, LDF, the Department of Justice, and other civil rights allies, successfully defended against Texas’s implementation of SB 14 under a different section of the Voting Rights Act. That victory was vacated due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s intervening decision in 2013 in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, which immobilized the core provision of the Voting Rights Act under which the 2012 litigation was won.

    While disappointed that Texas has expressed its intent to appeal this ruling, rather than to focus on ensuring that Texas’s voters are prepared to vote in the important upcoming November elections, LDF and WilmerHale are prepared to defend today’s ruling on appeal.

    ###


    NAACP LDF is the country’s first and foremost civil and human rights law firm. Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, NAACP LDF’s mission has always been transformative: to achieve racial justice, equality, and an inclusive society. NAACP LDF’s victories established the foundations for the civil rights that all Americans enjoy today. In its first two decades, NAACP LDF undertook a coordinated legal assault against officially enforced public school segregation. This campaign culminated in Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court decision in 1954, a unanimous decision overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine of legally sanctioned discrimination, widely known as Jim Crow.

    LDF has been a separate organization from the NAACP since 1957. If our name needs to be shortened, please refer to us as NAACP Legal Defense Fund” or “Legal Defense Fund,” not “NAACP.”


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    Janai Nelson Named Associate Director-Counsel
    at NAACP Legal Defense Fund


    (NEW YORK, NY) The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. today announced that Janai Nelson, a law professor and expert on election law and voting rights issues, has been named Associate Director-Counsel of the organization.

    Ms. Nelson’s appointment marks a return to LDF, where she began as an NAACP LDF/Fried Frank Fellow in 1998, joined the staff as an assistant counsel in 2002, and served as director of LDF’s Political Participation Group from 2003 to 2005.

    “We are thrilled to welcome Janai Nelson back to the LDF family in a new role that will take full advantage not only of her deep knowledge of voting rights and constitutional law but also her skills as an advocate and leader,” said Sherrilyn A. Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of NAACP LDF. “I know that Janai will be a tremendous asset to LDF in continuing our precedent-setting legal and legislative advocacy as well as in advancing new strategic initiatives.” Ms. Nelson will come on board full-time on August 13 and will work from the organization's headquarters in lower Manhattan.

    “It is truly a privilege to return to LDF to build on its legacy of excellence and help to advance its critical mission of racial justice, equality, and human rights,” said Ms. Nelson. “For nearly 75 years, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund has been at the heart of the struggle to transform society and reinforce our democratic ideals. I look forward to working hand-in-hand with LDF’s talented attorneys, dedicated staff, and valued partners to continue that journey of progress.”

    Ms. Nelson comes to NAACP LDF from St. John’s University School of Law, where for the past eight years she has been a law professor, Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship, and Associate Director of the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development. She is recipient of the 2013 Derrick A. Bell Award from the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) Section on Minority Groups and was recently named one of Lawyers of Color’s 50 Under 50 minority professors making an impact in legal education.

    In the year prior to joining St. John's faculty, Ms. Nelson was a Fulbright Scholar at the Legal Resources Center in Accra, Ghana, where she researched the political disfranchisement of persons with criminal convictions and the advancement of democracy in Ghana.

    In her previous role as Director of LDF’s Political Participation Group, Nelson oversaw all voting related litigation and matters, litigated voting rights and redistricting cases, and worked on criminal justice issues on behalf of African Americans and other under-served communities. She served as lead counsel in Hayden v. Pataki, a felon disfranchisement case that challenged New York State laws that deny the right to vote to people who are incarcerated and on parole for a felony conviction. She was also part of the team of civil rights attorneys representing African- and Haitian-American voters in NAACP v. Hood (a class action suit that arose out of the 2000 general elections) and one of the counsel representing a death row inmate whose sentence was commuted in 2003 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Banks v. Dretke.

    She has been published on issues of domestic and comparative election law, democracy, race, and criminal justice and is a contributor to Thomson Reuters and Huffington Post. Ms. Nelson has also appeared on CNN, InsideOut, public radio and other media as an election law expert; she regularly speaks at conferences and symposia nationwide. Ms. Nelson received a B.A. from New York University and a J.D. from UCLA School of Law. She is a native New Yorker who lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, 8 and 10.

    ###


    NAACP LDF is the country’s first and foremost civil and human rights law firm. Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, NAACP LDF’s mission has always been transformative: to achieve racial justice, equality, and an inclusive society. NAACP LDF’s victories established the foundations for the civil rights that all Americans enjoy today. In its first two decades, NAACP LDF undertook a coordinated legal assault against officially enforced public school segregation. This campaign culminated in Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court decision in 1954, a unanimous decision overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine of legally sanctioned discrimination, widely known as Jim Crow.


    ooOoo


    Disclaimer
    The articles on this site are provided as a public service and to be used for information purposes only. BlackRefer.com does not accept any responsibility or liability for the use or misuse of the article content. Use at your own risk.

    No Endorsement:
    BlackRefer.com does not endorse or recommend any article on this site or any product, service or information found within said articles. Resources and links included in said articles are only suggested as sources for further exploration, but we cannot vouch for or take responsibility for information contained in these resources. The opinions and views of the authors who have submitted articles to BlackRefer.com belong to them alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of BlackRefer.com.









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- NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE & EDUCATION FUND -
     



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  1. NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund ...
    Provide legal assistance to poor African Americans and civil rights and voting rights activists, and brings lawsuits against violators of civil rights.

  2. NAACP Legal History ...
    In 1909, the NAACP commenced what has become its legacy of fighting legal battles to win social justice for African-Americans and indeed, for all Americans.

  3. Liberty and Justice For All ...
    The NAACP Legal Defense Fund is America’s premier nonprofit legal organization fighting for racial justice.

  4. Death Penalty Information Center ...
    Statistics of minorities on death row by NAACP Legal Defense.


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