Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Justice Stephen Breyer Writes on Courts and Globalization

The October 2018 issue of Atlantic magazine includes an extended essay by Justice Stephen Breyer, titled America's Courts Can't Ignore the World.

Among other observations, Justice Breyer writes, "When I speak to an American audience about the need to be aware of foreign law and events, a member of the audience will typically ask, 'But isn’t the Constitution an American document? Doesn’t it protect American values?' I answer that the circumstances giving rise to more and more cases include foreign circumstances. Indeed, the best way to preserve American values (which are largely the same as contemporary European values) may well be to take account of what happens abroad."

With Justice Kennedy's requirement, the Court lost one of the justices willing to look to persuasive foreign and international precedent to inform domestic decisionmaking.  Of the remaining justices, only Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor, along with Justice Breyer, have been outspoken in support of the approach, though Justice Kagan is not antagonistic.  Given the timing, could Justice Breyer's essay be directed to the Court's newest Justice?     


October 17, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Trump and International Law: Harold Koh's New Book

On October 15, Oxford University Press published Professor Harold Koh's new book, The Trump Administration and International Law.  Here's how it is described on the OUP website:

        "Will Donald trump international law? Since Trump's Administration took office, this question has haunted almost every issue area of international         law. One of our leading international lawyers-a former Legal Adviser of the US State Department, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights,         and Yale Law Dean-argues that President Trump has thus far enjoyed less success than many believe, because he does not own the pervasive         "transnational legal process" that governs these issue areas. This book shows how those opposing Trump's policies during his administration's first         two years have successfully triggered that process as part of a collective counter-strategy akin to Muhammad Ali's "rope-a-dope." The book surveys         immigration and refugee law, human rights, climate change, denuclearization, trade diplomacy, relations with North Korea, Russia and Ukraine,         America's "Forever War" against Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, and the ongoing tragedy in Syria. Koh's tour d'horizon illustrates the many         techniques that players in the transnational legal process have used to blunt Trump's early initiatives. The high stakes of this struggle, and its         broader implications for the future of global governance-now challenged by the rise of populist authoritarians-make this exhausting counter-strategy         both worthwhile and necessary."

For the two weeks, the blog OpinioJuris of the International Commission of Jurists has been running a Symposium on the new book.  Check it out for commentary from the left and the right, and a response from Professor Koh.


October 16, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Demagogue's Move to Shut Down Protest

The President is making his move to quell opposition.  

"A new proposal by the Trump administration would seriously limit the number of protests in Washington, D.C., and bar demonstrations outside parts of the White House and the National Mall altogether."  So reports Newsweek.  The National Park Service claims that it proposed the plan that would shut down protests on the north side of the White House, near Lafayette Park.  Protesters have demonstrated in that area for 50 consecutive nights.  In addition the plan would prohibit protests on the National Mall and would cap the number of protesters permitted to demonstrate.  Portions of Pennsylvania Avenue would be shut down, as well.  

Many other presidents have lived through continuous protests in the neighborhood.  President Nixon was the target of anti-war protesters, as well as those seeking impeachment.  On one early morning, President Nixon went to the Lincoln Memorial to engage those demonstrating. Protesters during the Vietnam War continued a steady chant of "Hey, Hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today."  The demonstrators were so persistent that often the Johnsons forewent plans for entertaining visitors because of the chanting outside.  

This President has no tolerance for dissent.  Despite protest being a long, embedded activity in our political culture, President Trump seeks to shut down peaceful protest.  This move is one of the most threatening to democracy to date.  

We should all be very worried.






October 15, 2018 in Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 14, 2018

November is Upon Us -- Mark Your Calendars!

Two upcoming conferences take an interdisciplinary view of human rights challenges: 

On November 2 at Washington University, St. Louis, a conference titled:  "Interdisciplinary and Human Rights Approaches to the Gun Violence Crisis in the United States. " The conference is sponsored by the Harris Institute.  More information and registration info is available here.

Also on November 2, at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, a one-day symposium titled "Rethinking Borders: Climate Change, Migration, and Human Rights."  The event is co-sponsored by the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law   More information is available here.



October 14, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Washington State Court Strikes State Death Penalty, Citing International Trends toward Abolition

Last Thursday, just one day after the World Day Against the Death Penalty, the Washington State Supreme Court struck down the state's death penalty on the ground of racial bias.  In the course of its ruling, the high court made clear that was construing the Washington State Constitution as a independent document, and not ruling on the construction of the federal constitution.  Nevertheless, the court noted that "evolving standards of decency" regarding appropriate punishment are reflected in "local, national, and international trends that disfavor capital punishment more broadly."  Further, the court cited the data:  "Internationally, dozens of countries have abolished capital punishment, including all European nations."

Kudos to the court for recognizing the value of including comparative perspectives on this important human rights issue, and concluding that U.S. outlier status should trigger concern about whether the death penalty is part of the practice of civilized nations.


October 13, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Vote Suppression: The Games Continue

As reported by Amy Howe in Howe On The Court The Supreme Court declined to intervene in the case of Richard Brakebill v. Secretary of State of North Dakota which challenges North Dakota’s requirement that voters produce identification that includes their current residential address. Lawyers for those challenging the requirement argued that the requirement would prevent thousands of Native Americans from voting because they often do not have traditional addresses. In addition, Native Americans are disproportionately homeless. The law in question was put on hold by the Federal District Court hearing the matter when North Dakota was ordered to permit voters with identification showing a street or mailing address to exercise their franchise. But now the US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit put that order on hold. In declining to hear the case on whether to continue the lower court order, voters in the final election will be required to show identification with a current residential address.

Justice Ginsburg dissented with Justice Kagan joining her:

“ The risk of voter confu­sion appears severe here because the injunction against requiring residential-address identification was in force during the primary election and because the Secretary of State’s website announced for months the ID require­ments as they existed under that injunction. Reasonable voters may well assume that the IDs allowing them to vote in the primary election would remain valid in the general election. If the Eighth Circuit’s stay is not vacated, the risk of disfranchisement is large.”

In the meantime, suit has been filed against Brian Kemp the Georgia Secretary of State alleging voter suppression in the hotly contested governor's race where Stacey Abrams seeks to become the first African American governor.  The lawsuit claims that the Secretary of State is refusing to certify 40,000 new applications for voter enrollment.  Mr. Kemp happens to be Ms. Abrams' opponent. 

October 11, 2018 in Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Undaunted by Rising Anti-Internationalist Phobia, Death Penalty Abolitionists Persevere: World Day Against the Death Penalty

by Sandra Babcock, Clinical Professor of Law, Cornell Law School, guest contributor

It is a trying time to be an internationally-minded human rights advocate.  Just this week, the United States announced its withdrawal from two international treaties—including the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations—in response to litigation before the International Court of Justice.  Denouncing the ICJ as "politicized and ineffective," the United States stated it would be reviewing all treaties granting the ICJ binding jurisdiction to resolve treaty disputes. The United States seems to have forgotten that it invoked the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations when it sued Iran over the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979.  In that case, the ICJ handed the United States a victory—but our current government officials have short memories. They petulantly object to every legal holding that criticizes, even in the most measured terms, actions taken by the United States. The Trump Administration’s actions shame the memory of those—including U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt—who sought a post-war international order that would use law, rather than brute force, to resolve disputes.

But amidst this distressing news, we take heart from the implacable march toward abolition of the death penalty around the world. The most extraordinary news today came from the government of Malaysia, which announced that it would abolish the death penalty, “full stop.”  Malaysia has suspended all executions and intends to move swiftly to pass appropriate legislation.  The import of this announcement cannot be overstated.  Malaysia has been a staunch supporter of the death penalty in a region that has long resisted international trends toward abolition. It has the potential to sway other countries in the region, such as Singapore and Indonesia, who remain in the ranks of retentionists. 

Even in countries that seem far from abolition, abolitionists continue their fight to save the lives of those on death row.  Colleagues at Justice Project Pakistan are today screening a reenactment of the final twenty-four hours in the life of a condemned man in solitary confinement on death row.  We are live-streaming this event at Cornell, where we express solidarity with JPP to expose injustice in the application of the death penalty there. 

Colleagues at Penal Reform International have worked with the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide to research and expose the plight of women on death row around the world, and these efforts promise to bring a new legion of feminist activists into the struggle to abolish the death penalty. For World Day Against the Death Penalty, we jointly produced a factsheet illuminating prison conditions for women on death row, which is based on the Cornell Center’s research published in “Judged for More than Her Crime: a Global Overview of Women Facing the Death Penalty.” This research was also cited by ten UN Special Rapporteurs in a statement issued today.

 Reprieve continues its efforts to vindicate the rights of persons facing the death penalty in all corners of the world, and I am grateful for their support of my international human rights clinic’s work on behalf of death-sentenced prisoners in Malawi and Tanzania. The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, under the leadership of Aurélie Plaçais, has inspired activists around the world to convene workshops, hold press conferences, and educate the public about capital punishment. A shout out as well to the wonderful work of Project 39A in Delhi, LBH Masyarakat in Indonesia, the Legal Defense and Assistance Project in Nigeria, and the Death Penalty Project in London. And as I write, African lawyer Angela Uwandu, trained at Cornell’s Makwanyane Institute, is convening a group of Nigerian lawyers to equip them with the legal skills to effectively defend men and women facing the death penalty there.

In our current political environment in the United States, it seems appropriate to note that many abolitionist organizations are led by women—including Reprieve, JPP, the World Coalition—and of course, the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide. As women, we amplify the voices of our colleagues and work with young advocates to train the next generation of lawyers, scholars, and activists.  Today, we send strength to all of those who continue this difficult fight around the world, and to the prisoners who remain under sentence of death.

Note:  This blog is cross-posted on the website for the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide.


October 10, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Landmark Climate Change Ruling in the Netherlands

US courts -- take note!  On Tuesday, Oct. 9, a Dutch Appeals Court in the Hague upheld a lower court ruling ordering the Dutch government to, by 2020, cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25% from benchmark 1990 levels.  The case was initiated by 900 Dutch citizens. 

Climate litigation is underway around the world, including in the United States.  The Columbia Law School Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, with Arnold & Porter, maintain a comprehensive data base of both US and non-US climate change cases.  A short analysis of the human rights dimensions of climate change cases is available here.

One high profile case is the lawsuit filed against the US government by a group of Oregon youth, arguing that the government's failure to address climate change violates their constitutional rights.  The case is scheduled to go to trial later in October, but last week, the federal government sought to stay the proceedings so that it could seek Supreme Court review.  Prior government efforts to get the case dismissed have failed.

The timely ruling from the Netherlands will undoubtedly lend momentum to US citizen efforts to force government recognition of, and action, on climate change -- a profound human rights issue.


October 9, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 8, 2018

Believe it or Not: Bipartisan Commission Criticizes Draconian Refugee Limits

It takes something pretty dramatic to trigger a bipartisan outcry these days, but the Trump Administration has done it.  What worked to bring House Democrats and Republicans together?:  The Administration's proposal to limit refugees to 30,000 per year, and the evidence that only 21,000 have been accepted this year despite the worldwide refugee crisis.

On September 19, the co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. Congress -- Rep. Jim McGovern (D. MA) and Rep. Randy Hultgren -- issued a powerful joint statement, reading in part:

“Refugee resettlement has been and should continue to be a cornerstone of American foreign policy.  We should not be stepping back from our responsibility as a global leader in refugee resettlement, but rather stepping up to provide a safe and legal alternative for those most in need of safety.  Resettlement is crucial to alleviate instability throughout the world, maintain strong relationships with our allies, and advance our foreign policy interests.  By providing safe haven for refugees, we help to keep ourselves safe.

The United States cannot abandon its role as a place of sanctuary for the individuals and families seeking to escape violence, turmoil, and persecution.  We cannot turn our back on the international community in a time of historic need.  We urge the administration to reconsider its position to comport with global realities as we remain committed to work to ensure that the United States continues to welcome all from around the world seeking a place of safety and protection.”

On October 7, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also expressed concern about the Administration's approach and called for higher refugee admission limits.

For a backgrounder on how the U.S. refugee system works, see this informative piece by the Council on Foreign Relations.

October 8, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 7, 2018

MacArthur Foundation Recognizes Human Rights Innovators

Last week, the MacArthur Foundation announced the group of 2018 MacArthur "genius" grant winners.  Most of the Fellows are engaged in social justice work.  For example, sociologist Rebecca Sandefur develops evidence-based approaches to expanding civil justice for low income people.  MacArthur Fellow Vijay Gupta, founder of the Street Symphony, extends musical enrichment to under-resourced communities in Los Angeles.  

Two of the Fellows are explicitly identified as working on human rights.  Becca Heller is a human rights lawyer and founder of the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), which musters help from law firms and law schools to provide representation in urgent refugee cases.  Gregg Gonsalves, an epidemiologist, works at the intersection of human rights and public health research to address global health inequities.

Kudos to these new Foundation Fellows! 

Just at the time when so many of us are looking for reasons to hope, their accomplishments and vision are inspiring and energizing!


October 7, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 6, 2018

We Rise And We Vote: Post Kavanuagh Confirmation Musings

After spending a depressing Saturday mourning our political process and anticipating the anti-female and anti-LGBTQ opinions that the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh likely will bring, I am just beginning to recover.  Having been a fully engaged, practicing lawyer during the Hill-Thomas hearing, I felt sucker punched.  I realized that this time around I actually had some hope that the voices of women would be heard.  That little part of me that thought this time around would be different was angry.  Nothing had changed.

We have witnessed an absolute disregard for what is happening in the country. After all, the next presidential Supreme Court Nominee will be a conservative justice. What does the Senate think it had to lose by passing on Justice Kavanaugh. The objections to Kavanaugh center not only on the sexual assault allegations, but on his behavior at the Senate hearings when he disrespected women senators. The Senate's failure to acknowledge the concerns of millions of men and women resulted from the immovable belief by men in power that they are beyond questioning or examination.  They don't care. At the Hill-Thomas hearing the women were silenced as in Kavanaugh, but the raw hatred of women was kept at bay.

But something else changed since Hill-Thomas.

While Senator Grassley may believe that the protests were helpful to the Republican Senators, he is wrong. The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh has inspired younger women to vote and carry on. The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh is a catalyst for women. I am particularly heartened by the young women who demonstrated. Watching women being arrested for protesting following the confirmation hearings is so hopeful. Many of the women and men who are demonstrating are in their twenties. Their energy and persistence is inspiring.  And they vote.

Our new leaders have arrived.


October 6, 2018 in Gender Violence, Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Law Professors Sign Letters Opposing Judge Kavanaugh's Confirmation

The first letter to be delivered to Senate Judiciary leadership signed by multiple law professors was one from professors who teach, write or work on the gender violence.  Dated September 26, the letter addressed issues of integrity and temperament of the nominee. But notably the letter addressed the committee's engaging a female prosecutor to query Dr. Ford and the resulting effort to raise the standard of proof to "beyond a reasonable doubt."  Use of the criminal standard in civil matters has plagued gender violence survivors for decades.  Use of the higher standard inevitably leads to abuse claims not being substantiated by the legal system.

"We are additionally concerned about the selection of a prosecutor to question Dr. Ford.  Questioning by a prosecutor fuels misguided ideas that the allegations raised should be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt.” That standard of proof has no place here, since the liberty and equitable issues at stake in criminal cases are not at issue. We would expect the Committee to conduct its own questioning, as it has done with other nominees and throughout this process. "

Then in a letter dated October 4th, over 2,400  US law professors opposed the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.  The Guardian, the New York Times , Chris Hayes and other reporters and outlets have reported on the letters.   The letter, as printed in the New York Times, brings together male and female professors who may  otherwise disagree on Judge Kavanaugh's qualifications, but universally agree that Judge Kavanaugh's hostile and disrespectful behavior at last week's hearings revealed that Judge Kavanaugh does not have the temperament demanded of Supreme Court justices.

A separate letter was signed by over 900 female law professors and emphasized. “Judge Kavanaugh’s lack of respect for our democratic institutions, and for women in positions of power in particular, revealed that he does not have the requisite judicial temperament,” the letter states.  The letter particularly notes Kavanaugh's behavior with  female senators.

Unknown is the impact the letters will have on the Senate vote.  But many of the signatories report experiencing communications from colleagues, former students, community members and others who are grateful that they signed on.  These are amazing times and many are looking to lawyers for leadership.  Congratulations to all signatories.


October 4, 2018 in Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

National Association of Women Lawyers Amends Their Report on Brett Kavanaugh

While the National Association of Women Lawyers rated Judge Kavanaugh as "not qualified" based upon his failure to show a commitment to legal issues that impact women, the organization has issued an amended report to address the hostile behavior exhibited by the Judge at last week"s senate hearing.

The Committee believes that the temperament Judge Kavanaugh exhibited during the hearing, as well as his partisan attacks and his failure to respond to clear and direct questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee establish that he is “not qualified” for service on the Supreme Court. Among other concerns was Judge Kavanaugh’s treatment of women Senators who questioned him on September 27, 2018, which we view as wholly inappropriate and inconsistent with the demeanor expected of Supreme Court Justices."

The Association added to the reasons for the "not qualified" ranking, the total lack of judicial temperament and his questionable integrity.

The amended report can be read here.

In the meantime, hundreds of law profs have signed on to various letters to the Judiciary Committee voicing similar concerns as well as concerns for the integrity of the judicial nomination process.

October 3, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Prof. Resnik's Brief History of the Role of Women's Concerns in Supreme Court Nomination Hearings

In a CNN opinion piece Prof. Judith Resnik traced the history of women's legal issues becoming a prominent factor in the history of Supreme Court nomination hearings.  The 1970 nomination hearing of George Harold Carswell was the first time that legal issues of importance to women were part of the inquiry.  Congresswoman Patsy Mink described Carswell of lacking any understanding of women's equality issues when he refused to review a case where a woman was denied a position because she had children, yet fathers were hired for that same position.  Carswell was rejected as was Robert Bork, whose hearing was held in 1987.  Judge Bork's opinion was that the equal protection clause did not protect women. He also referred to sexual harassment as "sexual escapades".

Prof. Resnik discusses the progressive influence of women's advocacy that led to the Clarence Thomas vote being delayed, a la Brett Kavanaugh.  Prof. Resnik's piece affirms the direct line of women's advocacy from the 70's to the present that has forced the consideration of issues important to women as a factor in Supreme Court nominees' hearings.  What remains to be seen with the Kavanaugh hearings is whether the vote will reflect the incremental progress of those advocating for women or whether we will observe a repeat of the Thomas hearings.

The full opinion piece may be read here.

October 2, 2018 in Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 1, 2018

Institutionalizing Accountability

The University of Minnesota Human Rights Lab is hosting a conference titled "Institutionalizing Accountability" at its Minneapolis campus on October 4 and 5.  More information is available here.

The Human Rights Lab is an exciting model for university human rights institutions.  It operates as an interdisciplinary space for faculty and students "to investigate and model ways that cutting-edge research can be used more effectively with NGOs, communities, institutions, and policymakers to reduce inequalities in the enjoyment of human rights." 

Faculty from across the university designed the lab "to build on areas of established expertise and leadership, as well as on the existing institutional foundation at the University for excellence in human rights research, teaching, and outreach."

The University of Minnesota Human Rights Library has long served as an on-line resource for human rights researchers.  Likewise, the law school's Human Rights Center, founded in 1988, was one of the first of its kind in the U.S.  Now, the Human Rights Lab builds on that foundation by reaching across disciplines to explore cutting edge, innovative approaches to human rights implementation and analysis.


October 1, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 30, 2018

It’s The Coverup That Gets You – Judge Kavanaugh’s Self-Sabotaging Testimony

How many times does it take for one person to learn the lesson that the suspected crime is not what typically creates harm to the accused, particularly for the white and wealthy. The attempted coverup causes the harm. One would think that more than anyone, a judge would have learned this lesson through observation.

Judge Kavanaugh did not.

The testimony of Dr. Linda Blasey Ford may not be sufficient to derail Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the US Supreme Court. Nor may the FBI investigation. But under any objective standard Judge Kavanaugh has undermined himself.

Even knowing that temperament is a critical factor in judicial appointments, Judge Kavanaugh could not maintain civility during last week’s hearings. He was particularly rude to his female interrogators, supporting theories that this is a man who does not respect women.

Claiming to be the victim,  and creating the requisite tears is a technique often used by white men of privilege to divert attention from their own inappropriate behavior.

Chief Justice Roberts must be distraught.

In addition to disrespecting the Senators, Judge Kavanaugh disrespected the rule of law. Although, or perhaps because, he was under oath at last week’s hearing, the Judge refused to answer many questions, notably around his drinking. Throwing back to Senator Amy Klobuchar her question about whether he has suffered blackouts from drinking was an effort to chisel away at her dignity. Even beer consumption questions were scorned by the nominee, though the issue is central to other allegations. His defensiveness around drinking makes some wonder not only whether Judge Kavanaugh suffers from alcoholism, but whether we were witnessing the dis-temperament of one who needs alcohol to function and perhaps had not imbibed for a couple of days – just in case a senator inquired. Covering up his drinking was a mistake. There is a line of former classmates who will attest to the Judge’s frequent inebriation sometimes to the point of vomiting. This attempted cover up may be the Judge’s undoing.

Even worse would be the discovery that anger and disrespect is Judge Kavanaugh’s natural state, unrelated to any addiction. But whatever the source, we can only hope that Judge Kavanaugh seeks whatever help he needs to disengage from his self-righteousness and recover or discover a respectful, alcohol-free self. Maybe then he will understand the significance of the human rights focus on respect and dignity.

The bottom line is that Judge Kavanaugh revealed his anger, disrespect and incivility to the country. And he quite likely lied or misled  the Senate Judiciary Committee. Judge Kavanaugh has neither the temperament nor the character to sit on our highest court. The ABA should use Judge Kavanaugh's wretched display of anger as grounds to change their ranking of Judge Kavanaugh to “unqualified”.


September 30, 2018 in Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

How Dare She? Dr. Ford Interrupts Judge Kavanaugh's Approval Process

It was impossible to listen to today's testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford without remembering the many women  who, on prior occasions, have come forward with their stories and experiences of violence,  harassment and assault, only to be told that their experiences don't matter.  Much has been said about the parallels between Anita Hill's testimony and the hearing today.  But there are more examples. 

Remember Christy Brzonkala, the brave woman  who levied rape allegations against members of the Virginia Tech football team.  She made her claim under the Violence Against Women Act but, in the case of U.S. v. Morrison, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the claim.  How dare Brzonkala challenge Virginia Tech football players in a year when they were vying for a bowl game!

Remember Jessica Gonzales, the brave woman who, despite tragically losing her children, asserted claims against Castle Rock, Colorado for failing to enforce the protective order against her husband.  Her case was dismissed even without an investigation; the only hearing she received was before the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights.  Here in the U.S., the official response was, how dare she claim that the government has any responsibility for acting to prevent violence?

Remember the two additional women who came forward with information about Judge Kavanaugh, who the Senate Committee declined to call to testify.  How dare they offer their information when it might delay this nomination. This is a moment of deja vu because two additional women came forward to testify against Clarence Thomas but their testimony was blocked by the Judiciary Committee.

During today's hearing, Judge Kavanaugh was asked repeatedly about his high school and college drinking, and whether he might have ever drunk to excess.  His response?  Essentially: "I did well in school, I got into Yale, I got into Yale Law School, I got a well-qualified rating from the ABA.  I'm entitled to this."    

In short, it was once again, how dare she?  

September 27, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Report on the Harm Caused by Jailing Mothers Pre-Trial

A new report issued by the ACLU and Human Rights Watch addresses the harm done to families when mothers are jailed pretrial.  While the research and report focuses on Oklahoma (the state with the highest number of incarcerated women) but is applicable wherever mothers are incarcerated. 

The press release reports that " ailing mothers, even for short periods oaf time can result in overwhelming debt and loss of child custody." Among the findings are:

- Mothers often plead guilty in exchange for probation in order to return to their children.  Then the mothers find that the local child protective service has taken custody of the children without any input from the mother.

-Jail visitation policies often prohibit in person visits replacing visitation with phone or video visits which are often cost prohibitive.

-Bail is excessive for most mothers virtually eliminating their chance for release pre-trial.  Even if they raise needed bail the financial cost often impoverishes the family.

A Q and A interview discussing the report may be found here.  The full report can be found here:  You Miss So Much When You're Gone.  

Because of Oklahoma's record of incarcerating women at high rates, the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women is holding its conference "Free Her" in Tulsa this weekend. 

September 27, 2018 in Prisons | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

RFK Human Rights Awardees to be Recognized in December

RFK Human Rights will celebrate its 2018 Human Rights Laureates at a December 12th New York Gala.   The awardees are President Barack Obama, Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, and Humana CEO Bruce D. Broussard.  Laureates were selected for their exceptional work toward a more just and peaceful world.

Ethel Kennedy, widow of Robert and founder of RFK Human Rights, will present the awards.  Robert Kennedy's daughter Kerry, who is President of RFK Human Rights, noted that  "On the 50th anniversary of his historic campaign for the White House, we honor laureates who have sent forth countless ripples of hope to millions of people inspired by their example."

More information on the awardees and the event may be found here.

September 26, 2018 in Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

SDGs and Human Rights Cities

Cities worldwide play a key role in both human rights implementation and in meeting sustainable development goals (SDGs).   The upcoming World Human Rights Cities Forum, October 18-21 in South Korea, will explore in-depth the human rights engagement of cities.  Registration information is available here.

A key topic at the conference will be how cities can use a human rights lens to tackle their SDG goals.  There are many resources to help cities implement the SDGs, but very few that specifically address the role of human rights norms in that process. 

The Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law has developed a guide to assist cities in thinking about how human rights and SDGs intersect, and how embracing human rights at the city level can facilitate SDG achievement.  As the guide explains, human rights cities are particularly well-positioned to serve as international leaders in meeting the SDGs.   

Share this guide with leaders who are addressing these issues in your community!

September 25, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)