Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Trump Being Trump with His Border Proposal (by Profs. Ediberto Roman & Richard T. Middleton IV)


Screen Shot 2020-04-28 at 10.19.29 PM


On Monday evening, April 20, President Trump, purportedly to protect us, via tweet, announced his intention to suspend immigration into the U.S. His raison d’etre was articulated as being motivated by “the attack from the invisible Enemy as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens.” On Tuesday, April 21, President Trump stated that with his forthcoming executive order “we’ll help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens . . . it would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad.”

When one further examines this proposal, however, what is evident is not his concern for others, but in fact his essence: self-promotion/preservation. Set aside, for a moment, whether Trump is merely attempting to exploit dog-whistle politics to foment political discord. With the border proposal, Trump could have had an independent apolitical healthcare-based reason for it. One based on the recommendations of research scientists and epidemiologists. Instead, what Trump seems to be doing is appeasing his base by giving the impression he is protecting them—but really, it’s about protecting himself.

For instance, last week, despite rising numbers in the domestic pandemic death toll, Trump repeatedly called for states to lift their "stay at home” safety measures, and he even sent out tweets defending protestors opposing these same state safety measures. So, which one is it? Is he closing our borders to protect us from a healthcare risk, as the first part of his tweet suggests, or is the measure solely about protecting the economy, and with it, his approval ratings and reelection chances?

If the president couched his border proposal as a public health measure, how do we reconcile it with his goal of reopening the economy and not supporting state orders to shelter in place? If he was really concerned about people not porting this disease, he would support the former as well as the latter? He claims he wants to suspend those from entering on immigrant visas, but most countries are already locked down and residents there cannot leave their jurisdictions. Further, the U.S. Dept. of State is already excluding most people from entering the U.S. unless one is already a U.S. Citizen or a lawful permanent resident. What incremental difference will be made with this policy? By his own admission, Trump has known about the pandemic and its dangers for months, why then did he wait to introduce his border proposal only after his approval ratings plummeted?

To add to the absurdity: his border proposal does not achieve its own stated goals: visa processing by the Dept. of State is already suspended for several weeks, and asylum seekers are already being turned away. Trump says U.S. citizens should not have to compete with green card holders for jobs. But immigration laws, i.e., 8 USC 274A and 8 CFR 1324a, specifically authorize these individuals to be employed incident to their status. What this means is that it is federal law that immigrants have the right to seek employment, and an executive order cannot overturn existing law---we are not led by a monarch’s edicts.

How can Trump, just based upon his precatory goals, enact a policy that preempts Congress in this field? In addition, persons immigrating to the US are already charged with being self-sufficient or reliant on financial sponsors, and cannot rely on most of the social safety net resources US citizens can avail themselves of.

Thus, like much of his other motivations, the border proposal’s goal to protect U.S. workers appears to be merely pretext to appease his base, and of course, first and foremost, to protect Trump. Coming from a man who started his presidential bid by calling immigrants rapists and drug dealers, what Trump appears to be doing here is nothing short of his classic political rally cry to perpetuate his narrative that immigrants are dangerous and take “our” jobs. He wants to close the border to appear concerned and give the impression he cares about us. Instead, his closed borders measure is not to be about public health, or even jobs, it is about Trump’s primary focus, protecting Trump.


Ediberto Roman is a Professor of Law at University of Miami School of Law

Richard T. Middleton IV is an Associate Professor of Political Science at University of Missouri, Saint Louis

April 28, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 27, 2020

Images of Irony


Recent protests against government stay-home orders in response to the Covid-19 pandemic reveal stark double-standards of privilege and protest. The visuals are dramatic: mobs of possibly infected, armed individuals invading public spaces.

Only white people in America can do this.


The livid mobs of white housewives and gun slinging male counterparts have unleashed a spectacle that is as wild as revealing. One need only imagine were the races flipped, and instead, large numbers of black and brown bodies protested this way, with large numbers going around, disobeying orders, and with wanton disregard for infecting others. There would be an undoubted spike in jail, hospital, and morgue services. One would suspect that tarring, feathering, and lynching would make dramatic comebacks.

Yet, Whites get to do this while bearing firearms.


The current protests flip the reality of black life upside down. That these people are out risking lives and disobeying orders is in stark contrast to the way black protestors are forced to engage in protest. In the present, nurses and doctors have seemingly been a greater check on the protestors’ conduct than police. Meanwhile, when it comes to minority gatherings to protest police killings, police have not hesitated to crack down on protestors and disrupt events (remember Ferguson). Thus, as it is with the criminal law, when it comes to the First Amendment, Blacks are afforded an abridged version of the right—the right to assemble is far more limited.

On social media, memes and other types of messaging display the two-tiered system at play. It shows how peoples’ physical freedoms and free speech are treated dramatically different depending on racial privilege. These are some of our favorite sightings.


April 27, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Racializing Muslims: From Post-9/11 to Post-Pandemic (April 27 4pm EST)


The University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law is hosting Professor Sahar Aziz for a Distinguished Lecture on Racializing Muslims: From Post-9/11 to Post-Pandemic on Monday April 27 at 4 pm EST.  

Free Registration at: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_pZ3fCyw-Qm-VnBLgk3EFzw

4-27-20 Racializing Muslims During COVID19 Pandemic (Sahar Aziz)

April 25, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Farewell Poem to Professor Terry Smith (1964-2020)


A Farewell Poem to Professor Terry Smith (1964 - 2020)

The Last of the Giants

Spoken Word of Poem here Terry Smith Last of the Giants



You are………………you were………………….always will be

ahead of your time

one of the last torches still burning

a lone voice in what was once a chorus, unified, demanding justice

time widdled away

              their passion

money eroded

              the pain

a little power, anesthesia

made them believe

they were change agents, carrying the torch

But you warned us

There is no fire

No light

You sounded the alarm

the dreams of our mothers………were dying

dreams of our fathers………empty promises

Listen, listen to the words

Betrayed by their actions

Lives of contradiction

Hypocrisy oozing from their mouths

Words on paper, thousands of pages, millions of lies       betrayed

By their actions

Perpetuating hierarchy


                             Power to systems

Enslave, ban, deport, humiliate, pillage, impoverish


Wake up


From your slumber

Sleep walking, not living

Complacent                    Compliant

Few survived the counterattacks

the 1970s whitelash

the 1980s trickle down…trickle down.....to your knees where you belong Black man

Hardy individualism, on your own, alone, divided, fractured

1990s the new plantation, the old plantation of black bodies


                             Locked up



Blessed by the law

The wretched of the earth

You rang the bell                                         

Ringing in our ears, so loud, so sharp, cannot rest

Stop, STOP

They said

Stop shouting

You are angry, uncivil, hostile

Too loud

Too proud

Black man – SHUT UPGET OUT!

You are awakening the slaves

Rebellion is afoot

The ghost of your ancestors

Bemoans the detours, the windy paths leading away,     




Into the dead ends

Yet, they were moving up, they believed

To the light

To freedom

Beware, alarm, RED ALERT

You shouted

We closed our ears

Shut our eyes

Sealed our mouths

Stopped feeling                         complacent                          compliant

Feel good – always – smiles – always

No pain, no suffering

We have arrived!

Terry, you called out, pulled up, saw through        what blinded the rest of us

Terry, you sacrificed too much

And now, today, tomorrow                                    Forever

You are Gone

The silence is deafening, numbing

The last of the giants

                                       We awaken

We are naked


Spoken Word of Poem here Terry Smith Last of the Giants

April 19, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 13, 2020

Remembering Terry Smith (1964-2020)

Remembering Terry Smith

We write to express our sadness at the passing of Professor Terry Smith, most recently of St. Thomas University (Florida) Law School, and admiration for all he contributed to our community and accomplished in his academic fields.  

We want to highlight the role he played in forming the John Mercer Langston Black Male Law Faculty Writing Workshop.  Terry co-founded the Langston Workshop alongside Professor Frank Rudy Cooper of UNLV Boyd School of Law, Professor Areto Imoukhuede of Nova Southeastern University Broad College of Law, and former law professor D. Aaron Lacy.  The Langston workshop would not have existed without him and gained much of its strength from his leadership.  Terry was known for his rigorous mind, candor, and for living by his principles.  

Terry’s intellectual rigor was on display in the significant and original contributions his scholarship made in the areas of labor and employment law and voting rights, particularly as these areas impact minorities.  He was a perceptive and clear explicator of structural dimensions of ongoing racial inequality.  

At the Langston Workshop, Terry helped set a tone of holding workshop participants to a high standard of legal scholarship.  In so doing, though, he remained a kind mentor, as he challenged people to do better as opposed to brow beating them for not being as smart and well read as he was.  

He was generous with his time and intellectual energy, and cared deeply about our collective (not just Individual) scholarly presence as black men in the academy.   

In promoting rigor, Terry was blunt about what this required.  His quips about the necessity of reserving time for scholarship are legendary.  And he did not mince words about the racism afoot in the law academy and the country in general. His latest critique of American racism is the book Whitelash:  Unmasking White Grievance at the Ballot Box (Cambridge University Press 2020), which can be ordered here:   https://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/law/us-law/whitelash-unmasking-white-grievance-ballot-box?format=PB.

Most importantly, Terry lived by his principles.  He loved black men.  He went out of his way to encourage new and aspiring law professors.  As a frequent Chair or Board Member of Langston Workshops, he connected numerous new and aspiring law professors with experienced, senior mentors who served as lead commentators.  He personally maintained numerous mentoring relationships and regularly checked up on his mentees’ progress, offering useful suggestions on work-life balance issues, scholarship, and managing service responsibilities.  He provided many a junior scholar with detailed review of and comments on their writing. 

Terry also  spoke truth to power.  He lived his principles by taking stands within his institutions, even at grave risk to his personal interests.  He was a leader in saving the institution of tenure, and his work in that area continues to benefit the academy writ large.  

Most of all, perhaps, we will miss Terry’s playful and cynical sense of humor, which often caught you off-guard, and always made you think.  Terry was perceptive, acerbic, witty, generous, demanding, and appreciative of the finer things.  

He will be missed, but his accomplishments will live on.  We will propose that the Langston Workshop honor his memory in some permanent fashion, but that will not be necessary for as long as any of us who knew him live on; he is unforgettable.

With sadness and gratitude,

Frank Rudy Cooper, Mario Barnes, Devon Carbado, Jonathan Glater, Darren Hutchinson, Areto Imoukhuede, Cedric Merlin Powell, Michael Banerjee, Khaled Beydoun, Bennett Capers, Mitch Crusto, Raff Donelson, Atiba Ellis, Sheldon Evans, Maynard Goldburn, Paul Gowder, Justin Hansford, Vinay Harpalani, Hosea H. Harvey, Brandon Hasbrouck, Fareed Nasoor Hayat, Darin Johnson, Kevin Noble Maillard, Eric Miller, Osagie Obasogie, Jeffrey Omari, Gregory Parks, Asad Rahim, Omari Scott Simmons, Sherod Thaxton, Etienne Toussaint, Richard Winchester, Kevin Woodson, Del Wright, Adnan Zulfiqar, and many more.  


April 13, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Corona and Its Clear Blue Skies (by Asma Atique)


“Did you see that article about how blue the clouds are now in China because of corona?” asked my friend on a virtual hangout. As an environmental justice scholar, I found something deeply troubling about all the news stories and posts celebrating clear, blue skies - all with some flavor of “hey, at least we are giving mother nature a break.”


(Photo by Lara Tollin on Scoio)

Firstly, surely reduction in traffic and industrial activity explains the dramatic fall in No2, but climate science is much more complex than merely clear skies means less climate change. A few months of lockdown cannot undo three decades of unequivocal anthropogenic warming. The hoarding of toilet paper and panic-buying show that our consumerism and overconsumption reflexes are much more deeply entrenched.

And at what cost? Do the clear skies outweigh the scale of human suffering - an isolating death and a funeral on Facebook live? The 25 million jobs that are expected to be lost? Implicit in these stories touting silver linings is that the lives lost are perhaps a reasonable price to pay for clear skies and more breathable air.

As environmental justice scholars and activists would urge, we have to ask who is at more risk and how these environmental benefits and burdens are actually distributed. We know that the “disease does not discriminate” but indeed certain groups face greater risks – this includes not only the elderly and immunocompromised, those working in health care and care work but also all those working in grocery stores, the gig economy, restaurants doing take-outs, agriculture, cleaning services so on and so forth.

It is often racialized marginalized groups that are more likely to be working these precarious jobs. Indeed there is already evidence that Covid-19 is hitting low-income communities of color the hardest. And for migrant workers who are now stuck in overcrowded ‘camps’ in industrial areas, the unpaid salaries, lack of healthcare and exclusions from states’ Covid-19 welfare initiatives make them particularly vulnerable.  

Environmental burdens such as lack of access to clean water and adequate housing disproportionately negatively affect already disadvantaged marginalized racialized populations. From indigenous communities in the North, to daily-wage earners living in urban slums in the South and the migrant workers and refugees stuck in between, the subaltern are yet again most vulnerable.

Indeed many commentators have repeated that Covid-19 and the measures that have been put in place highlight the cracks in today’s fragile neoliberal, profit-driven, growth-hungry socioeconomic system. “In crisis,” as John Fabian writes “the fault lines of ordinary politics reappear, only deeper.” Physical distancing and working from home are luxuries that only some can afford. And yet if the recent Amazon, Wholefoods, and General Electric strikes are any indication, the need to resist persists. As Naomi Klein urges now more than ever we ought to learn how to “disrupt from a distance.”

Also, most of the stories that highlight these clear skies also presuppose human and nonhuman/more than human worlds are separate, often competing spheres. They reinforce the problematic construction of nature as, to quote Arturo Escobar, an “[object] of science preexisting in purity.” What we need, as critical environmental law and critical development scholars would say, are new ontologies that challenge some of these very assumptions.

We are not at war with nature and nature is not the enemy that is taking back what belongs to itself. The very conception of nature as something that exists outside, out there is what reifies unfettered capitalist accumulation. We need better ways of understanding the anthropocentric human exceptionalism that managers subscribe to and the oneness that deep ecologists push for.

This is all not to say that there are no parallels whatsoever between coronavirus and climate change. Indeed both have been referred to as crises, met with skepticism, and deal with risk and uncertainty. It took numerous models and back-of-the-envelope calculations to understand and try to convince governments and the public of the potential scale of the problem - the usual methodological debates followed, the science questioned, many questions left unanswered and public distrust persisted while the urgency to act grew and continues to grow.

There is for both climate change and Covid-19, undoubtedly a need for collective action and (for some) not enough disincentives to free-ride. There is also an offloading of responsibility to individuals, particularly women in households and in care work. Furthermore, there is an opportunity for some states to hoard power under the guise of an emergency be it through, as it has been for Covid-19, tightening borders, surveillance mechanisms, deploying military to enforce measures or simply re-rehearsing exclusionary racist nationalist mantras.

One may pause to ask if this is all just routine skepticism from academics or is there at all a silver lining? Historically, pushes for government action on environmental protection often through environmental legislation have been instigated by public health concerns (smog, asthma, DDTs etc). These circumstances have certainly highlighted the need for more social protection, and policies like universal basic income and prioritizing healthcare and education.

Perhaps the looming economic crisis, low oil prices, and the postponed COP26 global climate summit will undermine international climate change negotiations and work done toward Green New Deals. Perhaps this offers an opportunity to garner political will, imagine different ways of organizing labor, capital and the world of work. Perhaps it offers an opportunity for a clearer understanding of our relationship with a changing climate.

-- by Asma Atique, PhD Candidate, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University

April 9, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

ABA webinar on April 8th explores COVID-19 issues affecting Native American communities

The ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice has developed a multi-part webinar series exploring how the COVID-19 pandemic highlights critical legal issues of criminal justice, civil rights, human rights, and economic concerns, to name only a few. In these free non-CLE and (two CLE) webinars, panelists will address the deepening crisis in our collective pursuit of advancing law and justice. 

The American Bar Association will conduct a free webinar, “Issues Affecting Native American Communities During the COVID-19 Crisis,” on Wednesday, April 8, from 3-5 p.m. EDT. The webinar is sponsored by the ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice.

Topics include:

  • Discuss the provisions in the recently passed $2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus packages related to Native communities
  • Review the unique health and operational challenges in both rural and urban Native communities
  • Address the economic and legal impact in the short- and long-term in tribal communities                                                                                                                      

Speakers include:

  • Welcome remarks by ABA President Judy Perry Martinez, who is also of counsel with Simon, Peragine, Smith & Redfearn in New Orleans, La.
  • Kevin Allis, chief executive officer, National Congress of American Indians 
  • Stacy Bohlen, executive director, National Indian Health Board
  • Elizabeth Coronado, staff attorney, Health and Human Services, Lummi Indian Business Council
  • Dr. Charles W. Grim, secretary of health, Chickasaw Nation Department of Health
  • Virginia Hedrick, executive director, California Consortium for Urban Indian Health
  • Jerilyn LeBeau Church, chief executive officer, Great Plain Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board   
  • Doreen N. McPaul, attorney general, Navajo Nation Department of Justice
  • Naomi Miguel, professional staff, House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States, U.S. House of Representatives 
  • Bryan T. Newland, president, Bay Mills Indian Community of Michigan 
  • Mary L. Smith, secretary, American Bar Association; past president, National Native American Bar Association (moderator)

To register for the program, click here. Resources will be shared on this landing site.

The program will be recorded, and the link will be shared with all registrants. There is no charge for media covering this event. To register, please contact Betsy Adeboyejo at 202-662-1039 or Betsy.Adeboyejo@americanbar.org.

Additional reporter resources on the ABA’s COVID-19 response and outreach are available here

The ABA is largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement on line. Follow the latest ABA news at www.americanbar.org/news and on Twitter @ABANews.


April 7, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 5, 2020

The COVID-19 Virus Knows No Race, No Class, No Income, or so We Think - by Professor Chris Ogolla, Barry University Law School

In 2009, Sonja Hutchins et al, in an article in the American Journal of Public Health observed that “racial/ethnic minority populations experience worse health outcomes than do other groups during and after disasters.” [1] They may well have been speaking of the current COVID-19 pandemic.  Even though the general belief is that a virus knows no race, no class and no income, the differences between the impacts of the pandemic on the wealthy and the poor cannot be understated. Here in the United States, that means racial differences. This commentary discusses a few of those differences and asserts that even though clinically, the COVID-19 virus does not discriminate between races, ethnicities and socioeconomic status, we respond to it according to our socioeconomic status.

Working From Home/ Telecommuting

The majority of people who can afford to work from home tend to be White, college educated, middle class. According to Telework Research Network, “[t]he typical telecommuter is a 49-year-old, college educated, salaried, non-union employee in a management or professional role, earning $58,000 a year at a company with more than 100 employees.” [2] Since many minorities tend to work on low-paying jobs: for example Professor Ruqaiijah Yearby has noted that that “even if minority women are hired, they are disproportionately employed in low-paying occupations, such as childcare, nursing, cleaning, waitressing, and teaching.” [3] It is likely that very few of them work in positions that offer telecommuting as an option. Thus those who were telecommuting before the COVID-19 pandemic are less impacted by the social distancing measures mandated today than those who have lost their jobs and cannot now telecommute. A short anecdote will illustrate this. Before the Governor of Florida instituted a stay-at-home order, Orange County, encompassing the city of Orlando had already instituted a shelter-in-place order for all its residents. A woman posted a message on Facebook asking where she could go and buy masks because she wanted to be out and about. One reader responded irately, tell her to stay at home and not be out and about. Another responded by pointing out that people still have to go out and buy food. The irate reader then wrote that instead of going out to buy groceries, people should have them delivered. Of course, the irate reader did not think about people on SNAP or WIC, who do not have money to pay for delivery of groceries, or those who live around food deserts, where there are few or no grocery stores. These scenes are playing out all over the country. Are there two Americas here?

Impact on Education

Many schools, colleges and universities (including law schools) have opted for online teaching for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester. This has created a lot of problems for poor or minority students. Schools in poor neighborhoods tend to have poor IT infrastructures, lack IT professionals and broadband access than schools in well-to-do neighborhoods. A recent article in POLITICO notes that “[n]early 12 million children live in homes lacking a broadband connection, and white residents are more likely to have broadband in their homes than people of color, according to a 2017 report from the Democratic staff of the Joint Economic Committee.” [4] This will certainly lead to the dreaded home-work gap in “poor urban areas and rural districts where families don’t have a home laptop or high-speed internet connections.” [5]

With regards to law schools, many of our  students are experiencing different challenges at this time—from lack of daycare for their kids, taking care of elderly parents, dealing with siblings at home, lack of library resources for legal research to having no computers at home (although this might sound strange in the modern day law school, not every law-student tots along a laptop or a smart device).  In fact, many law schools still charge computer fees in their tuition, ostensibly for the law students who use the school’s computers for printing and or legal research. I concede that remote learning has been a boon to those law students who had to commute for long distances to attend classes, or for the flex/ part-time students who had to rush from work to class. Additionally, some of my students have expressed a preference for online instruction compared to face-to-face learning. On balance though, many law school classes and activities (think legal writing and research, clinics, advocacy, OCI, etc.) do not lend themselves well to remote platforms. 

Access to Healthcare

Perhaps the greatest impact of COVID-19 will be felt in the unequal access to the healthcare system. As many people lose their jobs, so too do they lose their health insurance. And without health insurance, there is little or no access to healthcare. There has been debate recently on whether the Trump Administration should reopen or extend enrollment in the healthcare exchange markets during the pandemic. The President categorically ruled that out. [6]  He did announce that the federal government will cover uninsured Americans for COVID-19 treatment. [7] More egregious is the unequal access to testing. When the pandemic first struck the United States, professional athletes and celebrities seemed to have access to COVID-19 tests that many Americans did not. Asked why the rich and well connected were getting expedited testing, President Trump said he did not agree with it, “but perhaps that’s the story of life.” [8]

COVID-19 Lawsuits

What does these mean for those significantly impacted by COVID-19? Put differently, what does this mean for minorities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19? Will there be lawsuits soon against employers for exposing their employees to COVID-19 (think healthcare workers, first responders, and grocery store workers, to mention but a few). What about the businesses that end up closing because of the statewide shelter in place edicts? What do you if the government forces you to close your business through no fault of your own? What about motorists from out of state who are prevented from traveling to other states (think Florida and Rhode Island barring New Yorkers)?  Are they being denied a right to travel without due process? What if one is forced to self-quarantine for 14 days after travel? And if one violates self-quarantine order, what are the legal ramifications?

The consensus among the courts is that quarantine and isolation of individuals during a public health emergency serves the public good and does not violate an individual’s constitutional rights. [9]  Needless to say, it is an uphill task to win a case against the State when challenging quarantine and isolation orders. For example, in Joseph Lewis, Jr. Et al. v. Burl Cain, et al., [10] plaintiffs, sued the defendants alleging that the medical care provided at Louisiana State Penitentiary Prison violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. After a trial but before the court issued its order, Plaintiffs sought to reopen discovery in the matter given the imminent and dangerous threat that the coronavirus (“COVID-19”) posed to Plaintiffs and Class members. In denying the motion, the Court found that the discovery and relief Plaintiffs sought was beyond the scope of the claims asserted and tried before the Court. Additionally, the Court found that Plaintiffs’ motion was based primarily on speculation and conjecture, citing to news reports; and to what the DOC might do with respect to transferring inmates. [11]


For minorities, the COVID-19 pandemic is tantamount to a two-headed snake.  Not only do they have to deal with the medical impacts of the disease if exposed, but have to deal with the economic impacts of social distancing, even when not clinically exposed. Perhaps the COVID-19 virus does know race, class and income.


 [1]       Sonja S. Hutchins, Kevin Fiscella, Robert S. Levine, et al., Protection of Racial/Ethnic Minority Populations During an Influenza Pandemic, 99  Am. J. Public Health. S 261-270 (October 2009).

 [2]       Kate Lister & Tom Harnish, The State of Telework In The US, How Individuals, Business and Government Benefit, 4 (June 2011), https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/technology/Documents/Telework-Trends-US.pdf

[3]        Ruqaiijah Yearby, The Impacts of Structural Racism in Employment and Wages on Minority Women’s Health, ABA  Human Rights Magazine, Vol 43, No 3,(2018) https://www.americanbar.org/groups/crsj/publications/human_rights_magazine_home/the-state-of-healthcare-in-the-united-states/minority-womens-health/

[4]        Nicole Gaudiano Coronavirus quarantines could rob poor, rural students of access to education, POLITOCO.COM 03/10/2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/10/coronavirus-quarantines-rural-students-125048

[5]       Id.

[6]        Susannah Luthi, Trump rejects Obamacare special enrollment period amid pandemic, POLITICO.COM (03/31/2020) https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/31/trump-obamacare-coronavirus-157788

[7]       Ebony Bowden, Government will pay for uninsured Americans’ coronavirus treatment: Trump. NY. Post (April 3, 2020) https://nypost.com/2020/04/03/us-government-will-cover-uninsured-americans-covid-19-treatment/

[8]        Jannelle Griffith, Coronavirus: Trump Says it may be the story of life that the well-connected get testing first. NBC News.Com, (March 18, 2020), https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/coronavirus-nyc-mayor-slams-nets-over-testing-trump-weighs-n1162971

 [9]       Christopher Ogolla, Non-Criminal Habeas Corpus For Qurantine and Isolation Detainees: Serving The Private Right Or Violating Public Policy, 14 DePaul J. Health Care L. 135, 136 (2011).

[10]      2020 WL 1614424 (M.D. LA. Apr 2, 2020) denying Plaintiffs’ Emergency Motion to Re-open Discovery Regarding COVID-19. In that case,

[11]      See Hickox v. Christie, 205 F.Supp.3d 579 (D. N.J. 2016) (dismissing the case of a nurse who brought civil rights action against Governor Chris Christie and State Public Health officials, alleging that her 80-hour quarantine upon returning to the United States after caring for Ebola patients in Africa violated her rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.). The Court dismissed on the ground that the nurse's quarantine did not violate clearly established law regarding quarantine and related public health measures.  See also Liberian Community Association of  Connecticut v. Malloy, 2017 WL 4897048 ( D. C.T. 2017)  dismissing an action seeking damages and injunctive relief in connection with the allegedly unlawful quarantine of individuals returning to Connecticut after traveling to Ebola-affected countries in West Africa, on the grounds that Plaintiffs lacked standing.

April 5, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 3, 2020

Considering Capital Punishment in the Time of Coronavirus (by Prof Sarah Gerwig-Moore)


Folks who experience homelessness and chronic illness, and those charged with or convicted of crimes, and children at risk, and asylum seekers, and any number of other groups of human beings treated as "less than" in our society-- and those who work with them— have long known that we often fail at taking care of one another. Like, this is a pass-fail situation, and we get an F-.

Four years ago today, my friend and Habeas Project clinic client Josh Bishop was executed in a cynical, expensive, senseless charade. Killing him made no one safer or more whole. It was the culmination of a life treated as expendable since his birth. And it expanded the trauma of crimes from over two decades ago to all those who met and spent time with a man who, knowing love and support, made life funnier and more beautiful for those on death row and those beyond the prison walls.
Capital Punishment in the United States: Explained - The Appeal
And despite the fact that I watched with my own eyes as the State of Georgia stole the life of a healthy, kind, remorseful man, I can still hardly believe it-- or how a country that sets itself up as the model of human rights continues to execute its citizens.
I don't think this pandemic is happening for a reason. The earth is not healing itself and it is not sending us a message to laugh and dance more. That's bad theology; the world is not healing for the thousands dying alone on ventilators. Lives on the fringes have gotten measurably worse-- including those children, like Josh, who are tortured at home and barely surviving on ketchup sandwiches.
But what human beings can do-- at our best-- is make meaning out of suffering, and one of the things I hope we can do is see with new eyes our failures. To acknowledge the cruelty at worst and indifference at best of our policies of cash bail, mass incarceration, capital punishment, and immigration detention, as well as the horror of our overwhelmed health care system.
No crime should be a capital crime, but with the pandemic sweeping through spaces (especially crowded ones), innocent people awaiting trial but who cannot make bail are facing the death penalty for their unproven charges. People serving time for nonviolent offenses will suffer capital punishment by neglect. As will children in cages at the border— innocents brought here by parents seeking a better life through the legal process of requesting asylum.
If you feel moved to protect your own family from covid-19, consider what it means for anyone to be incarcerated right now. If you remember the cruelty of the State killing a good man for the crimes of a throw-away child, consider the terror of capital punishment in any form. May we awaken in this time when life feels fragile and precious to the lives and needs of others.

We miss you, Josh, and we remember. You died for no reason, but may your story -- and your life-- help us see through our privileged windows darkly to a better time when we say "never again."

-- Professor Sarah Gerwig-Moore   


April 3, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Advancing Rights and Social Justice During a Pandemic (Virtual Event Series)



The impacts of the novel coronavirus are being felt across the world, and in all domains of our lives, from physical and mental health, to job security, housing, and family life. Existing inequalities are more visible than ever, with the burdens of the crisis falling on some much more than others. Some governments are exploiting the crisis to crackdown on civil liberties. This series brings together scholars and practitioners to discuss the threats we face, and how we might respond.

The series is organized by the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute, Duke Law’s International Human Rights Clinic, Columbia Law School’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, and Just Security; and co-sponsored by Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Duke Law Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, Cornell International Human Rights Clinic: Litigation and Advocacy, the International Commission of Jurists, the International Human Rights Clinic at University of Chicago Law School, Northeastern Law School's Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy, Opinio Juris, UCLA's Promise Institute for Human Rights, UC Berkeley's Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law, and the University of Minnesota Law School's Human Rights Center.

Free and open to the public. Join events via Zoom at tinyurl.com/COVID19Justice. Further options to join are below.

States of Emergency and Government Powers in and After the Pandemic
Tuesday, March 31 | 12:10-1:10 PM

As governments respond to the novel coronavirus, many are declaring states of emergency and giving themselves expansive powers. Some censor information, surveil populations, and detain critics. Are governments overreaching? Will new powers be rolled back when the crisis is over? Join us for a discussion between Fionnuala Ni Aolain (UN Special Rapporteur on Counterterrorism), Isabel Linzer (Freedom House), and Yaqiu Wang (Human Rights Watch); moderated by Ryan Goodman (NYU/Just Security).

Impacts of COVID-19 on Marginalized Groups: Implications for Policy and Advocacy
Thursday, April 2 | 12:10-1:10 PM

Pandemics affect individuals differently, with policy responses potentially worsening existing inequalities and discrimination for marginalized groups, such as women, children, older persons, those unhoused, people with disabilities, detainees, refugees, and migrants. Join us for a discussion on the risks of deepened inequality within the COVID-19 pandemic, and how governments can use a human rights-based and intersectional approach to ensure the rights of all persons are protected. The panel features Amanda Klasing (Human Rights Watch), Charanya Krishnaswami (Amnesty), and Vince Warren (Center for Constitutional Rights); moderated by Professor Jayne Huckerby (Duke).

COVID-19's Impact on Health and Housing Justice: Socioeconomic Rights in Crisis
Tuesday, April 7, 2020 | 12:10-1:10 pm

The pandemic spotlights and exacerbates socioeconomic inequalities caused by decades of neoliberal policies and failures to invest in social infrastructure. The basic rights to health and housing are at risk for millions of people around the world. How can health justice and human rights-based approaches ground an effective response to the pandemic now, and build a better world afterwards? Join us for a talk with community advocate Catherine Flowers (Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise), activist and epidemiologist Gregg Gonsalves (Yale), and UN special rapporteur on housing Leilani Farha; moderated by Aya Fujimura-Fanselow (Duke).

Flattening the Pandemic Curve While Upholding Digital and Information Rights
Wednesday, April 8 | 12:10-1:10 PM

The novel coronavirus has led to millions of people working virtually, and more dependence than ever on access to reliable information and the internet. Some governments have responded to the pandemic by dramatically increasing surveillance on populations, and companies gather and retain huge amounts of our personal data. Join us for a talk on the risks and opportunities for digital and information rights during the pandemic, with experts Diego Naranjo (European Digital Rights), Maria Luisa Stasi (Article 19); and Michael Pisa (Center for Global Development); moderated by Janlori Goldman (Columbia/NYU).

More events coming soon. 

To join the meeting: 


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Meeting ID: 512 199 292


April 1, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)