It can happen anywhere. Walking home from school. Walking to the grocery store. Walking to the subway. Thousands of New Yorkers are stopped and frisked by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers every year. Stop-and-frisk consists of two separate acts with respective levels of legal justification. When a police officer has reasonable suspicion that a person is committing, has committed, or is about to commit a crime, the officer may stop that person; however, in order to “frisk” or search that person, the officer must have reasonable suspicion that the person stopped has a deadly weapon or instrument. Read more
Many states have or are trying to pass legislation to make the requirements to vote in an election very costly and complicated—potentially disenfranchising many poor and minority populations around the country. Thankfully though, one of the most suppressive voter identification laws to date will not be in effect this November. Texas Senate Bill 14, a very stringent voter identification bill passed in 2011, was recently declared unconstitutional by a three-judge panel of the District Court of the District of Columbia; marking “the first time a federal court has blocked a restrictive voter ID law.”
Monday, October 1, 2012 marked the commencement of the new term for the United States Supreme Court. This term is filled with controversial issues ranging from same-sex marriage to drug-sniffing dogs. Especially interesting are the race-related cases that are before the Court. The highly anticipated race-conscious admissions case, Fisher v. University of Texas, for which the Court heard oral arguments on October 10, is a very important case. Petitioner Fisher brought this equal protection action against the University of Texas alleging that she was denied admission and passed over for minority students due to UT’s race-conscious admissions program. The primary issue presented is whether race can be considered in admissions programs at institutes of higher education. Read more
Professor Deborah Archer’s blog post, “The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations: Why Affirmative Action Still Matters” is now featured in The Huffington Post. In her post, Professor Archer explores the importance of race-conscious university admissions programs like those currently under review by the Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas. She also exposes the flawed reasoning underlying conservative attacks on affirmative action. Read the complete post here.
Today, the New York Law School Racial Justice Project filed an amicus curiae brief in Fisher v. The University of Texas at Austin, a case the U.S. Supreme Court will hear in October. The case is a challenge to UT Austin’s consideration of race as a factor in undergraduate admissions and will be the first time the Court addresses affirmative action in higher education since Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003. Read more
The New York Law School Racial Justice Project and the Racial Justice Program of the American Civil Liberties Union have co-authored a report on food deserts —areas with either no access or limited access to fresh, affordable food—and the impact on communities of color. The report is titled Unshared Bounty: How Structural Racism Contributes to the Creation and Persistence of Food Deserts. Approximately 23.5 million people in the U.S. live in low-income neighborhoods located more than 1 mile from a supermarket. African Americans are half as likely to have access to chain supermarkets and Hispanics are a third less likely to have access to chain supermarkets than are whites. Moreover, studies have found that minority communities are more likely to have smaller grocery stores carrying higher priced, less varied food products than other neighborhoods.
Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the constitutionality of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The case, Shelby County v. Holder, involved a challenge to the Section 5 “preclearance” provision of the Voting Rights Act. Section 5 requires that states and jurisdictions with the worst histories of voting discrimination submit proposed voting changes to the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to ensure they have no discriminatory intent or effect. The court’s opinion is critically important in the ongoing battle for fair and effective participation in our political process. Section 5′s “preclearance” provisions are widely considered to be the heart of the Voting Rights Act. Today, the court reaffirmed not only the necessity of having the states and jurisdictions with the worst histories of voting discrimination “preclear” any changes to their electoral process, but that Section 5 continues to be a constitutional exercise of congressional authority. Indeed, recent efforts across the country to suppress minority voters are proof that Section 5′s “strong medicine” remains necessary. From the perspective of those who are concerned about racial justice, civil rights and political participation, the record that was before Congress makes abundantly clear that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is still very necessary to protect the rights of racial and ethnic minorities who live in the covered jurisdictions to effective participation in our political process.
The opinion in Shelby County v. Holder can be found here.
Welcome to the new Race to Justice, the blog of the New York Law School Racial Justice Project. Race to Justice is a forum for discussion on issues of race, justice, and equality. While many have proclaimed that we are now living in a “post-racial” society, racism is alive and well. Yet our nation remains unable to have meaningful conversations about race and injustice.
Through this blog we hope to increase awareness of racism and structural racial inequality that continue to plague America, and provide commentary on current events that impact racial equality.
The blog will also be a place to learn about recent court decisions that involve issues of racial justice and upcoming events.
We hope you will visit the blog often. If you have questions about Race to Justice or the work of the Racial Justice Project, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With nearly 300 attendees, our spring Symposium was an unqualified success. We are grateful to the many practitioners, academics, organizers, and members of the public who prepared materials, spoke on a panel, or attended the day’s events.
For those who weren’t able to attend, we are extremely pleased to announce that video of the symposium is now available for streaming on our website. Click here to launch the video player.
Ripples of Injustice:
The Impact of Criminal Justice Policies on Minority Communities
The Justice Action Center’s Racial Justice Project and the Racial Justice Project of the American Civil Liberties Union are pleased to co-sponsor a one-day conference in New York City for advocates, organizers, litigators, researchers, and individuals to explore the impact of criminal justice policies and practices on minority communities. The conference will take place on Friday, April 27, 2012, at New York Law School. The conference will explore the long-term impact of criminal justice policies on the home communities. For more information, including registration, a complete schedule of events, and continuing legal education information, please visit the conference website: www.nyls.edu/Symposium2012.