Defeat of Pickering Nomination Marks Start of a Long Struggle
"The composition of the federal judiciary is a civil rights issue of profound importance to all Americans, because the individuals charged with dispensing justice in our society have a direct impact on civil rights protections for us all. As such, the federal judiciary must be perceived by the public as an instrument of justice, and the individuals who are selected for this branch of government must be the embodiment of fairness and impartiality. This nation requires jurists who will have a moderating influence on the Court."
On the Hill
From the Top
In the first showdown between President Bush and the Senate Democrats over judicial nominations, the Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-9 against the nomination of Charles W. Pickering to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The narrow decision demonstrated the Senate committee's deep division on the matter of the federal courts.
Administration Progress on Digital Divide Rolls Back
Years of progress to close the digital divide confront disinterest and budget rollbacks. Review of communications and Internet policy issues in Congress, the FCC and other Executive Branch agencies finds the Bush Administration emphasizing consolidation and elimination of digital appropriations items. In areas of access and utilization, education technology initiatives, workforce preparedness, training, and small business development the administration has dialed back activity or zeroed out funding. Moreover, "traditional" broadcast and print media continue to be plagued by minority stereotypes, a scarcity of media diversity in front and behind the camera, and nominal levels of minority media ownership.
9/11 Response Rides Trend in Hate Crime Statistics
The U.S. Department of Justice launched more than 200 federal civil rights investigations and was on pace to bring a record number of federal hate crime indictments in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorism attacks. Meanwhile, Congress weighed hate crime legislation, with mixed results, retaining important protections in ESEA, yet ending the possibility of a vote on the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act in the short term.
Senate Markup of ENDA Highlights Support
Forty-three cosponsors and speakers at markup of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2001 (ENDA) (S.1284/ H.R.2692) showcased the support for the measure, which awaited debate before the full Senate. The bill would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, providing basic protection to ensure fairness in the workplace for Americans who are currently denied equal protection under the law. Currently, it is legal in 39 states to fire someone because he or she is gay.
In The Courts
Supreme Court and State Legislatures Tackle Death Penalty Issues
The Supreme Court ruled on two lower court decisions on the death penalty. Meanwhile, state death penalty systems are being called into question by governors and state legislators across the country.
Immigration Issues in the Supreme Court
Challenges to provisions of the 1996 immigration law reforms met with success in the Supreme Court of the United States.
Leadership Conference Activities
25th Anniversary Hubert H. Humphrey Awards
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights honored Danny Glover, activist and actor, Elizabeth Birch, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, and Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center, with its 25th annual Hubert H. Humphrey Civil Rights Award.
Second Civil Rights Summer Opens
Twenty students from 14 states converged on Cambridge and Washington for the second Civil Rights Summer student fellowship program. Training at the Civil Rights Project at Harvard was followed by work at national civil rights programs in Washington. The program is sponsored by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the Civil Rights Project at Harvard and the Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights, with support from the Ford Foundation.