CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE NEWS

Ketanji Brown Jackson Confirmed to Supreme Court, Making History as First Black Female Justice | April 7, 2022

 

Washington — The Senate voted to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court on Thursday, cementing her place in history as the first Black woman to serve on the nation's highest court.

Jackson's confirmation as the 116th justice in U.S. history received bipartisan backing, with a final vote of 53 to 47 in the upper chamber. Three Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah, joined all 50 Democrats in supporting President Biden's nominee. Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman and first woman of color to hold the role, presided over the Senate during the vote.

"On this vote, the yays are 53. The nays are 47 and this nomination is confirmed," Harris said to rousing applause from senators.

Jackson's appointment to the high court is likely to be a significant component of Mr. Biden's legacy, and marked his first opportunity to make his imprint on the Supreme Court. But Jackson will not take the bench immediately, as Justice Stephen Breyer, whose seat she will fill, is poised to retire at the end of the Supreme Court's term this summer. 

Mr. Biden watched the vote with Jackson in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. Photographers capture the two embracing as the Senate passed the threshold needed for her confirmation. Read more

 

Biden Signs Bill to Make Lynching a Federal Crime |  March 29, 2022

President Biden’s signature ended more than 100 years of failed efforts by the federal government to specifically outlaw lynching
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WASHINGTON — President Biden on Tuesday signed a bill making lynching a federal crime, for the first time explicitly criminalizing an act that had come to symbolize the grim history of racism in the United States.

“Lynching was pure terror to enforce the lie that not everyone, not everyone belongs in America, not everyone is created equal,” Mr. Biden said, speaking to civil rights leaders and others in the Rose Garden of the White House.

Moments after Mr. Biden signed the law — named for Emmett Till, the Black boy who was murdered in Mississippi in 1955 — he described the atrocity that he said was carried out against 4,400 Blacks between 1877 and 1950.

“Terror, to systematically undermine hard, hard fought civil rights. Terror, not just in the dark of the night, but in broad daylight. Innocent men, women and children hung by nooses from trees,” he said. “Bodies burned and drowned and castrated. Their crimes? Trying to vote, trying to go to school, to try and own a business or preach the gospel.” Read more

 

A Proclamation on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, 2021| October 08, 2021
 

Since time immemorial, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians have built vibrant and diverse cultures — safeguarding land, language, spirit, knowledge, and tradition across the generations.  On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, our Nation celebrates the invaluable contributions and resilience of Indigenous peoples, recognizes their inherent sovereignty, and commits to honoring the Federal Government’s trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations.

Our country was conceived on a promise of equality and opportunity for all people — a promise that, despite the extraordinary progress we have made through the years, we have never fully lived up to.  That is especially true when it comes to upholding the rights and dignity of the Indigenous people who were here long before colonization of the Americas began.  For generations, Federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures.  Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples’ resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society.  We also recommit to supporting a new, brighter future of promise and equity for Tribal Nations — a future grounded in Tribal sovereignty and respect for the human rights of Indigenous people in the Americas and around the world. Read more

 

House passes bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday.
The House voted overwhelmingly on to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, sending President Biden legislation to enshrine June 19 as the national day to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger announced in Galveston, Texas, the end of slavery in accordance with President Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.  Read more 

 

George Floyd’s family lobbies Biden for U.S. police reform on anniversary of death
TORONTO SUN
Legislation has been pursued in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia to increase the accountability or oversight of police, and 24 states have enacted new laws. Read more

 
 

 

States Raced to Pass Police Reform Bills After George Floyd's Murder. Advocates Say Not Enough
NBC

Beyond its breadth, the legislation is notable for its speed. According to data legislators have introduced more than 3,000 policing policy bills, with significant legislation passing in 39 states as of late April. Read more
 

Louisiana Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Advances To Senate Floor, One Step From Governor’s Desk
MJUS

A bill to decriminalize marijuana possession in Louisiana that already passed the House was approved in a Senate committee on Tuesday, sending it to the full chamber for final passage.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Cedric Glover (D), would make it so possession of up to 14 grams of cannabis would be punishable by a $100 fine without the threat of jail time. It cleared the Senate Judiciary C Committee in a 3-2 vote. Read more
 
 
 
VERIFY Weekly: One year after George Floyd was killed, here's where the US stands on police reform
WFMY – Greensboro, NC

Yes, there is a national database where people can check the status of a variety of police reform bills and current guidelines. It's called the National Conference of State Legislatures. People can check everything from executive orders to new policing methods that have been introduced. The database includes law enforcement legislation from all 50 states and also Washington D.C. It is free to use. There are several ways to search for legislation or topics, including by keyword, year and state. Read more