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The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Continues Fight to Remedy Mistreatment of Maryland’s Historically Black Institutions

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Kirkland & Ellis LLP in an appeal brought by the state of Maryland in The Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education v. Maryland Higher Education Commission, one of the most significant higher education desegregation cases in the last two decades.

Updates from the Lawyers’ Committee

Blog November 8, 2018

Unlicensed, Baltimore-Based Bail Bond Companies Perpetuate Economic Inequality Along Racial Lines

The system of money bail in Maryland has led to the routine pretrial detention of criminal defendants — whom the law presumes to be innocent — solely because they cannot afford to pay the cost of pretrial liberty. For other defendants, their loved one’s contract with bail bond companies to secure their release, resulting in a cycle of inescapable debt. As a standard industry practice, bail bond companies charge a premium, a fee amounting to 10 percent of the total bail. These premiums are non-refundable, even if a criminal defendant appears in court or is not found to be guilty. As a result, family members and friends who sign bail contracts must pay the entire costs of the bail premium. To collect the premiums, bail bond companies often harass and file debt collection lawsuits against each co-signer. Because the vast majority of co-signers cannot afford attorneys to represent them in collections suits, judgments are […]

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Newsclips

4 days, 5 reports of hate crimes, and a disturbing trend developing in America

December 12, 2018

CNN

(CNN)Over the course of four days, five reports of hate-related incidents recently made national headlines. The news illustrates a disturbing trend, civil rights groups say.

On Friday, December 7, a fire destroyed a Jehovah’s Witnesses house of worship. It was the fifth attack this year targeting the religious group in Washington state, federal officials said.
The next day, a black man was assaulted at a bar in Lynnwood, Washington, by eight self-professed members of a neo-Nazi skinhead group, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. Members of the group allegedly yelled racist slurs during the incident, and an employee identified as an Asian man was injured as he tried to intervene. On Sunday, Pittsburgh officials said that anti-Semitic pamphlets were being spread throughout the city, including in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, the site of a mass shooting that targeted Jews in October.

Courts side with Maryland HBCUs in long-standing case over disparities in state higher education

December 12, 2018

The Washington Post

A federal judge this week ordered Maryland to remedy the lack of investment in the state’s historically black colleges and universities, in an effort to resolve a decade-old lawsuit over inequality in public higher education.

The state must establish a set of new, unique and high-demand programs at each historically black institution, the judge declared.

Since 2006, a coalition of alumni from Maryland’s four historically black institutions have been locked in litigation with the state to dismantle what they say are vestiges of racial segregation. The group says Maryland has underfunded Morgan State University, Coppin State University, Bowie State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and allowed other state schools to duplicate their programs, placing pressure on enrollment.

Georgia to pick new elections chief amid voting rights debate

December 4, 2018

Reuters

(Reuters) – Georgia voters return to the polls on Tuesday to elect a new elections chief in a state where critics accused Republicans this autumn of exploiting the position to suppress minority voting rights. Republican Brad Raffensperger and Democrat John Barrow were forced into a runoff in the secretary of state race after neither candidate secured a majority of the vote in the Nov. 6 general election as required by state law. The contest has showcased the partisan divisions still rankling the state after its hard-fought governor’s contest, which saw widespread reports of voting problems during an election overseen by the Republican candidate, Brian Kemp, then secretary of state. Kemp’s narrow victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams, who sought to become the nation’s first female African-American governor, followed complaints of hours-long waits in heavily minority precincts, polling equipment failures and concerns about absentee ballots getting rejected under stringent rules that voters’ signatures exactly match the records on file.

Senate Advances Judicial Nominee Known For Weakening Black Voters’ Rights

November 29, 2018

The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON ― The Senate on Wednesday inched closer to confirming Thomas Farr to be a lifetime federal judge, despite strong opposition from civil rights groups and Democrats over his long career of trying to weaken black voters’ rights.

The Senate voted 50-50 on a procedural step to advance Farr’s nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Vice President Mike Pence came in to break the tie. Every Democrat voted against Farr, as did Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who is opposing all of President Donald Trump’s nominees until he gets a vote on a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller.

Farr’s final confirmation vote is expected later this week.

Civil rights groups and the Congressional Black Caucus have been trying to sink Farr’s nomination for nearly a year.

The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure equal justice for all through the rule of law, targeting in particular the inequities confronting African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities. The Lawyers’ Committee is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to enlist the private bar's leadership and resources in combating racial discrimination and the resulting inequality of opportunity - work that continues to be vital today.

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