Unfinished Business

Civil Rights News: What Creates Prosperity?; New Leader at NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Many Americans Support Pathways to Immigrant Citizenship

Compiled by Emily Van Dusen, a Spring 2013 intern at The Leadership Conference Education Fund

Justice and Prosperity
New York Times

As key civil rights cases concerning voting rights, gay rights, and other civil rights issues are poised to be heard by the Supreme Court, the relationship between justice and prosperity demands examination. After President Obama’s inaugural address called for progressive action to defend basic rights, it is clear to The New York Times that “To Mr. Obama, prosperity enables justice and vice versa.” In contrast is the following assertion that the Roberts court:

 “…has regularly ruled as if justice and prosperity are unrelated or even antithetical — by protecting large corporations from class-action lawsuits; by making it much harder for private lawsuits to succeed against mutual fund malefactors, even when they have admitted to lying and cheating; or by allowing corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns and advance their narrow interests by exerting influence unjustly over government.”

As these governmental bodies lobby for influence, a continued conversation about civil rights and the necessity of defending them is likely to shape political discourse in the next four years.

Sherrilyn Ifill Will Lead the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
Krissah Thompson
Washington Post

Just as the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF) is gearing up to defend voting rights and affirmative action provisions, Sherrilyn Ifill began in her role on Tuesday as head of the LDF. With a career history of representing communities of color in key cases in the northeast, Ifill is poised to take the reins of Thurgood Marshall’s advocacy legacy. As Ted Shaw, a former leader of the LDF, told The Washington Post, “She has a toughness about her that I think will serve her very well.”

Poll: Many Say Let Illegal Immigrants Stay in US
Erica Werner and Dennis Junius
Associated Press

With public opinion shifting in favor of allowing undocumented immigrants to become citizens, the time may be ripe for immigration reform. Besides capturing 70% of the Latino vote, serious conversation about reform is becoming what Werner and Junius call a “political necessity” for a Republican party trying to respond to a demographic shift. Strong increases in public support for pathways to citizenship have occurred since 2010, with more than 6o% of Americans now in favor of allowing immigrants to gain legal citizenship. This political climate may be what the administration and legislative branch needs to engage in efforts to reform a policy area that effects millions of people.