Posted on October 12, 2018 in Countdown

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Democracy Under Attack, Yet Again

In this week’s episode of Whose Vote Will Be Suppressed Next, we take a trip to North Dakota and Georgia. The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed a lower court ruling in North Dakota that lets the state enforce a key provision of its voter ID law that requires voters to present an ID with a current residential street address. A group of Native American residents spoke out against the decision, arguing the rule disproportionately disenfranchises thousands of Native American voters who live on North Dakota reservations and use P.O. box addresses, not street addresses. To no one’s surprise, Justice Ginsberg dissented, arguing that “reasonable voters may well assume that the ID allowing them to vote in the primary election would remain valid in the general election.” Meanwhile, in Georgia, several civil rights groups are suing Brian Kemp, Secretary of State and GOP candidate for Governor, over the Exact Match law that has put on hold the registrations of over 50,000 voters – 80% of whom are Black, Latino, or Asian American. Stacey Abrams, Democratic candidate for Governor, and her campaign called on Kemp to resign as Secretary of State since, ya know, he’s trying to suppress the vote for political gain. We don’t have much else to say about this, folks, since voter suppression really isn’t funny…

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Winning is In the Air

A floating island of good news in sea of despair. Trump signed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018 into law last week. The law included Section 407 which AAI worked with the office of Senator Cory Booker (NJ) to introduce. The section requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report to Congress in six months on the status of nondiscrimination employee training for all airlines. Next, the Department of Transportation must create best practices for nondiscrimination training based on those findings and in consultation with impacted communities, including civil rights organizations like us! While this doesn’t fully eliminate the discrimination Arab Americans have been facing for decades, it’s an important step toward accountability. So, yay!

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Congresswoman Betty McCollum Drops the ‘A’ Bomb

If you know Congresswoman Betty McCollum, you know she’s a champion of justice for human rights, including the rights of Palestinians. She is in fact famous in human rights circles for her bill seeking to protect Palestinian children from the abuse of Israeli military detention. It was no surprise that the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights would offer her a leadership award at their annual conference this year, but it was what McCollum said in her acceptance speech that’s really noteworthy. In recent months, Israel passed the Nation-State Bill, which explicitly codified discrimination, declaring that the right to self-determination is “unique to the Jewish people.” McCollum commented on the passage of the bill, saying: “the world has a name for the form of government that is codified in the Nation State Law – it is called ‘apartheid.’ And, in this case, Israel is rejecting core democratic values and replacing them with bigotry, racism, and segregation.” It is hard to think of another occasion where a member of Congress spoke with such honesty and clarity about what is unfolding in Israel/Palestine. And if you haven’t read McCollum’s full remarks, you should. They’re even on video.

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Dreiband Confirmed

In an effort to push through less controversial nominees, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed for a cloture vote on the nomination of Eric Dreiband to Secretary Attorney General heading the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice this past weekend. Dreiband is not the first guy in this administration whose record doesn’t match their confirmation for a job requiring the upholding of civil rights for all Americans, but he is the latest (for now at least). From litigating work discrimination cases on behalf of the corporate defendants to personally testifying against the Fair Pay Act (which would allow women to access the courts to fight for equal pay), Dreiband seems particularly ill-suited for a civil rights post. And then there is the lack of relevant experience for the job. As our Executive Director Maya Berry noted, “Some of the most pressing civil rights concerns today, including educational equality, continued profiling, hate crimes, voting rights, and police reform are areas in which Mr. Dreiband is largely inexperienced.” But hey, it’s 2018, who cares about the enforcement of our civil rights laws anyway?

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Embassy Shut, but Palestinian Spirit Undeterred

Wednesday was the deadline the Trump Administration gave to the Palestinian Diplomatic Mission in Washington to shut down, in an obvious punitive measure for Palestinian refusal to go along with Trump’s anti-Palestinian policies. To mark the occasion, a wide range of civil society groups committed to Middle East peace and justice held a press conference at the Palestinian Embassy in DC, and sent a message to Donald Trump. The message simply was… Well, wait, why don’t we just let you watch the message for yourself, since it’s on both Facebook and Twitter.

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