The Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation is one-for-two in legal challenges to civil rights and racial equality this term, with the U.S. Supreme Court striking down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in one case bankrolled by Bradley, and in another, remanding an affirmative action case to a lower court, turning back the Bradley-backed challenge. The cases represent the latest in the Bradley Foundation's long-term effort to dismantle the gains of the civil rights era.
Race / Ethnic Issues
In a 7-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down an Arizona statute that imposes restrictions on voter registration, finding it conflicts with federal law. After becoming law in Arizona, the legislation at issue was adopted as a "model" by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
A controversial mining bill, which opponents say will weaken environmental standards and threaten the state's water resources, has passed the Wisconsin State Senate. The bill, the first to be introduced in the 2013-2014 legislative session, passed 17 to 16 with one Republican, Senator Dale Schultz, voting against along with the 15 Senate Democrats. SB1 is nearly identical to the bill that failed to pass in 2012.
One year ago today, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by 28-year-old George Zimmerman. On average, 30 people are killed by firearms each day, so Trayvon Martin could have become just another faceless statistic. But the tragedy soon gained national attention as a result of the injustice wrought by Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which was cited to protect Zimmerman from prosecution because he claimed to have felt threatened by the unarmed African-American teenager.
The Trayvon Martin tragedy soon led to an examination of Stand Your Ground laws, as well as the organization responsible for their proliferation: the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.
Last month, a Pennsylvania court upheld the state's American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) - inspired voter ID law, but in hearings on appeal that state's supreme court has given the law a harsh reception. Might the Pennsylvania Supreme Court follow Wisconsin's lead and throw out the voter ID law before the 2012 election?
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona has asked the man behind the "show me your papers" anti-immigrant law in that state to show them his emails. An open records request to former Arizona state Senator Russell Pearce netted thousands of email records sent from Pearce's account that suggest Arizona's SB 1070, which was taken up as an American Legislative Exchange Council "model bill" but recently struck down in large part by the U.S. Supreme Court, was motivated by racism and xenophobia.
The U.S. Supreme Court has invalidated provisions of Arizona's controversial SB 1070 immigration law, which had been approved as a "model" bill by corporations and legislators at an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) meeting before it was introduced in the Arizona legislature. The Court held that striking down the law's controversial "papers please" provision would be premature, but narrowed the provision's application and made clear that it could be challenged at a future date.
On March 29, a diverse coalition of advocacy organizations, activists, and national leaders protested the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) paid promotion of deadly "Kill at Will" legislation written by the National Rifle Association (NRA). The attendees delivered a letter to ALEC headquarters at 1100 Vermont Ave, NW in Washington demanding that the group disclose all NRA funding and publicly pledge to end its promotion of "Kill at Will" bills.
Organizing sponsors include the National Urban League, NAACP, ColorOfChange, Moveon.org, AFL-CIO, SEIU, ProgressNow, Center for Media and Democracy/ALECexposed.org, Presente, Public Campaign, Common Cause, People For the American Way, UltraViolet, Faith in Public Life, National Council of Churches, USAction, and more.
A Florida law that may protect the man who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February is the template for an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) "model bill" that has been pushed in other states. The bill was brought to ALEC by the National Rifle Association (NRA), and fits into a pattern of ALEC bills that disproportionately impact communities of color.
Florida's "stand your ground," or "castle doctrine," law could prevent the prosecution of George Zimmerman, the 28-year-old "neighborhood watch" vigilante who shot the unarmed Martin as the teen returned from a trip to 7-11 with an iced tea and a pack of Skittles. The law, also pushed by its supporters under the name the "Castle Doctrine," changes state criminal justice and civil law codes by giving legal immunity to a person who uses "deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony." It also bars the deceased's family from bringing a civil suit.