Author Topic: Trump administration plans to minimize civil rights efforts in agencies  (Read 1070 times)

Offline imchills

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The Trump administration is planning to disband the Labor Department division that has policed discrimination among federal contractors for four decades, according to the White House’s newly proposed budget, part of wider efforts to rein in government programs that promote civil rights.

As outlined in Labor’s fiscal 2018 plan, the move would fold the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, now home to 600 employees, into another government agency in the name of cost-cutting.

The proposal to dismantle the compliance office comes at a time when the Trump administration is reducing the role of the federal government in fighting discrimination and protecting minorities by cutting budgets, dissolving programs and appointing officials unsympathetic to previous practices.

The new leadership at the Environmental Protection Agency, for instance, has proposed eliminating its environmental justice program, which addresses pollution that poses health threats specifically concentrated in minority communities. The program, in part, offers money and technical help to residents who are confronted with local hazards such as leaking oil tanks or emissions from chemical plants.

Under President Trump’s proposed budget, the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights — which has investigated thousands of complaints of discrimination in school districts across the country and set new standards for how colleges should respond to allegations of sexual assault and harassment — would also see significant staffing cuts. Administration officials acknowledge in budget documents that the civil rights office will have to scale back the number of investigations it conducts and limit travel to school districts to carry out its work.

And the administration has reversed several steps taken under President Barack Obama to address LGBT concerns. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, for example, has revoked the guidance to implement a rule ensuring that transgender people can stay at sex-segregated shelters of their choice, and the Department of Health and Human Services has removed a question about sexual orientation from two surveys of elderly Americans about services offered or funded by the government.

The efforts to reduce the federal profile on civil rights reflects the consensus view within the Trump administration that Obama officials exceeded their authority in policing discrimination on the state and local level, sometimes pressuring targets of government scrutiny to adopt policies that were not warranted.

Administration officials made clear in the initial weeks of Trump’s presidency that they would break with the civil rights policies of his predecessor. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered a review of agreements to reform police departments, signaling his skepticism of efforts to curb civil rights abuses by law enforcement officers. His Justice Department, meantime, stopped challenging a controversial Texas voter identification law and joined with the Education Department in withdrawing federal guidance allowing transgender students to use school bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

While these decisions have been roundly criticized by liberal activists, administration officials said that civil rights remain a priority for the Trump White House.

“The Trump administration has an unwavering commitment to the civil rights of all Americans,” White House spokeswoman Kelly Love said in an emailed statement.

But Vanita Gupta, who was the head of Justice’s civil rights division from October 2014 to January 2017, said that the administration’s actions have already begun to adversely affect Americans across the country.

“They can call it a course correction, but there’s little question that it’s a rollback of civil rights across the board,” said Gupta, who is now president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Labor’s budget proposal says that folding its compliance office into the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “will reduce operational redundancies, promote efficiencies, improve services to citizens, and strengthen civil rights enforcement.”

Historically, the two entities have played very different roles. Unlike the EEOC, which investigates complaints it receives, the compliance office audits contractors in a more systematic fashion and verifies that they “take affirmative action” to promote equal opportunity among their employees.

Patricia A. Shiu, who led the compliance office from 2009 to 2016, said the audits are crucial because most workers don’t know they have grounds to file a complaint. “Most people do not know why they don’t get hired. Most people do not know why they do not get paid the same as somebody else,” she said.

Under Obama, officials in the compliance office often conducted full-scale audits of companies, examining their practices in multiple locations, rather than carrying out shorter, more limited reviews as previous administrations had done.

Some companies have questioned the more aggressive approach, noting the office has consistently found since 2004 that 98 percent of federal contractors comply with the law.

But the compliance office also scored some major recent legal victories, including a $1.7 million settlement with Palantir Technologies over allegations that the data-mining company’s hiring practices discriminated against Asians. In a case involving Gordon Food Service, which serves the Agriculture Department, the Pentagon and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the office found the company had “systematically eliminated qualified women from the hiring process.” The firm agreed to pay $1.85 million in wages to 926 women who had applied for jobs and hire 37 of them. Gordon Food was also forced to no longer require women to take a strength test.


Offline Battle

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Re: Trump administration plans to minimize civil rights efforts in agencies
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2019, 04:32:32 pm »
Friday, 9th August 2019
Virginia transgender bathroom case: Judge favors ex-student

by Associated Press

(NORFOLK, Va.) — A federal judge in Virginia has ruled that a school board's transgender bathroom ban discriminated against former student Gavin Grimm.

Friday's ruling by U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen in Norfolk is among several across the nation favoring transgender students who faced similar policies.

The Gloucester County School Board's policy required Grimm to use girls' restrooms or private bathrooms.

The judge says Grimm's rights were violated under the U.S. Constitution and a federal policy that protects against gender-based discrimination.

The issue remains far from settled.

A patchwork of differing policies governs the nation's schools.

But Allen's ruling will likely strengthen similar claims made by students in eastern Virginia.

It could have a greater impact if the case goes to an appeals court that oversees Maryland, West Virginia and the Carolinas.

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Offline Battle

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Tuesday, 9th March 2021
Vanita Gupta will fight for all as associate attorney general

This week the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold confirmation hearings for Vanita Gupta, President Biden’s nominee to serve as the associate attorney general at the Justice Department.

We have come to know and respect Ms. Gupta in our respective roles — as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and as a former police officer, Orlando chief of police, and member of the Judiciary Committee.

We wholeheartedly support her nomination.

As the new administration seeks to rebuild from the past four years and recenter the Department of Justice on the goal of “liberty and justice for all,” Ms. Gupta is the right choice at the right time — a tireless champion of civil rights and peerless legal mind.

If confirmed, Ms. Gupta would be the first woman of color and first civil rights lawyer to serve as associate attorney general.

She has fought discrimination at every step of her career, earning a reputation for fairness and bipartisanship.

Her record of civil rights accomplishments is remarkable.

As a new attorney with the NAACP Legal and Education Fund, she won the release of dozens of African Americans and Latinos in Tulia, Texas who were falsely convicted of drug charges by an all-white jury based on the testimony of a biased undercover agent.

That case resulted in pardons for Ms. Gupta’s clients by Governor Rick Perry, who stated he pardoned her clients because doing so was “appropriate and just,” and that doing so was unanimously recommended by the Texas Board of Pardon and Paroles.

At the ACLU, she achieved a landmark legal settlement, winning improved detention conditions for asylum seekers from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.

She also led the ACLU’s criminal justice reform initiative, forging vital bipartisan partnerships with both law enforcement and conservative legal organizations.

After President Obama appointed Ms. Gupta to head the Civil Rights Division, she spearheaded DOJ’s efforts to limit mass incarceration and reform local policing practices, combatted religious discrimination and coordinated prosecution of hate crimes and human trafficking cases.

Against this backdrop of bipartisan success, we were sorely disappointed to learn that Ms. Gupta had become a target of dishonest far-right actors, such as the Judicial Crisis Network, who have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars pushing demonstrable lies.

We know from personal experience that Ms. Gupta has long sought to build bridges with the police, not defund them.

As the National Fraternal Order of Police said in response to the Judicial Crisis Network:

“The real crisis in this country is not a judicial crisis. The real crisis in this country is partisan demagoguery and the politics of personal destruction.”

The fact that the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which Ms. Gupta used to head, has long opposed capital punishment, does not mean she supports reducing the sentences of white supremacists.

Ms. Gupta has also adopted the same position on the impact of COVID-19 on our prison population as former Attorney General William Barr — that federal prisoners who do not present a safety threat should be subject to release during the pandemic.

Given her record of accomplishment and evenhandedness, we are not surprised that Ms. Gupta’s confirmation has received support from across the political and ideological spectrum.

This includes major police organizations such as the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Major County Sheriffs of America, the Federal Law Enforcement Officials Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association, the Police Executive Research Forum and dozens of current and former police chiefs.

In addition to garnering praise from a range of progressive organizations, such as the NAACP, AFL-CIO, MALDEF and the Human Rights Campaign, she is supported by GOP stalwarts, such as Grover Norquist and Trey Grayson, the former chair of the Republican Association of Secretaries of State.

This is because Ms. Gupta has always sought to build bridges based on common ground, regardless of political affiliation.

At a time when our nation is grappling with critical choices regarding police reform, domestic terrorism, the rise of hate groups, and the future of voting rights, we need an associate attorney general who will uphold the rule of law and fight for the rights and liberties of every American, no matter their race, gender, political affiliation or zip code.

Ms. Gupta has testified before the Judiciary Committee on numerous occasions and has been universally open, sincere and forthright in her dealings with us.

In the words of Patrick Yoes, the President of the National Fraternal Order of Police, Ms. Gupta has always worked to “find common ground even when that seemed impossible.”

There is no doubt in our mind that Vanita Gupta is the right person at the right time to help our nation achieve equal justice for all Americans.

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